ALL BLOG POSTS AND COMMENTS COPYRIGHT (C) 2003-2017 VOX DAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Mailvox: don't read Earthsea

At the very least, avoid reading anything beyond Book Two:
Imagine that Tolkien embraced communism in the 1950s and was inspired to write a sequel to The Return of the King that embodied his new values of class oppression and false consciousness. The sequel, called simply Elanor, is thus about how Sam's daughter Elanor discovery that "all along" the Hobbits were the real natives of Middle Earth, and rightful owners of the Rings of Power, and could bear them safely; that the Rings had been taken from them to use to exploit their rightful land of Middle Earth, while the hobbits were entrapped within the prison of the Shire under the watch of their jailers, the Rangers, who convinced them they were weak and needed shelter; and that this lasted for centuries until the truth was revealed when the hobbits had to be enlisted because the owners of the hobbit's Rings were so corrupt that the only practical option was to destroy them. Armed with this knowledge, Elanor sets things to right by creating the first new Ring of Power in millennia so she can liberate all of Middle Earth with it.

And that's why you should never read books 3, 4, or 5 of Earthsea.
Drat! I think the emailer just gave McRapey his next big idea....

Labels: ,

98 Comments:

Blogger 1337kestrel April 08, 2017 2:33 PM  

There's a book 5??? Why???

It sounds like more of the same pointless journeying and imagery.

Anonymous parz April 08, 2017 2:34 PM  

Original Earthsea trilogy is a classic...

Blogger EscapeVelocity April 08, 2017 2:46 PM  

I tried reading it in my teens, never finished it.

Blogger Chris McCullough April 08, 2017 2:46 PM  

The movie was a piece of crap too.

Blogger Happy Housewife April 08, 2017 2:49 PM  

Stopped at book 2. It's difficult to read fantasy that is so relentlessly nonspiritual. There's no heart. No point to it all.

Anonymous Qadgop the Mercotan April 08, 2017 3:01 PM  

There's a step change from the original trilogy (c1970) and the later and more strident additions (1990+). Wizard and Furthest Shore are decent, given the premise; the intermediate volume, Tombs, is a taste of things to come.

Also, one should never watch the Ghibli Earthsea movie, as it is Earthsea in name only (the major characters aren't even dark of skin, as they should be); its only saving grace is that no excuse was found for putting c1920s aeroplanes into the story.

Anonymous Philalethes April 08, 2017 3:05 PM  

Original Earthsea trilogy is a classic...

I guess I only read the first book; I see it was published in 1968, so it was one of the last pieces of SF/F I read, and I've remembered it since as a lovely little story. I certainly didn't know there were 4-5 more, but I'm not surprised to hear how they've apparently turned out.

I think this post should also be tagged with "Women Ruin Everything" – even their own initially good work, as they become infected with feminism and its associated disorders.

(Hm. Brave still won't let me comment here. Trying Chrome.)

Anonymous Brick Hardslab April 08, 2017 3:12 PM  

You think McRapey wants to compare apples to apples with your fantasy? He's not going to touch that with a ten foot pole. Although not to change the subject but way too much graphic rape in A Sea of Skulls for my taste.

Blogger Matthew April 08, 2017 3:12 PM  

I hated them all, even as a youth. In hindsight, I was reacting to the subversion present from page one.

Put them all on the Index.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 08, 2017 3:13 PM  

I tried to read that crap back in ... 1974. I was volunteering at the library.

Couldn't make it past the 3rd chapter. The characters were so relentless anti-real. Proper fantasy, hell, any proper fiction, should have unreal situations with real people, not feminine wish-fulfillment automatons.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 08, 2017 3:14 PM  

Philalethes wrote:(Hm. Brave still won't let me comment here. Trying Chrome.)
You have to take shields down to comment in Brave.

Anonymous VFM #6306 April 08, 2017 3:18 PM  

How do you like your rapes, Brick Hardslab?

Erotic and secretly consensual? Then Martin is your man.

Perfunctory and domineering? You want Scalzi.

Against children? Then Delany.

Do Gammas Dream of Realistic Rape?

Blogger VD April 08, 2017 3:19 PM  

Couldn't make it past the 3rd chapter.

Likewise.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab April 08, 2017 3:25 PM  

I don't like rape at all in any form. If it has to be in a book I prefer it 'off screen'. That's just my opinion.

Blogger Ingot9455 April 08, 2017 3:29 PM  

At this point I am exhausted with stories where 'the hero's mistake creates the villain of the piece and then he has to spend the rest of the movie fixing his screw-up.'

Blogger Cloudbuster April 08, 2017 3:38 PM  

They lost me at "Ursula K. Le Guin."

