This sort of misconception of science fiction seems to be rampant in the "literary" world and I'm not quite clear as to why. While it is certainly true that much of what makes up science fiction literature, film, art, etc. revolve around the tropes (spaceships, aliens, etc.), there is also an enormous body of science fiction that is completely devoid of these elements. But they aren't seen as science fiction. Why?
Is it because the "literary" world refuses to acknowledge that science fiction is about far more than just aliens and spaceships, that it's a genre of speculations about what may be under the umbrella question "what if?" Authors such as Margaret Atwood have made it clear they dislike being labeled as science fiction, and, of course, you have to wonder why. After all, quite a lot of people read science fiction, and if you could act as a gateway into other literary forms that those SF readers might not have encountered before, isn't that a good thing? And it works the other way too. What's wrong with reading science fiction? Should we enjoy the reading process and isn't the fact that people actually read at all a good thing?
When starting this post I immediately thought of such works as Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union and McCarthy's The Road, among others. Both are science fiction stories, but written for a "literary" audience. Perhaps this is a trend now; we put the works that lack the most flamboyant of SF tropes in the "literary" category as a way of marketing them to an audience that may not have been receptive with the SF name flashing on a metaphorical billboard. I simply would like to see the "literary" world acknowledge that science fiction isn't limited to aliens and spaceships, but is a genre that encompasses politics, sociology, biology, and much more. Being marked as a "science fiction tale" is not a debasement, but, perhaps, an honor.
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