Farewell Science Fiction

I realize that I have said this in comments here and there on other people’s posts, but I haven’t made an official announcement on my blog, so here goes:

I have decided that I am not a Science Fiction writer.

It’s a conviction that has been growing for a while, but recent events have clarified my position.  Reading the posts by luminaries in the field who explain why being “inclusive” requires excluding anyone they disagree with (and in the process preforming indignities on Dame English that would make Ana Steele safeword) has brought me to the conclusion that they want Science Fiction to be their own private club, and as far as I am concerned they can have it.

Now, it could be argued that Science Fiction should be free and open to anyone who wants to self-identify with the genre, and to those who choose to argue that I have no rebuttal. You are right, that is what it should be.

However, we live in a fallen world, and there are some battles that are just not worth fighting.  For me, this is one of them.

It’s easier for me, I suppose, than for many other authors.  My work is a type of Science Fiction that the mainstream kicked to the curb years ago.  I don’t use starships and blasters and alien worlds with multiple suns and numbers in their names.  Not, I hasten to add, that I object to such things on aesthetic grounds, but because those are not the metaphors that come readily to hand.  Nor do I do the High Fantasy thing with pre-industrial civilizations who have problems with orcs and whatnot.

My antecedents are people like Phillip Dick and Kate Wilhelm and Samuel Delany, writers who took our world and subjected it to abnormal stresses to see what would pop out of it. So I have less to lose in terms of audience by eschewing those genre titles.  If you’re looking for Yoda or Gollum, don’t look here.

What, then, am I?  I am a fabulist and a tragedian. I would also say satirist and surrealist, but I fear both those terms have become diluted by chronic misuse.  I tell stories about things that didn’t happen and that couldn’t happen, and I do my damnedest to make you believe that they are happening as long as you’re reading the book.

I will graciously permit David Gerrold, George Martin, et. al. to draw their circles in the sandbox to include me out.  They have earned the right to define Science Fiction, if anyone has, and I have a policy of not arguing against authority.  Ignoring them, yes, arguing with them, no.

I am going to keep writing what I write.  I will be releasing Gingerbread Wolves soon, and have already begun work on the next volume in The Book Of Lost Doors, World Edgewise.  I’m just not going to call it Science Fiction.  Labels aren’t worth fighting for.


About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008MPNBNS
This entry was posted in Artists That I Admire, On Publishing, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Farewell Science Fiction

  1. LindaGHill says:

    You have to write what you write – there is no choice. It’s simply what comes out of you, like the fragrance of your own skin. And hey, maybe whatever you do categorize it as will get you more sales. 😛

  2. You said:

    “I will graciously permit David Gerrold, George Martin, et. al. to draw their circles in the sandbox to include me out. They have earned the right to define Science Fiction, if anyone has, and I have a policy of not arguing against authority. Ignoring them, yes, arguing with them, no.”

    Misha, I respectfully disagree with you. I am a science fan from the old days. I was a freshman in high school when the very first Star Wars movie came out. AND NO! They have not earned the right to define what science fiction is. I respect their writing accomplishments, but they have not earned the right to define a genre.

    Science fiction is an ever changing thing that includes a wide range of story topics and ideas. I feel it is the parent genre of both fantasy and steampunk and paranormal. I refuse to let some well known, but stuck up on themselves, people to define a genre I have loved for many years.

  3. sknicholls says:

    Write what you write. When I describe it to others I usually pit out the words urban fantasy.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      Yeah, I tend to use that term.

    • I agree with the urban fantasy label, and I think paranormal is roughly synonymous when defining subgenres. Unfortunately, this is usually listed as a subgenre of science fiction, so you’re stuck there, Misha! It probably would be better as a subgenre of fantasy, but I guess if you write a place where King Arthur would feel uncomfortable, then you’re moved out of fantasy. Maybe in the near future, it will be upgraded to its own genre, so people will talk about sci-fi/fantasy/urban fantasy as a collection of genres with a lot of reader overlap.

      I don’t know about urban fantasy being kicked to the curb. In the minds of literary critics, possibly, although I don’t follow them enough to know. But, for the mainstream consumer, I suspect urban fantasy is going gangbusters!

      • MishaBurnett says:

        The authors I was referencing were New Wave Science Fiction, and I honestly don’t believe that a books like VALIS or Dhalgren of A Sense Of Shadow would be accepted by a Science Fiction publisher today.

        I hadn’t really thought about it before, but Urban Fantasy may be a reaction against the post-Star Wars space opera tropes in the same way that the New Wave movement of the 1960s and 1970s was a reaction against the space opera tropes of the 1940s and 1950s.

        In my opinion modern Urban Fantasy likely began with Anne Rice’s “Interview With A Vampire” which I believe was considered Horror when it was released.

  4. Pingback: Blog Watch: Watchmen, Dark Albion, Chaosium, Hollow Earth Expedition, Morale, and Cigarettes | Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

  5. Urban Fantasy is also what springs to my mind when it comes to The Book of Lost Doors. The first book also felt like a work of crime fiction too, as I recall; certainly an odd mix of genres, and quite a nice one.

    Also, since it’s been AGES since I last visited this site – Yay! You’re writing again! 😀

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