• <•nWhile the genre of science fiction is hardly a centurynold, the roots of science fiction go deep into ournhistory. Men have always told stories, and in telling themnthey have inevitably recast the world of their perceptionsninto something easier to grasp, more beautiful or morenterrible than it really is. At bottom, we are all creative liars,nabove all to ourselves, and remember our ordinary childhoodsnas enchanted realms, as so many dream days spent innsecret gardens or hectic conflicts in Never-Never-Land.nThe source of all creative deceit lies in our memories, whichnact as funhouse mirrors, magnifying the importance of ournexperiences; they are “magic casements opening on thenfoam of perilous seas in faery lands forlorn.”nIn a religious world, it is inevitable that we should create,naccording to the talents of our race, myths of impossiblynbeautiful and powerful beings whose deeds and antics servenas models for conduct and warnings against presumption. Innan age dominated by politics and war, the greatest fictionnwill be passed off as military and political history, and in thisnthe age of science, it was virtually impossible not tonsubjugate science to the uses of the imagination.nNothing is more boring than to go back and read the earlynexamples of science fiction, and it is fitting that a literaryngenre that has produced more bad writing than any othern(not excepting women’s romances) should have a prizennamed after one of the worst writers of the century, HugonGernsback. As a general rule, the best science fiction hasnbeen produced by writers who refused to limit themselves tonthe genre. Wells’ best work is his serious novels, TononBungay and Mr. Polly, not The Time Machine or War of thenWorlds. C.S. Lewis was a scholar and essayist, who happenednto write a great sci-fi trilogy. Poe (if one can includenhim at all) was primarily a poet, and the best novel of thenfuture in living memory is Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins.n12/CHRONICLESnPERSPECTIVEn•Jn-n/fnrnAnScience Fictionsnby Thomas Flemingnnn• ^n^” %nkXnte 2nEven the most celebrated professionals in the field haventended to do other things as well. Tom Diseh is as wellnknown (in some circles, at least) as a poet, and Philip K.nDick wrote mysteries. Ray Bradbury writes “straight” fromntime to time, and one of his finest books is Dandelion Wine,na nostalgic look at the Midwest of his boyhood. HariannEllison is eager to repudiate the label and wants to be knownnonly as a writer.nI’ve never accepted Duke Ellington’s dictum that therenare only two kinds of music — good and bad—but it can benapplied to writing. In all the various niches of pop culturenthere are insiders eager to claim special rules and privilegesnfor song lyrics or mysteries or comic book art, but suchnclaims are a littie like the claims of any special interest groupnthreatened with competition. As works of literature, mostnscience fiction has always been little less than dreadful, andnthe billions of pounds of pulp has tended to drag down thenstandards of even the most ambitious writers.nIf science fiction is almost all junk, why should anyonenwaste time sifting through the rubbish in a usually vainnsearch for semiprecious stones in a dimestore setting? In myncase, I have a hunger (mostly unsatisfied) for science fiction,none that was aroused in my early teen years when escapenfrom this planet and this century seemed an attractivenoption. (It still does, but dead languages are a more satisfyingnvehicle than spaceships.) The mere fact of this appetitenamong so many people points to the deeper reason fornreading science fiction. In a world in which the reigningnmyths are all derived from science, it may only be throughnscience fiction — however stupid or pooriy written — thatnwe can make sense of those parts of our world that sciencenmade. Perhaps we can only understand science’s lies byninventing lies about science.nI am not thinking so much of the obvious anticipations ofn