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 The Decline of Science in SF
 MICHAEL CRICHTON
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specfiction

203 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2006 :  14:50:14  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
What do people think about MICHAEL CRICHTON? I once called his (and Robin Cook's) literary agency and they told me they didn't handle SF writers. CRICHTON is amost never mentioned in SF circles, and, quite frankly, is very happy to not be associated with the genre.

Has anyone read his last book "State of Fear." On the basis of that book, CRICHTON was invited to the White House while cheif NASA scientist James Hansen has not been.

Here's an interesting peice about how Crichton has almost singlehandedly breached the divide between mainstream and science fiction:

http://www.zone-sf.com/mcrichton.html

tamarawilhite

USA
12 Posts

Posted - 04/22/2007 :  17:35:32  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit tamarawilhite's Homepage  Reply with Quote
At the rate of technological innovation, everything except historical novels, alternate realities, and romances will be science fiction. The rate of "progress" is such that everything will be science fiction. or, at least, fiction with a lot of science.


Tamara Wilhite/Humanity's Edge
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specfiction

203 Posts

Posted - 08/26/2007 :  12:58:27  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Here is an email I recently sent to a reviewer who reviewed M Crichton's Prey. The reviewer gave it a 6/10, and recommended it:

I read your review of Prey. I read this review because I saw that you gave Prey 6/10, and a recommendation. I was interested to know your impression of M. Crichton the SF writer that wasn't. I've actually talked to someone at Mr. Crichton's agency--they told me they did not handle SF writers. They are, by the way, the same agency that handles Robin Cook, who also doesn't write SF, anyone who's ever read Invasion knows that.

I was interested by the line in your review where you say, "Michael Crichton benefited from none of this experience in writing Prey." Here you're talking about the SF writer's need to not explicitly explain the science in his/her story, but to insinuate it. Then you go into the flaws of the story. By the end of the review, you mention how much you've enjoyed other books by MC, and give this one a recommendation.

I'm writing to you because you were able to "get out" of the current SF grove (or should I say ditch), and gave what I considered an honest ultimate assessment of the book. Let me start by saying this was not my favorite book. I agree with you that the beginning was banal, and the end absurd, but I like what MC is trying to do. I strongly disagree with you about the science. To me the absense of science in most SF is a reflection of how dumb our society has gotten. I'm a scientist, I taught, both my experience and the raw data in science and math in this country indicate that we (the US), as a society are striving to be at the bottom of science proficiency in the western world. And this is no accident. Imagine a historical fiction with no, or made up history. Imagine a crime or spy novel with no CSI or realistic agency intrigue. Imagine medical fiction with wrong, made up, or no medical facts what so ever. None of this would fly. No intelligent adult reader would be interested in it because, quite frankly, it's not interesting. Now imagine SF with no science--an absolute must for today's US SF. Why? Because for some bizarre reason publishers and marketers have determined that SF and Fantasy are the same thing.

Is it any wonder that writers like MC don't want to be associated with SF. And writers like Greg Bear are trying to get out of it. They sell much better without the label. Mainstream readers take them seriously. Ask David Brin, Greg Egan, and my favorite, Stan Lem (who unfortunately passed) who declared that he was not a SF writer, but a writer because he felt that SF in general was uninteresting and poorly presented.

I'm about the only person I know who's still reads SF. Occasionally, it is not impossible to unearth something that's actually interesting.


____________
Specfiction
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The Jarillion

United Kingdom
18 Posts

Posted - 09/05/2007 :  17:31:35  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit The Jarillion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
If I might reply to your last post Specfiction, the most successful spy novelist ever is Ian Fleming and his absurdly unrealistic James Bond series. Of course on screen the situation is far worse, consider 'historical' nonsense such as Braveheart, or JFK, keeping the masses pig ignorant of their own past.

My point is that the problem is a universal one. Literature has to sell in order to survive, but those who publish are purely interested in the sales themselves, so the spark of ideas and complexity which make the whole thing worthwhile is forgotten. I think that Crichton's invite to the white house reflects more on what isn't going on in George W's head than much else.

As to the agency's reaction to their client, this could reflect the general dumbing down. I find it typical to hear idiots refer to science fiction fantasy, a purely superficial designation, roughly describing space fantasy, but including science fiction with a similar look if not content. Crichton's novels do not go into space or meet aliens, to the superficial viewer this is not science fiction.

www.jarillion.com

Edited by - The Jarillion on 09/05/2007 17:33:13
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