Kate and I were talking yesterday -- well, to be honest, we were IM'ing -- about possible topics for today's post. We discussed a number of things, everything from how we are both being hit by new books wanting to be written to how nervous we are as we wait to hear from publishers/agents/etc to the panels being presented at Libertycon this weekend. The one thing we kept going back to is something Dave touched on in his last post -- how the older authors, such as Schmitz, have seen a new generation of readers come to know and love them through re-issues of their work.
But there is a different side of the issue I want to discuss today, one the name of a panel at Libertycon brought back to mind. I say "back to mind" because this discussion cropped up on Baen's Bar a year or so ago and has also made the rounds on several LJs in the past. But it's an important issue, at least in my mind as a writer, and one I'd like to get your opinions on.
What is the name of the panel that got all this started you ask? "Shell Worlds: Why Space Opera Has It Wrong". In particular, what stuck in my mind is the last of the title: Why space opera has it wrong.
I've had discussions bordering on knock-down, drag-out arguments with others about the validity of the old space operas. They claim Heinlein is no longer important because his technology is either too old fashioned or impossible. They diss Asimov because he based his Foundation series on historical narratives and faulty assumptions. John W. Campbell is nothing more than a name in a list of greats who has no importance today beyond the fact he helped make SF what it is today.
These readers eat up the technical aspects of books similar to David Weber's Honor Harrington series. They hold on-line discussions dissecting every possible equation to prove or disprove what Weber writes. They discuss the specifications of the different ships and munitions used in each and every assault.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of David Weber. But my eyes glaze over after the first couple of paragraphs of technical data. I want the guts of the story -- the characters and the conflict. I can forgive an author if his science doesn't quite work today, especially if he wrote 50 years ago. It's the story that grabs me, not the tech.
What about you? Which is more important to you -- accurate tech (or at least believable according to today's standards) or character and conflict? Do you see the inaccuracies of the science of the old masters as a problem today and why?