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SF Books Meme - King Rat
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SF Books Meme
From 2006.

http://gkr.livejournal.com/760905.html

Only change to the list is that I read Childhood's End this year and couldn't believe how crappy it was. Absolute dreck.

Frankly, it's a bullshit list. But it really highlights something about SF and Fantasy. Of the books listed...

42 are by white men.
1 written by a black man.
7 by white women.

I may have miscounted or misattributed a couple.

A few points, all opinions of mine:

* a lot of what passes for "classic" SF/F is really pretty hard to read.

* there's a lot of really good current SF/F being written. better than the "classics."

* the genres have become more inclusive since the mid 80s.

* one of the reasons why newer stuff is better is that more people from outside the white man realm are writing genre fiction.

* also more genre authors are folks who actually have English degrees and took writing classes rather than being scientists and engineers who wrote on the side. Read Never Let Me Go or The Yiddish Policemen's Union for examples of really good writing with S.F. themes.
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Comments
nplusm From: nplusm Date: December 17th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think, particularly in media, and particularly in fictional media, a general trend towards better is inexorable. It's part of an evolutionary progress, each year mutations occur in traditional story lines, characters, and ideas. The successful ones flourish and the unsuccessful ones die out. We see this in television, movies, and certainly in books. We, as a society, like to give extra props to trailblazing events, and increase their relative quality, not because they are good, but because they were first. A good example of this is Citizen Kane. If Citizen Kane was released today, it would be panned...or, at best, given a passing grade. However, at the time, it was such a revolutionary take on movies, it is given high marks. Lord of the Rings is a HORRIBLY written book...but was a first. We dub these "classics" and give them extra points for braving new world successfully. People like Margaret Weiss used Tolkien's work as a basis for her own...and was very successful, but would she have been so successful if she hadn't had Tolkien's books at her bedside as youth?

It's as Isaac Newton said;

If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."

Each generation of writers stands on the shoulders of what came before, able to borrow the good ideas to enhance their own. Borrowing liberally from those who came before.

I think this is what generates the good science fiction of today, and we have to recognize it is based off the surviving science fiction of yesterday. I think this is why these books are given such credit. We recognize the works of people based on what they had at their disposal at the time, and we recognize their achievements based on that time. The fact that we regularly go into space in this year, should not devalue the accomplishments of Magellan.

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