Is Science Fiction Discriminated Against by the Literary Establishment? - Wargaming Forum and Wargamer Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-10, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Default Is Science Fiction Discriminated Against by the Literary Establishment?

Basically what I want to know is do people feel that the Literary Establishment (the people who give out the prizes) look down on Science Fiction because of it's subject matter?

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-10, 04:47 PM
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hm, Sci-fi has always been considered as a lesser form of literature, but honestly what does it matter, its like Rush not being in the Rock and Roll hall of fame, they are fucking awesome, so who cares.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-10, 05:09 PM
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Sci fi will always be looked down upon because more often than not it relies too heavily on poor science and cliche.
Too many authors fall back on easy subject matter and it rarely tackles any real subject that people can ascociate with. Real life subject matter, whether in fiction or not is seen as being of more worth.
Look at Dan Abnett, he's widely thought of as Black Library's greatest author, is he likely to win any major awards?
No, because in the grand scheme of things his books are pretty piss poor and you wouldn't read them unless they were 40K related.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-10, 06:02 PM
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Also, compare the horror's of what todays soldiers are facing against. The Star Wars Novels, Star Trek, 40K, and the like all tell tales of massed struggles - but none of them really have anything about which people can relate to.

If you read some of the War Masterpiece writers of todays world - (Mike Rossiter (Target Basra), Stuart Tootal (Danger Close), Ed Macy (Apache, Hellfire), Damien Lewis (Operation: Cerain Death, Bloody Heroes, Apache Dawn), Andy McNab (Bravo Two Zero, Immediate Action, Seven Troop, Spoken From The Front) are prime examples of what I consider to be award winning bio-novels) - and then you consider the differences between say the Imperial Guard, and Imperial Navy over those in ISAF and other outfits acting in Afghanistan and the Sudan/Somalia, etc, and there's nothing to relate to.

In 40K, there's no such thing as an Insurgency. The Planet is just Nuked, and left lifeless. There's no such thing as a Blue on Blue in 40K - It's just a case of Blue shooting a fuck load of 105 shells from 15km away, and either hit the target, or don't. If there's some friendly in the way of the target, then tough shit.

There's no such thing as Hearts and Minds - the planet is wiped out, and other skilled labourers/servitors from off world are shipped in. There's no worries about an insurgency, or using non combatants as shields - see above.

And in the end, much of Science Fiction is just a darn good scrap. And to be fair, with only extreme rarity, is there a SciFi book which tests my brain to the limit.

Crime Writers like Shaun Hutson or Patricia Cornwell, they keep my mind ticking over, but Graham McNeil, while a good writer, is merely comfortable (in fact, the only twist I've ever been truly "surprised" about was Sasha Kajetan in the Ambassador and Ursun's Teeth).

As for Historical Stories, well, who doesn't like finding out among the past? Compared to the SciFi of the future, despite adhering to many historical either a) accuracies or b) stereotypes, much of the world in which the writers are creating their series try to be unique - in the sense that it has to be different to another, and as such, there's very little "placement" in a story. A journalist once said to me the difference between reading a story and participation is hard to explain - it's like a Post Mortem compared to an Eye Witness Account - maybe more accurate, but less passionate.

And in the end, 40K and Fantasy books in particular are just one great big scrap. Compare this to LotR and the Silmarillion - these are epic fantasies, which while rambling, are in depth, and don't focus on how a Bolter round fires a multi-stage rocket containing of depleted deuterium encased in an an adamantium shell, which detonates in a subsurface explosion which rips the target limb from limb.

But yes, with a modern war going on, a Science Fiction story detailing a war about which few people can relate, or rather want to relate to, and struggle to feel emotional attachment to any of the characters, along with being a relatively easy read, not many literary prizes will be awarded.

But, yeah, compared "Warrior Brood" to Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Life of Pi, or The Taking of Pelham 123, and you're not really left wondering why many would choose to be biased against it.

