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Showing posts from November, 2013

A Celebration of Violence

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I have a confession to make. I glorify violence. How do I do that? Well, I make it an essential part of the hero's journey.

I make it essential in that, without it, the hero cannot complete their mission. It must be done either by the hero, or on behalf of the hero. It is a situation whereby violence is the solution, or a vital part of the solution, to the problem.

For instance, a Mrs Marple or Poirot mystery would not count. The story may contain violence in it (like when the murder victim is killed), but the means by which the perpretator is caught owes nothing at all to violence. The detectives in question only use their powers of detecting, whatever they may be. A Sherlock Holmes story, on the other hand, may well glorify violence, since occasionally Holmes or his trusty armed sidekick, Watson, must resort to violence to move the case onwards or solve it.

Some authors try to shift the responsibility from their heroes so as to make them seem a little more moral, and less viole…

Where's science fiction going?

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It's been said that science fiction has lost its vitality, that it's lost confidence in the future and is in danger of having nothing new to say. This is the view of old school 'hard' SF types. Their remedy is that science fiction should revitalise itself, find again its ground-breaking positivist roots and show what a post-capitalist, post-everything-white-and-western world would look like. With confidence and verve.

They're missing the point. They've certainly missed the boat. The Golden Age of science fiction coincided with the ascent of America to world power, closely contested by the USSR as it too stepped up to the podium. They were both Enlightenment regimes in their own way. And confidence about the future was high. It was just a matter of seeing which future would unfold.

Fast forward to now, and people claim that the 'genre of ideas' has run out of ideas. But the reason why is rather obvious.

The 20th Century ran through the gamut of Enlighte…

Clean no longer

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The writer Michael Lind once used an analogy of Star Trek versus Star Wars as a way of highlighting the modern exaltation of barbarism in America. In Lind's view, Star Trek represented scientific achievement and rationalism, while Star Wars represented degenerative regression and romantic medievalism.

American science fiction once saw the future with optimism and hope. A future of technological advances and inclusive government. A future where, perhaps, some planetary Federation (a multi-ethnic America enlarged, basically) might send starships out on five year missions of peaceful exploration, rather than for conquest or profit. An enlightened future. A nice future.

It wasn't just science fiction that saw it this way. It was America itself, freed from the shackles of the evil empire (Great Britain) and the corrupt manipulative ways of the Old World. America embraced the Enlightenment values of Liberty, Social Development and Individual Rights, and it emerged from WW2 as numbe…