Two pieces of science fiction criticism

I mentioned a few months
ago
how difficult I found it to write well about Science
Fiction, although I enjoy reading it.

I realized this morning that this week I’ve read two really
good pieces of criticism that were science fiction related, so I
thought I’d pass them on to you.

  • Here’s the
    piece
    Jo
    Walton
    wrote about Mary Renault. You should read it for
    its description of why trying to sell her work as genre Romance
    is a doomed strategy:

    Romance makes assumptions about the value and nature of love that are very different from the assumptions Renault is using. Romances are set in a universe that works with the belief that love is a good thing that conquers all, that deserves to conquer all. Renault is starting from an axiomatic position that love is a struggle, an agon or contest—a contest between the two people as to who is going to lose by loving the other more, which certainly isn’t going to lead to inevitable happiness.

  • Here’s an interview
    with Peter
    Watts
    where he explains why there’s so much torture in
    contemporary science fiction:

    Need to deliver a three-page neurophilosophical infodump at the climax of your first-contact novel? You could always have Spock and McCoy trading debating points in the med lab. Or you can have your protagonist assaulted so violently that his very consciousness shatters into profound autism, that he perceives all external input as a deafening disembodied voice from the heavens. (That was Blindsight.) Pretty much any infodump becomes more – immediate – when you sheath it in pain and jeopardy.

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