Print Story And then it struck me
By MartiniPhilosopher (Tue May 16, 2006 at 06:31:09 AM EST) Sci-Fi, SciFi, Sense of Wonderment (all tags)
WinAmp decided to shuffle through and pick up "Journey of the Sorcerer" -- The theme song to the Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy raido show -- when I finally realized where I've been going wrong about the whole science-fiction complaint.

It started two weeks ago when the wife and I hit our local half-price book store and they were having a sale on old used scifi paperbacks. Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Nivens, Heinline -- they were all there and at only a buck or two, I went to town picking up seven books that seemed destined for less happy surroundings than my bookshelf. As we were leaving we started talking about the books themselves. Specifically why I went out my way to get them instead of more recent stuff.

It has a lot to do with what I call the "Wonderment Age" of scifi. This was the time right around WW2, both before and after, when things like going to the moon and Mars, exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations...well you get the picture here. That was the time when such things, while not certainly new, had something of a feeling of wonderment about them. A feeling that anything, and in fact everything, was actually possible when it came to this crazy universe. This sort of feeling seems descriptively absent from more recent writings in the arena. Indeed, when checking out the various new books I see that such a feeling is replaced with a more scientificly accurate and realistic approach to the genre.

Not that there is anything wrong with a realistic approach to scifi -- it has its place out there, and I did find the Gap Series to be particuarlly compelling in its own right. But its that thing,  that space, among the books where the wonderment with the whole of the universe used to live that I see missing. Until I heard the Eagle's song come up one more time.

The wonderment isn't gone. It's just changed genres within scifi. It's moved from the serious portion to the more commedy area. HHGG is the perfect example of this transistion. His haphazard and distracted exploration of the books' universe  is an evolution of the ideas behind the early wonderment. This character is the written embodiment of human incompassity to effectively deal with the sheer craziness of a complicated, populated, and wonder-filled universe.

No, there may never be another story like "Night Meeting" to capture the sense of wonder about life and living but I can live with that knowing that there is a place that the wonder can pop-up from time to time and still fill people who want to dream of far off places.

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And then it struck me | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
What contemporary SF authors are you reading? by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue May 16, 2006 at 07:08:47 AM EST
I can get that classic feel in some Ken MacLeod (Cosmonaut Keep, The Cassini Division) and Iain Banks, various Culture novels.

I'm trying not to take issue with you lumping Asimov Bradbury Clarke and Heinlein as contemporaries of Niven, sure, their writing careers overlapped, but I feel they peaked in different decades, and their typical of different periods of sf.

Last time I ventured outside of my usual by MartiniPhilosopher (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue May 16, 2006 at 07:38:10 AM EST
authors I was introduced to Sundiver of The Uplist series by David Brin. I was mostly disapointed due to the awkward way he kept trying to equate character depth to backstory the reader had no access to. Otherwise, it was a decent story, even if it did spark a three month debate with friends as to whether or not the humans in the story were the primary force behind its resolution. I suspect his other books get better but I've not tried them. And before I went through that one, I tried to get through Otherland. The less I say about that book, the better.

Most recently I read The Forever War. I don't really have much critism for it. However that wasn't a book about the wonders of the universe. It was more an answer to Starship Troopers. It was also fairly realistic about travel near lightspeed and its effects on interstelar conflicts.

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

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The only Brin I recall reading was that crap by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue May 16, 2006 at 07:47:20 AM EST
he wrote based on the Foundation series. I left a very bad taste in my mouth. I strongly recommend checking out MacLeod or Banks.

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Weird by ad hoc (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue May 16, 2006 at 07:53:08 AM EST
I was thinking that just last night.

That's why I also enjoy OTR like X Minus 1, &c.
Close friendships and a private room can offer most of the things love does.

wonderment by clover kicker (4.00 / 1) #5 Tue May 16, 2006 at 03:15:41 PM EST
Nice point about the "Wonderment Age".

I've also noticed that a lot of post-WW2 sci-fi has a deep vein of pessimism, a Cold-War certainty of imminent apocalypse.

Nobody would write A Canticle for Leibowitz today.

Any chance you could link by edward (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue May 16, 2006 at 09:13:52 PM EST
that Journey of the Sorcerer thing? That's the strumming guitar sound? I like it.

I only found it through the big G by MartiniPhilosopher (4.00 / 1) #7 Wed May 17, 2006 at 05:20:52 AM EST
once I knew who did it.

In any case, it looks like will get you the information you desire. IYKWIM

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

[ Parent ]
Thanks! by edward (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed May 17, 2006 at 02:09:21 PM EST

[ Parent ]
And then it struck me | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback