Science fiction books that I loved that didn't age well
There are many reasons why Science Fiction books might not have aged well. Here is my list of books that just don't sit well with me many years on. (I should mention these are all books I read and loved back in the day)
Sharon Green The Warrior within
This book literally starts with a rape scene. Yip - don't ask why I kept reading it as I truly don't know why (I actually read the whole series) I think I was so horrified I had to keep reading - so I don't know if I would class this as a book I loved but I certainly stuck with it all the way through.
The love interest is with an abusive man who pimps her out and calls it love. Literally hands her over to a rapist and says it is to show she is always willing to come back. It is all explained *spoilers* by her being genetically engineered to be submissive. The plot meanders all over the place and really is only there for her to raped again and again.
Now I should say that Sharon Green does have some really good series which explore sexuality in interesting ways but I bet those will not age well either over time.
Anne McCaffrey Damia
I'm picking on this book as I had fond memories of it. It is a May December romance that caught my imagination as a teenager. Now the romance falls flat and is rather creepy as even though she has more power telekinetically he always has the power in the relationship. He treats her like a child, even when they are a romantic couple. The plot though is even worse. Elements are recycled and not foreshadowed at all. The ending happens in a moment and then the protagonists sit around explaining the ending after it all happened.
Anne has a lot of other series that have aged better and I'll look at some of them in another blog.
Alan Moore V for Vendetta
This is in particular the graphic novel as I think they deal with some of the issues in the movie though that is starting to look old as well. The graphic novel was a commentary of the political issues of the time and it shows. It is glaringly misogynistic. Women often don't have names and if they do they are often prostitutes. Commentary on the graphic novels often call the women cyphers. In other words they are merely symbols and don't actually have any depth to them at all. Like I said they tried to fix this in the movie.
Unlike the other two authors who do manage to redeem themselves in other books or series Alan is a little one note when it comes to his stories. His female characters are often the victim of rape and violence. He is also one of the artists who popularised fridging as a trope. He has backtracked on this portrayal of women but I'll believe it when I see it.
Isobelle Carmody Obernewtyn
I actually still like this book but I really do need to turn on my suspense of disbelief really high to enjoy it. The writing still holds up but the science is just so unbelievable. This book actually falls in a category of many others like Z for Zacharia and X-Men. So the science that really doesn't work in this book, set in a post apocalyptic world where nuclear war has caused mutations in people and gives them super powers. Areas of the world are toxic and impossible for people to live in.
These books really were a product of their age and we are starting to see ones that have global warming as the issue to fear so we will be seeing more of those kinds of fiction in the future. I think we will get nostalgic for nuclear disaster books.
Robert Heinlein Starship Troopers
When I read this the first time it was after the movie and I liked the cool machines etc. But now that I'm older and more aware of the political backstory to the book it really doesn't sit well with me anymore. There are other books that Robert has that didn't age well. Like Stranger in a strange land. Robert isn't very good at portraying women. In Stranger in a strange land the rape is somewhat laid on the shoulders of the women. Very cringy now.
I should have paid more attention to the movie as they do satirise the issues of the novel and lay them out in front of the audience to shine a light on them. So adaptions might be the answer to recovering some of these books.
All of Robert's books should be viewed with a critical eye now because he was a product of his time. Though some of the things he spouted are rearing their heads again so can be quite topical at the moment.
George Orwell 1984
While his issues around censorship and surveillance are more relevant today than they were back then there are two things that age this book badly. The first is exposition. There are many points where all we get is the thoughts of the narrator telling us what is happening. There is even a glaring part where all the exposition is given to us in a letter. This is a clear case of "as you know Bob" kind of exposition. We would crucify authors who did that now. The other thing that ages it is the technology. With big data and social media we are already at a point where everything technology wise in 1984 is redundant. Considering that he set 1984 as the future we can give him leeway as he really wasn't talking about now.
Kathy Tyers Firebird
Falling in love with your captor is definitely a trope that hasn't aged well. And then they throw in an amnesia trope on top of it all. Both really make it difficult to suspend disbelief. The author is well known for her religious beliefs and there are a few science fiction authors whose religious beliefs filtered through too much and have made their books difficult to read (Enders game I'm looking at you) Kathy isn't as bad as some but it does reflect the ideals of an older age that modern thinkers might find difficult to swallow. For me it was always the insistence of the family that she sacrifice herself. While Kathy isn't keen on this either, she also doesn't outright say it is wrong. When comparing it to cults that have girls marry older men in a sense of righteous belief this ideal of sacrifice because of where she falls in the family just sits wrong.
Now this is a book that would probably be fixed with an adaption to movie.
Doris Egan The Gates of Ivory
I still reread this book all the time but I am also aware it is rather far fetched in regards to the romance and it is very creepy. You see this girl gets stuck on a planet and is hired by this rich guy. And he is the love interest. While Doris plays with the power, it always goes back into his hands. I think she might have finally fixed that if they ever let her finish the series. Unfortunately, it finishes on a cliffhanger and we never do find out. The reason I still read it over again is that there are other aspect that if you forget the power imbalance between the two main characters is interesting. We look at what identity is, what it means to be a woman and whether baring children is essential to being a woman.
Doris is a great writer and I really wished she could have finished the series. You might know her from other things she has written like Darkangel, Smallville and House (yes she was a writer for all those shows)
These books are out of print and I loved them so well I dug up second copies just so I could have them.