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The Hidebound Mainstream

When people ask me Why do you write science fiction?, there is often another question lurking underneath: Why would you Want to?

I’m going to trot out this answer from now on: Mainstream is too restrictive for me.

Read Dave Wolverton’s terrific article in Tangent , celebrating fantasists and arguing that  mainstream fiction is snobbishly restrictive in permissible subject matter. He shows that there are unspoken restrictions in literary fiction: 1) tales must lack form ; 2) only certain types of characters must be portrayed; 3) certain conflicts and settings are forbidden; 4) political correctness is mandatory; 5) tale must lean toward existentialism rather than a more affirmative world view; 6) it must be hard to understand;  7) heightened language in the service of these vapid qualities is a must.

Favorite quote: “Unable to explore setting, conflict, characters or themes in their fiction, the mainstreamers wrote more and more eloquently about nothing at all.”

Don’t get me wrong. I still read and love literary fiction. The best of mainstream authors do a superb job in their sometimes narrow field of vision. They can drop the snobbishness anytime now, though.


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