Serious Aliens! The Trouble with Sci-Fi at the New Yorker

Let me tell you a story of doomsday predictions and ecstatic hope and disappointment spiraling into a black hole. Let me describe the emotional ride I took when I first learned the New Yorker would be publishing a science fiction issue.

When the email announcement arrived in my Inbox, I was worried. I predicted failure. Science fiction has long been the whipping boy-girl of the literary elite. But then I held the “June 4 & 11 2012: The Science Fiction Issue” issue in my hands, taken by the goofy grade-school colors of its cover art and a cavalcade of names like Ray Bradbury, William Gibson, and Ursula Le Guin.

I didn’t read the fine print, however. When I studied the contents page, I found that none of these legendary science-fiction writers—or other luminaries listed under “Sci-Fi” such as Margaret Atwood or China Miéville—has an actual piece of science fiction in the issue. The fiction selections are by literary writers like Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Lethem, and Junot Díaz.

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