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August 9, 2006

Articles we stopped reading
Posted by Patrick at 11:38 PM * 64 comments

Laura Miller in Salon:

Take the case of James Tiptree Jr., who for a few years during the heyday of science fiction’s “New Wave,” in the 1960s, wrote stories that combined, in the words of […]

As usual, if there’s a way to be stupid about something, Salon will find it.

Julie Phillips’ Tiptree bio is fantastic, perhaps the best biography ever written of a modern science fiction writer. But Tiptree was part of science fiction’s “New Wave” to roughly the same extent that the Allman Brothers Band was part of the British Invasion.

I swear to God, I want Salon to be good, I subscribe and I try to support them, and every time they write about something about which I have actual personal knowledge, they get out the big red rubber nose and the oversized shoes. I have to conclude that they’re just as retarded when they cover anything else.

(Yes, I know this is a common perception of the media in general. I know how that works and how it feels. Salon is worse.)

Comments on Articles we stopped reading:
#1 ::: Mike Kozlowski ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 12:05 AM:

Wikipedia thinks the same thing.

(And actually, so did I, until I realized I was thinking of Joanna Russ. Who I hope actually does count as New Wave?)

#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 12:08 AM:

Salon does have a letter column; set the record straight!

#3 ::: Tom B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 12:14 AM:

Wasn't her publishing heyday the '70s, not the '60s? I'd have guessed her to be sympathetic to some of the aims of the New Wave, but not a part of the movement, despite her appearance in AGAIN, DANGEROUS VISIONS.

#4 ::: John Emerson ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 12:16 AM:

OK, OK, it was the Doobie Brothers who led the British Invasion.

Slip of the tongue. You really pick nits.

#5 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 12:25 AM:

Even the Dangerous Visions anthologies were at most an echo of the actual "New Wave," which was a movement centered on British SF in the mid-1960s.

Granting that terms like "New Wave" tend to be fungible over time, there is still no coherent history of modern SF in which the "New Wave" includes the period of Tiptree's glory. Miller's--Salon's--slovenliness about SF's actual, knowable, well-documented modern history is inexcusable. We may be a lowlife genre worthy only of the servants' entrance, but by God we deserve better than this.

#6 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 01:01 AM:

Point of interest: a similar, but not identical, was in the Washington Post's review of the biogrpahy:

"Science fiction at the time was in a war between the "Old Wave" that believed in scientific accuracy and a "New Wave" that made literary values paramount. Tiptree's work fell into both camps -- scientifically accurate but passionately concerned with gender and power."

Based on PNH's comment, I'm assuming he won't like that much better, if at all...

#7 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 01:06 AM:

Plus, in the same article, bonus atheist slur:

"...she told several of her correspondents that she would kill herself when Ting died. She had no close friends and was an atheist."

Because, of course, theists never commit suicide. Or anyway atheists are so much more likely to. What's the point for them, after all?

#8 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 01:19 AM:

Wolfgang Pauli's famous observation is getting heavy rotation this week. Of course, it is easy to dance to.

My recollection (and I was there at the time) is that "New Wave SF" slipped free of any specific meaning within about eight minutes of becoming widely known in the field. It was variously applied to anybody new on the scene, anything that wouldn't have appeared in Astounding, or sometimes in Planet Stories (in both cases, whether or not this might have been true), and anything that contained an unrecognizable literary reference (often though not always Joyce). A common usage was, not unlike Americans' use of "French New Wave," for whatever the critic didn't like.

See also: Cyberpunk.

#9 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 02:59 AM:

Also, I read Laura Miller as saying that the heyday of James Tiptree's writing coincides with the heyday of the New Wave, not that Tiptree was a "heyday New Wave author." The statement is off if you read it that way, too -- but not as dramatically.

#10 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 03:13 AM:

"She had no close friends and was an atheist."

Two words, Laura Miller:

S-E-P-T-E-M-B-E-R E-L-E-V-E-N.

You dork!!

#11 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 04:56 AM:

I wonder, a little, how the Laura Millers of this world cope with friendship over the Internet, if they struggle as much as they seem to over friendship through traditional letters.

