Madeleine Monson-Rosen over at iO9 wrote an amazing post last May called “12 Happy Accidents that Helped Save Science Fiction.” It needs no help from me[full stop].
And like anything I read that’s really awesome, it made me wanna do stuff. What stuff did I do? I explored each item on her list. So these are my completely unauthorized footnotes to Monson-Rosen’s excellent list. This will make zero sense, if you do not read her list first. So, play this Forbidden Planet ambient sound, and read the original before you read the derivative shizz below . . .
(I know this is a lot of reading, that’s why I’m posting it on a Sunday. Besides, if you’re still with us after the interminable 3 part Wondercon series this week, you have what is known as an attention span, so you’re fine.)
Back? Awesome list, right?! And you’re immersed in the ambient sound?
FLIR eyes, four hearts – can’t lose. Let’s go …
You can still find Amazing Stories originals, and there are a few reprints out there.
And as to Percival Lowell, the very legit astronomer who inspired Gernsback, he was one of the proponents of the Mars canals theory, which was totally amazing and totally incorrect. Bummer. But he predicted the discovery of Pluto (as did Wilmarth in “Whisperer in the Darkness”, though probably for different reasons- that’s a Lovecraft jam, by the way). There were other theories.
Arthur C Clarke’s vid about the Mandelbrot Set (it’s a math thingy) could make for good party atmospheric, with all the fractals and such, except for the intervening old, white dudes talking to the camera. arrgg – holy shnikey – yeah, a little science fiction type music would help.
“The best analogue I can offer for the singular experience of reading this novel is a video game where any teleology, any notion of progress or levels to be mastered, has been stripped away.”
Tempting, right? WTF-style. Delaney is a dude to have a beer with.
NOTE: Monson-Rosen is quoting Atwood from her In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (Looks delicious. It’s mostly essays, and features flying rabbits and mad scientists.) Some of Atwood’s analysis is based on Le Guin’s comments in the intros or PFs of her novels. See kids? Those prefaces, forwards and introductions are treasure hoards. It’s true that the Story is the Thing, but you can find amazing little gems in many pre, post, uber, aft, under -ambles. Don’t skip steps!
How many TV shows can boast fan-made productions? Here are a few of the many, some with pretty impressive casts, including actors from the official shows. Some are quite good; some exist. All represent a tremendous amount of dedicated soul-brain-tenderbits fanaticism.
Hidden Frontier The website for this series was like a Star Trek TNG arcade, with a variety of audio and video indulgences, including a tip o’ the hat to Homer’s Odyssey and a few crossover episodes with Intrepid (below). But now I can’t find their actual site. Wormhole? Borg? The fan film version of daft TV execs?
Star Trek: Intrepid Apropos of nothing, this series features both Trill and Romulans with thick Scottish accents. Hey, why not? It’s Star Trek.
Star Trek Continues Wow – pretty damn good. Award-winning continuation of TOS (finishing the 5 year mission), same Enterprise crew (different actors, obvi). The acting is legit; that seems to be the rarest commodity in fan-made productions.
Star Trek: Of Gods and Men This one offers a bewildering array of actors and characters from the official shows, and is kind of a mix of TOS and TNG worlds. Pretty cool.
Star Trek Renegades And this is more of the same, by the same folks who did Of Gods and Men. Top notch.
How about skipping pre and post production and just making it up?
There are around 600 Star Trek novels. That’s a lot of between-episodes gap-filling. That’s a big galaxy to explore. That’s a lot of intelligent life to entertain, so you know what I think we should do? LET’S PUT ON A SHOW !!! You knew this thing existed, but have you done anything about it? Why the hell not, you lazy petaQ?! There is also Much Ado About Nothing. Two caveats: don’t strain your larynx with all those violent glottal stops, and remember that Paramount “owns” Star Trek, so you can’t make any money off your show. Too conventional for your tastes? Try one of these. Oh, Esther Inglis-Arkell – thou hast cleft my nerd heart in twain with this post – so… Dun and pup. Grah!!
