Sunday, December 17, 2017

Galactic empires discussed

Via Peter Whiteford's fantastic twitter feed, a link to a review (a few month's old, but still) of a John Scalzi book, which is most interesting for its opening description of the common theme of galactic empire science fiction:
ACCORDING TO Donald A. Wollheim, Golden Age science fiction typically imagined the future would unfold according to a certain pattern:
  1. humans explore and colonize the solar system;
  2. humans explore and colonize extrasolar planets;
  3. a Galactic Federation/Republic/Empire emerges;
  4. the Empire enjoys a peak period characterized by a stable metropole in the galactic center (however constituted) and ongoing exploration at “the Rim”;
  5. this peak period is followed by decadence and collapse;
  6. the collapse is followed by a Dark Age (of whatever length);
  7. a second Empire is established that is imagined to be perfected and permanent;
  8. and, finally, the people of the future undertake The Challenge to God: sometimes this literally culminates in overthrowing some sort of malevolent God Thing, while at other times it involves innovating some way to survive the heat death of the universe (or evolving into energy beings of pure light, et cetera).
From Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov to Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas (and on and on), one discovers this basic narrative recurring over and over again in science fictional narratives about the human “destiny” to inherit the stars. 
[Speaking of reviews and science fiction-y writing, I also saw that The Australian yesterday put on its twitter feed a link that actually worked to a review of Helen Dale's Kingdom of the Wicked: the first mainstream media review I have seen.   (At Amazon, women who writes at The Spectator sometimes, as does Dale, complains that reviewers are deliberately ignoring the book because they are all Lefties still wanting to punish her for the Hand That Signed the Paper hoax.)    Anyway, the review is not good.
 Update:  I see now that a short, negative, review has also appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald.  I found that via a tweet on Dale's own twitter feed.  She also indirectly referenced The Australian's review.  Yet I am sure she said somewhere that she doesn't read mainstream reviews, after her experience with HTSTP.] 


not trampis said...

This is off the planet!

John said...

The 5 comments on Amazon are full of praise.

Steve said...

Yes, although as I noted before, it seemed odd that two of them also warned that it wasn't an easy read. It's all part of my fascination with the Dale phenomena - she has her enthusiastic, nerdy "classic liberal" followers who think everything she does is terrific; then there's the rest of us.

John said...

The other issue with those reviews on Amazon is they are full of praise and short, whereas often there is at least one criticism. Also, only 5, which seems rather small. So I think you're right: a dedicated fan base.

As previously stated though, at a loss to understand why she even bothers with writing novels. Near hopeless way to make money. Having the release in Australia is nuts, she should have gone elsewhere. She was long adored by the libertarian set, was worshipped on the Cat, but now that has all dissipated perhaps she once again clamours for a new identity?

Steve said...

I think she says on twitter that she now works writing advertising "copy". Quite a surprise.