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If science fiction

10 February 2016

If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Fantasy/SciFi, Quotes

26 Comments to “If science fiction”

  1. If you want to see something truly tragic, EMP (electromagnetic pulse) modern technology out of existence and watch the multi-billion deaths of humans… assuming you survive (pray you don’t).

    I’m still waiting for a viable real world alternative that doesn’t require dictatorship, mass kill/die-offs and mass enslavement of the remaining 99%.

    Sorry, getting cranky in my old age.

    • North Korea now has the capability to launch a high-altitude nuclear warhead over the United States that would cause a devastating EMP. Though frankly, I’m much more worried about a cyber-attack from ISIS or a post-collapse Russia taking down the electrical grid.

    • A friend recently turned me on to James Burke’s 1978 history/science series “Connections.” I was watching the first episode, about the 1967 east coast blackout, and at one point Burke went on at length about all the things someone would need to be able to do to survive if modern civilization collapsed—and all I could think was, “I’m just sure there have been dozens of science fiction novels written about this premise.”

    • Yeah.
      It is “tragic” to see people whose lifestyle and very life depends on technology cavalierly dismiss the achievements of the people who created actual tangible miracles. Like a certain idiot politician who complained that NASA doesn’t inspire like Hollywood movies…right after killing manned space exploration for a generation.

      Somebody ought to dump them on a desert island for a year to see how they like living with nature.

      • If you’re going to jump to conclusions about someone’s message based on a single pithy quote, you should probably at least read the complete essay from which it’s excerpted for context first.

        It’s possible the message might not actually be what you think it is.

        • Oh, it is *exactly* that.
          Just look at the kangaroo court assembled to kill Constellation and their grudging report.

          • I’m not sure what essay you’re reading, but there’s nothing about that in the one I linked.

          • But now we have commercial crew, and it’s moving faster. That’s a good thing.

            • Would move a lot faster if they’d kill the Senate Launch System, and throw that money at buying commercial launches instead…

              At the current rate, when NASA finally land on the Moon again, there’ll be a crowd of SpaceX astronauts in the Sea of Tranquility waiting to welcome them back.

              • Diversity can be good,too.

              • Hey, if Constellation hadn’t been killed, Ares I would be flying already and Ares V next year. We’d be on the moon to stay in ’18. (And we could’ve gotten a better than Hubble telescope built for $45M for Ares V to lift.)

                But no, “the moon is old news… been there done that…”

                Except now that the Chinese look to land there by 2020 they want NASA to rush the cut-rate BDB to get there faster…

                As I said: idiot politicians.

                • Given NASA’s recent record, it’s more likely they’d still be trying to fix Ares 1’s vibration problems at this point.

                  The idea with killing Constellation was to put the money into buying commercial launches instead, so NASA could concentrate on doing the things they couldn’t buy off the shelf much cheaper than doing it themselves… like, say, building lunar landers. Instead, Congress just reinvented it as SLS, and sent most of the money there.

                  So NASA are working on a rocket that’s years behind schedule, costs billions to develop, has no funded payloads, and will cost billions to launch. Whereas SpaceX will probably get the Falcon 9 Heavy up this year, sending almost as much payload to orbit for a tenth of the price.

      • Na, just ‘lock’ them into their mansions — with no incoming food except what’s on/in the lawns, blocked sewers, no water or power — and of course no staff …

        A month should do …

  2. I take it Mrs. Le Guin hasnt seen The Martian.

    • Considering that the essay was written in 1986, I’m quite sure you are right.

      OTOH, I’m not sure whether her opinion has changed since then.

  3. Incidentally, there’s a Kickstarter on to do a documentary about LeGuin and her works. It’s already passed goal and still has most of a month to go.

  4. Just my two cents. If we’re talking myth and tragedy, doesn’t that make the only other option comedy? At least, if I’m remembering my Greek plays correctly…

  5. Without reading the full source, I’d argue that the myth is often more heroic than tragic. But I tend to be more science- and technology- positive than many of my associates, and I write accordingly.

  6. The complete essay was really lovely, Chris. Food for thought… Thanks for posting the link.

    • You’re welcome. I’m not sure I agree with the complete essay myself, but it’s a pet peeve when I see people jumping to conclusions about what someone “must” have meant without even trying to find the context. Especially since what she’s saying is different than the quote seems to imply.

  7. It’s not surprising that someone who views sci-fi as tragic worries that Amazon selling lots of books will be the end of literature.

  8. As the Spartans replied to Philip of Macedon, “If”.

  9. We need dilithium crystals, and we need ’em now.

    Dan

    • JSC is working on it.
      On a shoestring but they’re working on it and they’ve gotten some… odd… readings that suggest you don’t need infinite energy to wrap spacetime. Maybe not even ridiculous amounts…

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