Noted Without Comment

Hal Duncan on the origins of sf:

Actually, Orwell is a better candidate for prototypical SF, in my opinion. And before the back-and-forth of whether or not Orwell is SF kicks off, go read this.

By all indications Orwell himself considered his work in the tradition of Wells and (shock horror!) actually had a high respect for the American pulps. So NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR can be seen as the point where the Romantic tradition of pulp invention and the Rationalist tradition of social extrapolation converge as a distinct mode. Orwell’s novel is far more characteristic of the written SF that was to follow than either Wells or the pulps alone. Neither Wells nor the pulps can, I think, *quite* work as proper origin points, not in isolation; I might accept them as grandaddy’s but it’s where those two paths converge, where the families intermarry, that SF really begins as far as I’m concerned. Again this is not a matter of co-opting Orwell to a tradition in the hopes of gaining high-brow credentials. It’s simply that what we have here is a dystopian novel written by someone clearly identifying themselves as working in the tradition of Wells, Stapledon, Huxley, etc., a novel by a writer familiar with and respectful of the pulps, and a novel which features world governments, artificial language and other such SF hypotheticals.

Posted in sf. 1 Comment »

One Response to “Noted Without Comment”

  1. Martin Says:

    That is a very interesting thread.

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