Star Wars – addiction or recovery?

My major teaching project for this year has been Advanced Scifi & Fantasy : Writing the 21st Century Myth. This new course is my journey to try and understand what myths are doing in our lives today. I’m happy that almost five thousand students have so far enrolled on the course to join that journey.

A highlight of the course – and of my year – was interviewing John Vervaeke, Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Toronto (where he teaches alongside Jordan Peterson) on the meaning of myth. And of Star Wars.

A member of John’s community created a brief edited video from out 90 minute conversation. In just a few minutes, it captures the whole meaning of our discussion.

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How Blade Runner constructs an empathy test…for the audience

The science fiction author Philip Kindred Dick believed that humans were defined – not by our intelligence or our technology – but by our empathy. The human capacity for empathy – our ability to place our self into the experience of the other – is what makes us truly human. It’s our capacity for empathyContinue reading “How Blade Runner constructs an empathy test…for the audience”

Week in Scifi 004 : Ready Player Pooh

Monolith theories

Ready Player Pooh

Ben “The Boss” Bova

Live from the Tolkien home for Damon Knight Grandmasters

80s post-apocalypse hair

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The book that inspired the Culture of Iain M Banks

Long time readers will know I am a super-fan of the Culture novels by Iain M Banks. I’ve essayed and videoed them half to death already, and in recent years have read or re-read almost Banksy’s entire output. Great artists steal, goes the saying, and Iain Banks was something of a magpie for cool ideasContinue reading “The book that inspired the Culture of Iain M Banks”

Is geek culture mere escapism?

“The only people who hate escapism are jailers.” The quote is attributed to both C S Lewis and to J R R Tolkien. Whomever said it first, it captures the spirit that both wrote their fantasy stories in. A generation later, the fantasy writer Michael Moorcock revised the quip: “Jailers love escapism — it’s escapeContinue reading “Is geek culture mere escapism?”

We need the spirit of Dangerous Visions (but we don’t need Dangerous Visions)

I loved short form scifi storytelling. Mirrorshades, the anthology that defined cyberpunk, made me want to write SF. In my 20’s I published two dozen short stories. I really enjoyed subbing stories to these mysterious old magazines that – back in the day – often still demanded you send manuscripts in PRINT! In 2008 IContinue reading “We need the spirit of Dangerous Visions (but we don’t need Dangerous Visions)”

Is this the moment that inspired the Force in Star Wars?

Much has been written about the origins of Star Wars in ancient mythology, via the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell. But the blockbuster movies’ origins in modern mythology are sometimes forgotten. The Foundation saga by Isaac Asimov is one of the most influential science fiction stories ever written. It inspired classic storytelling from Frank Herbert’sContinue reading “Is this the moment that inspired the Force in Star Wars?”