Monday, May 30, 2005

Posted by Trent Walters at 9:11 AM
I haven’t answered every question raised, but this is surely long enough since I am but one lad and the complaints are many. I am grateful to all the science fiction luminaries who responded. And I’ll continue reading your work with great interest.

I suspect that many of these responses to Mundane SF (three more, including from Lou Anders and Chris Roberson) might not have occurred had they not been prejudiced by a prior misinterpretation (which were influenced undoubtedly by other misinterpretations, ad infinitum). Like it or not, what we take in does influence us.

In the discussion of how these magical SF tropes can lead a possibly false hope that unforeseen science gizmos will solve all our problems, someone intimated that art doesn’t influence people. I’m not sure how anyone involved with SF could suggest that the environment doesn’t influence people. That is in essence what SF is all about. What happened to SF’s vaunted claims to fame for leading kids to become scientists or influencing the direction of science? Besides, if art doesn’t influence people, then why have repressive regimes always been afraid of it? Why did Hollywood produce movies to convince people to go to war and keep fighting it (i.e. Casablanca, famously, but almost any WWII era movie devolved into encouragement to keep on)? Why did Isaac Asimov choose not to write about war after WWII? Why do people get upset with D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation? After all, it’s just a movie. Why does John Kessel take on Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game? Why do writers even have themes? In Argentina, a movie with a male character who did not wear an undershirt beneath his dress shirt caused the undergarment makers to take a big hit [Maybe someone can help me find the exact link to the story].

Art has influence. You can’t take the glory without the responsibility. Legally, people should be responsible for their own use of the arts, but that doesn't mean that artists can't be cognizant of the effects of their art. On the other hand, there ought not be a twinge of guilt for misinterpretation.

One of the first things a reader should do in interpreting any work of art--be it poem, story or essay--is to establish what the author’s tone is. If you missed the humorous term “girdle” in the manifesto’s first sentence, then maybe you picked up on these:

--The chastening but hopefully enlivening effect on imagining a world without fantasy bolt holes: no portals to medieval kingdoms, no spaceships to arrive to save us or whisk us off to Metaluna.

--Not to let Mundanity cramp their style if they want to write like Edgar Rice Burroughs as well.

--The harmless fun that these and all the other Stupidities have brought to millions of people.

--The harmless fun that burning the Stupidities will bring to millions of people.

--To burn this manifesto as soon as it gets boring.

A few readers did think this was all a joke. But humor can be serious as well. And really, much of the philosophy hinges on the humor if a reader examined the careful nuance. The above comments have been rearranged to maximize their seeming contrast to create new meaning beyond the interpretations that have been over-simplified to distortion.

Compare the first two lines. The first says that magic is not allowed, but it also says Mundane writers can write fantasy if they so choose. Does it say anything about people who don’t consider themselves Mundane? One writer unwittingly sicked the ACLU on us by claiming we were "self-appointed censors" [link gone]. We have not been contacted by the ACLU presumably because we neither owned controlling interest in any publishing house nor threatened to end anyone’s freedom of speech. Maybe the ACLU recognized the tongue-in-cheek bravado.

Perhaps the author was concerned about all the statements about burning. People might have read it on a bad day or skimmed or were influenced by previously misguided commentators who took comments out of tone or context.

Let’s look at the burning. We talk of burning the Stupidities, but we also talk of burning the manifesto, the very thing that urged the burning (really, it’s odd that I even have to explain the joke. No wonder Robert Sheckley’s poignant humor is no longer appreciated). The burning is described as “harmless fun” but so were both status-quo SF and Mundane SF.

So I think Geoff Ryman knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote the manifesto. It’s as much an anti-manifesto as a manifesto with some important speculative statements to make: What if Earth were all we had? The manifesto was designed to rile people up who don’t read closely. What Ryman couldn’t have known was how few would read closely. I suspect Ryman thought just the stodgy old-school would have their feathers ruffled but the many perspicacious in our genre would have thought, “Ha, ha. That sly dog,” chuckled, and went about pounding their way through whatever space opera or ten-volume fantasy they were working on.

