stormsewer: (death)
So a while back I poked some fun at people who think science fiction is supposed to be and/or used to be optimistic.

But recently I read The Windup Girl, and its pessimism annoyed me. And I had similar thoughts when reading Oryx and Crake. So I guess in some respects I can sympathize with the anti-pessimists.

It's not the pessimism per se that bothers me. Cause hey, life sucks, and then you die, and if life is relatively good that only seems to increase your sensitivity to the tiniest suckitude. I'm cool with that. But I feel like these novels are pessimistic about the wrong things. And wrong about what they judge optimistically, as well. Read more... )
stormsewer: (death)
Sometimes people whine about the good ol' days when science fiction was optimistic and why can't it be like that now? Here are some examples of many.

Well, you know what? I'm not sure it was ever that optimistic. I mean, what's often cited as the most famous short story of "golden age" science fiction? "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov. Seriously, have you read this? It will punch your soul in the face and then spit in its ear.

Okay, okay, that's just one example. Surely most science fiction from that halcyon era (the era of fascists liquidating people by the millions, of quivering fingers gently caressing the red buttons of the apocalypse) must have been Zoloft in print, right?

Well, let's do a little survey. In 1970 SFWA got together and decided on the best short SF stories from 1929 to 1964, and published it as The Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Surely this "best of the best" collection should be a fair representation of the attitudes of the time, yes? Well, let's take a look at those stories, then, and make a judgment call as to whether or not they are optimistic. Read more... )

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