[As all the avid readers know, I've been trying to listen to various lecture series while working in order to keep myself from going batty with lack of intellectual variety.]
I just finished the Science Fiction lecture series... and was rather disappointed with it compared to the philosophy series. Probably the greatest disappointment was that, for the most part, I've already read everything discussed (there were books/series mentioned that I'd not actually read, but I'd read something from most of the authors, and most of the missing authors weren't mentioned as being particularly good).
That is, the lecture series seemed more like an introduction to (or, I suppose more precisely, a survey of) the genre, rather than a university-level course that explored the depths of the genre. Any avid science fiction reader will have read everything catalogued and far more, so though the ordering and progression was pleasant from a systematisation standpoint, it didn't wind up revealing any particularly complex or deep new patterns.
Saw a similar effect at the last (or was it last-but-one) PyGTA. Since the majority of PyGTA members are males of a quiet, introspective and somewhat scientific bent, it's not surprising that there's a high proportion of them who read science fiction. The result was that during a conversation on sci-fi, someone would suggest a book to read and everyone would simply nod that, yes, they had read it, and yes, it was good... but everyone had already read it.
I'd hoped to discover vast tracks of science fiction into which I'd never delved. Instead I got a fairly decent sense that, though I certainly haven't covered everything, I seem to have covered all the main points.
Or maybe Dr. Rabkin is also a quiet, introspective, male of a somewhat scientific bent, so it's just that the lecture series doesn't go far enough afield to find a viewpoint sufficiently different to bring new insights for those already steeped in the culture.
That said, there were a few interesting moments. It wasn't a waste of secondary time, it was just that I was expecting a greater level of surprise and wonder than was probably realistic given my familiarity with the subject.
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