And yes, Goto, I'm talking about how you're a crap writer, not just someone who tries to write a story and then fit it into a universe about which you have no idea.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-10, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by The Sullen One View Post
Basically what I want to know is do people feel that the Literary Establishment (the people who give out the prizes) look down on Science Fiction because of it's subject matter?
People look down on it because they tend to be a part of pop culture, same with fantasy books. Most people read pop culture books as an escape from their daily lives, so who cares if a character is conflicted about which girl to date at high school? Sci Fi books have characters dealing with that question while trying to save the universe from crazy aliens.

Race issues? Fantasy books deal with these by having a Dark Elf, who has saved the world a few times, still getting questioning stares when he's in town.

Even the big name fantasy/sci fi novels, like Sword of Truth, are looked down upon because the deeper subject matter is hidden under the overall story of saving the princess/world/universe.

Granted these people that give out literary awards also like Catcher in the Rye. I would call their taste in literature a little skewed.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-10, 06:19 PM
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hell i have my own fan flick universe baced in the year 5634. The earth is destroyed and the main charature is a bad ass by the name of Slade Pheonex (baring poor spelling). He runs a small frieght ship called the Elixabeth (named afte rhsi mother). And on this ship he has several crew. Edward, his dead brother brouhgt back to life with science and is now a Cyborg. Jade Longfang, a Blue wolf girl who get angry eaisly but has a gift ofr being a piolt. Sara Calmheart, a Lizard gil who shows little to now emotions and is a ratinoal thinker. "Spanner", who is an elf who is skileld in mehcanics and built Edward but is a womeniser. Chris Daisy, A small boy who is trainign onboard and a general go to man. And lastly Kicky, a small yellow creature who like the ships cat.

Seriously the timeline and storys are so complicated it would take 3 pages jsut to explain half of the stuff such as who the "villans" are, everyones back story, the various family of each charature, Ed's and Slades time in the Amarda (Space Army) as wella s how the earth was destroyed. But sometimes people don't like that. If you like sience fiction then normaly that mostly what you read but too many people look down on it in the same way people look at shows like Star Trek and Firefly.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-10, 06:25 PM
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To be honest, I just don't see many good sci-fi writers these days. There have been some truly great authors in the past, but to my eyes, nobody in recent years has come all that close to the likes of Heinlein, Bradbury, and such. Particularly not among Black Library authors. I probably wouldn't read any of them if they weren't 40k-related.

That being said, if you want to look for actual discrimination among the literary community, look no further than the graphic novel. I recall a story about Neil Gaiman's adaptation of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' winning the World Fantasy Award in 1991 for Best Short Fiction...and comics being banned from consideration starting the following year. Though the organization claims this is untrue, Gaiman's work remains the only comic ever to win the award.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-10, 06:33 PM
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What about such novels as "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" or "War of the Worlds?" Both Science Fiction works that are considered top literary achievements and have gained considerable respect. I don't think it is the subject matter more so than the lack of highly skilled authors that write in this medium. I think most "good" sci-fi writers do movie scripts. Scripts are less work and possibly worth more money than a novel. I could be wrong as i am not a script writer or a novel writer.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-10, 06:57 PM
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I think Sci-Fi (and its cousin Fantasy) are both underrated when it comes to acknowledgement. The same applies in movies. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was denied their Best Picture award for the first two films even though they were better than anything else in that time because it was decided that the award would just be given to the third film, and have it represent the trilogy as a whole.

What crap is that? They filmmakers had to work 3 times harder to get the acknowledgement earned by any other, single movie? All because LotR is a Fantasy genre film.

Would they have done that to a drama series directed by Coppola? Spielberg? Of course not. (Unless it was one of Spielberg's sci-fi films, of course.)

But yeah I know, this is about literature.

It has been said that there aren't as many great sci-fi authors around like there used to be. No Bradburys, no Clarkes, no Asimovs. Maybe it's not that so much as the really good ones are buried under the pile of bubblegum. I think sci-fi is underrated as a literary genre, but I also think it's because it has so much insipid bubblegum in it.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-10, 07:42 PM
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they can look down on what they want, nobody gives a shit about there opinions.

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