After about 5400 pages of sci-fi I a happy to drop this theme. It went too far took too long, and did not yield enough interesting perspectives to be worth it. Of course, I did it for fun, but in the end it was more bloody-minded-ness that kept me going than enjoyment, and that, admittedly is rather pointless. It would have helped if some of these books were not so hellishly long.
It all began with me happening to pick up that absolutely delightful little novel by Moorcock. This happened while I was quite tired after a hard year of teaching and was in need of a break. I got curious about to what degree similar things were out there – of course I read quite a bit of sci-fi as a kid – things that I even now too would be inspired by. Guided part by chance – raiding my fathers collection – part by google (i found this useful) I decided to read the following titles, that I have previously reviewed on this blog. My theme was political sci-fi, that is I tried to avoid space adventures and things that focus on technology too much. Religion became a secondary focus.
Ursula K LeGuin
It is pretty clear to me that LeGuin’s book is the only one of these that is absolutely worth reading apart of entertainment value. It is a solidly good novel that opens up countless questions. Moorcock was the one I enjoyed the most, along with the first few Dune books. The shorter of Aldiss’s books were also fun, I likes the 80-minute hour the best but Helliconia was a drag.
So, did I learn anything? Well, as my reading progressed it occurred to me that I was exploring the idea of ”entertainment” something I treat very briefly and rather harshly in my book Om Kristet Motstånd. I needed some more material to reflect about what positive and negative aspects occur when we do stuff ”just for fun”. As an experience it kind of failed, as it turned out to be less fun than I hoped, but I have reflected a bit about what part serious ideas play when we enjoy something. I guess this varies, but my main point is probably that we are trained to enjoy different things. This means that it probably isn’t because of some inherent personality feature that I enjoyed the books that explored the kind of ideas that are philosophical the most, whereas the one’s that relied on action and romance etc. left me bored. It is because I am trained to think about those things. And this means others could be trained likewise i.e. we can be trained to enjoy worthwhile things.