|Robert Heinlein's bu$ine$$ rules|
Do The Math
I suppose you might diagnose me as having a "reading disease", but the evidence might be hard to come by. These days I seldom buy new books. One reason for this is that I already own plenty of great books that I like to read. Another reason is that I have very little interest in most books. I think that Sturgeon's Law needs an update for the current millennium: I'd say that after taking into account inflation, 99% of "science fiction" is crap.
|Some Sci Fi can put me to sleep.|
And as I emphasized in my recent blog post about "writing as a disease", I'm particularly interested in cases where a reading disease progresses to a writing disease. My two favorite science fiction story writers, Isaac Asimov and Jack Vance each produced a huge amount of published writing.
In the Spirit of Festivus
|in the Ekcolir Reality|
Original cover art by Milton Rosenblatt
In the case of Vance, I just don't even try to read some of his books. A few of these sit on a self beside me right now, but I know I will never open them again. I tried once and fled. I have not been able to stop myself from mentally exploring the hypothesis that sometimes Vance became bored with a story and dropped it. Later, someone, possibly his wife, finished it up and sent it off to the presses. Ew.
|Whoa, don't step in that crap!|
The practice of paying pulp science fiction writers by the word did a whole lot of damage. There should have been special bonuses paid for elegantly written short stories without all the lard.
Live and Let Die
golden age of science fiction and reading every story I could find, I soon started to rein-in my reading disease. This was a natural reaction to the crappy stories I had read. I knew that I could not continue being a science fiction fan unless I learned how to protect myself from all of the horrible stories that got marketed as "science fiction".
|in the Ekcolir Reality|
original cover art by Walter Popp
Asimov told the story of once being asked by Robert Heinlein how many revisions an Asimov story went through before being submitted for publication. After hearing the answer, Heinlein asked a follow-up question: "You type it twice? Why don't you type it correctly the first time?"
|She put it on the market. Original|
cover art by Isaac Paul Rader.
Asimov eventually had a good paying day job, but Vance needed to turn out large volumes of story material to support his family, so he wrote at "pulp speed". I don't fault anyone for writing in torrents, but I'm horrified to hear the words "everything I write gets published" coming from an author. I despise the fact that once an author becomes popular and well-known then book publishers know that they can sell any crap that has that author's name on it.
|I'll read it! I'll read it!|
original cover art by Milton Rosenblatt
Still, I'm not sure I've ever seen a science fiction story that I completely despise. Particularly if someone had fun writing the story or if there is at least one person who enjoyed reading it. Some stories that did entertain me when I was 12 years old are painful to read now. No matter how bad the story, somewhere there is somebody in the throws of their reading disease, someone who is ready and willing to read it.
Next: in anticipation of the X-Files 2016 miniseries.
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