Blogger VD April 08, 2017 3:44 PM  

Although not to change the subject but way too much graphic rape in A Sea of Skulls for my taste.

But there is no rape in A Sea of Skulls. You see, there is no concept of "consent" or "rape" in Orc culture, ergo an orc cannot commit rape.

Frankly, I find your culturalism to be offensive. As would the orcs, if they understood the concept of "offensive", only they don't.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 08, 2017 3:53 PM  

VD wrote:As would the orcs, if they understood the concept of "offensive", only they don't.

Now Vox, you know that's not true.
Offensive is when you go raid the other guy's village. Defensive is when he raids yours.

Blogger L' Aristokrato April 08, 2017 3:53 PM  

Off topic, but will Darkstreams ever be back?

Anonymous Brick Hardslab April 08, 2017 4:05 PM  

I know I should make some ritual apology at this point but I'm not sure which one? Do bang my head on the ground nine times towards the offended concepts of my cultural privilege? Should I rend my clothes and rub myself in ashes in mortification at my insensitivity? I know I should start with 'not all orcs are like that' (even though everyone knows they are).

I'll take a sensitivity class and wear red high heels (they don't make them in 15EEE) so I'll suffer in shoes that are too tight. If it is good enough for our GIs it's good enough for me.

What? The orc still wants to eat me? Multiculturalism is hard Savondir should never have invited in those orcs.

Anonymous JI April 08, 2017 4:07 PM  

I read the three books in the early-80's as a young teen. I recall Book 3 as a bit depressing and very unsatisfying. Never really thought of it much since, but this makes it clear. Pisses me off that the indoctrination reaches so far back that even an older fellow like me was affected.

Blogger James Dixon April 08, 2017 4:12 PM  

Havimg read the series when I was much younger, I have to agree. if you.must, finish the first trilogy. but skip the rest.

Anonymous DirkH April 08, 2017 4:19 PM  

"that the Rings had been taken from them to use to exploit their rightful land of Middle Earth"

Isn't it funny how Sweden is not the rightful land of the Swedes and Germany not the rightful land of the Germans according to the same people.

Anonymous BLUME April 08, 2017 4:28 PM  

McRapey tried writing a fantasy series already. It sucked.

Blogger Yarnwinder April 08, 2017 4:29 PM  

but...but...but if the Hobbits were the rightful owners, why wasn't the Shire the safest place for the Ring to be? And why couldn't the Hobbits make the Ring behave?

Anonymous Brick Hardslab April 08, 2017 4:33 PM  

Who did McRapey try to copy?

Blogger Krul April 08, 2017 4:40 PM  

I read the first book a while back. Finished it, despite being bored throughout. Never considered picking up any of the others.

I actually enjoyed the much-maligned movie Tales of Earthsea more (VERY faint praise). In spite of its incoherent story and glacial pacing, the film had consistently good imagery and voice acting (English) to keep one occupied.

Anonymous Heywood April 08, 2017 5:01 PM  

Snidely Whiplash wrote:Philalethes wrote:(Hm. Brave still won't let me comment here. Trying Chrome.)

You have to take shields down to comment in Brave.


No. It is sufficient to allow third-party cookies. The shields can stay up.

OnT: LeGuin never did anything for me. Not here, not with her hyped SF-nal commie/femmie crossovers.

Anonymous A Most Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents April 08, 2017 5:08 PM  

@16
They lost me at "Ursula K. Le Guin."

Years ago a family member enthused over Dispossessed and insisted I read it. Ok. So I agreed on one condition - that she read one book I gave her. Even gave her two to choose from. I finished Dispossessed, while rooting for the wrong side all the way. She never did get all the way through either One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch or Gulag Archapelago (vol. 1). Wimp.

Women who insist on how serious they are as a rule are not.

Anonymous Last Redoubt April 08, 2017 5:18 PM  

I read the first three. Waaayyy back in Middle School. Because I was told that it was one of the fundamentally important works in fantasy (see, it's even in "Worlds of Fantasy")

I even tried to read one of her SF books and couldn't finish more than a couple chapters.

After that I just gave up on her.

Now - I can thank self-same "Worlds of Fantasy" coffee table book for inspiring me to also read Elric, (ok, maybe not), Conan (eventually), and Gene Wolfe, and I'd already read Tolkein. Not so much the Thomas Covenant books - as an aside one guy who was a huge fan when I was in school later came out as gay - or Earthesea (which it went on forever about, it seems), and very glad I dodged Titius Groan as even the description sounded boring.

Anonymous Last Redoubt April 08, 2017 5:20 PM  

@29. A Most Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents

Yeah, these days "they lost me at UK LeGuin applies, and while I understand she couldn't make it through Gulag, she couldn't make it through Ivan?

