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April 27th, 2005 - Trickle of Consciousness — LiveJournal
Kevin Melrose links to this London Telegraph article, highlighting this bit about the appeal, or lack thereof, in science fiction:

[O]n the whole, the predictive world [science fiction authors] ask me to join is one I don't much care about: it seems pale and uninteresting to me compared with the fascinating richness of the real, complicated world around me. For my money, there is too much sophisticated technology, too much clever science and not enough raw emotion.


I always want to get snarky at those sorts of sentiments (that X genre--rather than Y book--focuses on its genre components to the exclusion of character), but I'm going to try not to because, really, that's rather a waste. Sarah Crompton, the author, admits she's generalizing, and focuses on the work rather than the fandom. A reasoned response only seems the polite thing to do.

Like Crompton, I haven't read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, so my comments will be just as generalized as hers. Let me counter her hypothosis with this suggestion: perhaps it's not (always) that literature of the fantastic spends too much energy on its fantastic and not enough on its literature. Maybe people used to "real world" reading, though, are more easily distracted by those fantastic elements, so much so that they miss the character and emotion and other elements that they feel make their traditional fare deeper and more meaningful.

I think it's a general principal for a lot of things, really. When you aren't used to cars, you look for that shiny one that goes real fast. Then you kind of get used to cars. They serve a purpose, and there are better or worse ones that are better or worse partly for their shiny but also for less tangible but entirely integral elements like crash test ratings and fuel economy and the like. That doesn't mean people who check those elements don't still appreciate the shiny exterior. Neither does it mean the shiny exterior serves no purpose other than being shiny. Aerodynamics play a part in feul efficiency, after all. Color can help with visibility to other drivers or reducing interior temperature problems. The sheen itself may be from a protective coating to help inhibit rust.

You get the point. Good writers bring in shiny elements that also serve important, complicated, human functions in their work. But if you aren't used to that, it's entirely possible that you'd be distracted by that bright red, sleek exterior, and never quite manage to see what else is going on both with and within that shell.

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