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Sci-Fi Books The Media

Why Is Science Fiction Snubbed By Literary Awards? (galacticbrain.com) 252

Slashdot reader bowman9991 quotes an essay from GalacticBrain: Science fiction authors have long been outcasts from the literary world, critics using the worst examples of the genre as ammunition against it. Unfortunately though, at times even science fiction authors themselves can turn on their own kind: "Science fiction is rockets, chemicals and talking squids in outer space," mocked Margaret Atwood, one of her many attempts to convince people that she is not a science fiction author, even though one of her most famous novels, A Handmaid's Tale, is exactly that...

Considered by the literary establishment, and frequently by non-SF award-giving institutions, to be trashy, pulpish, commercially driven lightweight gutter fiction, it's no surprise that very few works of science fiction have won major literary awards... Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the award-winning (not "literary" awards obviously) Mars novels, [in 2009] hit out at the literary establishment, accusing the Man Booker judges of "ignorance" in neglecting science fiction, which he declared was "the best British literature of our time".

The article ends with a simple question. "Will science fiction authors ever escape the publication ghetto?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Is Science Fiction Snubbed By Literary Awards?

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    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 )

      Ursula LeGuin doesn't write "trashy, pulpish, commercially driven lightweight gutter fiction" so no it doesn't count.

      The fact that the vast majority of SF writers don't do that either seems to have eluded some of 'those' literary aficionados but I've always had a hard time separating them from audio enthusiasts or serious wine freaks. Their critiques sound remarkably similar. And make about as much sense.

      Seriously, the big problem with SF seems to be that the protagonist isn't an alcoholic who has been su

      • by Zocalo ( 252965 )

        Seriously, the big problem with SF seems to be that the protagonist isn't an alcoholic who has been suffering simultaneously from PTSD, fibromyalgia, some varied form of social / sexual or political repression and / or abuse while living in a run down apartment in a small American town.

        You know, that sounds a lot like Miller from James S. A. Corey's Expanse series:
        Alcoholic - check
        PTSD - well, he's certainly traumatised and suffering from stress, especially in the latter books...
        Fibromyalgia - check (b

      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        With quite a collection in my bookshelves I'd say that the range of personalities and human limitations presented are quite wide in Science Fiction.

        The early Science Fiction with Alfred Bester, Christopher Anvil, Robert Heinlein, James White and Isaac Asimov was quite wide-spread and was covering a wide range of ideas about society, human behavior ideas and social experiments in an environment that gave them freedom to place their own rules to their experiments. But in the end it was about how to look at hu

      • by polgair ( 922265 )

        Well, I think they are not the same thing. That's like going to a math conference and get disappointed that they don't hand out research awards for results found in mechanical engineering papers

        Let's talk about two bodies of work that ought to be about the same type of people, but actually yield very different results. Let's compare James Salter's first two books, The Hunters and Cassada with The Expanse series.

        James Salter's first two books draws from his experience as a late joiner to the American Army

  • Mass appeal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 09, 2016 @12:50PM (#53042223)

    Proper appreciation of science fiction requires an educated mindset that can properly appreciate science as well as hopefully look forward in the face of existential crisis.

    Most people just aren't there. They prefer stories about people that alternately backstab and fall in love with one another.

    That's just how the cookie crumbles.

    • Re:Mass appeal (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @01:17PM (#53042357)

      In the same vein, no comedy has every won an Oscar for best film. Because the people who make that decision are pretentious, pseudo-intelectual snobs who think that comedy is beneath them.

      • Only true with a very narrow definition of comedy.

        Cuckoo's nest? (Drama comedy)

        Annie Hall? Fair enough, not funny. But supposed Romantic Comedy.

        I agree though, Borat was robbed.

        • I agree though, Borat was robbed.

          It wasn't that good. I liked it in parts, not so much in others. But it wasn't very good. IMO Bruno was better. Especially with the OJ baby, the Harrison Ford interview and the tv focus group. The bicycle was... pretty bad though.

