It's Ridiculous To Say Science Fiction Books Aren't Based On Real Life

Illustration for article titled Its Ridiculous To Say Science Fiction Books Arent Based On Real Life

One of the most annoying fallacies about science fiction and fantasy books is that they're less connected to reality than "realistic" fiction. In fact, SF and fantasy authors draw on real experiences and facts all the time, as some of the top authors told Jeff VanderMeer.

Writing in the L.A. Times, VanderMeer talks to Ann Leckie, Nnedi Okorafor, Lev Grossman and Lauren Beukes, all of whom talked about the silly notion that their fiction isn't based on real situations:

"There's a sense among readers and critics, and probably among authors too, that [science fiction and fantasy] are somehow more fictional than regular fiction," says Lev Grossman, author of the bestselling Magicians series. "They're more loosely tethered to the real world, so they don't reflect or aren't affected by what's happening in it. Which is silly if you think about it. Mrs. Dalloway is no more real than Harry Potter."


Grossman, for example, based his vision of the afterlife on his memories of "gym class in junior high." And Leckie has a similar example:

Leckie drew on just about the most mundane real-life experiences imaginable for "Ancillary Justice": three years as "an Emergency Backup Lunch Lady at all the schools in the district at one time. I met a lot of kids from various backgrounds." It turns out that kind of humdrum drudgery can come in handy if you want your universe-spanning space opera to feature realistic child characters.

The whole article is well worth checking out. [L.A. Times]

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Dr Emilio Lizardo

For VanderMeer's sake, I hope his recent books aren't too close to his life experience.