Our mixed results experience with the Ye Olde Booke Clubbe was interesting and good for us, but more often than not we ran into issues of the prose being very dated, the attitudes of the writers being intolerably racist, the stories being gender-limited, or other dated-type issues.
But, these are older books, and we went into the project knowing and expecting this.
I’m running into what I think is a similar reaction to much more recent books.
I love my Sci-Fi Opera and often have to reach into the more dusty tomes to scratch that itch, books that were first published in the ’80s-early ’90s.
Some of them are super-duper and I love reading them, they’re a great zipper of a story.
Some of them, eh, are more of a struggle. There’s not so much the spark of wonder and amazement there. They’re not always SF–I’m limping through one now that’s an urban fantasy.
It may be that the social or science issues and technology are dated to things that I still remember and thus crash my suspension of disbelief.
The Bourne Identity/Trilogy is an example of this. The Hunt for Red October is another. I enjoy doing laundry or chopping onions to Star Trek: The Next Generation in the background, but some of the problems they face don’t exactly keep me on the edge of my seat (“makes my feet fall asleep”).
With the really old books (for the sake of discussion, say older than 75 yrs) I’m able to push that off and accept that people thought this way, the technology was extremely different, and so on. So it’s not a matter of my needing to take a history lesson.
For example, I grew up in the Cold War, so sci-fi stories that are based on nuclear threat being the driver of the plot… *shrug*. We’re not so worried about that anymore, whether or not we should be is not the issue, it’s not something that’s taking center stage in our anxieties.
Plots that center around NASA? NASA’s totally fab, but… another shrug. Our sense of wonder with what NASA is doing has kinda lost its sparkle. Yay for the Curiosity Rover, but if you’re at least as old as I am, there was once upon a yonder age when there was a lot more money in NASA and what they were doing was a lot more interesting, the information was more readily available, they were a political power in their own right, and now these dreams are the realm of the private industry. That’s the kind of thing that drops me out of a story: “NASA wouldn’t be doing this. This is a SPACE-X kinda thing, here.”
One of the great things about SF/F is that the stories do lock in stasis our social and political fears and agitations at the time of the publication of the story.
Some of them, though, are total Classics, like I can read Neuromancer (William Gibson) over and over again, and it’s still a thriller.
What say you?