Hello, read more gentle readers! This week, rheumatologist I’m treating you to reviews of five books that, physician well, may or may not be speculative fiction books. More importantly, these are books and authors who have received a good deal of attention from the mainstream literary fiction critics and readers. Yesterday’s book and author, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, won many awards and is commonly read by people who don’t read science fiction. Today’s review, to be posted shortly, is a book in a similar situation.

Later this week, we’ll hear about a Nobel Prize laureate, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and another genre-straddling book that manages to include all genres and yet be classified in none.

Obviously I like genre literature; I don’t assume that a book is light fare just because of where it’s shelved. However, I do like poking gentle fun at people who swear they’d never consider reading science fiction and yet have read The Handmaid’s Tale, or people who think fantasy is pointless but not only have read Wicked but own the soundtrack and have seen the Broadway musical more than once. Sure, there’s trivial fantasy and bad science fiction, but just because a book is shelved in General Fiction doesn’t mean that it’s contemporary (or maybe historical) realistic fiction, and we should admit this and celebrate it.

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