The Case for Genre
Written by Walter Mosley
In my opinion science fiction and fantasy writing has the potential to be the most intelligent, spiritual, inventive, and the most challenging of all literary writing. A good book of alternative reality creates an entire world, a skin that one can walk into and inhabit just as surely as we might walk out on the street in front our home.
All books create character and place but not all writing invents worlds. From Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion to Arthur C. Clark’s billion future(s) we are taken by this literature so far afield that our minds fill with realities that just moments ago were not possible; not even imaginable.
When Octavia Butler takes the world away from those who believe they were the most important; when Roger Zelazny takes my mind and makes it the subject, and object, of supposition and transmogrification; when A. A. Attanasio plants the alien seed in my breast allowing it to grow and to change me into something not human but still thrumming with the ambivalent and persistent urgings of Life – this is when solid creativity challenges the mind and spirit, heart and home.
In another way these many forms of alternative fiction take the political and turn it inside out. From Asimov’s Foundation trilogy to Collins’s The Hunger Games we are forced to see economics and technology as the motivating forces that are secretly, unconsciously, organizing and reorganizing our lives.
Harry Potter teaches us about racism and Samuel Delaney takes sex and makes it like the complex scentual system of a mysterious, maybe alien, flower and the bees that it enslaves to assure its survival.
Alternative fiction is not comfortable, not expected. There are heroes, yes, but the world they bring us stinks of change and betrays all the faith that we once had in the sky above our heads and the ground below our feet.
This is what I call realistic fiction; the kind of writing that prepares us for the necessary mutations brought about in society from an ever changing technological world. It is no different than when Marx warns us of an economic infrastructure designing our social relations; when Freud tells us that our most important mental functions are unconscious and nearly unapproachable; when Einstein says that what we see, believe, and even what we’ve proven is all made up when piled next to the real God of existence – Relativity; when Darwin says that we are cousins to the redwood and fruit fly, the woodpecker and wolf. This is what science fiction is all about. It’s our world under an alien light that allows us to question what we see and who we are seeing it.
And so I try, now and again, to enter the strange zone of the possible world that denies the rules set down by professors, confessors, priests, presidents, and wartime generals. Only in this world can I question my humanity in a universe that has made me smaller than nothing, beyond redemption, but still breathing, still hoping.
From the Tor/Forge May newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.
More from our May newsletter:
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
- The Week in Review
- Find Tor Books at BEA!
- Goodreads First Reads: Thieves’ Quarry by D. B. Jackson
- New Releases: 5/14/2013
- Book Trailer: The Navigator by Michael Pocalyko
- Kitty in the Underworld Sweepstakes
- The Week in Review
- Waiting on Wednesday: Solstice Sweepstakes
- Book Trailer: Sea Change by S. M. Wheeler
- New Releases: 5/7/2013
- Read about Tor/Forge author @DanielKalla’s surprise on discovering the WWII-era Shanghai Ghetto in his research: bit.ly/10AKRBZ 1 day ago
- MT @RollingStone: #StarTrek is about "the nature of existence and what future democracy could be," says Cumberbatch: rol.st/12C1tMB 2 days ago
- RT @suvudu: Greek Myth in #GameofThrones: Women of the Roseroad Rebellion: Brienne as Briseis; Margaery as Helen bit.ly/19Fq9pP 2 days ago
- RT @tordotcom: Talking With Tom: A conversation between Tom Doherty and author Gregory Benford: bit.ly/14xSltE 2 days ago
- The weekend’s nearly here! And we’re here to help you kill the rest of your work week with The Week in Review: bit.ly/19EWL34 2 days ago
Urban Fantasy Sweepstakes
- An Epic Fantasy Community Comes Together. Appreciating Unfettered, edited by Shawn Speakman
- Unfettered: “The Unfettered Knight” by Shawn Speakman
- It’s a Promise You Make. Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor”
- Congratulations to the 2012 Nebula Award Winners
- Announcing the 2013 Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards
- “Going Native” in Steampunk: James H. Carrott and Brian David Johnson’s Vintage Tomorrows
- Rise of the Planet of the Plankton
- Spectrum Fantastic Art Changes Publishers
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Dax”
- Talking With Tom: A Conversation Between Tom Doherty and Gregory Benford
- Poll: What is Your Favorite Type of Man in Uniform?
- New Adult is All That—In a Bad Way
- Orphan Black’s Sarah/Paul: Tainted Love
- Seduction’s Canvas: Exclusive Excerpt
- Art is Love: On Books and Music
- Friday Beefcake: Guys with Glasses
- May 2013 Bloggers’s Recommendations: Teachers, Shifters, Linebackers, and More
- Nalini Singh’s Heart of Obsidian SPOILER!
- Exclusive Cover Reveal: Two Jami Davenport Titles!
- Welcome to the Welcome to Sanditon Mini Series
- Fresh Meat: The Caretaker by A.X. Ahmad
- You Talkin’ to Me?: Criminal Language
- Fresh Meat: R.I.P.D.: City Of The Damned by Jeremy Barlow, Peter M. Lenkov, and Tony Parker
- Now Win This: Spring Cleaning Sweepstakes
- Dick Tracy and Blowtorches
- 5 Reasons to Watch Orphan Black
- The Sound and the Fury: Trailer for Berberian Sound Studio
- Fresh Meat: Smarty Bones by Carolyn Haines
- Lost Classics of Noir: Wayward Girl by Orrie Hitt
- James Gandolfini Gets Criminal Justice