Most of you have never met me. Some of you may not have considered yourself fans when I was still a regular convention member. All that may count against being "close friends", but is anything beyond commmunication a necessary condition?

There are people on the net I've been friends with for over ten years, and we still haven't exchanged physical addresses.

#12 ::: anthony ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:08 AM:

i thot that, and this might be wrong of me, that though she wasnt part of the cannonical new wave, she had extensive correspondance(sp) with Russ, Ballard, Disch and others who were part of the new wave.

If this isnt true, correct me but it might be fair to call her a fellow traveller?

#13 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:46 AM:

Hob rachmones.

An author who inserts an error near the beginning of a piece does you a service: you have a zero'th-order idea of how much scepticism to bring to bear on the rest of it, which still might be worth reading anyway.

I feel that Ms Miller's wrong, but not fundamentally wrong. I use "not fundamentally wrong" in its usual sense of, "I might have made roughly the same mistake." I started reading post-40s SF authors roughly around 1976, and (for example) I encountered Larry Niven's "Known Space" stories about the same time I started reading Sheldon's work. If I'd been aware at the time of a split in the SF world, I would have put the authors of "The Soft Weapon" and of ""Filomena & Greg & Rikki-Tikki & Barlow & the Alien" (to name the first short story I read from each author) in different camps.

When I did learn of the split, I felt it probably had more to do with Vietnam and level of blind technophilia than anything else---not accurate, necessarily, but an easy mistake to make if such. (I can't find a transcription of the dueling "Analog" ads on the web; anyone have a pointer?)

#14 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 07:39 AM:

Tiptree has been deleted from Wikipedia's "New Wave" list. It'll be interesting to see if someone puts her back in. (Uh, but not interesting enough to actually monitor it.)

I love Wikipedia.

#15 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 07:43 AM:

Hmm. Up too late. Can't decide if the previous post looks ironic or lame. But the part about loving Wikipedia is sincere. So far as I can tell, Wikipedia is most often slagged for inaccuracy when it's right. Or maybe I just read too many posts by conservatives who hate Wikipedia.

Here endeth the digression.

(Sleep-deprived man staggars from party.)

#16 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 07:54 AM:

Well, for one thing, the dueling ads in question appeared in Galaxy, not Analog.

#17 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 08:02 AM:

Mike Ford writes:

My recollection (and I was there at the time) is that "New Wave SF" slipped free of any specific meaning within about eight minutes of becoming widely known in the field. It was variously applied to anybody new on the scene, anything that wouldn't have appeared in Astounding, or sometimes in Planet Stories (in both cases, whether or not this might have been true), and anything that contained an unrecognizable literary reference (often though not always Joyce). A common usage was, not unlike Americans' use of "French New Wave," for whatever the critic didn't like.
Funny you should list "anything that wouldn't have appeared in Astounding", since Tiptree's first sale was to ...John W. Campbell, Jr.

Beyond that, yes, I know that other people have used the term "New Wave" to mean any SF writer who didn't wear their hair in a buzz cut after 1964. Those people are also idiots.

#18 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 08:05 AM:

Salon is worse.

Because you expect it to be so much better, right?

Sadly, I passed my cancel-the-subscription point with Salon a few months ago.

#19 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 09:08 AM:

Tiptree Jr., who for a few years during the heyday of science fiction’s “New Wave,” in the 1960s, wrote

Well, technically, they're not saying she was part of the "New Wave", they're saying she wrote during the new way. They're also saying the "New Wave" occurred in the 60's, which, well, when did the SF new wave occur? And was it a heyday after all?

So, it's more like they're saying the Allman Brothers made songs during the British invasion, not that they were necessarily part of it. Of course, it's ambiguous wording that suggests something not intended, so it should be rewritten, but oh well.

However, their timeline may be completely screwed up. Apparently, I missed the Hay Days, so I don't know about that part. Which means their statement could still be wrong, depending on the exact date and time of the actual Hey Days in question.

While we're on the topic, I'd like to order a Hay Day now, if I could. Where do I file the paperwork?

#20 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 09:19 AM:

Make Hay Days while the sun shines, Greg.

