My new quest

I’m on a new quest to read as much old-time, retro, classic (am I missing any terms there?) Sci-Fi as I can. Just how I’m going to accomplish this is something I haven’t given much thought to, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to find some of what I want online. I am also hoping that I’ll be able to find some more old sci-fi books at thrift stores.

I’ll admit that I’m trying to do this on the cheap, I’ve already looked at ebooks on Amazon.com, I’ve found a few, but I was surprised to see so many from earlier than I expected. Other than Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, I didn’t think that sci-fi was really being written before the 1920s.

My goal is to see if I can come up with a definitive list of just what makes old sci-fi so much better than modern sci-fi. I already have some ideas of why I think it’s better, but I want to expand my view of Sci-Fi. I want to find out if I’m missing anything, or if what old-time sci-fi I’ve already read just happens to be the best there is.

Having found out that there were some other very early sci-fi, I’m wondering if the movie Metropolis (1927) was really one of the first Sci-Fi movies or not (I do  realize that there was an earlier version of From the Earth to the Moon). That’s one more thing that I should find out about before my ‘quest’ is finished, or perhaps it’ll be a separate quest.

Thanks for reading!

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Old time Sci-Fi

Is something that I just love to read, it’s just so much more fun than what’s written today. Today, Sci-Fi is mostly what’s termed “Military Sci-Fi”, which I don’t enjoy very much at all.

Keep your alien invasions, I doubt many alien races would be stupid enough to want Earth, what with how we’ve polluted it and everything. I really doubt that alien bugs would want it either. Those are the two biggest things I’ve seen in  modern Sci-Fi books I have looked at recently.

Give me that old-time, exploration type, Sci-Fi. Sure, not all of it was like that, there was some violence in it, but most of the time it was… righteous? No… heroic? No… a better way to say it would be fun and not graphic.

That’s the major problem with modern Sci-Fi… and most modern fiction in fact, the violence is graphic, everyone thinks that they have to describe all the blood and guts. It’s not enough to blast a ship into atoms, now you have to describe the people being split into subatomic particles, after all, if you don’t have blood or gore of some kind, you’ve got to have something equally graphic, right?

I’m against this new kind of Sci-Fi, give me the good old Sci-Fi like, oh, Poul Anderson wrote. He could tone down the violence to a tolerable level and still keep you turning the pages. He could create characters good enough to hold ones imagination without resorting to graphic violence or nudity.

There are any number of other old-time Sci-Fi authors  I could mention, but I think you get the idea. It all boils down to one thing, the ‘Golden Age’ of Sci-Fi was in the 30s, 40s, 50s and parts of the following decades when authors that understood how to keep a reader’s attention with low-key approaches, unlike today’s Sci-Fi authors who realize that their story is getting boring and add some blood and death to spice it up.

Can’t we go back to the old-time Sci-Fi? Maybe even throw in a few obsolete technologies for old times sake? Maybe a CRT monitor? Or a computer tape? Or what about Martians?

Thanks for reading this. What do you think? Have times just changed to the point where we need to have all the blood and guts to be entertains? Or have the modern  Sci-Fi writers just let us down?

Endings in books

I’ve read a lot of books in my life, and one thing that I’ve come to hate are series where the author wraps up the main story half way into the last book, then spend the last half saying goodbye to all the characters. Normally the characters who have survived spend a chapter or two (or more) talking about their adventures, then they all go galloping off back home, most of the time in either small groups or in one large group, in the latter case, the main character goes along to the end, invariably he lives the furthest away, or nearly the furthest. After each character arrives home, they have a meal and leave, sometimes visiting the families of the characters who didn’t survive. At the very end of the book, or maybe a chapter or two away from the end, the main character is left alone and finds himself wondering what is going to happen to him next, now that the world is at peace and he’s no longer needed.

The kind of books I much prefer are the ones that come to a nice conclusion and stop, allowing you to hope that some disaster might arise and require the hero and all his friends to ride to the rescue once more in some future book.

Now I do admit that a few authors can pull off the whole saying goodbye thing, such as the late, great, David Eddings, one of my favorite authors. He managed to pull off saying goodbye, then bring all the characters back in another series, and saying goodbye to all of them plus a few new ones, which was amazing. But very few authors can pull off such a feat.

I, personally, have not yet been faced with such a problem when writing, I’ve never thought about my characters ever having to settle down again, at least not so far. Perhaps I’ll be faced with that problem one day, but I hope not.

What’s your opinion? Should stories have drawn out endings to say goodbye to characters? Or should they just end, perhaps to be pick up again at a later point?

Killing off characters in books

That’s what I’ve been thinking about lately, it seems like most of the books I read have at least one of the main characters being killed off before the end. Trilogies are even worse as most authors seem to believe that the best way to write a series is to start with, oh say ten key characters and slowly kill them off during the trilogy, by the last chapter of the last book there maybe two of the original characters remaining. With luck one of the remaining characters will comment on how its a shame that so and so didn’t live, but that’s it.

I  really think that the reason so many authors kill off so many characters is that they are lazy. It’s too easy to kill off a character without regard to the characters own story, they just cut it out and ignore that person. Perhaps it’s because the authors just can’t remember what their characters are doing and decide to simplify the story. I can understand that, I really can, but if that’s what they are doing, I think that they should just rewrite the parts of their story with the soon to be killed character and assign those key pieces to another character that won’t be killed off.

Oh, I realize that there are certain times where killing of a character is necessary, some author do a good job only killing off a character when and where it’s necessary without using it as a crutch. Plus some stories revolve around a key character dying in the book, such as Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc In that book you know what’s going to happen, but you also feel drawn into it and keep hoping that history will be changed. In my opinion, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is a master piece that should be required reading for any author. There are a few other, more recent, authors that have managed to kill off characters without infuriating me, but not many.

One area where I accept a character being killed off is during an end of book battle between good and evil, but only when they are struck down as they save the world and kill the villain, I don’t enjoy such an ending, but I can see where, mostly in trilogies and series, where it is necessary to kill a character is such a way.

In conclusion, I ask that authors take a second look at the characters that they kill off, see if a serious wound wouldn’t work just as well, incapacitate the character and write them off that way if you must, but don’t ask me to believe that a character that can take a broken sword and hold off a horde of barbarians wielding battle axes for hours from his horse one day and two weeks later he falls off his horse and drown in two inches of water when the horse is spooked by the wind.

 Thanks for listening to my rant… what’s your opinion?

What I read is who I am…

The title says it all, or at least hints at most of it. I’ve noticed that what I read affects what I do, what I say and how I think, to greater or lessor points depending on how well written whatever I’m read is.

Over the years, I’ve had a handful of books that have changed a whole week or more of my life. Once, when I was reading Thrice Upon a Time by Jame P. Hogan, I read a lot slower, savoring the book and worrying about what was going to happen next, if everything would turn out right or not. I’d elaborate on that a bit, but I’m going to keep from any kind of spoilers on my blog (unless I just can’t help myself). When I finished the book, it lingered with me… to this day, nearly ten years later, I still remember vividly wondering how the book would turn out.

That’s not something I can say about a lot of the books I read, I enjoy most of them, but I don’t find myself as wrapped up in the story as I might be. I’ve tried to understand why that is, but I’ve never found the exact reason, something in how a book is written just captures my mind for the duration of the book and beyond. That’s a sign of good writing, something that I’ve been trying to create in my own writing, whether or not I’ve done a good job is anyone’s guess, maybe in twenty years I’ll find out.

I’d really like to know if I’m the only one who has noticed this, or if other people have gone through the same thing with certain books.

Thanks for reading!