Saturday, 15 April 2017

Completion

Several times on the blog I have summarized major themes from a succession of prominent sf writers and then have felt a sense of completion, whether or not blog readers have also felt it. To demonstrate what I mean, I will do it again:

Mary Shelley wrote the first modern science fiction novel, Frankenstein;

Wells wrote a history of the world, a fictional history of the immediate future, an account of time travel to the remote future and an alternative history novel;

Stapledon wrote a fictional history of the entire human (Terrestrial, Venerian and Neptunian) future, then a Neptunian time traveller's perspective on past Terrestrial history, then a history of the cosmos;

Lewis argued against the possibility of time travel and wrote a fragment set on an alternative Earth and a Christian alternative to Wells' and Stapledon's anthropocentric futures;

Heinlein pioneered a different future history model, not a fictional text book but a series of stories and novels set in successive periods, and also developed one time travel paradox;

Asimov wrote a long future history series projecting past historical processes into a future period but also speculating about Artificial Intelligence and "the Frankenstein Complex";

Blish wrote a Heinleinian future history and a trilogy including two post-Lewis volumes;

Anderson wrote historical fiction, alternative history fiction and eight future histories covering Artificial Intelligence and the Frankenstein issue, historical processes repeated in the future, a synthesis of the Wellsian and Heinleinian models and a longer Heinleinian series including two episodes addressing theological issues and also developed every aspect of time travel;

Turtledove and Stirling have specialized in alternative history fiction, developing it further than either Wells or Anderson.

And that still gives me a sense of completion.

13 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Oddly, that title for Wells book, MEN LIKE GODS, struck me as OMINOUS. Because it reminded me of the dreadful philosophy Evira Naldorssen worked out for the Draka. As the quote from her MEDITATIONS: COLDER THAN THE MOON, said on page 230 of MARCHING THROUGH GEORGIA (Baen Books: 1989) the ultimate goal of the Draka was to so "transform" themselves she could say "Then there will be Gods in the earth." Madness and folly, of course!

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
That is Lewis' response to Wells' works.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Since I've not read such Wells books as MEN LIKE GODS, I don't know how just or not Lewis' evaluation of Wells works was.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Wells and Stapledon present mankind remaking itself - without divine help. That is enough for Lewis to make a negative judgment of their philosophy, not of their art.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

First, I'm not at all sure if it is even POSSIBLE for mankind to remake themselves. Second, what is MEANT by this "remaking"? Simple medical advances like cloning organs or extending human lifespans does not seem like a remaking to me.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Peace and human development through the application of science.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And you already know how skeptical I am of the first item. And I'm skeptical of "science" transforming the human race. Or it might turn us into something as monstrous as the Draka!

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Lewis' point exactly.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Was it in THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH that Lewis expressed such doubts or fears?

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Yes. Scientists manipulating humanity are demonically controlled.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I've read Lewis' SPACE TRILOGY at least twice, and they are keepers, but they are also not among my most favorite books. I think probably because they are not hard science fictional enough for me. And I think the demonically possessed scientist we see in PERELANDRA, was meant to be H.G. Wells.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
In THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH, the Director of the National Institute for Coordinated Experiment, Jules, is definitely an uncharitable parody of Wells. Wells wasn't a scientist so I don't think he was Weston as well.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I sit corrected, Jules was the parody of Wells. And, yes, Weston the scientist was probably not meant to represent Wells.

Sean