Author Topic: Let's Talk about Sci Fi  (Read 584 times)

Wahoo Redux

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2023, 05:59:28 PM »

If the Frankenstein had been written in 1918 instead of 1818 would it be science fiction?

I'm not sure. It would be possible, at least, but my intuition is that it would still hew closer to a gothic novel.

But then, like Menard's Quixote, a 1918 Frankenstein wouldn't be Frankenstein, would it?

The cultural context would be different, but Frankenstein would still be Frankenstein----mad scientist, pseudo-science, a cautionary tale about taking science too far, akin to horror, an easy transition to cinematic media.  Science fiction!

The beauty of literature is that it cannot be codified or categorized like scientific taxonomy.   

I am going to take a look at Blazing Worlds by Cavandish. 

BTW, I think I found Riddley Walker online.  Thanks for the recommendation.


Yeah...by our standards most sci fi of the era is incredibly, even unbelievably sexist.  Try reading Stranger in a Strange Land.


I've tried SiaSL twice, once as a teen and once as an adult. Both times, I dumped it about 3/4 through (which I otherwise never do), at the point where our friendly billionaire genius tells us why women are responsible for their own rapes.

Misogyny aside, it's almost unbearably woowoo (I hate this so much about so much '60s and '70s scifi). But that was the final straw. Heinlein's work is all over the place, and most of it has aged poorly. But man, that's a bad one. I don't imagine I'd be very pleased by re-reading Farnham's Freehold, either (not that I was at the time, but I at least finished it).
[/quote]

I only read SiaSL to cover the literature.  I found some of its concepts interesting, but it was a very strange narrative.
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Parasaurolophus

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2023, 09:11:01 PM »

The books I think are under appreciated from that 1960s era are by John Varley.


I'm not familiar with him, I'll check him out.

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Author who holds up the best from that time is Phillip K. Dick, hands down.

Not J.G. Ballard? Or, indeed, early Ursula K. LeGuin?

(Once we hit the late seventies there's Vonda McIntyre, too.)

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Is Vonnegut science fiction? I'd argue not.

Kilgore Trout, yes. Vonnegut, no. =)
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Wahoo Redux

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2023, 09:53:08 PM »
Well...my friend Para seems to have a pretty hard definition of sci fi.  Slaughterhouse 5 is many things, war novel, trauma narrative, satire, pacifist literature, even a historical novel to a degree----and it is also considered sci fi, although I think that a good argument could be made that Vonnegut uses the elements of sci fi for the purposes of satire.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
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Parasaurolophus

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2023, 10:45:40 PM »
Well...my friend Para seems to have a pretty hard definition of sci fi.  Slaughterhouse 5 is many things, war novel, trauma narrative, satire, pacifist literature, even a historical novel to a degree----and it is also considered sci fi, although I think that a good argument could be made that Vonnegut uses the elements of sci fi for the purposes of satire.

I might be misremembering the bulk of his output. I certainly wouldn't deny that he wrote at least some science fiction novels, like The Sirens of Titan, Cat's Cradle, and Slaughterhouse 5. Maybe Player Piano, too? I don't remember it well. And I suppose I'm not certain how I'd class Galapagos--intitially, I wouldn't have called it scifi, but as I think about it it does cover, like, a million years or so, so... maybe.

All right, fine. That's a fair few novels. Foremost in my mind when I answered the question were Mother Night, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, and Bluebeard. Those certainly aren't scifi.

So, yeah, I'll walk that back.
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kaysixteen

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2023, 11:50:13 PM »
Anyone want to comment on Jerry Pournelle?

ergative

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2023, 03:12:39 AM »



Yeah...by our standards most sci fi of the era is incredibly, even unbelievably sexist.  Try reading Stranger in a Strange Land.


I've tried SiaSL twice, once as a teen and once as an adult. Both times, I dumped it about 3/4 through (which I otherwise never do), at the point where our friendly billionaire genius tells us why women are responsible for their own rapes.


I still remember exactly where I was when I read that bit. Agatha Christie is guilty of it too.

This sort of nonsense is why I just have no use for the 'golden age' stuff. The science is out of date, and the tropes may have been new and fresh then but they've since been developed and reused and discussed either to death or else made better by the maturation of the field, so that the OG introduction of the idea has none of the originality that it once offered. Combine that with wildly offensive social values and there's just not much there to enjoy. Maybe if I'm interested in the genre as an object of study, it's worth engaging with as a historical object, but if I want an entertaining yarn with space aliens, there's much better stuff that won't make me mad being published these days.

Anyone want to comment on Jerry Pournelle?

I haven't read any Pournelle. Given what I said above, is he worth my time?

jimbogumbo

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2023, 08:09:44 AM »
Try one Pournelle (there is one pretty good series with Larry Niven), and see.

