Classic Sci-Fi is a hard read

Published:

By jeffmackinnon

I love reading sci-fi and fantasy, I grew up reading star trek novelizations, the lord of the rings and Issac Asminov, etc. The only contemporary stories were the star trek novels, because I may be old, but I'm not that old.

Over the years I will pick up the cheap "Golden Age of Science Fiction" books which reprint old serialized stories in ebook form, you can typically get them for $1 or so.

I would think about all the things that they really got wrong about technology and society in general, like everyone smokes and you are still stuck to a wall/cord to make a video call. Sure you can travel across the galaxy, but your telephone still has a cord. I just watched a video of kids today amazed that this thing on their grandparents wall was a PHONE! They insisted that someone call it to be sure, and their faces lit up.

This is 2022, not 5022, which is where some of these books live today.

They hit differently this year

I saw a tweet by someone talking about how they are trying to read the Foundation Series, and they can't get through the second book. Their reason was, well, there are no women in it. I read the tweet and thought, naw, that can't be right, but the more that I thought about it I realized that it wasn't till much later that a woman had any significant role in the story, there were three actually, and they were part of the extended universe.

This is a civilization tens of thousands of years in the future, and women, 50% of the human race have little to no role.

I'm reading Time Quarry by Clifford D. Simak. Its my first time through it, and I'm struggling. It has all the bad tropes that I expect from sci-fi of this era and its mostly well written with a story that I don't remember reading before; but there are NO WOMEN. I'm well over 1/2 way through and there has been a single woman with a name so far, and she only has a minor role in the story. Even the "help" aren't women because we, created androids for that.

I'm going to finish the story, but I don't think I will be re-visiting 1950s Sci-Fi for a while. I think I will have to jump into the Merchant Princess series again or re-read the Chronicles of St. Marys where there are women that drive the plot.

Why does this matter?

So what you may say. It was a sign of the times.

And you may be right, but that is the time that a bigger part of our society than I once believed want to go back to. Listen to some of the things that are coming out of the political Right. They look to the 50s as peak society. That is a society that women, children, POC, LGBTQ+, etc were to be in teh background only. Not seen, not heard.

This is illustrated in the fiction of that time period, how they believed the future would look like.

I don't want to live int eh 1950s version of the future, instead I want to live in the Star Trek version, one that everyone has a place and can thrive (unless you are an android I guess).


To join a conversation on Twitter click here.