io9 reports that science fiction novelists and mainstream literary critics have been sniping at each other over the perceived value of sci-fi novels, and it's hard not to feel more than a little empathetic towards what seems like a ghettoization of a substantive literary subculture-- something the world of comic books knows a little bit about.

The whole brouhaha kicked off when sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson asked why a sci-fi novel had never won Booker Prize for fiction at any point in its 30+ year history, despite being what he consider "the best British literature of our time," and accused the Booker judges of "ignorance." John Mullan, one of the judges and an English professor specializing in 18th century literature, responded by blaming the publishers for not submitting more sci-fi works, but also added that he was "not aware" of science fiction generally, as it has become a "self-enclosed world":

"When I was 18 it was a genre as accepted as other genres," he said, but now "it is in a special room in book shops, bought by a special kind of person who has special weird things they go to and meet each other."

Wow, Professor, that sure sounds like a weird, creepy hobby for weirdo creeps. You know we're talking about sci-fi fans and not furries, right?

Maybe this is just me not being really old, but I find it difficult to perceive science fiction as a marginal cult genre when it's always played such a significant role in the pop culture around me, including movies, television, and fiction. (Though sadly, not comics.)

Perhaps Professor Mullan would also be interested to learn that comics aren't just for kids anymore. Biff! Pow!