Today’s science piece on cephalopods originating elsewhere in the cosmos and arriving here via Panspermia to lead the Cambrian explosion reminded us of other squids in space, specifically those that may, speculatively, inhabit science fiction.
It’s become an old cliche these days, Margaret Atwood’s dismissal of SF –
Cue the shot heard round the genre — Atwood’s appalling claim on BBC Breakfast that science fiction is no more than “talking squids in outer space,” a betrayal viewed by fans as second only to the 1986 SNL skit in which William Shatner told a convention’s worth of Trekkies to “get a life!” Atwood’s attempts at damage control channeled the resulting outrage into a question of semantics — the difference between “science fiction”, which “has monsters and spaceships” and “speculative fiction”, which “could really happen”.
(and then of course, a little while later, she puts out a book of essays that explains to us what science fiction is…)
Few are aware however, that science fiction fans and authors were so moved by this statement that they put together a website to commemorate it. But not before Ansible got ahold of it:
Atwood prefers to say that she writes speculative fiction – a term coined by SF man Robert A. Heinlein. As she told the Guardian, “Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen.” She used a subtly different phrasing for New Scientist, “Oryx and Crake is not science fiction. It is fact within fiction. Science fiction is when you have rockets and chemicals.” So it was very cruel of New Scientist to describe this interview in the contents list as: “Margaret Atwood explains why science is crucial to her science fiction.”
Ansible (read the whole thing, especially the second part about fanzines)
And now, without further ado, Talking Squids in Outer Space, featuring the Pinnacle of Science Fiction literature. Get your cephalopod reading in now!