What Happens If SF Actually Wins The "Literary Respectability" Wars?

"I believe that the greatest danger to genre fiction nowadays is not the denial of respect from some notional group of literary tastemakers but the very real likelihood that sf/f may become respectable. Those who thirst for the foamy gray poison of respectability should consider the fate of jazz, once a popular medium, now respectable, ossified and ignored." — James Enge, quoted by Lou Anders, Bowing To The Future

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DISCUSSION

Hm, I'm not sure that the"literary respectability" wars CAN be won.

It's like what happened when punk broke into the mainstream in the early nineties. People kept saying it was dead, then people started saying it was back, and now there's a roaring debate about whether bands like blink 182 or green day are punk or not.

And yet, all the while the genre was alive and kicking, it never went away, just split into two currents - the one that became accessible to the general public through MTV and the like (and even before that with the British bands like the clash and the sex pistols), and the other which remained underground and bonded with radical politics rather than developing the music itself.

SO now you have green day or good charlotte or whatever which are household names, and are essentially heading down the same path as jazz - in 20 years they're going to be co-opted not by the mainstream, but by grown-up culture. It's going to be the music that your boring parents listen to.

And still, even today, you've got amazing things happening withing the punk underground. The most amazing music is still coming from backyards and garages. And that's what's been keeping punk alive for the past 30 years and will probably continue to do so in the future.

So, same thing with SF. Even if it did become "respectable literature", there would still be books that would be considered too radical, or too make-believe or too tongue in cheek to be considered 'proper'. And that's where all the goo stuff comes from.