To me, those two words are one of the keys to good science fiction. The writer looks at a current state of affairs in politics, society or science (or all three), asks “What if?” and their imagination creates the foundation for a story. It certainly seems like that’s the method Ted Kosmatka used [...]
Almost of necessity, dystopian literature has its roots in concerns of the times in which it is written. It is an author envisioning a potential future in which something already existing or on the horizon heads in a bad direction. What author Jane Rogers recognizes in her award-winning The Testament of Jessie Lamb is the [...]
Shifting political tides are frequent and cyclical enough that they’ve earned their own label — pendulum politics. One party and its policies are in. The pendulum swings and another party and its policies dominate. Rarely, though, does the pendulum swing as much as the scenario in which Ken MacLeod plots Night Sessions, the winner of [...]
Although the seeds were planted earlier, dystopian literature has flourished in 20th century nutrients — the rise of fascism, ideological conflicts, global industrialization, and seemingly limitless advances in technology. Pessimism isn’t a prerequisite to realize there is a potentially detrimental synergy in the coalescence of these changes. It undoubtedly provides plenty of opportunity to envision [...]
You’re likely to get an odd look when someone asks what you’re reading and you tell them it’s the “new” Jules Verne novel. After all, Verne died 106 years ago and all of his work has been published. Yet therein is a tale itself.
The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz is a novel Verne hoped would [...]
Dystopian literature stems from no particular geographic boundaries. Aldous Huxley and George Orwell were British, Margaret Atwood is Canadian, Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut were American. Thus, while Ana María Shua sets Death as a Side Effect in her native Argentina, the conditions that beset that future society are perhaps universally possible.
Survival is [...]
Book publicity frequently is an exercise in the art (or artifice) of puffery. So, when a book is described as a “genre-busting” work, I tend to approach it with a bit of caution. Generally, though that term is a fair description of The Universe in Miniature in Miniature, Patrick Somerville’s collection of short stories. Some [...]
Okay, I’ve read THE novel of the summer. I’m still trying to figure out why it’s THE novel.
Justin Cronin’s The Passage has plenty of hype. But when you get right down to it, it’s really an over long post-apocalyptic SF novel. (Although for some reason the local library stuck a “Mystery” tag on the [...]
It was an era more than half our population knows only through history. It was an era in which the United States went from being the only nation possessing nuclear weapons to facing the reality that the “Godless Commies” also had them. It was an era in which the Cold War blossomed, together with fear [...]
The Secret History of Science Fiction, a new anthology aimed at questioning the existence of genre boundaries, could be a victim of the very issue it seeks to address. It uses the term “science fiction” in the title.
The anthology proceeds from an interesting premise. Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow was nominated for the 1973 Nebula [...]