Science Fiction

Zeke Newbold

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let us know if its worth it as my monthly audible is coming up.
Just finished The Hatching and, on balance, I'd give the book the thumbs up, with some caveats. Boone takes what is a rather silly premise but writes it up well enough to create something vivd and memorable. In particular there is some good solid characterisation - I was almost reminded of Whyndam at times - even if I didn't find any of the characters all that likeable.

But the reservations. I've already metioned the lack of a scientific exposition. These spiders act in swarms and actively attack people - which the book itself points out is untypical arachnid behaviour. The rationale given - that these are a previously unlisted type of spider just seems lame, and you know that the spiders are another zombie apocalypse routine in another guise. (You could contrast this with Guy N. Smith's The Locusts from - oh, a long time back - where there is a convincing, researched scenario).

Then you realise that the novel is just Book One of an ambitious projected cycle and... well am I really the only person left in the world who appreciates a self-contained story!? So you do feel a little shortchanged when it becomes apparent that the whole thing is just setting up the background to a much longer multi-book money spinner.

Oh, and it is all rather gloomy, too much so, and could do with a bit of light relief here and there.

So, it's worth a read, but I won't be catching any of the sequels. On principle.
 

Naughty_Felid

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I really the only person left in the world who appreciates a self-contained story!?
Have you tried Aurora? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora_(novel)

I can see why a lot of people thought this was the best SF novel of 2015.

A multi-generational crew man a starship 160 years out to Tau Ceti to start a new world.

Brilliant.

5 out of 5.

The wiki page when talking about themes is pretty thin it's so much more than that.

Says so much about us and our planet, our space program, climate change. Read or hear the last chapter by a beach.
 
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Interesting article on The Futurians and their legacy.

Mutate or Die: Eighty Years of the Futurians’ Vision
By Sean Guynes-Vishniac

OCTOBER 30, 1937. Packed into the small meeting space of the Third Eastern Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia, roughly 20 attendees listened as Donald A. Wollheim delivered a provocative essay written by his friend, fellow New York Fan Association (NYFA) member John Michel, whose stutter was too intense for public speaking. The essay “Mutation or Death!” was nothing less than a call for a revolution within the nascent science fiction and fantasy (SFF) community. In it, Michel proclaimed, “The Science Fiction Age […] is over.” Despite the fact that it had only been 11 years since Hugo Gernsback began publishing Amazing Stories and launched the so-called Golden Age of SFF pulps, the genre was, in Michel’s view, “dead” from “intellectual bankruptcy.”

This must have come as a shock to the attendees, who likely assumed science fiction was alive and well, believing that it bore great ideas and predictions about the future of humanity. It soon became clear that what Michel meant by his galling declaration of SFF’s death was that the genre lacked a “politics,” and thus was devoid of a purpose beyond mere entertainment.

If John Michel is remembered for anything in the science fiction community — and he’s certainly not beloved on account of his fiction, which has gone almost entirely uncollected in the 70-ish years since he stopped writing — it’s for his controversial speech that October, because it was this speech that launched the movement toward organized politics in the SFF community. ...

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/mutate-or-die-eighty-years-of-the-futurians-vision/
 

Naughty_Felid

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Interesting article on The Futurians and their legacy.

Mutate or Die: Eighty Years of the Futurians’ Vision
By Sean Guynes-Vishniac

OCTOBER 30, 1937. Packed into the small meeting space of the Third Eastern Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia, roughly 20 attendees listened as Donald A. Wollheim delivered a provocative essay written by his friend, fellow New York Fan Association (NYFA) member John Michel, whose stutter was too intense for public speaking. The essay “Mutation or Death!” was nothing less than a call for a revolution within the nascent science fiction and fantasy (SFF) community. In it, Michel proclaimed, “The Science Fiction Age […] is over.” Despite the fact that it had only been 11 years since Hugo Gernsback began publishing Amazing Stories and launched the so-called Golden Age of SFF pulps, the genre was, in Michel’s view, “dead” from “intellectual bankruptcy.”

