Kim Stanley Robinson has posted an article on New Scientist that I'd like to read but lies behind their subscription wall, decrying the fact scifi never wins a booker prize when it should have won 3 or 4 of the last 10.
There are some interesting responses out there:
According to Robinson the ghettoisation of science fiction is a comparatively recent phenomenon. He pointed to a little known letter written by Virginia Woolf to the science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon, after he had sent her a copy of his novel Star Maker. “I don’t suppose that I have understood more than a small part – all the same I have understood enough to be greatly interested, and elated too, since sometimes it seems to me that you are grasping ideas that I have tried to express, much more fumblingly, in fiction,” wrote Woolf. “But you have gone much further and I can’t help envying you – as one does those who reach what one has aimed at.”
One Booker judge, John Mullan, spoke to the Guardian, saying that no publishers submitted SF books for the Booker this year, so the prize couldn't consider any. (With one exception: Margaret Atwood's Year Of The Flood.) And Mullan suggested that science fiction, which had been part of the mainstream when he was younger, had become a "self-enclosed world":
Personally, I’ve always felt that prizes and public acceptance are overrated, and that science fiction does itself a disservice by chasing after them; Robinson appears to me to be taking a similar stance. I’ve never picked books because they won awards; personal recommendation has always carried far more weight, ever since I was quite young.
And if we truly believe that science fiction has the power and potential to open minds (and change them), isn’t the sincere recommendation of a book from friend to friend the best form of evangelism? To use an analogy with science itself: many of the greatest scientific innovators achieved their leaps of progress in spite of great public opposition and the opprobrium of the establishment; rather than kowtow and beg for crumbs of approval, they just knuckled down and got on with it, fueled by their own defiance, converting their few faithful supporters through their unflappable loyalty to their own ideas.