Sorry for things still running at reduced capacity here at Futurismic, but I’ve rather a lot on my plate right now, and that looks to continue until after Easter at the earliest (though I’m busy over Easter weekend because of Eastercon, which is a nice sort of busy by comparison to the rest).
But I don’t want y’all to get bored, so I’m going to do my best to do a few posts a day just pointing to interesting stuff elsewhere… skipping my usual discursive and directionless rambles, in other words! So try this one for size: after seeing some other website list Asimov’s Foundation series as the pinnacle of written science fiction, Ian Sales has compiled a retaliatory list of the ten worst science fiction book series, books “whose label as science fiction embarrasses me, whose continuing popularity puzzles me, and whose fans I feel deserve a smack upside the head with a very large and nail-studded cluebat.”
I still hold a soft spot for the Pern novels (as they were my road-to-Damascus sf texts as a child), but I’m not ashamed to agree with a lot of Ian’s other selections. What about you? Which of Ian’s picks would you rescue from the sin-bin, and which series would you add to the list?
5 thoughts on “The Worst Science Fiction Series EVAR.”
I disagree with his reasoning for selecting some of the titles on that list, particularly because the list does not take into account the literary climate at the time. The Lensman books and the Foundation Series, specifically, probably should be excluded from the list, not because they are, by modern standards, well-written, but precisely because, by modern SF standards, they are not well written, but were still relatively loved in the good ole days regardless. They weren’t, at the time, like what you might see in Twilight: shoddy writing, rules that the author breaks, misogynistic tendencies, and so on. They were, largely, a product of the time. If he wants to include those, he basically has to include 90% of everything written from 1900-1950 as being categorically “the worst.”
That’s my opinion, though. I agree with him on everything else (at least of the authors I’ve read; I have no opinion on Weber).
You can’t blame the first half of the twentieth century for the fact that Asimov doesn’t know how to do characters with any depth at all. There were plenty of books written during that period that had compelling characters with depth to them.
There’s a “10 books that influenced me” meme running around the Web right now, and the Foundation Trilogy appeared on a couple of lists I saw — most notably on Jack Balkin’s on Balkinization, where it’s the only fiction except for The Brother’s Karamozov. It’s amusing to see it appear on a list of bad books at the same time. I recall finding Asimov’s ideas on violence (“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent”) compelling when I was young, but even then his creation of a far future world with gender relations mired in the 1950s was sufficiently annoying to keep me from becoming a fan.
As for Sales’s list, I’d list the Honor Harrington books at number 1, but that’s only because I’ve tried to read them, something I’ve never bothered to do with the neverending series of Dune books not written by Frank Herbert. Sales could be right.
It’s certainly easy to confuse “most influential” with “best”. Smith and Asimov’s styles read oddly to modern ears, and their politics rub oddly against modern sensibilities — but to imagine SF without them is to imagine a literature much shallower and poorer for it. Smith was the Robert Howard of SF, the man whose sheer energy and delight convinced us that the future would be an even greater adventure than the present; and Asimov’s Foundation was the ultimate encomium to the power of the human mind to overcome the future’s challenges not through force but through knowledge.
About the only thing I agree with Sales on is his opinion of Kevin Anderson (and he cheated by using two series by Anderson) and L. Ron Hubbard; I enjoyed both the Harrington and the Pern series. (I’m trying to think of bad SF to replace them, but the problem is most of the really bad genre stuff I can think of is fantasy.)
Well I sure agree with his number one choice. One of those books was the only book in many years that I couldn’t finish. And the only book I burned other then outdated manuals. Truly an insult to Frank Herbert
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