Monday, May 7, 2012


When I was packing up a couple of boxes of books to take over to the book sale Saturday, I tucked in a large volume that contained three Theodore Sturgeon novels.  For two years I'd tried to read this book, sampling each novel then setting it aside.  Other readers have said that you must read Sturgeon, but well, he just didn't appeal to me.

As I worked my way through the tables and shelves full of books I came across a slim book of short stories by, you guessed it, Theodore Sturgeon, and I slipped it into my bag.  And I'm so happy I did.  The forward, by Sturgeon himself, was worth picking up the book for.  I was surprised to find that he didn't really like being classified as Science Fiction writer. 

"Science fiction is my best friend and my worst enemy," he says.  And later, "Yet the best writers in the field write science FICTION, not SCIENCE fiction.  Let me tell you something:  you can not write good fiction about ideas.  You can only write good fiction about people.  Good science fiction writers are good fiction writers."

And as I've started reading the short stories I can finally understand why readers appreciate Sturgeon's work. 


Brian Lindenmuth said...

He's one of my favorites but he WAS primarily a short story writer. His complete short stories runs 13 volumes.

He coined Sturgeon's Law which is still cited today. He wrote the prime directive for Star Trek.

And, interestingly enough as far as some conversations go that still pop up among writers today, famously suffered writers block on more then one occasion. Robert Heinlein was one of his best friends and during one of these bouts RH gave Sturgeon 10 story ideas that were already plotted. So Sturgeon just had to connect the dots of the stories and sell them. He did this for his friend to get him through a rough financial time instead of just loaning him money. RH didn't want credit and never told anyone that he did this. Sturgeon publicly thanked him late in life for the act of generosity.

Sturgeon is a true pulp hero.

I could go on but won't.

sandra seamans said...

He speaks about his writers block in the forward, Brian, and how he came to deal with it. He doesn't mention Heinlein but he tells about a friend who showed him how his early works were "entertainments" and how the later output had a "something to say" quality. This made him realize that the silence was a "working out of ideas" for him and he learned to embrace that time.

Thomas Pluck said...

Sturgeon was a great writer. I haven't read all that much, just cherry picked his most infamous stories. Some of Your Blood, his vampire novella. It reads like 40's era noir, and is quite imaginative. He brings the myth down to earth.
Godbody, where he tries to break sexual taboos in a small town. Also a good read, I still remember the characters. He humanizes a monster in that one.

sandra seamans said...

They sound wonderful, Thomas! I'll be on the lookout for them.

Brian Lindenmuth said...

Sturgeon only wrote like 5 novels so chances are you had Godbody already.

I've always regarded Some of Your Blood as a psycho noir so I'm glad Tommy mentioned that.

But honestly, its ok that you didn't like the novels that much. Just stick with the ss's.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have completely missed out on him too. Not even come across one. Will be on the lookout.

sandra seamans said...

No Godbody, Brian. The book I had was an Omnibus printed in 1991 with "The Dreaming Jewels", "Venus Plus X" and "The Cosmic Rape". And I am enjoying the shorts.

I found this one by chance, Patti, and I'm glad I did. The stories I've read so far aren't deep in the sci-fi genre, which I think is what everyone believes Sturgeon wrote exclusively.