Yes, Deckard is a replicant. But that’s not Blade Runner’s secret

One of the elements that makes Blade Runner so haunting. Deckard isn’t the protagonist of the story. Roy Batty is. The “hidden protagonist” is a technique in noir fiction. The character who ordinarily would be the emotional centre of the story is made background, and instead you follow the antagonist. In PKDs novel Deckard isContinue reading “Yes, Deckard is a replicant. But that’s not Blade Runner’s secret”

Genre fiction is the worst thing that ever happened to science fiction

When did the science fiction community start using “genre” as a proper noun? “It’s a common thing in Genre.” As though “Genre” is a city you can visit. Or a distinct community unified by being “Genre”. It’s one of those linguistic ticks that arise on the internet. But for science fiction it’s also symbolic ofContinue reading “Genre fiction is the worst thing that ever happened to science fiction”

How does M John Harrison enter a story?

M John Harrison is one of the all time greats, a “science fiction writer’s science fiction writer”, a creator of weird tales in the horror tradition, and a powerful weaver of fantasy. The Viriconium stories defined political fantasy in the 80’s, as the Light trilogy redefined literary SF in the 00s. As editor of NewContinue reading “How does M John Harrison enter a story?”

Does Liu Cixin author of the Three Body Problem support the Uighur internment?

From the June 2019 interview with Liu Cixin in The New Yorker. “When I brought up the mass internment of Muslim Uighurs—around a million are now in reëducation camps in the northwestern province of Xinjiang—he trotted out the familiar arguments of government-controlled media: “Would you rather that they be hacking away at bodies at trainContinue reading “Does Liu Cixin author of the Three Body Problem support the Uighur internment?”

Neuromancer…still the best science fiction novel ever written

When life takes an unexpected left turn I do four things – tidy my room, go running, take 72 hours away from anything stressful…and read a good book. This time around I landed on Neuromancer by William Gibson. I first read this book when I was 14, I suspect I read it at least sevenContinue reading “Neuromancer…still the best science fiction novel ever written”

How Philip K Dick’s 1960’s masterpiece nailed politics in the 2020’s

Is Europe welcoming desperate refugees, or being invaded by economic migrants? Is Donald Trump a serious President, or a clownish attention seeker? The Man In The High Castle reveals the most basic truths about our era of competing narratives. * In 1947 the forces of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan swept to victory over Europe andContinue reading “How Philip K Dick’s 1960’s masterpiece nailed politics in the 2020’s”

Frankenstein : how a teenage goth invented science fiction

Brian Aldiss did a great service for science fiction when he identified Frankenstein as the first SF novel. You can debate the reasons, but science fiction did a pretty solid job of writing women out of its history. Verne and Wells, Asimov and Heinlein were made the written history. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s name was rarelyContinue reading “Frankenstein : how a teenage goth invented science fiction”

Rhetoric of Story – Part Seven

Structure – the key to complex storytelling The sixth element of the Rhetoric of Story is the key to telling stories at longer lengths and greater complexity. Without a clear structure, novels and plays are unlikely to hold the attention of an audience for any length of time. Structure is bigger than any single writerContinue reading “Rhetoric of Story – Part Seven”

Rhetoric of Story – Part Six

Events – stories within stories We continue the Rhetoric of Story with the fifth element – events! What are stories made of? Not words, not pictures, but events. And what are events made of? More events. Stories are made of events. Our mind pays close attention to events, times when reality does not meet expectation.Continue reading “Rhetoric of Story – Part Six”

Rhetoric of Story – Part Five

Conflict – why can’t we all just get along? The fourth element of the Rhetoric of Story – conflict! Why can’t we all just get along? And even if we did, why stories would still always contain conflict. The important ideas introduced in this lecture include: Conflict arises inevitably because al humans have their own,Continue reading “Rhetoric of Story – Part Five”