All I want are the coffee mugs. All of them. I can close my eyes and pretend I’m taking a break in Ten Forward, without the need for primary-colored jammies. (The rank pips come off when you sleep: go to bed a lieutenant commander, wake up an ensign. Not after I worked so hard to earn them, thanks very much.)
Mr. Pohl died in 2013. Did I mention his blog?
In my completely non-scientific study placing a (completely arbitrary) selection of science fiction sub-genres into the Google Ngram, you can see that “Afrofuturism” is not exactly a giant, culture-cracking warhammer. Or even merely “hot”.
But then – meh – maybe Afrofuturism isn’t exactly a genre. The Google Ngram Viewer is more of a linguistic tool than a “How Popular or Widespread is this Concept?” tool. The term “Afrofuturism” wasn’t even coined until the early 90s (by Mark Dery), even though its roots go back much further, so perhaps we can’t draw any conclusions about why it’s not a bigger thing, based soley on Ngram processing. What we really need is to consult Ol’ Faithful, Ol’ Reliable, that sine qua non of serious research: Google Fight (French version – just cuz). Though Octavia Butler does very well, Afrofuturism gets slaughtered by everything, including “toothpick sculpture”. [Update: As of 2/16/17 “afrofuturism” has pulled ahead of “toothpick sculpture”.]
Hm. It’s just possible that my research method has some holes in it.
Here’s what the deal is: Afrofuturism is science fiction that is 100% grounded in reality. “African Americans, in a very real sense, are the descendants of alien abductees; they inhabit a sci-fi nightmare in which unseen but no less impassable force fields of intolerance frustrate their movements; official histories undo what has been done; and technology is too often brought to bear on black bodies (branding, forced sterilization, the Tuskegee experiement, and tasers come readily to mind).” From Dery’s essay “Black to the Future” (in Flame Wars). Afrofuturism speculates out from that actual and ongoing experience.
Afrofuturism has a helluva wingspan: music, academics, fashion, literature, etc.. On the other hand, it appears to have a point, which never hurts. You’ve got a lot of exploring to do. From Sun Ra to Janelle Monae, from Ytash L. Womack to Bill Campbell — People of the Earth! If you want to ask the What If? and you want to explore uncharted vastness and you want to build something entirely new – This is it!
Along with Gregory Benford and David Brin, each writing one book, Bear was hand-picked to write the Second Foundation trilogy by the Asimov estate. That’s kind of a big thing. Sometimes these dudes are called The Killer Bs, but I don’t know what that’s about. Oh. Maybe it’s the Bs in their names. [face palm]
You can at least pretend you’re doing something edgy with this. In fact, when you know there’s a good chance your boss is gonna walk by your cubicle, use HackerTyper to freak them out.
This is actually amazing – I have no idea how well it works.
This hour+ interview (the sound gets better when they late-adopt the technology of “microphones” about 15 minutes in) covers a lot of territory, from Gibson’s writery habits to the singularity (which he terms “the geek rapture”).
This is who he’s talking about, influence-wise:
Rajan Khanna provides a sharp intro to Alfred Bester, who has a bent towards psychology and wrote for those dangerous comic book magazines (Have you heard of this Superman character? Terrible for kids!), back in the day. The Stars My Destination sounds rad.
And back to Tor.com for Mordecai Knode’s (real name?! jealous) blurb on renaissance man Fritz Leiber’s very un-cyberpunky things.
And as for New Wave sci fi, thank the star-spangled heavens that this very readable Encyclopedia of Science Fiction article clearly states that “New Wave writing is difficult to define”. I feel a bit let off the hook. Thank you SFE. The basic idea is that New Wave tended to be more literary (whatever that means) and more experimental. It rose to prominence in the early 60s but was passé by the 70s. We’re talking about some excellent folks, though: Russ, Zelazney, Ballard, Moorcock, etc..
How about David Brin’s list of scifi/fantasy for young people? There’s nothing that’s not on here. Except, like… Dhalgren.
Thank you for your excellent list, Madeleine Monson-Rosen; I hope you’re not bummed that I riffed on it. Standing on the shoulders of robot giants, over here.