August 28th, 2007

Dead again

Wouldn't you know it?  Science fiction is dead again!  Or so says Bruno Maddox in this piece posted at the Discover magazine site, which includes a rather contemptuous but not wholly inaccurate description of the SFWA suite at the last Nebs.  

I wonder why it is that some people seem to invest such importance in declaring the death or irrelevance of science fiction?  Beneath the cynicism and sarcasm is a bit of . . . what?  Envy?  Fear?  In the latest issue of New Scientist, for example, Jeanette Winterson states in a (firewalled) interview that "I hate science fiction," except for when it's written by "good" writers like Jim Crace and Margaret Atwood, then gushes about her forthcoming novel, in which "[a] girl builds a multi-gendered robot, which then kills her parents because it sees them mistreat her, so they both go on the run."  But don't call it science fiction!

But I digress.

Maddox's screed sets Verne and Wells in opposition as proponents of what we've come to call hard and soft sf, then points to . . . wait for it . . . Michael Crichton as the poster boy for the failures of modern sf to engage with contemporary science and the world.  In the 90s, quoth Maddox, "fiction—all fiction—finally became obsolete as a delivery system for big ideas."  Not only that, he writes, but  "[t]he world is speeding up . . . and the natural human curiosity that science fiction was invented to meet is increasingly being met by reality."

Well, I'm somewhat more sympathetic to this latter viewpoint, though not to the extent of reading it over the grave of an entire genre. 

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Todd Schorr: A Goober and a Tuber in an Exchange of Fisticuffs

Midge was doing plenty all right for herself. A gal with nothing much to get by on except for her va-va-voom figure and an enigmatic blank gaze that certain joes found sexy, she had come out of the worst kind of poverty and landed in the lap of luxury. Not exactly the brightest bulb in the chandelier, she nonetheless knew when she had a good thing going.

And this affair with Skippy Goober was one helluva sweet deal.

Oh, sure, he had his drawbacks and failings and quirks, like anything in trousers. The only position he liked for screwing was doggie-style. Claimed he had a hard time getting up off his back once he was down, and his skinny little legs always collapsed when he tried boring old missionary style. And his body odor-- Whew! Even Mum failed to hide that earthy scent. But worst of all was his temper. Once Skippy wrapped himself around a few drinks--mai-tais were his favorite--he could be as brutal and mean as Senator McCarthy looking for Reds. Still, he had never yet hit Midge--she had told him she'd knife him while he slept if he ever laid a hand on her--and he did take her out to the nicest places.

Like tonight, at the Brown Derby, with all the swells and stars admiring Midge's cleavage. Heaven on earth.

Until Argus Toober had shown up.

Toober was Goober's rival in the rackets. They hated each other like North Korea hated South Korea. And now that idiot maitre'd was seating Toober right next to Midge and her man!

Goober growled and hefted his sword-cane. Midge sighed and surrepetitiously checked her purse for her mad money. Looked like she'd be going home alone. No playing with Goober's stalk and peanuts tonight.
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Lesser-known Icons 6

[Click away!]

Why are there no robots today that look like the Mido Watch Man?

And please accept my apologies for the higgledy-piggledy orientation of the images. I never composed these with display on the internet in mind. They were always meant to be pieces of paper the viewer could easily rotate at will.

Some cool stuff

I've been meaning to post about my friend Sheldon Drake's cool site, which features all sorts of ecletic and trippy texts, music, mixes, and artwork by Sheldon, an ex-New Yorker now living in Baltimore who, like me, is a survivor of the College of William and Mary.  Check out his paintings and DJ mixes!

And his amazing vehicle, the Swamp Zephyr!

posted by PaulW