From the Archives: Meetings With Remarkable Men

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned reading the transcript of a 1979 guest of honour speech by Christopher Priest, in an old issue of Vector. Chris has generously allowed me to put the text of the speech, “Meetings With Remarkable Men”, up on the Vector website. As noted last time around, it touches on the state of sf and the state of sf criticism; as Jed Hartman recently noted, in some senses there’s nothing new under the sun in these debates, but it’s still well worth reading the full speech. Here’s another quote to tempt you:

You have probably heard Heinlein’s remark that writers are competing for the readers’ beer-money. […] [This attitude] crops up all over the place, in articles in fanzines, in interviews with writers, in criticism. Boiled down to its essence, it says: “We are but entertainers, and entertainment is a humble trade. Therefore our sights are set low.” I believe that entertainment is a high art, and should be treated as such. Everyone at the convention today is here because we believe that science fiction is a stimulating, radical and entertaining form of literature, yet by their very words the Poul Andersons and Robert A Heinleins are asking you to settle for less.

The parts of the essay that discuss criticism also chime with recent debates over at urban drift.

2 thoughts on “From the Archives: Meetings With Remarkable Men

  1. At the risk of self tooting, this might be worth reading in conjunction with my ‘Competing for Beer Money: The Criticism of Christopher Priest.’ Christopher Priest: The Interaction. Edited by Andrew M. Butler. London: SFF, 2005: 129-145 which looks at (some of ) Priest’s attitudes to sf from the last four years.

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