This week marks the publication of Jonathan’s new hard-SF anthology Mission Critical, the title of which reminded Gary of the first SF serial he read, Hal Clement’s Close to Critical. This lead, by our usual process of carefully structured random free association, to a discussion of Clement as an example of an author whose fiction is not widely read anymore, but whose influence nevertheless shows up even in writers who may not have read him. In Clement’s case, it was carefully extrapolated SF environments and creatures, but Jack Vance and Clifford Simak are also mentioned as writers whose influence has long outlived their popularity.
This somehow led to a discussion of SF’s oldest saw, the sense of wonder, how it can be achieved by current writers, and whether the SFnal sense of wonder can really be achieved in fantasy or horror. After rambling through a few other topics, including our favourite dragons, we mentioned a few new and upcoming books we're looking forward to (see the links below). And then we noted that this week represents the 10th anniversary of the death of our old friend, Charles N. Brown, who in many ways was the inspiration for this podcast.
Links for the episode
- Remembering Charles N Brown (1937-2009)
- Close to Critical, Hal Clement
- The Gurka and the Lord of Tuesday, Saad Z Hossain
- The Menace from Farside, Ian McDonald
- Mission Critical, Jonathan Strahan ed.
- Selected Stories, Theodore Sturgeon