Gwenda links this morning to a new blog set up to discuss sf and fantasy from the safety of annonymity. As Malcolm Reynolds would say, “I got no beef with that.” This is a very small genre, everyone knows each other and if you really want to say what you think perhaps annony-mouse is the way to go. I read through all of them, from most recent to first, and as Gwenda point out none of the posts put the boot in. It’s mostly when you should be voting/nominating for awards and discussions of stories/books recently read. Then I got to the first post.
Same old thing: back in the good old days sf was earth shattering . . . now, not so much.
And I’m in a pretty good position to say bollocks because I’ve read through a vast deal of sf between 1927 and 1975, including at least one story from almost every issue of amazing and astounding during those years. Not to mention a fair amount since, right up to the year we are currently standing in. And you know what? There was an awful lot of dreck being published at the same time that Neuromancer, Dune, The Left Hand of Darkness, “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones”, and “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” first appeared. Stories and novels you never heard of because they have justly disappeared into obscurity.
Here’s something else that happens every five years or so in the letter columns of sf magazines (and now online): One generation starts mourning for the golden days of sf which was mostly when they were first excited and enthralled by the genre. They look back on the glories of Doc Smith and are horrified that anyone could compare him to Heinlein. And so on and so forth. This has been going on for a long time. Herodotus looked back with nostalgia on his good old days when, no doubt, the science fiction really, really rocked.
Right now there’s more sf and fantasy being published than ever before and some of it is absolutely amazing. I don’t think I’ve read more than a handful of collections that are as fine as Margo Lanagan’s Black Juice. If there’s any justice, then, like Left Hand of Darkness and the other classics named, Black Juice will last and last and last. So should Gwyneth Jones’s Life. Not to mention so much young adult fantasy literature being published right now. I’ve never felt so overwhelmed by how bloody high the standard of most of what I read is. Holly Black’s Valiant, Elizabeth Knox’s The Vintner’s Luck. I could go on and on and on.
The good old days are imaginary. Always were, always will be. Give it a rest.