Bruce Sterling, from a 1989 piece titled “Slipstream”:
“Science Fiction” today is a lot like the contemporary Soviet Union; the sprawling possessor of a dream that failed. Science fiction’s official dogma, which almost everybody ignores, is based on attitudes toward science and technology which are bankrupt and increasingly divorced from any kind of reality. “Hard-SF,” the genre’s ideological core, is a joke today; in terms of the social realities of high-tech post-industrialism, it’s about as relevant as hard-Leninism.
… But now look at it. Consider the repulsive ghastliness of the SF category’s Lovecraftian inbreeding. People retched in the ’60s when De Camp and Carter skinned the corpse of Robert E. Howard for its hide and tallow, but nowadays necrophilia is run on an industrial basis. Shared-world anthologies. Braided meganovels. Role-playing tie-ins. Sharecropping books written by pip-squeaks under the blazoned name of established authors. Sequels of sequels, trilogy sequels of yet-earlier trilogies, themselves cut-and-pasted from yet-earlier trilogies. What’s the common thread here? The belittlement of individual creativity, and the triumph of anonymous product. It’s like some Barthesian nightmare of the Death of the Author and his replacement by “text.”
That’s getting it said.
- The New York Times
- The Washington Post
- “Under Water,” Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker
- “Running the Table,” Frank Conroy, GQ