Monday, June 7, 2010

Great Article

Great article on the New Myths website- Ten Science Fiction Novels to Give to Your Father-In-Law, by I.E. Lester (bio on the New Myths site).

Just reading the headline popped titles into my brain. The slant was trying to give great science fiction novels to someone who doesn't know the genre, with the idea of giving them such good stuff you make a fan out of them. Going from someone who sniffs at 'Rocket ships and bug-eyed monsters' to fan is quite a leap, but it can be done, and Lester has done it-- by having impeccable taste. I say that because I agree with much of his list-- they were the same titles that came up for me.

You have to know the person and what they will and won't like. You want to ease them into the field, without shocking them or giving them something they won't understand or be interested in. Or something too tough, like Dune.

So you have to choose carefully, and leave out some great books for later in the process. Many people don't know the field, thinking it's all Star Trek or Star Wars. They just don't know the rich heritage of classics that have made new fans over the decades.

Just reading the titles Laster had passed on made me smile with memories. In the pre-Amazon days, when I had no money, I had heard of this great alternate-history book called Bring the Jubilee. Couldn't find a copy anywhere. Finally located it at Shakespeare & Company, the ultra-cool bookstore in Paris, France. It was as good as I'd heard it to be, and stands as one of my favorites. In it, a slight change in timing throws a spin into the Battle of Gettysburg, and changes the course of the Civil War. The South wins the battle, and the war, which came very close to happening in real life. (Being from Maine, I'm a big Joshua Chamberlain fan-- he was the former Bowdoin Rhetorics professor who saved the Union at the Battle of Gettysburg. Jeff Daniels, an actor I don't usuallly care for, portrayed him brilliantly in the movie The Killer Angels.) Years later, Harry Turtledove, the grand master of alternate history, wrote Guns of the South, another take on the South winning.

Another old favorite is Flowers for Algernon, which I mentioned in my New Myths take on writing. And on and on-- but hey, read the whole article. He says it better.

Maybe we should all take on a project like this. Vow to make a convert in the coming year, with a book that'll blow their socks off. You never know when we could get another fan.


  1. Thanks for the nice comments Dale

  2. "Many people don't know the field, thinking it's all Star Trek or Star Wars".
    Since Star Wars (the original anyway) is basically Campbell's Hero's Journey - what's wrong with that? As well as being one of the most popular sagas of all time.