The Arduous Task of Reading Science Fiction

What is it with science fiction writing? Why does the writing have to be so bad? This is not to say the premises aren’t compelling, just the writing. I-ROBOTWilliam Gibson, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury start their stories well enough, but then there’s a problem with the prose. It just plods on, as if science fiction publishers and readers only care about the premise and sleep through the rest. Many of the vaunted greats of the genre – Frank Herbert’s Dune, Robert Silverberg’s Tower of Glass, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – all fall into the same black hole.doandroidsSome books do have decent literary moments, such as Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris or Ursula K Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. lefthandHowever it remains a struggle to get through all of the background science stuff – histories of planets, theories of evolution – all of it jammed in like a manual. Science fiction, it would seem, is like sports: a lot of frightfully dull banter, and only every once in a while worth the wait.