Friday, 17 June 2011


I found myself arguing about SF with a bunch of commenters; most people read SF for the ideas rather than the writing (although where E E 'Doc' Smith fits into that I don't know). I wrote my dissertation on the History of SF (how the hell did I get away with that?)... which meant I had to read everything written and boy, that lets you know how much rubbish does get published.

I lived near a second-hand bookstall from which I hoovered up all the sf; I ended up with 6,000 paperbacks and a divorce! There are very few authors who are totally irredeemable; witness Moorcock, whose slapdash writing, but pyrotechnic ideas finally ended up in the masterpiece Gloriana (which is stupendous).

Philip K Dick is very competent as a writer, but where he really scores is his ideas, which are frankly very dangerous. When I got to the end of Do Androids ... at 2 in the morning, I found myself wondering whether what I was looking at was real and short step on from that whether anything is real. So SF is the literature of ideas rather than literature per se and much more interesting because of it.

I am preparing to downsize (my home/accommodation/premises - choose your own) and have been weeding my collection down to bare essentials, all books to friends or charity shops - I cannot bear to sell the ones going:
C J Cherryh (The Chanur and Foreigner sequences)
David Brin - Sundiver onwards in the Uplift War sequence
Patrick O'Brian - the brilliant Jack Aubrey
Guy Gavriel Kay - The Fionavar Tapestry
LIndsay Davies - the Falco series
J R R Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings
Ian M Banks - The Culture series (I'd read these just for the ship names)

and that's it apart from my collection of historical atlases!