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grahamsleight points out an article by Margaret Atwood on why we need science fiction that's too good not to relay:
If you're writing about the future and you aren't doing forecast journalism, you'll probably be writing something people will call either science fiction or speculative fiction. I like to make a distinction between science fiction proper and speculative fiction. For me, the science fiction label belongs on books with things in them that we can't yet do, such as going through a wormhole in space to another universe; and speculative fiction means a work that employs the means already to hand, such as DNA identification and credit cards, and that takes place on Planet Earth. But the terms are fluid. Some use speculative fiction as an umbrella covering science fiction and all its hyphenated forms - science fiction fantasy, and so forth - and others choose the reverse.

I have written two works of science fiction or, if you prefer, speculative fiction: The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake.
If she keeps this up we're going to have to stop mocking her for not getting it, aren't we?

ninebelow has a roundup of her previous statements on the relationship of her work to sf here.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Good to hear.
And how does she classify fiction that only employs what is currently known, but is not set on the Earth, e.g. Dan Simmons's historical novel Phases of Gravity, part of which is set on the Moon?
That'd be _mundane_ semi-speculative fiction.

:->
Ha! :)
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I think the "mundane" and the "science" kind of cancel each other out so you're just left with the "fiction".
Genius. With this and the Mundane Missile description, you're on a roll.
Bobbins. It is Bobbins.
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Whoops, sorry. Colloqualism for rubbish.

Mundane SF = no aliens, no spaceships. This somehow makes your SF quantifiably Better but no-one is saying how.
Mundane SF = no aliens, no spaceships.

Except when it suits them to ignore this.
it is a tricksy manifesto. doubly tricksy because it makes no sense whatsoever.
mundane SF is a manifesto that Geoff Ryman started, trying to encourage people away from Space Opera and into more earth-based, people-centred SF that didn't involve impossibly big ideas.

Think Neuromancer, River of Gods or Air.
Because River of Gods and Air certainly don't have impossibly big ideas!
Neither one seems impossibly big to me. The only one I found unlikely was the use of parallell universes - other than that it seemed pretty plausible.

Air skirted around the big implausibility - how do you actually hook up people's heads without invasive surgery - and got a bit silly at the end - but was largely focussed entirely on the effect of huge technology curves on people who aren't equipped to deal with them, mostly dealing with ordinary human beings on an entirely recognisable planet Earth.
Magic things that connect our brains and let us rip down fences = cool, sadly implausible.
Yes, the ripping down of fences, and the transcending of time were both in the implausable camp. And also completely unnecessary and put me off the book. Shame, cos I was rather enjoying the other bits.
The fence-ripping scene, as I have tried to explain to Dan many times, is super-kickass-awesome-cool. And I quite liked the shift into magic realism towards the end--interesting way of representing the future, I thought--though I wasn't entirely convinced by the pregnancy and birth.
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Yeah, how exactly is that mundane? Or RoG, for that matter...
(damn, gotta type this a second time)

Compare its tech to present tech:

- Biofuels: check

- Biofuels automobiles: check

- Palmers/mobile handheld computing: just a few generations from current blackberries and G3 mobiles - check.

- EM weapons: have them already, and DoD/DARPA is working on directed energy weapons now, so - check.

- Selective genetics for children with extensive manipulation: feasible with sufficient medical progress - check.

- Chemical/biochemical manipulation of bodies for emotional influence: working on that now by the multi-billions in the pharma industries now - check.

- "Nutes": sex-change operations have been around for 30 years, and they have been growing in technological sophistication now that artificial hormones are more prevalent. It is a rational expression of the level of technology IM posits, but is fairly distant from the current level of technology. It might be conceivable if 'trannies' became an economic force equal to or surpassing the homosexual niche in the wealthy world that such an application of technology would be developed though. So...will give it a self-negating check/no-check.

- Permanent manned spacestations: check

- ... with some artificial gravity (spinning): feasible, and the scale of the operation in space would be feasible with the level of political interest & economic resources posited: check

- ... with solar sails: feasible with sufficient nano-development. Note realworld projections of nanomaterials market value is no less than $3 trillion by 2014 in the US alone...so a provisional check

- Military mecha: feasible engineering application, but would be profoundly expensive...Japan's robotics demonstrate the feasible now - provisional check

- Remote-operated military machines: have it already - check

-Zeropoint Energy: quite classic SF, though IM did not make it ubiquitous (e.g. use my belt-mounted ZPE battery to teleport to Paris - whoosh!) - no check.

