sartorias: (Default)
Way back, I read a science fiction story about digitalized memory. It might have been early on in the cyberpunk era. Anyway, the supposition was that memory could be downloaded, which meant, of course that it could be sold.

This particular story went straight for what I thought the obvious: porn and real death. All I remember is a scenario where condemned criminals could sell their death memory before execution.
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
Way back, I read a science fiction story about digitalized memory. It might have been early on in the cyberpunk era. Anyway, the supposition was that memory could be downloaded, which meant, of course that it could be sold.

This particular story went straight for what I thought the obvious: porn and real death. All I remember is a scenario where condemned criminals could sell their death memory before execution.
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] rysmiel said they're sooo sick of various versions of this topic"

"Is 'Is SF Dead?' Dead, Or, Can We Stop Whining About The Parlous State The Field Is In And Just Get On With It Yet ?"

So here is Lois McMaster Bujold's guest-of-honor speech which, guess what, explores that very question!

I love her answer because it is so close to my own conviction, that SF is no longer about Science, or how Progress Will Save Your Soul (if you had one, but you don't), it's become the fantasy of political agency.

I also like how she explored romances, and their sociological niche. I think of romance novels as novels specifically cast in intimate space. Most of the novels I read move in and out of intimate space; some sf never enters intimate space, but uses the characters as puppets to illustrate ideas. How science fiction is reshaping itself yet again is a fascinating subject,and I love Bujold's take on the matter.
sartorias: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] rysmiel said they're sooo sick of various versions of this topic"

"Is 'Is SF Dead?' Dead, Or, Can We Stop Whining About The Parlous State The Field Is In And Just Get On With It Yet ?"

So here is Lois McMaster Bujold's guest-of-honor speech which, guess what, explores that very question!

I love her answer because it is so close to my own conviction, that SF is no longer about Science, or how Progress Will Save Your Soul (if you had one, but you don't), it's become the fantasy of political agency.

I also like how she explored romances, and their sociological niche. I think of romance novels as novels specifically cast in intimate space. Most of the novels I read move in and out of intimate space; some sf never enters intimate space, but uses the characters as puppets to illustrate ideas. How science fiction is reshaping itself yet again is a fascinating subject,and I love Bujold's take on the matter.
sartorias: (Default)
Abigail Nussbaum offers two things I see rarely: an intelligent and even-handed discussion of (an intelligent and even-handed treatment of) religion in science fiction. In this case, in the TV show Deep Space Nine.
sartorias: (Default)
Abigail Nussbaum offers two things I see rarely: an intelligent and even-handed discussion of (an intelligent and even-handed treatment of) religion in science fiction. In this case, in the TV show Deep Space Nine.
sartorias: (reading chair)
Okay, so I lied, I do have one more Conjecture thing I want to throw out there, see if anyone else is interested. This was a side-comment somebody made from the audience in a panel, not germane to the discussion or I would have been leaping and bounding and yodeling, but someone made one of those "As we all know"-toned references as to how "all fantasy" is regressive but SF is progressive.

R-i-i-i-i-ght.

One of the things I like about fantasy (not the main thing, because that would be allegory, and I don't like allegory) but one of the things is that the world-building can strip history down to bedrock and build up from there using a jumble of other elements. If they're convincing enough to drive the story, what you can end up doing is the Superversive* What If? But it can be done without invoking the clanking chains of political labels that tie ideas so hard to current issues in contemporary culture.

_________

*'superversive' is a coin termed by [livejournal.com profile] superversive. As he posted some time ago in a discussion over on SFF.NET:

'll agree . . . that good fantasy & sf should be dangerous,
that they should be ideologically challenging, that they should
question the standards of contemporary society. But this is not the
same as being subversive. To the extent that they are written merely to
condemn society, to propagandize against it, they are mere angry
polemic -- subversive polemic. . .

Good sf & fantasy, I maintain, is good & powerful not because of what
it tears down, but because of what it builds up in its place. Of all
the faculties of the human mind, the imagination is the furthest from
being subversive. Anyone can say 'down with the government', but it
takes imaginative genius to design a replacement for it. Anyone can
throw insults at Victorian prudery (a thing, btw, that does not even
exist anymore), but it takes imaginative genius & empathy to devise a
more humane set of mores. Anyone can bulldoze old buildings, but it
takes the imagination of an architect to put up new ones in their
place. By focusing on what is torn down, or more precisely what they
would *like* to see torn down, Anyone can rant against the evils of
industrialism, but it takes the genius of a Blake or a Tolkien to
propose an alternative form of society that will capture people's
imaginations (that word again!) & convince them that it is something to
strive for.
sartorias: (reading chair)
Okay, so I lied, I do have one more Conjecture thing I want to throw out there, see if anyone else is interested. This was a side-comment somebody made from the audience in a panel, not germane to the discussion or I would have been leaping and bounding and yodeling, but someone made one of those "As we all know"-toned references as to how "all fantasy" is regressive but SF is progressive.

