Thursday, 18 June 2009

Booking Through Thursday-Fantasy and Sci-Fi

One of my favorite sci-fi authors (Sharon Lee) has declared June 23rd Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Day.

As she puts it:
So! In my Official Capacity as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I hereby proclaim June 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day! A day of celebration and wonder! A day for all of us readers of science fiction and fantasy to reach out and say thank you to our favorite writers. A day, perhaps, to blog about our favorite sf/f writers. A day to reflect upon how written science fiction and fantasy has changed your life.

So … what might you do on the 23rd to celebrate? Do you even read fantasy/sci-fi? Why? Why not?

When I first saw this question, my immediate response was that I couldn't answer because I don't read any. But the more I think about it, I realise I have read some, just not very much. I am nervous of both those labels though. If you gave me a book and told me it was fantasy or science fiction I'd run a mile. But I think this just goes to show that labelling books as particular types is a bad idea, and ma possibly narrow it's audience. This is borne out when you consider what I've actually read that might fit these categories, because I don't think many of them would have been marketed as fantasy or science fiction

Starting with my childhood reading, there's Lord of The Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Fantasy I suppose. But I did try numerous times at high school to read Terry Pratchett because everybody raved about it, but just couldn't get into it. I think that might have been what originally put me off anything specifically labelled as fantasy.

From my recent reading would have to say that The Time Machine and The Time Travelers Wife class as science fiction and possibly Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson, and now I mention her, Stone Gods as well. For fantasy, both of Susanna Clarke's books are set in alternate realities where fairy's exist in a world with humans, and I really enjoyed Wicked, and since that's about witches and magic and the central character is green, I don't think you could get more fantastical than that! And where does The End of Mr Y fit? Science fiction, fantasy, neither or both?

I would have to say that the things I've read that are most obviously fantasy are things Dylan has pushed at me. The first that springs to mind is The Graveyard Book. I read this with trepidation, but really enjoyed it. In fact I think Dylan could write this post so much better than me since 80% of what he reads involves dragons, demons, vampires and magic! But then he is eleven.

I've waffled for way too long now, but I think the upshot of what I'm trying to say is that I can fit some of the things i've read into science fiction and fantasy, but that for one reason another I'm scared of those terms. Those labels put me off and I should work on judging a book based on what it's about rather than what it's categorised as.


Marie Burton said...

I enjoyed your post... I agree about the terms SF & Fantasy, I would never peg myself into that genre for some reason.
Yet, like you, I can pinpoint a few books that have captured my interest. I had forgotten about the Narnia books and those intrigued me alot when I had read them as a child.
My post is here.

farmlanebooks said...

I think my attitude to science fiction is very similar to yours. I loved The Time Traveller's Wife, and The End of Mr Y.

Have you tried Murakami? His imagination is amazing!

JoAnn said...

Great answer! The labels put me off, too, but I can think of several books I've read that could fit into these categories.

Jess said...

I just started reading Gaiman's Sandman series and am loving it. Graveyard Book is on my TBR list.

Shari said...

I have to admit I do discount some titles because of the section of the bookstore they are located in. It is a shame, because I know I am missing out on some great reads. I loved Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrel but haven't read anything else from Susannah Clarke.

anthonynorth said...

I like what you say about labeling books reducing an audience. You may well be right on that.