Blogger SteelPalm April 08, 2017 5:23 PM  

Le Guin had talent in her earlier years, but is massively overhyped due to being a female writer in SFF as well as a hard leftist.

The Lathe of Heaven is a good book that should have been a great one; Le Guin's utter lack of knowledge of science or even history/culture is on full display, but it's the clumsy ending that ruins what was otherwise a damn exciting, imaginative story.

The Left Hand of Darkness is downright bad; excellent world-building, lousy and boring everything else. A brutal slog.

It's a literary crime that people (at least in the US, possibly the West) talk about her works far more than they do, for instance, those of Stanislaw Lem or Harry Harrison.

Suppose I will give Earthsea a try eventually, but there are far more essential works to read first.

Blogger Cataline Sergius April 08, 2017 5:29 PM  

The sad part is that Le Guin's early stuff was pretty good and her prime years were in her forties so this isn't a case of a young talent that can't survive NOT being young anymore.

Some authors can keep going until they are pounding nails into the coffin but then there some like Le Guin that just seem to hit a wall.

Then again she's been a college academic all her life. When that strain of intellectualism petrified it may have taken her talent with it.

There's no question that the more political she became the less good she got.

Anonymous Hesiod April 08, 2017 5:30 PM  

The Left Hand Of Darkness is the Right Hand Of Bull Shit.

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents April 08, 2017 5:30 PM  

steelpalm
It's a literary crime that people (at least in the US, possibly the West) talk about her works far more than they do, for instance, those of Stanislaw Lem or Harry Harrison.


The kind of people who like LeGuin might agree with Harrison's anti-military attitude, but no way they would really want to read any "Stainless Steel Rat" stories. Too much freebooting for a start.

Blogger Sheila4g April 08, 2017 5:34 PM  

Read EarthSea trilogy as a young teen and remember enjoying it, but when I tried to re-read it a couple of times after college, found it appallingly bad. FWIW, although I wasn't terribly enamored of "Left Hand of Darkness" when I first read it, I found it more intriguing upon re-reading it a few years ago.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 08, 2017 5:35 PM  

Harrison hated the military because he hated any form of regimentation.
Lefties are afraid of a lack of regimentation.
"If I'm not told how to think, I might think bad things. So grateful to have political officers to let me know what is approved today."

Anonymous Lawyer Guy April 08, 2017 5:41 PM  

I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, once I started skipping the songs. I can also see where they are a world where the evil force can be defeated through individual action rather than killing half a generation's worth of men, exactly the fantasy I would expect a survivor of the Somme to have. Well written and thought out, just the songs are too much for me to enjoy.

Earthsea never did it for me.

The best mil sci fi makes you think a little while it draws you in. Kratman, Heinlien, Nuttall, Drake.

The best wonder sci fi does the same. McCaffery did that at the start of Pern, before her lack of ability to world build and odd social roles came to the fore.

Of the women writers, L'Engle and Norton were the best.

As to the forced sex mentioned, years ago I was involved in a case that partly touched on romance novel rights--people back then had just realized e-rights meant over the net rather than on physical disks. Harlequin is the major publisher of romance fiction through a whole bunch of sub imprints, and has been for a very long time. They cannot reprint 90% of their catalog prior to the mid 90s anymore--they featured rape as the initial introduction to the romance for the protagonist and her love interest. I suspect that fantasy desire is still just under the surface and is the reason 50 Shades was so well received.

Blogger Hylean April 08, 2017 6:00 PM  

I have not finished Book 4, but I enjoyed up to book 3. Book 2 was very strong, like 1. Book 3 had a certain melancholy to it that I deeply liked for some reason. 4 was just sparrow hawk just running around being EMO about stupid stuff.

Anonymous Tyr April 08, 2017 6:02 PM  

I read "A Wizard of Earthsea" in my lates teens and found it to be pure shit. The anti-white hatred is so histrionic that it I am amazed the author wasn't (((Le Guin))).

Physiognomy as well would seem to indicate ((())), but evidently that is not the case.

This article sums up her attitudes, and their likely Genesis, pretty well:

http://www.heretical.com/ofarrell/termites.html

Blogger James Dixon April 08, 2017 6:04 PM  

> She never did get all the way through either One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch or Gulag Archapelago (vol. 1). Wimp.

What? You didn't give her a Gor book?

Blogger SteelPalm April 08, 2017 6:16 PM  

@35 and @37

Harrison despised the military, but was also drafted and a sergeant in the army himself. Veterans have a right to complain.

And while he had certain leftist leanings, he definitely wouldn't fit in with the Left of today, as he hated taxes and government bureaucracy almost as much as he did the military.

@40

You were obsessed with the possible Jewish heritage of writers even as a teen? Seems a miserable way to read books.

