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“I’m not a fan of science fiction”

December 3, 2013

I picked up A Wrinkle in Time to start it for my book club’s Nostalgia Month and decided not to skip the introduction by Anna Quindlen.  This was a mistake, because I put the book down in mid-sentence and haven’t picked it back up since, except to check the spelling of “Quindlen.”

How dare you, Anna Quindlen.

I don’t care what the rest of that sentence says.  You are a WRITER.  You know that words have power.  And you should know the dismissive nature of “I’m not a fan,” especially when it comes to marginalized genres.  While I WOULD be the first person to say “Hard sci fi?  Not a fan” in a conversation, I would not say it in an introduction to a book, and I would likely follow it up with, “but if you have a suggestion, I’ll put it on my list.”

“I don’t seek out cyberpunk”…but I’m willing to give Gibson and Stephenson a shot.

“I don’t usually read contemporary romance”…but if you have an author you like, let me know.

“I’ve never tried that genre”…Can you tell me the name of an author that you think typifies it?

If she had said loving the book as a child didn’t turn her on to science fiction, that’s one thing.  But her word choice is appalling.  It buys into the same bs genre readers have to deal with all the time, that honey, it might be fun to read, but it ain’t literature.

What about Bradbury?

What about Octavia Butler?

What about Huxley, Wells, Shelley, Atwood, Burgess, Vonnegut?  How do you feel about The Hunger Games?  Ursula Le Guin?  Orwell–Cloud Atlas?  The Road?  Never Let Me Go?  The Time Traveler’s Wife?

When I first learned about short stories in middle school, we read Ray Bradbury.  When I was in high school, we read Huxley and Orwell.  Nowadays, they’re assigning Octavia Butler and Suzanne Collins as well as Huxley and Orwell.

Science fiction is literature, too.

…So I just looked her up to see what she’s into and I came up with this quote as well: “I’ve never been able to warm to sci-fi..”

Ugh ugh ugh.

A Wrinkle in Time is sci fi.  L’Engle knew it, and while she didn’t want to be shoehorned, the same way Atwood doesn’t want to be shoehorned, she couldn’t and wouldn’t deny the sci fi nature of the book.I should not be reading in the introduction about someone who loves it DESPITE that, because I think it gives a terrible impression to the children who read the book.  It says “sci-fi in general is not good, but this book is, therefore it’s not REALLY sci-fi because it has X and Y element.”  And you shouldn’t say that about anything, especially to children.

I wish I still had my old ratty copy that didn’t have Anna Quindlen’s introduction in, no matter how much she might gush over the book, because ultimately, her message is “it’s not sci-fi–it’s BETTER than sci-fi, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it.”  No, honey, it’s sci-fi.  And all the snobbery in the world isn’t going to change that.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 4, 2013 8:18 am

    It’s funny, that’s something I’ve noticed in a lot of intros to graphic novels and such. “I don’t like comic books, but…” And honestly, some of those intros are way meaner to comics even than that. I always swore if I ever got to write someone’s intro one day, I would try to counter that style.

    • bookslide permalink*
      December 4, 2013 9:02 am

      It was a very disappointing introduction–oh, pardon me. It says it’s an “appreciation.”

      The thing is, L’Engle had a book published where people talked about their relationship to her, to the books, etc, and this would’ve fit there but not as an intro to a children’s book.

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