Dave Truesdale's latest Off On a Tangent Column for F&SF is an informative piece on the "2007 Campbell/Sturgeon Award Winners Presentations and Speeches." He explains the process for both awards, summarizes the winners acceptance speeches, and offers a short interview with Sturgeon Award Winner Robert Charles Wilson, whose "The Cartesian Theater" first appeared in my own anthology, FutureShocks.Wilson consistently articulates what makes SF unique in ways I can't help but quote. Here, he explains why "core" science fiction is valuable in itself, without partitioning it off (like some of the Mundane SF folks) or denigrating other forms of speculation.
"By 'core SF I mean science fiction that recognizes the long and interesting history of the genre, and is written from within that tradition or at least in a knowledgeable response to it. Modern science fiction (meaning SF since H. G. Wells) does something that seems to me unique: it brings the sensibility of literary realism to the subject matter of fantasy. It opens the window of the imagination without slamming the door on rationality, in other words. That constitutes a sort of 'artistic restraint,' I suppose, but any art form is created within such restraints and sometimes created by them. (We wouldn't have haiku if we did away with that pesky 17-syllable rule, for instance.) Wells-and all his heirs-invented a way to imaginatively explore the vast range of human questions that the scientific worldview invites, and they devised a rather clever set of tools for doing that. I don't hold any brief against fantasy, slipstream, quasi-mainstream, peripheral SF, or any other style or means of writing fiction-in fact I don't believe in any literary manifesto that extends beyond the reach of the writer's own pen. All I'm saying is that we've inherited something unique, valuable, and maybe even slightly fragile in the collective entity "modern science fiction" -and we ought to acknowledge it and treasure it."