Theodore Sturgeon was an author of Science Fiction and a prolific reviewer/critic of others’ works. His eponymous law dates to the 1950s and is in response to criticism that “90% of Sci-Fi is crap.” His response, now memorialized as Sturgeon’s Law* , is that “90% of anything is crap”**
Specifically, he stated: “Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. is crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other art forms.”
This concept is not a universal rule but as I’ve reflected on this “rule” over the last month or so since I first heard of it I think it has a lot of applicability. Note that one corollary to Sturgeon’s Law I read says that if you don’t think 90% of everything is crap, then you’ve set your standards too low. Philosopher Daniel Dennett agrees with the rule having stated: “90% of everything is crap. That is true, whether you are talking about physics, chemistry, evolutionary psychology, sociology, medicine—you name it—rock music, country western. 90% of everything is crap.”***
Note: Sturgeon’s law is very similar to the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, which will be the subject of a future IFOD.
*There is another Sturgeon’s Law which is stated as: “nothing is always absolutely so.”
**His original formulation was “90% of everything is crud” but has changed over time to be quoted using the word “crap” instead of “crud.”
***In my opinion, 100% of country music is crap.
While a lot of sci-fi is crap. Here are some of the 10% that are fantastic (IMO):