It’s Not Just Planetary Romance
November 21, 2015
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I was explaining to a group of people the other day the implications of the Appendix N Generation Gap, and they just flat out didn’t believe it was even a thing. “So what if a few crazy people can’t bring themselves to read even Ray Bradbury anymore? Who cares if some science fiction author can’t recommend C. L. Moore to people, right?”
But note the similarity between this:
Readers want to able to put themselves in a book, and they want to relate to the characters (hence why we need diverse books). And if they can’t relate to the books, they’re just not going to read them.
It’s traumatizing to sit in Core classes. We are looking at history through the lens of these powerful, white men. I have no power or agency as a black woman, so where do I fit in?
Maybe the trends in science fiction really aren’t that big a deal. After all, my son’s reading Robert E. Howard– and I can read all the Edgar Rice Burroughs I want right off of Project Gutenberg for free. There’s no Fireman on my doorstep looking to burn my decaying paperbacks.
But the fact is… right now, even conservatives are paying big bucks to have their children steeped in an environment where the idea that “people want to read books about characters they can relate to” is applied not just to things like replacing H. P. Lovecraft’s bust with (perhaps) one of Octavia Butler. No, people are suggesting that Ovid be replaced with Toni Morrison.
The culture wars going on within science fiction are merely an echo of a battle that’s been going on within higher education for decades now. And the issues are not just coming from a few crazy people on the sidelines. They are in fact mainstream.
And when college administrators are faced with these things, their instinct is to apologize and make concessions to the campus crybullies. This may not be the end of Western Civilization. But it is the end of the prestige colleges and universities have enjoyed for generations.