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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Rest is Furniture

I have been told that science fiction is all about solving problems, and non-problem-solving stories need not apply. I always thought there was something wrong in this claim, but it wasn't until tonight that I saw GRRM put it best ---

Motor cars or horses, tricorns or togas, ray-guns or six-shooters, none of it matters, so long as the people remain. Sometimes we get so busy drawing boundaries and making labels that we lose track of that truth. Casablanca put it most succinctly. “It’s still the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die.”

William Faulkner said much the same thing while accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature, when he spoke of “the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed---love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.” The “human heart in conflict with itself,” Faulkner said, “alone can make good writing, because only that is worth writing about.” 

We can make up all the definitions of science fiction and fantasy and horror that we want. We can draw our boundaries and make our labels, but in the end it’s still the same old story, the one about the human heart in conflict with itself. 

The rest, my friends, is furniture.  

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