There are a few sentences in the letter to Locus shared by Donovan that I've
pulled out to comment on:
----- Original Message -----
From: Donovan & Lillian Mattole <mattole@...>
Sent: Sunday, October 22, 2000 2:17 PM
Subject: [mythsoc] Literary vs. SF
> Dear Locus,
> When they [SF writers] write a novel like Hyperion or The Book of the New
Sun, they're aware
> that they're working in a tradition; in a sense, they're paying their
> Mainstream writers have entirely different motivations for utilizing (or
> appropriating, if you prefer) genre themes...
My day job is 100% related to cancer genetics research, and the rest of my
life is about 50% devoted to speculative fiction (well, I had to figure in
church and family and trying to pay bills before they're overdue). So I try
to keep up somewhat on fiction that uses genetics as a basis--no matter how
it's classified. The main difference I've seen between genre books and
those labeled mainstream is that the genre authors get the science right!!
The mainstream bestsellers are generally the worst; it's no wonder the
public has strange ideas about genetic engineering, cloning, etc. if this is
what they're reading. (The most ridiculously impossible one I've read,
entitled "The Third Twin," was a New York Times bestseller and ended up as a
made-for-TV movie--why am I not surprised?)
Another difference is that the genre authors use the science as a
jumping-off point to deal with larger issues. Those labeled mainstream tend
to have their characters spend the entire book trying to stop the
science/technology before it destroys the world. And then, of course, the
method the hero uses to destroy the technology is usually something that
wouldn't actually work, anyway.
> ...all too often, intelligent authors like Lucius Sheperd and James Morrow
are shunted aside by booksellers
> and publishers alike in favor of the latest Tolkien rip-off/libertarian
> dream power fantasy/Star Wars spin-off. (And those are juvenile crap, make
> no mistake; they not only fulfill the worst expectations of highfalutin'
> mainstream lit'r'y critics, they exceed them.)
> Lucius Cook
I've been glad to see some bookstores putting a lot of the "junk" in a
separate section (I believe they call it "media related"). Makes it easier
to find the good stuff.