Critical Linking: April 11, 2012


We prefer our heroines, just like our heroes, to be real people, not cardboard cut-outs – which, in the end, means that their gender isn’t going to be their determining trait.  It’s part of their identity, sure.  How could it not be?  But it doesn’t define them, any more than a score of other things define them.  It’s in the mix, that’s all, and it shouldn’t make a difference to how the reader responds to them.

To be hoped for, but we’re still a long way away.


Plenty of educated and cultured people are small-minded and petty, and some of them are outright wicked. And plenty of people with very little education, for whom “high culture” is off somewhere in a cloud, are smart, generous, and more often than a snob like me wants to think, economically successful. 

Happy is as happy does.


Not all of our ideas are good ones. Just as we created superheroes to fight our worst fears, our imaginations spawned villains to personify them. For every character that embodied our loftiest ideals there was an army of bad guys representing our basest urges.

To spin an old phrase: superheroes don’t exist, so we had to invent them.


But I would argue that the genres of science fiction and fantasy are in a unique position to examine the cultural or emotional aspects of a historical event from a completely different point of view than that taken by a historian or writer of literary fiction. I would argue, in fact, that such examinations are something at which science fiction and fantasy are particularly suited. By stepping outside the realm of history and science and fact, science fiction and fantasy as genres can look at painful subjects or ask difficult questions from a distance, while still telling a good story.

This might be true, but why do defenses of genre find it necessary to position genre as being “better” than literary fiction? Argue the merits of your own case; there’s no need for one-upsmanship.


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