R-i-i-i-i-ght.

One of the things I like about fantasy (not the main thing, because that would be allegory, and I don't like allegory) but one of the things is that the world-building can strip history down to bedrock and build up from there using a jumble of other elements. If they're convincing enough to drive the story, what you can end up doing is the Superversive* What If? But it can be done without invoking the clanking chains of political labels that tie ideas so hard to current issues in contemporary culture.

_________

*'superversive' is a coin termed by [livejournal.com profile] superversive. As he posted some time ago in a discussion over on SFF.NET:

'll agree . . . that good fantasy & sf should be dangerous,
that they should be ideologically challenging, that they should
question the standards of contemporary society. But this is not the
same as being subversive. To the extent that they are written merely to
condemn society, to propagandize against it, they are mere angry
polemic -- subversive polemic. . .

Good sf & fantasy, I maintain, is good & powerful not because of what
it tears down, but because of what it builds up in its place. Of all
the faculties of the human mind, the imagination is the furthest from
being subversive. Anyone can say 'down with the government', but it
takes imaginative genius to design a replacement for it. Anyone can
throw insults at Victorian prudery (a thing, btw, that does not even
exist anymore), but it takes imaginative genius & empathy to devise a
more humane set of mores. Anyone can bulldoze old buildings, but it
takes the imagination of an architect to put up new ones in their
place. By focusing on what is torn down, or more precisely what they
would *like* to see torn down, Anyone can rant against the evils of
industrialism, but it takes the genius of a Blake or a Tolkien to
propose an alternative form of society that will capture people's
imaginations (that word again!) & convince them that it is something to
strive for.
sartorias: (Eeeew!)
Yesterday the spouse was watching one of those cheezy old scifi (and I use the term on purpose) films. I never liked them when I was a kid. I loathed monsters. I still do. They used to terrorize me, then they just seemed ugly and boring. Monster fights always signal time to get a snack, or read another few pages, until the story starts up again. So do Hollywoodized sex scenes.

ANyway, I hadn't seen one of those for decades. Amazing how similar tropes appeared in them all. It's like filmmakers had all agreed through the zeitgeist that there would be a certain "look" to the future, and for the most part, that was fueled by imagining an ease to life, but where was the thought behind some of the details?

That het men did most of the design seems real obvious now: Big upward pointy vehicles (remember the fins on cars, you people my age?) lots of circles of various sizes. That was supposed to be futuristic and cool.

The women all in incredibly short skirts and B-52 bras, teetering on spike heels even when they were supposed to be efficient androids or futuristic worker-women (around the house, of course. Or in a factory.). Scientists' daughters show a particular prediliction for outfits like cashmere sweaters up to their necks, but skirts barely long enough to cover their butts. Belted to a fare-thee-well, of course. I guess Good Girls of the future signalled their goodness by keeping those collarbones strictly out of sight.

The machines all sounded either like toilets flushing in a gigantic hall, or like shortwave radios trying to bring in a signal. You know, beeeee-euoooooKSSSSH! wrdlwrdlwrdlwrdlWOOO!.

Machines also had TV monitors on them with lots of wavy lines and spectral blurps, I guess indicating subatomic power sources. (Remember radium clocks? Have your own glowing clock conveniently close by your head when you sleep, so you can always check the time!) Viewscreens shaped like triangles? In fact, what was it with the triangles, an inconvenient, off-balance shape if there ever was one? Why would we want things in triangles in the future? Did someone think they actually looked cool, or just . . . weird? Like the silvery bodysuits that were skin tight, with no zipper or flap in the back? Maybe in the future, since we were eating food in the shape of nourishment-cubes, there wouldn't be any bathroom visits.

The future was supposed to be easy--food in convenient pill form, and flying cars--but weird. So the sliding-whistle music, with random bleeps and bloops added. Labs with all the gigandor computers on altar-daises, because those extra steps up and down as you perform Arcane Science Rituals add to the futuristic weirdness. Mechanical dogs that whir and jolt, because nobody would want the trouble of a warm, loving pup.

I wonder if there's a parallel world where Earth really did develop like that. Euw. I never liked the Golden Age of Science Fiction partly because of the ugly, mechanistic futurama, partly because the women were incredibly boring (so, actually, were the two-fisted manly men) except for the mad scientists, but they had the social skills of kumquats. I guess in the future there wasn't any social life, either.
sartorias: (Eeeew!)
Yesterday the spouse was watching one of those cheezy old scifi (and I use the term on purpose) films. I never liked them when I was a kid. I loathed monsters. I still do. They used to terrorize me, then they just seemed ugly and boring. Monster fights always signal time to get a snack, or read another few pages, until the story starts up again. So do Hollywoodized sex scenes.

