Science Fiction and the University of Chicago ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Bitterly, C.M. Kornbluth, the second presenter, vehemently disagreed, stating without equivocation that the genre “is not an important medium of social criticism.” Much like Hitler, Kornbluth complained, the adherents of science fiction treat the genre like a religion and lay claim to anything and everything they admire. Yet, for all its pretentions, science fiction rarely if ever actually criticizes anything prevalent in the world, and, when it does, its criticism remains rather tame. Anticipating the social radicals of a decade later, Kornbluth feared that science fiction fails in its power to change the consciousness of a reader, as the novels of the genre do “not turn the reader outward to action but inward to contemplation.” Then, he complained, there’s the horror genre, a supposed subset of science fiction which merely rolls all of our fears “up in one ball of muck” and thrusts “them into the reader’s face.” This is especially true in cinema, he continued, and “if the day ever comes when the shriek movie is a really major type, up there with, say the pretentious Western, the implications for the future of democracy will be bad.” Yet, one should never give any of this too much thought, he concluded, for “science fiction is socially impotent.” Tragically, Kornbluth died a year later, of a heart attack, only age 34.
— Read on

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