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Sf:s pånyttfödelse i farliga visioner

InläggPostat: tor 09 apr 2015, 03:59
av Sheriffen
Det här är ett Facebookinlägg av den amerikanske sf-författaren David Gerrold. Det delas hej vilt på Facebook, så jag tycker det kan vara skäl i att dela det här på forumet också. Jag håller inte med om allt han säger, men det ger en intressant nötskalssyn på science fiction och dess utveckling sedan mitten av förra århundradet, och orsakerna till att vad som hänt har hänt:

All right, this is what I really wanted to write about.

Some fifty years ago, Harlan Ellison asserted that one of the reasons that SF existed as the bastard child of literature is that authors had self-ghetto-ized themselves. He challenged the Campbellian view of science fiction. Now, I have to admit, I loved Astounding Science Fiction, and not just the stories. I loved Campbell's editorials, right up to the day he started touting Dianetics, at which point I began to learn skepticism. (So thanks, John!)

The Campbell/Heinlein/Asimov/Clarke kind of science fiction was my favorite kind. To a great degree, it still is. I love a well-crafted hard science story. (I strongly recommend, if you have not yet read it, 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson.)

So when Harlan Ellison arrived on the scene with stories like "Shattered Like A Glass Goblin" and "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream" -- it discomfited me. I didn't get it. Why are these stories in a science fiction magazine? It took me a while to understand that the genre was in the process of struggling out of its own cocoon.

It was the sixties -- the boomers were coming of age -- and the sixties were a decade of uproar everywhere --the sexual revolution, the reinvention of the culture, an economic tectonic shift as buying power went from dad to teens, how rock and roll evolved into rock, muscle cars, the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, rock concerts, Star Trek, LSD and marijuana, underground comics, the breakdown of the studio system causing an explosion of new filmmakers' work, and more -- so much more. If you weren't there, you cannot understand it. Add to that a few assassinations, some mass murders, the continuing outrbreak of riots in major cities, and you had the perfect opportunity for writers to question EVERYTHING. It was the moment when the past was abandoned and we began designing a different future -- some good stuff, some bad. (Like the funding of the John Birch Society by a guy named Fred Koch.)

Anyway, coming back to Harlan, he was ambitious, courageous -- dangerous. So he said (paraphrasing here): "I'm going to do an anthology called DANGEROUS VISIONS. It will be a place where authors can publish the stories they can't sell anywhere else. It will be for stories that challenge the status quo."

DANGEROUS VISIONS was a breakthrough moment for the genre. It was the prestige anthology. But more than that, it was a demonstration that the field could and should upend complacency. You can go back to that book today and think, "Well, some of these stories don't hold up, and some aren't really all that dangerous," and you would be right -- but the underlying mission statement is still visible: Write that story that you want to write, but no one else will publish. Be dangerous.

That book transformed science fiction. Because from that moment on, everything was possible. The success of the book emboldened authors, editors, and publishers.

In those days, Harlan would come to a convention and give a speech. It was the same speech every time -- "We can do better." He was irascible, he was reckless, he was pernicious, he was malevolent, he was a force of nature, he was occasionally even an asshole -- and there was a downside too.

But every time he gave that speech, he inspired authors. He challenged us to do better, to be better, to write better, to think outside the ghetto. And because of that, many authors took on that challenge and tackled subjects and ideas that previously we did not believe were salable, let alone publishable.

And after those first few waves of ambitious astonishing books and stories, SF could never shrink back to what it was before. In fact, it was spreading its wings and soaring.

Today, SF is the most exciting genre of all. We've expanded into movies and TV and the mainstream best-seller lists. I love prowling the dealers rooms at conventions. I'm seeing a lot of great work that astonishes me, that floors me with its ambition and excellence and leaves me both jealous and inspired.

In all of our discussions about who we are and what we should be -- we should be celebrating that our genre has become so big and so successful that there's room for all of us, and that we can be more dangerous in our writing than ever before.

Indeed, the success of our dangerous visions today is demonstrated by the ferocity of the pushback. But that's a different discussion.