And yes, Le Guin is of white German heritage. Kroeber, daughter of Kroeber and Kracaw.

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky April 08, 2017 6:18 PM  

The bookstore near my house when I was growing up always seemed to feature Ursula Le Guin's books prominently in the SciFi/Fantasy section. And I liked the sound of her name, so exotic. So I picked a couple up at times, but never made through a single one. I had Michael Moorcock at the time, who could bother with Ursula Le Guin? He was a lefty writer, too, but so very much better than her.

Anonymous HWNIU April 08, 2017 6:22 PM  

@LawyerGuy Absolutely right. LotR is NobleDark.
https://1d4chan.org/images/7/79/Alignments.jpg
Noble: there are important people, who are so either by birth, rank or sheer willpower, and every single one of these people MATTER
Grim: no matter what you do, an individual can't secure more than an individual victory, if even that
Bright: the world is full of opportunity, the reward of adventure is greater than risk
Dark: life sucks and usually doesn't last very long for most people

Blogger Krul April 08, 2017 6:27 PM  

@44 HWNIU, you mind if I share that on Gab?

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents April 08, 2017 6:27 PM  

@41 James Dixon

What? You didn't give her a Gor book?


D'oh! I didn't think of it.

Anonymous HWNIU April 08, 2017 6:32 PM  

@Krul: go ahead, here is the link to the full writeup (which I did not create): https://1d4chan.org/wiki/Noblebright

Blogger Krul April 08, 2017 6:35 PM  

@47 HWNIU, Thx.

Blogger The Other Robot April 08, 2017 6:57 PM  

Why does Amazon keep sending me email about the Collapsing Empire? Is the book really not selling well?

Blogger Gospace April 08, 2017 7:10 PM  

Ursula K. Le Guin was highly recommended by librarians who knew I read science fiction. Never made it all the way through chapter one in any of her works. Heinlein, Clark, Asimov, Laumer, and later on Pournelle, Niven, Spider Robinson...

I'm still waiting for the next Janissaries book to come out.

Anonymous HWNIU April 08, 2017 7:23 PM  

@GoSpace I have been waiting for that book for years and years now. It is supposedly mostly finished and named Mamelukes. And done all by his own hand, no mediocre 2nd book ghostwriter or shitty 3rd book ghostwriter.

But that update was some years back. I just hope he finally publishes it before he dies. It is one of my favorite series from childhood, and he is getting old.

Blogger SmockMan April 08, 2017 7:24 PM  

I got bored with the 1st book. Couldn't finish.

Anonymous Blume April 08, 2017 7:28 PM  

Brick, I have no idea. I never made it far enough to tell. He might not have been imitating anyone and that's why it sucked so bad. He can write ok sorry stories when he copies other people. Or he used to be able too. I had read a few and they weren't bad so I gave night dragons a try.

Blogger bob kek mando ( Death To The Boor-geois, Keks To The Lol-etariat ) April 08, 2017 7:40 PM  

( Ursula ) was interested in biology and poetry, but found math difficult.

Blogger bob kek mando ( Death To The Boor-geois, Keks To The Lol-etariat ) April 08, 2017 7:40 PM  

^
^
^
iow, LeGuin has the intellectual capacity of a Barbie doll.

Blogger Eric Slate April 08, 2017 7:45 PM  

The authoress of Earthsea was upset about the movie make of her book. That's nothing unusual, but her primary stated reason was the casting change in the skin colors of many of its main characters. She made it obvious that to her, race is an integral part of character identity...As baked into the fabric of someone's​ nature. She believed that changing the race of the characters changed how they relate to make it unbelievable.

Anonymous Crew April 08, 2017 7:52 PM  

I saw a recommendation for this book recently:

https://www.amazon.com/Last-War-Book-ebook/dp/B06XZM3L3C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491695276&sr=8-1&keywords=The+last+war

so I read the sample chapters. It was crap. Not even worth the $0.99 for the Kindle version.

Anonymous chedolf April 08, 2017 8:04 PM  

parz - Original Earthsea trilogy is a classic...

The first book is marvelous.

Blogger James Dixon April 08, 2017 8:07 PM  

> Never made it all the way through chapter one in any of her works.

Her short stories are quite a bit better than her books.

Blogger bob kek mando ( Death To The Boor-geois, Keks To The Lol-etariat ) April 08, 2017 8:19 PM  

56. Eric Slate April 08, 2017 7:45 PM
She believed that changing the race of the characters changed how they relate to make it unbelievable.



iow, LeGuin is as thorough a racist as it gets and believes wholeheartedly in genetic and behavioral differences between the races.

Anonymous Viiidad April 08, 2017 8:50 PM  

Lawyer Guy wrote:I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, once I started skipping the songs.



