Thursday, June 02, 2005

Real People, Real World, Real Science

Posted by Trent Walters at 8:38 AM
Charles Stross asked for a description of Mundane SF instead of a prescription. The title is a riff off Gregory Benford's essay on Hard SF in Hartwell and Cramer's The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard SF
: "Real Science, Imaginary Worlds."

I'm shipping out over the weekend for a workshop. Meanwhile, here's a fun thought experiment. When you poke at tropes for their weaknesses, you make interesting discoveries. Ponder how John W. Campbell arrived at his conclusions in a seemingly benign comment to William Tenn, and ponder this essay on evolution. I've held back on commenting about this since I'm not sure it's fair to make accusations against people who are misinformed. I have no problem with the judicious use of the trope as a science fantasy, but anyone who uses it ought to be very cautious. Perhaps the clear example of Campbell (and no doubt others) believing speculative social myths about Darwin's theories will demonstrate a need to reexamine our tropes. Is it only with our questioning tropes that we discover problematic tropes? It is no coincidence that we discussed evolution since our style of SF will not be looking backwards. But it may be more powerful if people make the discovery on their own.

If you don't figure it out on your own, I'll explain after the weekend. Have a Mundane weekend!


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