No good books but old books ? 

This is sort of weird. ERB fans are reading in the past, but I never had the feeling that ERB was all they read. I read a comment yesterday on Facebook that stated “any new books that I’ve tried to read in the last 30 years has been a great disappointment.” This wasn’t said by some 110 years old, maybe 40-50 ? This sounds like a bad case of high anxiety to me. I didn’t respond in any way. I did think about how such a mindset would effect someone’s day to day. It must go beyond books. Food is always a hot topic. I could see being something like only 3 meals are allowed; Corn Flakes, Kraft Dinner, and Vanilla ice cream.  And I sure wouldn’t bring up music with them.

As young reader I was reading Charles Dickens and Mark Twain followed by Edgar Rice Burroughs ( I think that’s obvious ) and a need to read ALL of the Classic Science Fiction which lead me through most of the SF and Fantasy alphabet. Although I’m sure if you quizzed me I can still say, “nope not that one,” to many, ’cause there’s just so many.
So it was of interest that  John O’Niel of Black Gate with whom I had a short discussion on this New Book Anxiety ‘NBAX’ * ) had posted a link today to “Who still reads 1950’s Science Fiction ?”  https://auxiliarymemory.com/2016/07/12/who-still-reads-1950s-science-fiction/

I’m glad that some books of the 50’s are mentioned, I wouldn’t always know the when of some publications. I was would have started seriously reading SF around 1975, and would of their initial publishing date. I knew ERB was older as I did Dickens. Maybe ERB’s early archaic language didn’t phase me because of Dickens. As newbie, I wouldn’t know where Phillip Jose Farmer or Frank Herbert fell in that timeline until a little later. I was just little SF and Fantasy omnivore. I guess that was a good thing. I read up and down the spectrum, only judging by my enjoyment or not. It wasn’t until my ‘academic ‘ phase of reading about SF and its history that I sorted some of this out. I still read up and down the timeline. It’s fascinating, appalling, illuminating and informing. It’s sort of a form of time travel. Wait, it’s science fiction, it’s Space and Time !


This is what I’m taking with me this weekend for a camping trip, a bit of new a bit of old. I won’t get through one, but you need options right ? Lot’s of red there I know, but it’s going to be a hot weekend. * I added the X because of the National Basketball Association.

UPDATE. Well, that was interesting….  This post was picked up and fed into one of the Facebook Sword and Planet groups. I’ll keep it short. There are no Good Books but OLD BOOKS. That’s been settled.

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4 responses

  1. Jesse Johnson

    I have noticed for some time that the older I get, 56 and counting, the farther back in time my taste in entertainment seems to go but it seems to have peaked in the 30’s through to the 50’s. Music, movies, books. I just love almost anything from the early 20th century.

    July 13, 2017 at 7:19 pm

  2. Hi Jesse, I’m 55 myself, I have some of that, it shows in movies and tv choices mostly set in anything from 1800’s up. We like the history with the action kind of thing, but I do mean contemporarly made productions.

    I can’t watch shows from the 50’s at all. Zippo, ok, maybe a Sinbad movie. I have a friend who can’t watch anything but old shows and he’s been like that for 15+ years. The voices and music on old TV shows gives me the heebees.

    My daughter and her boyfriend live with us, she listens the same alternative rock station that I do, but she can stomach rap, which I sure can’t. Maybe they keep us contemporary. My retro thing is rereads – DUNE how many times ? A Princess of Mars ? But I do wonder, at what time will I be done with the new. I’m sure it will happen sometime. My rereading is somewhat based in stress, do you that’s a factor for you ?

    July 13, 2017 at 9:00 pm

  3. I don’t know to what extent your OP was exaggerating, but I’d agree to a certain extent. There may a structural reason for this in that thirty years or so ago was when SF novels (and books generally) started exploding in size. Books that should have been a couple of hundred pages long were now three to four hundred pages. All that padding was very off-putting, and a book that had maybe taken a couple of days would now take forever. I also found that I’d sometimes coast to a halt half way through, but rather than give up on reading it, the book would just lie there blocking anything else.
    I don’t have the same problem with modern short SF.

    August 9, 2017 at 12:07 am

    • I’m responding to 2 Facebook groups totally about 3000 members. Both groups are dedicated to sword and planet style books so and interest in older titles is built in. I didn’t make any query concerning new books, it’s just a common topic of conversation. “New books suck ! No one can write anymore!” is really common. Eye rollingly so. I won’t disagreed that the scale of books has become tedious at times and I certainly have a shelf of 200 page pulpy titles. It’s a somewhat fetishy collection as I’m charmed by their scale and cover art as much as their contents. A recent conversion on Facebook concerning the “Dinosaur Knights” series of books ( which are LONG) was attacked as ‘can’t write no good words’ which was more than a little over the top. But there were certainly rants about a lack of craft that did get an eye roll or two out of me. Price came up as well, and that was telling in a differant way. I was recently ranting to my wife how a hardcover in the US might be $25ish and in Canada easily $35 or more. That’s annoying, but I can still by books and I have a choice of hard cover or paperback or Kindle. Perhaps for some that choice just isn’t there. I have wondered if that is a factor.

      August 9, 2017 at 9:59 am

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