Sturgeon’s Law School

Or, Why do people with good taste create bad art?


Theodore Sturgeon is the sort of unfortunate author who is far better known for a single pithy aphorism than for all his books and stories combined. His brilliant science fiction is seldom reprinted nowadays, as it requires a certain sensibility and flexibility from the reader, and this is an investment that the big reading public just doesn’t want to make. (It doesn’t help that the publishing industry in general is doggedly averse to reprinting old books, but that’s another rant.) The average sf reader today has never read ‘Microcosmic God’ or More Than Human. If he knows Sturgeon at all, it’s likely to be in the context of Sturgeon’s Law:

Ninety percent of science fiction is crud, but then ninety percent of everything is crud.

Many people nowadays say that Sturgeon was being charitable. And that 90 percent figure leaves out all the vast mountains of unpublished fiction, the stuff that is simply too cruddy for anyone to print. But the crud gets written, and some of it gets published, and hardly any of the perpetrators are aware that the stuff they’re trying to inflict on the world is crud.

Crud happens. Why can’t the crudsters tell? [Read more…]