my god, it's full of blogs01 Jul 2009
So I finally got around to reading Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, last night. I caught up with a friend over drinks last week, and during our conversation it dawned on me that I had read basically NO science fiction. Zero. Zilch. The closest I could think of was the Hitchhiker’s Guide . I did read Mars by Ben Bova when I was like 10 or so, but I remember essentially nothing about it. This is weird, because I am a pretty nerdy guy. I’m pretty well-versed in scifi movies. Bladerunner is one of my favorite movies ever. I’ve read fantasy stuff. I’ve even read the friggin Silmarillion. And yet, no sci-fi. So, this weekend I went to McKay’s and got 2001 and 2010, and Ender’s Game as well (which I got, because I’ve heard it’s good, despite the fact that its author is apparently a bit of a homophobic nutjob).
Predictably, I enjoyed 2001 quite a bit, and I’ve already started on 2010, since I got sorta sucked into that particular plotline. I like Clarke’s writing style – how he manages to be very epic and grandiose without sacrificing any scientific accuracy. I also like how his writing style addresses the reader as a resident of the present, and not a resident of the future he’s elaborately describing – rather like he’s writing a science textbook about the future for members of the present. And it happens to be fiction. I suppose this is probably rather common in scifi writing, but I found it amusing – particularly how this manifests in him heaping paragraphs upon paragraphs describing rather commonplace (from the perspective of the characters in the novel) actions. He’s all like “And Bob pressed the RG-1 actuator button, setting to work calculations of an advanced neural network, operating at a speed the human brain can hardly comprehend. This computer – infinitely more powerful than early prototypes dating to an arbitrary time in the past, say, for example, when I happen to be writing this book – by measuring and calculating the complex angles and momentum of the CCB (Closed Chamber Barrier) unit, aligned it precisely into place. This was completed in the blink of an eye – the work that would have taken hours for a human brain, this pinnacle of millions of years of evolution. With narry a whisper, the shielded unit whisked open, and a rush of fresh O2-infused air mingled briefly with the stale air of the cockpit. This invigorated Bob, and he considered the path that had led him – and the human race – to this point at the edge of the known universe.” Whereas, you know, if you were writing for an audience in that particular time, it’d be “Bob opened the door.”
Anyways, 2010 has already sorta sucked me in, so it seems like it’ll be pretty good. Maybe you nerds are right – sci-fi doesn’t seem half-bad.
Also, do you like my penchant for writing book reviews of well-accepted classics by authors that are considered masters of their time? “Yeah? Well, here’s what *I* think about this beloved classic of modern literature … … Um. It was pretty good, actually. I liked it – how it was good. and stuff.”
If anyone has any recommendations, feel free to toss them out below.. Quick list of things I already know about, cus I’m not a total dummy: Neal Stephenson (is this scifi or “cyberpunk”?), Ursula Leguin, Asimov (Foundation, in particular, which I used to have, but never read), Dune. What else?