Monday, May 23, 2016

OPED: ''Does Science-Fiction Need a New Subgenre? The next movement of sci-fi will look at our status as a 'pale blue dot'. -- A ''Food for Thought'' Oped by American sci-fi book reviewer Andrew Liptak

Andrew Liptak

Written by @andrewliptak and
@GeekMtnState (he uses two handles and retweets his tweets on one to make it appear that his tweets are being retweeted, when in fact he retweeting his own tweets).

Andrew Liptak on 24 May, 2016Freelance writer and historian who lives in Vermont. Weekend Editor of Gizmodo/io9. Founder of Geek Mountain State and the Vermont SF Writer’s Series. Events and Marketing Coordinator for Bear Pond Books of Montpelier, Vermont. Trilobite enthusiast.

 
QUESTION: BUT DOES SCI-FI REALLY NEED A NEW SUBGENRE? Isn't sci-fi good enough on its own. What is Andrew getting at here? Any comments pro and con, on this thoughtful oped from a new editorial voice in the sci fi world?
EXCERPT

Science Fiction Needs a New Subgenre


The next movement of science fiction will look at our status as a pale blue dot.


by Andrew Liptak

After he wrote this very good article, searching for a new term for a new subgenre of sci-fi, Liptak tweeted the real reasons he wrote this piece. And his sci fi friends added their venom to the stew even Joe Monti!


Liptak uses two different Twitter handles, @andrewliptak and
@GeekMtnState. He uses two handles and retweets his tweets on one to make it appear that his tweets are being retweeted, when in fact he retweeting his own tweets. Cool.

@Andrew Liptak with a cartoon thought balloon based on a real tweet he posted online in this series: "I can't say this was the real reason I wrote this piece, but yes, I was so sick and tired of him being so passionate about the cli-fi term and getting press everywhere, even in foreign countries overseas, that I just could not take it anymore and had to write this piece to stick it to him. What do you think?''

@AndrewLiptak "My point with the [Omni] article is that the term [cli-fi] is needlessly constricting
and excludes context.''


@AndrewLiptak
''In other words, Cli-Fi is a dumb term.''
 

 

Joe Monti [@joemts]  chimed in on same Twitter convo: "Awful"
 
 
 
 
@Andrew Liptak"  ''Clifi is a dumb term that he's trying to get to cover climate
change fiction. He's very [passionate] about it.''
 

Andrew Liptak cartoon thought bubble: ''He's very passionate about the cli-fi term, and despite my criticism and carping, he has had considerable success turning the term into a popular buzzword, and its been written about in the NYT and Guardian and the Atlantic, much to my chagrin and anger, and disgust, actually, and HuffPost too, and the term received oped support from the likes of Margaret Atwood no less. So maybe cli fi is not such a dumb term and I'm wrong to keep firing pot shots at him. Maybe I'm the one who is harassing him. But I just hate that term, I don't know why. Wasn't sci fi mocked and critized as a term when it first appeared also for being needless contricting and lacking context? It's true, yes. Maybe I need to get off my high horse and come down to earth, this pale blue dot. Maybe my hatred of the cli fi term is due to soemthing I don't understand. Gve it time. Maybe I will ease up on him, BUT NOT IN THIS LIFETIME!"

 


 
Tobias Buckell added for good measure: "Thank you (for saying that, Andrew, re ''In other words, Cli-Fi is a dumb term.'')
 
@AndrewLiptak to Tobias Buckell '':D''

Andrew Liptak to Tobias Buckell in reply:
                          

''

I'm not gonna say [this Omni] article was inspired by that, [re  ''Clifi is a dumb term that he's trying to get media coverage for re  climate issues and literature]
change fiction. He's very [passionate] about it.''] but the narrow-mindedness behind it was a contributing factor [to my writing it for Omni.]''
 
To which Tobias Buckell replied to Andrew and his friends online: "good. I’m hoping more and more ppl resist :)''
 
To his credit, Andrew does say in the article way down, "loose definitions of such literary movements are useful: In a broad sense, they can help to guide works by either working with or against a shared cluster of tropes. "

BUT THEN HE TAKES AIM THE RISE OF CLI-FI GENRE which he hates with some uncontrollable hatrd: "With rising and vocal proponents [of the cli fi term] pushing for a shared movement of works that explicitly deal with climate change, we should be wary about strict definitions for any movement [including sci fi] . Criteria, particularly when it comes to literary movements, can act as walls, [even for sci fi, too] and thus restrict the raw exploration and storytelling that movements require to thrive. [For the cli-fi writing community worldwide now,] focusing only on climate change serves only to tell a select grouping of stories, while missing out on the bigger picture."
 
 READ BELOW. And this blogger loved the article itseld, so much so that I tweeted the link from here to Kingdom Come. Andrew is a good writer and a thoughtful thinker. -- Dan Bloom
====================
 
THE ARTICLE BEGINS:
 
Throughout science fiction’s history, stories fall into a range of movements, aligning themselves stylistically and thematically as they each react to one another. The Golden Age of Science Fiction, heralded by editor John W. Campbell Jr. sought to inject a level of scientific rigor into pulp fiction.

