Most Science Fiction Books Are Torture, Author Warns

Sturgeon's Law was too generous, argues science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer. Writer Theodore Sturgeon said that 90 percent of science fiction was "crud" (or "crap," depending on where he's quoted.) But actually, the chances of choosing a good SF novel at random are way lower than that, Sawyer tells Bookmarks: Someone who gets interested in science fiction and picks up a book from the "vast SF rack... will be turned off, because the work will almost certainly be crap. . . . Yup, you could read a good SF novel a week each week of the year, no doubt. But if you read an SF novel a week picked at random from the rack, you'd never come back for a second year of such torture." [Bookmarks, via Utne Reader]

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Most books are torture, author warns.

There, fixed that.

When I last perused the two aisles that SF shares with Fantasy at my local National Chain of Bookseller Fortress, I didn't really see anything I wanted - nothing I was willing to drop 8-12 dollars on at the time, anyway. Plenty of stuff I would have read if I still took the bus or wasn't in college. Half of it was fantasy anyway, and I'm just not into that.

So I took a spin through the other sections. Mystery? Nope. Horror? Nyet. Fiction... Hideous, literary fiction? Nothing. True crime? No dice. Romance? Hah!

Is this something that can really be attributed solely to Sci-Fi? No! The chances of finding crap in any section are equally large. SF is merely the whipping boy of the publishing community. It is only exacerbated when people who fashion themselves book critics get involved.