The Sword and Laser discussion

New vs. Old Scifi/Fantasy

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message 1: by Renee (new)

Renee | 9 comments So, I was wondering if anyone had opinions on new scifi/fantasy vs. classics. When I got into the genre I started with newer authors (Douglass Niles was the first author I read as a kid.) Only recently have I gone back and read some of what I would consider foundational authors, like H.G. Wells, T.H. White, or Arthur C. Clarke.

I assume most fantasy fans have read Tolkien, but what about other classic books? Would you want to see S&L read things like The Time Machine or Once and Future King? Or is it better to stick to newer books?

message 2: by P. Aaron (new)

P. Aaron Potter (paaronpotter) | 585 comments S&L has covered some classics: Heinlein, Herbert, Lem. No Bradbury yet.

message 3: by Charles (new)

Charles (CAndrews) | 60 comments Asimov is under represented in S&L too.

message 4: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) | 1081 comments I know that a lot of people dislike the old stuff in part because the way they were written.

message 5: by Kenia (new)

Kenia (risingape) I read old and new SF and Fantasy but with the older stuff it's nice to see how SF has evolved, and with people like Arthur C. Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick you know you'll get something fantastic to read, some of H.G. Wells and most John Wyndham is pretty dated when you read it now though but stuff like Dune, 1984, Brave New World, A Scanner Darkly and Stars my Destination are fantastic books everyone should read.
I always feel like I should read older 'classic' SF books otherwise I can't count myself a true fan and it's turned up some of my favourite books.

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) What about Andre Norton? She's fantastic. I would love to be able to do a group read of some of her work.

message 7: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6190 comments How about the 60s-70s new wavey/dangerous visions type stuff?

message 8: by Charles (new)

Charles | 248 comments Some works get dated, some still hold up.

It also depends why are you reading the book. Is it for pleasure? Or to understand/analyze the genre?

message 9: by Dustin (new)

Dustin (dustincorreale) I find the classics to be more thematic and cerebral, whereas some newer stuff is more cut and dry. Or maybe I should say the newer stuff is sharper and more to the point where as the classics sort of marinated in the ideas and themes.

message 10: by Chad (new)

Chad Kohalyk (chadkoh) | 13 comments I have been trying to work my way through some of the classics: Huxley, Bradbury, etc. They are fundamental to a deeper understanding of recent generations I think, even though the role of SF has changed. One thing nice about the classics though: they tend to be very short reads!

On a related note, I have been toying with the idea of going through all of Hitchcock's movies. I went through all the Bond films last year and it was a great exercise.

message 11: by Paul (new)

Paul | 19 comments The thing about the classics is that they've been around a long time, which has given everyone a chance to analyze and critique it. The good stuff has stuck around (presumably) while the mediocre to lame stuff has been forgotten. Do we need Sword and Laser to tell us to that Brave New World is worth a look? Not really. We all know it is and can go read it at our leisure (if one is so inclined). You want a list of good classics? Google "100 best Science Fiction Books" (or fantasy if you like) and you will find plenty of books for your consideration. Nobody needs a book club for that.

I'd much rather see S&L point me to a book that's new but might be a classic in 20 years. I need someone to wade through what's been published recently and let me know what might be good.

Yes. I am a broken record.

Yes. That expression reveals something about my age. Get off my lawn.

message 12: by Ty (new)

Ty (Dubhsidhe) | 14 comments I could see covering some of the classic authors lesser known works. Everyone knows Heinlien for Stranger in a strange land and The moon is a harsh Mistress. But how many have avoided Starship troopers thanks to Paul Verhoeven's ineptitude? Classics also I think need to be divided by Pre-WWII and post-WWII as there was a significant shift in style and story telling.

message 13: by Walrus (last edited Jun 13, 2012 08:36AM) (new)

Walrus | 80 comments +Ty See I learned something new today.

In 1986 Iron Maiden came out with an album called Somewhere in Time on it is a song called Stranger in a Strange Land.

I had no idea it was a book.

I like your idea of dividing based on WWII, because there was a much different mindset after that War. This would require Sword and Laser staff and crew to do a heck of a lot more work.

Plus, if we went that far, then we'd have to split between Cold War and Post-Cold War, and then we'd have to debate when it actually ended.

What did Verhoeven do? Starship Troopers I, was a rockin' movie.

message 14: by Ty (new)

Ty (Dubhsidhe) | 14 comments Walrus wrote: "+Ty See I learned something new today.

In 1986 Iron Maiden came out with an album called Somewhere in Time on it is a song called Stranger in a Strange Land.

I had no idea it was a book.


If you ever read the book it will make more sense. Essentially Verhoeven made what was an interesting look as the possible direction society was headed and several comments on citizenship and society. It is a MUCH better book than movie in that the characters are deeper and the interactions are much more meaningful. Verhoeven reduced a lot of good characters and import moments to shtick and added a laugh track.
If you get a chance grab some Heinlein, the stories are great, and when looked at from when written surprisingly insightful for somethings society eventually does.

message 15: by Walrus (new)

Walrus | 80 comments Starship Troopers added a true Military style of movie making, to sci-fi. Star Trek is based on Naval operations. Starship Troopers amazed us all who saw it, because all of a sudden Marines and Soldiers were depicted, and it was interesting because the humans were losing the war to some extent.

Movies are always worse than the book. Pet Cemetery doesn't have any of the suspense of the book.

message 16: by Ty (new)

Ty (Dubhsidhe) | 14 comments Also I'd be less inclined to use the cold war as a divider for modern scifi versus Post WWII, I'd be more inclined to do Post-Internet.(Circa 1992-95) The reason being the Internet has such a massive impact on society that it has seeped into the literature.
People credit Wlliam F Gibson with being the earliest SciFi writer about the internet concept (1982 coined the term cyberspace), But Daniel Keys Moran with his book Emerald Eyes also spotted a lot ahead of time (internet addiction he termed "datastarve") had some very interesting story points that were not common until post internet.
My point being that so much of what was only peripheral in Scifi back then is common now or even cliche in the age of information technology.
One of the reason scifi may seem on the wane is that we are living so much that was merely science fiction a mere decade ago.

message 17: by Ty (new)

Ty (Dubhsidhe) | 14 comments Walrus wrote: "Starship Troopers added a true Military style of movie making, to sci-fi. Star Trek is based on Naval operations. Starship Troopers amazed us all who saw it, because all of a sudden Marines and S..."

I guess I was less than enthused with the cavalier and almost callous was Verhoven treated the underlying themes of the source material. It's a lot lkike X-men first class. As a stand alone film it's decent, but it's treatment of the source material is atrocious.

message 18: by Walrus (new)

Walrus | 80 comments Yes and as movies go, its good but not great.

I like X-men first class. Can't seem to watch it twice though. I didn't exactly love the first 3 X-men though either. I did like the Origins movie for Wolverine.

Interesting he appears in First Class, made me think of the plot incompatibilities between The Empire Strikes Back and the so-called prequels. Like in it Obi Wan says to Yoda, "Was I any different when you trained me?"

So I say. "Now where in episodes I, II, and III did Yoda train Obi-Wan? Wasn't that Liam Neeson?"

message 19: by David (new)

David (caddarn) | 40 comments My understanding is that Verhoeven was halfway through making a military SF movie when the studio got the rights to Starship Troopers and told him he was now making Starship Troopers. I'd like to believe this is true if only to alleviate my hatred of how they butchered my favourite Heinlein novel.

message 20: by Angie (new)

Angie (techtigger) | 5 comments i'd love to chat about older sci-fi, so many favorites there. just re-read the Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars series, great pulp action (if a bit dated ;)

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