No, not some sort of sci-fi celebrity blogosphere death-match scenario (though that might be kind of cool – we could clone Andy Remic and see how soon he could dismember himself with oddly-named axes!): BloggingHeads.tv publish video-conference interviews between notable figures in certain spheres of interest to the intertubes, and io9 head honcho Annalee got to have a good long chat with Ken MacLeod, Scots science fiction author extraordinaire (and, I might add, thoroughly nice bloke).
To quote Ken himself, topics covered include “politics, Craig Ventner’s synthetic organism, Scotland, The Night Sessions and The Restoration Game, near-future and far-future SF, and galactic princesses.” That’s my lunchtime entertainment sorted, then.
Here’s Ken MacLeod announcing a rather interesting science fiction project:
A while ago I was staring at a poster of the human genome produced by the US Dept of Energy, and I remembered Michael Swanwick’s Periodic Table of Science Fiction. Cue lightbulb moment.
Why not set up a website that displayed short pieces – stories, flash fictions, poems, and reflections – inspired by genes or genomics, and arranged them (as far as possible – I soon found myself applying for an artistic licence) according to the chromosome that carries the gene that inspired the piece?
Now, thanks to enthusiastic work from Emma Capewell and Claire Alexander at the Genomics Forum, and the creative skills of web designer Damien Noonan, The Human Genre Project has gone live. It’s early days yet, but it looks good and it’s just waiting to be filled up with new writing. If you have something you think might sit well behind one of those colourful chromosomes, here’s how to contribute.
That’s a very cool project – I’m half-tempted to put something together and submit it myself, though I have no doubt plenty of better writers will beat me to it. Maybe you’ll be one of them? [image by mtowber]
The Beeb rounds up various of our favorite skiffiers to ask the perennial question: does the genre need to stay up to date with the latest breakthroughs in order to be relevant? Ken MacLeod‘s comment:
Science fiction is the only form of literature that sets out to bring home to our imaginations the surprising universe that science has discovered. How well it does that job depends on its scientific accuracy – up to a point.
If we as readers catch a writer getting some well-established scientific fact wrong, we may suspect that we’re reading incompetent science fiction – or mainstream literature.
[image from jurvetson on flickr]
Ken MacLeod has a monograph up on genomics, sociology and science-fiction at the genomics forum:
Social scientists are less likely than natural scientists to star as villains or heroes in SF. Their work, however, has deeply influenced the genre.
At first or second or third hand – directly, through popularizations, and as refracted through mass media – anthropology, economics, sociology, and political theory have all raised questions to which SF writers have imagined answers.
As well as highlighting the importance of sociology and economics to the development of science fiction MacLeod suggests a reading list of suitable novels that are relevant to his topic. He also compliments us literary SF fans:
Written SF (whose core readership and reviewers are more scientifically informed than the general public) usually has to hew to stricter standards of scientific plausibility…
[via Ken MacLeod][image from Todd Huffman on flickr]
Jo Walton has a review of Ken MacLeod‘s The Sky Road over at Tor, looking at it as a standalone novel rather than the culmination of the Fall Revolution series:
The thing I never really appreciated, reading it as the culmination of the series, is the way in which Clovis’s story is shaped like fantasy. The woman comes to him through the fair, she is beautiful and perilous, she is something more than she seems, and they fall in love and she takes him into a world of enchantment.
I re-read this book for the third time recently and definitely agree with Jo’s conclusion that it works as a standalone novel, as well as an excellent choice as a introductory science fiction book.
[via Ken MacLeod][image from ccgd on flickr]