Pop fiction, like alcohol and sodomy, gets so much moralistic criticism that those who enjoy it can find it hard to imagine anyone refraining out of displeasure, rather than disapproval. But I’ve never liked adventure and suspense, even when they’re vicarious, and I read science fiction for its play with ideas while treating the pop-fic parts as commercially necessary filler. (Damon Knight was a huge role model.) I’ve also liked a lot of “mainstream” books that tickle the same nerve endings (The Crying of Lot 49, Magister Ludi, The Name of the Rose). Here’s a theory that covers that similarity.