Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New and Noteworthy: Items From the Hiatus #3 (Video Games and Modern War, James Cameron Interview, Public Lending Right)

In today's edition:

* Jonathan McCalmont's latest Blasphemous Geometries column, in which he discusses the thin line between science fiction and professional futurism, especially as it applies to video games depicting modern warfare. (For a particularly absurd example, check out Kotaku's article on Homefront, in which North Korea invades the U.S.)

* The Los Angeles Times blog, "Hero Complex" (which you can now find the feed from in Raritania's blog list) carried an interview with James Cameron back in April. On the whole the piece is well worth a read, though one comment of Cameron's about print science fiction-in response to a question about whether he still reads much of it-caught my eye:
. . . science-fiction literature is so reactive to all the literature that’s gone before that it’s sort of like a fractal. It’s gone to a level of detail that the average person could not possibly follow unless you’re a fan
Indeed, in this reply he even touches on the commercial implications of the situation, noting that print science fiction (especially, I took it, the more upmarket, cutting-edge kind)
now is so opaque to the average person that you couldn’t take a science-fiction short story that’s published now and turn it into a movie. There’d be way too much ground work you’d have to lay . . . if you rely on being a lifelong science-fiction fan to understand what the story is about, then it’s not going to translate to a broader audience.
He also notes (implying that the case is a reflection of that reality) that "literary science fiction is a very, very narrow band of the publishing business."

The two points strike me as being very true, closely related--and all too often ignored by those thinking about the broader state of the field, especially when considering the question of why the audience for the more upmarket kinds of science fiction isn't bigger. At any rate, you can read the full interview for yourself here.

* And finally, Jessica Strider at Sci-Fi Fan Letter penned a piece on the matter of "Public Lending Right," a system by which authors are financially compensated for library loans of their books. (Like universal health care, this seems to be one of those things that most of the industrialized world has-but which the U.S. doesn't.)

New and Noteworthy: Items From the Hiatus #2 (Ian Sales on the 10 Worst SF Series)
New and Noteworthy: Items From the Hiatus (Best VG Movies, Summer B.O., Scott Timberg on Dune, Cory Doctorow on the Ipad)

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