Thursday, April 30, 2009

Classic science fiction and the Nebula Awards

I bought three books of classic science fiction today. This was inspired in part by the Nebulas.

When I was in Los Angeles last weekend, I was deeply impressed by the sense of community in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There was a beautiful song by Janis Ian that mentioned in its lyrics at least ten different titles of famous science fiction stories. There was the gratitude for science fiction as an early life-changing experience expressed (humorously) by Chuck Lorre, who gave the keynote speech. Most interesting in this regard was a speech given by Grandmaster title awardee Harry Harrison. He spent several minutes reminiscing about a trip to South America he took with a large number of science fiction writers - who was there, what they did, even how one of them nearly drowned in the surf. He mentioned many, many famous names. Some people there may have felt that the speech was too long, or that he was name-dropping, but I could have listened to him a lot longer. To me, what he was doing was creating a world for us - a world he wanted to show us so it wouldn't be lost, and one where we now were coming to belong. In a way, everyone there was contributing to the same vision: a vision of science fiction and fantasy not so much as a field, but as a community that maintained its continuity over generations. I found this very touching, especially since I felt I was being welcomed into the group as someone who could help carry this wonderful tradition forward.

I'm looking forward to the arrival of my books. I want to get a taste of what these early writers accomplished, and I think it will help me understand both the SFWA community and writing itself.