Saturday Waffling (July 2nd, 2016)


First of all, I just want to direct you all to Shana's post from Friday, because it's an absolute stunner. Really, everybody's on form lately, and it's leaving me itching to finish off Brief Treatise, because I feel like the weak link on my own site. Although the truth is that something fairly fast and easy like Brief Treatise is still useful while I finish up Last War in Albion Volume 1 revisions (which I got the last big part of done this week), typeset Neoreaction a Basilisk, and finally get some work done on the next actual chapter of Last War in Albion. So I'm busy, just not with stuff that goes on the blog weekly.

Still, I've been thinking about what I want to do after Brief Treatise and the Super Nintendo Project wrap. I've got a Jack-style series in mind called Build High for Happiness, and an ongoing thing called The Proverbs of Hell, both of which should be fun. And perhaps one-offs on things like Mr. Robot season two, which I'm terribly excited for. And probably reviews of The Obelisk Gate and Death's End when those come out. Those will presumably come before Super Nintendo Project wraps, of course.

Meanwhile, for discussion this week... what do you want that science fiction isn't providing for you right now? 


arcbeatle 4 years, 6 months ago

I suppose I've been trying to make what I want in Sci-Fi myself recently, with the serial Sci-Fi novel I released last year, so I may as well take the chance to shill my 99 cent Sci-Fi ebook in the same vein:

I think Sci-Fi should be experimenting with structure and form, while not being quite as hidebound to the same sort of protagonists we're used to seeing in it. Both diversity wise, and personality wise. So hey, hopefully I can do my part with that.

This also, of course, means more diverse VOICES are a must here.

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Jane 4 years, 6 months ago


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Max Curtis 4 years, 6 months ago

Real strangeness. Science fiction and fantasy are like modern art. They're supposed to make you go, "What the hell is THAT?!" People are too content with minor variations on generic stuff. Just come up with something really insane that might not work in any way whatsoever, because that's the sort of thinking that made Frankenstein and robots and Daleks.

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Sean Dillon 4 years, 6 months ago

-Liberals going into the future and stealing technology, but not releasing all of it at once so as not to completely pollute the timeline. Trickle Down technology, as they call it.
-Deconstructions of the Trolly Problem wherein it's pointed out that the logic of the dilemma (do you kill baby Hitler to prevent World War II) could be used to justify preventing the assassination of Ferdinand (or, really, any major catastrophe within a 10-20 year circle of the child's birth), thus preventing both World Wars.
-Wes Anderson movies.

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Josh Marsfelder 4 years, 6 months ago


More productively? Gender equality. And magick.

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bombasticus 4 years, 6 months ago

A friend called out the "worlds" latent in this headline. I'd love to see sciffy return to the explication of difference and expressive diversity. Maybe the "alien" hasn't dropped below the surface of fan media lately -- as the old joke goes, my Klingon parents learned English when they came to this planet back in the day like everyone else -- but it strikes me as a useful approach.

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Lambda 4 years, 6 months ago

I dunno, I don't think there's ever been a great science fiction show which I've realised I need in my life before actually discovering it. They need to do something I haven't previously thought of in order to be great, which pretty much rules anticipation out. Before 2015, I didn't know I wanted to watch a show about pretending the zombie apocalypse hasn't happened to ward off depression, or one about smartphone voting politics imposing conformism. Before 2012, I had no idea that hard(ish) science fiction could turn on a cloud of bats reminding someone of watching the stars reflected on perfectly still water, or concentrate on why the ordinary folk of oppressive groups don't even realise what they are, or that a history infodump could be one of the most dramatic scenes possible.

But in very general trends, well, I'd love it if Western science fiction could get away from all its protagonists being good at conflict. I think being a good person naturally makes you bad at conflict, because you have to take all the things people say seriously so you don't dismiss them as wrong without thinking about them properly, and you can't try to manipulate their thoughts because that's a violation of their mental integrity and autonomy. Having a protagonist or two who just isn't very good at arguing with people would be far more important for me, representation-wise, than anything to do with my gender/romance/sex unusualnesses.

And more generally, how about some genuine attempts to imagine the future, instead of everything being about concepts which were invented decades (if not centuries) ago (and probably having a protagonist first imagined decades, if not centuries ago too). In particular, can we have something containing the kind of AIs we might actually be making in a couple of decades? We're likely in for some very drastic changes soon, and science fiction just isn't interested, because it's now about things like aliens, robots, vampires, psychic powers etc. all divorced from their original context which gave them meaning, just as things to play narrative games with. Unskilled labourers might be economically "useless" soon. Where's the science fiction thinking about that?

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JDX 4 years, 6 months ago

Whether you think it's successful or not, the book I'm reading at the moment might interest you. Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning describes a 25th century so different from our own that at first it's hard to get a handle on the problems the book's characters are facing. But it's future is hugely based on French enlightenment philosophy, so would that qualify for you as a reimagined future? Regardless, it definitely isn't a variation on the typical SF futures you seem to object to. ANd I'd definitely recommend it to all Eruditorum people because its vision of the future is outrageously optimistic and profoundly complex in a way that I think would captivate most of us here.

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Eric Gimlin 4 years, 6 months ago

Short novels.

There's absolutely a place for massive multipart epics; and there's still a lot of good short fiction kicking around. But it doesn't seem like there are many books in the "kill an afternoon" range anymore. And I still think that's a good length for SF; enough to build a world and characters but not so long as to represent a major investment of time.

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Graham 4 years, 6 months ago

Honestly, really good prose. The best prose writers of genre fiction tend to lean toward fantasy—Catherynne M. Valente, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Gaiman, etc.—while SF gets left in the dust. Not that there aren't good prose writers existent within the genre right now, they just tend to be buried beneath the Stephensons and the Robinsons and such. Who, don't get me wrong, write great books, but they're not people you go to for poetic language.

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Daru 4 years, 6 months ago

Mind bending weirdness.

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Iain Coleman 4 years, 6 months ago

Continued membership of the European Union.

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