2010-02-24 02:08 pm (UTC)
Disclaimer: I haven't, you know, actually seen the film yet.
I wouldn't let a little thing like that get in the way :->
But then, I don't think that Jo Walton's Small Change trilogy, though alternate history and rather good, is either SF or fantasy. More to the point, neither is Fatherland.
But Fatherland is alternate history. Do you not include any alternate history?
I only include alternate history when said alternate history involves either an sfnal/fantasy mechanism as an explanation of the changes (such as in Bring the Jubilee) or the alternate history is, in itself, an exploration of an SFnal idea(The Difference Engine) or where the science of the world is plainly different from this one (i.e. worlds where magic works.)
There are hundreds of thousands of books with very slight changes in history, like Fatherland or Farthing that use the alternate history format to make a (usually political) point that has nothing to do with SF. Both are detective stories which do not use any sf or fantasy tropes. Caves of Steel is an SF detective story not because of it is set in the future, but because the murder relies totally on the SF setting for its motive, method, and solution.
Take any book that changes history as SF and you have lots of bad historical novels and even worse thrillers co-opted into a genre does not need them. Is Shakespeare in Love SF? Is Black Adder. Is Moonraker?
I may include some of these books (the Walton and the Harris, probably) as slipstream. However, I do not see how you can call them SF, unless you want to call everything that diverts from recorded history as SF!
That's a great answer.
I would say that Moonraker, as awful as it was, could easily be called SF. I'd call it science fantasy, though putting it in the same category as Star Wars irks me, too.
But do we get to exclude the bad works just because they suck? Maybe there needs to be one, blanket genre for all suckitude.
No, we don't exclude the bad works just because they suck (would that we could), but thrillers and historicals (particularly historical romances and detectives) have an even larger percentage of dross than SF and fantasy (hard as that may be to believe - or perhaps not, if you've read The Da Vinci Code or Seven Wonders.) I tend to find 'slipstream' useful for things like Moonraker.
A genre called "suckitude". That would be a great title for a book.
Similarly, we can't claim stuff just because it is good. There are a few of Reginald Hill's detective novels that I'd really love to claim as 'slipstream', at least, because they have hints of fantasy (maybe-ghosts, definite out of body experiences, touches of telepathy) but they aren't, not really. On the other hand, I would, just maybe, let Donna Andrews's novels about an A.I. private eye slip through into SF - they are certainly more SFnal than, say, Farthing.
Of course, as SF fandom has never been able to agree on a definition of SF...
Edited at 2010-03-08 08:21 am (UTC)