Rob Hunter

SF, Incluing, and Infodumps

Every so often one comes across a corner of the Internet where someone has written, created or shared exactly the kind of thing you were hoping you’d some day come across. I had that experience recently with a blog post defending the use of the expository tactics of “infodumping” and “incluing” in science fiction:

For me, one of the things that fundamentally makes sf, sf, is that it goes out of its way to require more exposition than other literary modes. One cannot just “tell a story” in sf; one must also carefully and complicatedly establish the world in which that story “takes place” in order for the story to be in any way understandable. When you think about it, this is actually quite astonishing, especially considering that it is commonly agreed, or at least commonly asserted, that sf grew out of and to a certain extent remains “popular adventure fiction,” in which the straightforward relation of incident, one would presume, should be paramount. But instead, sf by its very nature frustrates the reader’s continual desire to “find out what happens next.” Is it not truly remarkable that, from the very beginning (wherever one places this: with Gernsback and Amazing [Stories], with H.G. Wells or Jules Verne, with Mary Shelley, what have you), we find sf stories repeatedly stopping dead in their tracks while the narration lectures the reader on various matters of fact, real or imagined?

I can’t add much to the post beyond noting that it introduced me to a whole new dimension of sf criticism (as well a lengthy slate of sf critics I’ll have to start reading). If you enjoy science fiction it’s worth taking a look at, as is the whole blog, Marooned Off Vesta, in general.