Genre boundaries are real power boundaries.

I think of science fiction, including my own, as very much a paraliterary genre. The fact that it lives – and has lived – on the margin is important to its history. If you remove it from that margin, you remove it from its historical context; I don’t think that’s such a good thing. Genre boundaries are real power boundaries. Bringing all the genres together into what, following Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag called “the great democracy of texts” has endless problems – quite as many as trying to mete equality out among classes, races, and religions. “Let’s get al the races together and we’ll have no problems” – starting tomorrow.

Samuel R Delany, About Writing pp 315


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

2 thoughts on “Genre boundaries are real power boundaries.

  1. I’m not a fan of any from of apartheid. Historical context is important, adherence to fixed boundaries when (if) the zeitgeist is against that would surely be counter to that argument?


    1. I like the quote because it relates genre boundaries to social boundaries, which is an argument I agree with. theres quite a lot of denial on all sides about the economic and social barriers to creativity. IE it helps to be independently wealthy! Genre is a space where many writers without those privileges have made a home, which is part of the meaningful history Delany is one about.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s