February 01, 2007

Gratuitous Sci-Fi Posting

I am:
E.E. "Doc" Smith
The inventor of space opera. His purple space war tales remain well-read generations later.

Which science fiction writer are you?

I have no idea who this guy is but I'm assuming we're not talking Le Nozze di Anakin here.

The truth of the matter is that aside from, say, Tolkien and Douglas Adams, I simply don't read science fiction. Never had much of an interest in alternative universes. Whether this is due to my mother's contemptuous dismissal of all such fiction as "little green men" stories when I was forming my early literary tastes, I couldn't say, but it's pretty well ingrained now.

Yips! to Rachel Heinlein.

Speaking of such things, JohnL has posted a sci-fi literature meme thingy over at TexasBestGrok. Scoot on over and play if you like. I note that C.S. Lewis didn't make the cut. One sci-fi book I have read is his Perelandra, the second book of his space trilogy. Actually, the book isn't so much science fiction as a long discourse on Christianity set to a story that involves the inter-relationship of Earth, Mars and Venus.

Two things stood out about this book in my mind. First, as with most of Lewis' works, the theology made me feel like an utter idiot. I could follow the beautiful logic of his arguments as I read along, but couldn't re-articulate them myself if you paid me. Second, as a piece of story-telling, it was punctured with moments of utter preposterousness, with scenes of extreme physical exertion, the protagonist and antagonist literally at each other's throats, overlaid with dialogue one would normally expect in the senior faculty room. Most jarring.

(BTW, sorry if you saw the quiz thingy posted thrice. Comes of sneezing while typing at the wrong time.)

Posted by Robert at February 1, 2007 09:36 AM | TrackBack

You should read Starship Troopers by Heinlein. It's nothing like the godawful movie that was allegedly based on it.

Have you read any SF/Alternate History books? With your knowledge of the Civil War you might enjoy Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South. I recently read (and enjoyed) Eric Flint's 1632 and 1633 (both of which are available for free at Baen Books' online library.

BTW, I was E.E. "Doc" Smith, too, although I was sure I was going to be Heinlein!

Posted by: JohnL at February 1, 2007 10:56 AM

Doc Smith was a carbohydrate chemist and hard sci-fi author, in fact he did much of the early poularizing of the hard form (where actual scientific and engineering puzzles are solved and the concepts have to be plausibly real within the realm of speculative physics) - it was the anti-Flash Gordon school.

He was Henilien's mentor, to a degree. While I like his approach to speculative science fiction, his grasp of human relationships was pretty much on the level of most of my fellow chemists who remain Academics.

If yer gonna start on Heinlein, start with "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".

Posted by: John at February 1, 2007 11:57 AM

And get the unedited version of Stranger in a Strange Land.

I wound up being Isaac Asimov. He was my favorite author while I was growing up. But now I see a lot of his secular humanist/nearly socialist beliefs in his novels. Defintely moved from Asimov to Heinlein.

Posted by: rbj at February 1, 2007 01:56 PM

My Heinlein favorites are Glory Road and Time Enough For Love.

Glory Road might be a good start, since it's really more of a fantasy adventure story than straight Sci Fi. Time Enough For Love is a long one, but has a lot of Heinlein's philosophy in it.

I've never much cared for Stranger in a Strange Land. Starship Troopers and The Moon is A Harsh Mistress are also among my favorites.

But I also actually kind of liked the movie version of Starship Troopers, cheesy as it was, and as much as it blasphemed the book. Very camp. Plus the bugs were just great. And Denise Richards.

Posted by: The Colossus at February 1, 2007 02:28 PM

John Scalzi is also writing some stuff that reads like vintage Heinlein. Old Man's War and Ghost Brigades are really good reads.

Posted by: The Colossus at February 1, 2007 02:48 PM

Ayn Rand here. I guess that means that Iím not a science fiction writer at all.

One SF writer Iíve enjoyed (and I read a lot of the stuff, to be honest) is S. M. Stirling. He writes alternate history, but his premises are more creative than Harry Turtledoveís and his prose is far better crafted. You might like The Peshawar Lancers, where Western civilization is all but destroyed in the aftermath of an asteroid strike in 1880. By the twenty-first century technology has recovered to the level it reached in our history in the 1920s, and the world is dominated by a British Empire governed from New Delhi. Harry Flashman makes a cameo appearance in the book in the form of an oil painting. Not Stirling's best book, but a lot of fun.

Posted by: utron at February 1, 2007 03:00 PM