So there’s been a discussion going on about this article from a publisher at Baen Books. Several people have already written up excellent responses to the slightly nonsensical arguments (Scalzi, Book Smugglers, Foz Meadows) but I thought I’d write up my thoughts as someone who’s history with SFF is very much outside of the core community.
Mainly I’m angry at the idea that there is only one true history of science fiction, and that you need to have been part of it or have read certain people to be a ‘true fan’.
Fuck that noise.
I fell in love with science fiction thanks to television. I’m very lucky that when I was a teenager there were awesome SFF shows on TV almost every day. BBC2 had Roswell, Farscape, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on in the week over the years. Then on Sunday afternoon I’d watch Channel 4 for Stargate, Andromeda and Enterprise.
I then moved onto films, namely Star Wars, and videogames. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic will always hold a special place in my heart. I also read books, early ones were the Foundation series, Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, Harry Potter, Discworld.
Since then I’ve read/watched some of the Culture novels, Larry Niven, attempted Revelation Space, Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly etc.
But apparently, none of that makes me a ‘true fan’, as I’ve never read any Heinlein.
Yeah, fuck that.
The SFF community (okay, I’m really generalising here, but there are definitely parts of it which do) often seems to complain that it’s not more respected in the mainstream, and then creates bullshit rules to try and keep people out of the fandom.
The logic, it makes no sense.
Obviously if you read the articles linked at the top there are people who are fighting this view point for good reason. Saying there is a singular history of the genre is a way of dividing people into us and them. Surprisingly the people in the them column often involve those in groups that have often been overlooked or treated badly by the SFF community. Women, POC etc.
Given the nature of science fiction and fantasy, of creating settings and stories for people to engross themselves in, the arbitrary nature of dividing up who is a proper and who isn’t seems to go against that. Surely, in the 21st fucking century, we can have an open an inclusive SFF community as well represented by Nine Worlds and other cons.
It doesn’t matter what or why people like SFF, they should all be welcomed as fans, whether they’re people who can speak Quenya, or others who like the latest Star Trek movies. Trying to build barriers to block people out strikes me as blatant elitism and ‘one true path’ bullshit.
SFF is for everyone, no one gets to decide who is or isn’t a fan.
And isn’t that awesome.
So fuck those who try to build barriers.
Fuck those who try to make people feel bad for not enjoying what they do in the ‘right way’.
Fuck those who use some weird singular history of the genre to continue to try and exclude those who’ve always been underrepresented by it and in it.
You like Heinlein, you’re a fan! You like Star Wars, you’re a fan! Everyone should be welcome.
Let’s keep on working to tear those barriers down.