My late friend Suzanne Allés Blom
, author of the novel Inca
among other works, had a theory about why books are categorized as science fiction, romance, thriller, Western, literary, etc.
As you know, Sturgeon’s Law
says that 90% of everything is crap; that is, most science fiction, romance, thrillers, Westerns, and literary fiction, etc. (along with movies, poetry, comics, you name it) simply isn’t great stuff.
But 10% of it is great. Sue thought that pretty much all of us would like the best of anything. I agree. I prefer speculative fiction, but now and then I read the best in Westerns, romance, thrillers, literary fiction, etc., and I enjoy it.
I also read a lot of speculative fiction that’s not in the top 10%, and I enjoy that, too. I can tolerate speculative crap, although romantic or literary crap sets my teeth on edge.
Sue believed that’s why there are categories. They help lead us to the shelves where we will probably enjoy most of what we pick up. Categories don’t exist just to help marketers know how to sell a book and to tell booksellers where to put it. Categories exist to protect us readers from the wrong kind of crap.
— Sue BurkePhoto of Sue Blom by David Dyer-Bennet at the 1976 Midamerican Convention.