posted on May, 26 2006 @ 03:00 AM
Welcome, Cameo, to the grand and almost limitless universe of science fiction.
I'm one of those "uberscifi fans" Lysergic warned you about. We never use the term sci-fi; it's always science fiction to us, and we
abbreviate it "sf".
Now we've got that out of the way...
You might like to know that most of the conspiracies discussed on ATS, in all their permutations and combinations of detail, are mass-media versions,
pablumized for easy mastication, of ideas that first appeared in vintage sf. They're usually much more interesting, and provide more fuel for the
imagination, in their original versions. I could provide examples, but I think you will have much more fun discovering them for yourself, so I'll
content myself with a few pointers. For government conspiracies, see Philip K. Dick. For big-business conspiracies, try Robert Heinlein and Frederick
Pohl. Is God really an alien? Ask Arthur C. Clarke. Some of us are aliens in disguise? Theodore Sturgeon liked to toy with that idea, as did Phil
Dick. Reality is an illusion created by invisible powers to keep you in chains? Dick (yet again -- the man really was paranoid), A.E. van Vogt, Harry
Harrison and Robert Anton Wilson all played with that one. Yes, Wilson, the inventor of all this Illuminati nonsense, used to be a science-fiction
writer. So was L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, which is based on ideas he first explored in his (not very good) novels.
But I may be scaring you. Sf isn't really for paranoiacs; that's only one corner of an incredibly wide field. Frank Herbert's Dune is, among
many other things, a study of what happens when a messianic movement confronts realpolitik. Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of
Darkness is about culture shock and sexual attitudes. Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz is about the rise and fall of civilizations
and the persistence of humanity in all its incompatible forms. Gene Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus is about the effects of colonialism on
the colonists and the colonized. Of course, these books are about other things as well: they're tales of derring-do, love stories, growing-up
stories, space opera and a whole lot more besides. I could go on like this for pages but I don't want to bore you, and besides, I have a character
Anyway, for my money, the best science fiction is that published between 1950 and 1980 -- roughly speaking. The stuff published before that tends to
be mostly of historical interest: clunky, big on technological whizzes and bangs and peopled with characters of pure cardboard. I'm overgeneralizing
but I think most old sf fans will agree with me. As for the stuff published after1980 -- well, the real world was catching up too fast; truth
was becoming more outlandish than fiction.
Even so, there were exceptions. Iain M. Banks, one of the best writers ever to turn his hand to science fiction, got his start in the Eighties and is
still producing fine work. Gene Wolfe, a writer so great he demands comparison with Proust and Joyce, has done most of his best writing since 1980.
His novel The Book of the New Sun is one of the great works of modern literature -- but be warned, it will take multiple readings over a period
of decades to wrap your head around that particular masterpiece.
I must say I've never liked Orson Scott Card much. His work seems over-egged and a bit simplistic to me -- though I must say, in fairness, that I
have read very little of it, and very long ago. Of the current crop of writers, I prefer Dan Simmons, who seems to be creating a fictional universe of
his own, rather like Banks's Culture. Simmons's Hyperion is excellent, The Fall of Hyperion even better.
But my favourite is Iain M. Banks. I like his Culture novels so much I re-read them whenever I have nothing else to read (which is, admittedly, not
often). I recommend them as an antidote to the whole UFO/abductee cult thing; compared with the stuff Banks comes up with, all those skinny grey
mannikins and offworld proctoscopy seem so unimaginative...
Once more, welcome. I envy you; you've got so much good stuff waiting for you to discover. Unlike poor jaded old me; I've read the lot and must now
wait till the next great luminary swims into my ken... wait in hope and all-too-frequent disappointment.