Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

And the dam bursts.


People. If the honest expression of your difference between fantasy and SF is "I don't read one of these genres, so anything I say about it is orating out an orifice," keep your mouth shut.

Other than admiring scott_lynch's takedown of Greg Benford's idiocy (oooh, the shiny!), I have been staying out of anything resembling a fantasy vs. SF debate, because 1) I don't care, and 2) they are clearly talking about the fantasy and the SF written by someone else, because even the people who are using the correct orifice for their oration seem to be saying that Thermionic Night is SF. (It has witches casting spells. There will be no later-series plot twist where it turns out that it was all nanotech, alien intervention, mass hallucination, virtual reality, or Magnetism Gone Awry. Witches. Casting spells, people. Fantasy.) But when I read the IROSF interview with Robert Sawyer where he claims that the difference is that SF has incluing whereas fantasy has infodump --

JUST STOP IT, PEOPLE. I met Robert Sawyer once. He was very kind to me, and he seemed to have an IQ that was normal or above. So it must have been extremely painful for him to say something that MASSIVELY, BLATANTLY, IREDEEMABLY STUPID. I didn't think he had it in him, so possibly he took lessons.

You are allowed to prefer one genre to another. You are allowed to dislike fantasy. You are allowed to dislike SF. You are allowed, in fact, to dislike any genre you please -- and, in fact, you are allowed to dislike whatever genres you please on the flimsiest and most incoherent of pretexts. "I don't like mysteries because they make my ears feel funny." Fine, go for it, whatever. But what you are not allowed to do is state things as fact that are verifiably counterfactual. "I don't like mysteries because they all have fluffy bunnies in them, and I don't like rabbits," for example, would be easily disproven. And would make you look ill-read and very, very stupid, even to someone who didn't care about rabbits one way or the other.

This is all for your protection. Me, I have low blood pressure. It is a healthy thing for me when people run around being that dumb. It helps me stay upright. But come on. A point that stupid goes around tainting the entire rest of your argument. As in Sawyer's case: sure, I think a strong case can be made for Star Wars being fantasy, not SF. But if the scroll of text at the beginning means that it's fantasy, then several of Isaac Asimov's books are fantasy, too, because of the encyclopedia entries, and at that point, essentially everything is fantasy. Which some of you believe, and that's fine if it works for your purposes, but I don't really think it's where Sawyer was going.

I'm not sure where Sawyer was going. Because to characterize SF and fantasy that way requires not only being completely unread in the fantasy genre but also being completely unread in the science fiction genre, inlcuding Sawyer's own novels. And I don't for a second believe that he hasn't read his own books. So...I don't know. Momentary loss of coherence? I just can't explain this one. Perhaps he was speaking off the cuff and had not taken the five seconds necessary to see the gaping holes in this idea? I really do believe this man is smarter than this, but honestly, you wouldn't even have to leave the S section of my bookshelves to find counterexamples on both sides for this.

(Every time someone in the genre is mean or dumb or just plain wrong or something like that, I have the feeling I'm going to have people popping out of the woodwork going, "This person is my friend and you shouldn't have said they were being [unpleasant judgment here]." So I want to reiterate: my brief experience of Robert Sawyer was very positive. I liked the guy. I think he is or at least ought to be a brighter guy than that interview section would indicate. I wish it had been someone else who topped the "dumbest distinction between SF and fantasy" charts this week. But it wasn't. Sorry.)

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