SF as a genre has been defined by it’s editors. In the beginning there was Hugo Gernsback, who essentially invented SF, followed by John W. Campbell and a bunch of others. I think that the when the dust settles the editor that will be most remembered for carrying SF forward in the last quarter of the 20th Century will be Jim Baen. This great piece has a good portion of the reason why.
One of the people I tagged was author Eric Flint because he was the subject of the Wisse piece that I was commenting about. Later Eric comes charging into the thread essentially accusing me and all the commenters on the thread of being well, I’ll let Eric say it; “Most of you are practically foaming at the mouth, in what has become standard right-wing Rage At Everything Mode.”
Back in the mid 1970’s, when I as in high school, things seemed to be going to the dooms. I think that it’s pretty much been forgotten now, but it seemed like every week a new book or newspaper article was telling us how civilization was going to end and we were all going to die. Then there were the movies. If it wasn’t “Planet of The Apes, with all the humans wiped out or returned to savagery by nuclear war, with the apes taking over, it “the China Syndrome” with nuclear plants melting down, or “Soylent Green” with the world overpopulated, polluted and the evil corporations resorting to systemized cannibalism. It was a miracle that we of that generation didn’t collapse in despair. Then there were the books like “Eco Doom” “Future Shock” and a bunch of others. It’s hard to understand how much of an impact that stuff had in the days before the internet when the media was essentially free to just dump the stuff out without any rebuttal. Frankly I think a lot of the attitude we had came from an “eat drink and be merry because there isn’t any tomorrow” attitude. After all what other sane approach was there if the powers that be in government and media were to be believed? The Global 2000 report represented the thinking of the Carter Administration.
I watched Jim Baen’s career from his Galaxy days when I was in high school, through the Ace period and then as Baen pub. He had a true talent for picking great stories, big ideas and a stable of authors that made you think. Who else would publish columns from Spider Robinson and Jerry Pournelle in the same magazine? When he started Baen he kept up the trend and created things like the Bar. It’s too bad there is no archive of those early bar days as all sorts of stuff and ideas went around. Jim Baen will truly be missed.
I actually embraced my geekhood a few years ago, about the same time I finally admitted I’m a cat person, not a dog person.
Part of that geek-dom is a love of science fiction and fantasy.
I’ve been a fan since I was a little kid, watching the Apollo-Soyuz meet up with my parents. I was all of three years old, and yet it captured my imagination and never let go.
But how to explain the allure of science fiction?
Well, at least once upon a time, it was the optimism, the grand vision. The Big Idea.
SF was the fiction of what could be. It was the literature of a limitless future when man (usually American man) would take to the stars, simply because we could, and a new Manifest Destiny would spread us across the galaxy. There were no limits. Problems…