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It is a source of both amusement and frustration to SF people, writers and readers, that public consciousness of science fiction has almost never penetrated beyond the first decade of the field's development. Sure, Star Wars is wonderful, but in precisely the same way and at the same level of consciousness and sophistication that science fiction from the late twenties and early thirties was: fast, almost plotless stories of zipping through the ether in spaceships, meeting aliens, using futuristic devices, and fighting the bad guys (and winning). SF people generally call this sci-fi (affectionately, "skiffy"), to distinguish if from the real, grown-up pure quill.

      --David G. Hartwell, Introduction, The Science Fiction Century, 1997

We want novels that have beginnings and ends, plays that tell stories and don't leave us stranded with characters who are passively waiting for someone or something that may not exist. In art, too, we yearn for plot. ... This is the '90s and we're all very busy, so please, spare us the big cosmic riddles.

      --art critic Deborah Solomon, as quoted in a Feb. 10th Los Angeles Times article about the phenomenal success of the movie ''Titanic''.

People without prior knowledge of and commitment to science fiction are not going to venture into what has become the bookstore equivalent of a video-game arcade crossed with the National Enquirer and a Star Trek convention in search of seriously intended fiction of any kind. Why shouldn't they believe that all that sci-fi stuff is robots and monsters and flying saucers and alien tentacled paranoia and Star Wars and X-files when the might corporate machineries market and package and promote it all as such?

Somehow the mere existence of something that actually calls itself the ''Sci-Fi Channel'' says it all.

      --Norman Spinrad, On Books: Who Will Resurrect Science Fiction? (Asimov's March 1998)

Science fiction is read properly, as an experienced reader can, only if the givens of the story are granted as literal, so that if the story is set on Mars in the future, that is the literal time and place. It might secondarily be interpretable as ''only'' a metaphor for the human condition, or for some abnormal psychological state of the character or characters, but with rare exceptions in science fiction, the literal truth of the time and place and ideas is a necessary precondition to making sense of the story. This is because only through this literality (the real world is pared away and reduced to an imaginable invented world, in which we can focus on things happening that could not happen in the mainstream world of everyday reality) can the emotional significance of totally imaginary times and places and events be felt.

      --David G. Hartwell, Introduction, The Science Fiction Century, 1997

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