        • Cuckoo's Nest is vicious. That allows the critics to ignore the comedic elements. Pure comedy, like the great Bringing Up Baby, would never be seriously considered for an Academy Best Picture Award.
      • Annie Hall won best picture.
    • Literary awards aren't given out for mass appeal though.

      • Your average literary nerd/professor/author are mostly people who have a hard time with toasters and can absolutely not get their VCR to stop flashing 12:00. And yes, they still have a VCR.

    • Proper appreciation of SF requires actually reading some. Back in high school we got quite a bit of schooling in (Dutch) literature; the textbooks did briefly cover SF but you could tell that the authors hadn't read any. Their description of SF boiled down to a very small handful of notable works, the rest being rockets, chemicals and talking squid. The teachers (language majors mostly) likewise hadn't read any. Critics of literature and the guys who nominate books for literary awards probably don't read
      • Critics of literature and the guys who nominate books for literary awards probably don't read a lot of SF either

        They also, as far as I can tell, generally don't have much of a clue about science and math either. This works into why they rave over Jonathan Franzen publishing a novel every ten years or so and praising it to the heavens, rather than even considering sci-fi which may have concepts well beyond the critics' understanding.

        I remember once seeing a complaint from an author about the New York Times weekly book review section, to the effect: "The New York Times likes young women poets who killed themselves."

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        Critics of literature and the guys who nominate books for literary awards probably don't read a lot of SF either, so they don't know the subgenres, which works to pick up and which ones to avoid

        A good example of this is the English Literature acadmemic who had written an "ironic" steampunk Swift retelling (Lilliput with steam - not that there is anything wrong with that) who tore into Greg Egan for writing a novel where the aliens very apparently far too alien and there was far too much science in the ficti

        • But Incandescence was a pretty poor novel as Egan novels go. It doesn't compare to Permutation City or Diaspora.

          His most literary novel would be Teranesia.

    • Taking things a but further... if no SF is receiving a literary award, why would it fucking matter?
      There's SF-specific awards being handed out there, e.g. Nebula et. al., genres are being kept separate and I think this is best for everyone.
      Wondering why no SF gained literary awards is like wondering why no non-SF gained any Nebula awards.

      I personally couldn't care less. SF is bashed? So be it. It's still pretty much the only genre I ever buy in form of books (with very, very few exceptions).

    • Re:Mass appeal (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @03:22PM (#53042911)

      Proper appreciation of science fiction requires an educated mindset that can properly appreciate science as well as hopefully look forward in the face of existential crisis.

      Hey, that's some pretty good science fiction you just wrote. But fiction nonetheless.

    • I'm not sure a "they don't like what I like because I'm so much smarter than them" is really going to persuade anyone but the choir.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @12:51PM (#53042229)

    Or, as Margaret Atwood put it more bluntly and infamously: "Science fiction is rockets, chemicals and talking squids in outer space."

    So Sad Puppies were actually right?

    • And yet Atwood is no stranger to speculative fiction, which is generally lumped in with SF. How is Handmaiden's Tale not SF?

      • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

        It's also unfair to Margaret Atwood, as she retracted that statement later. She is now fully onboard with regarding Science Fiction as Literary genre.

  • Snobbery (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @12:52PM (#53042233)

    Literary awards are snobbish. Quality in literature is subjective, so awards go to people that award-givers want to award.

    Isn't this obvious?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You beat me to that point, but I will expand by asking why one needs an award to feel accomplished? If you are able to leverage writing talent into an otherwise successful career, then who cares what a stuffy panel full of tensile-textile-tallywhacker-totes think?

    • Re:Snobbery (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @02:11PM (#53042603)

      It's partly that, perhaps, but I think it's also something more. I think that science fiction demand something unique of a reader that other genres do not. It requires a larger leap of imagination in order to allow the author to create an entire world, and quite possibly a new society to go along with it, with different rules and conventions. They insist that a read be able to take that leap and make that world their own for the duration of the story.

