Friday, July 04, 2008

Via Wyrdsmiths

This is Hal Duncan responding to the question, "Is there a gender imbalance ins SF/F. The discussion is at SF Signal and is worth reading.
The second part of the issue is, I think, both more abstract and more crucial (in my opinion): the field has long since radically shifted its focus away from that boy's own pulp mode; with the New Wave, the feminist SF of the 70s, and everything since, the field has broadened its aims and its target audience to the point where it's really a different creature entirely. I'm not even sure it's strictly speaking a genre anymore. We partly acknowledge that with the term speculative fiction but I don't think we've gone far enough in recognising the changes; we're still tied to that brand image. Personally, I'd rebrand the whole fucking field -- market it as indie fiction, critique it as strange fiction, try to totally reboot it in people's imaginations so that we think of it in a way that's not coloured by that male-orientation. This is, I freely admit, not even remotely practical, and beyond the scope of the specific problem of gender imbalance, but there's a part of me that thinks -- to use a programming metaphor -- we need to utterly redefine the system architecture rather than just tinker about with patches and fixes on the legacy code.

This goes back to the question of what is happening in SF? As an old timer, I am reluctant to give up SF as a category. But the younger writers may be right that the category has sort of exploded itself.


Blogger robert wood said...

It seems like this idea of 'exploding' the genre comes up periodically. You can go back to the late '80's and early '90's and Marleen Barr makes the argument with her work. I'm sure it appeared in the comments of the new wave, and you can even go back to Robert Heinlein for a similar thought with his concept of 'speculative fiction.' Personally, I think there is much valuable as their is problematic in the history of the genre, and it has its utopian dimensions as well as its deep flaws.

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