Sunday, July 22, 2007

Wait, what was that again?

So I'm on my next book, Age of Wonders by David Hartwell as my sort of history book for science fiction. I thought it would be cool getting into science fiction's history because even though my current novel is science fiction, I've read little in the genre (seems counter productive, I know) and figured knowing some of it's roots would help. I'm a little more well versed in fantasy, which would make sense considering that's what I do most of the time anyway. This is my second large science fiction idea, and I thought it was interesting how almost all my short stories were science fiction instead of fantasy....

Anywho, Age of Wonders. I'm trying to get it out of my way so I can devote my full time to Harry Potter, which may be a mistake because I'll probably start hearing all sorts of things about Harry if I'm not careful. I haven't read a lick of it yet and I know once I do I probably won't be able to stop. Like me and a bag of Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies. I'm still not very far yet, and I blame the book, actually. Ok, I should blame myself, but up until recently, Hartwell's writing is sort of like mine actually, although I tend to think my ramblings digress a little before getting back on track and it's a little hard to get lost.

Ok, see, Hartwell's book isn't exactly a history book. This is good because it means I'm not going to be drooling on myself while I go through dates and facts presented in an uber-boring manner. Instead he's upbeat, obviously interested in what he's talking about (as he's a SF writer as well), and knows his stuff (and if he didn't he looked it up). Therein lies a bit of the problem.

Sometimes I think he got so into what he was talking about he just sort of...kept...talking about it getting to a point where I was sitting here thinking, "What the hell does this have to do with the chapter?" While I give it to him that perhaps he found his rhythm in the third chapter because it actually follows a line of thought and stays on topic, the first two just started to bug me. The first chapter was called "The Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12" and while I was able to grasp what he was going for (and I guess that's what's important), once he was done talking about omnivorous SF reading behavior, he started babbling about specific authors and what they've done. This may be a problem because he's set in his time (80s) and it sounds as though he isn't planning for future readers. More like this book was for the current audience of the time. I wasn't born until '83 so I wasn't likely to read this book anytime soon.

He does it again in the second chapter, "I Have a Cosmic Mind - Now What Do I Do?" Come to think of it, I don't think he ever really answers this question. Maybe suggests books to read, but if you were an outsider of the SF genre and read that chapter, I honestly don't think you would be any closer to knowing how to handle your newfound reading world.

What I do credit Hartwell with is the way he describes SF people, reminding any non-SF person that, duh, SF people are just like you except for their enjoyment of SF. The guy at the water cooler, that woman in the grocery store picking out apples, your boss, who knows? Kind of helps kill the stereotype that all SF people speak Klingon or sit at their computers and get fat and think that the government has covered up an alien crash. Blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Truth is, that isn't (always) true. Most are the everyday people you see, just with an internal sense of, as Hartwell puts it, wonder.

I have a little problem with his attitude toward Star Trek though. Now, I'm not a trekkie and I've probably only seen a handful of episodes and yes I do realize what the show has done to the SF scene (both in good terms and not so good terms [all SF people are like trekkies]), but I don't take too kindly to Hartwell's condescending tone toward the show. I guess I can see his points and all that, and he's not horrible toward it or anything, but just the way he talks about it rubs me the wrong way. Like I want to tell him to lighten up on the show, give it a break. *shrug* Maybe it's just me.

I just hope he stays on track in future chapters.

Currently: I was happy but now I'm kinda bummed


W. D. Prescott said...

It's actually kinda funny, but I notice that a lot of SF writers like to diss Star Trek, but actual scientists and readers that aren't devoted to a single author love the show. I think that is why sometimes it hard for me to read a lot of the really hard SF books. It's not the sciene in it, but the pretentious that comes out in the writing. There are always execptions of course, but it the general feeling I have. Give me Dune, Star Wars, and Robert Heinlein anyday, haha

Nicole said...

That's the interesting thing though; he praises Dune and Heinlein but seems to have it out for TV and movie SF. Ok, maybe he doesn't have it out for them, but you know what I mean.

And you know, after reading your comment, I think that might be why I was always turned off from hard SF. Or at least one of the reasons.