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Solving science puzzles ... in space!


It occurred to me a while back that a lot of classic science fiction could be described this way:

A few characters encounter an almost unsolvable problem in space, and they're going to die. Fortunately, the author has embedded a scientific solution in the setup, and even more fortunately, the characters happen to come up with exactly that solution!

There's nothing wrong with that story template. When I was a kid, reading through my father's classic sf bookshelves, I ate it up. And I'm sure plenty of people still like it.

But these days, it just doesn't appeal to me very much.


I love that story!


Hmm. I'm going to have to go back and re-read my Arthur C. Clarke collection--I don't remember it reading like that, but I certainly wasn't looking for it.

I have some 1950s collections that are awesome and many of them do not fit into that mold at all. Want me to send them to you? :)

Oh, there's certainly plenty of classic sf stories that don't fit this mold; probably the vast majority of them don't.

But there are enough of them that do to form something of a subgenre. (There's even a sub-subgenre of stories about characters who are crashed on the surface of a moon or planet and are going to run out of air before they get back to the base unless they can solve the science puzzle of how to avoid that scenario.)

(And thanks for the offer, but I've read a bunch of 1950s collections, and have probably half a dozen of them on my ever-growing “books I haven't read yet” bookcases.)

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