Previous Entry Share Next Entry

How many people in China does Paolo Bacigalupi knowingly want to know?

Over a billion
A billion
Hundreds of millions
Tens of millions
Hundreds of thousands
Tens of thusands
Some other option (see comments)
I would like to complain about this poll

The answer may shock and surprise you! Or not.

  • 1
Erm, writing science fiction that's implausible is not "lying to your readers." That's a pretty nasty and unforgiving definition you've set up.

Writing implausible science fiction is one thing - writing science fiction that portrays itself as looking at the coming "gim and gritty" future while conciously leaving gigantic logic holes to rig the situation is a cheat. If he had an author's note to the fact that this meant to be parable or some such and not a realistic look at the future, I wouldn't mind: or do the sort of people who read the book and vote awards for it think of it that way? If so, I apologize.


Judging from Elizabeth Bear's review of Ship Breaker, she certainly found it a depressingly plausible picture of the possibly unavoidable future of the developed world, and, furthermore, a fair picture of what the present looks like for the majority of humanity.

I suppose there is the question of whether an audience so willfully ignorant gets the authors it deserves....


I don't think they're really willfully ignorant. I think they've absorbed the ambient idea that smart people think Peak Oil will undo our civilization very soon, and that we morally have it coming to us.

Perhaps more to the point, they've absorbed the idea that good people think this, and they want to be good people.

I think it's admirable that people want to be good people, and the concerns they've got about finite resources, fossil fuels, the environment, inequality and poverty are genuine and worth addressing. I think that actually makes it a greater moral failure to sell them nightmares that address those fears in an unconstructive way and then present them as plausible futurism.

Perhaps more to the point, they've absorbed the idea that good people think this, and they want to be good people.

I think that the desire here is not to be "good people", but to get on a high horse of moral superiority. There's sort of a Church Lady gloating and smacking the lips about it. And, like the quasi-religious bigots Dana Carvey parodied, these people tend to be immune to facts.

(Doesn't help that there's a set of PR people and trained minions pretending to have "facts" on hand, as part of the general far right project to normalize radical subjectivity. But the Church Lady sensibility came first.)

And by "you" I mean mmcirvin, not carloshasanax. (Sorry Carlos.)

no worries. I think mccirvin sees the "moral" part and I see the "scold" part.

Could be projection. I somehow ended up, early in life, with a lot of emotional investment in my status as a Good Boy, which is probably better than some alternatives but can make me a pushover for arguments couched in scolding tones by sour misanthropes.

Well, that's a wise insight too. Hum! You are right, I do have a weakness for arguments by sour misanthropes. Of which there seem to be quite a number writing SF.

That explains a lot.

Science fiction does not predict the future. I find it really weird for people to respond to it as if it does.

"A cheat?" Cheating what? Cheating who?

And even if Bear says she thinks it's a realistic depiction of problems we're facing now, do y'all know what she means by that? Is she talking about the racism? About the ethics of g.e. seed crops?

Is she talking about an emotional or psychological realism?

I'll be voting for Comstock for the Hugo, and no, I don't think we're about to regress to the 19th century.

If people didn't think SF predicted or at least laid out multiple alternatives for the future, so many SF fans wouldn't be indignant that it didn't turn out at all like the way they hoped it would. The book is marketed as if it is predicting the future rather than indulging in apocalypse-porn.

Cheating the reader, who is given a deliberately falsified picture of the future which encourages morbid wallowing and self-righteousness rather than useful action or reflection on actual issues or possible solutions. If it had the good grace to be black comedy it might be forgivable, but people take it so darn seriously.

As to your view on Hugo nominees, so? You're avoiding the point, which is that _Bear_ seems to think this is a realistic look at what may be facing us in a few decades. I don't mind Comstock as much: there's less wallowing in "lifeboat choices", it's more clearly along the spectrum to fantasy - I don't think people are claiming it's a tough-minded look at the near future - and it seems to be an amusing, enjoyable read. It's still a somewhat silly retro-past fantasy rather than thoughtful future SF but it winning an award won't annoy me the way all the praise for Bacigalupi has.


  • 1

Log in

No account? Create an account