Posts Tagged: science fiction

Science Fiction Can Show Us How

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In the wake of the events surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, science fiction can offer a particularly compelling alternative to illustrate a future without violence and inequality. Mary Hansen at Yes! talks with author and activist Walidah Imarisha, who coined the term “visionary fiction:”

I think that science fiction and visionary fiction, as my co-editor Adrienne Maree Brown says, are a perfect testing ground to explore the countless alternatives that could exist to policing and institutions like prisons.

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Jeff VanderMeer author photo by Kyle Cassidy 2014

The Rumpus Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

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Jeff VanderMeer discusses the environment, his childhood, and the conception and conclusion of his Southern Reach Trilogy.

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Sci-Fi Tide Sweeps through China

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Science fiction is a growing force on the Chinese literary landscape now that government scrutiny of the genre has loosened up, according to a recent article in the Times. The English publication of Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem, following the inclusion of several of the author’s stories in the prestigious People’s Literature journal in 2012, serve as evidence of a growing readership.

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Writing Tomorrow Better

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Find yourself at the New York Times for Nick Bilton’s most recent article, a piece on the ways in which the sci-fi of the past has affected our real-life present. Moreover, Bilton highlights a recently formed group of writers, aware of literature’s future-shaping effects, interested in writing more auspicious future fiction:

One thing writers are pushing back against in particular is Hollywood’s depiction of the future.

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Chipping at Wonder Woman

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Samuel “Chip” Delany’s penned the landmark 800 page science fiction tri-sexual space novel, any number of short stories set through all corners of the galaxy, and a craft book Junot Diaz calls “a measure of what all criticism and literature should aspire to be, but what you might not know is that he also wrote for Wonder Woman:.

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Straight out of Kafka

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All for a novel? Eighth grade school teacher Patrick McLaw was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education and is currently being investigated by the County’s Sheriff, James Phillips, who explained—somewhat cryptically—that McLaw is at a “location known to law enforcement .

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Disappearing Act

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Invisibility has a long literary history, from science fiction, like in H.G. Wells’s Invisible Man, to fantasy, like in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Often, the difference is between methodology and motive. Wells focused on scientific accuracy to illustrate “the messy outcome of this collision between science and myth.” Tolkien employs invisibility as metaphor; the magic behind it is unimportant.

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A Journey to the Center of the Literary Canon

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In the Weekly Standard, Algis Valiunas debates the literary legacy of Jules Verne.

“William Butcher, the foremost English Verne scholar, boasts that his man is “the world’s most translated writer, the best-seller of all time, the only popular writer to have increased in popularity over more than a century.” Yet in the next breath the enthusiast bleats that too few know that Verne, in fact, reigns supreme in worldwide popularity and that all too few serious persons realize how serious Verne really is.

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Digital Age Fuels Sci-Fi Short Stories

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The digital era has brought on a new golden age of science fiction. Electronic books, self-driving cars, and video phones may not seem too fictional these days, but technology like the Internet has empowered all sorts of new distribution methods connecting sci-fi writing with the fans who support it. New science fiction magazines launch with crowd funding campaigns, while tools like podcasts make fandom even easier— and ultimately, it’s all about the fans:

Sci-fi and fantasy’s online success is down to the strength of its community.

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Classic Literature or Science Fiction Backstory?

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Science fiction creates its whimsical magic by imagining new worlds, or sometimes even new universes, for readers to lose themselves in. But what if the best inspiration we can get for writing about the future comes from our past?

A lot of works, especially those of Orwell, aren’t just painting the portrait of a skewed society, they are showing how that society might spring from our own.

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How Accurate Is Chang-Rae Lee’s New Novel?

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Perhaps American sci-fi is made to tell immigrant stories. And maybe there’s a reason why, during a 24-hour travel back to Taipei, I felt welcomed home by the collective voice of B-more.

Kevin Tang’s review of Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea for BuzzFeed Books brings to bear his experience growing up in late-’80s Taiwan, where, despite austere living conditions and endless work hours, “we were content, and didn’t know how to protest.”

Tang seems like the perfect person to illuminate Lee’s novel about a grossly unequal futuristic America’s division between the individual and the collective.

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Buy Robert Heinlein’s Bed

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“How would you like to own Heinlein’s ‘second-best bed’?” asks this eBay listing, which is apparently legitimate.

The bed was designed and built by the sci-fi writer himself, who built all kinds of nifty conveniences into it, including “a drawer, a pull out writing surface, and shelf space, as well as”—buyer beware—”a compartment suitable for a box of tissues, and a trash compartment with a removable container.”

Local pickup in Long Beach!

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Women-Only Worlds in Science Fiction

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At the BBC, writer Sarah Hall explores “the popular motif in science fiction of an all-women society surviving without men.” In the two-part program, Hall talks with authors, professors, and science fiction historians, looking at how science fiction “has been used to examine relationships between the sexes,” and how the genre “has examined the different ways of continuing the human race.”

(Via Bookslut)

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Manufacturing Reality

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“But if we are going to manufacture our reality, couldn’t we make it a bit better? The thing we seem to like manufacturing the best are enemies, and here we are all guilty. Al-Qaida manufactured a vision of the west dominated by Satan, and the west has manufactured a simplistic vision of the Islamic world to direct its anger at in response.”

Applauding science fiction’s ability to remind us of the constructed nature of reality, this Guardian article references Lavie Tidhar’s new novel, Osama, as a key example of the genre’s political possibilities.

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The Unsettling Visions Of Thomas Disch

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“Fantasy is not avoidable. The very act of writing fiction is a sin, a lie. One of Disch’s most haunting stories, ‘Getting Into Death,’ is about a writer (one who uses two pseudonyms, at least one of which Disch used himself) who orchestrates her death by fabricating warmth and sentiment toward everyone she has ever known, creating a surfeit of charmingly mawkish moments.

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Staging A Beautiful Apocalypse

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Today is the birthday of one of my very favorite living writers, Samuel R. Delany.

(I spoke once here before about how I share with Junot Diaz an abiding love for Delany’s work.)

All it took for him to become my favorite was to read his legendary, mind-boggling and notorious sci-fi apocalyptic epic Dhalgren a few years back when I was living in an old Edwardian in the Sunset District of San Francisco and working for lawyers in the Lake Merritt District of Oakland.

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