- Timetravel: another quite classic SF: so no check

....

No aliens, teleporters, FTL ships, colonyships, handheld rayguns.

So balance of tech is mostly plausible, making it mundane SF.
..you seem to be leaving out the AI. The crazy!powerful AIs, in fact. Quasi-singularity AI-ishness, potentially. Which I can't really call a 'check' at this time. At that level, it ain't mundane. It's not Space Opera, but that doesn't, by extension, make it 'mundane' SF; I'd call Margaret Atwood's stuff 'mundane', some of MMS's as well (Spares, f'r example) but that's worlds away from this.
AI - I had it the first time. I also mentioned the planetary model...which I gave a check, assuming computing continues to progress as in the past or faster.

To the AI specifically, I don't rate it entirely improbable, but the 'singularity' has become something of a classic SF trope. I would probably give it a self-negating check/no check, like nutes.

The reason I would give AI Gen 3 a potential check is because it is a digital intelligence (not Mr. Data), following its own interests, and is derived from such computationally-difficult things as a global stock market and popular television. I can see much of this complexity being handed off to ever-more sophisticated programs that could re-write themselves to resolve issues that arise in a timely manner.

In 'my' RoG, I would have a lot more computer gaming going on...it is a cultural expression I would expect with that much accessible AI.
Consider where computers were in 1965. No one then could imagine our handheld personal computing in our cell phones, laptops, and blackberries. I therefore have to be relatively optimistic about a similar development leap in the future 40 years.

And that optimism isn't in the mere abstract. This is a technical challenge that the computer industry is spending billions on now trying to achieve...and is matched with all the ideas going into 'quantum computing' and 'nano circuitry.'
"Earth is all we have" sf. The focus seems to be on near-future hard-science stuff. People seem to object more to the tone of the website and manifesto than to most of the content; the Mundanes assert that mundane sf isn't just good, it's in some way better.
While I, myself, like Banks' Culture Novels and the Lensman novels, non-SF people tend to be put off by all of that - mundane SF is much more likely to be attractive to these people, AFAIK.

For yer actual SF fanboy, of course, sundiving spaceships carrying memeplexes to fight alien AIs are the bees knees (that, by the way, is the finale of The Golden Age).
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The website.

The blog.
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starts reading about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's engagement instead

That's a much more sensible course of action :)
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pinkpinstripes told me that the Scientologists make him divorce every ten years because there's some kind of US law where if you're married longer than that the spouse gets the right to a higher alimony, or something.

Still, he was pretty good in Top Gun. Didn't like Days of Thunder all that much though.

(wrong account the first time, sorry)
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She's probably thinking that she'll stick around for a few years, get loads of publicity, do a risque West End play, a Baz Luhrmann musical, and then leech a load of money off him in a divorce settlement. But the crazy Scientologist thing divorce will hit her and ZING!

I liked Minority Report too, but not specifically because it had Tom in it. Vanilla Sky is apparently pretty good but I haven't seen it.
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Never mind the good looks, I reckon Tom is dead scared of passing along his height. He's really tiny, remember.

I think I mostly liked Minority Report because of the smooth grey and white futury bits that looked like what I imagine the insides of my iBook must be like.
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It'll be interesting to see how A Scanner Darkly turns out then.

Hey look Niall! We're kind of back on topic!
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Linklater should be able to pull it off; go watch his weird-ass mind-bender film called 'Waking Life' if you want to see more of the live-action-as-basis-for-weirdo-animation kind of antics. Same technique as he's using on ASD, methinks. Could be very interesting.
And if, halfway through, the characters all get run over by a Vauxhall Nova, it's mundane infernokrusher.

-- tom
I'm not even sure what we call that one ... ;-)
I hope someone has had the nous to pass this on to Langford.
Nice to see what is effectively a recanting of her original refusal to classify O&C as SF.

However, to be a bit cynical, I wonder if this has come now, after O&C has been a critical and commercial success, because the reclassification isn't going to hit sales?
I am shocked by that suggestion. Shocked, I say.
She wrote pretty much the same thing ("I myself have written two works of "science fiction" or, if you prefer, "speculative fiction," The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake.") back in January 2004, several months before the paperback release of O&C.
Damn! There goes half of my best material!
...with TEH MUNDANE SF. ;-)