Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Non-science-fiction science fiction

    I have several books where the writer decided to set all or part of his book in the then near future. They tend not to hold up too well. Dick Francis wrote a great one called Twice Shy where our hero develops a computer program for betting on horses. (I think that's it; it's been a while since I read it. Point is that it was a computer program.) Fourteen years later, his brother has to find it. The program was saved on cassette tape. So in 1995, our other hero has to find a computer that uses cassette tapes. No problem! I didn't have much truck with computers in 1981 but I did in 1995. I thought it was pretty funny.
    Two of the three John D. MacDonald novels I picked up lately were inexplicably set a few years ahead. Ah wait; one was a story. The Trap of Solid Gold, in The End of the Tiger and Other Stories. For no reason I can figure, it was set a couple of years ahead of the publication date, a story about a marriage falling apart due to economic pressures. Then there's The Empty Trap (lot of traps around here), published in 1957, set for no good reason in the mid-'60s. There aren't any major mistakes except for somebody referring in the present tense to the casinos in Havana. I just can't figure out why he would set in the future unless he was bored. He did make up a new Nevada gambling town, but he made up a lot of towns over the years; I don't know why this would trouble him. Anyway it's no deal killer. It was a good book whenever it was set. Just a bit puzzling.

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