Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Answer Should be Obvious

While I don't particularly consider myself a "Gamer" in the way the term is normally used these days, I have over the years enjoyed many video games, especially ones from the Super Mario Brothers series. It was therefore with great interest that I read this article last week on, "Super Mario Brothers: Fantasy or Science Fiction?".

Now, while (much like its paper-book-publishing big brother) is often (usually) ground zero for much that is wrong-headed or actively malicious about today's speculative fiction culture, this particular article is fairly decent, with some interesting thoughts about the interconnectedness of the Super Mario franchise. However, I couldn't help but notice that, aside from a brief invocation of "science fantasy" towards the end, the article is pretty set on its binary SF-or-Fantasy question, when a different way of looking at the genre question comes up with a completely different, but much better-fitting answer.

Super Mario Brothers is a Planetary Romance.

I mean, think about it. Mario is a blue-collar everyman who gets whisked off to another world filled with strange landscapes and weird creatures (including reptile-men, fungus-men, and even the traditional ape-men), and falls in love with a princess, whom he's constantly following to Another Castle. He's basically John Carter with a funny ethnic accent.

Nope, no influence here.
This idea neatly ties in with some of the conversation going on in various places about a "Pulp Diaspora", the idea that after the Campbellian Revolution the pulpier sorts of writers, who were no longer in favor in the sci-fi prose markets, found outlets in other places, like action movies, or techno-thrillers, - or video games. I don't know for certain that the classic pulp sci-fi novels were an inspiration for Super Mario Brothers, but with the recent upswing in interest in returning speculative fiction literature to its pre-Campbellian roots, might not Super Mario Brothers end up being an inspiration to the new generation of writers?

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