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Dave Truesdale's image of Trek fiction as chocolate pudding, vis-a-vis the real meat-&-potatoes sf, leads me to wonder if the hard-science books with lectures in them are the vegetables we should consume because they are good for us.When Arthur says ''hard-science books with lectures in them,'' I take him to mean hard science fiction books with (science) info dumps in them. Alas, an info dump is an info dump, and isn't confined to hard sf any more than it is any other kind of science fiction or fantasy. Expository information should be dolloped out as economically and palatably as possible for the reader; mixed in and blended well with the rest of the story (sort of like Chinese stir fry veggies, if you will). When it isn't, it comes across like trying to eat raw broccoli. While vegetables are good for everyone (as Arthur rightly points out), some are easier to digest than others, depending on how they are prepared.
Some writers are better auctorial chefs than others, regardless of whether they write hard sf, sociological sf, heroic fantasy, or yes, even Star Trek books (including the package of six ST reissues I received today, all from 1983-87; too bad they weren't frozen like leftover veggies -- they'd probably retain more of their flavor after fifteen years.
Arthur D. Hlavaty
In addition, I recall reading a series of books when I was a child that dealt with a Mars society, composed of aliens who were ''heads'' that grew bodies to which they attached themselves. I recall being facinated by these books, and I believe my son will like them, but I cannot recall anything about the name(s) of the series or the author.This sounds a whole lot like a description of Edgar Rice Burrough's The Chessmen of Mars, part of his John Carter series.
Why not place, at the end of each ST book, a brief list of Recommended Reading? You know, 'If you liked this ST adventure, we recommend you try the following...,' and then list, for instance, Old Earth Books out of Baltimore, which in 1997 issued several of Doc Smith's classic Lensman books.Look folks, I'm having enough trouble trying to stay only a month or two behind in filling orders as it is . . . all I need is for billions of Trek fans to send me money . . . OTOH, maybe I could then actually hire some minions, well maybe one minion (that would double the work force at OEB . . .)
''Sophistication,'' if that's what it is, came on the field slowly, and each generation built on the one before. Right now you are asking readers to move from ''First Generation,'' essentially pre-Campbellian SF like Trek and SW to ''Fifth Generation'' SF in one jump. That won't happen. There is more than one step between ''Gray Lensman'' and ''The Sheep Look Up.''John,
Perhaps 'First Generation' readers -- those who read your ST books -- might feel the need to expand their genre reading horizons by looking for 'Second or Third Generation' SF (whatever they might be), if there weren't a gazillion new (and reprint) ST, ST: TNG, ST Voyager, ST: DSN, and SW books issued every month, as well as the newest lame repackaging of ST episode scripts, little postcard packets featuring the wimmin of ST, and the newest ST Compendium, or Chronological History (or whatever), ad infinitum.
But as you are well aware, the publishing of Trek books and merchandise is big business, and as editor of the Trek books at your publishing house, it is your job to keep newer/younger SF readers reading and buying your First Generation products. I certainly take no issue with you doing your job, or being successful at it, from a purely business standpoint.
But if you are truly concerned with the evolution of your readers, why not place, at the end of each ST book, a brief list of Recommended Reading? You know, "If you liked this ST adventure, we recommend you try the following...," and then list, for instance, Old Earth Books out of Baltimore, which in 1997 issued several of Doc Smith's classic Lensman books. Surely, turning them onto other First Generation space operas of the pre-Campbellian era (or newer books still in print like them) won't cut too heavily into your profit margin?
I'm sure Pocket Books would never let you do such a thing, so you're off the hook. But it does seem rather disingenuous of you to blame current (Fifth Generation) ''straight'' science fiction novels for not connecting with the newer generation of readers, when you keep shoveling First Generation SF down their throats as fast as they can swallow it.
If my mother had placed a first course of chocolate pudding on the table at every meal when I was growing up, and kept it coming, and never made me eat anything else, I would never have known (or had the urge to know) there was such a thing as a hamburger with fries, much less broiled lobster with melted butter.
I feel that straight SF has reached a point where, unless you've read the vast majority of the SF published over the last 50 years, the new material doesn't resonate well. This is because, in an obsessive drive for concept originality, authors are painting themselves into narrower and narrower corners.And it struck me -- why, he's right! I've seen it happen, too. For years now, I've set out to write SF that MUST be accessible to ''mainstream'' readers. An old, well-known U.S. editor/writer tells me that I write too ''mainstream'' to be acceptable -- then adds, devastatingly, that ''mainstream SF'' is a dying breed.
Ironic, isn't it? In my childhood, SF fans used to say ''Throw SF out of the classroom and into the gutter where it belongs!'', meaning SF should remain popular and accessible, never something for ''intellectuals''. Instead, while SF concepts spread throughout society as a whole, the ''hard core'' SF-reading community turned itself into a ghetto... again. 'Tis sad.
While I reserve the right to be critical of SF film/TV/media for various reasons, I have no problem with its popularity as such. It's kind of petty to resent George Lucas for being so successful. OK, so Norman Spinrad does deserve more attention (I read his 60's novel Bug Jack Barron and it's still very, very good), but...
To put things more in perspective: consider the mainstream success of Philip K. Dick. All his life he struggled for it, and broke through just before his death, and even now his ideas are STILL being turned into films. Which proves that
A) Good and original SF writers will only break into the mainstream very, very slowly, but...Even Gene Roddenberry was an innovator -- in 1966, and people forget how UN-popular Star Trek was at first. It's a good bet something similar will happen to Norman Spinrad too (and I'm not laughing).
One editor told me recently, that he would only accept obscure writings. It isn't very encouraging to hear something like ''You'll like it in the ghetto! The pay is lousy but we starve with pride!'' Finally, I decided to go my own way. There must be someone who wants to read new SF that dares to be less than totally original, yet is accomplished enough to qualify as literature.
However, the publishing industry today caters to the extreme ends -- the ghetto, or the Star Trek merchandise -- there is no in-between anymore. So I went online. People can read my SF novels in complete form there, for free. It would be fun to see more new, serious SF writers do likewise..?
In addition, I recall reading a series of books when I was a child that dealt with a Mars society, composed of aliens who were ''heads'' that grew bodies to which they attached themselves. I recall being facinated by these books, and I believe my son will like them, but I cannot recall anything about the name(s) of the series or the author. Any suggestions? Thank you for your time.
According to Clute and Nicholls' Science Fiction Encyclopedia, the book you're referring to is probably Wildeblood's Empire by Brian M. Stableford. In the '70s Stableford wrote several series of space operas; according to the SFE the 'Daedalus Mission' books included The Florians (1976), Critical Threshold, Wildeblood's Empire, The City of the Sun, Balance of Power, and The Paradox of Sets (1979). I'd guess these were DAW books; I know DAW published a bunch of Stableford novels in the '70s--these were when DAW published the paperbacks with the yellow spines. For finding them, try contacting any of the specialty SF bookstores listed on Locus Online; or try any of the OOP dealers listed there. Can't help with your other query.. doesn't ring a bell with me personally. How about I post that part of your question as a letter on Locus Online?
Can't help with your other query.. doesn't ring a bell with me personally. How about I post that part of your question as a letter on Locus Online?
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