Sunday, May 02, 2010

Some Science Fiction Thoughts

Right now I'm in the midst of reading Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve, which I'm finding a little underwhelming after the splendor of his Larklight books. The world is interesting, but it's another one of thoses dystopian futures. We're talking way, way into the future, and I haven't picked up on what exactly happened to lead humanity to pack up its cities and start moving them around, though it may have had something to do with earthquakes, volcanoes, and other such natural events.

Sort of like what we've been experiencing lately.

I do get the feeling, though, that technical people are the heavies in this story. The members of the Guild of Engineers shave their heads and wear rubber coats. That's got to be a bad sign. And the head guy in London is also the head of the Guild of Engineers, and he appears to be up to no good.

Science and its followers are often the cause of disaster in contemporary science fiction, especially in apocalyptic novels. I refer you again to Science Fiction and the Frame of Technology in which Paul Woodlin lays out the ways technology is often represented in science fiction. Most of them aren't what most of us would call positive.

Woodlin offers the following caution: "While SF should explore the potential dangers of technology, it should be very careful, more careful than many writers (especially script writers) are, to not cross the line into being anti-science. It is scientific wonder that is at the heart of SF. To become anti-science would undermine SF, breaking its own frame, leaving it defenseless and rootless. The rejection of science may eventually lead to the rejection of SF;"

I don't know about leading to out and out rejection of science fiction, but the anti-science attitude in scifi certainly has become a cliche that could lead readers to feel we're just reading variations of the same story.

If you'd like to get some idea of what's out there for science fiction right now, you can check Charlotte's most recent Fantasy and Science Fiction Round-up and Sweet New Spec Fiction on the Horizon.

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