Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Long Bets

Posted by goatchurch at 3:32 AM
Trent, put www.longbets.org up on the right hand panel of important links, please.

This is so directly down our line that even Bet Number 1 about the Turing Test is consistent with MundaneSF. There is an interestingly phrased counterposition to this view. (My personal view is that the Turing Test is an utterly flawed exercise based on the fallacy of Behaviorism, but we'll let that slide.)

As if to prove the disconnect between the current state of conventional SF and this stuff, very few of the usual tropes appear in any form in that list. It would be really great if MundaneSF stories had to be associated to a long bet. If you aren't creative enough to invent one and submit it, just pick one and place some money on the other side.

In fact, that would be the way to get an exemption for using technology and laws of science that do not exist today -- you can only use them if you have placed a bet that it is so. For many people, having to put a token bit of money down behind their claim gets their attention and makes them think straight. So, you can have aliens beaming from outer space, only if you accept this bet. The discussion for that bet is also worth knowing.

There is a void in literature where no one is writing science fiction based on the laws of science, because it's too scary and difficult. Either an off-shoot of SF is going to colonize it, or someone else will, and we will be ghettoized permanently.


Blogger David T said...

This is an interesting view - I'll drink to that. With one reservation...

My novel Hybrids was published last month. I won a competition run by HarperCollins to find a major new writer for older children. I wrote something I thought would grab adults too, about technology and politics.

I was very surprised to win, and then bemused to learn that it was to be marketed as science fiction. I didn't think I was writing SF. It's obvious in retrospect, but the elements they think of as SF I thought were metaphorical. After all, is Kafka an SF writer?

Now my agent says that is what I must continue to write.

This is fine by me. Except the thing is I don't read all the stuff people normally call SF - space opera etc.

Now I find there's something you're calling Mundane SF. Is this a term you have made up or a generally accepted one in the genre?

At any rate, the following usual suspects form some of my touchstones - Kafka, Orwell, Burroughs, Dick, Ballard. I guess you'd call them 'Mundane SF'?

The term 'Mundane' seems a put-off - as if the subgenre isn't interesting. What about Reality SF?

HarperCollins thinks that SF will be the next big thing for kids - we've had enough fantasy. I hope so. I plan to keep writing this kind of SF. I've submitted a short story to your next issue. I'm not at all sure if it's SF, but really, why do we need labels at all?

> Want to read more?

6/20/2007 02:52:00 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

hey, david,

congratulations on winning the competition. I like fantasy, but SF does need some renewed interest. Hopefully, your novel will help do that.

Kafka is not a science fiction writer, but occasionally a fabulist. That is, I don't think of Kafka as exploring the reality of a speculative idea. Perhaps the distinction is subtle. Perhaps you mean The Trial looks at a future society? I don't know. I sort of felt like Kafka saw that world as his present society--that the present society had under-layers.

Ballard, yes; Dick, sometimes; Orwell, not the animals; etc.

6/20/2007 03:52:00 PM  

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