This is the second part of a fairly old but fantastic analysis of why so few science fiction and fantasy novels are considered “of literary merit”. I tend to think of sci-fi/fantasy as missing the “literary” label because they’re usually trying to do something different from literature. We’re less interested in the characters and more in the world, which shifts the focus of the writing endeavour. I’ve been inspired to write a short Mists of Albion piece that is an attempt to belie this, which should be up in a few days.
Science Fiction, literature, and the haters spawned great comments and e-mails, including responses from both the agents I referenced. The one who gave a minimum word count said that the agency he and a partner founded is relatively new, and the advice regarding word count and sequels comes from editors, and until they have more experience, they’re hewing to those guidelines. The other agent said that calling Pearle Transit “too literary” was a poor choice of words and that, although he admired aspects of it, the novel didn’t get him excited. Both replies, in other words, were reasonable and show that the agents care. Other would-be authors might want to take note: rejection is rarely as personal as it might seem. In addition, I’m reminded of this passage from Orwell, who discussed the problems with book reviewing:
[…] the chances are that eleven out of the twelve books will…
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