time travelers

July 3, 2020

The problems we’ve experienced this year, 2020, are probably the result of too many time travelers arriving here and trying to fix things – because the future is one god-awful feckin’ mess, boys & girls.

Humans were still not only the cheapest robots around, but also, for many tasks, the only robots that could do the job. They were self-reproducing robots too. They showed up and worked generation after generation; give them 3000 calories a day and a few amenities, a little time off, and a strong jolt of fear, and you could work them at almost anything. Give them some ameliorative drugs and you had a working class, reified and coglike.

Kim Stanley Robinson
2312

Sometimes I think Earth has got to be the insane asylum of the universe. . . and I’m here by computer error. At sixty-eight, I hope I’ve gained some wisdom in the past fourteen lustrums and it’s obligatory to speak plain and true about the conclusions I’ve come to; now that I have been educated to believe by such mentors as Wells, Stapledon, Heinlein, van Vogt, Clarke, Pohl, (S. Fowler) Wright, Orwell, Taine, Temple, Gernsback, Campbell and other seminal influences in scientifiction, I regret the lack of any female writers but only Radclyffe Hall opened my eyes outside sci-fi.

I was a secular humanist before I knew the term. I have not believed in God since childhood’s end. I believe a belief in any deity is adolescent, shameful and dangerous. How would you feel, surrounded by billions of human beings taking Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy and the stork seriously, and capable of shaming, maiming or murdering in their name? I am embarrassed to live in a world retaining any faith in church, prayer or a celestial creator. I do not believe in Heaven, Hell or a Hereafter; in angels, demons, ghosts, goblins, the Devil, vampires, ghouls, zombies, witches, warlocks, UFOs or other delusions; and in very few mundane individuals–politicians, lawyers, judges, priests, militarists, censors and just plain people. I respect the individual’s right to abortion, suicide and euthanasia. I support birth control. I wish to Good that society were rid of smoking, drinking and drugs.

My hope for humanity – and I think sensible science fiction has a beneficial influence in this direction – is that one day everyone born will be whole in body and brain, will live a long life free from physical and emotional pain, will participate in a fulfilling way in their contribution to existence, will enjoy true love and friendship, will pity us 20th century barbarians who lived and died in an atrocious, anachronistic atmosphere of arson, rape, robbery, kidnapping, child abuse, insanity, murder, terrorism, war, smog, pollution, starvation and the other negative “norms” of our current civilization. I have devoted my life to amassing over a quarter million pieces of sf and fantasy as a present to posterity and I hope to be remembered as an altruist who would have been an accepted citizen of Utopia.

Forrest J. Ackerman
Another Time Another Place

We talk about global warming, as we must, but we rarely connect it with population and the fact that millions of women around the globe are being forced to have children they don’t want. Child marriage and too-early pregnancy are the first and second cause of death among teenage girls. Unwanted population growth is a root cause of global warming.

Gloria Steinem
Interview with Graeme Green in New Internationalist, May 2016

In Hamilton’s The Universe Wreckers…it was in that novel that, for the first time, I learned Neptune had a satellite named Triton…It was from The Drums of Tapajos that I first learned there was a Mato Grosso area in the Amazon basin. It was from The Black Star Passes and other stories by John W. Campbell that I first heard of relativity.

The pleasure of reading about such things in the dramatic and fascinating form of science fiction gave me a push toward science that was irresistible. It was science fiction that made me want to be a scientist strongly enough to eventually make me one.

That is not to say that science fiction stories can be completely trusted as a source of specific knowledge…However, the misguiding’s of science fiction can be unlearned. Sometimes the unlearning process is not easy, but it is a low price to pay for the gift of fascination over science.”

Isaac Asimov
Before the Golden Age: A Science Fiction Anthology of the 1930s (Intro)

livewire voodoo

April 29, 2020

A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly. All the speed he took, all the turns he’d taken and the corners he cut in Night City, and he’d still see the matrix in his dreams, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colourless void… The Sprawl was a long, strange way home now over the Pacific, and he was no Console Man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he’d cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, hands clawed into the bedslab, temper foam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn’t there.

