When I was younger Science Fiction was one particular genre that always fascinated me. I was a fan of Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and such. I found their alternative worlds rich in texture and imagination, even the darker tales. I have to admit to enjoying ‘space opera’ as well, a sub-genre that is probably best illustrated by ‘Star Wars’ I suppose.
I have to admit that my recent forays into contemporary Science Fiction have not proven very satisfactory. It seems that all I have been able to find is very long books that contain very little science and an awful lot of opera, of the space variety of course. Even when I found a book that had a rather interesting idea, a huge station tethered to an alien planet, the write opted to point their readers to internet pages that explained the whole theory and practice of this possible technology. This was an example of lazy writing to my mind. Not every writer can invent original concepts and technologies for their books, I agree, but if you find something, an idea, that you then build a story around, then surely there is a necessary test in writing about that idea in a way that your readers can understand. If nothing else this shows that you understand the idea and probably some of the science as well, which I would have thought was a prerequisite of a Science Fiction writer.
Many of the books that I have read recently that carry the tag of ‘science fiction’ have seemed very lacking in any qualification. It seems that most, rather than work at something new, just offer a shiny version of American society projected into the future with no thought as to how such a society might grow, develop, change, over the next couple of centuries. Capitalism is still there, all kinds of bigotry, the same institutions, only instead of flying from London to New York the characters fly from one planet/system/galaxy to another with no explanation as to how this is achieved. It all seems to very lightweight, like a gloss applied to a story that could take place anywhere and almost in any other genre.
I have yet to read a contemporary book that has an account of a believable alien race that is not based on humans. I blame Star Trek for this, but they did suffer from budget restraints, which made painting people blue and dressing them up funny a genuine option, but that does not excuse the same approach with today’s Science Fiction writers. So many just make lizards look like humans and give them a funny name and present them as something new, which they most certainly are not.
It is curious that early Science Fiction writers seem to produce far more imaginative work than those who have the benefit of seeing how far we have come since the 1903 Flyer took to the skies. Technology now is burgeoning with new ideas, developments, and possibilities, most of which seem to be getting ignored by those writers who identify themselves with Science Fiction. The next time I peruse the eBook market I hope I that am proved wrong.