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From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey@stic.net>
Subject: (urth) Re:Modernism
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 01:30:34 

Jim Henley wrote:

>>Keep in mind also that Heinlein's lasting contribution was _precisely_ a
literary one, though people didn't necessarily think of it that way. He
changed the way SF stories were told. [Waves hands in the direction of
Delany's essay about "The door irised."]<<

    I'm glad to see amid all this discussion of authors, writing styles,
influences, and contributions to literature, in and out of the genre,
Heinlein get some credit. The younger list members who have grown up with
whole shelves of SF&F in the bookstores and libraries probably don't realize
that things weren't always that way, and Heinlein was perhaps the major
reason for the change. He helped lift SF out of the literary gutter and give
it at least a veneer of respectability. And it's doubtful that many of the
SF writers of today would be able to command the dollars they do but for

Jim Jordan wrote:

>>I add this (depressing) thought:
Wolfe's writing may be so complex, and so dependent on the tropes of SF,
that he will never make it into a "canon." It is hard to imagine non-SF
people reading it and thinking much of it, save that it is "weird and
well-written, but what on earth is he talking about?"
Anybody have anything more positive to put out against such a negative

    I have argued much as you have, last March, about Wolfe's ultimate place
in literature, comparing him to James Branch Cabell, not so much in terms of
writing style but as to who will bother to read him fifty or a hundred years
from now. Even within the genre, as alga has indicated, most people don't
care for Wolfe. Most everyone who reads the genre will have read Wolfe at
one time or another, and the all-too-typical reaction is just what you have
described. They choose not to bother with his books, that he's just not
worth the effort. However regrettable this may be, Wolfe invites it with his
chosen writing style. Mantis has described getting  what he called "an
ice-cream headache" from reading too many Wolfe short stories too quickly.
If Wolfe's stories have that kind of effect on someone like mantis, who
*likes* Wolfe's work and is willing to go the extra mile, imagine their
effect on the larger reading public, which only wants a good story well
told. They don't want to read something they don't understand, that leaves
them feeling stupid, especially when they know they're not.

    As I have indicated before, the urth/whorl list members are a bright
bunch, comprising authors, editors and others in the publishing business,
academics, scientists, and sundry, some of whom even correspond with Wolfe,
all well read. This is the best audience Wolfe could hope for. Yet, nearly
twenty years after the publication of SHADOW, debates abound here over even
what the plowman saw, never mind the higher meanings. I don't think that
augurs well for the Lupine legacy. I think PEACE is Wolfe's best shot at

    And,  Alex, I *liked* CASTLEVIEW.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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