Literary Challenge #40 Discussion Thread
View Single Post
Join Date: Jul 2012
03-16-2013, 06:46 AM
Originally Posted by
Are there any British science fiction authors that have influenced your writing style?
This set me off musing about my Literary Influences, which, considering I've been devouring the printed word in all its forms for
(coughs and mutters somewhat)
years, would make for a pretty long list of Influences.
And of course they're not all British, or science fiction... I'm a big fan of reading widely, because you never know what might strike a chord, and anyway it doesn't hurt either to get in touch with the origins of one's own literary tradition, or to get a nodding acquaintance with the basis of others.
Even confining myself to British SF writers... well, my first introduction was via Arthur C. Clarke, who led me on to the other Big Ideas Man, Olaf Stapledon; John Wyndham and the "cosy catastrophe" genre; H. G. Wells, naturally enough. They're all writers with different merits; Clarke and Stapledon are strong on the cosmic concepts and the sense of wonder, Wyndham on the human reactions of ordinary people to extraordinary things, Wells is notable for sharp characterization and sharper social realism.
Others... whatever you may think of C. S. Lewis's theology, his evocation of alien environments in the "Cosmic" trilogy is hard to beat. I keep on trying with David Lindsey's dense and allegorical
A Voyage to Arcturus
, though I'm convinced I haven't understood half of what it's trying to say. Moving to the other extreme, I'm a huge fan of Brian Stableford, with his tightly-constructed plots, convincing scientific detail and deadpan-snarker anti-heroes.
More recent writers... Stephen Baxter has moved up to be the next Big Ideas Man, Alastair Reynolds is doing well in the sort of SF extravagance that Brian Aldiss called the "widescreen baroque".... I guess Aldiss rates a mention himself, what with his delicate literary sensibilities; so does the other big lit-crit darling of the time, J. G. Ballard.
Speaking of lit-crit darlings, I've been a fan of Iain Banks ever since
The Wasp Factory
, so I chortled with glee when this acknowledged Bold New Voice In British Literature came out with his first Culture novel,
, an absolutely
space opera. Banks has had a huge positive influence on the genre. So has Christopher Priest - I don't care to play his games with the "unreliable narrator", but his lucid and unpretentious style has a lot to commend it, as have his ideas. I can still remember the way my head felt, when the incredibly convoluted story of
finally clicked and made sense. Priest can be a lot of work, but he's worth it.
There are others... and there are a lot more outside Britain, or the SF genre, or both. But I suspect that's more than enough to be going on with!