Sunday, April 18, 2004

J. Lethem on SF

The Squandered Promise of Science Fiction; a brief essay by Jonathan Lethem.

One particularly brilliant passage:

In a literary culture where Pynchon, DeLillo, Barthelme, Coover, Jeanette Winterson, Angela Carter, and Steve Erickson are ascendant powers, isn't the division [between science fiction and literary fiction] meaningless?

But the literary traditions reinforcing that division are only part of the story. Among the factors arrayed against acceptance of SF as serious writing, none is more plain to outsiders than this: the books are so fucking ugly. Worse, they're all ugly in the same way, so you can't distinguish those meant for grown-ups from those meant for 12-year-olds. Sadly enough, that confusion is intentional . . .

Sing it, brother.

Anyone who's seen a Jonathan Lethem book on the shelf will recognize that he's been savvy enough to rescue his own books from the fucking ugly conventions of SF cover art. When will the rest of the industry wake up?

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