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 09:39 AM:

Perhaps we could say that James Tiptree, Jr. was part of the New Wave to the extent that Bob Marley and the Wailers were part of the British Invasion....

(I think of the New Wave as being based to a large degree on the writers who submitted work to New Worlds; that may be a bit parochial.)

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 09:45 AM:

Heck, the article could have started with pointing out that Tiptree was a fan of the old Star Trek series. Ever read Beam Me Home?

#23 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 10:30 AM:

This discussion rang a vague bell -- I remember reading Peter Nicholls Science Fiction Encyclopedia (published in 1979) and being surprised that Tiptree was mentioned in the essay on New Wave. I've slightly misremembered. The essay says, "By the 1970s there no longer seemed very much point to the term [New Wave], although newcomers like Joanna Russ, James Tiptree Jr, Gardner Dozois, Barry Malzberg and Gene Wolfe clearly wrote in a style that would have been called New Wave only a year or so earlier."

Nicholls (correctly, in my view) gives the start of New Wave as Michael Moorcock's taking over the editorship of New Worlds (his first issue was May/June 1964) and seems to say that by the early 1970s it had pretty much become the mainstream of science fiction.

And that, of course, is well before Tiptree really became prominent. She was first published in 1968, but her first book wasn't until 1973 -- long after the wave had washed over the shore.

#24 ::: Rasselas ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 10:36 AM:

Yes, Salon's really gone downhill since they let got that computer game reviewer who associated every single new game with the sexual and racial utopia he saw coming into being around him in the Bay Area.

#25 ::: Frowner ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 10:55 AM:

Hi there. I'm a lurker, but I feel compelled to add that I decided not to read the Tiptree story when I saw the lead-in on the front page: "...a beautiful woman who struggled under the weight of her talent, depression, and sexuality". I really dislike that whole "she's so interesting because she's pretty and messed up, and besides, we can talk about her sex life" trope, especially when used to reduce a feminist writer to Salon-size. While I know that mainstream venues like Salon wouldn't give a good god-damn about any woman unless they could describe her as beautiful, I still find it disappointing that the "don't worry, you're not wasting your time reading about some ugly chick" reassurance actually has to appear on the front page.

#26 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 11:11 AM:

Serge, do you mean "Beam Us Home"? And no, I haven't read it, but now I'm gonna.

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 11:16 AM:

That might be the correct title, Avram. I probably read the story 20 years ago. Do take note that it doesn't feature Star Trek's characters. It really is about the show, about living with each other in spite of the many differences.

#28 ::: jillie ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 11:29 AM:

Frowner,

Ironic isn't it? An on-line newspaper which carries a feminist blog feels the need to use such cliches as the tragic/fragile beauty to make the life of a female writer more enticing. I wonder if the people in charge of the Broadsheet will make a note of the discrepancy, or is that only suppose to be a critique of the mainstream media.

#29 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 12:56 PM:

I can't resist my own band analogy: I think calling Tiptree a New Wave writer is like calling Big Star a British Invasion band. Wrong, but not bizarrely, inexplicably wrong like the Allman Brothers would be. Plus, now I can think of her early Campbellian work as her Boxtops period, at least until my brain starts hurting too much to think at all. Which may have already happened. Ouch.

#30 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 02:00 PM:

Hm, Just read "Beam Us Home". Can someone clue me in as to what the heck happened at the end? I have two completely different possibilities. rot13'ing the spoilers:

ernyyl cvpxrq hc ol nyvraf be pbzcyrgr oernx sebz ernyvgl?

#31 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 02:07 PM:

Well, I certainly hadn't planned on defending Laura Miller today, but:

The first thing to clear up is that the "She had no close friends and was an atheist" line is not from Miller; that's from the other article quoted here, the Washington Post review by Martin Morse Wooster.

The second thing is that while maybe she shouldn't write about the New Wave without knowing something about it, here she was just quoting the book. I think. This is of course the first day since I got it that I haven't lugged the biography into the office, but I'm pretty sure the New Wave thing is in the book, and that Julie Phillips was quoting me. It was a line I had used earlier in Meet Me at Infinity, which was that the advocates of the New Wave and the advocates of the Old Wave had both been claiming Tiptree as one of their own. This was what I was seeing in 1971.

