I came across this article on Wired today, about how colleges aren’t accepting of the fantasy and science fiction genre as a valid literary avenue. I agree that for the most part, they are not. My own college advisor hated fantasy because he felt you couldn’t describe magic–it was unseen. He liked sensory detail. I wrote a piece for one of his classes in which I described magic well enough to win him over, at least partially. He liked my story and was surprised by my use of sensory detail to describe fantastic details or the appearance of magic.
When I published Bound, he read and enjoyed it. Now, I can’t say he has accepted the genre as something to integrate in his cirriculum, but I felt like I helped him better understand its value. Not everyone is going to be as open-minded as my professor, however.
Most people forget that this genre provides detailed social commentary, or predicts how humans might behave in the future, or could have behaved in the past. It is an exploratory genre; one that allows humanity to be more than it is, one that postulates solutions to larger social or scientific problems, one that helps us learn things, in addition to telling a damn good story.
So, if you’re looking to defend this genre, remind folks that H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are some of its forefathers, and Mary Shelly the mother. Remind folks that if they like Star Trek, they already walk this path with us. And whatever happens, do not let anyone dissuade you from loving this genre. It has as much value as any other.
If you see other genre fiction folks floundering (graphic novels, romance, or other niche subjects) rise to their defense. We’re all in this together.
Happy writing, all.