Science Fiction vs. Literature

I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely think science fiction has a place in literature. You’ve got H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and (sort of) Ayn Rand (I’m thinking mostly of Anthem here) already representing the genre–and I would think most people would consider the works of these authors “classics.” I know that at least for me, I enjoy both genres equally, but for very different reasons. I’ll generally read “literature” if I want something that I can sort of linger over and take the time to really absorb; but if I want a quick, fun, fast-paced read I’ll go for something science-fictiony (or horror/thriller/etc).

Also, I just think the cartoon is adorable.

Hope those of you who are Stateside have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Those of you who aren’t, I hope you have a good weekend as well, and sorry it’s not a 3-day like ours πŸ™‚

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6 thoughts on “Science Fiction vs. Literature

  1. …and Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov and Kurt Vonnegut and Frank Herbert and Philip K. Dick and Arthur C. Clarke. Science fiction is absolutely literature.

  2. The ideas in science fiction can absolutely be literature-worthy, I just wish the writing was more impressive at times… I read a Bradbury novel recently and in some way it didn’t feel like it wanted to be considered literature. Even though that doesn’t sounds like it makes sense. It was just too short and un-worked out for me to be really impressed with it.

    • I think that’s actually the issue a lot of people probably have with science fiction. A lot of “proper” literature (Austen, Dickens, the Brontes) has beautiful writing and a very in-depth exploration of social customs, but not much exciting in the way of “plot.” (This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I for one love reading about snooty 19th-century Brits sitting around drinking tea and wondering who loves whom.) The writer can take the time to craft the perfect phrase, knowing that the reader will take the time to absorb it because there’s not much else going on.

      Science fiction, on the other hand, has much more in the way of plot but sometimes less in the way of (dare I say it) convoluted writing because it can’t afford to be convoluted. Science fiction pretty much needs to come out and say exactly what it means in order for you to get the picture; literature doesn’t really have to do that, because you can imagine many of the situations any way you want and you still get the basic idea. If details are obscured in science fiction, you could go around thinking something completely wrong, and then subsequently not understand something else that happens because you didn’t understand what the author was trying to say in the first place, and that defeats the purpose.

      I get what you’re saying about Bradbury, and you’re right: he doesn’t write like someone in the “literati” would. But I think that’s part of his (and other science fiction writers’) charm. He still writes amazing stories that have the same social commentary and artistic value as Dickens or Austen, but he goes about it in a different way. (Which one did you read, by the way?) As far as the too short thing goes, for me that’s also part of the fun of sci-fi–leaving open ended questions for you to consider long after you’ve read it. Part of the allure for me is that it keeps me wondering.

      Anyway…sorry for the novel! I hope you’ll give Bradbury another chance one day πŸ™‚

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