William Gibson
Neuromancer

always wanted to write

April 28, 2020

I’ve always wanted to write. But not until I discovered the old pulp science-fantasy magazines, at the age of sixteen, did this general desire become a specific urge to write science-fantasy adventures.

I took a lot of detours on the way. I discovered s-f in its golden age: the age of Kuttner, C. L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Ed Hamilton and Jack Vance. But while I was still collecting rejection slips for my early efforts, the fashion changed. Adventures on faraway worlds and strange dimensions went out of fashion, and the new look in science-fiction — emphasis on the science — came in.

So my first stories were straight science-fiction, and I’m not trying to put down that kind of story. It has its place. By and large, the kind of science fiction which makes tomorrow’s headlines as near as this morning’s coffee has enlarged popular awareness of the modern, miraculous world of science we live in. It has helped generations of young people feel at age with a changing world.

But fashions change, old loves return, and now that Sputniks clutter up the sky with new and unfamiliar moons, the readers of science fiction are willing to wait to read tomorrow’s headlines. Once again, I think, there is a place, a wish, a need for the wonder and colour of the world way out. The world beyond the stars. The world we won’t live to see. That is why I wrote The Door Through Space.

Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Door Through Space [Author’s Note]

And when it comes to his own predictions for the future, William Gibson says he was wrong about something else: He thought the Internet would be a mysterious and sexy place. “Cyberspace, as described in Neuromancer, is nothing at all like the Internet that we live with, which consists mostly of utterly banal and silly stuff.”

Tom Cole
William Gibson Says Today’s Internet Is Nothing Like What He Envisioned
NPR 19th March 2020

Rust-proof Nanny

April 10, 2020

“Nanny,” Charlie said, officially, tablet in hand. “Can I ask you something?”

Nanny walked over with gentle, calm steps. The helper’s feet left indentations in the carpet. Ae stopped six inches from the other side of the kitchen table. “Yes,” ae said.

“What do you like to do?” Charlie asked.

“I like to take care of you,” Nanny answered.

Charlie rolled her eyes. “What do you like to do besides that?”

Nanny tilted aes head to the side and smiled in that way that was just so heartwarming. “I like picking up your clothes, and vacuuming the rugs. I like making sandwiches—”

“No, not like that. I’m writing a report about you for school, so I need to know stuff about you.”

Nanny’s eyes narrowed a touch. “Interrupting is not nice,” ae said.

“Sorry.”

“A report for school sounds like a wonderful project. Perhaps you could write about your parents.”

Charlie shivered. “The assignment is to write about someone I admire, and I decided to write about you.”

“That is very nice, Charlie. Thank you.”

Charlie shifted on her stool. “So, just tell me some things about you.”

“I am a model 34AX Nanny helper, made by Dynamic Home, a division of Dynamic Assistants Corporation. I am constructed of carbon fibre, synthetic resin, titanium —”

Michael Robertson
Charlie Tries to Interview Her Nanny

Black Holes

April 7, 2020

Black holes are the seductive dragons of the universe, outwardly quiescent yet violent at the heart, uncanny, hostile, primeval, emitting a negative radiance that draws all toward them, gobbling up all who come too close. Once having entered the tumultuous orbit of a black hole, nothing can break away from its passionate but fatal embrace. Though cons of teasing play may be granted the doomed, ultimately play turns to prey and all are sucked haplessly―brilliantly aglow, true, but oh so briefly so―into the fire-breathing maw of oblivion. Black holes, which have no memory, are said to contain the earliest memories of the universe, and the most recent, too, while at the same time obliterating all memory by obliterating all its embodiments. Such paradoxes characterize these strange galactic monsters, for whom creation is destruction, death life, chaos order. And darkness illumination: for, as dragons are also called worms, so black hole are known as wormholes, offering a mystical and intimate pathway to the farthest reaches of the cosmos, thus bring light as they consume it.

Robert Coover
A Child Again