Friday, July 13, 2007

Science Friction

Peter Hollo asks which edition of Nature features the discission on biology and SF. It’s the July 5 edition, with a retro-pulp cover, and also includes an excellent article by Gary Wolfe about how SF has dealt with the ‘many worlds’ of quantum mechanics, a short story by Richard A Lovett and articles and Saturn’s eccentric little moon Hyperion (which I won’t be visiting in the ongoing novel) and a mystery about Mars’s so-called warm and wet period. They’re spoiling us.

I wasn’t going to mention the recent little spat about mainstream writers ‘borrowing’ SF tropes, kicked off by Jason Sanford’s article, ‘Dipping Their Toes in the Genre Pool: The US literary Establishment’s Need-Hate Relationship with Speculative Fiction’, published in the New York Review of Science Fiction. The affair was even summarised in the Guardian’s From the Blogs feature - yes, in a mainstream newspaper. Gosh. Matthew Cheney wrote an acerbic deconstruction, Sanford replied, and off it went. Anyway, the Nature discussion did get sidetracked on definitions of SF, and then I came across something Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his collection Wampeters, Foma & Granfallons:

‘[Science fiction} writers are joiners. They are a lodge. If they didn’t enjoy having a gang of their own so much, there would be no such category as science fiction. They love to stay up all night, arguing the question, "What is science fiction?" One might as usefully inquire, "What are the Elks? And what is the Order of the Evening Star?"’

And then this bunch of mainstream writers turns up at the party unannounced, and they don’t even have the decency to bring their own bottle...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How To Save Science

Make lab coats sexy.

(you'll need to page down to find it)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Nature of the Beast

A couple of weeks ago I took part in a conversation with three other science-fiction writers - Ken Macleod, Joan Slonczewski and Peter Watts - about biology and science fiction. A transcript of the four-way interview, mediated by the irrepressible Oliver Morton, has been published in the latest edition of Nature and it’s available online, but unfortunately you’ll need a subscription to access the article and the cartoon illo (in which I appear to be Paul Merton imitating Commander Kang).

Our favourite moments in biological sf? Ken’s can be found in James Blish’s ‘Sunken Universe’ (aka ‘Surface Tension’); Joan’s in Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos; Peter’s in Alice Sheldon’s ‘The Screwfly Solution’; and mine in Greg Bear’s Blood Music...

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