Dec 10, 2016

Sturgeon's Revelation: In Defence Of Science Fiction

This is a simplified version of  the post What Does An Economist, A Fish and Literature Have In Common? which you can read for further detail.

What is Sturgeon's Law


Sturgeon's Revelation first appeared in the March 1958 issue of Venture (a science fiction magazine) and is a defence of Science Fiction (or SciFi). It is Sturgeon's Law that is in the most common usage which says "ninety percent of everything is crap". Although I believe  the word he used was 'crud'.

I repeat Sturgeon's Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of Science Fiction is crud. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as crud it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. is crud. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crud is ultimately uninformative, because Science Fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms.


Why Should We Be Aware Of It?




Sturgeon is saying is that Science Fiction can stack up with the best of any other fiction genre if you give it a chance.  If you're new to Science Fiction or want to 'give it a go' what you need to do is to seek out the stories and authors that are the best in Science Fiction.

As Daniel Dennett says : 
Now, in order not to waste your time and try our patiences, make sure you concentrate on the best stuff you can find, the flagship examples extolled by the leaders in the field, the prize-winning entries, not the dregs.

How Do I Know Which Authors or Titles Are Worthy?


To start with look around for people who are enthusiastic about the subject and see what they have to say, what they have to recommend. Don't forget to ask questions, if they're taking Science Fiction they're willing to provide advice.

I've written two articles that you can start with, a more in-depth article about this subject, What Does An Economist, A Fish and Literature Have In Common? Along with Does Science Fiction Have A Canon? Where I came up with a short list of Sci Fi novels that I would consider worthy.

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.
C.S. Lewis



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