Monday, July 28, 2008
wastelands or magic kingdoms
"Science Fiction isn't really writing about the future, it's more about writing about the present that is developing so fast that the effects of the development can better displayed in a future setting."
that's what Cory Doctorov recently said in an interview in Kulturzeit, the daily culture tv feature on 3Sat, one of germany's public tv channels - and with it, one of the last tv channels that hasn't filled the seven-o-clock-slot with soaps and series.
still waiting for the customized and attractive tv program of the future here.
but back to Doctorov: his book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was recently published in germany, and parallel to that, was made available as free download – the same way as it was published in the US, a novelty in publishing. the german title of the novel is “Backup”. the story is based on a thought-provoking hypothesis: in the future, it won't be money that defines the worth of a person and rules economy, but personal reputation, expressed in "Whuffies".
the global future, despite the darkness of the german cover, is heaven with a sharp edge, a place where the necessities and a lot of the luxuries of life are available for free. which leaves people struggling with their Whuffies. and life, of course.
darker versions of the future can be found in "Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse".
"The volume's common denominator is hubris: that tragic human proclivity for placing oneself at the center of the universe," comments Publisher's Weekly.
i reached the Wastelands via the i read a short story today blog, which reviewed the collection throughout May, including Doctorov's story: When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth - "It's the end of the world as we know it and the only people who survive at the sysadmins called to their server rooms when it all goes down."
also included in Wastelands: Paolo Bacigalupi, with his story "The People of Sand and Slag". a story of a techno world that developed into the wrong direction, a world of dirt and rubbish, populated by super humans who can eat the very components of the world they created: dirt. and sand.
the story is online here, on Paolo Bacigalupi's homepage. a review of his work can be found here, in the Quarterly Conversation.
typing this, in now even remember how i arrived at that page: via The Millions, and their article on redisigning the Quarterly website. an article that - switching one word - starts with a sci-fi-like statement:
The day a civilization (website) redesigns itself, it's an admission of something. Exactly what, I think depends on the civilization (site) itself, but inevitably it's a statement, a statement that is the product of a lot of thought. With all the work involved in a redesign, nobody would undertake one without good reason.
wastelands or magic kingdoms. slag or whuffies. the future, 2 designs.