Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Literary author writes book dealing with sf tropes and themes; author is asked if said book is science fiction; author insists it certainly isn’t, while describing it in terms ubiquitous in science fiction critical discourse; science fiction fandom predictably loses its shit and goes on to demonstrate exactly why anyone outside the treehouse does everything they can to disavow having ever considered setting foot in it.
I’m sure I’m not alone in finding it ironic that a writer who purportedly has no interest in science fiction is able to come up with such a neat and tidy description of what science fiction is and sets out to do. But if it’s dull and annoying to hear these misconceptions about SF trotted out yet again, it is equally tedious to witness another windy bout of performative outrage from the science fiction community, most especially when it is obvious that few, if any of those doing the yelling have actually read the text they’re so pissed off about.
[…] the literary/SF divide is and always has been a war of two armies. For all those writers such as McEwan who refuse to touch the monkey wrench for fear it might be contaminated with genre radioactivity, there are an equal number of writers behind the SF barricades who continue to insist that science fiction is their monkey wrench, that no one else should be allowed to use it unless they want to be exposed to ridicule for using it wrong, and that they should especially not be allowed to use it unless they can tell you where the metal it is made from was mined, write a three-page essay on the smelting process and cite bibliographical sources attesting the canonical uses of monkey wrenches from Golden Age times.
Something something literature of change and futurity something.