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View Diary: Asimov or Clarke: Who Bears the Crown of Progressive Science Fictions's Grand Master? (226 comments)

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  •  How about Niven? (5+ / 0-)

    Niven always seemed to give the best hard-science stuff.

    But between Asimov and Clarke, I'd vote Asimov.

    •  Niven is a Right Wing jerk. (10+ / 0-)

      Much as I might enjoy some of his stuff, he's best when he works with Pournelle, who seems to tamp down much of the retch inducing crap.

      IMHO, Niven has decent ideas and is very good about setting up interesting worlds, but his stuff is much more interesting when other people play with the tools he created.  (Dean Ing comes to mind as someone who VASTLY improved on Known Space)

      I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

      by detroitmechworks on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 01:44:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pournelle fetishizes the military. (9+ / 0-)

        But at least he keeps Niven from writing about sex with aliens.

        You win some, you lose some.

        Neither is particularly progressive.  Niven in particular was a trust fund baby IIRC.

        •  Larry and Jerry were authors (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          serendipityisabitch, FarWestGirl

          Both of them thought they could write
          Opened a bottle one morning,
          Kept on drinking all through the night,
          Said "Let's write a book
          And let's make it lo-ong!"

          Jerry set up the typewriter,
          Larry set up some more drinks.
          Jerry set up the plot outline,
          Larry read it and he said, "It stinks''
          But it's sure to sell,
          So let's make it lo-ong!"

          Larry said, "Put in some sex scenes!"
          Jerry said, "Colonize space!"
          Larry said, "Put in some women!"
          Jerry answered, "If they know their place
          They can join our book --
          They'll help make it lo-ong!"

          Larry and Jerry got published,
          Got on the best-seller list,
          Didn't get voted a Hugo
          and our boys got really pissed --
          Said "Them fans is creeps,
          And their hair's too lo-ong!"

          I forgot who the heck wrote this, but it's been floating around filksings since, I think, The Mote in God's Eye.

          If it's
          Not your body,
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          And it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 09:18:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sounds like a Riley. n/t (0+ / 0-)

            At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

            by serendipityisabitch on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 02:02:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Turns out I posted the song before, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              serendipityisabitch

              under a discussion of Lucifer's Hammer. The songwriter was one Elliott Kay Shorter, of Rhode Island. (He's also probably the original template for "Shorty Mkrum" in Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.)

              If it's
              Not your body,
              Then it's
              Not your choice
              And it's
              None of your damn business!

              by TheOtherMaven on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 12:52:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks. I met El some 40 years ago, and (0+ / 0-)

                still remember him vividly. Nice to know.

                At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

                by serendipityisabitch on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 01:14:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  He's still around, last I heard, (0+ / 0-)

                  but with health problems - in a full-care type assisted living facility, able to get out and about only with the help of friends. (Of whom he has many.)

                  If it's
                  Not your body,
                  Then it's
                  Not your choice
                  And it's
                  None of your damn business!

                  by TheOtherMaven on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 06:30:35 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Niven/Pournelle collaborations are minimal... (4+ / 0-)

        ....compared to his other collaborations.

        He and his collaborator Ed Lerner just released the final volume of the Juggler of Worlds five-volume story about the Puppeteers and the Ringworld, they've been working on these stories for years.

        His Man-Kzin Wars series is up to volume 14, and there are more than a dozen seriously talented writers collaborating with Niven in these stories, with several novel-length stories that are part of the story of the recurring wars between the Kzin and everyone else in Known Space.

        Every time the name "Larry Niven" is mentioned on Kos, about a half-dozen people pipe up up with the assertions that 1) Niven and his best pal Pournelle are rude anti-social douchebags and 2) Pournelle is his main collaborator.

        I really don't give a shit how rude Niven and Pournelle are in public, I really don't care how much of a "military apologist" Pournelle is, I just know that the "Shared Universe" Niven refers to as "Known Space" is a very complicated and interesting place, written about by more than a dozen well-known writers including Poul Anderson, Mark O Martin, Gregory Benford, Ed Lerner, Dean Ing, and a bunch of others I can't immediately recall.

