Proof that Humanity has Evolved

It’s not between the lines, but in them

some of my classic sci fi booksI am a sci-fi fan through and through. I have been reading current work, including all the pop culture faves, like Harry Potter, Twilight and the Hunger Games books. I have also greatly enjoyed reading classics by the likes of Orwell, Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Wyndham. There are some similarities, of course, but there are massive differences in both the quality and quantity in new vs classic novels.

It struck me in a big way as I forced myself to finish “The Sun Also Rises” by Hemingway. One of the greats, right? I do understand that his style of writing and the stories he told of post war society were poignant. I swear, if I handed writing like that to an editor today, the first chapter would have been scrapped entirely and the ridiculous amount of repetitive words would have been scratched out in red ink. Besides being annoyed by his genius “short, declarative sentences” that were filled with repetition of story content, I felt like I should start drinking along with his alcoholic characters just to deal with the stress they were causing me.

hemingway write drunk quoteI did keep reading. After all, I was reading Hemingway! I had hoped until the very end that Jake and Brett would grow the hell up. Spoiler. They don’t. They weren’t completely smashed, or lit in the last scene though.

My favourite classic author is John Wyndham and his best book is The Chrysalids. In this book you get close to a group of kids in a small farming community, while in others of his work, you don’t get to know the characters as well. Classic novels like Wyndham’s, or War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells were short and more the length of today’s novella. Writers didn’t get into the mind of their characters as they did illuminating their ideas.

How has humanity evolved?

I could just say we read bigger books. We also seem to have a love affair with trilogies with three big fat books. Each of those books has characters who are involving and believable. They become parts of our lives they’re so real. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like vampires or wizards or werewolves. Today’s writing is actually superior to much of the classics, which I found surprising. (So far, Hemingway’s is the worst, which floored me.)

new sci-fi books vs classicI want to be clear. There are a lot of outdated concepts and sometimes racism in some classics that you don’t seen in new work. Those are interesting historical marks of the time each book was created and should not be edited out or condemned. They are part of the story of their time.

In short, our favourite classics had at least one big idea that has continued to capture our imaginations. Today’s sci-fi has to be a big thick book with enough words to let us get to know the people they’re about. We’ve come to understand that nothing in life is black or white. We get to know the villains, and to understand their motivations. At times, we feel empathy for the poor bad guy and wish things had started out differently for him or her. Today, our heroes are flawed, when in the 50’s and prior they were unrealistically perfect.

If you’re like me, you can enjoy both for all of the great adventures, creativity, fantastic characters and new worlds they have to offer.

Now, if we can get corporations and politicians to evolve we’ve got this evolution thing in the bag!

Written by Linda Laforge.

Copyright © Linda Laforge. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.

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