I haven't read either of the new books you mention. That's because I've moved more or less exclusively to Indie published (e)books available on Amazon. The sense of optimism / positivity you mention in the golden age books tends to still be there. The characterizations seem to be better though. Or at least they can be, there's plenty of dreck

The one traditional publisher that is still publishing mostly positive books is Baen. A decade or so ago I bought everything Baen published, I no longer do that, but I still buy some books there.

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Jun 18, 2023·edited Jun 18, 2023Liked by Evan Þ

I actually jumped down to the comments to ask whether Evan reads Baen (and then saw you already had!). In particular, the Honor Harrington series has this outlook, or so it seems to me.

In RL conversation, I've called this mode of storytelling "problem/solution" science-fiction, because so much of the fun of it is just thinking, "Aw, heck, that's it, she'll never get out of this one!" and then seeing how she does, in fact, get out of this one. It's not really my usual cup of tea, but it's a bunch of fun to read something along these lines once a year or so.

In fact (not to get political, but...) it seemed to me that the Sad Puppies controversy was mostly about whether optimistic, science-first, problem/solution science-fiction should still be prestigious. The verdict, alas, was a resounding "no," but the worm will turn. (I was pleased to see Andy Weir nominated in 2022!)

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And the Hugos have now been outsourced to China, probably permanently. Along with Worldcon. The resulting wailing and gnashing of teeth from the faithful is extremely Schadenfreudelicious

Sarah Hoyt (one of the Sad Puppies) called these positive outlook stories "Human Wave" which I think is a pretty good catch all phrase

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I read book one of the Honor Harrington series a long while back, and enjoyed it, but I heard mixed things about the rest of the series so I didn't continue. If you recommend it, maybe I'll put it on the list to give it another try?

Regarding the Sad Puppies... your view sounds a little like Eric Flint's? (To name another writer of optimistic fiction I've enjoyed sometimes!) Even beyond the Sad Puppies, the distinctions he draws ring really true to me in a lot of areas. https://ericflint.net/hugo-controversy/divergence-between-popularity-and-awards/

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I can recommend the first three Honor Harrington books without reservation. They're all that same basic structure, and they're all tightly plotted enough to delight.

In Book 4 and onwards, it's been a lot more hit-and-miss, as sometimes happens when an author is successful and his editor lets him start getting away with flab. As I said, I'm only reading about one a year, so I only recently finished Book 7, where I think the first hundred pages could have been cut without repercussion.

As for Eric Flint's article (who incidentally wrote some Honor Harrington later on? weird coincidence)... I think he's definitely got a handle on several large pieces of the puzzle, and I agree that those distinctions are worth holding on to. (OTOH, the dynamic that produced the Jemisin/Leckie/Martine years is also much more than random in-group fluctuations. It's not politics, exactly. It's *bigger* than politics, something more fundamental... something I've been trying and failing to write about for about a year now.)

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