Must Watch: China Mieville explains why science fiction is not superior to fantasy

Back in 2009, China Mieville gave a talk at Kansas University about the divide between science fiction and fantasy. And he explained just why the widespread perception on the internet that science fiction is smarter than fantasy, or superior to fantasy, is overblown. The whole thing is on Youtube, and here's the first part. It's well worth checking out. [via Tara Johnston]



I prefer fantasy to sci-fi because fantasy by definition cannot contain factual errors (unless it's urban fantasy containing factual errors about modern day non-fantastical technology, or court procedure, or whatever). It just needs to be consistent. Things like FTL and artificial gravity on spaceships tend to really pull me out of a story. I know I overthink it, and we don't know what's possible in the future, and so on, and I'd never say something like "this story is stupid because there's FTL". It just bugs me personally. What's odd is it actually bugged me less when I was actively studying physics.

I think it's kind of silly to debate whether one genre is superior to another, or whether "literary" fiction is superior to "genre" fiction. Some genres contain more poor quality work (romance comes to mind), but that doesn't mean the genre in and of itself is inferior. My preferences are just that - preferences.