When the pinkshirts in science fiction talk about wanting to destroy Campbellian SF, they’re not being ironic or kidding. They seriously believe that Pink SF is better and genuinely want to eradicate old school Blue SF/F because it is too outdated, offensive, and problematic.
I read the 100 “best” fantasy and sci-fi novels – and they were shockingly offensive. Why are so many of NPR’s list of best science fiction books so misogynistic, and why can’t we move past our nostalgia for them?
I’ve been acutely aware of the ferocious debate in the science fiction and fantasy community about representation (the recent controversy over the Hugo awards is a case in point), so I should have been somewhat prepared for this relentlessly depressing string of disappointing novels. But with the dogged determination of reading through the list, it really grinds you down. How can people actually defend the status quo when it’s so obviously awful? Putting these books on a pedestal, given how problematic the portrayal of women and other minorities, is surely part of the problem?
Frankly, from my vantage in 2015, it was just plain weird to read books where there were hardly any women, no people of colour, no LGBT people. It seemed wholly unbelievable. I know what you could say: it’s science fiction and fantasy, believability isn’t one of the main criteria for such books. But it is relatively absurd that in the future people could discover faster-than-light travel, build massive empires and create artificial intelligences but somehow not crack gender equality or the space-faring glass ceiling.
The consequence of the lack of women and the obvious sexism is that the books became very much like one another. My book reviews contained more profanity and I became a much more harsh critic of the genres I most enjoyed reading. They were all the same story of white guys, going on an adventure….
I can understand how many of the books on the list may have once been
groundbreaking but that doesn’t mean that they are now the best examples
of the genre. They have been supplanted, hundreds of times over, by
other authors that took similar themes but made them better and more
They genuinely believe throwing in a few men-with-tits and white men with colored skin – which is as far as their attempts at diversity generally go – somehow magically improves a book. Of course, the general public disagrees, as the continued decline in SF sales demonstrates.