Tuesday, March 7, 2017

On the Shoulders of Giants

Your favourite authors*

List your favourite authors, the ones to whom you’d like to be favourably compared. Why do you like them so much? Why would this comparison be important to you?

My earliest memory of reading (and I readily confess to the faultiness of my memory) is of Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy. In a way, I can say that it solidified my picture of what good sci-fi should be, and everything after that is compared to him.

His Robot series though, especially the Daneel Olivaw books, are what introduced me to fusion. Detectives AND robots! And the walls of Jericho came crashing down. The concept of genre was forever changed. Oh, I still loved my sci-fi, but now I saw it for what it was, the stage on which the play was performed, not the form of the play itself.

This freed me to dislike some 'sci-fi' authors who, though lauded far and wide, really did nothing for me. So my favourites are from many corners of the litterary-verse, with a kindly Isaac overseening them all.

Under mystery, Rex Stout, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler lead the pack. Science fiction sees the inclusion of Ray Bradbury, E.E. (Doc) Smith, and Alfred Bester. Fantasy houses others, including David Eddings, Anne McAffrey and Madeleine L'Engle.

To my mind, these authors (and many others) tend to focus on one type of story. Character driven and focused, their stories take me through various scenarios, fictional and fantastic, to demonstrate the best in humanity. Even though we are sometimes frail, and thus fail to reach our best potential, the characters are at least reaching up, hopeful, striving to be more of what they can be, and less of what they are.

There are authors who have also left me cold, who's ideas are of twists and turns, and twisted and turned characters who don't show the best, but celebrate the worst or worse, the apathetic, in humanity. They are found in much of the most recent award winning science fiction. To echo a song I once heard, "I am so tired of terrible people being admired for being terrible people."

Perhaps it is a mark of my philosophy, that we have more potential in us than we can ever realize in this lifetime, but that we should strive to get as close as we can. And I firmly believe that our characters should lead the way. And the authors that create them are, in fact, helping us all to explore what is best in each of us. That is the kind of author I aspire to become.

* From Part 1 - Chapter 1 - Envisioning and Planning

1 comment:

  1. Art for art's sake is not always good art, agreed. There needs to be a motivation and hopefully a positive motivation behind all art, in my opinion.