Sunday, December 12, 2004

Cheryl Morgan responds to Mundane SF

Posted by Trent Walters at 10:18 PM
I generally enjoy the thought that Morgan puts into her reviews, but this may be an occasion where she read too much into the text (or maybe not enough):
"But it seems to me that the Mundane SF folks fundamentally misunderstand the way that speculative fiction works. And the logical conclusion of their position is that all fiction should be mimetic."

I'm not sure if that was meant as a condescending head-pat, but we do have some interesting SF folk interested. It may be that Mundane isn't yet fundamentally understood by the newly initiated. Mundane isn't speculative fiction but science fiction. It is fiction that doesn't speculate on our future against mind-boggling superscience odds, hoping for a big pay off in the gamble, shooting craps on the odds that future science will solve the world's problems, but rather, it points to more probable ones.

I do not know how the "logical conclusion" was derived, that Mundane SF was "mimetic." Mimetic of what? of realistic characters and cultures? of realistic science and other explorations of human knowledge? of realistic futures extrapolated from what we know? If she meant all of the above, then she got it right. But "mimetic" is generally a genre slur for anything that resembles this present reality. Good fiction can come from "mundane" fiction, but we're distinguishing ourselves from such an endeavor to achieve something somewhat different. It will be superficially similar to any tale you'll find published in SF, sliding under the radar of many genre readers unaware of the distinction, but taken together Mundane SF will denote something deeper, structurally. These won't be united by a hegemony of any one style, but by their chosen constraints and how such constraints inform our real lives through the imagining of probable futures--and there are many probabilities left to imagine.