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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 13, 1975)
i?e Bruce Nelson's Cynic's Comer article on
I don't understand how he can castigate hack
science fiction on one hand and ignore the truckloads
of literary trash written alongside the gems of
Shakespeare. True, there is no course "literary Trash
563," but that is because the perspective of time has
relegated old bad literature to the attic of life.
Science fiction as a genre has a continuum from
bad ideas and bad writing to good ideas and good
writing, contrary to the opinion of Nelson. The idea
presented in a story is basic to science fiction, trie
idea being an extrapolation of a contemporary trend
somewhere into the future, and the story consisting
of the consequences of the extrapolation. In other
words, science fiction is a collection of "what if . . ."
It takes courage and imagination to read and enjoy
science fiction and I consider that anybody that can't
relate to it has a closed mind. If the world ended
tomorrow and God reappeared as an elm tree, the
only people that wouldn't be surprised would be
science fiction readers.
Randall L. Carlson
Nebula for Nelson
I would like to congratulate Bruce Nelson on his
great short story in the Feb. 1 ODaily Nebraskan. The
genre of science fiction often takes an impossible,
imaginary or unproven premise and makes it seem
totally believable, and Nelson's piece was a
masterpiece of said genre. He actually had me
believing that science fiction is worthless trash and
responsible for locking the nation into a permanent
state of adolescence.
Yes, Nelson's column was overflowing with
fantasies and dreams that should earn him a Nebula
Award as soon as he can more fully develop his
D. "Eddie" Ashmun
I would like to say that Bruce Nelson's attack on
science fiction was interesting, but I believe it was
carried to an extreme. Classics, I agree, are very good
and interesting, and obviously everyone should read
them, but Nelson took an unfair look at science
fiction and blew it completely out of proportion.
Nelson is one who considers science fiction as all
ultraweapons, spaceships and so on. It appears he did
little reading on the subject before he wrote his
editorial. Science fiction concerns the human race in
the same sense any classic would, only the setting is
in a time which may be or could have been. It
involves people who are exactly the same as those in
Shakespeare's plays or Hemingway's novels.
To say the elements of science fiction are unlike
Shakespeare's magic potions and fairies is absurd.
They both help create the effect of the story, but do
relatively little in changing human nature. Science
life' to do w 1l8gl
fiction has evolved just as the world of classic
literature has, but instead of working with a dead past
which many peopie associate with, it shows the
culture and the people as they are now.
People who read science fiction should therefore
be given an apology from Nelson. The person who
indulges himself in Shakespeare can hardly be said to
be more sensible than one who reads science fiction. I
suggest, Mr. Nelson, that you visit the English
teachers who teach the courses and get about 40 or
50 of the books they recommend. Go read them all
until your ignorance of the literature is dispersed, and
then write your editorial. If you still feel the same
way, it's because the "age of ignorance" has been
upon you since you were taught to read..
I hope you will look once again at the author's
quotes you listed and try to make an effort to make
sense out of them.
After reading Bruce Nelson's column concerning
science fiction, I am positive that the "age of
ignorance is upon us."
I believe that there's a need for Cynic's corner;
however I heartily suggest that you find someone else
with a talent for writing and a tremendous dose of
tact. By trying to stir up controversy over everything
and anything Nelson is steadily destroying the
It looked to me as if he had spent time at a
bookstore with a little pad and pencil jotting down
names he could drop in the right places. Of course,
there are poorly written science fiction books, you
have to pick your way through them to find the best,
but this is also true of music, plays and films.
IDs gross generalizations such as "most of us
outgrew this childish fetish by the time we were
fourteen," are ludicrious. Anyone with a shred of
"maturity" realizes that a person's I. Q. doesn't
necessarily set standards of taste. There are genius
who couldn't tell a Picasso from graffiti on a
Interests do change as people "mature." A few
shift to music, cars, carpentry, truck driving (the
choice is limitless), and some become interested in
science fiction and comics. Nelson fails to see that
both these subjects are entertaining, relaxing, fun and
as legitimate as any art form. Instead he insists upon
sitting atop his artsy throne thriving on his supposed
controversy and believing that he's making some
significant contribution to journalism by making the
readers so angry and upset that they write in and
hence all apathy is curtailed.
Fortunately, Bruce Nelson's brand of
pseudo-intellectual snobbery is dying out and so is his
type of hack (in the literary sense) writing.
Brave new editorial
Right on Bruce Nelson for your brave editorial on
science fiction. You've shown it for what it really is:
a pinko-communist plot to undermine the morals of
us poor ignorant college students.
I was reading Jules Verne just the other day and he
was trying to tell me that (are you ready for this?)
someday there would be ships traveling beneath the
ocean and (snicker) rockets taking men to the moon!
Man!. He's as crazy as those guys who say the sun
doesn't revolve around the earth.
Give me Shakespeare any day. Now there's
intelligent literature. Take A Midsummer Night's
Dream: its nymphs and pixies and men with donkey
heads and love potions. Now that's good old
believable entertainment. Or Hamlet with his father's
ghost and all those great killings. That's realism.
That's what life's all about.-
I was reading that horrible, badly written sci-fi
novel they call Dune. Sure, it's interesting.. Sure, it
has meaning. But it's obviously written so that almost
anybody could understand it. Even (ugh) junior high
kids and (ech) old people. I'ts just the same with
Heinlein's books. We can't have everybody learning
philosophy or broadening their views. Then they
might become as intelligent as you and me.
Thank goodness there are still books written by
Hume and Locke on the nature of things and treatises
and ye olde governments (yawn) oh, excuse me.
They may not be as interesting or they might not
have as much to teach you, but when you've finished
reading them, people will really think you're
intelligent even if you're not.
Hey, by the way, I was in the library yesterday
and saw a book or fables written by some left-wing
pinko-junkie moralist named Aesop (sounds Russian
doesn't it?) Maybe you could do your next article on
After Bruce Nelson's Feb. 10 editorial I feel it
would be appropriate if he crawled into his Cynic's
Corner and stayed there. I doubt whether he has an
imagination at all (his columns show none) and if he
does he apparently never allows himself to be
entertained by it.
Since fiction, which Nelson puts down, is a
mixture of reality and reality-to-be whose
foreshadowings are prefigured by gifted authors who
have both faith in impossible notions and the
ceaseless desire to look not to the past, which Nelson,
as any cynic, loves so dearly, but to the unpredictable
future which can sometimes be almost magically
portrayed by the literary wanderings and stumblings
of the sci,-fi writer as he travels the non-worldy trail
of fantasy, kicking over stones to examine the bit of
cosmos which lies underneath.
Great promise is heaped on Shakespeare. If Nelson
would take a Latin Literature in Translation course,
he'd discover that not only did Willy deal with mental
agonies, but he also "wrote" plays amazingly similar
to ones written centuries earlier.
All prejudiced people suffer from blindness to a
degree and Nelson is no exception. By desiring one
form of literature (which he implies is not literature)
he cuts himself oil from a source of thought which,
in the long run, results in a more limited field of -vision.
The most egregious error Nelson makes, and the
one which shows his lack of any rationality, is his
asking whether Mr. Spock can really make more sense
than Homer, Plato, etc. Come on, Mr. Nelson.
Anybody, I mean anybody, in their right mind knows""
Mr. Spock is the most logical man in the Universe.
thursday, february 13, 1975
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