When I first got my ebook reader I assumed I was going to spend most fo my early time with the thing by grabbing a few recent offerings and occasionally dropping one of my own manuscripts into it so I could review my work over the lunch hour.
What I’ve really done is to dive right smack-dab into a bunch of SF history.
I’ve been reading old work available on manybooks.net, including short work from Bob Sheckley, Frederik Pohl, and Phil Dick. I’ve gotten my mitts on the few issues of Astounding that were published in the 1930s that are filled with names that I have never seen. It’s been a heckuva lot of fun, and really educational. I’m finding myself doing little bits of research on those guys I had never heard of, and enjoying the work. Like everything else, a good chunk is drecky (I can say that about a lot of the newer stuff I’ve been reading, too, of course), but good stuff exists. I even grabbed Ayn Rand’s “Anthem,” which is clearly SF, and which is in public domain apparently due to an error in re-upping copyright.
Now, I’m sure many of you are way, way ahead of me.
But for those paltry few for whom the idea of SF of the 19202 and 1930s consists wholey of hokey ray guns, cardboard space ships, and tentacled monsters from planet X, I think there’s great value in understanding where the field has really come from. Amid some clunky crud, I’ve read about miniature electronics, and advanced communications techniques that stand up. I’ve read about automation and warfare techniques that still work today. I’ve read a story or three that could be easily printed today.
For any “new” SF writer (and by that I mean anyone who–like me–really hasn’t spent time studying SF history), I recommend taking a few weeks and digging into some of these works. The worst thing that can happen is that you have a little lighthearted fun–and where’s the harm in that, eh?
30+ pages on my light-pass rewrite of novel #3.