So, I have seven more books to go to make the titular hundred. This gives me a chance to include Dune and Ender’s Game which surely belong on this list but I had left off because I had read both so many times. And it gives me a chance to add a few more authors whom I have not had the opportunity to sample, and who may, or may not have a place here.
Continuing on, I already knew I would pity the author who would have to follow Roger Zelazny. Let’s see. Who shall it be? I chose Thomas Pynchon.
Thomas Pynchon is considered a writing phenomenon, a writer of real literature, and is honored by all sorts of people. Praise has been liberally dumped on him for several of his books. Gravity’s Rainbow is introduced as a story about a guy who gets erections prior to WWII bombings – pass on that one – and V was nine hundred pages, so I decided the cowardly route: the much lauded 152-page The Crying of Lot 49.
Oh, it sucked. Post Modernism. Bleah. I hated it with Delany, Disch, and Russ, and I hate it here. There is no science fiction here, either; so I finally decided not to include it in my reading list, even though I did sort of finish it. Because it was short and billed as masterful, I skimmed it through, and found nothing even remotely appealing. What were people thinking? Worse, it is billed as satire, but as a dorky precursor to The DaVinci Code, it only comes off as extremely pretentious writing of the“Oh, look how cleverly ditzy and satiric my sentences are!” ilk. Yech.
Okay, I’ve been thinking it for quite a while, but I am now saying it here. You know the quip that Ginger Rogers was a better dancer than Fred Estaire because she did everything he did, but backwards and in heels? Fine science fiction as a genre is better than “literature” because it has to do everything that literature does – build a Story with cadence, timbre, poetry, thematic resonance, everything – and it must also effectively braid in scientific elements to support all of those things. Moreover, those scientific elements have very heavy work to do: in addition to their duties to the story and plot, their effects on human condition and character must not only be anticipated, but prognosticated.