You're supposed to chug an ale, then belt them out while splashing in the bath. You totally missed the authentic experience.

Blogger Matthew April 08, 2017 9:13 PM  

I read the songs for the first time when reading aloud to my children.

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable April 08, 2017 9:28 PM  

I read the songs for the first time when reading aloud to my children.

Try putting them to a tune. They work even better.

Anonymous Avalanche April 08, 2017 9:51 PM  

@38 "I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, once I started skipping the songs. ... just the songs are too much for me to enjoy."

S'pose that means you never bought the LP: with the actual songs sung -- and even old (as he was then) J.R.R. himself reading "A Elbereth Gilthoniel" (STILL can hear it in my head -- 40 years later!) (I still have the LP! No record player at the moment though...)

OH! here it is! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdfYy4gW9L4

(Poem, not song. Not a waste of 17 seconds, eh?)

Anonymous Taarkoth April 08, 2017 10:21 PM  

I read the Earthsea trilogy sometime in late 80's/early 90s. I remember enjoying the first two and thinking the third was depressing but okay, read the 4th a bit later and absolutely hated it.

Recently read the Prydain books for the first time and loved them, so decided to reread Earthsea, haven't been able to finish the first book it's so painfully dull with an unlikable protagonist.

Omalas delenda est.

Anonymous Mr. Rational April 08, 2017 10:28 PM  

A Most Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents wrote:Years ago a family member enthused over Dispossessed and insisted I read it.... I agreed on one condition - that she read one book I gave her.... She never did get all the way through....
Same thing twice over.  I read "Dreaming the Dark" at a girlfriend's behest but she couldn't get through a much slimmer volume of Ayn Rand.  And an ex-Army friend of mine wouldn't even finish a MilSF short story that I wanted to discuss with her.  A short story!

Blogger Skyler the Weird April 08, 2017 11:11 PM  

I'll second you on Janissaries. Maybe we'll get another Falkenberg's Legion too if the God Emperor and Putin bring forth the Co-Dominion.

Blogger SteelPalm April 08, 2017 11:22 PM  

Forget understanding math. Le Guin doesn't understand basic astronomy/physics I would imagine any reasonably bright 10 year-old would. Or history.

Again, she had some definite talent, imagination, and world-building in her heyday. I don't dispute that.

But if that is the best women in science fiction have to offer, it's very underwhelming indeed. There are dozens, if not hundreds of better SFF writers, including those most readers have never heard of.

Anonymous EH April 08, 2017 11:27 PM  

Women are never great authors, seldom even workmanlike in SF.
SF is about ideas, women are about social interactions.
Their books go pretty much the way their girlhood play with dolls went - nothing ever actually happens, just stock roles in stock situations grinding out repetitive, meaningless conversations, endless self-absorbed inanity. They're fascinated by status the way men are by beauty, but women are superficial and have no concept of the inner workings of character of men that drive them to achievement and status.

Men try to create the real through their writing, solid substance with internal structure. Women only manage to depict fake status competitions between ciphers of characters, a hollow pretense, a shell. Despite their claims, women don't have the empathy needed to understand men, instead they have projection, manipulative instincts and unwarranted self-esteem. Many male authors, even highly-regarded ones, have a similar compulsive need to write endless banal interactions, but unlike women, there are at least some men who do write characters of substance.

Though they are a large part of the merit of any story, characters are not what defines SF, but ideas, and women are even worse at ideas than they are at characterization. A few men enjoy playing with ideas, live for it; women are never like that. Practical ideas are usually all right with them, as long as they aren't so new as to not yet be fashionable, and require no effort to understand. Ideas that straightforwardly lead to power or status, they can see the point of pretending to be interested in those. But a woman can scarcely imagine anyone being more interested in the relationships of ideas than in human relationships. That a man might rather think about engineering or physics than listen to her emote about what x said to y about z. To the extent she can believe it, she disapproves strongly. Women have no natural interest in ideas or substance, it's not their bailiwick, so they have an antipathy to any discussion of ideas or anything beyond their home territory, the banal, the superficial, the personal.

That's why they are such bad SF writers, they not only aren't interested in ideas, they hate that anyone is, they want to steer the wayward male reader back to what is really important: her, her feelings, and how she imagines people feel about her.

Blogger MycroftJones April 08, 2017 11:29 PM  

I remember reading the Earthsea trilogy as a young teenager. Wizards, dragons, battles at sea, underground minotaur mazes! Should have been exciting. Instead, it was a slog. I finished it because I had a policy of finishing any book I started. I wondered why the books seemed so boring given their promising subject matter. Now I know.

