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Scott, I'd appreciate your take on this posted 24 October 2005 in Author Q & AScott, I'd appreciate your take on this by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

I was actually at a science fiction conference hosted by a nearby university's philosophy department. Robert J Sawyer gave the keynote speech, after which, this VERY question came up - though with the somewhat nasty suggestion that what Rob wrote was not literature. The questioner, whom I'm assuming was an English professor, said that the problem with SF being a 'literature of ideas' was that the universality of the ideas involved had a tendency to 'flatten' the characters, to rob them of the particularity that fuels the identification that's the hallmark of 'real literature.'

The problem is that interest, involvement, emotional punch are all relative to a reader's tastes and sophistication as a reader. With my own work, probably one of the most common complaints I run into is that none of my characters are 'likable.' I'm pretty sure that the probability of any reader making this complaint is directly proportional to the amount of out and out literary fiction they've been exposed to. The fact of the matter is that a good number of readers viscerally identify with flat characters - they literally prefer what, for other readers, are obvious cartoon versions of what it means to be human. Some move on to embrace particularity. view post


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