Ummm.. No. CanLit, Can We Please All Get Along?

September 11, 2009

What the book absolutely is not, she insists, is science fiction... Science fiction takes place "somewhere in space, far, far away in a distant galaxy"

- Margaret Atwood, in The Globe and Mail

I'm probably going to regret disagreeing with the grand dame of Canadian literature, but on reading the description of her book in the article (a post-apocalyptic world populated by the leftovers of genetic engineering gone wild, and, in Ms. Atwood's own words "based on real technology, real science, real possibility"), I'd have to say "sounds like science fiction to me". Especially if you match her own quote with the Wikipedia definition. Space Opera - now that's in a galaxy far, far away (and what's wrong with space opera anyway?). "...strange creatures with bat wings and horns on their heads flying through the air – dragons", that's what I'd call Fantasy.

It's been a pet peeve of mine for years that the Canadian literary establishment seems to struggle with being associated with science fiction. There's some beautiful literature out there that also happens to be science fiction. I don't understand what's so bad about calling it by its true name. It's as though certain people fear they won't be taken seriously unless they call it "speculative fiction". And of all people, Margaret Atwood certainly doesn't have to worry about not being taken seriously.

[Ed. Sep. 12] I wonder what she'd do if she got nominated for a Hugo?

2 comments on “Ummm.. No. CanLit, Can We Please All Get Along?”

  1. I wonder what she’d do if she got nominated for a Hugo?

    Probably the same thing Michael Chabon did: NOT SHOW UP. But at least he offered some kind words about fandom on NPR last year.

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