So I’d planned, ever since deciding to take on this challenge, to talk about science-fiction for S. It’s a genre of the impossible, a genre of what might someday be. It’s a genre of prescience, with writers like Ray Bradbury foreseeing our screen-based culture in Fahrenheit 451; Margaret Atwood foreseeing a cultural shift with The Handmaid’s Tale and a genetic one with Oryx and Crake. How we are practically living in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
I meant to write about that.
And then I caught an unintentional glimpse of “Shawshank Redemption” playing on TV yesterday, and I think I have to talk about Stephen King. I am compelled to talk about Stephen King, because his crafting of a story is magnificent.
His books sometimes dip into the sci-fi realm, so he’s not that far off my intended target. But it’s his portrayal of character, of humanity, in whatever position he places them, that makes his work miraculous.
Stephen King, like the writers above, was pegged into a genre early, and was dismissed in terms of serious writing for most of his career, simply because he chose to write about what terrifies us. It’s an interesting quirk of genre writing: it most often shows us exactly who we are or where we’re going, and yet it is somehow seen as inferior.
There’s nothing inferior about any of these writers. There’s nothing inferior about the way King pulls you in and holds you there relentlessly.
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