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The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2016 03:16AM
The early Golden Age of Science Fiction started about the time when the Weird Tales tradition ended. John W. Campbell's and A. E. van Vogt's writings sounded very different from H. P. Lovecraft, C. A. Smith, and Robert E. Howard. Less literary? Less poetic? Less ... what? Less pessimistic? These two groups of writers appear very separate, never touched intellectually with each other, and seemed to be completely unaware of each other? A solid impregnable wall between them? Lovecraft and Smith evolved from a background E. A. Poe, et al., the others coming distinctly from Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells?

John W. Campbell wrote excellent visionary stories like "Twilight", "Night", and "Who Goes There?". A. E. van Vogt wrote "The Black Destroyer", "Discord in Scarlet" (both later included in the novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle), "The Monster", "Vault of the Beast", The Weapon Shops of Isher and others, notable for their dreamlike ecstatic sense of wonder.
Later, Arthur C. Clarke followed with Childhood's End, The City and the Stars, and Rendezvous with Rama.
They shared in common a certain optimistic view of Man's potential transformation in the vast cosmic perspective.

Lovecraft died too early, but C. A. Smith may have had occasion to read Campbell, Vogt, and even Clarke. Yet, I have not heard of that mentioned. Were they worlds apart, intellectually and emotionally? I am sure many of the latter writers's spanning ideas would have fascinated both Lovecraft and Smith.

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2016 03:17PM
I have been a fan of the movie The Thing (1981) since I saw it for the first time, so, naturally, I read "Who Goes There?" and was very dissapointed. For my money, even the movie The Thing (2011) is much better than the original CampbellĀ“s story.

I prefer classic horror stories to those dealing with science fiction but I really liked a half-forgotten SF novel called "Out Of The Silence" (1919) by Erle Cox.
[www.goodreads.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 16 Aug 16 | 03:25PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2016 06:34PM
The Thing (1981) is a powerful movie. (I like John Carpenter's early films, especially The Fog.) The 1951 version, The Thing From Another World, is good too, although the monster isn't very impressive. I have not seen the 2011 remake.

I thought "Who Goes There?" was well written. Working differently from the movies. The ending is especially creepy, with its devastating implication of how the alien spreads in an unstoppable way. The story has a philosophical horror tension, not present in the films.

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 17 August, 2016 01:47AM
I tend to agree with you on this. While some of Campbell's works are almost the stereotypical science fiction of the era, others are powerful mood pieces (such as "Twilight"), and "Who Goes There?" lands neatly between the two poles, with many of the strengths of each.

Incidentally, the 2011 film was not a "remake", but rather a "prequel"... though it used so much of the material from the original, redone with modern effects and a new set of actors, that it could well be seen as a sort of remake. It also lacked nearly all the tension and creativity of the Carpenter film. Ah, well....

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 17 August, 2016 03:43AM
jdworth Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> While some of
> Campbell's works are almost the stereotypical
> science fiction of the era, others are powerful
> mood pieces (such as "Twilight"), and "Who Goes
> There?" lands neatly between the two poles, with
> many of the strengths of each.

I would agree. I have The Best of John W. Campbell (1976), and found most of the stories rather dry reading, mildly enjoyable. Still, even those contain some feverish visions, and I am glad to have read them.

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 17 August, 2016 05:09AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Thing (1981) is a powerful movie. (I like John
> Carpenter's early films, especially The Fog.) The
> 1951 version, The Thing From Another World, is
> good too, although the monster isn't very
> impressive. I have not seen the 2011 remake.

It is not a remake of the 1981 film. At one point in the 1981 movie, Kurt Russell and his cronies fly by helicopter to the Norwegian polar station where they find nothing but devastation, dead men, a flying monstrous object of unknown origin, an ice block something had escaped from etc. The 2011 Thing describes what happened at the Norwegian Antarctic station before Russell and the others came.

The Fog is a great movie. Speaking of John Carpenter, he is my favourite director; I really enjoyed In the Mouth of Madness, Prince of Darkness and They Live. What a shame he has not been active too much lately.

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Ken K. (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2016 01:31AM
There actually is some overlap in the two groups. Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore and Fritz Leiber were members of both camps (admittedly, Leiber is more of a "second-generation" Weird Tales writer. But he did actually corresponded with HPL, as did other SF writers like James Blish and P. Schuyler Miller).

Who Goes There? may well have been influenced by At The Mountains of Madness. And Campbell's story in turn influenced Van Vogt's The Vault of The Beast, which bears some uncanny similarities to The Call of Cthulhu. The Circle of Influence rotates eternally...

