September 22, 2007
This site flies in the face of what many people turn to SF to find, but it makes for thought-provoking reading.
This recent speech by Geoff Ryman even amounts to a manifesto of sorts.
Thanks to Alexandra Kitty for the link.
September 22, 2007 @ 3:03 pm
The name…I like Geoff Ryman’s work, but really ‘mundane’ scifi, what a name to put people off. Let’s call it ‘boring’ scifi to really drive them away in hordes.
September 23, 2007 @ 6:44 am
Re: The name…
‘mundane’ scifi, what a name to put people off.
Obviously a play on fandom’s name for the rest of the world, but, yeah, calling something "mundane SF" hardly sounds like a compliment.
September 22, 2007 @ 6:25 pm
Not overwhelmedHe’s primarily attacking mass-market SF. What I would call space operas and they’re well deserving of attack. But he hits several topics in the cross fire that I’m not sure are as deserving.
First and worst, the stuff about wanting to leave the planet being an adolescent escape fantasy is seriously irritating. Partly because of the crap Gaia Earth Mother way it’s written and partly because the general level of condensation it achieves. But primarily because it’s wrong.
The reason for going space isn’t the adventure or because this planet is falling apart; it is because it can fall apart. Humans, of all ages, want power over their environment. Since controlling and safe guarding a planet is a vastly harder problem than controlling an artificial environment, maybe it does make sense to leave for a while even as just a backup. Currently we have all our eggs in one shared atmospheric system, one disaster, contaminant or virus and we’re all toast. This is essentially Hawking’s argument.
Then he spends a long time saying why it doesn’t make sense to go interstellar, I completely agree Charlie Stross did a better job of this fairly recently. But that doesn’t cover our local solar system though. The two things humans need, raw materials and space, are both available up there. Robots, or preferably self-replicating nanotechnology magic machines, can mine asteroids and Orbitals made of asteroids or the robot gathered material could provide real-estate.
Brain downloads: transferring something that has four switches (up and down in both directions) to a system works through binaries?
There is absolutely no evidence that the brain is in some way inherently quantum mechanical. Who is guilty of misrepresenting science to maintain a dream here? The brain is just a biological system like any other. We can scan it, simulate it and possibly write it back out again.
I’m concerned that the Mundane movement could be used as cover to avoid future possibilities that make writing more difficult. Downloading seems actually the most likely of all science fiction possibilities as it assumes no new technologies and no new science. But it makes writing difficult as it immediately jumps you past the point of comprehension (a number of writers have done well covering the run up to it however).
Generally, most SF isn’t crap because of the faulty science, its crap that just happens to have faulty science in it. In a world with the Da Vinci Code in it do I really need to make this argument?
OT: David Deutsch gave a great talk that touches on part of this: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/47
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