Saturday, November 15, 2003

Science fiction

I stopped reading scifi at the beginning of this year. The reason was disillusionment.
The heart good scifi is speculation - technological or sociologial - combined with good basic storytelling. This means, firstly, that scifi should have something to say about the current and the future society, altough the link is far from direct. Secondly, it should be possible to judge scifi according to real-life knownledge about technology, society and human behaviour.
The people in Tampere scifi association had very different opinion. For them, it was just another branch of literature. This is reflected in their magazine, Portti. It is filled with short stories of magic, mysticism and horror. Dull, unimaginative social criticism is entirely humanist: it describes how capitalism mistreats poor human beings. To sum up: It's scifi without speculation. The short stories are fun to read, until you discover the pattern.
Not to be black-and-white, I do recommend the association for people who like audiovisual stuff. You may also enjoy it, if you have a good knownledge of literature in general, in addition to scifi and fantasy.
The reason for telling this is a new blog, Yksityisetsivä. Its speculation about longer life and survivalism is exactly the kind of stuff that (amateur) scifi should process, but fails to do.

The second reason was a political discussion group. When the war raged in Iraq, two history gurus wrote long texts about USA, muslim countries and NATO. The quality of opinions was much higher than in the newspapers.
It convinced me that history might be more interesting. Firstly, it links seamlessly with current-day events. Secondly, it happens in the same world: the books are linked with each other more intensively, and the link is not based only on stereotypes and genre cliches. Thirdly, you can actually discuss about it - it seems that it's very difficult to discuss about scifi in any other way than listing books and classifying them in liked / disliked axis.

The effects will take a long time to appear, if there are any.

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