Living for the Revel (catvalente) wrote,
Living for the Revel

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The Silent F

So there's the whole kerfuffle going on about whether or not the Science Fiction Poetry Association is, or ought to be, inclusive of fantasy poetry. Mainly because, in response to a review of Star*Line over at seajules, someone suggested that, respectfully, SCIENCE FICTION RULES, FANTASY DROOLS, which brought up memories of the suggested name change years ago to the Speculative Poetry Association or the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, and to which the collective response was: LOLZNO.

upstart_crow,tithenai,time_shark, the usual suspects, all have good posts on it. rose_lemberg  has a roundup.

I'm not here to write a thoughtful post explaining why a little fucking respect for other sub-genres might behoove all of us within the non-realist community, or that the Rhyslings have been dominated by fantasy poetry for years, or even that maybe, just maybe, everyone should focus on writing poetry that doesn't embarass itself and stop arguing about terminology. Though I usually refrain from even discussing things that are already drama storms, I'm rolling up my sleeves--I aim to make trouble on the internet.

Because you know what? I'm fucking sick of it.

I'm sick of being looked down on by science fiction authors for one damn reason or another, the endless accusations from the SF camp that fantasy isn't as rigorous, or Important to the Intellectual Development of the Species, or h4rdc0r3, or whatever it is they hate about fantasy this week. Once, at a convention, another author turned to me on a panel and told me that my entire genre was just "kowtowing to Daddy Tolkien." The rest of the panel laughed and nodded agreement. After making some generally rude remarks about Daddy Heinlein and Daddy Asimov, I actually went to check the convention booklet to make sure it was a Science Fiction and Fantasy convention, because I had never felt so unwelcome as a fantasy author.

Because the simple fact is? I cannot think of a single instance where fantasy authors en masse have risen up and demanded that the "S" be removed from SFWA or SFPA or any other organization claiming to represent all of us.

And yet every so often someone has to barge in and tell all of us fantasy writers to GTFO, so they can have their rocket club without us.

Good grief, why? Who cares? Is SF such a delicate flower that it will bear no other genres before it? Where is the threat here? Why must an entire group of writers be expelled in order to keep an acronym sacred?

I'm sick to death of being the silent F in SF, of being told that what I do is somehow on the face of it less rigorous and deserving of serious thought (the academic attention debate always seems to come back to science fiction, since, you know, Tolkien is the whole of fantasy and he gets plenty of academic love) than slimy alien fic. I've talked before about what I think are the underpinnings of this atrocious prejudice, but at this point, the point of yet another dude telling the fantasy writers in his midst to leave, I don't even want to dignify it with re-stating analytical arguments. It's clubhouse behavior, that's all. It has nothing to do with keeping the SFPA pure and free of icky, girly fantasy.

This doesn't even get into the insidious and intellectually dishonest implications in the old saws about how SF is about the future and fantasy is about the past, or the terminology we use--hard and soft--to describe each...or, even, how gendered this whole discussion is, with men trumpeting a rocket-shaped horn and laughing behind their hands at us girls and our silly fairy tales. Nevermind that both genders write both genres, somehow these conversations always seem to fall uncomfortably into a formula of a male SF author rudely calling out fantasy authors, and female fantasy authors trying to respond calmly and logically, explaining the virtues of accepting them into the club they had foolishly thought welcomed them, while not being listened to in the least, and receiving rudeness their male brethren simply do not in return for their peacemaking efforts.

Well, you know what? I am many things, but a gentle peacemaker I am not. At times like this, I'm pretty sure the F in SF stands for "fuck you."

Fantasy is an amazing genre. It contains some of the greatest literature written in the history of the world. It embraces possibility and strangeness and passion and magic--and sometimes there's even science in there. Rigorous science, even. It's as hard as you want it to be. I am a fantasy writer and a fantasy poet and I will go to the mat for my genre.

It's not even controversial to point out that fantasy as a genre right now is dynamic, growing, innovative, and bustling. Current SF? A bit anemic, a bit derivative, with a few stellar books here and there. So much so that all Neal Stephenson has to do is cough and he is assured of a place on the Hugo ballot. (Shit, I feel bad just typing that. I don't want SF to be a dwindling genre with a dwindling and increasingly curmudgeonly audience. I love SF. But of course in screeds against fantasy no one feels the need to say they love fantasy, no, really, some of their best friends are fantasists. So why do I feel guilty pointing out that this is not exactly the Golden Age?)

But it's all about labels, right? SF Clubhouse. Fantasists Keep Out.

The fact is, fantasy is by far the more inclusive term. It could easily be argued that science fiction is an exclusionary term while fantasy is inclusive. All science fiction is fantasy, not all fantasy is science fiction. And yet we never go around screaming that SF authors should go soak it, mainly because that is dick behavior, and doesn't do anybody any good.

I mean, it sounds ridiculous to even say it, right? I hereby move that the SFWA and SFPA be changed to the FWA and FPA in order to welcome all non-realist writers under their umbrellas.

Why, it's like calling it herstory instead of history, or something!

And yet, that makes a hell of a lot more sense than kicking out anyone who doesn't have enough ray guns or alien cats in their work. But it doesn't even get brought up at meetings, because the SF guys would have a collective coronary. But we fantasy writers, we just take it and take it and don't even ask for that silent F to be pronounced. Nobody is afraid of pissing off the fantasy contingent.

Well, I'm pissed off. I'm, dare I say, mad as hell, and not taking it anymore. Fantasy is here to stay. It's only the oldest kind of literature for fuck's sake. So pull up your big boy pants, learn to play nice with others, and in the words of the post that started all of this, get over it.

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