      Sadly, I think this is a leap too far for many people, who consider "playing make-believe", even in literary form, beneath them, somehow childish or undignified. It pulls you out of your comfortable knowledge of the world and everything in it, and forces you to relearn the universe and its rules again, which may be an uncomfortable process for some. And this is perhaps even more true for fantasy than science fiction, because at least science fiction can still take place in our own universe where the same physical laws still apply, however speculative it is with future technology.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As far as I can tell, having been subjected to several teachers into the stuff many years ago (and a number of friends since), "Quality Literature" typically eskews plot, fun and excitement in favour of deeply person journeys in unpleasant subjects and psychological waffle the "blurs the boundaries between (typically unspecified) genres" or similar bollocks. Literary awards seem to reward this style.

      As a result I (possibly unfairly) tend to shun books with literary pretentions in favour of those that look

      • If the dust jacket uses the words "insightful", "moving," or "poignant", run away and don't look back.
  • Due to the Social Justice Warrior influx [battleswarmblog.com], the genre's awards are no longer given on merit, but rather on meeting the proper criteria of political, ethnic and gender correctness.

    If you question this turn of events, expect to find yourself expelled from Worldcon [battleswarmblog.com] for voicing anti-Social Justice Warrior thoughts.

    Before the SJW invasion, the Hugo Award used to mean something, and the best of science fiction was gaining increased literary respect. Neither of those are true anymore.

    And if SF awards have become meaningless, this designation applies doubly to literary awards. Quick, name the last ten winners of the National Book Award for Fiction. Outside a small circle of literary devotees, no one knows or cares.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      1. The submitter's question was why is sci-fi ignored by the mainstream crowd.

      2. Sci-fi and a lot of "geekdom" in general does have a misogyny problem.

      3. The solution is to address the misogyny, not to force everything into the 50/50 balance a lot of SJW want. If your book is about space marines and 90% of the characters are male, that's not misogyny... it's life. If the book were then to only refer to and treat women as sex objects, submissive servants, etc. That's misogyny. Too many people confuse omi

      • by Zak3056 ( 69287 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @03:19PM (#53042893) Journal

        If your book is about space marines and 90% of the characters are male, that's not misogyny... it's life. If the book were then to only refer to and treat women as sex objects, submissive servants, etc. That's misogyny.

        I'll grant the characters are probably misogynistic, but that would not necessarily make the story or the author misogynistic.

        Regardless, you can write good sci-fi in the constraints laid out by the SJW.

        This, right here, is the problem. Who the hell is ANYONE for whatever reason to lay out constraints? "Hey, the writing was superb, and the story was great, but in chapter 5 someone said something the thought police don't agree with, so no award for you."

      • But plenty of great literary works have a misogyny problem, treating women as sex objects, submissive, etc. This is because most of the time, in most of the places in the world, women are treated as sex objects, submissive, etc. Claiming "misogyny problem" for science fiction is therefore just a straw man, a smokescreen.

    • by ravenshrike ( 808508 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @02:58PM (#53042797)

      That's not entirely true. While the SJW infiltration that started in the late noughts certainly didn't help matters, the Hugos had been struggling for relevancy as an award since the late 80's. This is because they basically shun YA Sci-fi and the thought of bringing in new readers. The average age at Worldcon has to hover at least between 40 and 50 if not higher.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        There was no SJW infilitration or cabal. Never mind that "SJW" means "someone I don't like and by the way I'm a fuckwit". All that happened is a bunch of people with dubious tastes happened to be the only ones who could be arsed to actually nominate and vote. As such it was about the most pathetic "conspiracy" in the history of the world ever because it turned out that the criteria for being conspired against were more or less "too lazy to voice an opinion".

