I think this is the first time I have ever seen someone claim that science fiction used to be mainstream and isn’t anymore!
John Mullan, Naughtie’s fellow judge for this year’s prize and professor of English at University College London, said that he “was not aware of science fiction,” arguing that science fiction has become a “self-enclosed world”.
“When I was 18 it was a genre as accepted as other genres,” he said, but now “it is in a special room in book shops, bought by a special kind of person who has special weird things they go to and meet each other.”
If you didn’t show up for the Tobias Buckell event in Metaplace, you missed out. We had a great hour-long conversation, along the lines of “Inside the Actor’s Studio” only with a writer. 🙂 The full chatlog is up on Posterous, but here’s a sample:
Sunchaser: You were born in the Caribbean, and now live in the US. How does your childhood in the Caribbean influence your story telling?
tobiasbuckell: Well, one thing I didn’t find much of in the science fiction I was reading were positive portrayels (sp?) of people from the developing world
tobiasbuckell: so I set out to bring more of that
tobiasbuckell: the Cyberpunk writers really inspired me to feel comfortable about being an SF/F author, as Bruce Sterling set 1/3 of a book of his
tobiasbuckell: in Grenada, where I grew up
tobiasbuckell: so I wanted to infuse my SF/F, a genre I adored, and add this aspect to it
tobiasbuckell: a lot of people act as if multiculturalism is a burden or ‘PC’ thing, but it seemed to me that the future is cosmopolitan and aried and mixed, so I wanted to see more of that
Sunchaser: I’m sure you get this question all the time, but what led you to science fiction in the first place?
tobiasbuckell: SF/F became my love when I started reading very young, I remember reading Clarke’s Childhood’s End at 6 or 7
tobiasbuckell: blew my little mind
tobiasbuckell: so I wanted to recapture more of that, and looked for that genre after a while
Sunchaser: I felt that way the first time I read about the red planet
tobiasbuckell: it’s the heroin addiction theory of Literature
We’re running this Creative Series biweekly, so stay tuned for more…
For reasons that should become evident, I was unable to attend LOGIN this year. This meant that I missed my chance to be on a panel with Charlie Stross, one of my favorite science fiction writers, and someone I corresopnd with but have never met.
Fortunately, Charlie posted up the text of his LOGIN 2009 keynote, which is, well, no, not as good as being there. Oh well. it’s still fascinating, though perhaps not as outre to regular readers of this blog as it might have been to many in the audience.
So, let’s look ahead to 2030.
We can confidently predict that by then, computer games will have been around for nearly sixty years; anyone under eighty will have grown up with them. The median age of players may well be the same as the median age of the general population. And this will bring its own challenges to game designers. Sixty year olds have different needs and interests from twitchy-fingered adolescents. For one thing, their eyesight and hand-eye coordination isn’t what it used to be. For another, their socialization is better, and they’re a lot more experienced.
Oh, and they have lots more money.
If I was speccing out a business plan for a new MMO in 2025, I’d want to make it appeal to these folks — call them codgergamers.
Would have posted this earlier, but my last post was BoingBoinged and made the site inaccessible to me, despite a slightly-out-of-date version of WP-SuperCache. It is now upgraded, but who knows whether that will help. 🙂
I just finished reading Saturn’s Children,and enjoyed it quite a lot — Charlie Stross manages to nail the late Heinlein voice quite thoroughly, and although some of the late Heinlein books are vilified in some quarters, I liked quite a lot of them. Here Stross is clearly going after Friday.
There’s quite a lot of Heinlein’s children around these days; not just stuff like the recent Variable Starposthumous collaboration, but also stuff like Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” books (the latest of which, Zoe’s Tale, I haven’t read yet), and of course the outright homages than John Varley has been writing ever since Steel Beach.
Now, Charlie dedicates Saturn’s Children to both Heinlein and Asimov, and it made me wonder — who is writing the Asimov homages? I mean, aside from a few of Cory Doctorow’s short stories (thinking here of “I, Rowboat,” one of my favorites of his shorts, though of course “I,Robot”, also in that book, is a more direct homage), it doesn’t seem like there are a lot of folks who consciously work in this mode. Charlie is after exploring Asimovian ideas, just in Heinleinian dress, but you don’t see Asimovian dress these days.
To me, they have always represented two poles of SF. Is the Asimovian style simply more dated, or is it that the other influences of Heinlein, such as his politics and quotability, have made him more prominent in an Internet-based world and culture?
BTW, Charlie swears to me that few people get the terrible terrible pun about the chicken. Keep an eye out, and don’t be drinking something when you reach the page with the chibi dwarf ninja attack.