Future: Intrinsically Hopeful

I’m no longer convinced it’s a radical idea to believe that there are no heroes and that humanity can be reduced to its very worst impulses. It’s not particularly exciting or edgy to insist we’re all going to blow ourselves to bits, or war against our neighbors in some libertarian apocalypse scenario where readers of Ayn Rand are poisoning their food supplies to keep the remnants of humanity from stealing their stuff.

Humanity didn’t survive this long because of its worst impulses. We survived this long because, despite all of that, we learned how to work together. Being grim and nihilistic is boring.

Being grim isn’t how you create the future. Being grim means rejecting the idea of a future altogether. I would rather seek to understand why some people choose to do the right thing even when it’s not popular, even when the world is collapsing all around them.
—Kameron Hurley.  “The Future Is Intrinsically Hopeful”, Locus, April 2019


Earthly Conventions

‘‘One of my best friends is a direct male-line descendent of Genghis Khan. She has the documentation to prove it. I got fascinated by the way Genghis Khan is portrayed, as opposed to the way Alexander the Great is portrayed. They both won! In Mongolia, Genghis Khan is a culture hero, still to this day. The stuff that he accomplished, on a technological level and on a social level, is astounding. The Mongol Empire had bankruptcy laws. The third time you declared bankruptcy, they executed you, but that might not be a bad thing for us – it might solve some of our Wall Street problems.”
— Elizabeth Bear, interview 2012, Locus

Genre? Who needs Genre?

I think that the accepted definitions of what marks a book as a certain genre are too broad to be useful. SF does not necessarily involve ray-guns and time travel (although it might), fantasy does not have to feature goblins and spells (although it might) and Westerns do not particularly have to feature horses, gun-play and stetsons (although they might).

In the Jasper view of genre, Sirens of Titan is not SF but philosophy, anything by Terry Pratchett is not fantasy but satire, and True Grit is not a Western but a “coming of age/epic revenge/historical fiction”.

— Jasper Fforde Guest Post in Locus —“Genre, Speculative Fiction and the Cradle of Ideas”

Critical Mass May 1st: Pick the winner

This year, we thought we’d challenge ourselves to pick the winner of the 2019 Hugo for best short story. So to prepare for the discussion, please read the following stories in time for the meeting, and be prepared to debate which one is “best”!

Best Short Story

[If we’re choosing by title alone, my money’s on the Raptors — Roman]

As usual, 6:45 May 1st for a 7pm start at kappys, 22 Compton St, Adelaide

2019 Hugo Award Finalists

Best Novel

  • The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)
  • Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga)
  • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Macmillan)
  • Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)

Best Novella

  • Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press / JABberwocky Literary Agency)

The full list of all categories is available at Tor.com

New Sladek Collection

 David Langford told readers New Maps: More Uncollected John Sladek is on course for launch at the UK Eastercon in April.


Chris Priest, in his awesome capacity as agent for the Sladek estate, is very pleased with the early proof copy he’s seen; I hope to have a big pile of trade paperbacks in good time for Easter. Paperbacks and ebooks will also be available for order online, from Lulu.com and Ansible Editions respectively.

— from File 770.com


Kurt Vonnegut

Although Vonnegut often resisted his inclusion in the science-fiction club, he did consider himself part of the last generation of great American novelists (generally labeled “postmodernists”), bound together by this tendency to write about unreal and incomprehensible ideas in unusual styles. He knew there would be more novelists, of course, and some of them great, but he feared that never again would so many untested young authors hone their craft together, as a community. Part of this was rooted in economic changes to the publishing industry, but there was another threat to the novelist’s place in society: censorship. In a 1979 letter to Soviet writer Felix Kuznetzov, Vonnegut laments that writers everywhere “are routinely attacked by fellow citizens as being pornographers or corrupters of children and celebrators of violence and persons of no talent and so on. In my own case, such charges are brought against my works several times a year.”

Since its publication in March of 1969, Slaughterhouse-Five has been banned in several communities across the U.S., and challenged over 350 times for its sexual content, violence, obscenity, and “anti-religious” language. Perhaps most famously, 32 copies of the novel were burned in a Drake, ND school district in 1973. Later that year, Vonnegut wrote to Drake Public School Board President Charles McCarthy to express his anger and dismay at the school board’s actions, and to challenge the labeling of his work as “offensive.”
— Sarah Tolf, on tor.com “Kurt Vonnegut and the Science Fiction Writers’ Lodge”

And to DUST you shall return…

DUST is the first multi-platform destination for binge watchable sci-fi. We feature science fiction short films and other content from emerging filmmakers with stunning visual effects, captivating plots and complex character explorations. Robots, aliens, space exploration, technology, and human experience are all a part of DUST. New uploads every week with DUST exclusive premieres and original series.

— from the description at https://www.watchdust.com/

High Life

High Life is a 2018 English-language science fiction film written and directed by French director Claire Denis with Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche in the leads. It is Denis’ first film in English, and was co-written by her long-time collaborator Jean-Pol Fargeau and Geoff Cox.

The film focuses on a group of criminals who are tricked into believing they will be freed if they participate in a mission to travel on a spaceship towards a black hole to find an alternate energy source while being sexually experimented on by the scientists on board.

High Life will screen several times during the Alliance Française French Film Festival (Mar 30, Apr 2, Apr 7, Apr 17th at the Palace Nova Eastend; 25 mar, 14 Apr at the Palace Nova Prospect).