For those who still don’t quite understand the tone: we don’t care what you write. We just want the public to know that some possibilities are more probable than others. Even if SF's science fantasies outweigh our science probabilities, so long as we know they are fantasies (i.e. create a space for fiction focused on future probabilities), then it won’t matter. We’ll read space westerns with aplomb, with one eye on entertainment and theme (myth, parable and whatnot) and the other keen eye on the knowledge that this SF is just another fantasy with a weak possibility of having future validity. Without this acknowledgement, society will continue believing that mystical science-hand-waving will save us: Never mind that petty accumulation of CO2, dwindling energy and fresh water supplies, not enough clean energy, booming populations, and the loss of habitats and species and soil: Here comes Superscienceman on his broomstick!

Lou Anders writes, “I believe that it is way-dangerous to make predictions that close the book on hitherto undiscovered technologies.” This is a misreading in two ways. First, we are not making predictions any more than any other SF makes predictions. We’re merely trying to give realistic science its moment in the sun to contrast against (not necessarily compete with) the more mythic SF, as Ian McDonald himself called it.

Second, we encourage development of undiscovered technologies--just nothing that disobeys the laws of science as we presently understand it. Yes, science will change but not necessarily for wilder ideas. Sometimes it actually limits what we thought we could do. For instance, we have no problem with nanotechnology but SF often comes up with nanomachines like the one Stephenson’s The Diamond Age that suddenly produces whatever your heart’s desire--forget about the laws of conservation (which is exactly what much of the world has been doing). No, we don’t claim to know what the future will hold--you certainly won’t find that claim here although you will find we already discussed that--but our speculations should in principle be more probable than those who prefer to dabble in the less probable. And no, we didn’t say that the future will be just like the present. It amazes me that people think the future or SF is lost if certain works pointedly do not write about space or time travel. Implicit in such tropes is the idea that we can simply abandon the mess we’ve made on Earth. Okay, so you can time- or space-travel: What makes you think humanity will treat those worlds any differently if they don’t learn to take care of their own?

Jonathan Vos Post writes, “Your opening up ‘Global Warming’ into a properly phrased admission that we don't know what will happen -- very good!” I don’t know that scientists involved with climate change would disagree but I’m sure they’d find this statement more than a little problematic. It strongly suggests that nothing may happen--true enough and I hope you’re right, Jonathan--but most scientific evidence thus far has shown the contrary.

Ian McDonald writes, “Will I then be co-opted against my will?” Absolutely not. No one has to buy into Mundane SF. We’re only interested in those who purposefully buy in or are open-minded enough to allow room for philosophies that differ from theirs. We welcome McDonald to write parables and myths or any kind of literary art. We most certainly will. But if he were a poet, would McDonald complain about the “tick boxes” of a sonnet or a sestina because he accidentally came close to writing one? The examples of writers who might have “accidentally committed Mundane SF” are all just a general idea of what we’re about. See this discussion of one work labeled as proto-Mundane.

One of the reasons I was first attracted to SF was that it seemed you could do anything: write in any style, write within any philosophy or politics, write about any subject matter. I mean, a group where a functional-prose man like Asimov could be chums with the vivid and idiosyncratic Ellison must be cool. All we ask for is a barstool or two along SF’s infinite counter space. Or is SF’s inclusivity just a delusion of foolish youth?

An observation that I’ve made of those who link or check out the site with interest is that readers on the edge of SF are attracted to the idea. A savvy marketer might want to exploit a whole new crowd of potential readers. But then we can always just fall back on the same old tropes and continue to spurn those who might want to try to do things differently.

29 Comments:

Blogger Charlie said...

Two rules of thumb for writers (learned from bitter experience):

1) Anything you write will be misinterpreted by a substantial subset of your audience.

2) Suggesting how readers should approach the text is like imploring the sun to rise in the west.

Claiming to be surprised at the degree to which this manifesto has been misunderstood strikes me as possibly disingenuous; at best, worryingly naive.

Moreover, readers will approach the text any damn way they feel like it, and if the text doesn't interest them they'll go away.

As those of us trapped in SF/fantasy land and toiling for a living don't get academic patronage very often, having our readers go away is a very bad thing indeed. So in getting somewhat prescriptive -- even with ironic intent -- you've put quite a lot of noses out of joint.

(I'd have been happier if, instead of issuing a prescriptive manifesto you guys had issued a descriptive one. Consider the nucleation that accumulated around Bruce Sterling's description of Slipstream. Nobody rails against "the slipstream manifesto" -- stuff just happens. Similarly, just describing Mundane SF in existence wouldn't have got peoples' back up. But once you purport to tell people what they should do, they'll take you at face value ...)

