Une excellente lecture
|Bester: I once sent two stories to Mick McComas and Tony Boucher (at F&SF) — they had asked for them, of course — and they switched the titles on the stories. I stink on titles, I really do, I’m terrible. |
But the point I’m going to make very strongly is the greatness of science fiction. To my mind, it is the last, the last outpost of freedom of literature in the States — I can’t speak for England. In science fiction, we can do what no one else can do in any other medium.
I speak as a magazine writer, novelist and scriptwriter. The constraints of commercial fiction in the States in television, in films, in radio, you name it, are so severe that there is very little you can do. This is one of the reasons why I have written science fiction off and on all of my life. Quite simply because if I come up with an idea which rather enchants me, I would very much like to develop it and do it, so that people would see it and hear it.
If my producer, my director, the client says “No, no, it’s too expensive, no it’s too far out, people won’t understand it, ah forget it, give us something a little less,” then I have to turn to science fiction. In science fiction, you can do anything you please, and God knows the artist needs a free hand. The greatness of science fiction is not the science, not the prediction of the future, not anything you want to name — the greatness is that it is wide open, and we can do exactly as we damn please, and that story will run somewhere, somehow, and you will have your audience, and you will get feedback. And after all, a writer without an audience is no writer at all; you’ve got to have people that you are entertaining.
Pohl: We have been talking mostly about the techniques of science fiction, I think, and the forms of writing of science fiction. But as Alfie says, there is content too.
In America 20 years ago, during the Senator Joe McCarthy era, there was not an awful lot of political free speech in America. Most of the newspaper editors and political leaders were running for the storm cellars because they didn’t want to get in the way of “Tail-gunner Joe.” And at that time science fiction was saying all sorts of revolutionary, critical, socially penetrating things — to the extent that an old friend of mine who was then minister of a church in Los Angeles used to sell copies of Galaxy and the other science-fiction magazines outside the church after services, because he said it was the only free speech in America.
And this has also been true in other countries, particularly in Eastern Europe; there is much more freedom for two classes of writers — science fiction writers and poets — than for anyone else. And partly it’s because most people don’t understand what they are talking about, anyhow.