I'm a fan of the work of David Foster Wallace. Not a big fan, mind you. Like any mild DFW fan, I prefer the journalism to the fiction, and the short fiction to the long. True DFW aficionados love Infinite Jest, which has so far defeated me--if you want the truth, I don't find the wheelchair-bound French Canadian terrorists funny, and if they aren't funny, they aren't anything. Broom of the System, on the other hand, I found delightful, but I think true fans find it a lesser work.
I occasionally bring up DFW in discussions with fellow science fiction writers. The usual response is disdain and contempt. Sometimes it is bewildered ignorance: "who?" Occasionally, the situation gets belligerent.
Our field is somewhat parochial, but I have to admit, this startles me.
First of all, to progress, you have to steal from other genres and writing styles. DFW is almost impossible to steal from, but something of that paranoiac self-awareness, where you are fully conscious of your own intestinal peristalsis, would be useful in our field. Infinite self-awareness leads to total inaction, a defining state of post-modernity.
I was with two science fiction writer friends recently, and I talked about DIY sous vide cooking--sealing food in vacuum bags and cooking it in a hot water bath to a precise internal temperature, which gives you perfect medium-rare steak every time (130 degrees F), and then searing it to get a nice brown surface. Their reaction?
As it turns out, they both eat their beef well done, and found the idea terrifying and gross.
Not all SF writers are afraid of literary experimentation, and not all eat their meat cooked to shoe-leather consistency because they fear microbes and other gross living things. But: DFW and medium rare steak. There is some kind of deep connection there.
Is science fiction the well-done steak of literature? No wonder some readers find my productions too...bloody.
Actually, this explains a lot.