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Genre Busting

August 30, 1987

Is it too much to ask that a book be reviewed by someone not burdened with a mass of preconceived prejudices regarding the particular literary genre that they are reviewing?

Ingrid Rimland is very nearly overwhelmed by hers in the review of the science fiction novel "Wyrms" by Orson Scott Card (The Book Review, Aug. 9). While with one hand, she is painting a glowing review of the book itself, with the other, she is slapping the entire SF genre (that's SF, Ingrid, not "sci-fi") in its collective face.

The greatest injustice in her review lies in the opening line, which dubs SF "stereotypical and sometimes slipshod." It is instead a genre of great flexibility and unbounded imagination, as the works of authors such as Card prove.

The final slap she saves for the last lines of her review, in which she implies that Card's novel is best when it rises above the "limitations of genre." In reality, SF is the most fluid and unlimited genre available to the fiction writers of today, although not all are equipped to handle such freedom with skill.

Rimland ends by hoping Card will "settle down" (as though writing SF is an unsettling occupation) and become a "good old-fashioned novelist." Once again SF is put forth as being less worthy of an artist's attention than mainstream fiction. Perhaps Rimland should go back and read some "good old-fashioned" novelists like Jules Verne or H. G. Wells.

NINA McLAUGHLIN

North Hollywood

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