Heat Death – A Small Observation.

A small observation.

Two days ago Paul Kincaid republished a review of “The Cold Equations“, a canonical hard science fiction story from 1954, to his website. Yesterday, in response to the fresh discussions that review generated, he republished an article where he characterizes Hard Science Fiction as being fundamentally right wing. This generated even more discussion and apparently also drove three times more traffic to Paul’s site than his previous best day. At the time of writing the tweet with the link to that article was retweeted 6 times and favourited 1 time. Apparently people like to grouse about politics and science fiction.

Today Paul republished a review of Pamela Zoline’s first short story from 1967, “The Heat Death of the Universe.” Paul wrote positively about the story and highlighted its importance in the New Wave canon. He wrote so movingly about the story and Pamela Zoline, who I’d not heard of before, that it encouraged me to purchase a second hand copy of her short story collection “Busy About the Tree of Life”. All before I’d had my morning coffee. Again, at the time of writing, the tweet Paul linked to this review with was retweeted 2 times and favourited 1 time. And from what I can tell there’s been hardly any discussion about either the review itself or the actual story on twitter.

This bugs the shit out of me. When a review of a short story nearly sixty years old with lamentable politics and a commentary on the nature of hard science fiction suggesting that the sub-genre reflects a right wing ideology earns more attention than a review of a story that pre-empts many of the progressive trends lauded today there is a fucking problem. Why? Because the people who want attention to be paid to those progressive elements within science fiction and fantasy are still expending more visible effort concentrating their discussion on the shit they very often want to move away from. I’ve seen this happen before. The material that might actually help improve diversity in science fiction / fantasy / literature either formally or representatively gets ignored in favour of bickering over material about on the more backwards or nostalgic elements of genre. Reviews of “The Cold Equations” & articles on Hard SF have their place. Really, they do. However, too often more time is spent talking about those things and less is spent looking at reviews of stories like “The Heat Death of the Universe.”

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