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December 11, 2003
I'm of the opinion that the strange function
that Science Fiction has served in advancing
Western thought is in eclipse.
Once this function was only rarely acknowledged,
though now it's almost conventional wisdom:
Bruce Sterling (quoting Lem)
likes to talk about SF as AG_SPARKS Sterling also
"a spearhead of cognition". speaks proudly of SF
writers as court jesters,
Gregory Benford has called SF with the freedom to say
"the underground literature of science" what others can't.
Thomas Disch speaks of science fiction
as the menu of possibilities.
But now that this
STUFF_UP_THE_CRACKS is recognized,
now that Sterling
Of course, much has can just appear
been called publicly as a
"science fiction" EXPOSURE_TO_VACUUM jester/pundit,
which does not maybe the special
deserve to be taken advantage of
anywhere near this science fiction
seriously. is gone.
This goes far beyond Sturgeon's If it seems that very little
Law... most SF was not written good science fiction is being
to be anything like "a spearhead written these days, maybe
of cognition", and most SF was it's because it's become
not read in hopes that it would obsolete.
There was a period in time
"Science Fiction" was when there was no place
the dark wood, a for a certain kind of
hideout for an outlaw thinker to go, except to
band that remains science fiction.
Now maybe there's no need. If
Jesters taken refuge you have visions in your head
in a parade of clowns of strange technologies and
wild futures, you don't write
a science fiction novel.
You write books like:
Drexler's "Engine of Creation"
Brin's "Transparent Society"
Dyson's "Infinite in All Directions"
Presuming you don't just go
firing off business plans to SHARPER_LANCES
So, the future Once you become
has become a respectable, does
commonplace. that cramp your
The idea that tomorrow
may not be like today is Will you swing
no longer an underground quite as wildly
doctrine. as you did when
TIME_MIND you thought the
And once again, watching?
it is a time
of change for
An end of an era
perhaps, the close
of a golden age. And I'm not fourteen
To refrain from prophecy,
I'll ask: what are the
possibilities for the fiction
The story form has
advantages over the essay:
The story requires the
author to confront
a future's impact on
an individual, The texture of existence
detailed level. The flow of life
Fiction readers LUCID_VAGUENESS
demand dialog, so
necessarily becomes a
philosophic dialog. Libertarian theory comes off
better than libertarian science fiction.
The enemy of
single vision. Perhaps this indicates a
flaw in the theory?
... and a virtue of the fiction.
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