2001-01-26: New Legends

New Legends (1995)

edited by Greg Bear (1951-) with Martin H Greenberg (1918-2013)

I seldom write about casual fiction, but I found some of this SF anthology interesting. Here are some quotes from the introduction.

Science fiction has always been powerful and important in our society. It is the only form of literature that clearly and consistently criticizes the Western paradigm: scientific investigation and technological endeavor. By criticism, I mean examination, dialog, and, well, criticism: catching problems before they overwhelm, or preparing us for inevitable changes. The criticism may extend to the paradigm itself. Science fiction has never been completely pro-science or progressive.

Over the years, however, and with cruel injustice, science fiction has been chastised by some as a non-literature, a restrictive genre without soul. The same charge, ironically, was once leveled against jazz. …

Legends define the character of a civilization. Legends are a kind of myth – and they are also individuals whose excellence makes them household names. …

I prepared the invitation that would go out to over a hundred writers, and refined one crucial criterion: what science fiction means to me. Each science fiction story has to demonstrate how the reader can get from where he or she is, to where the story is, without magic. A science fiction story has to take place in the universe as perceived by science, or as science might come to perceive it. I wanted to leave the reader with the sublime impression that these stories might actually happen, if not to you and me, then to our children, our grandchildren. Our descendants. 

We are rich with ideas that belong to nobody in particular. Grab an idea and run with it, and the only rule is that you must do a better job than any writer before you.

But the neighborhood is not limited to dreamers. New Legends is part of the vital dialog between fellow dreamers, and between dreamers and doers: blue-collar working stiffs, white-collar bank managers, politicians, physicists, biologists, sociologists, psychologists, engineers, doctors, computer experts, software moguls, and impoverished students who may become any of the above …  Anybody who cares about the future, and who needs to think as well as dream.

The SF neighborhood reaches across the length and breadth of the universe, from the beginning of time to the end.

I like the attitude expressed here, as well as the memetic implications of the ever-expanding dialog Bear mentions. The memetics of reflection might be a suitable substrate for a story, and help to get the ideas dispersed a bit. (Probably not by me.)

I also liked all but two (15 of 17) of the stories (not those by Gregory Benford and Greg Egan, though I liked the article Old Legends by Benford), an unusually large fraction.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email