I like science fiction. That’s not just a thing I like, it’s become a thing about me, a thing used to describe me to the freshly initiated, a thing to describe me and to give an idea of similar things I may be interested in. And that’s fine. I like most science fiction, I like most people that like most science fiction, and all of that is good and fine.

Interesting thing is that I’m a Creative Writing student at an accredited University. Meaning that I’m learning Fiction the way Fiction is taught – a thing not normally, for insanely prejudiced and unfathomably dated reasons, associated with the field of science fiction – heretofore known appreciatively as “speculative fiction.”  So I’m learning fiction, reading the greats, writing a lot of stories and critiquing a lot of other people’s stories, and then I plan to use my prowess to attack the worlds of aliens and zombies and whatever other madness my fully active imagination can dream up.

That’s fun. Hopefully some day when my words appear in print and are in the hands of loving readers all over the planet, they too will think it’s fun – hell, maybe they’ll even be brought to think something when they read how my words are strung together.


The interesting point to come from these somewhat unnecessary facts and the subsequent logic drawn from them is that science fiction is, at its heart, fiction, and that fiction being taught as fiction and being used – to its full extent, mind you – in science fiction, is perfectly fine. Genres are goofy, and they no longer should matter. Unfortunately saying a thing doesn’t make it true.

If you tried to explain to someone the plot of “Strange in a Strange Land” by Robert A. Heinlein – a sci-fi classic – you would have a hard time making it sound like something not at all biblical, may even make it sound goofy. That doesn’t matter; it’s a great book and whoever wishes to experience it needs to simply push past whatever mores the sci-fi field may previously have presented and read it.

Genres are the invention of bookstores. Jules Verne never said he was writing science fiction, and it’s not just because the term wasn’t in popular use in his time. As far as he was concerned, he was writing stories about his time, set in his time, about interesting things and the subsequent adventures. Adventure fiction, incidentally enough, is actually not a popular genre title.

I do find it interesting that those slapping genres on books would feel that one title is enough. To call Star Wars a sci-fi movie shouldn’t really cut it – it is, after all, the work that most popularized the space opera sub-genre. Ever heard it called as such? No, because the word “opera” brings with it a lot of make-up and implied fat women, neither of which are found in abundance in any of the movies. The labellers seem to think Star Wars simply being a sci-fi movie is the end of the debate.

Those stupid mystery novels (of which there are entirely too many) featuring cats doing who-knows-what-but-it’s-probably-really-stupid? Just called mystery. I can stand some mystery, even admit to liking some, but if I were going purely off of my sometimes enjoyment of mystery novels and decided to pick up one of these atrocious who-dun-its, I would certainly be angry at the publisher having only put “mystery” on the spine.

Point being, if you’re going to go to the trouble to slap a label on the thing, make the label incredibly detailed. Because clearly, since it seems the mass of this nation doesn’t want to read anymore, people only have time for a novel every now and then, and they certainly don’t want to be led astray, having to do research and figure our what a book is and isn’t on their own.


~ by Jonathan Forisha on October 27, 2009.

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