Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Suckiness of Sci-fi

My daughter has me reading Ender's Game. So far, I am unmoved and mostly uninterested, and have actually finished three other books as I ponderously make my way through this tale of a kid trained as a super-warrior against "buggers." (Given the author's apparent homophobia, one wonders if the aliens are all supposed to be evil Sodomites out to recruit the young boys in training to their nefarious "lifestyle"; I haven't gotten far enough to know why they're called "buggers." Maybe they're insects? What is this, a reprise of Starship Troopers?)

Anyway, to the point. I rather like sci-fi as a genre of speculation. I even watched "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" for a season or two. Some of my favorite movies are sci-fi -- Alien, Terminator, Road Warrior. I even enjoyed the campiness of Starship Troopers. But I've never read a sci-fi novel that impressed me as a literary effort, or even entertained me much -- unless you count Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five as sci-fi.

I know, I know, I should read Isaac AzimovRay Bradbury, Ursula Le Guin. Done, done, done. I've slogged through them all, but without enthusiasm, like a neurasthenic Victorian woman fulfilling her wifely duties by lying on her back and thinking of England.

The most boring of them all? Arthur C. Clarke.

I am not sure why this should be. I think it may have to do with how much space is devoted to explaining the ins and outs and backstory of the alternate reality in which the story takes place and I don't have the patience for that. Then again, I liked reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit even though I'm not a fan of the "fantasy" part of "science fiction and fantasy," and certainly there was a lot of explanatory Shire-, hobbit-, elf-and-etc.-related verbiage in that.

OK, all you sci-fi geeks can now weigh in to tell me what an ill-read ignoramus I am.

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