Posted by Sari
I am increasingly short tempered and frustrated with fandom and its endless games with genre definitions. You know the drill, you can’t call Science Fiction scifi because that means just pulp and mass-produced movie tie-in crap. And SF means science fiction except it can also mean speculative fiction which was at one point a reasonable umbarella term for fantasy, science fiction and horror, but is apparently now been kidnapped to mean science fiction and fantasy that is good enough to be worthy of the attention of those fen who don’t want to read anything labelled fantasy. (Except that speculative fiction in itself is a problematic term: all fiction is speculative). And Horror with fantasy elements is within our “genre” but without them isn’t. There is New Wave and Next Wave and New Weird and Space Opera and High Fantasy and Low Fantasy (which, by the way have two different definitions), and god only knows what.
In the end it is all about prestige and literary worth. Genre fiction is percieved as entertaiment, not serious literature. So if a novel is percieved to be of literary worth, it is lifted out of the genre. We rant about this all the time: how this and that book is clearly SF but is shelved among mainstream, and this and that writer clearly writes genre fiction but represents the work in public as something else. Well, I think we are doing exactly the same thing within the genre. We are creating genre definitions which have more to do with percieved literary worth than with any actual criteria that define the content of the works. And I am bloody tired of it. So I am going with Damon Knight: “science fiction means what we point to when we say it.” Except I am going to point at things and call them Fantasy.