Monday, September 22, 2014

Reader's Diary #1070- Yoss, translated by David Frye: A Planet for Rent

I don't feel that I read a lot of sci-fi. About a 3rd of the free online short stories I find online are sci-fi, so I get some exposure that way I suppose, but I still feel that I only have a basic familiarity. I can name some sci-fi authors, books, and movies that have gone mainstream, but that's about it. That's probably why, when reading Yoss's "A Planet for Rent" I drew comparisons to Star Wars' Mos Eisley Cantina (mainstream sci-fi) and to the 1980s comedy All of Me (starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin). What I'm saying is, I don't have an extensive background from which to draw comparisons.

I have read enough though to realize that there are very different levels of sci-fi literature. There's the easily accessible stuff that even newcomers to the genre can feel comfortable with and the stuff that just seems so out there that newcomers are left scratching their heads feeling unwelcome. If these were two ends of a scale, "A Planet for Rent" is nearer the latter.

It's not so much a criticism as it a warning so as others might know what to expect. Actually, I kind of think sci-fi should be this unapologetic. If you dropped me into the world described in Yoss's story, I'd likely be just as confused and intimidated. It doesn't seem like the kind of place where a welcoming committee would be assigned, and it's supposed to be the reality- nothing strange at all to those living it.

But like the good sci-fi I've read (and keep in mind that that's limited), there are lots of good themes explored in "A Planet for Rent" that hold relevancy in our present time and place: war, dominance, and exploitation... you've just got to get past those polypy aliens.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

You are right. That is an apologetically strange sci fi story. I had to come up for air a quarter of the way in, to tell you this.

Anonymous said...

I probably have read a lot of science fiction, but you're right about the spectrum. Some is easy for everyone, some is very difficult for all but a few.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: Glad you remembered to breathe! (Did you mean UNapologetically?)

James: Do you feel that those writing sci-fi lite are those who don't typically write sci-fi?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your review, it's just what I was looking for. If I do try the book, it helps to know going in that it will be challenging. Somehow it makes it less overwhelming when I'm not surprised when it gets confusing or deeply fascinating but difficult to plow through at the same time.