This must have come as a shock to the attendees, who likely assumed science fiction was alive and well, believing that it bore great ideas and predictions about the future of humanity. It soon became clear that what Michel meant by his galling declaration of SFF’s death was that the genre lacked a “politics,” and thus was devoid of a purpose beyond mere entertainment.

If John Michel is remembered for anything in the science fiction community — and he’s certainly not beloved on account of his fiction, which has gone almost entirely uncollected in the 70-ish years since he stopped writing — it’s for his controversial speech that October, because it was this speech that launched the movement toward organized politics in the SFF community. ...

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/mutate-or-die-eighty-years-of-the-futurians-vision/
He's not even mentioned in the index of Trillion Year Spree which is pretty odd.
 
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I think I may have read one or two of these stories, I'll put the book on my list.

David Bunch’s Prophetic Dystopia
Jeff VanderMeer

It’s been hard to get your hands on David R. Bunch’s best-known work for almost half a century now. Most of the Moderan stories—linked, fable-like tales written in an experimental mode, set on an Earth ravaged by nuclear holocaust—were published during the 1960s and 1970s in magazines and later gathered, along with several additional stories, in Moderan, a collection put out by Avon in 1971. Outside of specialist circles, Bunch has been all but forgotten, the original Moderan volume long out of print.

Yet, in the years since his most prolific period, the nightmarish dystopia he imagined has begun to look increasingly prescient, even prophetic. In Moderan, men who have violently transformed themselves into cybernetic strongholds battle across an Earth paved over with plastic and tunneled under with living quarters. Creature comforts for these men—who are portrayed with sympathy but, first and foremost, as products of a culture of toxic masculinity—include sex robots and seasonal cheer, from spring flowers to Christmas wreaths, regulated by technocrats. ...

https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/...tter&utm_term=David Bunchs Prophetic Dystopia
 
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Good news for us nerds.

SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY READERS MAKE GOOD ROMANTIC PARTNERS
New research suggests they have more mature ideas about how real-world relationships work.
TOM JACOBS JUL 31, 2018
  • New research suggests fans of those genres have more mature beliefs about romantic relationships than readers who gravitate toward suspense, romance, or even highbrow literature.

    "Individuals who scored higher for exposure to science fiction/fantasy were less likely to endorse four unrealistic relationship beliefs," writes a research team led by psychologist Stephanie C. Stern of the University of Oklahoma. "Romance is not the only written fiction genre to be associated with real-world beliefs about romantic relationships."

    The study, in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, featured 404 adults (a bit more than half of them female) who were recruited online. Their exposure to seven literary genres—classics, contemporary literary fiction, romance, fantasy, science fiction, suspense/thriller, and horror—was measured in a test in which they were asked to identify the names of authors who specialized in each. ...

https://psmag.com/news/science-fiction-and-fantasy-readers-make-good-romantic-partners
 
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This book sounds interesting.

Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction Alec Nevala-LeeDey Street (2018)

Alec Nevala-Lee’s Astounding is a fascinating collective portrait of four men who, together and apart, helped to shape modern science fiction. They were the legendary, irascible John W. Campbell Jr, long-time editor of the magazine Astounding Science Fiction (later Analog), and three of his key writers. Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein became giants of the genre. L. Ron Hubbard, by contrast, was a prolific purveyor of pulp fiction (and future founder of the Church of Scientology).

Under Campbell’s editorship, Astounding was transformed during the late 1930s and 1940s from a showcase for space-opera schlock into a serious venue for futuristic extrapolation, often written by professional scientists such as Asimov, a biochemist, and electronics engineer George O. Smith. That era has become known as science fiction’s golden age. Nevala-Lee — himself a science-fiction writer — delivers a compelling account of its hopeful rise and ignominious fall.

Pivotal in this trajectory was the massive, lingering impact of the Second World War on the magazine and its stable of authors, several of whom were drawn into military research. Asimov, Heinlein and fellow Astounding regular L. Sprague de Camp tested war materials at the Philadelphia Navy Yards in Pennsylvania from 1942. Campbell, under the aegis of the University of California’s Division of War Research, led a team of authors revising technical manuals for military use. He also joined Heinlein and de Camp in brainstorming unconventional responses to kamikaze attacks, such as detecting approaching aeroplanes using sound. ...

