The Cirsova blog is 7 years old today!
And instead of celebrating, I feel like I need to add some clarifying commentary to the ongoing war between SFF and Hard Bros SF.
Both sides have misrepresented or misunderstood the role that the Futurians and other sundry communist agitators played in the scifi divide. In fact, the ghost of Damon Knight is laughing at you guys for playing into their hands.
The Futurians weren’t exactly the ones writing or pushing Hard Science Fiction over Soft Science Fiction. What WAS happening, however, was that communists in the fandom were leveraging the nudniks against the editors and fans of more adventure-centric fiction.
Despite what you may have heard, the pulps were fairly progressive, exploring a wide range of social topics, except they still had a focus on individuality, struggle against unjust authority, and were frequently anti-Communist. To repeat the cringy boomertarian meme, “socially liberal, fiscally conservative.”
The Futurians and their literary adjacents were often writing utopianist thinky-stories that aimed to make a socialist future more palatable within the fandom. While many today are focusing on a hard sci-fi vs. soft/”pulpy” sci-fi divide, they’re forgetting that there were really three kinds of SFF stories: Adventure, Riddle/Puzzle, and Thinky Stories.
Sci-fi wasn’t being disconnected from Fantasy–what was happening was that the Thinky Story crowd used some hardliners of the Riddle/Puzzle-only crowd to denigrate the aspects of the Adventure stuff that they found unseemly: dames, the implausible, and in some case AmericaTM. From there, they would press the attack that it was white, capitalist, and imperialist. By undermining the aspects of SFF that some folks would today refer to as “superversive” by attacking at the editorial level and within the fandom, the socialist Thinky Story crowd was able to clear the way for more subversive fiction.
Sci-fi’s disconnection from Fantasy had far more to do with the Satanic Panic and Serious Sci-FiTM folks wanting to distance themselves from elf-shit.
But everyone at each other’s throats over scifi vs. fantasy? Congrats, you’ve been played.