What do I read?

Lately there has been a raft of blog posts within (and without) the SFR (Science Fiction Romance) community, mostly surrounding the fact that people (men) within the SF (Science Fiction) camp feel threatened (my interpretation) by the womenfolk who are now writing SF and SFR. As an unpublished writer – who has many drafts of mostly science-fiction-related stories on my laptop – I’m unable to really comment. However, as a female SF (and SFR, incidentally) reader, I can say a few things – mostly instigated by comments made in this article by Stuart Sharp. In particular, his comment that “the new authors coming into the field don’t necessarily get them [shared cultural references]”.

I began to read SF as a teenager. I cut my SF teeth on Hugh Walters’s Chris Godfrey series, and quickly graduated from there (still a teen) to Isaac Asimov and any SF book of his I could lay my hands on (including the entire original Foundation Series). On the way past, I consumed Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which I have read twice and I STILL do not get the Towel Day reference – it is simply not important to me), Heart of the Comet by David Brin and Gregory Benford, Jules Verne’s novels, Frank Herbert’s Dune series, Arthur C. Clarke’s Richter 10, and Gregory Benford’s hard SF Galactic Centre Saga – to name but a few. It was only in my late teens that I picked up my first Anne McCaffrey novel and fell in love with her work, as well as Joan D. Vinge’s Snow Queen Cycle. But still, give me an epic (my term – referring to a novel over 1000 printed pages in length) hard SF book and I will be at my happiest. Unfortunately no examples spring to mind at the moment, since I have been out of touch with the hard SF genre for many years now.

Should I mention that I have gaily absorbed Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Dr Who…..

I therefore feel it completely unjustified that Stuart presumes to suggest that SFR writers (for yes, while unpublished, I know most of my potential stories are more in the Anne McCaffrey style) are unversed in “real” (what a weird word) SF. As even he admits, concepts that run through all our heads these days are FTL, wormholes, the laws of robotics, etc. There isn’t all that much space (pun?) left for originality in some areas, really!

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About Laurel C Kriegler

A born and bred South African, I was educated at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, where I graduated with an Honours Degree (post-graduate) in Economics at the end of 2001. After spending several years gaining work experience in the UK, I returned to South Africa to get married. It was during the ensuing period that my pursuits of writing and editing took hold.
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6 Responses to What do I read?

  1. Jaleta Clegg says:

    Great comments, Laurel. I’ve been reading SF – hard, soft, and everything in between – for over 35 years. I’ve got a science degree. I teach kids about astronomy and physics. I write SF adventure. How am I “unversed” in science fiction culture? But after meeting some of these men, I understand all too well. They’re throwback neanderthals who think all women are Donna Reed.

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    • Oh dear! You reminded me that I *was* going to mention that while I was at university, I read John Gribbin’s “In Search of the Edge of Time” – astrophysics if ever you wanted it. But yes, ultimately this just isn’t about any sort of logical thinking, is it? Which makes me wonder why we’re bothering with this whole argument in the first place! We should simply speak where we speak best – in our books!

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      • Jaleta Clegg says:

        Who needs them anyway? We should just support each other and build our own audiences. Most of my fans so far are 10-14yo boys, and my books feature a female MC and some romance.

        Have you ever read Andre Norton’s books? Or Elizabeth Moon? Or Julie Czerneda? All women who write great SF.

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      • I haven’t read any of those three authors, but I have read a few other scifi books by women authors.

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  2. lizaoconnorl says:

    I’m saddened we are still fighting this battle. I’ve always thought it a flaw, a missing point, in Sci Fi writing that the core motivator of humans (sex/love) is often ignored. I think it’s why Anne McCaffrey did so well–she covered that in her writings. I’ve been writing Sci Fi all my life, but until this year, I’ve never even tried to publish. And while the old guard may not be changing, the readers are. So it really doesn’t matter what the old guard thinks. They are the dinosaurs of ‘reality’ and we’re the future. But I would like to note, not all male sci fi writers have taken this archaic attitude. So let’s not toss them all into a single pile.

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    • I have no idea why we’re fighting it at all. It’s ridiculous.

      And yes, I should clarify that I’m referring to “some” men, and not “all” men who write scifi.

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