Friday, November 13, 2009

Science Fiction that Isn't Science Fiction (4)

Arguably the most widely read science fiction of the 1980s, though rarely recognized as such, were the military techno-thrillers that topped the bestseller lists in that decade—novels like those written by Tom Clancy, Stephen Coonts, Dale Brown, Payne Harrison and Ralph Peters. The genre attracted little attention from serious critics in its heyday, and with the decline in its popularity it has received less attention of all kinds. Nonetheless, the place of these novels in a much longer history of such writing, and its connections with the science fiction tradition more broadly, are both well worth a look.
Nader Elhefnawy does a very credible job of tracking the rise and fall of the technothriller, drawing a straight line from Edisonades of the nineteenth Century, though H.G. Wells' The War in the Air, Heinlein&Co, to Clancy and those other guys.
While video games remain a robust market for these tales (partly because of their lesser dependence on credible plots) the fading of the military techno-thriller from television and film roughly tracked the course taken by the novels, up to their even more complete disappearance.
No kidding about video games; they've thoroughly absorbed and reengineered technothriller tropes; the best are sophisticated and melancholy studies of the loneliness of the long distance warrior.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts