It seems to me that fantasy doesn’t get quite the same level of respect that science fiction gets.

While there have been a number of fantasy novels that have won widespread literary acclaim (I’m thinking of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea novels), it seems that in the academic world, fantasy gets short shrift compared to science fiction. There is something a little shameful about fantasy that is less present in science fiction.

Some of this may be a sort of gender bias. Not strictly speaking, in terms of “male/female,” but rather, more nebulous conceptions of “masculine/feminine.” Science fiction, because of its relationship to science – relates to to masculine conceptions of the empirical and rational. Though fantasy may be as internally consistent as science fiction, it explicitly does not relate to those empirical conceptions.

In the still gendered world of academia, this makes an interest in science fiction more acceptable than an interest in fantasy. An interest in science fiction, the meme goes, can lead to a career in science or math, providing benefits for science. An interest in fantasy merely leads to a detachment from reality.

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