WRITING

Sometimes I get so fed up with my chosen fields of comics and science fiction that I could scream. I stumbled on a page talking about something called "The New Weird" in science fiction which is apparently a new sub-sub-genre for work like Perdido Street Station (PSS for my laziness' sake) that doesn't neatly fit into any one catagory. This type of obsessive catagorization is one of the things that just gets my goat about science fiction. Even being a nerd and an SF writer I can't get into this weird block people have about putting things into catagories. Is PSS science fiction? Yes. Is it fantasy? Yes. It's both. It's not something totally new, it's science fiction and fantasy. Is "The Time Traveller's Wife" science fiction? Yes. Is it also a work of moving literature? Yes. Is it a love story? Yes. It's all of those things. No new classifications need be created for it. We're not entemologists trying to correctly classify everything. It's writing. The questions should be: Is it good? Is it bad? Is it worth reading? That's all.

There is no need to keep trying to put everything into these tinier and tinier catagories. It just makes genre fans more and more worthy of the contempt people already heap upon us. Science Fiction, Space Opera, Hard SF, Speculative Fiction, Sci Fi, New Space Opera, Dark Fantasy, Horror, blah, blah, blah. Does Jonathan Franzen complain that The Corrections should be labeled "family fiction" instead of literature? No. In fact, in non-genre literature the idea of applying these strange little catagories to everything is looked down upon. James Wood calls books like The Corrections "hysterical realism" and people go nuts. Someone like China Mieville tries to stretch his literary arms out and write without a box and SF people go into convulsions trying to classify it. Lay off. Stop trying to put everything in little holes. The fact that people are recognizing that it's okay to go outside the little walls that little talents put up is good. It should be rewarded. If someone writes a good science fiction novel, great. Put the word out. As soon as someone tells me that a book sucks because it's 'space opera' I stop listening to them. A book is good or bad on it's own merits. The fact that a book has been defined by some tedious person as space opera has as much to do with it's quality as a work of fiction as the font that was used to print it. Splitting up our little ghetto into further smaller and smaller sub-ghettos does no one any good and frankly serves only to further the mainstream idea that science fiction is for nerds. Next time you have a thought, even a fleeting one, about whether a book you've written or are reading is a certain sub-genre or another, put the book down and go outside. Take a deep breath, ask yourself if the book is worth reading/writing and go back to it. That's all there is to it.