[This] was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. is crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms (Venture 49, 1957).
Here’s a cheesy, tacky, pretentious turn of phrase that makes me shudder:
They shared a kiss.
This phrase works for me like a red flag. It says that I am reading a run-of-the-mill, no surprises, HEA romance. Which is fine, if that’s what I’m looking for.
But this morning I was looking for a summary of the latest political fuckery, when I caught sight of an unusual headline in The Washington Post: “A ‘lost’ wallet leads to found love.”
Now, it’s no secret that I truly appreciate a good romance, so I read the article, and I’m both confused and irritated by it. It’s not fiction, it’s not a review, it’s not news, it’s … family newsletter material. A little story about how two young people met and fell in love, shared that kiss, and got married.
Nice enough people, boring story. If it were fleshed out to novel length and turned into fiction, it would not be anything exceptional and in fact might be crap, in accordance with Sturgeon’s Law: 90 percent of genre x is crap, but then 90 percent of everything is crap.
So I find this WaPo article to be surprising in its ordinariness and I wonder why it deserves column space. I wonder if it could be rewritten into something interesting. I wonder, but mostly I’m just irritated.
The only upside: I was reminded of an entertaining 2016 Guardian article about genre and reactions to genre, with emphasis on romance fiction. That was worth reading again.