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July 24, 2006

More on Why SF is Relevelevant

" ... the default condition of all literary genres will soon be science-fiction.

Look at the recent genre-defying work of Kazuo Ishiguro, Michel Houellebecq, David Mitchell, Rupert Thomson, Alex Garland; soon even Zadie Smith will be writing sci-fi. Note, as well, that whilst [sic] mainstream American literary novelists appear increasingly incapable of doing anything other than reimagining their own national past – Philip Roth, say, or the forthcoming Thomas Pynchon – as if endlessly recycling historical micro-narratives will result in something new (it won't) – Anglo-European fiction appears to have accepted, with great success and enthusiasm, the futurist inclinations already so obvious in everyday life.

To be rather broad here – for instance, does Michael Cunningham invalidate my argument? do I even have an argument? – it seems that while British fiction in particular has already accounted for the slippage of contemporary life into sci-fi, even welcoming it with a newfound literary ambition, mainstream American fiction is content simply to enroll itself in unnecessary MFA programs, writing 800-page novels about family farms, the period between WWI and II, shopping, or the supposedly "atmospheric" end of the 19th century.

Run of the mill student architectural proposals are infinitely more stimulating to read than are most of today's American novels. ... Meanwhile, the rest of the world has already discovered the future, and it's no real wonder that the U.S. publishing industry is in the midst of a kind of slow financial crisis. In fact, one has only to look at the ongoing revival of interest in Philip K. Dick – sci-fi novelist and volunteer FBI informant – to see that Americans don't exactly lack a literary taste for the future; it's just that all the wrong novels keep getting published here."

Yes, we got there from a discussion of plastic airplanes. This is why I love BLDGBLOG .


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