Re-Blog: Making Excuses for Science Fiction

A re-blog of an article by one Kameron Hurley that I came across on the the Passive Voice which I thought was worth forwarding because I am utterly guilty of this. The whole piece can be found on Locus Online here.

Telling people who don’t read science fiction and fantasy that I write it is still awkward. My mom used to tell people I wrote ‘‘novels like Stephen King,’’ even though I can’t watch a movie more supernaturally terrify­ing than Ghostbusters without enduring fierce nightmares, insomnia, and night sweats. I prefer corporeal, knife-wielding villains I can hit in the face.

But as a kid, I let it slide. I didn’t want the attention anyway. I felt incredibly embarrassed that I was writing about fake rebellions in made-up countries while my friends were studying to be architects. They were going to build real, adult things. I was going to write about trolls’ hair and dragons’ gold.

When I published my first novel 20 years later, I found myself faced with the same challenge: how do I talk about this book to people whose entire conception of science fiction and fantasy are built around Star Wars andThe Hobbit? How do I convince folks that stories about the dissolution of a marriage in Montreal in 2155 are just as serious an endeavor as writing about the dis­solution of a marriage in Montreal 1955?

. . . .

Instead of talking about my books as serious (or at least fun) literature, I found myself fall­ing into the same self-conscious trap I had as a kid, when I muttered about how I was writing a story about an expedition to Venus where the volcanos erupted with flowers. I said stuff like: ‘‘Oh, you probably won’t like it. It’s pretty weird,’’ or ‘‘It’s not for everyone,’’ or ‘‘You’ll only like it if you read a lot of science fiction.’’

I anticipated their reactions, and pulled my punches.

One might think I said these things in a pure fit of shame. But as I got older and moved in geekier and geekier circles with folks who loved the same books I did, I recognized that some of this was not shame, but pride. There was some elitism in it of the, ‘‘People like me just get this and you won’t’’ variety.

That’s not pulling a punch. That’s punching yourself in the face.

. . . .

I started to wonder if I was limiting my potential readership in the way I was talking about what I wrote. These dual feelings of shame and pride were difficult to juggle. I recognized that my pride was fueled by the shame. Acknowledging to the world that I was wasting my time writing non-serious books about interstellar genocide and religious and political strife, I figured I could save face by letting folks know outside the genre that I was in on the joke, while secretly knowing that a few brave SF/F readers didn’t need me to use small words.

It is definitely one of those things in modern society that to enjoy, never mind produce science fiction, is something that should at the very least be kept under wraps. Yet it is absolutely not rational. Some of the biggest films and most ambitious TV series are now firmly in the SF&F bracket. It is no stretch of the imagination a fringe interest.

So write SF&F and stand tall*

* Although I have to admit when Mum read my work and I did wince at the thought of her reading across the bit with the succubus in the Job Offer.

LINKS

The Nameless War: Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and paperback

The Landfall Campaign: Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and paperback

The Job Offer: Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords

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Filed under Random Rants, science fiction, Writing

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