#32 ::: Stephen G ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 02:29 PM:

Sadly, I passed my cancel-the-subscription point with Salon a few months ago.

I hit that point when they had their vaccines-cause-autism expose a while back.

#33 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 02:58 PM:

advocates of the New Wave and the advocates of the Old Wave had both been claiming Tiptree

Will the real New Wave please stand up.
please stand up.
please stand up.

Did anyone figure out the "New Wave" years, btw?

And if there's an old and new wave, maybe we could get some hard dates for that too.

#34 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 04:02 PM:

Greg: In my subjective point of view, as someone who was reading the stuff and participating in s-f fandom at the time, this page has more straight dope on the New Wave than Wikipedia.

The "New Wave" literary movement was closely associated with "New Worlds," a British prozine edited by John Carnell and later by Michael Moorcock. I differ with one opinion on the page link I gave you above. I'd call Judy Merrill the chief U.S. proselytizer/adopter of the British New Wave movement rather than Harlan Ellison. The Magazine of F&*SF published Merrill's essay about it in 1966. Her "England Swings" short story collection extolling the New Wave was published by Doubleday in 1968. I used to hear her talking up "England Swings" at convention panels in 1968-1969. What I remember of Harlan's promotion of "Dangerous Visions" is that he regarded the British New Wave as just one subset of the revolution that he wished to advance. (Judy Merrill and Harlan were feuding with each other then, too, which complicates the issue in terms of taxonomy.)

Norman Spinrad, another U.S. New Wave campfollower, gained notoriety in 1969 when his novel "Bug Jack Barron" was denounced in Parliament after being serialized in New Worlds.

I used to hang out with Norman in the time period from 1969 to 1971. I recall him being much more gung-ho about the New Wave as a literary movement in the earlier portion of that timeframe.

New Worlds ceased publication as monthly magazine in 1971 and continued publication for another five years as a series of paperback collections. It sez here that Moorcock's editorial in the first paperback version proclaimed a "return to our pre-1967 format." He might have been referring only to the physical appearance of "New Worlds."

I think there's a credible historical argument to be made that the New Wave movement in science fiction peaked before 1970 and was old news by 1972 -- not withstanding the fact that the stories published under its banners continued to influence new writers after that time.

#35 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 04:05 PM:

Also, only one "l" in "Merril."

#36 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 04:26 PM:

Lenny, thanks for the link, read part of it. Will have to comb through it at some point to wholly absorb it. So, is new wave "literary SF" or does it also require the "gloom" as described on that page?

#37 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 04:38 PM:

I started listing my objections to the site that Lenny linked to and just gave up in despair.

I'll definitely agree that when I think of the New Wave I think of two people: Michael Moorcock and Judith Merril. What they promoted was what the New Wave was for me.

#38 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:07 PM:

Jeffrey: I wouldn't mind seeing your objections. I was looking for something better than the Wikipedia article that would turn up in Google.

The bullet list of dystopian signifiers in New Wave stories is something that rings true to my recollection of the way the most prolific (or maybe just the loudest) analysts in the s-f community talked about the New Wave at that time.

The page says nothing about Cele Goldsmith, Joanna Russ, and Tiptree (or Charles Platt, John Sladek, Keith Roberts, and Barrington Bayley, for that matter). It totally sidesteps the feminist revolution in science fiction in the '70s, which was arguably the most significant antecedent of the New Wave literary movement. But it doesn't make the Wikipedia mistake of merging the historical events of the 1960s and later periods into a confusing hodgepodge.

#39 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:17 PM:

.... most significant antecedent ==>most significant fallout

#40 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:23 PM:

"Beam us home" explanation, anyone?

Bueller? Bueller?

Just rot13 a quick explanation of the ending, and I'd be most appreciative.

