Space Ramblings

Jack McDevitt is not Asimov or Heinlein

Jack McDevitt is not Asimov or Heinlein. He’s a decent writer, but he’s not a science fiction writer. And all the quotes claiming that he’s the rightful successor to Asimov or Heinlein, are clueless. Heinlein and Asimov actually worked during the 1950’s, and they would never have written Science Fiction novels set 200 years later, in which humanity looks exactly like it did in the 1950’s. Sounds like a no brainer, but that’s exactly what Jack McDevitt does in his academy novels. It’s 200 years later, and except for a few insanely advanced gizmos like AI’s, FTL and force field spacesuits (which never show up in any other application), humanity hasn’t changed much, since the 1950’s. Take the Gordon McAllister character, who publishes a magazine, battles against religion and has a personality straight out of Mad Men. The movies, musicals and books that show up in the Academy novels are the sort of thing people read and watched in the 50’s. At a time when newspapers are dying, McDevitt keeps making them the focus of reporting in his books. Culturally nothing has changed, even though the era his books are set in, should be as different from ours as 18th century was from us. But critics keep confusing 50’s retro from writers like McDevitt or Steele, with writers who worked in the 50’s and actually looked toward the future. And there’s no comparison.

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