Archive for the ‘Reflections On SF’ Category

Cosy Catastrophes

Human beings identify more readily with one individual or family than with large numbers, so that the plight of a child stuck down a well moves us more than reports of the starvation of whole continents. This is not heartlessness, but simply our neurological wiring, which has not evolved for thinking about or relating to […]

Posted on September 25, 2009 at 13:33 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Reflections On SF

The Aliens Are All Us

It is customary to regard American SF films about alien invasion as expressing the fear of external threats in the (allegedly) real world. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers sub-genre was thus related to the fear of Communist infiltration and brainwashing. At the same time, such films may have also functioned to make those threats […]

Posted on September 26, 2009 at 12:35 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Reflections On SF

A Very Capitalist Universe

Many years ago Brian Aldiss pointed out that American science fiction could stretch centuries into the future, embracing automation, telepathy and space travel, while being unable to visualise any form of economics other than 20th-century capitalism. I would add that no amount of imagination, extrapolation or general love of weirdness has since been able to […]

Posted on July 1, 2010 at 11:38 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Reflections On SF

Is Your Unfreezing Covered?

One of the commonest ideas of classic hard science fiction is cryogenics, the freezing of a just-died or mortally sick person in the hope that future medical technology will be able to thaw, revive and cure him. Apparently this is one of the wild speculations that has the best chance of becoming a reality. Even […]

Posted on July 2, 2010 at 11:21 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Reflections On SF

The Clone Is The One With A Plum In His Mouth

Science fiction, and increasingly the daily newspaper, is full of speculation about human “cloning”, generally without any reference to the natural clones whom we call “identical twins”. In the same way, there is talk of creating super-races by cloning of exceptionally gifted or successful individuals, again without anyone apparently noticing that people have been attempting […]

Posted on July 3, 2010 at 11:25 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Reflections On SF

Nanotech And Equality

There are way too many science fiction novels envisaging a future in which, with the aid of nanotechnology or some other magic wand, everyone is rich. Or more precisely, where everyone has the sort of material comforts and the toys that are now reserved to those whom we call the rich. No doubt a medieval […]

Posted on July 4, 2010 at 12:27 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Reflections On SF

Tiptree And The Ranters

A science fiction story by “James Tiptree Jr.” suggests that sex and aggression are wired together in the human male, so that a given incoming signal can easily trigger the “wrong” response. This is all very familiar from feminist theory, except for one thing: there is no trace here of moral condemnation of men. The […]

Posted on July 5, 2010 at 16:36 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Reflections On SF

Elvish Forges Do Not Pollute

In his filming of The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson skipped Saruman’s revenge of trying to convert the Shire into North Korea, but he did justice, and more than justice, to the theme of the pastoral Isengard being turned into a new Birmingham. It has been said that Tolkien, in the rather ironic form […]

Posted on July 6, 2010 at 11:43 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Reflections On SF

Berkeley And Von Neumann

George Berkeley is often regarded as a curiosity in the history of philosophy, as asserting the unreality of the world. In fact he did no such thing, but merely employed Occam’s Razor on the contemporary notion, found for example in John Locke, that tangible objects consisted of both perceptible qualities and a material “substrate” that […]

Posted on December 10, 2011 at 11:30 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Reflections On SF

Undead Of The World Unite

I do not know what academics are now saying about the enormous upsurge in books, games and movies about the various kinds of undead, and will have to make my own reflections independently of the learnèd professions. It is obvious enough that any literary treatment of things that look human but aren’t primarily reflects deep […]

Posted on January 25, 2014 at 11:10 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Reflections On SF