Sunday, May 11, 2008

When We Were Cool

There’s long been a close and sometimes fruitful relationship between science fiction and the music of popular beat combos. In a recent article (in the Guardian, but not on-line as far as I know), Jon Savage provides a useful corrective to the motion that SF-influenced is dominated by heavy metal and prog rock bands (with David Bowie as a glam outlier to the latter): Joy Division and a host of 1970s punk and post-punk bands were informed and influenced by SF of the period, available in cheap paperback editions along with all kinds of pulp fiction and experimental and fringe literature. Savage also highlights the importance of independent bookshops as beacons of the offbeat; in the case of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, these included shops run by David Britton and Mike Butterworth, such as House on the Borderland and Orbit: vital beacons of alt. culture.My favourite song of the period remains The Only Ones’ ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’, but it wouldn’t take much thought to work up a top twenty . . .

Currently reading: Titan Unveiled by Ralph Lorenz and Jacqueline Mitton, not only full of insights about Saturn’s largest moon, but also a great account of the science and engineering that underpinned the Cassini mission and transformed Titan ‘from an object of speculation to a planetary world with its own set of processes and observable effects.’ And makes me want to write a bunch of stories set there as soon as possible.


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