Richard Morgan has some hostile words for the battles ongoing within the science fiction community.
His comments are great, but we need more analysis. Why is there civil warfare inside our genre? Isn't there room enough for all of us?
1 First of all, more than anything else, this is about money. There are only so many euros to go around and everybody wants more. Anyone who shows some success is an immediate role model and target. Campy space-opera, hoky stories which appeal to NASCAR fans sells.
2 A long time ago somebody decided to call their story science fiction, ignoring the fact that the word science has an unambiguous meaning. This may have been a slur, a derogatory comment aimed at a teenager who appeared to be wasting his life. Or it may have been a wannabe, somebody writing a story about magic pixie dust. In the end the name stuck, and any supernatural and possible future story was branded "science fiction". How many bookstores make any effort to separate out fantasy, science fiction, and speculative fiction?
3 Most of us hope, anticipate, or desire that our story will eventually come true. Even sword wielding wizards usually represent a desire for reality. Faster than light travel, talking robots, and time-travelling hobbits are frequently dreams for a different reality than we have now. If I predict a post-apocalyptic wasteland where street urchins scrounge petrol for their dirt bikes then how could your story about a drug dealing robot with empathic wifi signals also come true?
4 For real science fiction there is almost always an idea which contradicts the canon of science. It's too easy to criticize fake science such as faster than light or time travel, perpetual motion, communications satellites, or a planetary network carrying video, voice, and real-time text messages. Some of these ideas come true, some are reasonable predictions, some are outlandish. But all of them are necessary to tell a story. In the end this is about telling a story, it's not about predicting the future. The fake science helps us tell a good story.
5 If scifi writers or readers were polled we would see even more hostile commentary towards Grisham, Follet and any host of popular authors. Derisive opinions and scathing hatred are there for the asking outside the genre.
Thanks to Neal Asher for pointing out Mr. Morgan's comments.