The thematic genius of Iain M Banks

This episode of the Science Fiction podcast is re-published from an original video essay first published in September 2018.

I spent years searching, after I first read the Culture novels of Iain M Banks, for other space opera novels that equalled them. And this is what I discovered. Nothing else in the space opera genre even comes close to the Culture. Nothing. Zip. Nada. As Theodore Sturgeon said, 90% of everything is crap. But as a young reader I wondered why, with all these books marketed as space opera, did none read like the Culture? The answer is – theme.

Science fiction tends to obsess over concepts, but almost entirely ignore themes. Scifi is full of big ideas about the nature of reality or the physics of space travel. But scifi that deals with the basic themes of human life is a rare, rare thing. Banks was a genius at weaving high concept scifi stories together with great thematic depth.

In this episode I look at the opening chapter of what is, arguably, Banks’ most thematically complex novel – Excession.

Read the full novel – Excession by Iain M Banks: https://amzn.to/2p9ZFOf

Watch the original video essay – https://youtu.be/vjsYz-Xv5lo

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Spice DAO : welcome to the age of the fan owned franchise

Spice DAO raised $3M to buy Alejandro Jodorowsky’s story bible for his legendary failed DUNE movie. Spice DAO has been widely mocked, but the DAO model presents a fascinating possibility…that fans will buy out the sci-fi franchises we love from the corporations who now own them. Welcome to the age of the fan owned franchise.

00:00 What if Star Wars could be owned by us?
03:12 Pre-membership is OPEN
04:56 What is Spice DAO?
07:32 What is a DAO?
08:36 A fan lead franchise buy-out
10:15 Techno-conservative outrage
15:27 Imagine a fan owned Warhammer franchise
18:05 How would a fan owned franchise work?

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What is Solarpunk?

Solarpunk is the newest genre of science fiction, a joyous and optimistic vision of a future where humans and our technology live in balance with nature. Solarpunk is an artistic, cultural and political movement that encompasses the arts, architecture, fashion and technology.

But optimistic visions of the future are never all that they seem. From HG Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come, to Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home, one science fiction author’s vision of a bright utopia is another’s grim dystopia. Can Solarpunk envision a utopia for all?

00:00 Two quotes from Brave New World
01:02 Welcome to the Science Fiction podcast
02:33 Am I trolling the scifi community?
03:49 The pre-history of ****punk
09:33 There is no such thing as Solarpunk
12:15 What is Solarpunk?
20:14 A Solarpunk Manifesto
23:17 Solarpunk is a genre without a story
25:12 Ursula Le Guin : patron saint of Solarpunk
33:13 The moral absolutism of Those Who Walk Away From Omelas
35:53 Science Fiction and the shadow of Utopianism
39:33 Can we ever achieve a utopia?

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Solarpunk’s political manifesto: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHI61GHNGJM

NFTs are the future of science fiction

There is, somewhat ironically, a techno-conservatism among some sci-fi creators, especially those whose traditional means of making a living have been disrupted by new technology. Most recently the techno-conservatives have targeted NFTs. Which is a shame, because NFTs are the future of science fiction.

If you are a science fiction creator with questions about NFTs please post them to the thread for this episode on the Science Fiction community.

Questions here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/324897304599197/permalink/1322475831508001

00:00 How much would you pay for the One Ring?
04:44 Welcome to the Science Fiction podcast
08:59 Beware techno-conservatism
11:49 A true story about Pablo Picasso
14:51 The Internet is a machine for copying data
17:18 What is an NFT?
20:45 What is a blockchain?
21:49 What is the metaverse?
23:15 What is web 3?
24:38 FAO – Frequently Asked Objections
27:52 A new way to monetise creativity
29:25 How I broke Elder Scrolls
31:19 The unreal to become real must have limitations
33:22 Storytellers are the coders of the 21st century
37:32 Humans aren’t the Federation, we’re the Ferengi

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The prophetic visions of Philip K Dick

We are living in strange times. Politics. Society. Culture wars. Things have gone weird. We’re looking for knowledge and wisdom to guide us in strange times.

I can think of no better guide to the year 2022 than Philip K Dick.

The author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the inspiration for Blade Runner, is best known as a science fiction writer. But after his infamous spiritual awakening and the events of 2-3-74, Philip K Dick became something more….a visionary prophet who saw our strange times coming.