ANyway, I hadn't seen one of those for decades. Amazing how similar tropes appeared in them all. It's like filmmakers had all agreed through the zeitgeist that there would be a certain "look" to the future, and for the most part, that was fueled by imagining an ease to life, but where was the thought behind some of the details?

That het men did most of the design seems real obvious now: Big upward pointy vehicles (remember the fins on cars, you people my age?) lots of circles of various sizes. That was supposed to be futuristic and cool.

The women all in incredibly short skirts and B-52 bras, teetering on spike heels even when they were supposed to be efficient androids or futuristic worker-women (around the house, of course. Or in a factory.). Scientists' daughters show a particular prediliction for outfits like cashmere sweaters up to their necks, but skirts barely long enough to cover their butts. Belted to a fare-thee-well, of course. I guess Good Girls of the future signalled their goodness by keeping those collarbones strictly out of sight.

The machines all sounded either like toilets flushing in a gigantic hall, or like shortwave radios trying to bring in a signal. You know, beeeee-euoooooKSSSSH! wrdlwrdlwrdlwrdlWOOO!.

Machines also had TV monitors on them with lots of wavy lines and spectral blurps, I guess indicating subatomic power sources. (Remember radium clocks? Have your own glowing clock conveniently close by your head when you sleep, so you can always check the time!) Viewscreens shaped like triangles? In fact, what was it with the triangles, an inconvenient, off-balance shape if there ever was one? Why would we want things in triangles in the future? Did someone think they actually looked cool, or just . . . weird? Like the silvery bodysuits that were skin tight, with no zipper or flap in the back? Maybe in the future, since we were eating food in the shape of nourishment-cubes, there wouldn't be any bathroom visits.

The future was supposed to be easy--food in convenient pill form, and flying cars--but weird. So the sliding-whistle music, with random bleeps and bloops added. Labs with all the gigandor computers on altar-daises, because those extra steps up and down as you perform Arcane Science Rituals add to the futuristic weirdness. Mechanical dogs that whir and jolt, because nobody would want the trouble of a warm, loving pup.

I wonder if there's a parallel world where Earth really did develop like that. Euw. I never liked the Golden Age of Science Fiction partly because of the ugly, mechanistic futurama, partly because the women were incredibly boring (so, actually, were the two-fisted manly men) except for the mad scientists, but they had the social skills of kumquats. I guess in the future there wasn't any social life, either.
sartorias: (Default)
Those who choose not to read SF, why? Where has science fiction failed you, or ceased to spark the sense of wonder, or failed to engage your interest?

Seems to me that some readers are no longer intrigued by the possible. These readers (many of them young) don't exhibit the intrigue my generation did for fiction that displayed the tantalizing sense of peeking round the corner into the future. "Trying the future on for size." Is the lack of interest because tech itself is changing with a rapidity that feels almost fictional? Or is it the anxiety of all the world problems that we are afraid Progress (that north star for an entire century) cannot fix? Or is it a sense that we can no longer understand the science, which was not the case a hundred years ago? I might be seeing a shift in mindset that isn't there, but I sense that science fiction that retains its wide popularity tends toward the space opera mode, that is, the tropes of SF but presenting a universe that is just as improbable as fantasy.
sartorias: (Default)
Those who choose not to read SF, why? Where has science fiction failed you, or ceased to spark the sense of wonder, or failed to engage your interest?

Seems to me that some readers are no longer intrigued by the possible. These readers (many of them young) don't exhibit the intrigue my generation did for fiction that displayed the tantalizing sense of peeking round the corner into the future. "Trying the future on for size." Is the lack of interest because tech itself is changing with a rapidity that feels almost fictional? Or is it the anxiety of all the world problems that we are afraid Progress (that north star for an entire century) cannot fix? Or is it a sense that we can no longer understand the science, which was not the case a hundred years ago? I might be seeing a shift in mindset that isn't there, but I sense that science fiction that retains its wide popularity tends toward the space opera mode, that is, the tropes of SF but presenting a universe that is just as improbable as fantasy.
sartorias: (Default)
All right, so I'm weak. I had to finish it.

Wow. Just, wow.

Only thing I can safely say is, it gets a whole lot bigger than a country-house mystery.
sartorias: (Default)
All right, so I'm weak. I had to finish it.

Wow. Just, wow.

Only thing I can safely say is, it gets a whole lot bigger than a country-house mystery.