The New Wave was expressly a movement against Golden Age conventions, turning its back on the space travel it heralded. Cyberpunk was a brash moment that melded a new outlook on the genre alongside the computer revolution.

There’s always the eye towards what will happen next: What movement is the heir to the genre’s historical movements, and how will it change genre fiction and influence writers decades into the future?

Climate Change in Sci-Fi

Science fiction concerned with the effects of anthropomorphic climate change on the planet, and certainly, authors such as Paolo Bacigalupi and Margaret Atwood have been writing excellent and dire stories about where we’re headed. Climate change is one of the most pressing issues that we will face in our future, and such an impending challenge is ripe for science fictional interpretations.
While this is a topical (tropical?) subject, it’s an overly narrow one that misses a larger contextual framework that should inform and influence genre fiction. Climate change is one small part of this mindset: humanity’s fragile position in the larger universe. Earth is an isolated oasis in the depths of space, and it is the only place where we can life.

Science fiction has broadly assumed throughout its history that humanity will propagate far into space, settling in new solar systems, discovering new alien species to interact with, and to boldly go into the unknown. The "wagon train to the stars" mindset fits well with humanity’s (read: America's) can-do attitude and ability to forge a future to the stars.

But space isn’t the American West. Instead, it’s like the Arctic. It’s cold, difficult and expensive to reach, and prolonged exposure will certainly kill anyone not properly equipped. Those who live there endure a difficult environment: and that’s just our planet.
Earth is the only place humanity can live and thrive, and there is a growing body of literature that explicitly deals with the fragility of our place in the universe. In recent years, several notable space-based science fiction novels have depicted a more realistic environment. 
Recommended Reading:MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
The Windup Girl by Paolo BacigalupiThe Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi


Defining Genres


Determining where books fall can be an academic exercise: Defining where a book should lie, or what the precise definitions should be for entry into a literary genre or canon is usually futile. There are no hard characteristics within speculative fiction’s "Golden Age" or "New Age" movements, and academic arguments about what should and shouldn’t be included will persist for as long as the genre is a thing.

But, loose definitions of such literary movements are useful: In a broad sense, they can help to guide works by either working with or against a shared cluster of tropes. With rising and vocal proponents pushing for a shared movement of works that explicitly deal with climate change, we should be wary about strict definitions for any movement. Criteria, particularly when it comes to literary movements, can act as walls, and thus restrict the raw exploration and storytelling that movements require to thrive. Focusing only on climate change serves only to tell a select grouping of stories, while missing out on the much greater context that it aims to warn against.

We can tell the stories of how we change the world by our own hands, but in doing so, we fail to recognize something bigger: We’re destroying the one and only place we call home in the cosmos.

Andrew Liptak
Written by
Andrew Liptak on 24 May, 2016Freelance writer and historian from Vermont. Weekend Editor of Gizmodo/io9. Founder of Geek Mountain State and the Vermont SF Writer’s Series. Events and Marketing Coordinator for Bear Pond Books of Montpelier, Vermont. Trilobite enthusiast.

3 comments:

DANIELBLOOM said...

Andrew typo. You wrote title as gold game citrus. Two times. Fix online if you can. Or ask omni eds. Claire will be furious!

DANIELBLOOM said...

"Gold Fame Citrus" Is correct title, andrew.

DANIELBLOOM said...


After he wrote this very good article, searching for a new term for a new subgenre of sci-fi, Liptak tweeted the real reasons he wrote this piece. And his sci fi friends added their venom to the stew even Joe Monti!



@Andrew Liptak with a cartoon thought balloon based on a real tweet he posted online in this series: "I can't say this was the real reason I wrote this piece, but yes, I was so sick and tired of him being so passionate about the cli-fi term and getting press everywhere, even in foreign countries overseas, that I just could not take it anymore and had to write this piece to stick it to him. What do you think?''


@AndrewLiptak "My point with the [Omni] article is that the term [cli-fi] is needlessly constricting
and excludes context.''


@AndrewLiptak

''In other words, Cli-Fi is a dumb term.''











Joe Monti [@joemts] chimed in on same Twitter convo: "Awful"






@Andrew Liptak" ''Clifi is a dumb term that he's trying to get to cover climate
change fiction. He's very [passionate] about it.''









Andrew Liptak cartoon thought bubble: ''He's very passionate about the cli-fi term, and despite my criticism and carping, he has had considerable success turning the term into a popular buzzword, and its been written about in the NYT and Guardian and the Atlantic, much to my chagrin and anger, and disgust, actually, and HuffPost too, and the term received oped support from the likes of Margaret Atwood no less. So maybe cli fi is not such a dumb term and I'm wrong to keep firing pot shots at him. Maybe I'm the one who is harassing him. But I just hate that term, I don't know why. Wasn't sci fi mocked and critized as a term when it first appeared also for being needless contricting and lacking context? It's true, yes. Maybe I need to get off my high horse and come down to earth, this pale blue dot. Maybe my hatred of the cli fi term is due to soemthing I don't understand. Gve it time. Maybe I will ease up on him, BUT NOT IN THIS LIFETIME!"





Tobias Buckell added for good measure: "Thank you (for saying that, Andrew, re ''In other words, Cli-Fi is a dumb term.'')



@AndrewLiptak to Tobias Buckell '':D''