War of the World-Builders
No-one remembers now how The War began; a conflict that swept through the multiverse all those aeons ago.
What madness could overtake both people and Gods in such a way? Who indeed started the whole thing off? Did Fantasy turn on Science Fiction –or Scyfy launch an attack on their fellow travellers in the Fantastic… What old and ancient enmity could give rise to such antipathy? Still it continues. A struggle without end; a war where no quarter was given, no peace declared, no coherent argument marshalled. They fought on, over a dwindling readership, as two bald men over a comb.
The 21st century had reached its second decade and it was the turn of the Fantasy camp to be jubilant. Their fortifications were impressive; walls buttressed by seemingly endless vampire novels, boy wizards and door-stop trilogies. They jeered at their opponents from their high ground, watching their enemy destroy itself from within.
“Come and have a go, muggles!” they shouted.
“Not another f#@?ing elf!” came the expected retort.
Despite their bravado, the SciFi camp was in a desperate state. Already their more capable commanders (Ballard, Vonnegut, Atwood) had defected to the mainstream. The rest of the troops were coalescing into factions: Hard SF boys were engaged in a battle for control with the partisans of Soft and Fuzzy. In a corner of the camp –rusting– the Steampunk engines lay, waiting for a decision to be made. Trekkies sulked. Every year their ranks dwindled even as the number of fan events and conventions rose.
“But it is all about the science, it’s even in the bloody title!”
“No! How can you be so witless? It’s all about characters and emotions and…”
“Piss off and write romance stories for Woman’s Realm, then!”
“Ooh! That’s just typical that is! You and your endless regurgitations of quantum theory, mundane science and global bleeding, bloody warming. Why can’t you just dream a dream?”
“I almost did, because you’re sending me to sleep.”
In the middle distance the neutrals prepared for the battle to come. They were the mercenaries, belonging to both camps and none: The Warhammer 40,000 novels, the Young Adult Fiction and the other shiftless flotsam of the continent of Literata. It was a land with no Borders, a voracious Amazon and a lot of tumbling Waterstones.
“Will they ever sort out these pointless arguments about the nature and intrinsic character of their genres, daddy?” said a cute little blonde-headed child, looking with big, saucer-like eyes at her genetically designated adult. Some distance away, the battle raged.
“No, kid. I don’t think so. Not until the fantasy camp realise they’re just peddling magic realism with it’s brains kicked out and the SciFi gangs find a way to be friends again.”
“Oh. And daddy, does Pukka Tukka: Jamie Oliver’s Story go with the cookbooks or the biographies?”
“Now, let’s not start that one again…”
TO BE CONTINUED (ad nauseam)