Monday, April 16, 2007

KURT VONNEGUT: On Science Fiction (1965)

Albert in the Houston Science Fiction Ritual Breakfast, every Saturday at 9 AM for 25 years, placed this in the Houston SF Verbose Yahoo Group in response to my obit on Vonnegut. Vonnegut was part of his introduction to science fiction with Player Piano and his occasional short stories in Gold's Galaxy magazine.
And there is this to be said for the science-fiction publications: If somebody can write just a little bit, they will probably publish him. In the Golden Age of Magazines, which wasn't so long ago, inexcusable trash was in such great demand that it led to the invention of the electric typewriter, and incidentally financed my escape from Schenectady. Happy days! But there is now only one sort of magazine to which a maundering sophomore may apply for instant recognition as a writer. Guess what sort.

Which is not to say that the editors of science-fiction magazines and anthologies and novels are tasteless. They are not tasteless, and I will get to them by and by. The people in the field who can be charged fairly with tastelessness are 75 per cent of the writers and 95 per cent of the readers--or not so much tastelessness, really, as childishness. Mature relationships, even with machines, do no titillate the unwashed majority. Whatever it knows about science was fully revealed in Popular Mechanics by 1933. Whatever it knows about politics and economics and history can be found in the Information Please Almanac for 1941.

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