My local library’s science fiction collection is abysmal. It makes it hard to catch up on old classics, or new classics … or anything else.
I recently saw a listing of the 10 best science fiction novels of all time. My library had four of them.
Here’s what I’m dealing with. On my way through the W’s, I come across a whole shelf of Lori Wick (Christian romance novels). But books on my list by Connie Willis, Peter Watts, Gene Wolfe — none of them. We’ve got Frank Peretti (Christian paranormal fiction), but nothing written for adults by China Mieville.
When they do have novels by famous SF writers, there are huge gaps in the collection. I tracked down Philip K. Dick and found “A Scanner Darkly” and a collection of his short stories — nothing else. Of Neil Gaiman, we have “Neverwhere” and “The Graveyard Book” — but his “American Gods” has never been ordered. Of Arthur C. Clarke we have only “2001: A Space Odyssey” and a couple sequels. I wanted to read Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Red Mars,” and found other, not-award-winning novels by him. One book by Alan Dean Foster (not the one I wanted). Nothing by Samuel Delaney. For Bradbury, we have “The Illustrated Man” and “Fahrenheit 451” but not “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”
I might be paranoid, but it looks like books with titles or themes that “might be offensive to some readers” have been carefully culled from the stacks. That, or someone with no interest in the genre is at the helm. Or maybe the library uses some kind of sophisticated algorithm that suggests library users in my neck of the woods aren’t checking out SF book. This seems very unlikely, but the older science fiction collection seems a bit more robust (there were probably a dozen Frederick Pohl novels).
Maybe to test this theory out I should start striking up conversations with random strangers about science fiction tropes. Or maybe I could just ask the ever-so-friendly library staff why they don’t have more science fiction on the shelves. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) Who knows? I might learn something about the environment in which I find myself.
How are the pickings where you live? Anybody else suffering from a drought of good science fiction?