5/30/2005 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

Maybe so. Thanks for your thoughts and advice. I'll show them to Geoff.

5/30/2005 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous ian mcdonald said...

Good piece and stimulating as ever. Deep down, guys, I am on your side in this, I just think the manifesto is much stronger at what it is doing now (promoting debate and self-examination within the meta-genre) than producing Better Science Ficiton (little Stand on Zanzibar Joke: 'Better? Than?). However, when wondeing if I would object to the formalism of a sonnet --you mistake structural formalism with thematic formalism (this is in Cyberabad somewhere, talking about Dogma 95's structural formalism and somewhere else where I'm talking to Farah Mendelsohn about John Berger). So of course I can't object to sonnet form, because it's only telling me how to write, not what to write about.
Keep it up, we're getting somwhere...

5/30/2005 01:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Fran said...

Hi Trent. Gotta say, I'm disappointed in the turn the ML discussion has taken--at least I thought it was a discussion but now see it has been described elsewhere as an argument. (Why must practically everything be an argument or a debate or a fight, why must "winners" and "losers" be implied? Why can't information, viewpoints and ideas just be exchanged? Too many big egos in the world, I guess, especially the writing world.)

W.r.t. Jonathan's quote, which was a response to my post, the whole "Global Warming" labeling thing is kind of a pet-peeve of mine; I do believe in being "accurate" (assuming one can be such a thing, which may be a big assumption) when discussing science within the "scientific community" and outside the scientific community. Labeling a single possible outcome in a sensationalist way, even while there may be a lot of evidence for that outcome, seems like irresponsible poor work to me. It reminds me of the "Nuclear Winter" mantra in the eighties when, IMO, "Nuclear Summer" might have been a just-as-likely overall result of those hypothetical scenarios discussed, but, still, both those names sound, well, kinda silly.

I think that sensationalism doesn't normally do much to enlighten people about the nature of potential dangers, but just basically tells them there is a danger--like "telling" vs. "showing" in argumentation. Don't know about you, but I've noticed that if you shout "DANGER!" to them, people too often close their ears right away. No matter how many warning labels are on cigarettes and appliances, it seems to me that plenty of people still smoke and use appliances the way they shouldn't--will climate change go the same way, will warnings be ignored? I see significant talk on the issue but little action, and it's the action that will count in the end. To spur actual action, I think it's better to engage in a more accurate dialogue about how complex potential dangers can be, it's better to get people to think, assuming they can think (ahem), which is the first step on the road to real action.

Labeling something as a specific likelihood and often ignoring any other possibility may give some a false sense of security and also may make them stop listening if that specific prediction doesn't ever come true, like certain scientists will have destroyed some of their credibility, when credibility in today's dishonest religiously crazed world is especially important. Also, if people, inside science and out, assume there will be a global warming farther down the road, they may start believing that they can actually prepare for the future by ONLY preparing for a warming. I think preparing for the future's often wise, but only in a broad sense where one has various flexible alternative plans. Yet, simply that notion of "I can prepare" also seems to give some a false sense of security, as if there will always be a way out of a mess as long as they know the mess is coming, when, in reality, they probably can't know very accurately the ultimate nature of the mess till it's actually sitting in front of them.

One of my mottos is: prevention is usually the best cure. IMO, that hasn't happened on a large scale w.r.t. humanity and environmental issues, and, unfortunately, that likely had to have happened already on a large scale to avert probable catastrophe. Now I think we're up shit's creek. I do think it's great that people are at least discussing climate change in any way (even though it isn't always a very accurate way, IMO), but it's time to have moved way beyond that into the action department in many aspects of modern life, not just ones that deal with climate issues specifically. Climate change has been sensationalized somewhat into being "the" issue when it is likely only ONE issue among many. Other problems actually have concerned me even more, and they also often contribute to climate instability/change and are also affected by climate instability, such as overpopulation (which I think has probably been the major root cause of most environmental problems, or at least the major root cause of the extent of all those problems), deforestation, desertification, and possible increased deoxygenation of the lower atmosphere, to name four biggies, four biggies that few people even want to discuss. Practically no one wants to discuss overpopulation especially. So, most days, I feel pretty hopeless about all this.