There are many who are under appreciated. Ballard is very good. I recently reread The Drowned World, and it seems still too accurate in some ways. Brunner is good, and two VERY under appreciated women from that era are Joanna Russ and Alice Sheldon.

What about Harlan Ellison?

ergative

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2023, 08:40:28 AM »
Try one Pournelle (there is one pretty good series with Larry Niven), and see.

There are many who are under appreciated. Ballard is very good. I recently reread The Drowned World, and it seems still too accurate in some ways. Brunner is good, and two VERY under appreciated women from that era are Joanna Russ and Alice Sheldon.

What about Harlan Ellison?

I've read both Russ and Sheldon/Tiptree. Tiptree is very impressive, but everything is so dang grim that I don't want to read any more of her work.

I'm willing to try a Pournelle. Looks like he collaborated with Niven on a few series, but Mote in God's Eye is the one I've heard of. I'll give it a look.

Parasaurolophus

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2023, 09:41:39 AM »

I haven't read any Pournelle. Given what I said above, is he worth my time?

I haven't read much, but I'd say 'no'.

With one exception: The Legacy of Heorot, which he wrote with Larry Niven and Steven Barnes. It's Beowulf in a space colony, with some quite good xenobiology for Grendel. Because it's a group project, the misogyny is somewhat more distributed--but because Niven and Pournelle are involved, it's very definitely there. But it's an original idea which you won't find better executed elsewhere in scifi (as far as I know).

The xenobiology of the second novel is its main attraction, but the misogyny is stronger; I'd give it a miss. As for the third novel, Pournelle's decline and death meant he was minimally involved, and so there's a lot less misogyny. But there's not much new xenobiology, either, so it's not really worth it. But that first one is worth the read.
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kaysixteen

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2023, 10:21:33 PM »
Pournelle is essentially a libertarian, but one who is also an elitist who hates democracy.   His 'Spartans' novels more or less make this clear, though they can be fun, and he is a better stylistic writer than Stirling is (when Stirling pairs up with people like David Drake the writing gets better).   I only read 3-5 sci-fi novels a year, save Turtledove, so I have not the greatest sample size.

Anselm

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2023, 07:06:56 AM »
I've never could get into reading it but later in life I took an interest into the artwork of sci fi and fantasy like Wayne Douglas Barlowe, Giger, Bonestell and Frazetta.
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Wahoo Redux

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #26 on: January 23, 2023, 07:17:27 AM »
Sci-Fi
by Tracy K. Smith

There will be no edges, but curves.
Clean lines pointing only forward.
History, with its hard spine & dog-eared
Corners, will be replaced with nuance,
Just like the dinosaurs gave way
To mounds and mounds of ice.
Women will still be women, but
The distinction will be empty. Sex,
Having outlived every threat, will gratify
Only the mind, which is where it will exist.
For kicks, we’ll dance for ourselves
Before mirrors studded with golden bulbs.
The oldest among us will recognize that glow—
But the word sun will have been re-assigned
To the Standard Uranium-Neutralizing device
Found in households and nursing homes.
And yes, we’ll live to be much older, thanks
To popular consensus. Weightless, unhinged,
Eons from even our own moon, we’ll drift
In the haze of space, which will be, once
And for all, scrutable and safe.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter--and the Bird is on the Wing.

Juvenal

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2023, 12:29:22 PM »
Many mentions of SF authors who have come to note long after my interest in SF faded.  How faded?  I have hundreds of SF paperbacks in boxes in the basement, even a few PBs dating to the late Fifties.  I don't know what to do with them.  Craig's list?

I could recommend a number of authors from the illustrious past, but won't bother.  Everyone has his/her [her, not abundant, I guess] favorites.

So.  Single recommendation: works of Jack Vance, whose career was extensive.  If any SF author wrote of the sociology of distant worlds, it was certainly him.  Read his "Demon Princes" series (five novels) or his "Worlds of Adventure (three?), but for a single work, I'd suggest Araminta Station, more social struggle than SF for the book's people.  And fun--which SF can't always pull off.
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ergative

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #28 on: January 23, 2023, 01:32:27 PM »
Yes, I've heard uniformly high praise for Jack Vance. I've just been burned so many times by the oldsters I tend to take that with a pinch of salt. But I'll add your recommendation, Juvenal, to the pile that will eventually tip me into one of his books.

Wahoo Redux

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Re: Let's Talk about Sci Fi
« Reply #29 on: January 23, 2023, 02:16:04 PM »
I've never could get into reading it but later in life I took an interest into the artwork of sci fi and fantasy like Wayne Douglas Barlowe, Giger, Bonestell and Frazetta.

Berkey is my favorite sci fi artist

Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter--and the Bird is on the Wing.