Science Fiction as Literature

A while back, a question went around the blogosphere:  Are there any science fiction writers that we might legitimately label "literature" in fifty or a hundred years?  I think there may be several, but my first nomination is for Neil Stephenson.  Now, its hard to call him a purely science fiction writer, since he bounces around between future, present, and past, but anyone who wrote the incredible "Snow Crash" has got to be labeled, at least partially, a science fiction writer.

I just re-read Cryptonomicon for the second time, and what struck me, beyond just being an engaging story, is the incredible quality of his writing.  In an bit of good timing, Catallarchy actually has a post up with some short excerpts from Cryptonomicon.


  1. CTD:

    I nominated Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun." The whole "Sun" saga would fit the challenge, actually.

  2. Sol:

    Just as (if we're allowed to include fantasy) I'd nominate Wolfe's "The Wizard Knight". Amazing stuff.

  3. Jim:

    Callow youth, ah how soon we forget.

    Since someone (legitimately I think), opened the door to include fantasy I'd start with;

    Ray Bradbury, move on to Avram Davidson, Theodore Sturgeon, Philip Jose Farmer and...

    ...also there were these guys George Orwell and Aldous Huxley that did a grand job of describing today's world from the day before yesterday.

    SF, Fantasy, mainstream? Depends on who and when you talk to.

    I agree Neal S. has a real future in the future but I also think William Gibson won't be forgotten.

  4. TJIC:

    Rady Bradbury. Gene Wolfe. Michael Swanwick.

  5. Gonzo Bonzo:


    Well, they are quite a few fighting in the literature championship.

    Robert Silverberg (The Book Of Skulls or Dying Inside are astonishing)
    James Morrow
    Ian R.MacLeod
    The late Moorcock - like in Mother London
    William Gibson
    Lewis Shiner, with his beautiful Glimpses (a fine tune from The Yardbirds by the way)

    The question seems a bit useless, but it's not a new one...


    P.S : Is it a picture from Zion National Park in your blog's banner ?

  6. Brian Martinez:

    The problem is that SF still has the stigma of "genre" fiction attached to it, so it's hard for it to gain acceptance in the academic circles which (for better or worse) determine what qualifies as literature.

    That said, I'm floored that no one has mentioned Heinlein or Asimov in the comments. Or Kurt Vonnegut. Or Harlan Ellison.

  7. triticale:

    Hey, Jane Austen wrote "genre" - she wrote chick lit. A lot of what is now considered literature was written for popular audiences. The elitist distinction between art text and entertainment is something of a new thing.