This month, we’re looking at Neil Gaiman’s novel, American Gods, and the associated comics and TV series.
Join Kate as she leads off the discussion at 7pm November 6th at Kappys.
As usual, 6:45 for a 7pm start at Kappys, 22 Compton St, Adelaide.
Your story “STET” is a Hugo Award finalist, and has an unusual structure (and great emotional power). Tell us about it, and how you came to write it.
“STET” is a story that explores human priorities, AI, responsive algorithms, and the trolley problem. It’s structured as a paragraph from a textbook about autonomous vehicles, with footnotes. The reader then gets to see the conversation that occurs between the author and the editor, revealing the author’s personal connection to the subject matter. I decided to write this story after a conversation with someone who couldn’t believe that an author of genre fiction could possibly have an interest in or understanding of literary fiction. That person’s vehement skepticism drove me to write a piece in the mode of one of my favorite stories, which is told through the footnotes on a paragraph from a textbook. I wanted to explore themes of human accountability for failures of machine morality, and discussing that within a single layer of story seemed impossible, so this format suited the concept perfectly. The story is also an examination of how people, women in particular, are expected to suppress emotions like grief for the sake of professional objectivity — which is itself already myth. On one level, this is a story about grief; on another level, it’s about a woman refusing to have her grief silenced.
— from an interview with Sarah Gailey in Locus, Sept 2019
These are just some of the 45 titles currently available at the TAFF site. They are collections of fannish writing, copied and converted to epubs for the modern fan.
Some are there for historical interest, some trip reports and some are collections of fine writing which deserve (re-)discovery. All are free to download, though we strongly recommend that a donation is made to the TAFF fan fund coffers.
I heartily recommend the two Terry Carr Fandom Harvest collections, one of which is a reprint, the other a new collection, each full of his entertaining writing.
Jeff Harris provides a list of SpecNonFic:
HG Wells, Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought (coll of linked essays April-December 1901 Fortnightly Review; dated 1902 but 1901)
JD Bernal, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: An enquiry into the future of the three enemies of the rational soul (1929; 1969)
Michael Young, The Rise of the Meritocracy 1870-2033: An Essay on Education and Equality (1958)
IJ Good (ed), The Scientist Speculates: An anthology of partly-baked ideas (1962)
Arthur C Clarke, Profiles of the Future: Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible (1962)
Stanislaw Lem, Summa Technologicae (1964, 1974: 2012)
Nigel Calder (ed), The World in 1984, volumes one and two (1965)
Dr A R Martin, Project Daedalus: JBIS Supplement (1978)
Ed Regis, The Great Chicken Mambo and the Transhuman Condition:Science slightly over the edge (1990)
Damien Broderick, The Spike: Accelerating into the Unimaginable Future (1997; 2n ed. 2001)
David E H Jones, The Further Inventions of Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes (1999)
Stephen Baxter, The Science of Avatar (2012)
Conway, J., C. M. Kosemen, & D Naish, All Yesterdays: Unique and Speculative Views of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals. (Irregular Books, 2012)
Enrico Rodrigo, The Physics of Stargates: Parallel Universes, Time Travel, and the Enigma of Wormhole Physics (2010)
Lewis Dartnell, The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch (2014)
Speculation is a natural part of the human imagination. Science fiction thrives on it. But it is found across the sciences, philosophy, the social sciences, and other intellectual disciplines including the popular imagination. Some of these places will be visited. Certain locations will be avoided: the pseudosciences and other forms of pseudodoxy. This talk will look at the curious and quaint relationships between science-fiction and speculative nonfiction, and certainly not the literary conceits of the kind found at https://www.speculativenonfiction.org/
Apologies for the title. It’s a twisty metaphor for our proposed trip into the conceptual realm.
Children of Ruin follows Adrian Tchaikovsky’s extraordinary Children of Time, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke award. It is set in the same universe, with a new cast of characters and a thrilling new narrative.
It has been waiting through the ages.
Now it’s time . . .
Thousands of years ago, Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life – but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time.
Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from old Earth.
But those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod better left undisturbed.
And it’s been waiting for them.
I could see the near future from The Peripheral while driving through the little village of Topanga yesterday – I thought, ‘Ooh, it’s Flynneville.’ Flynneville on the coast. That future in The Peripheral owes a lot to my formative years in quite a small town in southwestern Virginia, adjacent to the bottom of West Virginia and to Tennessee. There’s a lot of childhood material in that thread for me. I’ve also kept track of the region over the decades, and I just extrapolated what’s happened there, like what’s happened to so many small American towns. It’s not just in the South, but there’s a lot of it there. It’s that dissonance between certain kinds of technology being present in places that haven’t moved forward in other ways. There are people in tiny, obscure places who know more about some particular kind of Chinese porcelain than most people in New York do. It’s like any knowledge is unevenly distributed now. You can have these complete otakus in some arcane field of collecting who live in a tiny town in Nebraska, and maybe have never left it, but they still wind up being the world amateur authority on some particular thing.
— William Gibson interview in Locus magazine
This may be your only opportunity to see Troll Bridge on the big screen in Adelaide, so don’t miss out!
Buy tickets at trollbridge.cityofsmallgods.org.au
Kate Treloar notes:
For September’s meeting I will examine all things The Handmaid’s Tale – the original 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, Season 1 of the current television series, and the recently released graphic novel illustrated by Canadian artist Renee Nault. I will bring along a copy of the graphic novel to look at. Parallels with Atwood’s near-future dystopian world and real-world examples will also be explored.
Note: the sequel “The Testaments” is due out on 10 September, shortly after this Critical Mass session, for those who want even more Handmaid.
As usual, 6:45 at Kappy’s (22 Compton St, Adelaide) for a 7pm start!