So what were we talking about again?

Amidst this discussion between Daddy Warpig and Jeffro there seems to be a lot of confusion. I’m going to attempt to clarify what, exactly, I’m trying to say and why.

Disclaimer: My views are NOT the official views of Superversive SF. I don’t even necessarily represent colleague Josh Young, though we probably overlap a lot. My views are mine, and mine alone.

Without further ado…

Where we agree:

  • Sci-fi writers from the 20’s and 30’s have disappeared down the memory hole. According to the pulp rev guys, this is John W. Campbell’s fault, along with his futurian buddies. I don’t know why, but I agree that it happened.
  • We should bring back the style of fiction common in that era – we’ll call it pulp as a shorthand.
  • It would be great if people started creating more pulp works – not necessarily because they have to, but because that style fell out of favor and it would be cool to see more of it.
  • There is an era of pre-Campbellian SF that is hugely disrespected by a large portion of readers, where many rumors and misconceptions abound. We should strive to correct those errors.
  • People shouldn’t be overly concerned about bending genres as long as doing so improves their story.

Where – it seems to me – we disagree:

  • Hard SF exists. This is so obvious it’s amazing we’re actually discussing it.
  • There is nothing wrong with hard SF, and nothing about it makes it inferior to other types of SF. The only problem with hard SF is when it is not superversive, or more accurately when it is entirely anti-superversive. Hard SF was created under people who weren’t superversive, so early work in this sub-genre is naturally not well representative of the sub-genre’s potential, but great strides have been made; besides the work of John C. Wright “The Martian” has a strong superversive streak and “Interstellar” is one of the most superversive movies ever.
  • Hard SF is not synonymous with science fiction. If this were true, then how come – as was often pointed out to me – hard SF never sold particularly well when other stuff did? Clearly people write stuff besides hard SF.
  • When Campbell and his writers brought hard SF to the fore, it naturally became a reference point for other works – how hard or soft is your work? This DOES NOT mean that only hard SF was considered real SF. That was never the case; hard SF was really only a popular sub-genre during a very brief point in history.
  • Isaac Asimov’s opposition to heroic fiction is repulsive, but his robot stuff, especially up to “The Caves of Steel”, rocked. Just sayin’.
  • There is nothing inherently wrong with books that involve smart men thinking their way out of difficult problems. It’s not a weakness in and of itself, just when done badly, like anything else. Agatha Christie, who built a career on smart men thinking their way out of difficult problems, is proof of this.
  • The biggest problem in science fiction and fantasy today is not lack of appreciation for pulps, but lack of the superversive.
  • The distinction between red and blue SF is not one based on quality, but personal preference. Red is not inherently superior to blue.
  • Yes, you think red is inherently superior to blue. Let’s not kid ourselves.

Does this make sense? I think this is fair.

  • Karl Gallagher

    I am in agreement, with the caveat that there are some new pulp style stories coming out from people inspired by the debate.

    • Bellomy

      I thought I covered that, but if it wasn’t clear, absolutely, and I’m glad that’s the case.

  • luckymarty

    I’ll sign up on your side here.