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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Science fiction criticism

I find a lot of sf criticism annoying for reasons that are difficult to articulate without sounding crass. It's not that I'm anti-intellectual or opposed to academic critical writing as such. Rigorous critical writing is vital to art and literature. Perhaps it's the sense that a lot of individuals who take an interest in sf as academics don't seem, in their writings, to have any deep respect for the genre and its intellectual underpinnings. So often, I get the impression that they'd be just as happy applying their theories about popular culture to analysing postage stamp art, or the backs of cereal packets. They just happen to be writing about sf.

It's certainly not that they are critical of sf works, even harshly critical. Sometimes I am, too (let's face it: various kinds of sf have a lot to answer for). But there is often an appearance that these people are critical for reasons that show no real engagement with what the genre is actually about.

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