Oh, Christ, Not the Science Fiction Canon Again — Whatever

I’m sharing a wonderful rant today, from science fiction writer John Scalzi. This is a topic I’ve been mulling over a lot recently. In the past I have felt a bit guilty for not enjoying as many of the “canonical” works in my genre. Some have a kind of timeless entertainment value, but conceptually a lot of older Sci-Fi is immature and irrelevant my modern standards. The cultural depth and diversity of today’s Sci-Fi greats is far superior, in my opinion, so the dusty old classics. Anyway, read this rant and let me know how you feel about it. Personally, I’m feeling validated.

Ugh, we’re talking about the “canon” of science fiction literature, again, for reasons (most imminently the recent Hugo award ceremony and its fallout), and whether, basically, newer writers and readers should and must slog through a bunch of books in the genre that are now half a century old at least, from a bunch of […]

Oh, Christ, Not the Science Fiction Canon Again — Whatever

11 thoughts on “Oh, Christ, Not the Science Fiction Canon Again — Whatever

    1. I have read and enjoyed some (actually the same ones Scalzi mentions he liked, so maybe there’s something similar in our tastes). But none of them give me the feeling of awe I get reading someone like NK Jemisin or Ken Liu.

        1. I am the same, actually! I really can’t get into the hard SF with lots of technical details, I prefer the loosey goosey speculative stuff 😂But I love SF film and television

    1. I agree! It’s like the classics in any genre, I think. They are valuable from an historical perspective, but less so in terms of current relevance.

  1. Greetings and Salutations

    I was going to write in your comment section “Hit me with your best shot” but it soon turned into something far too long! well, no surprise there for those who know me

    What a fabulous (rant) from one of my favourite authors! Thank you! (I initially bracket rant because I consider it truth and deflect the sometimes negatively perceived “rant” :D)

    There were a few rabbit holes I fell down during and after reading the rant, and they too were a good fit. I have encountered a similar discussion of the Literary Canon in the past during a Critical Methods class, and there were many people on both sides of that fence too. Several perched firmly atop the fence posts too! Made for interesting conversations with sometimes intractable people I must say. Personally I guess I consider the fence an artificial construct and the field of green is what is important. I mean, I have no problem reconciling Creationism with Evolutionary Science. I love Star Wars and I love Star Trek. I love many of the old classic “canon” of sci-fi and fantasy anad what they meant to my learning and development aaaaand also acknowledge that some of them may not be quite what I remember from 30, 40, 50 years ago, from a particularly literary calibre standpoint. Doesn’t mean I don’t still love them! Love the memory, don’t necessarily need to revisit them, there is tons out there! Although I confess every few years or so I do re-read Karl Hansen’s War Games 🙂

    I don’t know if you have a pipeline to Mr. Scalzi or not, but you know. I recommend to both of you an author I never see mentioned, and who sadly passed away far too young and long before his writing was complete. The first writing I encountered was When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger and that was that he was solidly on my list of absolute favourites hmm kinda like what happened with The Timekeeper’s War heh!

    Had a sad year when I learned at almost the same time that both George Alec Effinger and James Oliver Rigney had both passed, nothing quite so forlorn as a reader who realizes he will never again dance to new music from his favourite minstrels. And I had just learned that was his real name too, glee and sadness all at once, sigh. Anyway, my hope was that movie or TV would pick up both of these authors, and at long last at least The Wheel of Time is on the horizon. So excited! Also fearful of course. But I was also fearful about Altered Carbon and I ended up loving it, there’s another of my favourite authors that made it to the silver screen(saver)! I really hope the Marid Audran novels make it to TV, they could be so so good!

    Anyways, could have just said thanks for the rant reference but no no, that simply wasn’t enough!

    Have a Fabulous Day!


    Tyler A. Campbell

    1. Thank you so much for your reply and these great suggestions! I haven’t read When Gravity Fails, but it looks amazing. I’m definitely adding it to my TBR list! You’ll be happy to hear that the sequel to The Timekeepers’ War, GHOSTLIGHTS, will be released on March 19, 2021 and I’m 12K words into drafting book 3, WEIRFALL, as we speak! If you are interested in being an ARC reader on my launch team I would be thrilled to have you. Send me an email at contact[at]scjensen.com if you are!

  2. Science is constantly changing and rendering past breakthroughs obsolete.
    Science fiction is no different. My kid can’t read “Fahrenheit451” and be amazed at the idea of seashells for the ears to listen to the radio or wall size TVs when we ignores our giant TV to put his wireless earbuds in to watch a streamed Netflix show on his Chromebook. Now, he did see the correlation to the willful ignorance of society. His reaction was somewhere between “meh” and “cool” delivered in the preteen monotone.
    Sci-fi as a genre is temporal. Old sci-fi was was set in the “now” that we live in. If the actual base story isn’t timeless, the books fall to the side.
    The original Star trek is somewhat still relevant (despite the fact that Kirk slept his way thru the universe – can you imagine the STDs?🤮) because it addressed issues that we are still dealing with today such as diversity and inclusion.
    Anyway I’m rambling. Have a good day😀

    1. I agree with all of this 💯 I think that’s the trouble with a lot of older SF. The story isn’t nearly as well developed as the speculations, so they don’t maintain their relevance. And LMAO at intergalactic STDs. I might work that into a story 🤔

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