How the world changes!

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Oct 032009
 

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.”

via Science fiction author hits out at Booker judges | Books | guardian.co.uk.

Toby Buckell Q&A log

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Jun 162009
 

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…

Hugo nominees: a great slate!

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Mar 192009
 

Hugo Nominations are out, and oof, I don’t think I could pick Best Novel from this bunch! Besides, I know three of the authors, one of them might beat me up if I favor the others.

The comics category is equally tough, with Fables and Y: The Last Man‘s conclusion both up as well as Girl Genius Volume 8, which isn’t actually quite out yet in book form, which means that a webcomic is nominated this year!

Oh, and Dr. Horrible in the Short Form Dramatic category.

Where are Asimov’s children?

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Aug 262008
 

Saturn's Children

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 Star posthumous 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.

I grew up reading them both. I fact, I make the claim to having read everything of Heinlein’s — yes, even Take Back Your Government and Tramp Royale, every short story, everything; and every scrap of Asimov fiction, even all the Lucky Starr books and all the Black Widowers (though I think I may prefer The Union Club Mysteries), even Murder at the ABA (reading all the non-fiction being unattainable).

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.