Escapism means avoiding reality by becoming absorbed in something else more interesting. (Or, as e. e. cummings put it, "listen, there's a helluva good universe next door, let's go.") The word is used pejoratively by the envious to criticize people with imagination, including science fiction fans.
Wollheim claimed that the peculiar advantage of escapist literature over non-escapist was that the reader need not imagine himself as being someone other than he was, but only as being himself in a future world, where more power was available to everyone. He felt that fans should not be content with escapism but should also take an interest and a part in social problems. (See sercon.)
Rothman's ironically titled "Science Fiction is Escape Literature" pointed out how many SF stories had confronted current social problems -- and provided new angles for thinking about them. Other people have pointed out that, far from merely attempting to escape from current problems, science fiction has often attempted to extrapolate the problems of the future. (See extrapolation.)
A popular catchphrase: "Reality is a crutch for people who can't handle science fiction."
|From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944|
|The seeking of satisfaction in literature or other fields unrelated to the great pressing problems of the day. It has frequently been said that fantasy is escape literature; Wollheim has remarked that the peculiar advantage in escapism that it has over other literature is that the reader need not imagine himself as someone other than he is, having greater powers, but only as being himself in the future world, where more power is available to everyone. While the Michelists did not necessarily condemn escapism as a measure of relief, they demanded that fans turn about and take an interest and a part in sociological problems also. In Rothman's ironically titled "Science Fiction Is Escape Literature", he points out how many s-f stories have dealt with sociological problems, and provided new angles for thinking about them.|
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