“The point of a futuristic novel isn’t to predict the future. The point is to show how humans adapt and change to deal with whatever the future brings. The skills that sci-fi readers practice are adaptability, resourcefulness, calmness in the face of change and stress.”
As many people know, author Ray Bradbury died June 5, 2012 at the age of 91. Here are some interesting links on his life and work:
From io9, State-controlled reproduction is a nightmare, with appropriate references to Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, a wonderful book I reviewed early last year, Brave New World, and Philip K. Dick‘s short story called, The Pre-Persons, that pro-choice activists hated. The piece briefly covers the issue of child-rearing and abortion, and while the author seems to have agenda, it’s a fascinating read. And of course, some of the commenters bring up China’s One Child Policy and population control.
My take on it? I refer to an old interview with Margaret Atwood, discussing The Handmaid’s Tale,
Any power structure will co-opt the views of its opponents, to sugarcoat the pill. The regime gives women some things the women’s movement says they want—control over birth, no pornography—but there’s a price. If you were going to put in a repressive regime, how would you do it?… Anyone who wants power will try to manipulate you by appealing to your desires and fears, and sometimes your best instincts. Women have to be a little cautious about that kind of appeal to them. What are we being asked to give up?
It’s a good question for us all: When we vote for some new government program that will supposedly benefit our lives, just what have we given up that was trivialized or that nobody even identified? Science fiction has a way of giving us hints to possible futures.
From the Guardian:
It has been banned in schools, made into a film and an opera, and the title has become a shorthand for repressive regimes against women…Some books haunt the reader. Others haunt the writer. “The Handmaid’s Tale” has done both.
Read the whole thing at the link.
The Future of Science Fiction, a Wall Street Journal article, refers to one of my favorite authors, Margaret Atwood. I haven’t tried writing science fiction yet, but I do like Robert Heinlein, also mentioned in the piece.
From the Guardian, the author, Francis Spufford, asks, “What can science fiction tell us about God?”
He then says, “not much, really,” and gives us a plausible explanation.
A book review of William H. Patterson Jr.’s biography of Robert A. Heinlein, Volume One: Learning Curve. An excerpt:
Better late than never. Robert A. Heinlein, the “dean of science fiction,” eldest (and some say greatest) of the “big three,” finally has his authorized biography – the first half of it, at least. Volume One: Learning Curve, covers approximately the first 40 years of his life, covering his childhood, Navy service, political career, first forays into the writing world, his service during WWII, and then his return to writing, for good this time. As the volume ends, he is just beginning to pick up momentum, and there seems a promise of great things to come.
It’s about time, certainly.
From technology review, a list of ten:
Even if history later proves it utterly off base, a good hard science fiction story makes you think “That could actually happen!” That’s certainly the case for each of our ten favorite hard science fiction books, listed in chronological order.
Although I’m no expert on this genre, I agreed with one commenter: “No Heinlein?”
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966), by Robert A. Heinlein
This is an engaging science fiction work, one of Heinlein’s more popular books. Along with Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke, Heinlein was acclaimed one of the “Big Three” of science fiction. A “loonie,” (one born on the moon) computer programmer-maintenance man, named Manual, tells the story. He is often referred to as “Man” by “Mike,” the computer that controls everything. Mike talks, has apparent feelings and a conscience, and tells jokes—and the two of them are critically involved in an eventual “declaration of independence” of their polygamous penal colony from “Terra.” This, of course, results in a rock-throwing war using moon-based catapults slamming into the earth. To make things more interesting, there is also an attractive and liberated woman Wyoming Knott, a “slot-machine sheila”—just don’t say “Why Not.” And there is a distinguished “rational anarchist” professor, Bernardo de la Paz, who organizes the revolution.
This article from The Washington Post describes Philip K. Dick “as a pulp science fiction writer with a drug-influenced, paranoid worldview,” whose “literary reputation has not only risen but his books and short stories also have become filmmaker favorites. “Blade Runner,” “Total Recall,”“Minority Report,” “A Scanner Darkly,” and a dozen other movies, TV shows and video games have been adapted from Dick’s works.”
The article also states, “One thing Dick is not admired for is fine prose. His stuff tends to be lumpily written, obviously produced on the quick for sci-fi magazines and the pulp paperback market…” Although I am concentrating on reading as a study in writing styles—my goal is 50 books this year—I may sample his “lumpily written” work because the article also states that his books are “character-driven, featuring a small group of people in confined settings and environments” and they “concentrate on average Joes” who are placed into situations where they learn things aren’t what they seem. Sounds interesting; and I liked the movie, Blade Runner.