I think humans should consider that most animals primarily live on or in the Earth's surface/crust area, not "on or in the atmosphere," though we need the Earth's atmosphere for many important reasons. But our taking lots of stuff from inside and on the crust and releasing/burning it, AND excessively cutting down trees/the tree canopy/greenery, demineralizing soils, destroying the microorganism profile of many soils, destroying the delicate balance of soil structure that makes for healthy dense plant growth, effectively removing soil humus and other components and dumping this into waterways, indirectly and directly dumping various types of shit into the oceans that changes/destroys plankton--all of this stuff done from the surface primarily is what has seemingly affected/driven the atmospheric changes that have started. Not really the other way around so much (as far as we can tell). Though now it may start being more the other way around as the atmosphere sees it's payback time toward the surface!

Anyway, as I've said at ML, I agree with some of the Mundane Manifesto points, and, really, the ones I agree with are probably the most important ones. I just think maybe you could rewrite some of your points in a less dogmatic tone, which might create less backlash. But I find your site and idea interesting nonetheless, and I'm glad I finally learned about it.

Take care,

Fran

P.S. You probably know this already, but I think most people don't seem to like change, especially changes in their choice of entertainment. Old habits die hard and all that, even reading and writing habits....

5/30/2005 03:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anarkey said...

The movie was "It happened one night", the undershirt removing actor was Clark Gable. The NPR program was "Talk of the Nation", on Tuesday of last week, --if memory serves, and it may not-- and it was an aside from one of the guests speaking off the cuff, so I'm not sure there's all that much evidence that lends creedence to the Argentina story, delightful and amusing as it was.

5/30/2005 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Indeterminacy said...

I just found your blog searching for Robert Sheckley. I was shocked this morning when I visited his Website: www.sheckley.com. Apparently he has been very ill, now recovering, thank god, but urgently raising funds to cover his medical expenses. I donated what I can, and hope that you might see fit to do the same. Yes, there are still people around who appreciate Robert Sheckley's humor, I for one.

5/31/2005 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger Farah said...

. I suspect Ryman thought just the stodgy old-school would have their feathers ruffled but the many perspicacious in our genre would have thought, “Ha, ha. That sly dog,” chuckled, and went about pounding their way through whatever space opera or ten-volume fantasy they were working on.

A nice thought but...

I didn't read the manifesto, I had it straight from the horses' mouth one lunch time. There is nothing ironic about Ryman's comments. He is deadly serious. The comment about writing fantasy means "outside of sf" not within it. Geoff thinks that the quality of most sf is poor and that its poverty is linked to the lack of plausibility. Discussing with him the entries for the Clarke Award when he was a judge (but before the short list came out) he made it clear that he does not like where modern sf is going, and is looking to India to reimagine hard-sf. Heaven alone knows why he thinks it needs a new name.

5/31/2005 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger gabe said...

What I said over at BlogCritics:

"Mundane SF pretty much fails to take into account that all of these tropes that writers are apparently supposed to eschew are the metaphors that SFF has used to create exactly the sort of social, 'mundane' commentary that they clambor for.

The metaphors make it easier for people to accept and swallow. Sometimes, stepping back or traveling to the Omega Gamma Sector Prime gives us the distance we need to see our world more clearly."

5/31/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

Farah,

Of course he's serious. I'm serious. We've been discussing this off and on for two years. Take another look at the "last" line about burning the manifesto (the italicized comment at the end is just to get people to read further before judging).

5/31/2005 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

Gabe,

You're not reading very closely. Did you just skip the article you're commenting on?

5/31/2005 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

Anarkey,

Muchas gracias. I'll try to correct that soon.

Indeterminancy,

I agree Sheckley is a treasure. NESFA Press has a collection of his work coming out soon--regretably little of which is from anything outside his first decade of writing.

5/31/2005 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

Fran,

Good points all. I do mention several key environmental issues in the above article.

You describe global warming as "[l]abeling a single possible outcome in a sensationalist way," which I do not agree with. It is a range of outcomes (1.5-4.5 degree projected increase although some may say more) that is the general concensus according to a lengthy article in Science magazine. Of course, there are naysayers and science is not based on a majority, but evidence and majority do point toward this. Replacing "climate change" for "global warming" also misses the point that warming may melt polar caps and, thereby, release CO2 stored there and, thereby, pontentially accelerate the problem. But I'm not a climate scientist. I just read up on it in Science and online.

