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Old 09-18-2012, 04:48 PM   #61
teh603
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I'd argue that's exactly what makes a (fiction) book good, it just doesn't make it great literature.
I'd argue that trying to write "literature" is to go after writing with the intention of disservicing all but a tiny fraction of your potential reader base and even then you aren't going to be as literary as James Joyce. If writing genre fiction alone wasn't enough of a disqualifier, you will never be as incomprehensible as Finnegan's Wake or Ulysses.
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Old 09-18-2012, 04:55 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by RDaneel54 View Post
I heard Krugman's interview on The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy. He was inspired by Foundation to become an Economist.

There are people thoughout the US space program who were inspired by early science fiction.

Hmmm.
Interesting. By looking at the kinds of people who admire and enjoy Asimov, we can come to some understanding of the virtues that are proper to it.
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Old 09-18-2012, 04:59 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by RDaneel54 View Post
Other opinions on Isaac Asimov and his work:

1987 Grand Master Award Winner
1960 Hugo for best all time series, "Foundation" (of all things!)
1973 Hugo for novel, "The Gods Themselves"
1977 Hugo for novelette, "The Bicentennial Man"
1983 Hugo for novel, "Foundation's Edge" (again for this series?)

Several other Hugos, Nebulas you can look up.

I think these Science Fiction award guys know good writing.

Dean (who didn't pick RDaneel54 as his monicker because he thought Asimov's writing was bad.)
http://www.asimovonline.com/asimov_FAQ.html#literary3

Asimov was presented a special Hugo award in 1963 for "adding science to science fiction" for his essays in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
The Foundation Series was awarded the Best All-time Novel Series Hugo Award in 1966.
The Gods Themselves won both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for best novel in 1973.
"The Bicentennial Man" was awarded the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for best novelette in 1977.
Foundation's Edge was presented with the Hugo for best novel in 1983.
In 1987, he was awarded the special lifetime Nebula Grandmaster award.
"Gold" was presented with the Hugo for best novelette in 1992.
I. Asimov: A Memoir won the Hugo Award for best nonfiction in 1995.
"The Mule", the seventh Foundation story published in Astounding Science Fiction (which appeared in book form as part two of Foundation and Empire), was awarded a 1946 Retro-Hugo for Best Novel of 1945 at the 1996 WorldCon.
He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1997.
He won the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation Award in 1957 for his book Building Blocks of the Universe.
He was awarded the Howard W. Blakeslee Award from the American Heart Association in 1960 for his book The Living River.
He received the James T. Grady Award of the American Chemical Society in 1965.
He was presented with the Westinghouse Science Writing Award in 1967.
He was awarded fourteen honorary doctorate degrees from various universities.
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Old 09-18-2012, 05:06 PM   #64
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http://www.asimovonline.com/asimov_FAQ.html#literary3

Asimov was presented a special Hugo award in 1963 for "adding science to science fiction" for his essays in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
The Foundation Series was awarded the Best All-time Novel Series Hugo Award in 1966.
Thanks for the correct date on the Foundation series Hugo. Don't know why I put 1960.
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Old 09-18-2012, 05:14 PM   #65
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As a young teenager in the 60s I was a big Asimov fan. This thread was just the stimulus I needed to go back and reread some of them.

I have been rereading some of A. Bertram Chandler's Rim Worlds stories lately. They now suffer from some of the same flaws as Asimov's. They have second and third generation star ships with sophisticated computers, but reports are still "typed" on paper and newly landed spacemen look for phone booths. Even his description of the universe reflects a bias towards the Steady State theory of Cosmology as opposed to the Big Bang.

Far from being stumbling blocks I think they add to the interest.

I also read mysteries from the 50s and 60s, but in this genre the anachronisms are suited to the setting. No one would expect a private eye in the 1960s to do research on Google, or keep in touch with his cell phone (mobile).

It's all part of the fun. And it really is fun!
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Old 09-18-2012, 05:28 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by RDaneel54 View Post
I heard Krugman's interview on The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy.
http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/...-guide-galaxy/
http://geeksguideshow.com/2012/05/10...-paul-krugman/
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Old 09-18-2012, 05:51 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by cromag View Post
As a young teenager in the 60s I was a big Asimov fan. This thread was just the stimulus I needed to go back and reread some of them.

I have been rereading some of A. Bertram Chandler's Rim Worlds stories lately. They now suffer from some of the same flaws as Asimov's. They have second and third generation star ships with sophisticated computers, but reports are still "typed" on paper and newly landed spacemen look for phone booths. Even his description of the universe reflects a bias towards the Steady State theory of Cosmology as opposed to the Big Bang.

Far from being stumbling blocks I think they add to the interest.

