Terry Tornado wrote:The creator (Owlcroft) clearly has a definite point of view and a sense of style, and the authors he recommends are all highly enjoyable. His point of view does, I think, lead him to overlook a type of literary quality which many more 'orthodox' readers of science fiction do recognize.
If you are right, it would be interesting to identify what dimension of 'quality' this is, and whether it is really different from the dimensions Owlcroft discusses in his Apologia (in which case the word overlooking
might be appropriate), or whether he simply disagrees about how good these authors are at it.
But I can't speak for him. I'll restrict myself to a few comments on my own experiences with those of these authors that I've read.Isaac Asimov
-- Extremely popular pulp author of 'idea' stories whose career lasted far beyond the end of the pulps. His best stories take a single intriguing "what if?" sort of idea, put it in a context, and extrapolate consequences, possibly with a surprise twist. Unfortunately, his prose skills are workmanlike at best and clunky at worst, and his attempts at writing romance, drama, and pathos tend to be... unsuccessful. (I once described Asimov as author who isn't harmed by speed-reading.)
Is an idea enough? For me, sometimes, yes -- but I'll note that Owlcroft is explicitly disparaging of "what if?" stories in his Apologia, so I think we can guess that he doesn't get the same kick out of them that many SF readers do.
Best stories: "The Last Question", "Nightfall", "Green Patches", "The Dead Past", "The Bicentennial Man"
Best novel: The Gods Themselves
For his body of work, on Owlcroft's scale, I think zero stars is about right.Arthur C. Clarke
-- another massively popular author of about the same period. Similar to Asimov in some ways. His big ideas were fewer and farther between, but he was a much better craftsman as a writer. More famous as a novelist than a story-writer, unlike Asimov.
His 'masterpiece', Childhood's End
, never really grabbed me. Several of his novels were enjoyable, but (again like Asimov) he's one of the authors whose work led to the quip "The golden age of science fiction is thirteen." I'm glad to have read The Fountains of Paradise and Rendezvous with Rama and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I wouldn't miss them either. I'm more glad to have read the short stories "Superiority" and "Hide and Seek" and "The Star" and "The Nine Billion Names of God" -- all of them idea stories in the Asimov mode.
That's a start; I'll try to get back later for more. In the meantime, I hope someone else chimes in.