If it's for the masses, it must be trash. Right?

Right now I’m reading Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon and am really enjoying it. The New York Times Book Review calls it “Ferociously readable,” and I agree. It’s often compared to Chris Moriarty’s Spin State, which I also enjoyed and read just prior to Morgan’s book.

As a budding novelist myself, I like to learn a bit about the authors I read to see if I can find any insight into their process or just to see if they have a decent web site (they both do). I found this interview of Morgan in Infinity Plus magazine and something he said struck me:

“Anything accessible tends to get short shrift because it eliminates the need for critical interpretation, and therefore the chance for critics to assert a superiority of sophistication over the rest of the world.”

While he’s applying this to a specific novelist who was differentiating between Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction, I think this notion has a wider application to genre fiction in general. Feminists have long denigrated the Romance genre as anti-woman. Usually, those making the accusations haven’t read any kind of Romance novel since 1975, but at its heart I think it has more to do with the fact that Romance fiction is written for the everyday woman, for the masses of women in the world, not just for a select few in academia. I mean, if something has entertainment value for the masses and a message, well it must be trash, right?