SF books (was: Re: Many subjects (very long) )

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Wed Jul 26 14:55:54 EDT 2000

There are probably several threads from last week I could follow up, and plenty
of archival material to read (our firewall started bouncing internet messages
last weekend), but I'd just like to put my bit into the SF discussion...

>> > I can only remember having read _The Triffids_ and "Compassion
>> > Circuit". But I keep *intending* to read more.
>> Does anyone remember the old BBC television series of his book
>> Chocky?
> Thanks for reminding me. I've read _Chocky_ as well, but not seen the
> TV series except in the dim recesses of childhood.

I too read the book years ago.  I don't think I ever saw either of the TV series
("Chocky" and "Children of Chocky").

There's not too much Wyndham around, but all of it's worth reading.

>> I find it upsetting that his era of science fiction had such great
>> ideas and today so many writers just spurn out more clones of the
>> same stuff. (Our delightful DWJ exempt from such calls of course )
> I have to wonder, is "Nobody seems to write anything new anymore" one
> of those complaints that, like "Kids these days are a bunch of
> hooligans", echoes down the ages; or is the world really beginning to
> run out of ideas?

No.  The problem is (and was) the Test of Time.  When we look back at a
"classic" genre, however defined, we see mostly works that have Stood the Test
of Time (OMT).  Looking at contemporary work, we see everything.  It is
therefore much more difficult to spot the good new ideas in contemporary work,
because none of the rubbish has been filtered out and disposed of, yet.  I think
this has probably always been the case!

One might say, ideas are further between, but no fewer...

Equally true in music, although there are other effects at work (which I can
discuss if people really want...)

To add my views:

Classic SF:  Clifford Simak (variable in quality, but Way Station and Time is
the Simplest Thing are excellent, and Catface is good).  Eric Frank Russel
(former king of humorous Sci Fi).  Frank Herbert (The Dragon in the Sea is
excellent, most of his work is good).  Alfred Van Vogt (good, apart from a
tendency to resemble Philip Dick).  Fritz Leiber.

Modern SF:  Alan Dean Foster (Reigning king of humorous Sci Fi.  I prefer his
original books to his film books, and his Sci Fi to his fantasy, the latter by a
very long way).  I'm also getting into A A Attanasio (Good books, but too long,
and occasionally too sex-obsessed).  Bob Shaw may be worth a try, although I
don't read his work that much.  Julian May is to me a very comfortable read.
And, how could I forget, Iain M Banks (Feersum Endjinn is excellent, I've not
met anything less than good.  He uses his middle initial iff he considers the
book to be science fiction).


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