I wouldn't call The Time Machine outdated, although some of the science he presents is (at best) outdated if not plain wrong. But I take that work as a historical marker. That was the known science of the day and what was learned later on superceded or replaced what Wells knew at the time. I am mostly talking about the astronomy, geology, paleo and evolutionary biology that he presents. But then, a lot of SF writers that use known science that we know today will seem outdated in a hundred (should their work survive that long- and I think Wells will still be marching along).
As for the erudite friend of Wiley's, I take it he may have read one or two works, probably some of the pulp work back in the 50's and up into the 60's and concluded that that was the was state of affairs for science fiction and left it at that. Isaac Asimov said something to the idea that even SF stories are still stories, and the good ones tell us more about ourselves and who we are. If all you think that science fiction and fantasy are just stories about space rockets and swords and skimpy loinclothes then you've missed the whole idea. The best science fiction and fantasy stories tell us about ourselves, who we are but they do it in different ways. Science fiction is always pushing the boundaries of what we know, what we can do, maybe even what we are allowed to do. It does it by really asking the question "what if?" Fantasy talks about who we are by showing us tales that have something to do with things that are not really like us at all, but then we can see a little of ourselves in them. A really good story from both genres are really just a few shades away from what Joseph Campbell always liked to talk about, the power of the myth.
The one problem science fiction has is it's time scale. It's only been around for a relatively short time, although to fans, it seems like light years since it keeps reinventing itself every few years.
posted 11 months ago. ( permalink )