        So crappy sci-fi got given awards, because some pe

        • When the Nebulas, an award by sci fi authors for excellence(unlike the Hugos) in the field of Sci-Fi/Fantasy gives the award to a story like "If you were a dinosaur my love" there's a problem with SJW infiltration. It's not sci-fi, it's not fantasy, and since it's nothing but someone's personal twisted revenge porn they're daydreaming about with no effect on the real world it doesn't even qualify as speculative fiction. Even that idiotic rain story from the following year was at least spec fic.

          • I'm not going to defend either of the stories. The dinosaur one was bad and not sci-fi. The idiotic rain one was idiotic. If you cared enough, you could dig up the review I wrote about it from the depth of slashdot.

            When the Nebulas, an award by sci fi authors for excellence(unlike the Hugos) in the field of Sci-Fi/Fantasy gives the award to a story like "If you were a dinosaur my love" there's a problem with SJW infiltration.

            Nope it's not "SJW" infiltration, and by ranting and raving (seriously, SJW is an

            • Kim Stanley Robinson seems popular, though when I tried reading one of his books, it was clear he didn't have the slightest grasp about a number of topics he was writing about

              I'd be interested in an example of this. I can think of some bad science in Aurora and 2312 but elsewhere it is quite solid. There is more solid science in the Mars Trilogy than many comparable books which feature terraforming.

      • It actually started much earlier. I usually point to Wizards of the Coast as a recognizable onset point. They mandated the 50/50 mix back in the late 80's in order to be published by them.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      Due to the Social Justice Warrior influx [battleswarmblog.com], the genre's awards are no longer given on merit, but rather on meeting the proper criteria of political, ethnic and gender correctness.

      It appeared to me some people writing small press Military Science Fiction who would not have been able to be published if they were attempting to write mainstream Military Fiction were just a bit pissed off that they were not getting the awards but some women were.
      Hornblower in Space with a magic cat gets somew

  • by Ambassador Kosh ( 18352 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @01:02PM (#53042269)

    Do these awards even matter? My understanding is that science-fiction sells pretty well.

    Before you buy a book do you check to see if it has won awards? Do you even care?

    It certainly seems that amazon doesn't use awards when recommending books that would interest me.

    I understand that people want to receive recognition but in the end does it actually matter? It seems to me that just like other award ceremonies they just matter less and less. Kind of like when the Oscars don't represent the actual movies that people really liked they stop mattering to people.

    In the end read what you want and let computer algorithms figure out what you are more likely to want to read and ignore the silly awards.

    • Amazon uses (presumably) links to what sells and what other people have purchased that might fit your interests. Works not all that well.

      Awards, like Hugo / Nebula / Pulitzer don't necessarily mean that the book is interesting or relevant but do tend to reflect some higher level of decent writing. I often think that the awards ought to go to the editor more often than not.

      • I often think that the awards ought to go to the editor more often than not.

        Any decent writer knows that a good editor is worth his weight in gold.

    • Do these awards even matter? My understanding is that science-fiction sells pretty well.

      They matter, just not as much (from a business perspective) as sales.

      Awards help drive sales. They give something to add to the blurb on the back of the book, they give the author a credential on their resume for any article they ever want to write, they make it MUCH more likely the author will be allowed to teach creative writing at a top school if she wants to, etc...

      A sizable set of the people they drive sales to are also people with significant disposable income and a lot of friends who also read books

    • Before I buy a book, I find out it exists. I usually do that through articles, blogs and the like - and they tend to favor books which won awards.

      So no, I do not directly check that. I do not care. But I will probably not find out a book is worth reading unless it has won an award, or is from an author who has previously won one. There are exceptions, but they are not that many.

    • Until you hit a high school English teacher who assigns a book report: "you can pick whichever book you want, so long as it's won award X, Y, or Z, and no other student requested the book first."

