Saturday, June 16, 2007

New Science Fiction

Locked out of the apartment. The Schlüsseldienst is closed because it's Saturday. Hanging out at Yorckschlößchen. Mimi the waitress who once lived in Houston said John Goodman was at the bar. He was. Supertoll.

Came across a blog today with an entry on new science fiction; can't vouch for anything because I am about to head over to the SciFi bookstore on Marheinekeplatz to see if they have anything but meanwhile here's a link to someone better informed.

An excerpt which explains why I am heading for Marheinekeplatz:

Alastair Reynolds

Reynolds is the real deal -- doctorate in astrophysics and former staff scientist at the European Space Agency -- and writes as if Robert Heinlein knew a thousand times more about science and completely lost his ability to write for warm characters. While Reynolds' work is cold and dark -- almost sterile -- in human terms, he operates on a scale and scope seldom seen, and everything he writes is grounded in real advanced theoretical physics. Highly recommended for anyone who likes large-scale space opera and big ideas.

And yet more plagiarism thinly disguised as something or other

Bonus: Vernor Vinge

Vinge, a retired San Diego State Univeristy professor of mathematics and computer science, is one of the most important science fiction authors ever -- with Arthur C. Clarke one of the best forecasters in the world.

First, if you haven't had the pleasure, be sure to read True Names, Vinge's 1981 novella that forecast the modern Internet with shocking clarity. (Ignore the essays, just read the story.) Fans of Gibson and Stephenson will be amazed to see how much more accurately Vinge called it, and before Neuromancer's first page cleared Gibson's manual typewriter. Quoting a reviewer on Amazon:

When I was starting out as a PhD student in Artificial Intelligence at Carnegie Mellon, it was made known to us first-year students that an unofficial but necessary part of our education was to locate and read a copy of an obscure science-fiction novella called True Names. Since you couldn't find it in bookstores, older grad students and professors would directly mail order sets of ten and set up informal lending libraries -- you would go, for example, to Hans Moravec's office, and sign one out from a little cardboard box over in the corner of his office. This was 1983 -- the Internet was a toy reserved for American academics, "virtual reality" was not a popular topic, and the term "cyberpunk" had not been coined. One by one, we all tracked down copies, and all had the tops of our heads blown off by Vinge's incredible book.

True Names remains to this day one of the four or five most seminal science-fiction novels ever written, just in terms of the ideas it presents, and the world it paints. It laid out the ideas that have been subsequently worked over so successfully by William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. And it's well written. And it's fun.

They say echoloca-ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-tion is the sincerest form of flattery.

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