I also read mysteries from the 50s and 60s, but in this genre the anachronisms are suited to the setting. No one would expect a private eye in the 1960s to do research on Google, or keep in touch with his cell phone (mobile).

It's all part of the fun. And it really is fun!
Larry Niven wrote of a future where, instead of phone booths, cities had teleport booths. And they used rotary dials.
In F.M Busby's RISSA KERGUELEN, the starship combat lasers were aimed with oscilloscopes.
In most of Heinlein's stories, audio was recorded on wire, not silicon chips.
None of which was essential or detrimental to the nature of the story or its impact.

All SF, by definition, takes place in alternate universes. (They sure as heck don't take place *here*.)
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:50 PM   #68
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I recently re-read the Foundation trilogy for the first time since the early 80s. Reading it today, yes it felt dated, the characterization was less than I remembered, but the ideas and psychohistory were still there. And, that's what I remembered from the books. As others have mentioned, it was the ideas not the awesome prose or turn of phrase you read Asimov for.

If you think the Foundation series is badly written, please stay as far away as possible from the Lucky Starr series he wrote as "Paul French." They're a slight step up from Tom Corbett space cadet books. I've been reading a lot of 50s and 40s science fiction lately, in comparison Asimov is well beyond them in regards to his ideas, but his writing style is very much pulp SF. It's what was being read, and what he had to use to get his ideas out there.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:54 PM   #69
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I'll have to admit that the early Foundation stuff was never really my favorites of the Asimov stuff myself. There were pieces that I liked and pieces that I just found incredibly dry. I actually found Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth more interesting myself. That said, I still pick the series up from time to time to read. And to say that it's not visionary? There's an awful lot of research that goes into crowd dynamics that I'd argue is very much related to the psychohistory stuff.

To be though, I'd actually say Asimov's biggest impact was all the stuff he did with Robotics. And that stuff definitely had a profound impact on other science fiction writers.

Dune? I'll give you the first three as pretty good, but I found it pretty tough to labor through the second three myself. Actually can't remember if I ever managed to finish them, or if I finally gave up.

That's the nice thing about science fiction (and literature in general). There's an awful lot of it out there, and nobody has to like everything.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:58 PM   #70
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If you think the Foundation series is badly written, please stay as far away as possible from the Lucky Starr series he wrote as "Paul French."
Hey now, I loved those as a kid . And I'd argue that for a young reader level, they're not actually that bad. Yeah, they definitely don't hold up well, but they're an amusing light read.
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Old 09-18-2012, 11:05 PM   #71
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Make a particular effort to avoid the Barsoom stuff by Edgar Rice Burroughs, then. ... the sole reason female characters exist is to get kidnapped, so that the he-man hero can rescue her (and she will fall madly in love with him and make his babies).

And I say this as someone who has a certain apprecation for the classics.
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And definitely stay away from anything by John Norman.

No, no, NO! Anyone who thinks Issac Asimov is a bad writer definitely must read John Norman.


As a penence...
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Old 09-18-2012, 11:17 PM   #72
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No, no, NO! Anyone who thinks Issac Asimov is a bad writer definitely must read John Norman.


As a penence...
There are rules about cruel and unusual punishment, aren't there?
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Old 09-18-2012, 11:30 PM   #73
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If you think the Foundation series is badly written, please stay as far away as possible from the Lucky Starr series he wrote as "Paul French." They're a slight step up from Tom Corbett space cadet books. I've been reading a lot of 50s and 40s science fiction lately, in comparison Asimov is well beyond them in regards to his ideas, but his writing style is very much pulp SF. It's what was being read, and what he had to use to get his ideas out there.
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Hey now, I loved those as a kid . And I'd argue that for a young reader level, they're not actually that bad. Yeah, they definitely don't hold up well, but they're an amusing light read.
Yeah, you lay off of Paul French. I read them when I was 10 or 11, and I loved them. The Moons of Jupiter, the Rings of Saturn, the Oceans of Venus (!?), um not the Hell of Mercury... ah, the Big Sun of Mercury! He put as much science in them as was known, and could be handled by a ten year old. I'm not sure I'd enjoy them fifty-some years later, though.
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Old 09-18-2012, 11:31 PM   #74
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There are rules about cruel and unusual punishment, aren't there?
Ah, but the punishment must fit the crime, don't you think?
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:18 AM   #75
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I can't really say that Asimov lets me down; I find it just as with a lot of A.C. Clarke's stuff, you need to try and remove the whole todays-computer thing from your mind when you look at the technology. It was also a time where novels were more about stories and ideals and less about the minute details of a fictional world.

That said, one SF author that I think is massively overrated is Niven. Urgh :/
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