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The Two Cultures of Science Fiction

Posted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 8:25 pm
by caliban
People here might find this interesting:
On The Fix, an online SF review site, there is an essay on the divide between "hard" and "soft" SF, made in analogy to C.P. Snow's classic lecture/essay on The Two Cultures (science and the humanities). This essay was written in large part in response to a furious discussion thread on the ANALOG site (it's the thread heading "The Fix"), which in turn was inspired by a negative review of one of the October issue of ANALOG. (To be sure, other issues, such as the December issue of ANALOG, were well reviewed, including and especially my story "Icarus Beach".)
And now there is yet another thread at the ANALOG forum (Heading "Art and Science in SF"), responding to this essay. (Okay, *I* kick-started this second thread, so once again the influence of the observer...)
The essay itself is a bit muddled and I'm not sure the author is very familiar with C.P.Snow's original essay. What I find curious is that, on the ANALOG forum, some people find the essay to be leaning towards hard SF, and others against it; usually they read it as opposing their own personal preferences.

Despite what you may think of ANALOG -- and, hey, they publish my stories, so I'm going to be civil -- it's an interesting question.

Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 3:32 pm
by Windwalker
Thanks for the pointer, Calvin! I agree that the essay is rather vague, whereas the Analog thread throws out several interesting tidbits. I cannot judge the negative review of the Analog issue without having read the stories themselves. However, it is generally true that Golden Age writers gave character development low priority in their writing, whereas the New Wave and its successors were more heterogeneous in that respect.