#41 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:36 PM:

SPOILER about Beam Us Home... Just as his fighter plane was about to crash, he was snatched away and beamed onto the bridge of a starship filled with all kinds of aliens. He had grown up with this fantasy, inspired by Star Trek, that he had been plopped down to Earth as an observer and that one day he'd be taken away. I think (20 years after reading the story) that the ending left it ambiguous as to whether or not he had been sent to Earth as an observer, but it didn't matter because he had found Home.

#42 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:44 PM:

Serge: re: Beam Us Home

Ohg ubj pna lbh gryy gung ur jnfa'g whfg ybfvat uvf zvaq? V pbhyqa'g gryy vs gur jubyr nvepensg syvtug ng gur raq jnf n unyyhpvangvba be abg, fvapr ur frrzrq gb or oynpxvat bhg naq onpx va naq trarenyyl tbvat n ovg penml.

rot 13 converter for your convenience.

#43 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:55 PM:

Actually, the overview of what the New Wave actually was wasn't too bad. It was the list of writers and stories that made me cringe:

For Brian Aldiss, she lists his critical work and his 1980s series, but not his more appropriate Barefoot in the Head.

J.G. Ballard's short fiction like "The Assasssination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race" was a cornerstone of the New Wave; his early novels like The Drowned World were not.

I never considered Ursula Le Guin a New Wave writer, but I guess others do; at any rate, The Lathe of Heaven is not one of her Hainish novels.

Nothing she lists for Philip Jose Farmer would be considered NW; a very few of his pieces would, but not enough to get him featured on this list.

Why list Delany and not mention Dhalgren?

(Other writers I don't think have been mentioned yet include Thomas M. Disch, David R. Bunch, James Sallis and Pamela Zoline.)

And the writers on her "influenced by the New Wave" list? If Ira Levin and Stephen King are going to be there, why not just mention every writer in the world?

#44 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:58 PM:

Greg:

Gur raqvat vf qryvorengryl nzovthbhf, ohg v nyjnlf nffhzrq gung vs ur jrer unyyhpvangvat gung ur jbhyq unir raivfvbarq gur erny ragrecevfr.

#45 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Good point, Jeffrey. I always took it at face value. True, the narrator wasn't the sanest person, but he wasn't bonkers enough for me to find him unreliable.

#46 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 07:06 PM:

I've always thought of formal experimentation as being the most reliable indicator of newwavitude. From your list, Jeffrey, it seems you might agree?

For type specimen, I nominate Zoline's "The Heat Death of the Universe." It has most of the hallmarks: formal experimentation, present-day setting, feminism, science content as explicit metaphor, cussin', publication in New Worlds.

It's also less than completely optimistic, although that aspect of New Wave is often exaggerated. A lot of it was very playful.

#47 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 07:41 PM:

Thanks, Jeffrey. My parser seems stuck on extra strict and flags as ambiguities stuff that a lot of folks get immediately.

#48 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 07:56 PM:

I agree with Frowner:

"I really dislike that whole 'she's so interesting because she's pretty and messed up, and besides, we can talk about her sex life' trope, especially when used to reduce a feminist writer to Salon-size."
Indeed, I'm beginning to think that at least half of what's annoying about Salon would be fixed by firing whoever it is that writes the brain-hurtingly grating headlines and teasers on their front page. Even Slate, a deeply annoying and meretricious publication these days, doesn't leave me with quite the feeling of having had my intelligence singled out for prolonged and particular insult that I get from just glancing at Salon.

#49 ::: Rebecca Ore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 09:44 PM:

New Wave was the science fiction that the poets and artists in the Lower East Side were reading in 1971. Technically, the people around Morecock would be the English New Wave, but some Americans were also writing books that were conceptually exciting to people who weren't the traditional s.f. readers: Ellison, Lafferty, the Silverberg of "Born with the Dead."

Delany is core to that NYC lineage as was George Alec Effinger, who also hung out with the poets around St.Mark's Church, and Tom Disch (The New York School of Science Fiction, perhaps).

Tiptree was writing meta-science fiction, as behoved a New Yorker writer. She was inventing the writer as well as the work, so she is more like Borges than like most s.f. writers.