        Niven's own discussion about using other writers brings to mind Frank Zappa's discussion of choosing collaborators, he'd pick people to do things he couldn't, sing in voices he didn't have, play instruments he was unfamiliar with, Niven doesn't know anything about military conflict, Pournelle DOES, so he uses him.  Just not for a while.

        I'd suggest that anyone even remotely interested in this discussion, who's unfamiliar with Niven's work, should go find any of the volumes of "The Man-Kzin Wars", or Poul Anderson's "Inconstant Star", which contain two stories set in Niven's Known Space without an ounce of vile Niven-ness, they are stories that deal with conflict that aren't war porn.

        < /rantoff>

        "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

        by leftykook on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 04:55:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Niven is not a progressive (8+ / 0-)

      I love many of his novels, but Niven was one of those who pushed the Star Wars defense system.  I doubt that many of those in dailykos would agree with much of Niven's politics.

      "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

      by LookingUp on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 01:47:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some of his novels also (8+ / 0-)

        have blatant sexism in them. Like really blatant.

        "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

        by nosleep4u on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 02:08:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I used to like (6+ / 0-)

          Piers Anthony, and Orson Scott Card...

          Unfortunately, Piers Anthony turned out to be a pedophile (or at least gives them cover, and leans heavily in that direction) and Card is a Bush Republican. :(

          "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

          by Diogenes2008 on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 02:18:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I don't have any idea what you are talking about. (4+ / 0-)

          I don't seem to recall anything that is really blatantly sexist.

          There might be blatantly sexist people in some of the stories, but which part is some character's voice and which is Niven's?

          He rarely engages in much meta and I don't really know WHAT his voice is through his various characters.

          He certainly writes about capable and competent people of both sexes, and there are a number of significant women among his characters.

          If there's ANYTHING that relates to human sexual issues, it's tangental, apparently the Puppeteers AND the Kzin are both intelligent races with highly unconventional (compared to Humans) sex lives.  The Puppeteers are apparently a race that requires the assistance of a non-intelligent related being called a "companion" to recreate themselves, and apparently bearing young kills this Companion.  The Puppeteers have same-sex relationships/romances which lead to some sort of three-way fertilization between the the two Puppeteers and their "Companion"....

          The Kzin have apparently actively destroyed the minds of their females through some sort of genetic manipulation in their distant past, and they lead singular lives with their kits and their friends, their females are regarded as valued but dim-witted family members, and the Kzintosh are about as romantic as a buzz-saw.  At the same time, there's a growing story line about a secret cabal of Kzinretti who are absolutely intelligent, and very carefully hide their intelligence and seek to overcome their culture's abhorrent abuse of the female gender.

          If it's blatantly sexist to discuss these issues, then we can't discuss ANYTHING without being accused of blantant sexism.

          "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

          by leftykook on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 05:14:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I remember the aliens and technology (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, NE2, Troubadour

        Honestly, most of what I remember from reading Niven was the aliens like the Kzin and the Puppeteers, as well as technology like Ringworld and GP Hulls. I draw a complete blank on any type of political leanings. For that matter, I was young enough when I read him that it wouldn't have mattered much to me anyways.

        But if you're going to have to pick a book from Azimov and Clarke to read, you should add Niven's Ringworld to the pile. Even if you don't like the political slant of the author, it's still a piece of scifi that everyone should be aware of.

    •  As a product of the 1% (5+ / 0-)

      Niven occasionally lets slip some insights as to how that community sees the world. Like controlling a populace by controlling resources (Destiny's Road) or "the Masters are the only ones who actually matter" from "The Gripping Hand".

      One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

      by Darwinian Detritus on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 02:14:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Niven was fun, but was never fundamental. (0+ / 0-)

      A genius to be sure, but not a god.  And as others have noted, at times his idiotic politics have infected his work.

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