5/31/2005 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger S.M. Stirling said...

Monday, May 30, 2005

>Art has influence. You can’t take the glory without the responsibility.

-- quite true, but the way you raised this simply illustrates the point that the "Manifesto" has a tone of censorious disapproval and finger-wagging, not to mention assumptions of superiority.

"Eat your vegetables, they're good for you" does not sound less tight-arsed if followed by "but if you want to be a gross self-indulgent slacker who's helping to destroy the planet, OK, eat the hamburger".

It's not the type of SF you want to write that's the problem, it's that the Manifesto implies that this is the _real_ SF, and everything else is "fantasy" or otherwise inferior.

Why not just say "this is what I and some of my friends happen to like"?

>If you missed the humorous term “girdle” in the manifesto’s first sentence

-- in fact, my impression was that the 'humor' was a passive-aggressive defense mechanism; that is, its function was to give a "we're just joking" opt-out when called on the substance of the text.

>The harmless fun that these and all the other Stupidities have brought to millions of people.

-- when you label what someone does "Stupidity", do not be surprised when it's treated as a deliberate provocation, however disguised as jouissance.

>We just want the public to know that some possibilities are more probable than others.

-- fallacy alert! Insert "in our opinion" or "we think" here.

>so long as we know they are fantasies

-- fallacy alert! See above.

>Without this acknowledgement, society will continue believing that mystical science-hand-waving will save us

-- here's the political kicker trying to slip in under the radar.

5/31/2005 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger S.M. Stirling said...

>booming populations

-- as the saying goes, it ain't what you don't know that'll kill you, it's what you think you know that ain't so.

Earth's population is not "booming" any more. More than half the people on earth live in countries with Total Fertiliy Rates below the replacement level -- including China, Algeria and Brazil.

The world TFR will, on current trends, drop below the replacement level within 10-15 years and the total world population will start to decrease about a generation after that. In absolute terms, the rate of annual increase has been falling for more than 30 years.

"Booming populations" is a textbook example of an obsolete trope to which far too many SF writers cling because it's familiar.

A really daring SF story set in the next couple of generations would deal with the problems creating by declining, aging populations -- the World as Japan.

This is the problem with the whole "Manifesto" approach. What it amounts to in practice is not "realistic science", but obsolete commonplaces.

5/31/2005 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger gabe said...

"Second, we encourage development of undiscovered technologies--just nothing that disobeys the laws of science as we presently understand it. Yes, science will change but not necessarily for wilder ideas. Sometimes it actually limits what we thought we could do."

Ummmmm... if you can give me a consensus on what the 'laws of science as we presently understand', I'll be a lot happier. Because, you know, I read Brian Greene's "The Fabric of the Cosmos" and then read "A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down" by Robert B. Laughlin, and then I read :Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas R. Hofstadter.... and if you can find me a consensus, I'll be really really really eternally grateful.

5/31/2005 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anita Rowland said...

The undershirt story is about Clark Gable in It Happened One Night, as noted above. Snopes.com does say its status is Undetermined, since actual facts about undershirt sales before and after are never cited, etc.

6/01/2005 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Martin Wisse said...

Don't blame your readers for being unclear yourself.

The original manifesto is a mishmash of halfbaked ideas and posing, drenched in a sauce of half assed radicalism.

Your attempt to defend it is pathetic.

There's nothing new in it, nothing interesting, nothing that fires the mind and gets the heart raising.

It's reactionary rather than revolutionary.

6/01/2005 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

Lots of good questions, Ian, Gabe, and S.M. I'll try to answer a few of them soon in a new post.

However, if you're a troll spoiling for a fight, please look elsewhere. Intelligent debate only.

6/01/2005 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger gabe said...

I have another question.

Is there some fear that if an author produces a hard extrapolation of a near-future, socially-conscious and mundane story or novel that it will not be published?

Because I thought there was room for everything?

So what is the *point* of the Mundane SF manifesto?

6/01/2005 11:23:00 PM  
Anonymous ian mcdonald said...

Hi Trent,
certainly don't want to be a troll,though my own blog seems to have become something of a lightning rod for anti-mundanes. Look forward to your further comments --at least it's livened up the blog if nothing else.

