When Guardian Columnists Say Dumb Things
Several e-mails today from people who want me to put a hammer to the Guardian’s Stuart Jeffries for this statement yesterday:
This is a golden age for British science fiction, chiefly thanks to a wave of writers who are tackling an area their American rivals tend to leave well alone – far-future set, space-operatic, hard sci-fi. Americans tend to set their sci-fi in soft (ie, scientifically unsupported) near futures. Wimps.
Leaving aside whether this is a golden age for British science fiction (which as it happens is a statement I tend to agree with), this is in fact a fairly ignorant statement by Jeffries. Dear Mr. Jeffries: Meet Elizabeth Moon. Meet David Weber. Meet Jack Campbell. Meet Robert Buettner. Meet Sandra McDonald. And unless memory fails me, there might be at least one other American writer out there who has written a series of best-selling, award-nominated, highly-acclaimed books generally considered space-operatic, not to mention scientifically supported. His name escapes me at the moment. Perhaps it will come to me.
The point, however, is that none of these writers are exactly toiling under a rock; nearly all of these authors has at least flirting acquaintance with best seller lists and some measure of acclaim. They’re not difficult to find. Some of them might even be sold in the UK. Yes, I’m aware that military science fiction (which most of the above write) is not synonymous with Space Opera. But the two sub-genres overlap rather a bit, and these writers write in the overlap (also, not everything written by the above is straight on MilSF, Drake’s recent trilogy being an example).
Also, I really would like Stuart Jeffries to go up to Elizabeth Moon and call her a wimp. I like imagining all the things Moon, a former lieutenant in the US Marines, a sometime paramedic and a woman who raised a child with autism, could oh-so-easily do to him. When she’s done with him, maybe he can say the same thing to McDonald, eight years in the Navy, or Buettner, who was in military intelligence, or Hemry, who also spent years in the Navy.
Mind you, I’m well aware Jeffries was trying for a bit of snark, and of course I love me some snark. But snark works better when it’s not completely couched in ignorance. Try again, Mr. Jeffries; try better.