    • The big 5 TradPub sci-fi/fantasy sector has been floundering pretty hard the last few years. It doesn't help that they're complete morons about their e-book policies. Including indie and small o mid publishers and the outlook is much better. Not great ,but still pretty good.

  • Sci Fi? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 09, 2016 @01:10PM (#53042321)

    Well, the real SciFi has been associated with tennage boys and young men.
    That in itself makes it a SJW target.
    And then there are some movies associated with that type of fiction....
    While bookstores lump SciFi and Fantasy together, so do the Literary awards judges.
    To be inclusive of other neglected genres, lets not be too specific.
    No awards for Harlequin Romances, associated with teenage girls and young/old women... this includes 50 Shades...
    No awards for murder mysteries, comedy or otherwse..... graphic novels included...
    No awards for westerns, with hero or heroine....
    No awards for gangster tales, crime novels.

    OOPS! I forgot - some of these do get awards based on sales.

    Of course, to be fair, the writing/plot/attention-to-detals in any of these genres may be good, bad, boring or mediocre.
    But people buy them, so they will be written.
    ( when Tolkeins son and Herberts son tried to continue, it was evident they could not write for poop)

    If they literary judges weren't so anal about intellectual stuff ( HUTA ), then these should get awards:
    Asmov - I, Robot and the Foundation Series.
    Herbert - Dune.... only Dune.
    Clark - 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    Bradbury - The Martian Chronicles.

    Disclaimer - I like a cheesy novel...

  • They make a lot more money churning out series than they ever would with a single "literary" novel. The critics in their Sci-Fi ghetto are a lot more sympathetic than any literary critic would be. They look better off constrained by their genre.

  • Not sure (Score:5, Informative)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Sunday October 09, 2016 @01:35PM (#53042441)

    The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling won the Nobel prize 1907)
    Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, Booker 1981, uses an SF-nal element (telepathy).
    The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Pulitzer 2007, is post-apocalyptic and thus firmly SF.
    The Glass Bead Game aka Magister Ludi, Hermann Hesse, Nobel 1946 (a work set about four centuries from now, centering on a game of intellect.)
    Slaughterhouse Five
    1984
    Brave New World
    Fahrenheit 451
    Solaris ...

  • Literary critics want their work to be relevant to society at large or to their discipline, so they praise books that address contemporary issues or the issue of writing as writing. Science Fiction and Fantasy are seldom about contemporary issues and seldom concerned with dissecting the conventions of the novel. A Handmaid's Tale is socially relevant and the prose is great, so it has praise heaped upon it. Implied Spaces has interesting ideas with scant social relevance, invisible prose—and space og

  • by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @01:45PM (#53042481)

    It's the same reason science fiction rarely wins oscars and is lumped in with fantasy when it's acknowledged as a genre at all. Same reason, for that matter that comedy doesn't win book or movie awards, and for television the Emmys shuffles comedy to its own category away from the "serious" programming and doesn't acknowledge SciFi at all. It's the same reason that the "technical" Oscars and Emmys are shuffled off to their own non-broadcast semi-ceremonies. Hell, it's the very same reason the Spielberg was ignored by the academy until Schindler's List, in spite of the undeniable awesomeness of Jaws, ET, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    The people making the decisions are pretentious stuck-up snobs with overly inflated opinions of their own fabulousness. And genres such as SciFi, comedy, adventure, and the like are not "serious" enough to be rewarded more than very rarely, and then only begrudgingly by those people.

  • Too often, scenery-chewing melodrama is what earns cinema and literary awards. And the best science fiction often requires some knowledge of science, so it receives short shrift from judges who couldn't pass a Grade 10 math exam.

  • Perhaps SciFi is poo-pooed by literary types because it too easily supports Deus ex machina [wikipedia.org] as a device for plot development.

    Discuss.

    • Oh please. DeM exists in all genres of literature. SciFi no more supports it than English literature or modern: Oliver Twist, Lord of the Flies,
      • Oh please. DeM exists in all genres of literature.

