Pink vs Blue: An Applied Breakdown

At Castalia House, Daniel breaks down two SF works according to the ten principles I laid out in order to distinguish Pink SF/F from Blue SF/F:

Sometimes, distinguishing  Pink Science Fiction from Blue can be difficult, so I thought a simple comparison of two very similarly themed science fiction tales might help.

There is some required reading involved, but it will only take you a few minutes:

The first is Rachel Swirsky’s Hugo-nominated short story “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love”

The second is Gene Wolfe’s “Build-A-Bear”

Have you read them? Good.

Now let us take a look at the two stories through the now-standard rubric to determine a story’s status as Pink or Blue.

1. It is written in conscious reaction to, and rejection of, the classic genre canon.

“Dinosaur” is published in a science fiction magazine, was nominated for an award that features a rocket ship, and yet contains only a meta-speculation as its science fiction element. There is no science behind the transformation of the man into a microtyrannosaur. The entire story is merely the conscious and unfulfilled wish of a dissatisfied woman. Look no further than: “all those people who—deceived by the helix-and-fossil trappings of cloned dinosaurs– believed that they lived in a science fictional world when really they lived in a world of magic where anything was possible.” Pink.

“Build-A-Bear” does not explain the science, or even the purpose behind a cruise ship being equipped to generate customized living creatures. Yet this is very much within the classic canon: AI, genetic engineering, the unusual consequences of high tech wish fulfillment in a quotidian environment all harken to such classic stories as “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long” or Astro Boy. Furthermore, the name of the entertainer who guides the construction of Viola’s bear is Bellatrix, a fairly obvious allusion to both the star and the original Latin meaning: “female warrior.” Unlike the stereotypical modern application of the term, this is an early indication that the feminine war arts in the story will in no way resemble masculine combat techniques. The story is about the nature of feminine social status, conflict and self-defense. Blue.

2. It is politically correct.

Dinosaur – the villains quite literally employ nearly every politically incorrect slur in the arsenal. Pink.

Build-A-Bear – The sociosexual hierarchy is represented without qualification, the male (bear) hero’s maleness is an intrinsic element of his heroism. Blue.

Wolfe vs Swirsky. Yeah, that works. Two award-winning SF writers and they don’t get a whole lot more opposite than those two.