YA SF

Aug. 4th, 2006 12:49 pm
sartorias: (Default)
Still reading Shane Berryhill's Chance Fortune and the Outlaws, a YA SF. It is so up and down and choppy it never quite grips me, though I enjoy the bits that I do read. I do think the cover is unfortunate: someone seems to have wanted to evoke the gorious days of the pulps...of which today's kids are totally unaware. But the general idea--kid superheroes--matches my own view of why SF for kids doesn't work. (I'll do a cut for anyone who doesn't want to wade thru my views, which haven't changed.)
Read more... )

YA SF

Aug. 4th, 2006 12:49 pm
sartorias: (Default)
Still reading Shane Berryhill's Chance Fortune and the Outlaws, a YA SF. It is so up and down and choppy it never quite grips me, though I enjoy the bits that I do read. I do think the cover is unfortunate: someone seems to have wanted to evoke the gorious days of the pulps...of which today's kids are totally unaware. But the general idea--kid superheroes--matches my own view of why SF for kids doesn't work. (I'll do a cut for anyone who doesn't want to wade thru my views, which haven't changed.)
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
You guys are great--keep those reccos coming. i am building a specifically space opera list for the day (I hope, I hope) the debt load ever gets down to five figures. Well, at least closer to ten than over twenty.

Anyway, it being a smog-and-heat induced migraine day, no sustained reading for me, so I went to Home Depot to get some flowers for the planters, and as i stood in line (pretending I don't see the weird looks regular people sidle at me for wearing a hat with a plume to keep the damn sun off) I indulged, as happens every summer, in plotting more of my totally unsalable wish-fulfilment space opera, Old Bats In Space
sartorias: (Default)
You guys are great--keep those reccos coming. i am building a specifically space opera list for the day (I hope, I hope) the debt load ever gets down to five figures. Well, at least closer to ten than over twenty.

Anyway, it being a smog-and-heat induced migraine day, no sustained reading for me, so I went to Home Depot to get some flowers for the planters, and as i stood in line (pretending I don't see the weird looks regular people sidle at me for wearing a hat with a plume to keep the damn sun off) I indulged, as happens every summer, in plotting more of my totally unsalable wish-fulfilment space opera, Old Bats In Space
sartorias: (Default)
At the beginning of every summer I always look forward to a full-on space opera extravaganza. I reread my faves while my time is still splintered by catchup chores (you know, the grim other end of "I'll do that later when these immediate disasters have dragged their tentacles back down into the deeps" and now it's time to Pay Up)--so I reread Lowachee, Doyle & Macdonald's Mageworld, CJ Cherryh's s.o., Elizabeth Moon's Vatta series (I did read the third, Engaging the Enemy)am probably today going to finish the last Bujold/Miles, then it's on to new stuff.

Ahead? Lee and Miller's Crystal Dragon and Tobias Buckell's Crystal Rain. One of those odd coincidences, eh, that they both happened to have Crystal in the title? Soon to discover how crystal defines itself in the work.

I love space opera for its mix of big ideas, swashbuckling adventure, and intense character interaction. I also prefer humor--the Cherryhs don't have much of that, but the character stuff makes it up for me. I never cottoned to honor Harrington as they seemed too Dickensian--the characters all either caricature or stereotype, the heavy energy staying squarely on the tech. The later ones, when Harrington became an avatar, really punched me out--it's the rare writer who can make the shift from human being with all the inward conflicts to all-powerful avatar and keep me interested.
sartorias: (Default)
At the beginning of every summer I always look forward to a full-on space opera extravaganza. I reread my faves while my time is still splintered by catchup chores (you know, the grim other end of "I'll do that later when these immediate disasters have dragged their tentacles back down into the deeps" and now it's time to Pay Up)--so I reread Lowachee, Doyle & Macdonald's Mageworld, CJ Cherryh's s.o., Elizabeth Moon's Vatta series (I did read the third, Engaging the Enemy)am probably today going to finish the last Bujold/Miles, then it's on to new stuff.

Ahead? Lee and Miller's Crystal Dragon and Tobias Buckell's Crystal Rain. One of those odd coincidences, eh, that they both happened to have Crystal in the title? Soon to discover how crystal defines itself in the work.

I love space opera for its mix of big ideas, swashbuckling adventure, and intense character interaction. I also prefer humor--the Cherryhs don't have much of that, but the character stuff makes it up for me. I never cottoned to honor Harrington as they seemed too Dickensian--the characters all either caricature or stereotype, the heavy energy staying squarely on the tech. The later ones, when Harrington became an avatar, really punched me out--it's the rare writer who can make the shift from human being with all the inward conflicts to all-powerful avatar and keep me interested.

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