        Well, almost all, and in varying degrees. For example. you won't often see DeM used in a spy or crime novel.

        SciFi no more supports it than English literature or modern:

        I have to disagree. SciFi allows for more use of DeM because the genre introduces fantastic or futuristic situations and technologies that suspend judgement. Introducing DeM into historical or contemporary contexts requires more of a stretch of faith.

        Oliver Twist, Lord of the Flies,

        Neither of which contain any examples of DeM. (Dream sequences and improbable but possible events don't count.) You'd be better off citing examples of Sh

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @02:40PM (#53042715)

    Read Stanislaw Lem's Microworlds. He variously suffers from elitism, spurned-author petulance, and a predilection for Hegelian phraseology, but he offers up real ideas where few ideas roam.

    Here's a bit from his essay Science Fiction: A Hopeless Case — With Exceptions:

    Probably the pressure of trivial literature has crushed many highly talented writers with the result that today they deliver the products that keep highbrow readers away from science fiction. This process brings about a negative selection of authors and readers: for even those writers who can write good things produce banalities wholesale: the banality repels intelligent readers away from science fiction; as they form a small majority in fandom the "silent majority" dominates the market, and the evolution into higher spheres cannot occur.

    Therefore, in science fiction, a vicious circle of cause and effect coupled together keeps the existing state of science fiction intact and going.

    Another essay which I thought had some real substance: Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among the Charlatans [depauw.edu]

    Here is a fragment from my own notes, concerning an essay I wasn't able to later pin point:

    [Lem] makes some rather complex arguments that separating the good from the bad is a lot harder than it looks, but the critic must first identify the correct mode of parsing a work, should it deserve one.

    He also points out that the working critic with the skills to properly perform this work are ever in short supply.

    With some of Dick, Le Guin, or Vonnegut I do feel like challenged to identify the correct mode of parsing the work. Vonnegut never settles for just a single dark layer.

    I feel the extra depth sometimes with Gibson, Clarke, Niven, to name a few that I've liked, but I also perceive the banality, too. Gibson makes it up with tone, Clarke with his natural ability as a raconteur, and Niven with his larger-than-life extrapolations. Talent 3, genre 0.

    A major problem with SF is often that our little pinprick of a blue marble is so often beaten to a bloody pulp by the Total Plot Device Holodeck, which constitutes 90% of SF's dark energy.

  • by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @02:47PM (#53042747)

    A lot of SF is just poorly written. As much of the readership also has poor writing skills and they are interested in other things this is easily forgiven with the genre, but that is no reason for others to lower their standards to our level.

    The major writers like Asimov acknowledged that the were poor writers. The problem today is writers that have no self-awareness of what they are actually making and instead see an SJW bogeyman behind every tree.

  • "fuck you, nerds", that's why! ;)

  • by careysub ( 976506 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @03:32PM (#53042969)

    Peter S. Beagle and Ursula K. LeGuin have each written a number of superb essays on the clear discrimination of English speaking critics (at least) against science fiction and fantasy -- which strongly overlap (although hard SF and sword-and-sorcery fans often disagree with this).

    A good resource on this is Beagle's The Secret History of Fantasy which contains an nice forward by Beagle about this, as well as an excellent essay by LeGuin and David Hartwell on the subject. I can't lay my hands on his best essay on this at the moment though.

    It wasn't always this way. Fantasy and science fiction literature from the 19th century and before are well regarded ("The Faerie Queene", "Frankenstein", for two random examples). Fantasy literature, if written in Spanish ("magic realism"), is adored by English speaking critics.

    Part of this can be traced to one extremely influential critic - Edmund Wilson - who hated fantasy literature in all forms with an undying poison pen passion. He had a very restrictive notion of what constituted "literature" and most of English speaking criticism has absorbed his personal preferences as core principles of literature. Wilson dominated U.S. criticism for about 50 years, until 1972, which has yet to recover from his opinions.

