22 July 2012

The Man Who Had No Idea: Getting Into SF

I saw an article at World Literature Today's website called "Fun with Your New Head: Getting into SF", and thought, "Hey, this'll be great — they probably have a good list of science fiction from around the world and resources for people to find out more about world SF. I love it when that happens!"

Sadly, no.

Writer Michael A. Morrison instead says reading William Gibson's first two novels is hard, so here are a bunch of critical studies of SF that you should read. This is perverse.

And it is not helpful. Do not listen to this article, or at least any of it before the final paragraph where The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction is mentioned. That's a perfectly good introduction, though weak on work from the last 10 years.

What a failure for a magazine called World Literature Today! SF is not just stuff published 30 years ago and then written about by academics. Really, it's not. I promise. And I say that as somebody who writes about SF, sometimes academically.

Go read The World SF Blog. Go read the Words Without Borders issue on The Fantastic. Read The Apex Book of World SF. Read The Weird Fiction Review and The Weird. Read the venerable print magazines (F&SF! Asimov's!) and the online magazines (Strange Horizons and Clarkesworld and Tor.com and Subterranean and Lightspeed, oh my!) Sure, read nonfiction, but don't start there for gawd's sake! (If you want a mix of fiction and nonfiction, Visions of Wonder is a good start, if a bit dated at this point.)

SF is a world literature, and it's written and read today. Too bad World Literature Today couldn't find somebody who knew that.