The science fiction and fantasy genre has always included brilliant, diverse creators, but when it comes to those outside the white cis straight able male category, they’ve often been denied their centrality, spoken of as an earnestly appreciated sideshow even and especially when their work was vital. The most powerful voices in genre fiction today come from, and speak of, a larger world.
With the same parochial bent, genre has often pushed back against the critical hegemony of traditional literature by deriding it, demeaning the mundane and the merely real, slighting the value of prose style and the importance of subtext or substantive critical theory. The development of style and critical thought in genre is not a recent matter, but the production values of writers like – to name a few of my personal inspirations – Kij Johnson, Kelly Link or Catherynne Valente speaks to me of a genre less afraid to be literary, to engage with the ‘pretentious’ ‘competition’ on its own terms.
With all that said, I’m going to spend the rest of this post talking about a cis white guy known for his young adult novels, because when I sat down to write this post, I’d just finished a re-read of his space opera duology Succession, and I wanted to say something about it. I’m sorry! Continue reading