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky April 08, 2017 11:42 PM  

Wow, that's some panegyric against women. Regarding sci-fi. A genre that was pretty much launched by _Frankenstein_. By Mary Shelley, a woman.

Anonymous Nathan April 09, 2017 12:07 AM  

@68 - C. L. Moore exists.

@70 - There's a dozen or more French authors that predate Shelley that have a better claim.

Anonymous Hesiod April 09, 2017 12:10 AM  

Carefully, carefully,
With the plates!

Blogger Mish in Utah April 09, 2017 12:12 AM  

Lois McMaster Bujold wrote characters well in her early Vorkosigan books. Its space opera, but explores the interactions of different cultures as well as how changing technology can impact people's lives.

Earthsea never appealed to me. I tried to get interested several times, but eh. My father introduced sci fi to me, so most of my early reading was what he had: Harry Harrison, Asimov, Heinlein (juveniles), etc. For a long time the only fantasy I'd read was Tolkien.

Anonymous JB April 09, 2017 12:13 AM  

Le Guin = highly subversive. Winner of the coveted (((honorary member))) award.

Blogger SteelPalm April 09, 2017 12:28 AM  

@68

Women are never great authors, seldom even workmanlike in SF.

Within the confines of science fiction, I would agree based on what I have seen and read. Outside of SFF, of course there are great female authors.

@70

Wow, that's some panegyric against women. Regarding sci-fi. A genre that was pretty much launched by _Frankenstein_. By Mary Shelley, a woman.

So what? It was pioneering, but judged purely on its own merits, Frankenstein was a good book riddled with the type of errors one would expect from a 20 year-old writing her first novel. Good, but certainly no masterpiece; the genre moved on to much bigger and better things in the two centuries since then.

Or have movies not advanced beyond A Trip to the Moon and The Great Train Robbery?

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky April 09, 2017 2:41 AM  

Nathan wrote:@70 - There's a dozen or more French authors that predate Shelley that have a better claim.

Not really. Oh sure, you can go back to Roman letters and find works that you can plausibly claim as early science fiction. But the seminal one that launched the modern genre was _Frankenstein_.

SteelPalm wrote:Wow, that's some panegyric against women. Regarding sci-fi. A genre that was pretty much launched by _Frankenstein_. By Mary Shelley, a woman.

So what? It was pioneering, but judged purely on its own merits, Frankenstein was a good book riddled with the type of errors one would expect from a 20 year-old writing her first novel. Good, but certainly no masterpiece; the genre moved on to much bigger and better things in the two centuries since then.

Or have movies not advanced beyond A Trip to the Moon and The Great Train Robbery?


Are you confusing _Frankenstein_ with Bram Stoker's _Dracula_? The latter was a poor novel, but nevertheless notable for what it launched. _Frankenstein_ is a profound work, and a very complex one. It stands on its own as one of the landmarks of 19th Century literature. Re-read it sometime. Or just pick it up sometime and re-read the monster's final speech. Would that I met a 20 year old today who could swing that.



Anonymous Sharrukin April 09, 2017 2:47 AM  

70. a deplorable rubberducky

Wow, that's some panegyric against women. Regarding sci-fi. A genre that was pretty much launched by _Frankenstein_. By Mary Shelley, a woman.

Not really.

There were many writers who came before her writing sci-fi/proto scifi.

Kepler's "Somnium" for example as well as "Gulliver's Travels" and others.

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky April 09, 2017 3:04 AM  

Sharrukin wrote:Not really.

There were many writers who came before her writing sci-fi/proto scifi.

Kepler's "Somnium" for example as well as "Gulliver's Travels" and others.


I've seen people claiming that the Epic of Gilgamesh is science fiction.

The assertion was not, "_Frankenstein_ is the earliest example of science fiction."

The assertion was "_Frankenstein_ launched the genre of science fiction."

Anonymous Sharrukin April 09, 2017 3:09 AM  

78. a deplorable rubberducky

The assertion was "_Frankenstein_ launched the genre of science fiction."

Since there were numerous examples of science fiction over the 200 years before Frankenstein I would say no.

Frankenstein may be considered the earliest still reasonably well known example of science fiction perhaps. Gullivers Travels was earlier though and is still somewhat well known.

Blogger Resident Moron™ April 09, 2017 3:16 AM  

"I've seen people claiming that the Epic of Gilgamesh is science fiction."

Not to take sides in this thrilling debate, but I've seen a polar bear riding a unicycle down Main street.

What you've seen people claiming is not any kind of argument.

I've seen people claiming the Epic of Gilgamesh is Bible v0.9.

So what?

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky April 09, 2017 3:21 AM  

Sharrukin, okay. I have to ask where is the science in _Gulliver's Travels_? It is a fantastical tale, but I don't recall any involvement or commentary on science. It may be there, I just don't recall.

