This site is all about keeping books and writers alive in readers memory, so I was pleased to read, “Who Are the Forgotten Greats of Science Fiction?” by James Davis Nicoll at Tor.com yesterday. His piece opens with:
Time is nobody’s friend. Authors in particular can fall afoul of time—all it takes is a few years out of the limelight. Publishers will let their books fall out of print; readers will forget about them. Replace “years” with “decades” and authors can become very obscure indeed.
When I was young I was all about discovering new writers and books. Now that I’m living in the last third of my life, I’m all about remembering the best of what I discovered in the first third.
I remember reading most of the books that Nicoll remembers, and owned many the rest. His essay inspires me to read the ones waiting on my shelf, like A Mirror for Observers. If you’re old enough, I’m sure his thoughts will trigger reading desires in you too.
Be sure and read the comments below the essay. Many more forgotten writers are remembered. I’m especially glad someone mentioned Robert F. Young. I left a note about Wilson Tucker and John Boyd, two authors I wrote about when I was doing a forgotten science fiction series.
The hope is these writers will be rediscovered by younger readers, but I’m not so sure that will happen. The real psychological dynamic unfolding here is all the older readers finding they weren’t the only ones loving these obscure science fiction stories decades ago. When I was growing up I didn’t discover another science fiction fan until the 10th grade, and even after that, they were few and far between until I began attending SF conventions in the early 1970s. It’s great to discover on the internet that there were other readers excited by these odd paperbacks I once discovered on my own.
And I believe there is another element to what’s happening here that hasn’t been explored. Why were we drawn to these forgotten writers and their strange stories all those years ago?
James Wallace Harris (9/6/18)