Summer SF Escapism

Alan Boyle over at MSNBC’s CosmicLog offers his recommendations for summer science fiction escapist reading. Given the dust-up over falling readership numbers, I thought this might be an interesting article to look at.

First up, Alan recommends The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks (SF Signal review). Now, I haven’t read it yet, but I’m not sure that the term ‘escapist’ fits here. But then again, maybe I’m thinking of book two on the list.

Which is The Dark River, sequel to The Traveler. Boyle manages to use this book to plug the new Douglas Hofstadter book, I Am A Strange Loop and a book on biblical mysteries. Both sound interesting, but I had no idea Hofstadter had a new book. He has a way of making even difficult idea readable. See his awesome Goedel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.

Third on his list are two books by Heinlein: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and The Man Who Sold The Moon. Both are strong stories and show the power of early Heinlein.

Lastly, Boyle mentions the upcoming summer series, Masters Of Science Fiction, on ABC. Singled out is the episode, Jerry Was A Man, based on the Heinlein story of the same name.

So there you have, one columnists idea for escapist SF. Looking at the list, I think all of the items may actually be a bit deeper than just ‘escapist’, but that’s a good thing.

The comments are a different story. Dan Simmons as escapist SF? Yikes.

7 thoughts on “Summer SF Escapism”

  1. Define escapist. Isn’t any piece of fiction escapist if you can immerse yourself in it? Of course, some stories succeed at this more than others…YMMV.

  2. To me, ‘escapism’ is akin to a ‘popcorn’ flick, something that doesn’t take a lot of effort to enjoy. So you can immediately see that the list above is ‘heavier’ in tone than what I consider ‘escapist’.

    Again, that doesn’t make it bad. Everything listed seems to fit in the category of ‘good sf’.

  3. Hmm for me then that would be media tie in books – or maybe the Sten series. All very quick reads that are not heavyweight affairs but are loads of fun to read…

  4. I certainly felt the need escape from the pages of “The Traveler”. Certainly one of the worst books I got as far as 100 pages into; I stopped when it’s internal logic imploded. Hate when that happens.:-@

  5. I’d call “Moon is a Harsh Mistress” mid-Heinlein, not early. It was written well after his short story period (that generated “The Man Who Sold the Moon”) and after most of his YA work. Published in 1966, it was also well after several novels of his early more adult phase (“The Door Into Summer”, “Glory Road” and, most famously “Stranger in a Strange Land”).

  6. The comments are a different story. Dan Simmons as escapist SF? Yikes.

    That reminds me of a Star Trek Next Generation episode where Cmdr. Riker was appalled that Picard’s idea of “light reading” for a vacation included James Joyce’s Ulysses.

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