People who come out of more literary traditions who start writing s.f. often write very conventionally at first, or at least apparently conventionally, as a sort of asking permission and as a ironic exploration of the standard tropes.

Attempting to divide people into waves or schools strikes me as weird, though, something people who aren't writers are given to doing.

#50 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 10:57 PM:

Attempting to divide people into waves or schools strikes me as weird, though, something people who aren't writers are given to doing.

I'm going to give a deliciously geeky answer to "who's in the New Wave?"

At Iguanacon, the 1978 Worldcon, William Sims Bainbridge administered a complex questionnaire to 595 congoers, asking them a few questions about the types of SF they preferred, and asking them to rate 140 SF authors. The analysis appeared as Dimensions of Science Fiction in 1986.

In the multidimensional factor analysis, a New Wave cluster popped out very distinctly.

Bainbridge writes "Table 7 lists all twenty-six writers who achieved loadings above .35 for this factor." In order:

Ellison
Silverberg
Knight
Russ
Dick
Willhelm
Sturgeon
Mazberg
Aldiss
Lafferty
Budrys
Tiptree
Vonnegut
Spinrad
Delany
Huxley
Merril
Orwell
Brunner
LeGuin
Pohl
Davidson
Bloch
Bester
Bradbury
Haldeman

Don't argue with me whether Aldous Huxley belongs in the New Wave, argue with 595 Iguanacon attendees. (Well, I was one of them, so I guess you can argue with me, but I am only responsible for a sliver of this result. Personally, I'd exclude Orwell, Huxley, Sturgeon, Bester, Budrys, Bradbury, Pohl, and a few others for historical reasons-- but they are New Waveish, and presumably that's what's being measured here.)

#51 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 11:22 PM:

Robert Bloch?!?!?

#52 ::: Thomas Nephew ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 12:48 AM:

I don't know SF backwards and forwards -- I thought the criticism was going to be just about that sentence. Did it ever end? (Not that I'm one to talk.)

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 06:19 AM:

Not just Bloch, Jeffrey... Why was Bradbury on the list, Bill?

#54 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 07:06 AM:

Attempting historiography, it may make sense to refer to both "British" and "American" New Wave movements in science fiction -- the "American" movement being a parallel response to the British one -- with Delany at the center, inspiring a "language poet" revolution in s-f narrative techniques.

Over here it says: "New Wave -- a loose movement in science fiction writing from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s, characterized by an experimental approach to narrative structures and language and an emphasis on nuanced social, moral, or psychological conflict rather than on technological concerns."

The "American" New Wave movement in science fiction might be said to have Jim Blish and Phil Farmer as genre pre-cursors (Blish for stylistic experimentation, Farmer for daring to introduce sexual speculation), and possibly John Barth (Giles Goat Boy) as a mainstream influence. After Delany ignites it, the "American" New Wave eventually begins to include Joanna Russ, David R. Bunch, and Tom Disch -- with Harlan Ellison, Ursula Le Guin, and Robert Silverberg being heavily influenced. (Ellison's novella, "The Region Between" includes typographical experiments that look like they're derived from the ones that John Barth popularized.) Damon Knight (Orbit), Cele Goldsmith (Amazing Stories), and Ellison (Dangerous Visions) provide early markets for the "American" New Wave.

A bunch of good stories by other s-f writers appear in these "new wave"-friendly markets, which contributes to the association of everything with a more sophisticated narrative style or a wider range of story subjects as part of the "New Wave."

(As Rebecca Ore points out, this is fanboy historiographical musing. The authors who were producing all those stories may see things differently.)

#55 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 08:11 AM:

Jeffrey Smith writes:

Robert Bloch?!?!?

Yeah, Bloch would also be on my list of "way before the New Wave" writers. But the statistics say that, in the minds of readers, his writing clumps with that of the NW gang.

#56 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 08:41 AM:

Serge writes:

Not just Bloch, Jeffrey... Why was Bradbury on the list, Bill?

I already gave the reason. Because his "factor loading" on this axis-- which is obviously dominated by a group of New Wave authors-- is 0.371.

