Another Oppressed Minority

While I was pleased to see New Scientist publishing a collection of fiction last week, I thought Stan Robinson’s associated attack on the Booker Prize was unlikely to get anywhere. The Woolf anecdote was good, but boosting one genre by attacking another is never going to work. And as the Booker folks explained to Alison Flood, they are dependent on what publishers send them, so they can’t be expected to take all of the blame.

Nevertheless, this being the Internet, is was only a matter of time before someone took exception to what Stan said and decided to play the Victim Politics card. Oh woe, we are oppressed! Us poor LitFic folks need our Booker Prize, because the evil, nasty science fiction folks have their own awards and get all the glory and the money and we have to have our own special award that’s only for us so we can get shiny things too, otherwise it is NOT FAIR!!! (Cue desperate sobbing.) Yes, really, here it is.

Also here’s someone else with an interesting table of how often different prizes get mentioned in the online media, based on searches of Google News.

That in itself is worth considering, though, because it introduces a question about what gets into the Google News search. Locus does, and io9. I’m pretty sure that SFAW doesn’t. What about, say SF Signal?

It turns out that the way to get into Google News is to ask Google if they will list you. They don’t guarantee to do so, but then after the recent HG Wells coverage it seems unlikely that they’d ban us. So, has anyone out there tried to get listed? And if so did it succeed?

BTW, the page for submitting content appears to be broken at the moment, which is why I haven’t done any experimentation.

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14 Responses to Another Oppressed Minority

  1. Val says:

    I wonder what the process is by which awards become newsworthy.

  2. King Rat says:

    To be fair to Marie (aka Boston Bibliophile), she is playing the victim card very tongue in cheek. Before hordes of people go her way and jump all over her.

  3. DB says:

    I wonder if she’s playing the victim card, or the stupid card, by trying to defend Ford Madox Ford from KSR’s criticism, when Ford was actually KSR’s example of the thing being done well.

  4. Marie says:

    Clearly, the stupid card. Thanks for putting me in my place DB. What would I do without you.

  5. Steven says:

    Thanks for pointing the information about Google News out. I just submitted SF Site and didn’t have any problem with the page (whether or not they’ll pick it up is another matter).

  6. Because, of course, the Booker is such a small prize in comparison with the vast riches of the Hugos, the Clarke etc etc.

  7. Just recently Chris Beckett won the Edghill Prize for his short fiction collection THE TURING TEST. All the stories had appeared in either Interzone or Asimov’s. The judge’s were a little embarrassed to award the prize to a collection of blatantly science fictions stories, but at least they DID award it.

  8. In many ways the Boston Bibliophile seems to be making the same point you have recently about the mainstreaming of sf– that literary fiction may be up on the critical pedestal, but genre works are what ordinary people actually pay attention to. The complaint seems to be that since literary fiction is hermorrhaging readers, it needs the massively publicized awards just to stay afloat. (Cue familiar old arguments on the theme of “is it really that good if people prefer to read other things?”…)

  9. Cheryl says:


    I was all over the Chris Beckett story on SFAW, but I think the point here is the credit is due to Andy Hook at Elastic for spotting a work of genius and getting the book in front of the jury. I’m now wondering what the rules are for the Booker. How many books can a publisher submit, and if you are a huge multi-national how is that number affected by having multiple imprints. I wonder if I mention Sam Jordison he will magically appear and explain.

  10. Cheryl says:


    I hope I haven’t been making that point, because I think it is rather stupid. I would be rather embarrassed if I found out that I had been arguing that science fiction was “good” simply because it is popular. (Books win Hugos because they are popular, but that’s because the Hugos are a popular vote awards.)

    The point I thought I had been making was the the old idea that science fiction is “no good” because it is “genre” or “not literary” is losing ground because lots of smart people now read science fiction and know that some of it is very good. (95% of everything is still crap, of course.)

    The question I’d like to ask our onlysomebibliophilic friend is, “How do you define ‘literary’?” Because if you really want to exclude certain books from awards you have to be able to recognize them.

  11. Farah says:

    Publishers are each allowed to submit only one book to the Booker. But I am fairly sure that Light was submitted.

  12. Farah says:

    Sorry, three books, not one.

  13. Gary Farber says:

    My comment at that blog: “Setting aside that you’re asserting that science fiction can’t be literary, is all mediocre, and can’t be challenging, I don’t see any problem here.”

    My favorite comment from the Grauniad:

    John Mullan, Naughtie’s fellow judge for this year’s prize and professor of English at University College London, said that he “was not aware of science fiction,” arguing that science fiction has become a “self-enclosed world”.

    “When I was 18 it was a genre as accepted as other genres,” he said, but now “it is in a special room in book shops, bought by a special kind of person who has special weird things they go to and meet each other.”

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