Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The World's Greatest Living Science Fiction Writer

Are all writers arrogant? I think it's possible there are some who aren't, but I'm not sure I've ever met any. The idea that I sit down and type a story up, something at least 50% of the human race has tried to do at some point; and then you give me money for it? That's me saying, "Yes, I do think I'm the fraction of a percent of storytellers who should be paid for it."

There's a story Asimov told when he was writing "The Gods Themselves." He was getting older, hadn't written fiction in a long time -- told his editor he feared the field had passed him by.

"Isaac," she said, "when you write, you are the field."

It wasn't true, not even for Asimov. But it's a good attitude.

"World's Greatest Living Science Fiction Writer" -- I've had that compliment twice in recent years. (Once from Fred Lang, another time from a guy on G+.) It's not true, though I'm willing to fight to the death over the observation that it might have been true for them.

But you should act as if it's true. If you have any literary ambition at all, you should be working to write the very best of the sort of thing you do. I mean, I write space opera. Right now, the gold standard in this field is probably still Hyperion. Am I going to outwrite that? Probably not -- but I'm certainly going to try.

The intentional fallacy is real. Just because you intend to do something, doesn't mean you did it, and particularly when you get into the upper reaches of any subject, the intentional fallacy gets stronger and stronger. But without intention? No one ever stumbled into excellence by accident.


Tim of Angle said...

No, the greatest living science fiction writer is Patrick Rothfuss. But I'm prepared to defend the assertion that you're Nr. 2.

GreenEngineer said...

He was getting older, hadn't written fiction in a long time

Meaning he hadn't yet written anything that day? :)

Joseph Wheeler said...

I would put "Startide Rising" as the gold standard for space opera. But I want to say that I have read all of your books, each better than the last but couldn't finish Heaven's Reach.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

GreenEngineer -- Asimov really didn't write fiction for a very long time. About 15 years, between "Naked Sun" and "Gods Themselves."

Joseph Wheeler -- I think it's just a confusing line of text, but of course I didn't write "Heaven's Reach."

Joseph Wheeler said...

Sir -- Yah, confusing I know... really confusing. I hit post before I proofed... What I was trying to say, in my clumsy way, is that my favorite space opera is "Startide Rising" but Brin's Uplift series went downhill after "Uplift War" and at the end, Heaven's Reach was virtually unreadable. Your ENTIRE catalog is top notch. You are my favorite author. I even loved "The Ring."