May 1st, 2007


science fiction and the mundanes

Here's something I haven't discussed here: "Mundane Science Fiction." Yes, I know that sounds contradictory, but some folks are trying to make a movement out of it.

Personally, I believe that SF embraces multitudes. It is not a genre that can live with constrictions or presciptions. SF is literature that needs to be free. It is dynamic, creative, and powerful, and IMHO still the best way to tell stories about what it means to be human. The only thing that the mundane SF adherents seem to want to do differently from the rest of us is to not rely on ideas that aren't proven via peer-reviewed scientific methodology. Okay, that's sensible and a great thing to teach new writers, but it doesn't feel like a new direction for the genre. Maybe I just don't get it (and I'm currently discussing this with blzblack).

If someone writes something that deals with the effects of change on the human condition and extrapolates into the past, future, or distant places, they're writing SF, pure and simple. You can subdivide it into subgenres, but no one subgenre has the right to claim supremacy over the others. SF readers and writers, especially, should know better than to condemn another neighborhood in the ghetto we all share and love.


EDIT: PS: The word "mundane" has been long denegrated by SFnal folks. It usually means the non-SF people who are incapable of viewing the universe outside of their little life's confines. Many of them fear and loathe SF. So what a strange thing to want to call your approach to SF!
space trooper

mundane SF book titles

Steve Wilson, on his "My Elves Are Different" blog, is having some fun at the expense of the mundane SFers. I'm meme-ing it!

(Here's a concise defintion of "mundane SF.")

So, if your SF can't have faster-than-light travel or communications, aliens, time travel, alternate universes, immortality, telepathy, or any other type of speculative (unproven) ideas, what do you have left? Mundane-ness! So let's mundane some famous novels. Here are my offerings:

Rogue Earth

Ender's Computer Game


Less Than Human

A Fire upon the Shallows


What would you add? I assume you also can't have artificial intelligence, re-created dinosaurs, technological singularities, mind uploads, or anti-gravity. Dark matter is iffy, I would bet. Let's mundane-ize SF!

EDIT: OMG! Youse guys are making me LOL so much! More, please!

just Chris

meme it, please!

Last night I put up a post requesting mundane-ized titles for existing SF novels. Oh my, but are y'all clever! If you haven't already, let's meme this buggar!

Be sure to include a link to the definition of "mundane SF" so people have some idea of what you're talking about. Also, be aware that the word "mundane" has long been denegrated by SFnal folks: "Mundane" usually refers to the non-SF people who are incapable of viewing the universe outside of their little life's confines, and "mundane fiction" usually refers to the "college literary" genre with its tiny concerns and hopeless attitude toward life. Many mundanes fear and loathe SF. So what a strange thing to want to call your approach to SF!

Yes, I realize this is playing right into the hands of those mundaners, getting the word out on their silly notion, but that's a small price to pay for the fun!

just Chris

What to do about Iraq? Help the soldiers.

Tomorrow is the four-year anniversary of "Mission Accomplished." Right.

Here's a brilliant consideration of what to do about the mess we've created in Iraq. Not sure if I agree with all her points, but we have to start this discussion if we ever hope to fix things.

What, really, can we as individuals do about all this? Voting didn't seem to change anything, and the Bushies sure won't listen to the people (unless those people run major corporations profiteering off the war). So how about helping make the soldiers' lives easier? I know of two ways:

Here's a great book-donation program started by science-fiction people. Give the bored soldiers your books! Give 'em science-fiction books so they come back with the mental framework of being able to see things are they aren't-yet-but-could-be.

Here's the first war-zone gaming convention, to be held in Iraq on June 9. Send the soldiers gaming supplies!

And spread the word.


You always remember your first.

jaylake recently asked people to respond to a post asking about favorite books and stories. I didn't respond to this at first, because I'm always leery of "favorites" - I might feel entirely different later in the day!

Then I thought, "Hmmm, perhaps I could list the first 10 books (that I can remember) to influence me as a young reader." That's every bit as informative about people's likes and dislikes, methinks, and could be very revealing about who we are - if you accept the notion that what we read forms who we are.

So without further ado, here are the first 10 books that I read as a kid (I define that as pre-college) and that have stuck with me through the years:
  1. Dinosaurs! No particular book, but lots of 'em! One of the first I ever wrote a book report about, in Fourth Grade, was a 500-page tome all about dinos. The teacher called my parents in to consult because she thought I lied; no little kid would read 500 pages of nonfiction. Bafangu to her!
  1. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle

  2. The Grand Tour, Miller and Hartmann (SF art and astronomy - what's not to love?)

  3. Rocketship Galileo, Robert Heinlein

  4. Dune, Frank Herbert

  5. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov

  6. DAW Year's Best Anthologies, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (borrowed 'em all from the library)

  7. Survive the Coming Nuclear War, Ronald Cruit (Cold-War era nonfiction)

  8. 1984, George Orwell

  9. The Road to Science Fiction #3, ed. James Gunn

  10. Watership Down, Richard Adams
What are yours? Feel free to meme this!


help with story title

Hi, folks -

Any suggestions for the title of my Visual Journeys story?

"In the Clouds of Jupiter"
Which just seems to need a little... something.

"Jovian Whispers"
"Whispers in the Clouds of Jupiter"
"Jupiter Whispers"
"Giant Space Elevator Into Jupiter's Atmosphere Gets Damaged By Mysterious Things and Our Intrepid Hero Must Solve the Problem While Also Solving the New Problem He Discovers - Oh, and He Must Also Solve His Personal Problem"

The last one might need a bit of work. Other ideas?