Overlords’ Lair Pg. 3
Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 46, September 2008
’ve been reading posts on the internetthis summer and have been watching withinterest and—in some cases, enjoying—thespirited debate that’s been, oh,
.We’re getting into political silly-seasonin advance of the November Presidentialelections, and that chatter is just burning upthe internet. Hurricane Gustav came ashoretoday and threatened an already-batteredNew Orleans region, which is always goodfor discussion. But the real storm that I wantto address is one about what kind of sciencefiction to turn to when introducing newreaders to the genre. It is not an irrelevantquestion.
is a writer
—which describes many of us aroundhere, including me, heh. In the meantime,Mr. Sales has stirred up a hornet’s nest ofcontroversy
by suggesting that itmay not be such a great idea to recommendthe old classics to readers just getting into sci-fi.
Readers new to the genre are not servedwell by recommendations to read Isaac Asimov, EE ‘Doc’ Smith, Robert Heinlein, or
the like. Such fiction is no longer relevant, isoften written with sensibilities offensive tomodern readers, usually has painfully badprose, and is mostly hard to find becauseit’s out of print.
To be fair, Ian isn’t completely saying whatit sounds like he’s saying, which should beapparent from his closing thoughts on thematter.
I don’t think we should refuse to read old
classic works, but we must recognise that
they’re historical documents. ... Further,modern sf readers shouldn’t need to beaware of everything which has gone before,but modern sf writers certainly ought to.
Steve Davidson, who writes as
The point here is - if you are going to
recommend a story to a potential newreader and you cut out any author who
started writing in the bad old days before
MTV and home computers, you’re chopping
out most of your best and brightest. The
point is, those old authors who wrote such
horrible stuff are STILL receiving awards inthe modern era, and in large numbers.The point is many of the OLD authors are ALSO THE NEW AUTHORS. As I said the other day, history is a continuum.The measure is in converts. Restricting your
recommendations to the ‘modern era’ is
What do I think about all this? Well, it seemsto me that we’re talking about findingspeculative fiction that contains all thewonder and curiosity and thrill of discoveryof the classic writers of bygone days, whilemaintaining the modern standards of literarycraftsmanship which has been honed anddeveloped over time and which has valuewhen the audience is a modern reader.In short, it appears we’re talking aboutmerging the best elements of yesteryearwith the latest critical standards for whatconstitutes good modern fiction writing.It occurs to me that this, in a nutshell, isessentially the charter here at
Ray Gun Revival
magazine. Granted, we’re limited by theshoestring budget to what we can pay ourauthors—nobody will get rich off the nominalfifteen bucks, American, we’re able to pay.Newer and more expensive doesn’t alwaysequate to ‘better,’ a point Steve Davidsonmakes with regard to the modern retellingof The Day The Earth Stood Still, due out this2008 holiday season. Steve would prefer thatpeople
if you haven’tseen it already before letting the updatedversion color your impression of the classicstory. I took advantage of the opportunityto watch the classic online this afternoon.