When good writers go bad.

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Janus
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I had to serve jury duty today, which meant sitting in a jury assembly room all day waiting to be called to a court room. (Luckily. they decided that they wouldn't need any jurors and sent us all home early.)

I had come prepared for a long siege as I had bought a new paperback novel to read. The author was one whose previous books I had enjoyed. He is James P. Hogan, and he had written some fairly decent hard SF (One of my favorites is The Code of the Lifemaker).

A hadn't read any of his work for while, and I was kind of interested to see what he'd come up with.

Boy, what a shock! Its just brimming with crackpottery! Velikovskyism, Plasma universe/electric sun, "spinning ring" model of sub-atomic particles,...

Now I understand that a Science Fiction writer has to bend the rules from time to time to tell his story and sometimes has to incorporate some controversial concepts, but he is out and out preaching for these ideas. He even incorporates the time-worn complaint of crackpots everywhere that scientists are too interested to protecting the "status quo" to accept new ideas.

What could make a writer go off the deep end like this? And have you ever had it happen to you? Has a writer you liked ever start producing junk?
 

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mgb_phys
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William Gibson's recent books have been Douglas Coupland style lifestyle articles than sf.
Larry Niven and the new Ringworld books ?
 
Chi Meson
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Didn't L. Ron Hubbard go a little nutty towards the end?
 
Janus
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I don't know if Hubbard was ever playing with a completely full deck.
His first article on Dianetics came out in 1949, when he was only 38.
 
Chi Meson
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I'm not sure if he qualifies as a "good writer" either.
 
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That's why I like Sci Fi that is fairly vague. They got a teleporter to work. Good for them. I don't care how.
 
DaveC426913
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That's why I like Sci Fi that is fairly vague. They got a teleporter to work. Good for them. I don't care how.
That means it is not science fiction. It is some other genre, but set in the future.
 
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Yup, I guess Star Wars, Star Trek, and Dune aren't Science Fiction. It's a good thing you're here to tell me these things.
 
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I had to serve jury duty today, which meant sitting in a jury assembly room all day waiting to be called to a court room. (Luckily. they decided that they wouldn't need any jurors and sent us all home early.)

I had come prepared for a long siege as I had bought a new paperback novel to read. The author was one whose previous books I had enjoyed. He is James P. Hogan, and he had written some fairly decent hard SF (One of my favorites is The Code of the Lifemaker).

A hadn't read any of his work for while, and I was kind of interested to see what he'd come up with.

Boy, what a shock! Its just brimming with crackpottery! Velikovskyism, Plasma universe/electric sun, "spinning ring" model of sub-atomic particles,...

Now I understand that a Science Fiction writer has to bend the rules from time to time to tell his story and sometimes has to incorporate some controversial concepts, but he is out and out preaching for these ideas. He even incorporates the time-worn complaint of crackpots everywhere that scientists are too interested to protecting the "status quo" to accept new ideas.

What could make a writer go off the deep end like this? And have you ever had it happen to you? Has a writer you liked ever start producing junk?
Well, up until this post of yours..................... :wink: :tongue2:
 
DaveC426913
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Yup, I guess Star Wars, Star Trek, and Dune aren't Science Fiction. It's a good thing you're here to tell me these things.
Star Wars is not Science Fiction; it is Space Fantasy. The reason it's Space Fantasy is precisely because the "science" is irrelevant to the story. The ships and gadgets could be powered by bunnies hopped up on Red Bull and it wouldn't change the story one bit. We don't know or care how the hyperdrive, light sabres, force fields or any other such technology works, we just take it as a given that it does.

Star Trek is science fiction because it does care about the technology - the science - (well, at least, it tries to). It is important that the core aspects of story are consistent and explainable. (Let's not quibble on details - of course there's a range, and not all of it is science).


Here's a quick way to spot the difference: you don't ever hear anyone pointing at Star Wars and saying "Hey, that could never happen!"

As for Dune, I'll abstain.

In the larger scheme of things, anything that is remotely futuristic is lumped under science fiction, but to those care care to be accurate (many writers in the field), it's an important distinction.
 
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