Monday, May 20, 2024

Science Fiction from the 1970s

I'm reading a paperback SF novel from the 1970s, and oh my god y'all.

Within the first 10 pages, we have a white guy setting a black guy straight about racism -- you'll be glad to know it doesn't actually exist, it's just that black people are too touchy.

Within the first fifty pages, we have a earnest explanation about eugenics and why this Utopian society had leaned into it -- they don't want people whose IQ is less than 130, see, or people with "physical defects," since those people would have to be "second class citizens."

Within the first sixty pages, one character explains to another that the great thing about this Utopian world is they have such delicious foods as corn on the cob and wild strawberries. Also, there is plenty of goat milk for the kids. And there is fishing and hunting!

Also, everyone has a lot of kids. Also, there is no such thing as marriage, so the women are delighted to sleep with anyone who asks. 

Also, we learn that this Utopian world "screens out" male homosexuality. Nothing about female homosexuality, so I guess that's cool.

Within the first 80 pages, we have yet another white character racesplaining to the (same) black character that this Utopian society is not, after all, actually racist. It is just that white people turn out to be better qualified for this Utopian world.

The 1970s, you will remember, is the same era that produced Le Guin, Butler, Joanna Russ, John Varley (at his peak, not the later John Varley), and Joe Haldeman. So writing good SF was possible. I don't know what the hell this is.


nicoleandmaggie said...

This is why I thought I didn't like science fiction! (Andre Norton and Ursula Le Guin as exceptions, though some would argue though spec fic, they were actually fantasy, not science fiction.)

Not that romance pre- the mid-90s is any better. Turns out I didn't like romance novels because they were super sexist and rapey. Publishing was really messed up in the 70s/80s/ and even early 90s.

Here's a short sweet essay by LeGuin:

delagar said...

Natasha Pulley makes use of the people mentioned in that essay, in The Bedlam Stacks!