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41...=social&utm_campaign=naturenews&sf199886429=1
 

GNC

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@Yithian

Couldn't work out how to reply on the status, so I'll say here: The Black Hole is a beautifully designed sci-fi epic, but it it's basically 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in space, and doesn't quite match their earlier hit. You can see why it wasn't a success, it is grim and gloomy, even with a great cast of over the hill venerable stars. Maximillian is an excellent baddie (both of them). And Roddy McDowall is a great robot voice.
 
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Robert A. Heinlein is back - as a character in Gregory Benford's new novel. Looking forward to it.

ROBERT HEINLEIN IS the legendary author of such classic works as Starship Troopers, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Stranger in a Strange Land. His books have influenced generations of artists and scientists, including physicist and science fiction writer Gregory Benford.

“He was one of the people who propelled me forward to go into the sciences,” Benford says in Episode 348 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Because his depiction of the prospect of the future of science, engineering—everything—was so enticing. He was my favorite science fiction writer.”

Heinlein appears as a character in Benford’s new novel, a time travel thriller called Rewrite. The novel depicts Heinlein as a MacGyver-esque man of action who dispatches his enemies with the aid of improvised traps. Benford, who met Heinlein in the late 1960s and knew him throughout his life, says this is an extremely accurate portrayal. ...

Listen to the complete interview with Gregory Benford in Episode 348 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below. ...

https://www.wired.com/2019/02/geeks-guide-gregory-benford/
 

James_H

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Robert A. Heinlein is back - as a character in Gregory Benford's new novel. Looking forward to it.

ROBERT HEINLEIN IS the legendary author of such classic works as Starship Troopers, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Stranger in a Strange Land. His books have influenced generations of artists and scientists, including physicist and science fiction writer Gregory Benford.

“He was one of the people who propelled me forward to go into the sciences,” Benford says in Episode 348 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Because his depiction of the prospect of the future of science, engineering—everything—was so enticing. He was my favorite science fiction writer.”

Heinlein appears as a character in Benford’s new novel, a time travel thriller called Rewrite. The novel depicts Heinlein as a MacGyver-esque man of action who dispatches his enemies with the aid of improvised traps. Benford, who met Heinlein in the late 1960s and knew him throughout his life, says this is an extremely accurate portrayal. ...

Listen to the complete interview with Gregory Benford in Episode 348 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below. ...

https://www.wired.com/2019/02/geeks-guide-gregory-benford/
He made a hit-and-miss writer and probably not a great guy, but by God would Heinlein make a great character.
 

GNC

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The ageing, militaristic libertarian trying to get down with the kids? Ripe for parody, maybe.
 

brownmane

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I only read some sci-fi as I tend to read more horror/dark fantasy, but have read Stranger in a Strange Land. It was loaned from a friend. Very good story.
So many books, so little time...
 

Jim

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Watched "Apollo 18" , an under wraps mission sent to the moon by the DOD (vs NASA) to find out what happened to an earlier ill-fated Soviet landing that didn't bode well. Have seen better special effects however the movie use of a creepy - suspenseful story line and the nasties finally show themselves.




s
 
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Who was the real Mother of Science Fiction?

Fantasy Girls
By Rachel Feder 04/22/2019

This essay grew out of two quotidian sources: a pattern I noticed on Twitter, and a dream.

The pattern was as follows: as the Frankenstein bicentennial unfolded over the course of 2018, a great many people wrote tweets about Mary Shelley, often referring to her as the mother, creator, or inventor of science fiction. And because the Twitter algorithm has really got my number, it learned to show me these tweets paired with 18th-century British literature scholar Manushag Powell’s inevitable comment, which usually said something like “Cavendish!” or “You’d love Margaret Cavendish!” or “Guys, Cavendish!”

This got me thinking about what we want from Mary Shelley. Why must she mother a genre, on top of all the other mothering she did? Why are we collectively so committed to a fantasy of Mary Shelley as the ingénue inventor of speculative fiction, and what might these speculations tell us about our fantasies of genre, writ large? ...

https://blog.lareviewofbooks.org/essays/fantasy-girls/
 

Jim

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Who was the real Mother of Science Fiction?