Also, is it a novel? The novel as a form did come together in the 18th Century. Credit is given to Cervantes for the first novel with _Don Quixote_. AGAIN, we could go down this same rabbit hole arguing what is the first novel. What about Petronius' _Satyricon_? For example. Or the Book of Job. Or, again, the Epic of Gilgamesh (which seems to be everything to everybody)? There is some debate as to how to even _Gulliver's Travels_ as a form. Whatever, it's a great work, I love it. But it is very much one-off and quite unique.

Popular fictional novels really got roaring in the 19th Century, that's where the form matured. And that's where we start to see genres of popular novels.

Enter Mary Shelley's _Frankenstein_. It established the genre of science fiction novels.

That's the line of thinking, that is how the field of literary criticism has largely come to this conclusion: _Frankenstein_ launched the genre of science fiction.

Blogger Scott Birch April 09, 2017 3:29 AM  

I liked the first 3 Earthsea novels. The subsequent novels had the feminist axe to grind, but I could suspend my disbelief and get something out of them.

I like Julian May's Pleistocene and Milieu trilogies. I think they're good. I'd say that's the best female SF I've read.

Blogger Scott Birch April 09, 2017 3:30 AM  

Oh, and the Intervention story linking the two. That was the best I think. I wonder if she wrote them all herself?

Blogger Snorri April 09, 2017 4:13 AM  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Uvk4TgQWzI

Anonymous Qadgop the Mercotan April 09, 2017 4:39 AM  

The Earthsea books, in the UK, at least, were marketed as YA fiction (under the Puffin imprint, rather than Penguin), and that's really what they are.

I liked them when I read them in my late teens, but they are books that I've found no urge to go and re-read since; so I can understand people who didn't encounter them early not caring for them. Though, that said, there are other fantasy books from the same imprint that I do re-read, but those tend to be the ones more obviously aimed below the angsty teen bracket.

Also, back in the mid '70s when having cleared the easily available backlog, the competition amongst new fantasy was things like Thomas Covenant or Sword of Shanarra, Earthsea actually looked rather good by comparison.

LeGuin's adult SpecFic, OTOH, has never appealed enough to me to do more than skim a few pages in a book-store and put it down again, even having made my way through things like The Female Man in my time, back when I was in full text junkie mode.

Blogger SteelPalm April 09, 2017 4:50 AM  

@76 Are you confusing _Frankenstein_ with Bram Stoker's _Dracula_? The latter was a poor novel, but nevertheless notable for what it launched.

You seem to be the one confused, and are projecting that onto others.

I specifically called Frankenstein a good novel. Not a poor one. Being capable of more than a binary grading scale of "good" or "bad", I further noted it was very far from a masterpiece, and what the science fiction genre would later become.

In much the same way the first great silent movies were pale imitations of what would come later.

I'm glad you found the book particularly profound and complex, but that others don't isn't necessarily because they lack the intellect to comprehend it.

It could be that they grasped it just fine, but it was not profound for their intellectual capabilities.

Anyways, this is all silly in light of Shelley being very much a one-hit wonder. The only other science fiction book she wrote, The Fall of Man, was so laughably putrid even her most ardent admirers hate it.

So even Shelley wasn't an example of a great (not good, but great) female science fiction writer.

In much the same way William Thomas Beckford was not a great fantasy writer simply because he wrote Vathek in his early 20s and nothing else of consequence in the 60 years afterwards.

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky April 09, 2017 5:02 AM  

SteelPalm wrote:

You seem to be the one confused, and are projecting that onto others.


Riiight.

You're a smart guy, but a very poor judge of literature. Again I ask you to re-read _Frankenstein_. It's timeless.

It was timeless last century, as they developed the atomic bomb. It is timeless this century, as we are facing robotics, and the question of technology that replaces human worth.

That's the exact question that Mary Shelley asked, eloquently, so many years ago.

Her novel asked the first question that launched the entire genre, this whole speculation about science and its role, and it power, and its relations to humanity.

What happens when you birth a Death-Baby? An "Abortion" such as the Frankenstein monster?

Re-read the book, my friend. I bet you dollars to donuts that you'll find it's better than you thought before. It was the first science fiction novel, and it's onto the same questions that are relevant today. Because it's timeless.

Just as the world's greatest literature is.

Anonymous Stochastic Persiflage April 09, 2017 5:16 AM  

I was surprised when I read 'Frankenstein' that the monster is actually fairly eloquent! (Having known only screen adaptations previously.)

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky April 09, 2017 5:20 AM  

The modern top of science fiction literature is apparently John Scalzi. Nobody is going to be reading John Scalzi ten years from now. Is that the state of the art?

