Planetary Style

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I'm going to talk a little bit about writing style today—not only because it's something that all of us should think about when reading in general, but in particular since it's something I think we should mull over when reading classics from the Planet Stories library. Writing styles change over time, some of them seemingly eternal, others appearing one moment only to flitter into oblivion in the next as the winds of fashion shift. A thousand cultural variables account for such changes, and its my view that no single stylistic element is by itself better or worse than another. It all depends on how that element adds to the story being told.

I have a graduate background in writing fiction, but I was lucky enough to be in one of the few programs out there that didn't turn up its nose at genre. And while I was in school, we talked a lot about what it took to make a classic. Why was one book considered a classic, and another not? The best answer I heard was Time. Because Dickens and Twain certainly weren't thinking of writing literary masterpieces, at least no more than any author takes pride in the crafting of words. No, they wrote for a popular audience, their works by-and-large considered entertainment fiction by their contemporaries.

Now the classic science fiction and fantasy adventures we gleefully resurrect at Planet Stories aren't written in today's styles. But there's a life in them, a sheer exuberance of derring-do, that I often find missing in contemporary fiction. Not that there isn't amazing stuff being written today—there will be as many classics written this year as there were in 1939. But I think as we go through these turbulent times of ours, we can benefit from the experience of another time of troubles, a time when rocket ships roared out of spaceports of the imagination, or when a rapier, quick wit, and a smile might win freedom for an entire planet. So try out some Brackett, some Kline, or some Moore and join us on our adventure. After all, adventure is part of the human spirit—it never goes out of style.

Christopher Carey
Planet Stories Editor

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