Friday, April 13, 2007

Writers, Directors Fear 'Sci-Fi' Label Like an Attack From Mars
Cormac McCarthy's The Road is set during a nuclear winter. Two survivors walk south, breathing toxic air, seeking out the continent's last canned food while ducking bands of flesh-eaters.

Describe it as "post-apocalyptic," as most critics did, or as a masterpiece of dystopian literature. Just don't call McCarthy's novel "science fiction."

Even when clearly appropriate, film studios and publishers avoid the phrase "science fiction." So do the novelists, film directors and editors in their employ. McCarthy's book, which is about to become a blockbuster -- Oprah Winfrey will tout it on an upcoming TV show as part of her book club -- is just another example of how the powers that be dodge the term, especially when it applies to "serious" fiction or cinema.

You won't find the words "science fiction" in Random House's bio of Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author China MiƩville. Instead, he's called the "edgiest mythmaker of the day." Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep? It's classified as comedy, drama, romance and fantasy, but not sci-fi, at

Even Battlestar Galactica, the flagship show of (hello!) the Sci Fi Channel, keeps a distance. "It's fleshed-out reality," explains executive producer Ronald D. Moore in the sci-fi mag SFX. "It's not in the science-fiction genre."

The nose-thumbing is nothing new. In the '50s, Robert Heinlein dismissed the term, opting for "speculative fiction." (What fiction isn't?) more from Wired article....

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