Around the sf blogosphere 10/29/08

Let’s see what’s going on at other sf sites and blogs.

SFSignal’s latest Mind Meld asks, “Is science fiction responsible for the lack of public interest in space exploration?” The question comes up, of course, because of astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s cranky assertion of just such a relationship between the two. By far the best answer comes from J. Michael Straczynski:

The only thing wrong with Buzz Aldrin’s statement is that it’s not true.

Larry Niven also weighs in with a sensible opinion:

I do not agree. Without the dream, most people would never look up. Most city dwellers would see nothing even if they did. We need the science fiction shows and movies to keep the goal before our eyes–and not just for young people, but for us all.

Crotchety Old Fan takes up the question and comments about how it’s not sf’s fault at all; sf never lost the faith, people did. In his defense of science fiction, he makes the following observation that I’m rather fond of:

I can’t think of a single SF story that advocates for abandoning the future. Certainly there are stories that point out the dangers of venturing into the unknown; more stories that illustrate how the unknown can be perverted and turned to evil ends, even cautionary tales about exploring particular pathways – but every single one of them opens the door and steps through. None of them halt on the doorstep out of fear and trepidation.

Well said! It occurs to me that such a sentiment would have fit in nicely in the context of my recent posts (here, here, and here) about those naysayers who have been criticizing the darkness of science fiction. From the above comment, I get the idea COF might agree with me that those cautionary tales, dystopias, and the like are not something to hold against the genre, but rather are an asset, all part of the business of exploring the future.

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Meanwhile, Bill Ward has been showing a lot of appreciation for Ray Bradbury lately, calling him “a living treasure,” which he certainly is, no doubt about it. First, Bill shared this video of a long Bradbury lecture and interview that I mentioned a few months back. Then he took a look at Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing. After that, just in time for Halloween, came Bill’s review of Something Wicked This Way Comes. And the most recent entry in this Bradbury-fest is a review of From the Dust Returned. That’s a lot of good posting about a great author, so if you’re a Bradbury fan, go check it out.

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The “All About Books” meme I posted recently was passed to me by Shannon at Books Worth Reading, and now I have done my part to spread it by infecting a couple of others. Both Bill Ward and Omphalos have taken this opportunity to tell us all about their thoughts and preferences about books.

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4 responses to “Around the sf blogosphere 10/29/08

  1. Thanks for linking to my reviews and meme survey, Bill. I’ve only scratched the surface with Bradbury, just looking at his ‘October’ fiction, but the experience was illuminating and I think I may do more themed review months in future.

    Interesting debate about Buzz Aldrin’s statement, I of course disagree with him.

  2. Buzz Aldrin is smoking some serious crack. I loved this:

    All the shows where they beam people around and things like that have made young people think that that is what the space program should be doing. It’s not realistic.

    I was waiting for him to yell as those kids to “get outta my yard!” next. The reason that the space program is dead is that Nixon killed it, and he killed it becaus he hated Kennedy. Pure and simple. Nixon did participate in the space shuttle program, but Carter OK’ed it. We are where we are now because NASA has shit for a budget, and because for the last thirty years we have been obsesed with first consumer products, then investment products, and finally outsourcing. We are focusing on the wrong things and we have too few scientists coming out of our schools. Not only that, but we have bound ourselves to a horrible space policy because of defense considerations. If the various signatories to the prior space infrastructure treaties would pull their heads out of their collective asses and remove blocks to space based development, things would radically change.

  3. Good points omphalos; if there are people out there who really do feel as Aldrin suggests, that the mundane truths of space exploration cannot compete with the glamor of our dreams of it, then it is only because so many other segments of our society have failed, not that science fiction has over-dazzled them.

    Steven Baxter wrote a book called Voyage about an alternate timeline earth where the space program just kept on rolling forward after Apollo. Anyone read it? I have not, but I do own it, and all this has sort of inspired me to put it on the ‘sooner rather than later’ pile (which involves much heavy lifting and blowing of dust).

  4. That Baxter book sounds excellent. Im not generally a fan of his, but I will try that one.

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