Episode 312: Top 100 Sci-Fi Authors Countdown: 10-1

December 19, 2014


Featuring Matt Anderson and Ben De Bono

In this episode we reveal the authors that were ranked numbers 10-1 by the Sci-Fi Christian listeners’ votes.

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8 comments on “Episode 312: Top 100 Sci-Fi Authors Countdown: 10-1

  1. Ugh.
    Martin doesn’t belong anywhere near the top of the list. He has to resort to lewdness and crass behavior to keep interest in his stories that are…well, sadistic attempts to get you to read the next book. I am current on the series, but I wont go any further. There is no literary value there, Ben is wrong…and again, no warning about age-appropriateness? (although child-rape is hardly appropriate for any age)
    Tolkien is a great world-builder, but not a great author. Matt, if the Hobbit isn’t holding your interest, I predict that you will get about a dozen pages into the Fellowship and wont touch the book again for months, if not years. I read the series because I wanted to be able to say that I did, and am too stubborn to just give up on it. Watch the movies, close enough, and a LOT more interesting. Much better than reading the stories would be going through the Wiki page on it. All the information without having to skim through pages of irrelevant drudgery. …’but wait’, I can hear Ben saying: ‘Tolkien was fundamental to all fantasy that came after him’…. but that is the beauty of it: you’ve already heard the stories, there are no surprises, it is like sight-seeing someplace that you are familiar with…it is all plain and even blase.
    As for criticism of Lewis, of course Aslan is only dead for two pages, it is only a 172 page book..plus, unless you have never heard the Gospel, you already know what is going to happen, and for the book’s audience (children mostly) leaving them in that suspense much longer would be counter-productive (or in other words: it is a light book, and leaving it in dark for a long time would not fit)

    • Ben De Bono Dec 21, 2014

      I couldn’t care less about 99% of all post-Tolkien fantasy. Tolkien is essential because he wrote one of the greatest literary works of the English language

      • Ben, I think I have realized a fundamental difference between us, so an analogy: I see you liking a prime cut of Kobe beef, prepared by a chef with 5 Michelin stars, steeped in truffle sauce, paired with the perfect wine…and so forth. I much prefer a steak, seared then roasted, with salt and pepper, and maybe, if we need a little outrageousness, some steak sauce…oh, with potatoes and a side salad.
        Yes, the first is a superior steak, however, to most people it is just another steak…maybe even a bit too busy. You have refined your tastes to the point where you can appreciate it for what it is, and maybe to the point where you can no longer appreciate the simpler style for its basic greatness.

        • Ben De Bono Dec 22, 2014

          I can buy that analogy (though I’m not sure it applies to Tolkien. Enjoyment of his novels is hardly esoteric). Sticking with that analogy, why wouldn’t you want to cultivate your tastes to enjoy that first steak? By definition, having a cultivated palette allows you to experience more things deeply, with more intelligence, and with greater pleasure. That seems like a pretty sweet deal to me, even if you run the risk of no longer being able to enjoy the McRib

          Now, granted, not everyone is going to be able to cultivate their knowledge and taste in every area. I’ve tried to cultivate mine in areas like literature, philosophy, and language. I’m decidedly less cultivated in areas like music or food. But that’s only a result of limited time. All things being equal, I’d love to be a cultivated individual in every area I can find. I can’t for the life of me imagine why anyone would deliberately choose to avoid the cultivation of knowledge and taste. To do so, I believe, verges on a denial of our humanity and a refusal to participate in the human experience

          • I suppose it is a matter of investment. In the analogy, I can get a steak and cook it myself for about $5. A top-course steak dinner is going to run more like $50. I have cultivated my taste in food a bit, I have worked with some really good cooks, but I won’t enjoy that supreme steak ten times more than the simple one. Likewise, I cultivate my literary taste, reading “The Brothers Karamazov”, for instance. I liken that to seeing a Rolls Royce Phantom… I can appreciate the thing for its style, class, and even enjoy its aesthetics, but even with the money, I wouldn’t choose that car; I am more of a pick-up kind of guy. (start talking Porsches and I show that this particular analogy only goes so far)
            I read (or listen) for two reasons: education and enjoyment. I love it when the two go together, but often, more often than not, education is not enjoyable, and enjoyment is not educational. I am perfectly happy with getting only enjoyment from a book, or a tv show… even if that enjoyment is incredibly simple…Warehouse13 for instance… In fact, the simple enjoyment is a bit of a palette cleanser from all the philosophy and theology that I read for personal edification. It is nice, if not needed, to just shut down the ‘over’ (meta?) part of my brain and go with the flow. It allows my subconscious mind time to go over what it is I have been taking in, internalize it, if you will.
            So, back to Tolkien. I liked reading the story…but I like the story a lot more than I liked reading it. The ideas there are tremendous, but the way he put it together…a little tedious. I actually found watching the movies helpful because at least then I could put faces to the names in the books, which otherwise were just ephemeral wraiths to me.

          • Ben De Bono Dec 23, 2014

            Now this is where I believe your analogy breaks down. In the food comparison, the cost difference is always going to be $45 between the cheap steak and the good steak. Given that the pleasure difference is really not tenfold between the two, it makes sense for us non-rich people to only enjoy the $50 steak on occasion.

            However, that’s not the case when cultivating something like literary enjoyment. To put it in your steak terms, the more you eat the $50 version the less the cost (effort required to experience) decreased and the more the pleasure you derive from it increases. Your analogy works perfectly for the beginnings of cultivation of taste, but as cultivation grows, the analogy becomes the precise inverse of what takes place

            That’s not to say the effort to get there is minimal, but I can say quite confidently that the more I work at it, the more I find my $50 literary steak easier to obtain and more enjoyable than ever before

  2. Okay, I can see that. It is a high initial investment, but the investment gets easier… however, how long it takes to get to the point where the cost to benefit ratios are equal might be beyond the interest rate (reader’s interest, not financial) places value on it. Individual results may vary.

    Now… on to GRR Martin… Let us push the analogy some, shall we? I see his work as similar to going to your local steakhouse/all you can eat buffet. They make a pretty good steak with some good technique…not a chef-quality steak, but better than you can make at home, perhaps. Then, you get a liberal sprinkling of rat feces on top…not a problem, you can eat around them if you like, but they are a part of the meal. For me, not only do I not wish to simply avoid the fecal matter, but I don’t desire to support the restaurant. As you repeatedly say about poor movie-making, the studios/authors are not going to bother making better work if we mindlessly continue to buy their product…however, here we are not talking about simple poor craftsmanship, we are talking about something that is mildly poisonous to all, and downright toxic to those with weak tolerance. (Martin is not alone, I don’t read SM Stirling for the same reason )

    • Ben De Bono Dec 24, 2014

      Sorry, not biting on the Martin one 🙂 I’ve had that debate about 5 billion times (including in the form of the rat poop argument) and my position has been well documented on the show. Suffice to say I understand and respect your position even while completely disagreeing

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