The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “relevant” as “having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand” and “having social relevance”. Just so we’re on the same page, relevance is defined as “practical and especially social applicability” and “the ability to retrieve material that satisfies the needs of the user”.
Why, I’m sure you’re asking, am I quoting the dictionary? Well, Monday on the interwebz, one side of a conversation was showing up in my Twitter feed. I’ve been trying to stay off Twitter these days because it’s a time sink, and I don’t have much time to sink. What caught my attention was a quoted tweet from a person in the conversation whom I don’t follow. The statement was “I’d recommend broadening your horizons. Anything written in the last 15 years is more relevant than McCaffery’s entire oeuvre”.
Some context, and no, I’m not going to name the person who said that. My intention is not to engage in personal attacks but to challenge the mindset behind the words because it’s pretty widespread. Seems someone somewhere declared this week Space Opera Week. Tor dot com is posting a number of essays on that theme. There was one post that brought out the old saw about women haven’t traditionally written space opera, and the few that have, well, they wrote it from a man’s perspective, horror of horrors. Brackett and Moore, in other words.
Certain parties responded. Conversations ensued. Anne McCaffrey’s name was brought up. The statement above was made.
Let that sink in. Yes, you heard it right. Someone said that anything written in the last 15 years was more relevant than Anne Freakin’ McCaffrey’s entire oeuvre. Continue reading