Friday, January 13, 2012

The Lives of SF Writers, the Death of SF

I've posted about Harlan Ellison, Cordwainer Smith, and Isaac Asimov, and it occurs to me that all of them had interesting lives outside of their careers. Ellison ran away to the circus and worked, lived and partied in '60s Hollywood. Smith was the godson of Sun Yat-Sen, a friend of Chiang Kai-Shek, a pioneer of psychological warfare, and a doctor of Asian literature and history. Asimov was a professor of biochemistry who worked at the Philadelphia Naval Yards during World War II (along with L. Sprague de Camp and Robert Heinlein) and served in the army afterwards. Heinlein was an engineer who served in the Navy, sold real estate, mined silver, was active in politics, and invented the waterbed. They were all engaged in the world around them (even though Asimov was a bred-in-the-bone New Yorker who liked enclosed spaces and was afraid of flying).

But a lot of F/SF folks today are part of a fan culture they see as a refuge, a place to hang out with like-minded enthusiasts. If more and more writers emerge from that culture and not from the world at large, will their stories have the same impact?


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