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Blog: Sniffy About Sci-Fi

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I went to a TALK last week, where Audrey Niffenegger (of Time Traveler's Wife etc etc) was interviewed as part of the Novelists's MA at school (we were invited!). It was dead good, especially when she got off the topic of Just Writing Books and talked about all the other stuff she's done, like art and comics and BALLET and all sorts. I've generally come away from these talks thinking one of three things - "What an interesting person", "What a handy selection of writing tips" or "Why on earth did I bother going to that?" This time it was very much the FIRST, she was full of THORTS and in an ongoingly STRANGE way she kept reminding me of a younger, more female Alan Moore. The comparison occurred about halfway through and KEPT occurring - I wanted to ask about it, but as I'd already put my hand up and said, in a QUAVERING voice, "What is your favourite sci-fi?" I thought that might be pushing it.

It was all jolly good, except for a couple of weird bits where they interviewer got a bit sniffy about sci-fi. The time travel aspect of Time Traveler's Wife was spoken of as if it was some outlandish KRAZY thing to have in a Proper Novel and science fiction itself was referred to as something you only got involved with as an adolescent. When she said "comics are the best form of art" I tbought he was going to IMPLODE with confusion!

I mean, I do realise that people DO tend to read science fiction as teenagers (when they first get to choose their OWN books) and there's been a lot of old nonsense published in comics, but then there as also been in novels, films, television, and definitely theatre. I guess I am a bit OVER SENSITIVE about this sort of thing, but it does strike me as WEIRD when supposedly intelligent people, here in the twenty first century, still think entire genres, or indeed entire formats of ART, can be dismissed without really knowing anything about them. I distinctively remember going to a writing event a while ago where someone described science fiction as "niche", and everybody nodded wisely. It's a pretty bloody big niche!

ANYWAY, apart from that it was dead good, and she answered my "favourite science fiction" question with TWO authors - HG Wells (who is ACE) and also Kelly Link, who I've never heard of, but will be getting STAT, for LO! science fiction is GRATE!

posted 28/4/2014 by MJ Hibbett

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