Go back and read Mary Shelley's _Frankenstein_, and behold something timeless.

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky April 09, 2017 5:22 AM  

Stochastic Persiflage wrote:I was surprised when I read 'Frankenstein' that the monster is actually fairly eloquent! (Having known only screen adaptations previously.)

The monster is more intelligent than his creators. Again, a very troubling thing we're only beginning to confront.

Blogger szopen April 09, 2017 6:41 AM  

I liked Ursula's Le Guin books _a lot_. All three first parts of the Earthsea trilogy. The later ones (e.g. Tehanu sp?) were bad. Also, I simply have LOVED the "Left Hand of the Darkness". I value those books more than almost anything by Harrison, and definetely much more than Asimov.
I read "left hand" at least three times and each time I found it a great book. There was also nice book, which English name I forgot (something like "the word forest means the world") which I found a strange mixture of being both great and the awful book at the same time.

I guess de gustibus non disputandum est, or whatever it should be in latin.

Anonymous Tyr April 09, 2017 7:20 AM  

I felt the same way about Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan versus his screen incarnations when I read the first book in the Tarzan series.

I think most people who are only familiar with the the comic book and movie versions of Conan would be surprised by how intelligent Howard's original character was.

It's funny how these characters were dumbed down, not just simplified, but actually portrayed as morons.

Anonymous Jeffrey Quick April 09, 2017 8:37 AM  

One book does not a genre make.
Is there a chain of influence between Shelley and say Jules Verne? Were there folks saying, “I read _Frankenstein_ and started writing novels involving science and its social effects on humans.”?

Blogger Yarnwinder April 09, 2017 9:20 AM  

H'mmm... As I recall, the very first printed novel was 'The Tale of Genji', a Romance written by a woman.

Anonymous baduin April 09, 2017 10:57 AM  

https://www.amren.com/features/2016/07/why-have-we-unlearned-what-we-knew-in-1900/

Whatever the reasons for Boas’ “culturism,” he instilled this views in scores of graduate students who eventually came to dominate anthropology. One of these students, Margaret Mead, wrote the best-selling anthropology book of the 20h century, Coming of Age in Samoa (1928). Another, Ruth Benedict, wrote the most influential “culturist” book of the era, Patterns of Culture (1934). A third, Ashley Montague, was the principal author of UNESCO’s influential 1950 “Statement on Race,” which argued that race was unimportant.
Ruth Benedict

Ruth Benedict

Meanwhile, other Boas students became heads of the anthropology departments at such places as Berkeley (Alfred Kroeber and Robert Lowie), Chicago (Edward Sapir and Fay Cooper Cole), Northwestern (Melville Herskovits). In addition, between the 1920s and the 1950s, several of Boas’s students served as editors of the American Anthropological Association’s flagship journal,­­­­­­­­­­­­­ American Anthropologist, (John Swanton, Robert Lowie, Leslie Spier, Melville Herskovits). From these perches, Boas’s former students made it difficult for biologically-oriented anthropologists to publish or find jobs. Boas, it seems, employed the Gramscian strategy of infiltration by means of a “long march” through his profession.[20]

https://infogalactic.com/info/Alfred_L._Kroeber

Alfred Louis Kroeber (June 11, 1876 – October 5, 1960) was an American cultural anthropologist. He received his Ph.D. under Franz Boas at Columbia University in 1901, the first doctorate in anthropology awarded by Columbia. He was also the first professor appointed to the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.[2] He played an integral role in the early days of its Museum of Anthropology, where he served as Director from 1909 through 1947.[3] Kroeber provided detailed information about Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yahi people, whom he studied over a period of years. He was the father of the acclaimed novelist, poet, and writer of short stories Ursula Kroeber Le Guin.

Anonymous Nathan April 09, 2017 10:58 AM  

Frankenstein launching the genre of science fiction is a recent argument not borne out by reading the critical literature of fifty and even a hundred years ago. Whether it was scientific romance, scientific marvelous, or sciencefiction, those authors and critics closer to Frankenstein than we post-moderns did not see it as the first science fiction book. Many credited Poe; others a wide number of authors before and after Shelley. This is not say that Frankenstein was not influential, as SF writers had a tendency to rewrite the story - as they did with other gothic works. However, given the existence of French scientific romances prior to Frankenstein and that the English boom in scientific romances started several decades after its publication, the only claim that can be made about Frankenstein is that the story was influential. It did not launch the genre.

Blogger Humaun Kabir April 13, 2017 11:35 AM  

Thanks for the great post on your blog, it really gives me an insight on this topic.

flat earth map

Post a Comment

Rules of the blog
Please do not comment as "Anonymous". Comments by "Anonymous" will be spammed.

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts