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Who would you say is the SF equivalent of the Velvet Underground?

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My first thought was Kilgore Trout, but that suggestion has obvious flaws.

James Tiptree, Jr.

(Keep in mind, Dhalgren sold over five hundred thousand copies in its first year, and it keeps on selling. I would say Delany is much *less* influential in the genre than either his reputation or his sales would indicate.)

Philip K. Dick?

And what's the Pixies equivalent?

In what form of equivalence?

I mean, I could say that Heinlein was like the Beatles: he invented so many tropes that everyone for decades afterwards would either try to do it like him, try to do it better than him, or try to refute him.

For a VU analog, do you want somebody not appreciated until posthumous, and then mostly by critics?

E.E. Smith or H.G Wells would be the beatles - most modern skiffy tropes originate with one of those two rather than Heinlein, who merely came up with the batshit insane, didactic monologue heavy sub-genre of Hard Sci-fi as we'd recognise it today (so heinlein is more the led zepplin or [that other really popular prog-rock band who were known for their long meandering solo sets] of science fiction; most heinlein emulators certainly have the stench of "bad garage prog-rock band" about them).

How about Atwood or Le Guin = Velvet Underground? Critical popularity and acclaim hits both of those, with them being about as obscure as they were also influential to the genre as a whole.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
Elizabeth Hand has given of her best to be Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.

Norman Spinrad's tuxedo. It is velvet, and it should be buried.

Terry Brooks. He influenced a lot of people to be like him, and he's every bit as good. sarcasm detectors are not working, perhaps?

"I suppose the classic VU line is that only a few people bought their albums, but everyone who did started a band."

Then I'll repeat a comment from an earlier thread and say: H. P. Lovecraft. Not that popular during his lifetime, but many imitators afterwards, and many artists who did their own take on what he started.

This is what I would have said, if I'd been quick.

Hello. I followed a link over here from, I think, and I've been skimming your blog for a bit. I hope you don't mind if I delurk to say, Cordwainer Smith.

My general impression of the science fiction of the time is that it mostly presented a future as performed by triumphant engineers, and stories like "Scanners Live In Vain" presented a future as performed by broken weirdos. And they were proud of being broken weirdos. Or to put it another way, it wasn't so much that everybody who bought VU's first album formed a band, as that a bunch of kids who were thinking about forming bands heard that album and thought, "Wait, you can use pop music to do that?"

Seth E.

Beat me to the punch

Cordwainer Smith (aka Paul Linebarger) immediately came to my mind. His "Instrumentality of Mankind" series of novels and short-stories are must reads.

"Not many people bought it, but everybody who did formed a band?"

My problem with that is that if not many people bought it, I haven't heard of it. Pfah. The ones I can think of (Cordwainer Smith, Randall Garrett, John M. Ford) I don't think of as having had wide influence.

Another vote for Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

swiping dates from Wiki...

But I think this is pretty much my pick list for "Greatest Writers' Panel That Never Was":

Mary Shelley (30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851)
Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849)
Jules Gabriel Verne (8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905)
Edwin Abbott Abbott (20 December 1838 – 12 October 1926)
Herbert George Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946)
William Olaf Stapledon (May 10, 1886 – September 6, 1950)
Howard Phillips "H. P." Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937)

Jack Womack, because they pretty much show up in Going Going Gone ?

William S. Burroughs.

Only a few thousand people bought Velvet Underground albums but all of them started a band, in the eighties.

Combining influence, revolutionary effect, and even certain characteristics of theme and style, I'd say the New Worlds writers around 1967 to 1971.

If that's the group, who would be Lou Reed? Ballard? Aldiss? Moorcock? Spinrad? And John Cale?

Incidentally, this post is now two links away from the New York Times website, after Chad Orzel used it as a starting point for his recent post. (Uncertain Principles regularly pops up in the blog sidebar in the Science section.)

I'm going to cheat a little and suggest a list of authors who published in the Orbit anthologies. List all of the contributors, strike out those who achieved respectable sales on their own, and those left over qualify.

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