So, what is it about science fiction in literature that is something to be hidden, almost ashamed of? It is ok to go to the cinema and watch the latest Star Trek film. Go to a screening of Lord of the Rings and people think you are mildly intelligent. But buy yourself a copy of “Foundation” by Isaac Asmov and you may as well admit to signing the sex offenders register.
Look through the reviews in the papers, or on the TV arts programs and you will never see a science fiction novel reviewed. When I was at comprehensive school I was regularly lambasted by my English lit teacher, Mr Mouncher, about my penchant for reading that “Star Trek rubbish”. It wasn’t Star trek. It was “Cities in Flight” by James Blish, a fantastic story written in the 1950’s.
A lot of science fiction is damn good literature, even the Star Trek and star Wars novels contain some good prose. Yes, I know that for every good sci-fi novel there is a crap one, pulp fiction of the lowest order. But other genres of literature have that as well, so why make us sci-fi fans feel like members of the dirty mac brigade sneaking into the porn shop via the side door?
I would put some of the “classics” against some of the books that I have read any day. Read the Nights dawn trilogy by Peter F Hamilton, anything by Neal Asher or Richard Morgan. Those three authors are relatively new to the field, but there are many more, older novelists from Asimov to Zelazney.
There are the Nebula and Hugo awards for science fiction. Some of the writers are Knights of the Realm, Arthur C Clarke for example.
Go on. Try one. Can’t be any worse than that Mills and Boon rubbish that women read, can it?
And remember, turn the collar of your mac up, keep your head down, and I’ll see you by the side door…