Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Question from a writer’s forum:

“What books made you forget it was a book, and just want to eat at the George and race through the NeverNever on spell-box powered motocycles and play with the band, command that ship, and run with the pack?”

I had that feeling when I was a kid, devouring the Sci Fi section of the local public library.  I haven’t had it for a long, long time.  Modern literature just doesn’t grab me and suck me in as it once did. 

I miss that.

Joe Doakes

Possibility 1: we focused on the generally-acknowledged great books when we were younger. They seemed better because they were, pound for pound, better than the stuff you grabbed off the “New Releases” shelf at Barnes and Noble.

Possilbility 2: the stuff coming out today really does suck.

15 thoughts on “Entropy

  1. I had that feeling when I was a kid, devouring the Sci Fi section of the local public library. I haven’t had it for a long, long time. Modern literature just doesn’t grab me and suck me in as it once did.

    “You Can’t Go Home Again” by Thomas Wolfe comes to mind. Not because it was a great book, it was alright, but because you can never relive the wonder of reading Sci-Fi as a teenager.

    Granted Sci-Fi used to be fantastic, except for the stuff that wasn’t, but if you try to reread the same books now, as good as they may be, you will never get anywhere near the thrill.

    Speaking of Tom Wolfe, no, not the guy above, but Tom Wolfe, the author of The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Now there was an author….with some real conservative chops too.

    Read his essay, The Great Relearning., the most devastating critique ever written on the counter-culture, and a lesson for our time.

    It is a must read.

    However, there is some great writing out there today, may I recommend Allan Eskens, a writer from Mankato.

    Damned good stuff.

  2. One explanation for number two: literary agents, the gate keepers of much of traditional publishing, have gone Woke in a big way. I have a sci-fi novel undergoing editing at the moment and have been perusing literary agent’s websites. I estimate 90 percent of them state explicitly that they seek work from “traditionally marginalized” communities. Maybe it’s just talk. Then again, maybe not.

  3. golfdoc.

    Ha! I wonder how much business those woke morons have lost by taking that stance. I know that if I look for goods and services and see something like that, I would just move on.

  4. golfdoc

    having read some of the latest fiction produced by Big Publishing it is clear that not only do they seek “traditionally marginalized” writers but you must be able to render the experience, the feelings, and especially the agony of being marginalized with authenticity. Its all about the feelings after all, nobody wants to read a book that makes you think.

    Again having read some latest offerings the question is what “traditionally marginalized” people would want to read this dreck? The target audience is the woke urban white privileged.

  5. GD50
    That’s what the whole Sad Puppies kerfuffle a few years back was about.

  6. Time to go back and read Clifford Simak’s “Way Station” again. The 1964 Hugo winner is a beautiful story that holds up fabulously well. It was better than 90% of what was published in the “golden age” – and I’d say still better than 99% of what is published today (I’m guessing, since I don’t read much of what is offered today).

  7. When this moral panic is examined years from now, the finger will point at it being a creation of and for alienated middle-class women, college educated but of average intelligence.

  8. Joe Doakes is no longer the target audience of the SF genre.
    I noticed back in the 80s and 90s that the writers of SF had changed. In the 60s and 70s, they were male pulp writers, with day jobs as engineers or occasionally teaching. Most had some military experience, some had been working newspaper writers.
    Beginning in the 80s SF writers became more female, more college educated in the arts, and, if they had a job, it was in teaching. Many were married college-educated breadwinners.
    That is not to say it is all bad. Connie Willis is as good as any of the male SF writers of the 50s and 60s. But things have gotten worse, Willis is now 76 years old.

  9. Agreed about Connie Willis, her Bellweather and I Met A Traveller In An Antique Land should both be required reading for HS Seniors.

  10. Time to go back and read Clifford Simak

    First of all, yes. Totally agree. Second, Clifford Simak was a respected senior employee of the Mpls Star. For years.

  11. Part of why we remember the literature of the past as better is that so much of the bad stuff has been mercifully forgotten. I’ve had the misfortune of coming into contact with some of the dreck of yore, and let’s just say it’s amazing what some publishers would put out there.

    But that said, the tendentious spirit of today’s wokerati isn’t helpful, either.

  12. Let me throw a word in here in favor of one of the new guys: John Scalzi. His “Old Man’s War” series is a great concept, well-told, and very reminiscent of Heinlein. The main character in “The Human Division”, in fact, is very Heinlein-esque.

    As for Scalzi’s blog, best leave it be.

  13. I hated Scalzi’s _Old Man’s War_. It like a Heinlein pastiche done by someone who really didn’t like Heinlein. It’s more of a parody than an homage.

  14. “Red Thunder” by John Varley, on the other hand, is a wonderful Heinlein tribute.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.