The voice of vacuum

Excellent takedown of an author I’ve had no time for and probably never will.


6073305962_d723de563a_oThe return of the space opera genre at the hands of such writers as Iain Banks, Stephen Baxter, Ken MacLeod, Charles Strauss and Alastair Reynolds poses an interesting paradox. Classical space opera was relentlessly optimistic, comfortable in its unchallenged, masturbatory fantasy of boyish omnipotence. Here were the easy moral dichotomies and puritanism, disingenuous homophobia and appallingly thin characterization of a genre that spawned sixty thousand iterations of the boy wonder, can-do man, neutered intellectual and space harpy, all warmed to a rosy glow by the unstoppable sun of progress. As science fiction matured in the 1960s and 1970s, little was left of the genre except a campy aftertaste. When in the 1990s, space opera made a spectacular come-back, in form at least the new wave vastly amplified the scale of the classics: whereas Arthur Clarke’s The City and The Stars spanned a mere billion years and some sixty pages, Stephen…

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