This week the castaway on Desert Island Discs is William Gibson. Long before the existence of the Internet, he wrote about ‘cyberspace’, a boundless world reached only through computers. External space travel, to the Moon and Mars, had become old hat. By creating internal space, he breathed new life into science fiction. In conversation with Sue Lawley, he talks about his life and work and chooses eight records to take to the mythical island.
Tagged with “science fiction” (270)
THRILL as stock genre trappings warp and mutate under the power of weird genius! MARVEL as brains-in-a-vat reality paranoia crosses over into theology and metaphysics! WONDER as interplanetary travel and communication with the dead are outstripped in strangeness by the mysteries of…The Commodity Form!
The Sometime Seminar discusses the metaphysical science-fiction novel Ubik (1969) by Philip K. Dick.
How many forms of uncanny weirdness can you cram into one trilogy? Can the Netflix model of binge consumption work for novels as well as TV shows? And should you settle for a mystery when you could have a mythos?
The Sometime Seminar discusses Jeff VanderMeer’s just-completed Southern Reach Trilogy of short weird/horror novels: Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance (all 2014).
The Sometime Seminar discusses Inverted World, an early (1974) work of science fiction by Christopher Priest, along with his more recent writing about the genre.
Improbably cool heroes investigate implausibly cool mysteries at the behest of impossibly cool billionaires! Is cool-obsession just another form of geekiness?
This episode of The Sometime Seminar discusses the novels of William Gibson’s “Bigendian Trilogy” or “Blue Ant Trilogy”: Pattern Recognition (2003), Spook Country (2007), and Zero History (2010).
You got semiotics in my space opera! You got space opera in my semiotics! lightbulb This episode of The Sometime Seminar discusses China Miéville’s 2011 science-fiction novel Embassytown, a space opera informed by Walter Benjamin and the philosophy of language.
It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire … Before those words crawled up movie screens in May 1977, what did people think the future was going to look like? What did pop culture sound like on the eve of Star Wars? With Kurt Andersen, Annalee Newitz, Alyssa Rosenberg, and Chris Taylor. This is part I of a V part series.
Our Postmodern Myth: “Star Wars” is Back
There’s a big old spoiler alert hanging over this whole radio show. You’ve been warned!
We’re beginning 2016 by confronting what is already its biggest cultural phenomenon. The Force Awakens, the latest installment of Star Wars, on track to make $3 billion and more around the world.
What does it mean that this particular, high-capital story survives as a global dream? And maybe the most familiar alternate universe ever created outside a world religion: a Greek pantheon for the modern day?
Star Wars is full of paradoxes: it’s profoundly flat; imperial filmmaking in celebration of rebels and saboteurs; a forty-year-old hit that remains forever young. The essayist Chuck Klosterman proposes to nationalize Star Wars, turning the franchise into a lucrative public works project for the nation’s out-of-work actors, set dressers, and engineers. (It’s “the only thing America does that everybody likes.”) And our guest Amanda Palmer tells us it was a geek movie that never seemed that geeky, as well as a violent movie that never seemed that violent. In the end, George Lucas‘s creation must have approval numbers that popes and politicians could only dream of.
Why does Star Wars still mean so much to so many? With a group of our favorite people, we’re counting the ways (with special thanks to Eric Molinsky, host and producer of Imaginary Worlds, who did a five-part series on the cultural significance on the franchise — listen here):
It’s a postmodern myth.
There’s a moment in the original Star Wars, when Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill, looks out at the horizon as dusty Tatooine’s two suns set.
There are no words, but John Williams’s score is working overtime, sounding the note of potential energy: a young person with gifts and a great destiny who’s still just wishing he were anywhere but here. Almost anyone can imagine himself standing on that bluff and watching the sun(s) go down.
Watch that scene (you have permission to find it corny!) But it’s also got the mystery of Star Wars’s eternal appeal packed into just 36 seconds: another orchestrated, saturated, uncanny image for all time, conjuring not just before — Achilles, Lancelot, and Dante — but after: Spider-Man, the X-Men, Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen and most recently, Rey, the Skywalker stand-in for the latest film.
It’s (almost) a silent film.Speaking of which, George Lucas always put a lot of stock in the power of Star Wars‘s score and images to get along on their own. So in 1977, he anticipated the globalizing trend that’d hit Hollywood decades later — a move away from repartee and puns and into a world of spectacle and SFX. Watch Star Wars work like a silent film in the famous throne-room finale, in the last scene of the new movie, and in that “I am your father” confrontation:
It’s a theology for the post-religious — and a political shorthand.
Yes, there are thousands of people all over the world to check “Jedi Knight” on census forms just to scramble the religious picture of the 21st century. And “The Dark Side” has become a shorthand in politics to be embraced by Dick Cheney and shunned by Larry Lucchino, the outgoing Red Sox president who once labeled the Yankees “The Evil Empire.”
But there’s something a little deeper and more peculiar in the vague cosmology of “The Force” put forward in the movies: a balance between emotional attachments and inner peace, between individualism and teamwork, between self-interest and philanthropy, that speaks to the unique spiritual drift of the 20th-century consumer.
It’s a product of the depressed ‘70s — but it still works the same way.
Alan Andres reminds us that those first movies opened during American doldrum days, with bad news everywhere in the ether: the Fall of Saigon, Watergate, the fall of Skylab, the Church Committee, Chappaquiddick, and the Iran hostage crisis. The tone of sci-fi was suitably dark: Soylent Green is people! We were a rebel nation that had come to seem like an evil empire (until Reagan came along and declared that the Soviets were the real imperial enemy).
It may be true that, more than anything, George Lucas wanted to offer a generation of young Americans a different, optimistic story with a batch of good role models in tow. But still he had The Emperor — the bad guy of all Star Wars bad guys — sit in an oval-shaped throne room: Nixon, determined to crush the latest guerrilla uprising.
Somehow, underneath the swashbuckling escapes and screwball dialogue, people forget that in Star Wars, the viewer really can’t root for anyone who doesn’t commit mass murder.
The Empire blows up Alderaan with a weapon known as the Death Star in order to quash organized resistance. But then the heroic Rebels blow up the planet-sized Death Star — along with, it is estimated (!), 843,342 souls in the crew and staff — to stick it to the Empire.
And that’s just a start! Tell us what Star Wars means to you (and may the Force be with you all in 2016)!
In this thought-provoking episode we tackle the future of AI, the singularity, racism in science fiction, space opera, and so much more. An interview with Charles Stross. Music: Kevin MacLeod. Blind Panels is the inclusive geek podcast. It’s created by Comics Empower, the comic book store for the blind and the visually impaired. Check it out: ComicsEmpower.com
Original video: https://soundcloud.com/user-817263528/ep-38-the-future-of-science-fiction-part-3charles-stross
Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/ on Wed, 24 Aug 2016 15:47:52 GMT Available for 30 days after download
Welcome to The Coode Street Podcast, an informal weekly discussion about science fiction and fantasy featuring award-winning critics and editors Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe. The Coode Street Podcast debuted in 2010 and has been nominated for the Hugo, British Science Fiction, and Aurealis awards.
This week Jonathan and Gary talk to old friend Eileen Gunn, along with Chris Brown, and very special guest William Gibson, in a discussion that ranges from William’s recent novel The Peripheral to the influences of writers as diverse as Mervyn Peake, Philip K. Dick, Alfred Bester, and Avram Davidson and the question of what it means to write in and out of genre. We hope you find it as interesting as we all did recording it.
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