Saturday, September 6, 2008

What's bad about science fiction?

Mike Brotherton's "Ten Things I Hate About Science Fiction" makes interesting read; comments section is illuminating too.
[Via SF Signal]

Brotherton's post makes reference to a few days older "The check list of things that turn up in SF that annoy James: A Work in Progress" by James Nicoll. Same subject, but generally a less interesting post than Brotherton's. It's sometimes a bit cryptic, & I found the last comment unnecessarily prejudiced.

3 comments:

james-nicoll said...

I found the last comment unnecessarily prejudiced.

Do you mean point ten or the quotation from Damon Knight's review of Wolfbane or my comment about the quotation from Damon Knight's review of Wolfbane?

james-nicoll said...

Assuming it was the third one and granting up front that if you took it the wrong way, I should have been clearer in expressing myself:

Most of the SF I see assumes a future in which the cultures outside the European nations and their former colonies (and generally only the Anglo ones) are assumed to play no significant role [1]. Occasionally some writer will notice that China exists (China Mountain Zhang, for example) or that India exists (River of Gods) and this is hailed as some amazing achievement. To my way of looking at things, what's amazing is that a genre supposedly concerned with the future consistantly ignores most of the planet and when it does mention them (as Gregory Benford did in a recent essay) seems to be pretty thoroughly misinformed about them.

Sometimes China gets used as an offstage threat and I will admit I did see a book where the galaxy was divided between bomb-tossing Muslims, fanatic and fecund Christians, ineffective Social Democrats and I think the crafty Space Chinese. Points for admitting someone exists aside from the Europeans and their colonies but points off for doing it so badly.


1: Well, except as a bad example, as something to point to when talking about overpopulation or as the stage for a nuclear war that teaches everyone nuclear war is not as much fun as it seems, without threatening any neighborhood the author values. I have an example in mind but I want to go check the book to make sure it says what I think it does.

If I've gone off in the wrong direction here, I apologize for taking up so much of your blog.

Tinkoo said...

James: It was third one - your last comment on Wolfbane quote: "are probably not as dated as I'd like to think they are."

Thanks for clarifying.

PS: Personally, I don't care if Western stories don't mention east. I do get slightly bugged when they tackle it, & get the perspective completely off the mark (assuming they get the data right, which itself doesn't happen often).