Post Labels

Monday, June 17, 2013

Post-script on BttF and Verne

"The hell was the point in that?" is what you're probably not asking because if you weren't into just reconsidering fiction in different ways then you wouldn't have made it through six paragraphs of wondrous, sparkly adventure with your inner child. But you should. I studied in a whole department full of people wasting time classifying and reclassifying fiction. I mean, classifying it is fine if you can do something with that. That's the point. Understanding the boundaries of a genre can help you write good fiction within it. And maybe even to write great fiction that pushes outside the existing limits.

Back to the Future is the first of those two. It is extremely good fiction that was created within the existing limits and frameworks that were already established. In terms of science fiction it did little that was new, simply tackling a subject that hadn't been explored deeply in popular media. It did so in film, a medium that at the time was getting much more attention from large audiences than print. The story also follows familiar patterns wherein the protagonist adapts to a new setting and overcomes conflict with the traits he acquired uniquely from his own culture, ultimately proving wrong those who criticized him in the beginning.

And despite not reinventing the wheel, Back to the Future was an instant success and remains a favorite just under thirty years later. So why is it that if you take a course in writing at a university they will chastise you for writing "genre fiction," as if that were the lowest of lows to which you could stoop? If someone can write greatly, then more power to them. But if someone else can only write well, then the same power to them too. I wish universities would quit trying to discourage people from making careers out of writing entertainment. Brilliant as a work may be, I'm more likely to spend time and money on the one that entertains me while it reminds me what the human experience is like. Even if it holds less technical merit.