March 4th, 2016

pKD

Science Fiction: What It's All About, by Sam Lundwall

A history and critique of SF, originally written in Swedish in 1969 and translated to English in 1971. Picked it up at an estate sale for 50 cents. Thought it would be interesting #1 as a time capsule, and #2 for more insight on European SF, and #3 more insight on what Europeans think of English language SF. Pretty useful on all three counts. Bonus, the dude is super-opinionated. Generally speaking, he derides American SF as a product of violent, puritanical morons. And don't get him started on film. And seriously, do not bring up TV with this guy. Comics? Do you even have to ask? It's fun when he shares your right-thinking bias, not-so-fun when he's totally wrong. Some notes...

Oxygen och Aromasia, some early (1878!) Swedish science fiction of the year 2378.

"In our time, the Utopian novel has found a worthy successor in works like those of Mickey Spillane, with their almost erotic dreams of fulfilled sadism."

"There are, of course, writers who don't give a fig for logic, being content with presenting the idea all by itself. The grand example of this is Ray Bradbury, who is scared to death of anything remotely connected with science and obviously doesn't have the faintest inkling of elementary scientific facts. ...which literally drips with sentimentality..."

He spends some time correctly lambasting early-ish American-ish SF for its disinterest in women as anything other than the professor's beautiful daughter (at best). A Startling letter to the editor from a 1939 issue of Startling Stories is illustrative:

FEMININE-LESS ISSUE

There Is a great deal of significance, I think, in the fact that the four stories of the September issue of Startling Stories did not contain a single female character. Of course. I would be the last to claim that ail females be abolished. Women, when handled in moderation and with extreme decency, fit nicely in scientifiction at times. However, the September Issue goes to prove that good stories can be written even with the total absence of the weaker sex.

There are some fans that claim "human Interest" a necessity in stf. since otherwise stories degenerate into uninteresting scientific or semi-scientific recitals. That Is a very correct stand, or would be if it were not that these one-track-minded fans know no other form of human interest than the love interest.

Well, let them read "Bridge to Earth" and tell me what it loses in not possessing a heroine. Where would the story have been improved In having a heroine get caught by the microscopic creatures and having the hero rescue her, getting her caught again, having the hero rescue her again, then the hero getting caught and the heroine rescuing him... [The author may want to think a bit more about the plot elements that go into an icky 'love interest' story]


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