Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thoughts On the 40-Year Gap

A brief aside, before I return to what I've learned from other people telling bad stories. There's an old idea that SF writing lags about 40 years behind literature in terms of form and structure. The relevant quote is from Gary Westfahl:

"Thus, we find that science fiction readers of the 1960s were shocked and sometimes appalled when writers dared to try writing like James Joyce and John Dos Passos in the 1920s, and one reason that Neuromancer so stunned those readers in the 1980s was that William Gibson boldly and innovatively imported into science fiction the attitudes and style of the Raymond Chandler detective stories of the 1940s."

And I was just re-reading that and thinking, hey, I know, I can totally jump the curve by seeing what sort of SF will be coming out in about five years! It would be like the literature from the early 70s! Then I remembered, wait, what's my favorite bit of nominally "proper" literature? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Published in 1972. So...I just spent a few minutes looking back and forth, back and forth, between Thompson's writing and my own, and the phrase "pale imitation" keeps bouncing around in my head. I'm a science fiction author lifting from literary styles that are almost exactly 40 years old.

Curses! Foiled again. Or I'm a genius. I'm not sure. No, I think it's just kind of sad and funny.

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