Friday, April 21, 2017

Stepping Out Of The Science Fiction Ghetto

Hands up who has read something that isn't science fiction recently?

How about actually talking to writers in other genres?

We tend to kind of...hang out off to our side. Part of it is because most of us have had some experience reminding us that "mainstream" and, worse, "literary" writers don't want to take science fiction and fantasy seriously unless it's written by a guy named Tolkein.

(I still have unfond memories of my high school English teacher telling my parents to throw out "all that crappy science fiction" because "She's too smart to read that").

Of course, things have definitely improved. Science fiction and fantasy are now taught at the college level in some places. But we still tend to live in our little ghetto and interact with other writers mostly at conventions, where we can be absolutely sure not to run into somebody who writes memoirs or contemporary romance.

And I think that's kind of sad at some levels - because we have a lot to learn from other writers and a fair amount to teach.

Which is part of why I spent a good chunk of today at a "Writing Salon" at the National Gallery of Art - where I suspect I was the only speculative fiction writer. (I certainly didn't see anyone there I knew). There will be more in the fall - and I actually recommend the program for writers of all levels...and all genres. In this case, the topic was setting.

It's worth reminding ourselves that good characters, beautiful settings and well-crafted plots are not genre-specific.

(And that the setting of your work is a character in its own right).