  • by LeftCoastThinker ( 4697521 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @03:42PM (#53043005)

    As someone who has been a voracious reader of SF for 40 years and dabbled in SF authorship, this remains a problem for the genre. The reality is that many of the literary awards are looking to push a certain agenda, rather than to reward the most moving, innovative, well written pieces that they review. SF, on the other hand, is looking to engage the reader and capture their imagination. To show the reader new worlds, new races and, often, eschew social and moral norms. This flies in the face of the world view and objectives of most of the critics out there, who think that they are both intellectually and morally superior to the rest of the world, and thus you have the snub of most SF content.

    For my money, Amazon should create it's own awards ceremony with cash payouts, considering the volume of books that it clears, and instead of the crusty, bitter old critics who have never created anything in their lives, they should use a combination of lottery/volunteer judges who are also known, active authors, certified purchase reviews and volume sold to give out awards. Literature has always been about bringing new ideas to the masses, but if your novel is neither popular, nor well received by the public, you have failed as an author, regardless of the content of your work.

  • by qeveren ( 318805 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @03:57PM (#53043081)

    THAT is literature. Everything else is plebeian trash, because it isn't what they were taught.

  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @04:28PM (#53043275)

    As noted by CP Snow years ago, academic science and academic lit are two completely separate cultures, even when they share the same set of university campuses. Because one element of the literary culture is fearing science and its applications, any literature that shows appreciation for what science does and valorizes characters who act in its realm is despised. When the literary culture does speculate about science, you get snobby old religious charlatans like Aldous Huxley ("Science is against nature") who in his dotage evolved into a New Age charlatan with a similar set of viewpoints.

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @04:50PM (#53043387)

    Considered by the literary establishment, and frequently by non-SF award-giving institutions, to be trashy, pulpish, commercially driven lightweight gutter fiction,

    The "establishment" scorn SF because it is about ideas, whereas mainstream fiction is about relationships.

    Books about ideas require the reader to think, while books about relationships require that the readers feel. Thinking is much harder.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      The "establishment" scorn a lot of things.
      Phillip K. Dick's novel "Confessions of a Crap Artist" 1959 (published 1975) is one of the best mainstream novels I've read but at the time the changes of point of view to different characters spooked the publishers. In the Science Fiction genre he was able to make it through the scorn and get his work published.
    • I don't think your distinction is universally true, but you've pointed out a trend that deserves serious consideration. Political fiction and some adventure fiction are about ideas, are they mainstream?
  • Good God, man. Read The Sirens of Titan.
  • As Larry Coreia states, the first goal of a author should be "get paid". If you were a author what would you rather have, the sales numbers equal to 50 Shades of Grey or the sales numbers from the last National Book Award winner? What percentage of /. readers can name the last National Book Award winner? What percentage of /. readers can name half a dozen different S.F. books that they consider good reading?
    • I'm a commercial writer, not an author. Margaret Mitchell was an author. She wrote one book.
      Mickey Spillane
  • - was awarded the Nobel prize for literature exactly 70 years ago. The Glass Bead Game, his magnum opus, is most definitely SciFi.

  • Not many Westerns or Fantasy Novels or Mysteries have won the Nobel Prize for literature. Such novels are specifically designed to appeal to a subculture, and are not generally interesting for people who aren't already fans of the genre.

    Likewise, I think most fans of Science-Fiction don't read much in the realm of mainstream fiction. For such readers, there are Hugos and Asimovs and plenty of awards/top 10 lists for Science Fiction, and any other genre fiction you can think of. It's not even like the Osc

  • I wasn't aware that anyone read "literature" these days. I don't. Science fiction, fantasy, mystery and some romance, sure. But boring, depressing stories about the "human condition" that try extra hard to use metaphor? Nope. No one reads that junk.

    So who cares about these irrelevant literary awards?

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