It's a shame that Lovecraft died before getting the chance to correspond with John W. Campbell. Both were great letterhacks who liked nothing better than to debate a topic through the medium of the USPS!

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2016 05:35PM
Ken K. Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> as did
> other SF writers like James Blish and P. Schuyler
> Miller).

I don't think HPL and Miller corresponded. He describes himself as a fan in "Let's All Jump on H.P.L.", but doesn't mention any correspondence.

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2016 06:24PM
Ken K. Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It's a shame that Lovecraft died before getting
> the chance to correspond with John W. Campbell.
> Both were great letterhacks who liked nothing
> better than to debate a topic through the medium
> of the USPS!


That is how it is, there must finally be a break, a stop for each individual, when the soul's operation through the given body is done. It is all set, and destined. However, through the intellectual tensions and points of mutual enrichment in their separate writings, there is still a "dislocated" dialog, potentially continued, that will either lie dormant for an indefinite period, or can be picked up, developed, and come to fruit, through the minds of others.

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Ken K. (IP Logged)
Date: 28 August, 2016 12:13AM
My mistake--Miller corresponded with Robert E. Howard, not HPL. Thanks for catching my error!

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 November, 2016 07:54PM
Some of the greatest and most genuine weird, supernatural moments I have ever experienced in literature, is the way van Vogt, Campbell, and also Clarke, describe future machines, self-repairing, self-reproducing machines. It truly is haunting, and gives a sense of awe and wonder of actually looking into the future. Seemingly a spiritual experience. Quite unique.

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 November, 2016 03:40PM
Well, I'll go on with my small monologues here on the dark eldritch site. It's rather enjoyable. Like drifting alone in the abyss of space, with a quiet, loyal audience of some hundred or so ever present spirits, who rarely utter a word.

Anyway, the foremost stories I know of, telling of those haunting future machines, would be The Voyage of the Space Beagle, The City and the Stars, "Twilight", and "Night". ("Night" I finished half an hour ago. I don't think it was quite up to the same high quality as the small masterpiece "Twilight", but even so, very interesting.)

What the hell is this?! "Bismuth". It was mentioned in Campbell's story "Night".
[www.bismuthcrystal.com]

Good night, and good luck to you with the USA elections.

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 May, 2017 11:46AM
I find the novels by Van Vogt that I have read lately, to be badly written. Painfully so. I had to force my way through the last one. These books are:

The Weapon Shops of Isher
The Weapon Makers
The World of Null-A
The Pawns of Null-A


There are stimulating ideas in the books, but these are not presented in well described or colorful ways. And the books are inflated with social and political intrigue, which I find deadly boring; events are just stacked onto each other, without any seeming planned structure, and there is much repetitive back and forth going between locations. Uugh! Sometimes he sparkles with some inspired idea or exciting weird situation, but then just cuts it off in the next chapter and continues the boring intrigue instead, without form, color, or detailed locations (I am used to the fine painterly writing of CAS and Jack Vance!), leaving the visuals quite flat and empty. Vogt has said that the reader should fill it in himself, but I can hardly accept that as an excuse. It is frustrating, because he is able to make detailed description on some occasions, when in the mood for it. The Pawns ... was probably the most boring and badly written book I have ever read.

His short stories have been much more essential and enjoyable.

I am still on a quest to find the Van Vogt novels that are pure concentrated weirdness and loony joy, that he is so famous for. Without dull ambitions for excess drama filler.

The Voyage of the Space Beagle is the best book I have read so far. It was concentrated with interesting things. Slan was alright too, albeit with some filler.

However, I must give some important credit to the Null-A books, which seem very ambitious in their intention. They focus their interest on psychology and the future development of the human mind. I have actually been much helped by this non-Aristotelian way of thinking, that gives importance to intuitive subconscious thinking, evaluating reality with all senses, and NOT acting in a situation just on rushed emotions or from rational clumsy deduction. Thanks to these books I have developed and widened my perspective, and have managed to avoid some bad decisions, and made better ones, by tuning in more sensitively before acting.

Re: The Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 August, 2017 05:20PM
I think Mission to the Stars is, so far, my favorite Vogt novel next after ...Space Beagle. It has some mind-boggling giant machines of future mankind.
I think Lovecraft was very right in saying, that the only thing that makes life worth living, is the ability to escape from it, into imagination and artificially constructed harmonies of color, form, and philosophical thought.

I have just read the first chapter of Vogt's The War Against the Rull, and, in a dialogue between alien and human, an intelligent and devastating argument is presented against the pathetic posturing of humanity. If it is not counter-balanced in the following chapters, I may as well kill myself.
I believe Lovecraft would have found the ideas very interesting (But not the prose itself, which is mediocre at best.).



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