Monday, August 22, 2005


This isn't really a report on the convention. It's just a kind of general lamentation on the fact that science fiction has pretty much left me behind. One of the panelists mentioned the fact that SF today is much better-written than it was in the Golden Age and for many years after that. The literary quality is so much higher now that a lot of the old stories seem crude by comparison. The writing styles today are much more sophisticated, and the scientific concepts are, too. Why, some of the writers even know a lot about science.

I don't doubt that all that's true. But when I started reading SF all those years ago, I wasn't looking for literary quality or a sophisticated writing style, much less up-to-date scientific knowledge. I was looking for fast-paced stories, and if the cover of the magazine or book I bought had a scantily clad babe on the cover, so much the better.

One of the writers whose stories were everywhere in the 1950s was Murray Leinster, and my favorite purchase of the convention is the copy of a new collection from Baen Books pictured here. Leinster wasn't a stylist, and he wasn't aiming to create literature. But he could sure tell a story. "A Logic Named Joe" is a fine example, and so are novels like The Pirates of Zan (which is included in the collection). I've read everything in the book already, and I have copies of everything in other editions. Nevertheless I had to have this new one, and I'll probably read everything in it all over again. Baen Books has another Leinster collection, with at least one more to come. Which I think is great.

My question is, where do kids these days go for that old sense of wonder? Probably not to works with literary quality or sophisticated style. Maybe media tie-ins sell so well because they hark back to the older kind of SF. But what do I know?


Anonymous said...

When I read some contemporary SF--like novels from Charles Stross or Dan Simmons--I get a different sense of wonder: I wonder why these writers are so good at razzle-dazzle and so weak at good old fashioned story-telling.

George Kelley

Unknown said...

Ditto, George.

Juri said...

I just read two novellas by Alastair Reynolds, who's acclaimed as the new saviour of space opera. While everything in the set-up was great and there was sense of wonder, the stories lacked suspense and drama.

Viagra without prescription said...

The Pirates of Zan?? what is it? I have not idea about what is it, I would like to read more about it!