Monday, March 08, 2004


There is an interesting piece witten by Sandy Starr over on Arts and Letters Daily about the dark side of sci-fi/fantasy entertainment. I wish it didn't feel so right on. But I admit to having a high degree of anti-sci-fi/fantasy bias due, no doubt, to the large number of screenplays and books I have read in the last few years that fall into the category of "too weird to live." I am always trying to figure out why so many young adult Christians today would so much rather spend hours imaging fake worlds, as opposed to reading literature about this world. Is it me, or is there something innately anti-pastoral in the steady diet of fantasy?

But enjoyable though it is, even an incorrigible geek such as myself has to confess that the mainstreaming of geekdom is far from a healthy phenomenon.

The criticism traditionally heaped upon science fiction and fantasy - that they are infantile and escapist genres - has always been fairly risible. There is no reason why science fiction, fantasy, and yes, even comic books, cannot be used in an ambitious way to explore the human condition, just as all fiction can. Science fiction and fantasy often provide a fascinating insight into the concerns of the times in which they are produced, from the progressive aspirations of the US science fiction writers of the 1950s, to JRR Tolkien's Catholic morality in The Lord of the Rings (1).

But the criticism of science fiction and fantasy fans - that we are infantile and escapist people, and socially inept to boot - sadly has a little more truth to it. Of course, there are many pastimes that people pursue obsessively, and it may seem a little unfair to stick the boot into sci-fi geeks rather than car fanatics, opera buffs or stamp collectors. But of all the hobbies and interests out there, being preoccupied with the details of otherworldly settings and characters, at the expense of being engaged with the world you actually inhabit, does bespeak a certain retreat from society into the safety of one's imagination.

Here is the rest of the article.

No comments: