Re: Book: Brainchild (Nanotech Art/Poetics)

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Fri, 19 Sep 1997 00:00:54 -0500

Damien Broderick wrote:
> Going on the plodding, painfully expository passages Paul cited, I expected
> that to be true. The author made just about every crude mistake that
> science fiction writers have learned to avoid during the last 60 or 70
> years - usually the mark of a neophyte enthralled by his or her ideas but
> without the patience to learn the medium (that is, to learn from the
> developments in narrative technique hard-won by pioneers).

Can you recommend a book with all those hard-won developments? I may want to
write SF someday, and I'm worried about being enthralled by my ideas.

> Oddly enough, this aesthetic evaluation has no force with plenty of
> readers, who lustily enjoy (for example) the Doc Smith space operas I wish
> I'd read when I was 12, before their gauche style and characterisation
> became intolerable to me.

I remember when I and my classmates started reading David Eddings in 7th
grade. Despite the fact that we started months apart and were years apart in
age (I was 11), we all outgrew the books during a two-week period, around half
a year after we started. I can't speak for the others, but peer pressure (for
me) had nothing to do with it.

And it remains possible to read the Doc Smith operas. Just conceive of
Kinnison and Co. as aliens with human intelligence but the emotional maturity
of flatworms.

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.