“Extreme Science Fiction”

Last December, I wrote a poorly-argued post about the trouble with modern science fiction. Almost immediately, someone viciously cut me down, and I put up a rather pathetic defense against it. Well, it seems the universe has a sense of irony, because only a few months after I wrote that post, I found myself in my local book shop, where I stumbled upon a hefty tome with the horrific title “Extreme Science Fiction.”

Now, that was almost enough to make me put it down, but I didn’t. I turned it over and read the back of the jacket, and I was intrigued by the premise of the book: it was intended as a collection of inventive, mind-bending science fiction from (mostly) modern authors, edited by Mike Ashley.

And by the time I’d finished reading it, I knew that all those complaints I’d made about the state of modern science fiction were completely idiotic. Everything I’d said was wrong with SF today — the lack of originality, the lack of experimentation, fear of pushing boundaries, and the rest — was rectified by the stories in that single volume.

This is not really meant as a book review, though. Instead, this is a humbled retraction of all the rubbish I said before. I have to admit, I was wrong: good science fiction really isn’t dead.


2 Responses to ““Extreme Science Fiction””

  1. midiguru Says:

    Your original essay would have been a lot more convincing if you had backed up the complaints with a few examples from recent novels and movies. In fact, I’d love to see you add examples of bad SF in yet another diatribe. (Send me an email if you do.)

    Also, don’t forget Sturgeon’s Law: “Ninety percent of science fiction is crap. But then, ninety percent of everything is crap.” There was an enormous amount of crappy SF in the Fifties! It wasn’t a Golden Age, but our memories tend to be very selective.

  2. asymptote Says:

    I don’t know…given what I know now, I’m pretty sure my previous argument was essentially indefensible…and I wasn’t really willing to expose myself to any more crap SF than Hollywood had already crammed down my gullet.

    All in all, I’m thinking I never should have written that post in the first place…

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