Tag Archives: science fiction

Left/Progressive Science Fiction

“Rjurik Davidson talks speculative fiction with Kim Stanley Robinson and China Miéville…” read it at: Overland literary journal.

Interesting interviews/discussions with two of the most prominent voices in science fiction today – very different voices, but both speaking from a left/progressive position. The editor of Overland – a “quarterly e-bulletin about events, politics and literature” – focuses particularly on what it means to be a left/progressive writer of speculative fiction/science fiction in the discussions.

Kim Stanley Robinson on Science and Religion

Pursuant to my recent post on Kim Stanley Robinson’s Galileo’s Dream:

Kim Stanley Robinson at Duke, 1.29.10: Kim Stanley Robinson’s outstanding talk at Duke last week, “Science, Religion, and Ideology,” is now up at YouTube…. It’s truly essential viewing, not only for his fans but for anyone interested in either science fiction or the Utopian possibilities of scientific practice… (via Gerry Canavan.)

Seven Secret Lives

I’ve just finished Kim Stanley Robinson’s most recent book, Galileo’s Dream. It’s many things – including a very satisfying historical novel, and an attempt to grapple with the role of science in society. In this latter, it is part of a project that Robinson has been engaged in for a long time – through the Mars Trilogy and the more recent “Science in the Capital” series (Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, Sixty Days and Counting, and perhaps Antarctica as well.)

It’s a profound issue, and Robinson also makes a compelling case in these books for its vital importance – in particular as a way to confront and confound the processes of what he once called “Götterdämmerung capitalism” that are behind climate change/global warming as well as much of the poverty and misery that still torments the world, despite our enormous technical and scientific achievements and the immense wealth and power humanity has at its disposal.

But while Robinson is a great “big picture” writer, a writer of ideas and often of an epic scope, what makes him such a rewarding and poweful writer, so pleasurable to read, is his humanity, and his grounding in the lives and feelings of his characters. How alive Galileo becomes for us reading this book (and also how like Sax from the Mars books).

And there are moments when Robinson is just writing about what it means to be human, to be alive, when he strikes a real chord with me – when, like Galileo, I feel as if I am a bell that has been wrung:

We all have seven secret lives. The life of excretion; the world of inappropriate sexual fantasies; our real hopes; our terror of death; our experience of shame; the world of pain; and our dreams. No one else ever knows these lives. Consciousness is solitary. Each person lives in that bubble universe that rests under the skull, alone. (p. 280)

Climate Change! Geoengineering! Terraforming!

An interview with the author of Hack the Planet on the science fiction website Tor.com

GGG#020: Climate Change! Geoengineering! Terraforming! (Guest: Eli Kintisch): Eli Kintisch, author of Hack the Planet, joins us to discuss some of the ambitious and risky geoengineering schemes that are being proposed to address climate change… (via Tor.com / Science fiction and fantasy.)

For more of Kintisch’s views, check out his website/blog, Hack The Planet

Another possible explanation for the BP oil spill

something stirring in the Earth’s crust…

In 2015, the most ambitious drilling project in history is under way. Dr Nasreen Chaudry and her team have reached 21 kilometers into the Earth’s crust – but something is stirring far below. Amy Pond discovers there’s nowhere to run when you can’t even trust the ground at your feet. (via ONEDDL.)

Have “ambitious drilling projects” ever not led to disastrous consequences?

Of course, if the Doctor were here, we wouldn’t still be waiting for the oil spill to be stopped. After a lot of running around and shouting – which, frankly, we could do with a bit more of from BP, who have seemed remarkably torpid in their response – the whole thing would be sorted in an hour. Where’s the Doctor when you need him? Let’s have more of that British export and a bit less of BP, thank you very much.

BBC – BBC One Programmes – Doctor Who: Series 5.

Towel Day – Celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams

Towel Day – Celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams: “Towel Day is an annual celebration on the 25th of May, as a tribute to the late author Douglas Adams (1952-2001). On that day, fans around the universe proudly carry a towel in his honour.”

I rarely leave the house without a towel – usually a highly portable pack towel from REI, though, and I don’t think this really cuts it in the serious Hitchhiker community…

Reading List: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi [updated]

The Windup Girl - coverThe Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi has been hailed as “2010’s science fiction ‘it’ book” (here) and one of the finest science fiction novels of the year. It’s been nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards as best novel. And Time Magazine named it one of the Top 10 Fiction Books in their year-end round up of the “Top 10 of Everything.” Despite all this (well-deserved) critical acclaim as a work of science fiction, though, Windup Girl seemed at times disturbingly topical — far too close to non-fiction, given the harsh, dystopia future it depicts.

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Is Obama a Secret Vulcan?

Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Is Obama a Secret Vulcan?

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Tintin Joins the Struggle

When I’ve had a beer or two and start spouting off about the ills of the faux-democratic, globalized, corporate capitalist world order, I’m regularly asked (often in somewhat exasperated or disbelieving tones) what sort of alternative I envision to the capitalist societies we (or at least me and most of you likely to be reading this) live in,  and if I really believe revolution is possible. As the saying goes, those are the $64,000 questions. Continue reading

The President’s Inaugural Address

On January 20th 2009, a new president may be inaugurated. I say only may because it is hard for me to see McCain as new, as any sort of change from what’s been inflicted on us these past eight years – “meet the new boss…” and all that. But if the United States does elect a new president, Barack Obama – as I desperately hope it will – what will he say in his inauguration? He could do much worse that this, by the fictional President Phil Chase:

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