Bainbridge also writes: "There has been strenuous objection in the past to including respected earlier writers like Bradbury among the lesser lights of the new wave. [...] In a quantitative ethnography such as this, I defer to my respondents, whose answers inform us about the dominant conceptualizations of the science fiction subculture. In my respondents' estimation, Bradbury's style is as about as close to new wave as is LeGuin's. Neither is as close to the center of the ideological factor as Ellison. Bradbury is closer to the new wave than he is to any other main faction.[...] the movement of the late 1960s becomes the crest of the wave, which exaggerated elements already present in the works of these earlier authors."

Dimensions of Science Fiction really is a unique and fascinating book.

(I introduce these ideas into this thread with some trepidation, not wishing to hijack it or blunt PNH's original point: The New Wave beachhead was firmly established, and its major players identified, considerably before Tiptree's most notable stories appeared in the early and middle 1970s.)

#57 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 08:53 AM:

Thanks, Bill. Still, I wonder what Bradbury makes of that assertion if he is aware of it.

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 08:58 AM:

One more thing, Bill... I notice that Iguanacon's list didn't include Cordwainer Smith. If ever there was a proto-NewWave writer...

#59 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 03:01 PM:

Serge; maybe he wasn't on the original list of 140 authors, and thus couldn't show up.

#60 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 03:07 PM:

True, Lenora, although I would have expected him to be obvious. I'm not sure how easy it was to find his stuff back in 1978 so that might explain the omission.By the way, I loved Smith's short stories, but I couldn't finish Norstrilia.

#61 ::: Barry Ragin ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 03:11 PM:

One more thing, Bill... I notice that Iguanacon's list didn't include Cordwainer Smith. If ever there was a proto-NewWave writer...

or Fritz Leiber. Green Millenium seems to me a pretty decent New Wave novel.

I kinda think the Old Wave/New Wave distinction is not drawn from any technophilia or special scientific accuracy in the former (or lack in the latter) but in the particular foregrounding of certain aspects of the science and technology that characterizes Old Wave story telling.

Once enough of those stories had been told, a lot of the technology and science was able to exist in the background, and a certain generation of writers took advantage of this, and became the New Wave.

I think you can see this in, for instance, the difference between Henry Kuttner's Mutant stories, and Delany's The Einstein Intersection; or possibly by contrasting A Martian Odyssey with The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth.

Just thinking out loud . . .

#62 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2006, 03:46 PM:

Even putting Joe Haldeman in the mix of New Wave writers caused me to raise an eyebrow.

There is something deep-down, fundamentally conservative in Joe's storytelling style, even if his subject matter is far to the left--and he himself was a hippie back in the day.

But I consider the New Wave to be writing very much from the tradition set by Joyce and the Beat writers, with lots of wordplay, experimentation and psychedelic prose.

Haldeman, on the other hand, is a Hemingwayian--short, declarative sentences, transparent prose.

On the other hand: Yeah, I see it. Joe's a hippie, he's anti-war, he writes about characters who use recreational drugs and have recreational sex. He uses the F-word and S-word. Of course he was going to be considered New Wave by many people in the early 70s when he came onto the scene.

#63 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 04:02 PM:

Going back to the original subject for a minute, I've been monitoring the reviews of the Tiptree biography. I think the best and most perceptive has been Bethany Schneider in Newsday. I also like the one by [author not remembered] in Oprah's magazine, and Jennifer Reese in Entertainment Weekly does well in a short space (with a sidebar to Tiptree's own Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, which is nice). Of course, Carter Scholz in Bookforum was great with his early review back in May. John Clute at the SciFi site has some good comments but comes to the same conclusion as Publishers Weekly, that it's a sad book because she had a sad life. Parts were sad, parts were not.

The nice thing is that even the reviews that seem to miss the point completely (Janet Maslin in the New York Times?) recommend the book. Everyone seems to like it. Patrick, above, says, "perhaps the best biography ever written of a modern science fiction writer." Schneider in Newsday went further: "possibly the best biography I have ever read."

Cool.

#64 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 05:47 PM:

The thing I liked best in Clute's review was the connection to Tip in the Oz books. I've read all the Oz books from back then and knew of Tip, but never put the times together.

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