Penny Kenny writes in:
Thanks again for putting together the varied, thought-provoking content you do at the blog. I’m not a gamer, so when I read the gaming posts, I’m always learning something. Just off the top of my head, I’m also enjoying the series about the roots of Japanese SF. Alex’s Planet Stories reviews are always entertaining – and I’ve enjoyed the digression into the G-Men Detective magazine, too. And as I mentioned before, I’ve really gotten a lot out of the Ship of Ishtar pieces.
About a year or so ago, I had just about decided I didn’t really like SF. I thought liked the idea of it and enjoyed some visual SF – especially the older (70s-80s-era) anime, TV shows, comics, and movies. And, of course, I enjoyed Burroughs’ Mars series, Brackett’s Stark, some of Schmitz’s Telzey and friends books, Alexander Key’s juvenile SF, some of Clifford Simak and older Andre Norton, the Stainless Steel Rat, some of Lee & Miller’s Liaden books, the early/young Miles books of Bujold (I really wanted to love her Ivan book, but it was just ok), Retief, and a few others; but I couldn’t seem to find anything on the new shelves that I spent more than a few chapters on before giving up – if I even brought it home. Then I found within a month’s time at several different thrift stores, E.E. Doc Smith’s Skylark and Lensman series, and on-line your Appendix N reviews. I fell in love with Skylark’s opening book and Lensman was even better. It seemed like I kept bumping into the books you were reviewing and I snapped those up and found I enjoyed many of them – Moorcock just doesn’t work for me and I haven’t been able to get into Vance yet, though I hope he hits me right sometime in the future. Between the books and your ever expanding discussion, I realized I did like SF. I just didn’t care for the box it had put itself into by dropping the more adventurous, romantic aspects and I wasn’t the only one. So keep up the great work and keep introducing people to the past and inspiring the future.
You know, it really is neat to hear this sort of thing. And not just because of the chilly reception we got from the existing science fiction fandom back when we were first starting out. I think it’s going to get increasingly hard for people to imagine, but in 2015 it wasn’t at all clear (to me anyway) that we were on the verge of striking a chord. I would look around the web at the commentary on the books I was writing about and it was just dumbfounding. Why was it that nobody was saying what struck me as being so obvious?! Why was the Castalia House approach to discussing science fiction and fantasy so different…?!
Well if it didn’t resonate with the existing science fiction scene, it did eventually find an audience. And the people that showed up…? It blows my mind just how danged fun they all are. Jon Del Arroz puts it like this:
The Pulp group makes fun, talks about stuff they love. Music, movies, Edgar Rice Burroughs, gaming. The posts feel high energy and are about a lust for life on average.
The literary SF crowd has a lot of downer posts, usually links to fake news Huffington Post or angry political sites on repeat. They talk about seriousness and professionalism at length.
Excitement is infectious. And I hate to say it, but the Romance! Adventure! Thrills! crowd has very nearly been handed a monopoly on it. When I think back to the many people that “regretfully” informed me that they could not read my work unless I posted it somewhere else… the people that publicly go to acquaintances of mine and tell them they need to not link to me or associate with me… the way friends and friends of friends seem to be automatically blocked by BIG TIME AUTHORS on social media…. and all of the blog posts in the wild that cover the some subject matter as we do and which strangely evaporate when I remark on them…. You know, these people aren’t fencing anyone out. At this point, they’re just fencing themselves in.
Because the party is out here– and we’re just getting started!