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Two cannibals are eating a clown and one says to the other, “Does this taste funny to you?”

December 6, 2006 | 5 Comments

Worst Science Fiction of All Time

Shoot to kill

July 1995

(I wrote this about six or seven years ago and had it posted to my website where I was a graduate student. I thought that it was lost forever, and I only managed to find it because several people archived it. Truly, nothing ever dies on the web. I thank these kind people. It’s a little worn by time and could stand some editing, but I’ll leave it as it originally was.)

Of course, with a title such as this, I had better be able to prove it. After all, hundreds of books are written in the genre each year. Thousands exist to pick from. And who’s to say another, more awful book than the one I’m about to describe, will appear and usurp the uncoveted title of Worst Science Fiction Novel Ever?

These caveats notwithstanding, however, my faith is strong. In fact, I am so absolutely sure that I’m correct in my choice, that I’m willing to risk the title “worst ever”. More on this later.

Many aficionados of science-fiction were weaned, not with short stories and books, but with TV. So it was with me. I started with the original Star Trek, others perhaps with Space 1999. The youth of today will have to make due with Deep Space Nine or Submarine Show (whatever the name is). These shows eased us into the classics, such as Foundation or Stranger in a Strange Land. If you were lucky. Unlucky neophytes wandered into a L. Ron Hubbard treatise or some pulp boiler, complete with front cover fanged monsters menacing beautiful large-breasted women.

Once these innocents, these hapless souls, enter the morass of disagreeable pages they are lost forever to science fiction. Nothing will ever convince them to reenter the fold. Perhaps it is our duty, then, to purge the field of ill-conceived and poorly executed works?

This supposes that one is able to judge the intrinsic merit of the text. Modern critics claim that it cannot be done. They may be right. But this is academic to our subject: what does watching TV have to do with learning to read science fiction? In this case, everything.

Walter Koening played the lovable and overly proud Russian navigator of the Starship Enterprise in the original Star Trek. He appeared in the Star Trek movies. He also wrote a book. Perhaps he felt an inward pull, a conviction that led him to convey a profound message. Or, like William Shatner, it may be that he was trying to cash in on the series and his personal success and make a buck. You be the judge.
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