According to the Mary Sue, this weekend was quite the productive one for Twitter and The New York Times. Why, you ask? A particularly polarizing article published by the latter about the originator of the Science Fiction genre. Or at least, that’s how it seems on the surface.
So what exactly happened? That’s the easy part: the NYT article in question is a review of “The Young H.G. Wells: Changing the World”, wherein Wells is lauded as the creator of Science Fiction. Now, why was this cause for uproar, and what the kids call a “ratio”? Because, regardless of how iconic the “War of the Worlds” author is, it is simply untrue to say H.G. Wells created Sci-Fi. And not only is the statement untrue, it commits what is perhaps the cardinal sin of our generation: omitting women and their meaningful contributions from history.
Those who know me will know that my favorite book is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. And those who know Frankenstein will know that it is a pioneer of Science Fiction—written a full 50 years before H.G. Wells’ birth. So in this cultural moment where women, people of color, and other marginalized groups are getting their due, it makes perfect sense why the bookish population of Twitter took the NYT to task over this rather ignorant statement. That’s without mentioning the tangled mess that is the genre’s actual origin (seriously, there are stories as far back as Greek myth featuring robots and navigation systems!).
As always, it is important for everyone to discern within themselves what is true and right. Click here for the Mary Sue’s full article on the subject, and here for the NYT’s containing the ill-fated statement that caused this whole mess. For more about Mary Shelley and Frankenstein, be sure to check out my Frankenstein Day article.