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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » Asimov at 90

   
Author Topic: Asimov at 90
Robert Nowall
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I note in passing that today was the ninetieth anniversary of the date Isaac Asimov celebrated his birthday. (If you know anything about Asimov, in particular if you've read his memoirs, you'd know that the date itself is somewhat vague.)
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philocinemas
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I find it interesting that one of the fathers of modern sci-fi claimed this day as his birthday, while the father of modern fantasy was born on January 3rd.
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InarticulateBabbler
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I'm assuming by "Father of modern Fantasy", you're referring to John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, and not Robert E. Howard--whose Conan (1932) stories were out five years prior to The Hobbit(1935), or Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose Barsoom series (aka The Princess of Mars) was published in 1912. And, furthermore, how is it that Asimov is the "The Father of Modern Day Science Fiction" instead of H. G. Wells, whose The Time Machine was published in 1895, or Jules Verne, whose Voyage au centre de la Terre (better known as "Journey to the Center of the Earth") was published in 1864--or Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (aka Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) ca. 1869?

I'm sure these can be taken further back, but these names are still influential today.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited January 06, 2010).]


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D2
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I'd honestly argue that Tolkien had more impact than Howard, and that Asimov had more impact than Wells and Verne.

Both of these statements are complete opinions, of course.


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InarticulateBabbler
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I would say that Verne and Wells transcended genre. I don't know that Asimov resonated with Mainstream nearly so much. So, as far as impact goes, I think Verne and Wells are of far more influence.
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D2
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He did say "one of the fathers of science fiction."

Also, maybe we live in vastly different places, but among the people that I know, Asimov is just as known as Verne and Wells. Granted, the people that I know, and the people that you know, are fairly small sample pools. Besides, all three of them (along with Frank Herbert, Bram Stoker, and probably more) have at some point been called fathers of modern science fiction.

Really a popularity contest imo


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Robert Nowall
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Well, there was no genre of "science fiction" when Verne and Wells wrote---it wasn't named until 1929. I think that makes them the "grandfathers" of science fiction.

Besides, the Father of Modern-Day Science Fiction was Heinlein, not Asimov.


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InarticulateBabbler
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LOL, Robert!
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Robert Nowall
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It is getting so that "modern" science fiction---from the 1940s on---is seeming less modern than what's currently published. Not that I care for much of what's being published these days.

I'm afraid science fiction might be going the way of jazz---done for a smaller and smaller audience as each year goes by, and the audience itself becomes more snobbish and sophisticated as it gets smaller---while the masses turn to other things for amusement and excitement.


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D2
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I don't know about the current trend of books (I wouldn't even know how to begin to look at that), but if movies are a decent judge of popular culture, SF as a genre is far from gone. Avatar's a pretty good example of that :P
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Robert Nowall
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Ah, but is it SF in the way it was understood to be SF in the 1940s? Most of the media SF has more in common with the Planet Stories school of SF rather than the Astounding school of SF---and the Planet Stories school was considered low-grade ore (as someone once put it) even back then.
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philocinemas
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I deliberately said "one of the fathers of modern sci-fi", because I do consider Wells as "the father of modern sci-fi" even though the term wasn't coined until later. Heinlein came slightly later than Asimov, but I would also consider him as one of the "fathers". Vernes was more like the last descendent of ancient sci-fi.

Tolkien was unarguably the greatest influence on fantasy than any other single writer in history (visit your local bookstore or library and see how many fantasy books have covers featuring Tolkienian elves, dwarves, and humans on a journey if you don't believe this).

Furthermore, I did not intend to create controversy from my statement.


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InarticulateBabbler
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Bullhockey!

If you remove the "science" from Verne's work, what do you have?

Also, if you remember, H. G. Wells was still alive when Orson Welles created the mass panic radio ad in 1938, and was still producing Science Fiction until 1941. The term "Science Fiction" was actually coined in 1851 (by William Wilson, a poet, in his book: A Little Earnest Book on a Great Old Subject [1851 Darton & co. London]),later made prominent by Hugo Gernsback in 1935, made more prominent by Forrest J. Ackerman. Asimov started his first Sci-Fi story in 1937 but didn't finish it until 1938 (Comsic Corkscrew). Heinlein didn't publish Life-Line until 1939.

If we wanted to predate the terminology (which was created for Verne's and Well's forms of fiction) we could step back to Mary Shelly, and even Shakespeare.

I just HAD to.


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Robert Nowall
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I'd take Gernsback's use of "science fiction" as a genre-of-literature description back to 1929, I think---when Gernsback lost control of Amazing and started up the rival Science Wonder Stories. Reportedly, "science fiction" was first used in this sense in a mailer soliciting subcriptions. Before that, they occasionally used "scientifiction" or "scientific fiction."

Heinlein's interest in writing science fiction (or the mass-market equivalent of it) would seem to predate his writing of "Lifeline." Some of you may have seen his book, For Us, the Living, published a few years back---and written before "Lifeline."


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InarticulateBabbler
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It doesn't matter what he wrote before he published, because that would have no bearing on the widespread writing of science fiction in the world. Wells and Verne are best known (worldwide) as the Fathers of Science Fiction, and the market was created to support their fiction. The Big Three were influenced by the changes in their time as much as Wells and Verne were by the advancements in theirs. Each successive generation thus had a past to inspire, and inventions which could predict future...
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Foste
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@Robert

Concerning the SF and elitism post


Interesting. In Serbia you got a few publishers who do SF and they are all 60 or older. Those "gents" have published some books themselves and that makes the Alpha and Omega of the scene in their opinion. They are priggish and arrogant that they often scare off many new writers. You should see the kind of "advice" they give on their forums under the submissions section Things like "Don't writer. Ever again." or "You should burn that and work in a coalmine." The SF readership is there but it's becoming smaller and smaller due to stuffy elitism.

A bit off topic I know (sorry).


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Robert Nowall
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I've seen that in a couple of Internet Fan Fiction scenes, too---guys get there first (more or less), then take it unto themselves to pronounce judgment on everything that comes after them---from getting posted to whether a story is "canon."

The recent narrowing of the SF print magazine market does make me wonder about its future. Down to three magazines, two of them published by the same people, and overall about thirty issues a year, all digest-sized, all without much in the way of interior artwork...

I am sore tempted to start an SF mag myself---but, well-off though I am, I don't think I have the financial means to do it right, and I'd want it done right. Perhaps if I fulfil my long-held dream of winning big in the lottery...


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