August 28, 2015


I sure didn't expect the way this started.

UPDATE: One of the reasons I don't read SF&F any more, and instead spend my time on anime, is that anime generally doesn't preach. There are a few shows that do, but those I don't watch.

Sturgeon's law applies -- at least; sometimes I think Sturgeon was an optimist -- but there are shows that entertain me without trying to change my life.

If Mouretsu Pirates has an agenda, I sure haven't noticed it. Likewise for Railgun.

Most of the people involved in creating manga and anime subscribe to Walt Kelly's goal in life: "To have fun while making money." They have fun, and they want us viewers to have fun.

And usually that is all they want. And that's all I want.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 10:41 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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1 Heh.  I was wondering if you'd seen that.

I've been re-reading older SF recently.  I put all the stuff from Baen's free CDs on my tablet, and I got a Scribd account, which is great if you want to browse for interesting titles rather than read the latest best-seller.

Just finished reading Greg Bear's Eon for the first time in 20+ years, and it stood up pretty well.  It didn't even get nominated for a Hugo when it came out, but I'd rank it ahead of most of the winners from the past decade.  (2004's winner, Paladin of Souls, is better, but that's fantasy rather than SF.)

I started getting seriously into SF&F around 1980, and looking back at the Hugos winners and nominees from then, I didn't know how good I had it.  Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise, Varley's Gaea triology, Silverberg's Lord Valentine's Castle, Niven's Ringworld Engineers (not his best, admittedly), Cherryh's Downbelow Station, Julian May's Pleistocene Saga, Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, Cherryh's Chanur series, Brin's Uplift series, Neuromancer, The Peace War, Footfall, Ender's Game, George Alec Effinger's When Gravity, Fails, Cyteen, Hyperion, The Vor Game...  

Starting from 1980, 1994 was the first year that there wasn't something truly exceptional on the ballot.  Lately, meh.   Well, 2011 wasn't bad.  But mostly, meh.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at August 29, 2015 04:07 AM (PiXy!)


The difference between then and now is that while sci-fi and fantasy authors did preach back in the past, sometimes fairly often, in their works - that was not their main purpose in creating the work.  The good authors understood that the most important job of the author was to entertain the readers, preferable to make the readers spend money on the author, but even that was secondary to entertaining.  Just like how authors of non-fiction work's most important job is to inform the reader, the good authors recognized that everything else came after the most important thing they had to do, sometimes well after.  Many people back even in the past failed to recognize that (The original 'Logan's Run' novel comes to mind, which felt like it was written by a high school freshman who just discovered a reference encyclopedia.), just as many people do today (Seriously, 'change the world,' is what the host of the 'visual novel as art' panel at Otakon 2014 actually said was the most important thing in it - and I had a hard time trying to not laugh.), but the ones doing the writing and publishing knew better.

Unfortunately, we got too many authors and publishers today who believe that preaching on behalf of a cause (Or maybe no cause - maybe they just want to preach against something because it is there.) is the main purpose.  And ignoring Sad Puppies, even people who simply say 'This is tearing us apart.  It is not good' like Baen editor Toni Weisskopf (Heir to the late, great Jim Baen.) get attacked and snubbed by the SJW/Progressive/outrage lobby.  I do think that most of think that preaching does make good entertainment.  But that is just an even more damning indictment of the 'banality of outrage' followers.

Posted by: cxt217 at August 29, 2015 06:56 AM (gbKL5)

3 Pixy, your list has a lot of overlap with the stuff I've been buying on Kindle recently, with much the same conclusion. Even the second and third-tier stuff from the Eighties is more entertaining and better-written than a lot of recent award-winners (this week: Brian Daley's Floyt/Fitzhugh trilogy). And then you have things like Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethshar novels, which were dropped by Tor years ago, and revived as indie when fans ponied up to prove there was demand.

cxt217, I made the mistake of buying the omnibus edition of the three Logan novels, and the even bigger mistake of reading them all. The authors hated the movie for not showing the scope of their world, and for raising the age brackets from 7/14/21 to 10/20/30, but I'd have to insist that not only was the movie objectively better, so were the tv series and the comic book.


Posted by: J Greely at August 29, 2015 08:40 AM (ZlYZd)

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