Tag Archives: science fiction

This is not a recession, it is the end of an era

UPDATE : WordPress.com won’t let me embed the Prezi, so you’ll just have to make use of your opposable thumbs and click the link.

If you haven’t discovered Prezi yet, you really should. It’s one of the most powerful communication tools on the interwebs, and possibly a minor-revolution for the written word. But this isn’t a post about Prezi. It’s a post about one line of text in the rather wonderful Prezi below.

New Economy, New Wealth presents an idea that has been lingering in my, and I’m sure in many other peoples heads, for quite some time. Namely, that this thing we call ‘The Economy’ seems to have stopped working. And it’s showing no signs of starting up again. And it never made any sense in the first place, when you look at it in the cold hard light of the Post0Capitalist now. I’m not going to explain any more, because the Prezi below does it better.

The line to look out for is the title of this post, ‘This is not a recession, it is the end of an era.’ I think this is an important idea to start spreading, because it’s something we all need to wrap our heads around double quick. We aren’t just going to return to the consumer economy most of us are used to. We’ve tipped over the brink in to the information economy. This is a good thing. BUT. The transition is going to hurt in direct proportion to the length of time it takes us all to realise it is happening. In fact, this recession has really been caused by people who either don’t realise or are in active denial about the changes we are facing.

Anyway. Feel free to not believe me. Just remember in ten years time when you are living in an autonomous localised commune, printing musical instruments from your 3D printer and trading your compositions for Wuffy, me and the Science Fiction people told you so.

New Economy, New Wealth on Prezi

The SpecFic books I read again and again

Cover of "Consider Phlebas [SIGNED, First...
Cover via Amazon

John DeNardo challenged a number of writers to think about the speculative fiction they return to again and again. My response is bellow. I would love to see a similar challenge for the nonSF books that Sf writers are influenced by, that would be fascinating. Also, I seem to have declared the death of Science Fiction in my choices. A position I stand by.

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I certainly have books that I come back to time and time again. As a reader these are the books that I love. As a writer they are the core influences that inspire my own work. And as a critic they are the touchstones that I measure new work in the genre against. Some are single books, others runs of work that represent the best of a particular author. I suspect that many of these books come from the Golden Age of SF, IE my late teens and early twenties. That seems to be the age when the ideas of SF have the most impact. But I am still finding books that leave me staggered and awestruck, but more and more it seems to come from outside SFF.

Neuromancer – William Gibson’s work is engraved in to the deepest parts of my subconscious. This and his short fiction are still books I refer to constantly, because Gibson is as good a structural writer as he is a futurist. What strikes me now about this work are its mythic elements, prototypical Joseph Campbell monomyth through and through. On top of his other achievements, Gibson was perhaps the first writer to signify the collapse of science fiction, and the rise of fantasy as the mode of serious discussion in speculative fiction.

The Sandman – not a book, but nonetheless Neil Gaiman‘s magnum opus, is arguably the most important work of speculative fiction of the last quarter of the 20th century. I might write an essay on how Neil Gaiman killed Science Fiction. But not here.

Iain M Banks culture novels from Consider Phlebas to Look to Windward – I might jokingly suggest that Iain M Banks titles two of these books with quotes from T S Elliot’s The Wasteland because that was the state of space opera and nearly all American SF at the time. A desolate, moribund wasteland of ill considered, poorly written libertarian posturing. Banks re-imagined space opera as a vehicle for intelligent, liberal discourse on the nature of utopia, while at the same time bringing a level of literary quality that still eludes all but a very few writers in genre.

One Hundred Years of Solitude – if there exists a platonic ideal of what speculative fiction could be, Gabriel Garcia Marquez‘ masterpiece of magical realism is it. Combining the traditions of Western realism, and indigenous South American magical narratives, the book does not so much create a fantasy world, as demonstrate how our own world is permeated with the magical and fantastic just beyond the reach of the rational / scientific worldview.

Earthsea – OK. Neil Gaiman did not kill science fiction. He just finished off the twitching remains left behind by Ursula Le Guin. If parents realised the potent mix of post-modern and Taoist philosophy Le Guin is smuggling in to the minds of little children, it’s quite possible these book would be banned in numerous states of America.

I could go on, but that is enough from me for now.

Reality is for people who can’t handle Science Fiction

It’s all too easy to dismiss science fiction and fantasy stories as escapist nonsense. But there’s ultimately something despairing about the charge of running away most readers of these genres encounter at some point. It tends to come from an authority figure of some kind – a teacher, a boss, a parent. It is often well intended. But even as they make the accusation, you can hear a part of them whispering quietly, “I want to escape! I want to imagine! I want to dream!” Unfortunately they’ve forgotten how, and reality is too important to escape from – even for a moment.

Read more on The Guardian website

Cory Doctorow Interview

Willing Science Fiction into Fact

Activist-novelist Cory Doctorow explains to Damien G Walter how he hopes his writing will change tomorrow’s world.

Cory Doctorow’s office lies behind a featureless, black security door in a north London side street, deep in a converted post-industrial warehouse, down echoing corridors and concrete stairways. It’s an appropriately “underground” headquarters for the activist-novelist, who is explaining to me why he’s not interested in predicting the future using science fiction, but influencing it.

Read more on Guardian books.