I’ll slowly be posting my notes from some of the discussions at WorldCon. I wanted to decipher my chicken scratch and type them out anyway.
Exploring Classic Sci-fi:
- It used to be smaller communities where more editors were also writers.
- More familiarity with classic literature and sci-fi and what’s been done.
- Classic literature isn’t as popular as it was during the Renaissance.
- Editors could filter the impure because they had the background.
- Ignorant editors -> ignorant work -> ignorant readers -> sci-fi changes or remains of low quality and readers who don’t know any better like it.
- Nowadays, a lot of writers don’t like to hear negative feedback and don’t want constructive criticism.
- Fixed on current ideas of today.
- Heinlein is dated because people don’t act like that anymore -> culture changes, but dating reflects the times.
- Pilgrim’s Progress may be unliked and difficult to read today.
- Dialogue between classic and contemporary literature.
- Readers of only contemporary work will think Tolkien copied others, but he was an original.
- Lack of historical curiosity to the point of almost hostile.
- If unaware of history, one won’t appreciate Tolkien or older works as much.
- Look at when something was written.
- Robert Silverberg has been adding introductions to older editions to help put his writing into the time’s context.
- Sci-fi novels are short-term commodities replaced by something worse. (ie. Robert Sheckley(?)
- Classic is quality, age, and survives despite obstacles.
- It’s premature to say whether or not a contemporary work will become a classic.
- Many popular books today weren’t well-received during their time (ie. Moby Dick), but they’ve withstood the test of time.
- Sophocles’s plays were considered good because Aristotle used them as examples of what qualifies as good plays.
- Older books can’t be found because people outside the sci-fi community don’t recommend them.
- Can’t keep everything in print, but books still in copyright can’t be made public online. It’s a catch 22.
- Internet helps resuscitate some works – > Project Gutenberg (free online books)
(I already posted the following list, but I’d like to put the various lists into context of acquirement.)
- Isaac Asimov: I Robot
- Philip K. Dick
- William Gibson: Neuromancer (Sprawl trilogy)
- Ursula Le Guin: the Left Hand of Darkness
- James Gunn- anthologist
- Robert Heinlein: early works
- Judith Merril
- Theodore Sturgeon
- Jack Vance
- H.G. Wells
More resources and reading:
- Hugo Award recipients
- Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductees
- SFWA’s Nebula Award recipients
- X Minus One– online radio with readings and transcriptions
- viaLibri– consortium of booksellers, good for rare books
- Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Anthology begun in 1939
I was pleased to hear the Lefthand of Darkness on their list. It’s not only a fantastic read, it was ahead of it’s time in 1969 because of the way it looked at gender. Le Guin was also one of the first women to break into sci-fi, which was basically a men’s world. It’s the only one I’ve read from their classics list, but I’ve had Wells, Heinlein, and Asimov in the immediate queue. A few of the others I haven’t heard of before. Off the top of my head I would add Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 to their abbreviated list.
Have you read any of the recommended reading? What did you think of them and do you think they should be dubbed as classics? Are there any you think should be considered classic sci-fi or already consider such?