Science Fiction II: the literary stuff

== SF that’s for reading and the mind ==

ThreeBodyProblem1The Three-Body Problem is part one of an award-winning trilogy by Liu Cixin— and is arguably the best Chinese science fiction novel ever translated into English. Liu uses the “three-body problem” of classical mechanics to ask some terrifying questions about human nature and what lies at the core of civilization.

The series explores the world of the Trisolarans, a race that is forced to adapt to life in a triple star system, on a planet whose gravity, heat, and orbit are in constant flux. Facing extinction, the Trisolarans plan to evacuate and conquer the nearest habitable planet, and finally intercept a message—from Earth. The Three-Body Problem, due out in October 2014, has been translated into English by award winning writer, Ken Liu.

Special note… TTBP deals very closely with the issue of the Fermi Paradox and whether we should shout “yoo-hoo!” into the cosmos  — a quandary about which I’ve also written, from time to time.

Now see Stephan Martiniere’s way-cool cover for the coming Tor Boooks edition!

I’ve long maintained that the health of an enlightened and progressive society is measured by how vibrant is its science fiction, since that is where true self-critique and appraisal and hope lie. If so, the good news stretches beyond China!

== Sci fi with a latin beat ==

Science-Fiction-genresHorizon-expansion has been the core cause of the liberal west, increasing the circle of tolerance, diversity and respect… and no literary genre has explored these issues more deeply or broadly than science fiction. Despite an absurd reputation for being “dominated by old white guys,” SF has actually been pretty joyfully accepting and welcoming… though any field will exhibit noxious old habits that need cleansing or at least interrogation. For years the James Tiptree Award (named after the great SF author Alice Sheldon) encouraged exploration of gender issues in SF. The Carl Brandon Society provides a center for discussion of the future as it relates to ethnic issues, especially in science fiction.

In another welcome endeavor, there are moves to form a support group for latino sci-fi writers. We should all enthusiastically back any endeavors that will draw more bright writers from the cultural background of Cervantes and Marquez! Not only will we benefit from horizon-expanding insight and art (and social criticism!) But there are so many parts of the world that will reciprocally benefit from the greatest gift of all… more science fiction!

The posting at La Bloga is informative. Alas, it wrangled much to much about the politics of such a support org and speaks far too little about positive goals. Like how to get sci-fi excitement to latino youth and students. How to encourage the feed stock of sci fi thinking so that more young writers emerge, and how to spread the memes of future, change and exploration back into the grand Hispanic culture whose vibrancy is already a marvel to the world.

Although, the SF movement still has a center! And here’s an interesting article about why the future seems so often to be set in California. Yes… so? Hey, Heinlein explained it. The continent is tipped and everything loose rolls down into this corner.

The-martianOf course, space is the frontier! An old-fashioned “can-do” sci fi novel, The Martian, by Andy Weir, updates Robinson Crusoe and Marooned with lots of fascinating, problem-solving verve. A best-seller that arose out of self-published versions, Weir’s tale portrays an astronaut, abandoned for dead on the red planet, finding ways to survive until rescue can finally arrive… in 500 days.

== And a Saharan What-If tale! ==

Here’s a fun what-if scenario. When the Americas began breaking off from Eurasia, two possible north-south rifts might have made the sea-spreading divide. What if the other one – the loser in our world, stretching from the Congo to Morocco — had taken off? Arfrica’s western bulge would have stayed linked to Brazil. The resulting globe map is… creepy!

This is a cute story. I love the assertive, can-do ghostbusters-style ethos. Also kind of reminiscent of Eric Flint’s 1632 series. Southern Fried Cthulhu by Steve Poling.

== Brin-stuff ==

Vint Cerf’s recent hangout interview (TWiT Hangouts) was spectacular and wise. Classic Vint … sagacious and well-worth watching/listening. (And all right, I enjoyed late in the podcast when he gave me and my novel Kiln People a shout-out.)

Meanwhile the same novel is highlighted in a very interesting essay by Dean Burnett in the Guardian, about Mind-Swapping… whether or not this familiar sci fi and movie trope might ever actually come true.

Google-author-talk Talks at Google has uploaded my speech: David Brin, “Existence” – a one hour talk about pretty much everything (!) that I gave at Google HQ last winter.

Here’s a lovely mention of The Postman in the Arkansas Times, in the context of “books that women recommend to men, when they become more-than-passing interested in them as potentially more than a friend.” Pleasant and wise.

While we’re at it. This page takes you on a tour of the weapons used in the movie The Postman.

 

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