I've been reading some blogs about the Hugo Awards' version of Gamergate, and am appalled by the vehemence of backlash against a diversified science ficition/fantasy (SFF) fandom. A Slate article quotes author Brad R. Torgersen as essentially saying true, classical SFF does not contain social commentary. From what I'm reading, he, another author and their followers are put off by the literary quality of certain Hugo nominations, not to mention the inclusion of minority viewpoints. They seem to feel it belies the essential mindless pop appeal of 'true' SFF.
Where have these uber fanboys been living? H.G.Wells, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Spider Robinson, Gene Rodenberry...social science fiction isn't a new faction of the genre. It is its foundation. I am floored that anyone could be so blind to the use of science fiction to explore and address the topics of social injustice and inequality. Heinlein, for example, gave us many taboo topics to mull over. He addressed racism, sexual freedom, and individualism. The addition of writers and characters that expand those horizons is not a dilution of SFF's core qualities, but a logical and organic growth from the seeds planted by the masters and founders of our genre. Not to mention, each of these authors certainly have a literary appeal. For as many pulp fiction-esque magazines they published or were published in, these men wrote well. Their books can be read as pure entertainment, but only a fool would walk away without some philosophical musings. I started reading their works in junior high; even at that age I knew their stories were meant to make me open my eyes and re-examine how I view life. But these men are not the only SFF influences in my life.
Can one say that the world of SFF is not richer for the works of Ursula LeGuin, Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon and CJ Cherryh? All of whom wrote epic space sagas. L.A. Banks' Vampire Huntress series is a masterpiece. It doesn't skimp on the action, while introducing a multitude of religions and ethnicities. It added a depth to the fight of good versus evil that I've never encountered before, or since. I welcome the addition of new voices and new perspectives. It gives us new dimensions and alternate universes to explore.
I'll leave you with this thought provoking clip from Stargate: SG1, where they quote Asimov: