Saturday, June 25, 2005

Random Thought

I was rereading Asimov. In fact, I'm still rereading Asimov.

And I feel that Asimov wasn't a bad writer, as critics are wont to portray him as. Not exactly...bad, in the sense of the word, but, uninspiring. He was a great thinker, they say, full of fresh ideas and resonance. He wrote like a stenographer, recording is thoughts clearly and succintly as prose, hardly taking any liberties with his ascribed poetic licence. His characters are mostly flat, and are devices in the conception of a worldview, instead of the reverse.

All these things are true, but they don't necessarily condemn him to be a bad writer. The function of a novel is to entertain and to inspire reaction, positive response. If the novel is deep enough, it will inspire something more, introspection and reflection.

A good novel thus inspires positive response. I don't see Asimov's idiosyncrasies to impede his ability as a writer. He churned out good novels that inspire positive introspection and reflection. His characters draw out this quality. His canvas was not the soul, but the Universe and its laws. His setting was a galaxy of intrigue and decay.

His later novels did attempt to tie together the two; weaving a story of soul and humanity. The latter Robot books, the Foundation Preludes; all these tracked the lives of characters and observed their changes, their adaptations. Asimov began to explore the depths of the human soul, while plotting the course of Empire. This has again caused condemnation.

Being a writer must be difficult.

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