"Genre" writers are often put into different buckets than their "literary" siblings. I'd like to think readers whether avid, casual, militant or connoisseur tend to put books into buckets of "good books" and "bad books" and mostly ignore the assertions of literary criticism.
Ursula Le Guin - who I've blogged about a number of times - wrote mainly fantastical tales and I'd suggest her hooks fall into the good books category. That connoisseur-reader Zadie Smith would agree, I believe.
I recently came across Orson Scott Card (via Mark Lawrence) and I found what he has to say about science fiction writers paying homage to their idols not by copying but
"In science fiction, however, the whole point is that the ideas are fresh and startling and intriguing; you imitate the great ones, not by rewriting their stories, but rather by creating stories that are just as startling and new."
I like that notion. I copy your premise of inventing something fresh and startling. A type of second order imitation.
Below is an extract from his foreward to Ender's Game.
"…I had just read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, which was (more or less) an extrapolation of the ideas in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, applied to a galaxy-wide empire in some far future time. The novel set me not to dreaming, but to thinking, which is Asimov’s most extraordinary ability as a fiction writer.
What would the future be like? How would things change? What would remain the same? The premise of Foundation seemed to be that even though you might change the props and the actors, the play of human history is always the same. And yet that fundamentally pessimistic premise (you mean we’ll never change?) was tempered by Asimov’s idea of a group of human beings who, not through genetic change, but through learned skills, are able to understand and heal the minds of other people.
It was an idea that rang true with me, perhaps in part because of my Mormon upbringing and beliefs: human beings may be miserable specimens in the main, but we can learn and, through learning, become decent people. Those were some of the ideas that played through my mind as I read Foundation, curled on my bed –a thin mattress on a slab of plywood, a bed my father had made for me –in my basement bedroom in our little rambler on 650 East in Orem, Utah. And then, as so many science fiction readers have done over the years, I felt a strong desire to write stories that would do for others what Asimov’s story had done for me.
In other genres, that desire is usually expressed by producing thinly veiled rewrites of the great work: Tolkien’s disciples far too often simply rewrite Tolkien, for example. In science fiction, however, the whole point is that the ideas are fresh and startling and intriguing; you imitate the great ones, not by rewriting their stories, but rather by creating stories that are just as startling and new.
But new in what way? Asimov was a scientist, and approached every field of human knowledge in a scientific manner –assimilating data, combining it in new and startling ways, thinking through the implications of each new idea. I was no scientist, and unlikely ever to be one, at least not a real scientist –not a physicist, not a chemist, not a biologist, not even an engineer. I had no gift for mathematics and no great love for it either. Though I relished the study of logic and languages, and virtually inhaled histories and biographies, it never occurred to me at the time that these were just as valid sources of science fiction stories as astronomy or quantum mechanics.
How, then, could I possibly come up with a science fiction idea? What did I actually know about anything? … "