00:00 Welcome to strange times
01:07 The prophetic Philip K Dick
03:45 A career of three parts
08:54 2-3-74
12:40 The films of Philip K Dick
15:24 The nine prophetic visions of Philip K Dick
15:47 NINE – The Exit Door Leads In
18:10 EIGHT – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
21:21 SEVEN – Chains of Air, Web of Aether
24:59 SIX – The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
28:12 FIVE – V.A.L.I.S
31:52 FOUR – The Electric Ant
35:25 Interlude: what is reality?
36:45 THREE – Ubik
40:18 TWO – Exegesis
42:53 ONE – The Man In The High Castle
45:59 The Man Who Gazed Into The Mythos
51:49 Writing the 21st century myth

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The best Scifi & Fantasy of the 21st century (Part 2 of 2)

We are 21 years into the 21st century. What better time to look at the century we are living in…the century of science fiction.

A special double episode of the Science Fiction podcast. Part 2 of 2.

00:00 Intro to part 2
01:47 Eleven : Simon Stalenhag / Doctor Who
06:48 Ten : Becky Chambers / Black Mirror
08:53 Nine : Syama Pederson / Battlestar Gallactica
16:08 Eight : Adam Roberts / Game of Thrones
19:31 A note from our sponsor Raytheon industries
23:12 Seven : Jon Favreau / Firefly
29:52 Six : Elon Musk / Matrix
35:31 Five : Solarpunk / Arrival
38:45 Four : Hans Zimmer / Lord of the Rings
43:23 Three : Janelle Monae / Discworld of Terry Pratchett
47:33 Two : Ted Chiang / Dune
52:31 One : Denis Villeneuve / The Expanse
56:33 Outro : The Mythic and the Scientific

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The best Scifi & Fantasy of the 21st century (Part 1 of 2)

We are 21 years into the 21st century. What better time to look at the century we are living in…the century of science fiction.

A special double episode of the Science Fiction podcast. Part 1 of 2.

00:00 The science fiction century
03:07 Welcome to new listeners.
04:59 The best scifi and fantasy of the 21st century
06:46 Why science fiction and fantasy?
10:46 21 + 21 = 42
13:16 The first year of the Science Fiction podcast
15:04 Twenty-One : John Scalzi / Star Wars
23:46 A few outliers
26:55 Twenty : Beeple / Blade Runner 2049
32:29 Nineteen : Cixin Liu / Mass Effect
37:18 Eighteen : Jenova Chen / American Gods
42:00 Seventeen : Tamsyn Muir / The Handmaid’s Tale
44:40 Sixteen : Christopher Nolan / The Witcher
48:04 Fifteen : N K Jemisin / District 9
49:53 An offer you can refuse
52:48 Fourteen : Charlie Jane Anders / Harry Potter
55:31 Thirteen : Qntm / The Orville
58:31 Twelve : Hwang Dong-hyuk / Interstellar

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The Matrix and the archetypes of Carl Jung

There’s a question about The Matrix I’ve been asking myself since the franchise established itself in the collective unconscious of humanity back in the early 00s.

What is Sigmund Freud doing in these movies?

00:00 What’s Sigmund Freud doing here?
02:21 Welcome the the Science Fiction podcast
04:01 Freud vs Jung
09:05 Good vs Evil
13:00 Carl Jung’s little Red Book
16:26 The Jungian tradition in 20th century storytelling
22:21 The Matrix and the archetypes of Carl Jung
35:17 The false god of the Gnostics
37:34 The journey to the Self
39:56 A Jungian myth for the 21st century

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Can Denis Villeneuve make a movie out of Rendezvous with Rama?

What has a superbly detailed technical description of an interstellar megastructure and no characters or story?

Denis Villeneuve’s latest film project.

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Why do we like Geralt of Rivia? The Witcher season 2

He smells terrible. He never has any money. And he’s a violent killer.

There are a lot of reasons not to like Geralt of Rivia. But we do like Geralt of Rivia.

Why is that?

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Kim Stanley Robinson | Interstellar travel is a religious fantasy

Science fiction is fighting a doctrinal war. Between those who believe that humankind’s future is still the stars, and those – like Kim Stanley Robinson – who believe interstellar travel is a fantasy of religious belief. The science is clear, travel to other stars may well be forever beyond us. So why do we keep telling this story?

A response to Kim Stanley Robinson’s interview for the Science Fiction Talks club on Clubhouse. Find his full interview here: https://www.clubhouse.com/room/xe65rroG

Read The MInistry For The Future: https://amzn.to/3y5YmT3

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The Unreal future of science fiction

I’m resisting the temptation to throw it all in and disappear down the Unreal Engine rabbit hole. Forget outer space, the future of humankind lies in the infinite exploration of inner space and the realms of the human imagination. But don’t worry….the world-building AI will always need storytellers.

00:00 The Unreal Engine rabbit hole
04:44 Humans are never going to outer space
08:23 J G Ballard’s take-down of outer space
10:12 The future of inner space
15:35 We are all science fiction creators
17:16 Even the gods of world-building still need storytellers

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