Fantasy Girls
By Rachel Feder 04/22/2019

This essay grew out of two quotidian sources: a pattern I noticed on Twitter, and a dream.

The pattern was as follows: as the Frankenstein bicentennial unfolded over the course of 2018, a great many people wrote tweets about Mary Shelley, often referring to her as the mother, creator, or inventor of science fiction. And because the Twitter algorithm has really got my number, it learned to show me these tweets paired with 18th-century British literature scholar Manushag Powell’s inevitable comment, which usually said something like “Cavendish!” or “You’d love Margaret Cavendish!” or “Guys, Cavendish!”

This got me thinking about what we want from Mary Shelley. Why must she mother a genre, on top of all the other mothering she did? Why are we collectively so committed to a fantasy of Mary Shelley as the ingénue inventor of speculative fiction, and what might these speculations tell us about our fantasies of genre, writ large? ...

https://blog.lareviewofbooks.org/essays/fantasy-girls/
Mary Shelly pioneered a lot of the Gothic horror. Obviously Frankenstein, but she influenced virtually all vampire, mad scientist material as well. Way ahead of he time when you consider she composed Frankenstein ~ 200 YA.
 
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New short story collection by Ted Chiang.

In his new collection, “Exhalation” (Knopf), his second, Chiang again presents elaborate thought experiments in narrative modes that initially seem familiar. Contemporary issues relating to bioethics, virtual reality, free will and determinism, time travel, and the uses of robotic forms of A.I. are addressed in plain, forthright prose. If Chiang’s stories can strike us as riddles, concerned with asking rather than with answering difficult questions, there is little ambiguity about his language. When an entire story is metaphorical, focussed on a single surreal image, it’s helpful that individual sentences possess the windowpane transparency that George Orwell advocated as a prose ideal.

The new collection starts with “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a quirkily original exploration of time travel set in a mythical, ancient Baghdad and told as if it were a tale out of “The Arabian Nights.” Here, Chiang imagines time travel as a “gate” through which one steps into another dimension to confront a past or future self without having the ability to affect anything in that dimension. A series of linked tales-within-the-tale show that the goal of the time traveller must be insight, not intervention. “Past and future are the same, and we cannot change either, only know them more fully,” our narrator explains. “My journey to the past had changed nothing, but what I had learned had changed everything. . . . Nothing erases the past. There is repentance, there is atonement, and there is forgiveness. That is all, but that is enough.” In an appendix to the collection, headed “Story Notes,” Chiang says that “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” was inspired by the physicist Kip Thorne, who speculated that one might be able to create a time machine that obeyed Einstein’s theory of relativity. The setting in a Muslim civilization had seemed appropriate to Chiang “because acceptance of fate is one of the basic articles of faith in Islam.” That interplay between cutting-edge theory and age-old tradition is a regular feature of Chiang’s imagination. ...

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/...de103&cndid=38161694&esrc=&utm_term=TNY_Daily
 

dr wu

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Just a comment on science fiction books...but the last well written interesting sci-fi I read was a while back when I finished the Culture Series by Banks. I have yet to find anything as intriguing as that . Any ideas on literate sci-fi..?
 
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Just a comment on science fiction books...but the last well written interesting sci-fi I read was a while back when I finished the Culture Series by Banks. I have yet to find anything as intriguing as that . Any ideas on literate sci-fi..?
The Polity series by Neal Asher is a bit like The Culture but far darker.
 

Zeke Newbold

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A St Petersburg based English language publishing house called Karo have recently reprinted a version of The Amphibian by Alexander Belyaev from 1928. This concerns the exploits of a young man with shark's gills implanted in his body thus allowing him to thrive in the waters off the coast of Argentina.
amhibian 2.jpg

Belyaev, a prolific science fictioneer, is often called the `Russian Jules Verne` so this is a must for students of the genre.

Here's my blog revew of it in which I discuss it's odd relationship with the Russia of it's time and the influence of the corresponding film on `The Shape of Water` among other things:
http://alternativerussianculture.sp...st-iconic-tale-to-come-out-of-stalins-russia/
 
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