Why I Like Fantasy and Science Fiction

I just realized that I read a book for work on Tuesday night and forgot to put up a blog post. Slacker!!

I can’t help feeling a little embarrassed that I read fantasy and sci-fi, also known as speculative fiction. It’s because people who don’t read this stuff really, really can’t understand the appeal, mainly because they assume it’s all “vampires in space,” as the boyfriend of a friend of mine puts it. Speculative fiction is seen as the domain of mouth-breathing Trekkies who always have a 24-sided die in their pocket at all time, or of girls who put unicorn stickers everywhere and play characters named The Lady Melisande at the Renaissance Faire.

Well, that’s just silly. I read speculative fiction for the same reason that I read Dickens, Tolstoy, and Austen–because I want to be immersed completely in another world. I admit that there is a lot of bad writing in fantasy and sci-fi, but that’s the case in any genre. But I’ll take a sub-par book in the fantasy genre over the best of what post-modern literature has to offer, because it all comes down to story for me. I admit to having less of a love for science fiction because it tends to be about ideas over story, much like post-modern literature. Tell me a story, tell me a story I can believe in, tell me a story that makes me fall in love.

4 thoughts on “Why I Like Fantasy and Science Fiction”

  1. I think I remember Joseph Campbell quoted from the ’50’s. “90% of science fiction is drekh (dragon droppings). But 90% of everything is drekh.”

    Also, “A good science fiction story is a good people story.”

    I really enjoy C.J. Cherryh’s “Pride of Chanur” series. A ‘people’ story, indeed. Then there is ‘Downbelow Station’ and all the related novels like ‘Cyteen’.

    Anne McCaffrey separates personality from person, with ‘The Ship Who Sang’, and explores the abilities of the most severely handicapped. This book started a sequence of novels by a variety of authors and author partnerships.

    Even the most dreadful of the pulp fictions, such as E.E. Doc Smith’s ‘Subspace Explorers’, ‘Skylark of Space’ series’, and ‘Lensman’ series are mostly about the people and how they react to the opportunities, monsters, villains and tech marvels. Just watch out for the pages-long descriptions that start with ‘the indescribable ..’.

  2. I think Yolen also used ‘fewmets’ in her (excellent!) YA dragon books. But I think ‘drekh’ was the quote, and the interpretation.

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