Quote of the day: SCIENCE FICTION

June 2, 2012


Last month, you humped around a water-stained copy of Pride and Prejudice and nobody said boo to you. In that book, some British sisters vie to get their dance cards punched. In the Shannara books [by Terry Brooks], a nuclear holocaust has wiped out almost every living thing. And “now” — two thousand years in the future — the Ohmsford siblings have rediscovered a burning green magic, germinating under the world, the past waiting to be reborn as future.

The Elfstones is so much better than Pride and Prejudice. Yet it has been made clear to you that the Austen book is a classic, while Terry Brooks is “a hack.” For school, you’ve read Where the Red Fern Grows and On the Banks of Plum Creek, books that start with prepositions and end in cornfields. They, too, are classics, and your class gets frog-marched through them single file, on a path worn smooth by a million schoolkids’ sneakers before you. English class sometimes reminds you of your field trips to Florida’s Historic Sties. “Look at that lovely imagery!” Mrs. Sicius commands, mapping a sentence about dogs on the blackboard. Every step of the way through these books is chaperoned. At the end, you write a report….

Years later, watch a new generation of children beam stories about wizards and eloquent unicorns directly onto their Kindles. They sit on the bus blabbing openly to one another about hippogriffs, pixies. Watch them walking down the sidewalk with their Quidditch brooms knocking and their shadows in the open, their spell books downloaded onto flat gray brains, these magic lovers, these children of the future.

— Karen Russell

One Response to “Quote of the day: SCIENCE FICTION”

  1. […] Ursula LeGuin, China Mieville, Margaret Atwood, William Gibson, and — my favorite — Karen Russell). Also a good piece about “Doctor Who” and “Community” by television critic […]

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