6/02/2005 03:48:00 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

Hi, Ian,

I don't mind when someone like S.M. Stirling points to a statement and says, "See, that is what I mean!" We can carry on a debate from that point. (No fallacy was committed but I know what S.M.'s getting at.)

Or when Gabe thinks that the direction of some articles of science is presently questionable. (Gabe may think he has us in a corner, but this is actually where Mundane gets intriguing: What are the limits? As well as, what are the problem tropes, and why, and can we get around this in a Mundane manner?)

So yes, I'm extremely grateful for you directing traffic our way. The tongue-in-cheek if serious manifesto was also supposed to encourage people to think, but perhaps we got off on the wrong foot. All's well that ends well--maybe.

6/02/2005 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger S.M. Stirling said...

The basic error is to imagine that either the development of science or the course of the future can be predicted.

They can't be predicted; that's been proven by experiment.

Take a look at Clarke's "2001" again -- nothing in it (before mystical aliens) is technologically impossible, and every bit of prediction is flat wrong.

We can only blue-sky and speculate. Nobody is qualified to judge.

SF gets things right about the future only on the shotgun principle. Our record is no better than that of non-fiction 'futurists' and theirs is piss-poor.

Incidentally, this is one reason why(*) I generally avoid writing straight-ahead near-future SF, as opposed to the alternate-history variety.

"Reluctance to look like a complete prat in 10 years" figures strongly here.

It's also a large part of why the relative share of near-future SF has declined, as a proportion of the genre as a whole. There are too many ghastly examples of giant atomic rockets navigated with slide-rules.

Furthermore, people who say they can predict the future are actually trying to control it.

People with a control fetish make me suspicious.

When someone talks about controlling or, even worse, planning the future, reach for the proverbial revolver.

What they're really talking about is controlling _you_, taking charge of _your_ future, and telling _you_ what to do. It's nanny-ism.

(*) the other is that it's boring.

6/02/2005 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger S.M. Stirling said...

Or when Gabe thinks that the direction of some articles of science is presently questionable. (Gabe may think he has us in a corner, but this is actually where Mundane gets intriguing: What are the limits?

-- Trent, that's Gabe's point: it's not possible to know before the event. Scientists will settle that, not science fiction writers, and they'll settle it in the future, not now.

And of course short of the "theory of everything", that future will continually recede.

I don't know what the limits are and you don't either. We're both just guessing.

Scientists make more informed guesses but on the record they're not all that much better than writers when they're guessing rather than working.

Attempting to privilege the guess that you find aesthetically or politically attractive (outside the covers of a piece of fiction, of course) is a severe no-no.

No, no, no. Bad writer. Bad! No biscuit! 8-).

I refer you to the results of totalizing ideologies which attempt to, or think they can, predict or control the future course of human history.

The only reason Seldon's Plan didn't result in a mountain of corpses, concentration camps and secret police was because Asimov didn't pretend it wasn't fiction.

>As well as, what are the problem tropes, and why, and can we get around this in a Mundane manner?

-- you're begging the question again. Assuming your conclusions.

There are no problem tropes.

There are just tropes one individual and/or group happens to prefer.

Some like roast beef, some prefer tofu. De gustibus and all that.

Stop confusing your own preferences with any sort of objective appraisal!

As for 'getting around' them in a Mundane manner... well, everyone has to have a hobby, I suppose. Some people like rock climbing. Others enjoy being tied up and whipped. Chacun a son gout.

6/04/2005 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger frankh said...

s.m. stirling said:

"A really daring SF story set in the next couple of generations would deal with the problems creating by declining, aging populations -- the World as Japan."

Wouldn't that be boring, and trying to predict the future and stuff? Oh, and you might be wrong, oh my!

Trying to get a hold on where the world [over]population might be headed, and how the demographics might affect the future is an interesting problem for a Mundane approach (trying to ethnically populate your magic escape rockets doesn't count). But don't pretend that you think it's daring.

6/21/2005 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger S.M. Stirling said...

>Trying to get a hold on where the world [over]population might be headed, and how the demographics might affect the future is an interesting problem for a Mundane approach (trying to ethnically populate your magic escape rockets doesn't count). But don't pretend that you think it's daring


-- it would be daring because it violates established notions and pieties. The "overpopulation" hypothesis has a lot of cultural energy invested in it; questioning produces hostility.

7/05/2005 11:18:00 PM  
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