09 June 2005

The Mundane Manifesto

Speaking of sci-fi like 2046, this came across my desk (my assistant, a wonderful worker these past 60 years). The Mundane Manifesto seeks to limit SF stories to our own solar system, within our own species, no faster-than-light travel or mating with alien sex-goddesses, no teleportation or other 'fantastical,' impossible-to-even-visualize science, nothing. I suppose it's a sort of Dogme95 manifesto, writ for SF writers.

[Yawn.] Who TF cares???

The only reason I'm putting this article up is for its comments, which you'll find below the main piece. BRILLIANT, not to be missed: "If mundanes want to read science fiction without the speculation, then they can read the original James Bond novels."


Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

This is one of those things where on one hand I can see it, but on the other, not so much. I mean, I do kinda like stuff where the Sci-Fi is actually feasible, but, well, that's pretty much why Hard Sci-fi exists. It just seems silly to do a manifesto that's about saying "Hey, hey, hey! Let's take hard Sci-Fi and then take the fun out of it, even though Hard Sci-Fi seems to do basically what we're wanting!"

I mean, on one hand, it can be lame when you read a Sci-Fi novel where the science is basically Magic (invoking the Arthur C. Clarke quote without any of the work of figuring the stuff out), but on the other hand, sometimes that stuff works out OK -- and sometimes it might be cool if it's, say, an alien world where ideas evolved differently, so their stuff is going to be weird and unexplainable to us (though it's really awesome if the author can then _explain_ how this weird tech would work, especially if it's semi-feasible.)

But, well, even though I don't particularly care too much what people do (especially with stuff like this, since it's not like they're going to throw out everything -- I'm still going to be able to read my Philip K. Dick books either way), it is kind of funny how uptight people get sometimes. Like the James Bond quote. I mean.. yeah, the Speculation part is cool, but, um, Sci-Fi isn't really about the future, it's about the present (yeah, oversimplification), and I think that statement kind of misses that point a little bit. It seems that they think that it's about Science part of "Sci-Fi", rather than the Fiction part (which, according to David Foster Wallace, Fiction's about what it is to be a fucking human being"."). So, yeah. I'm a little unenamoured of that Movement or whatever, but more power to them -- I'd kind of like to read some of the stuff that comes out of it before dismissing it, though -- maybe they're on to something... but I'm thinking I'll still prefer Valis.

1:18 PM, June 09, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

I'm not much of a science fiction fan in the first place, so I feel sort of outside of this whole "debate." I mean, I don't care for most sci-fi, but I love J.G. Ballard (just as I don't care for most fantasy, but I love James Blaylock, who sets his fantasy-type stories in 20th-century America).

Now of course, I'm a HUGE horror fan, so I'm much more lenient on horror stories/movies than I am those of other genres, so I guess that's how it works... the bigger a fan you are, the more absurd stuff you're willing to put up with just for the entertainment value. :)

7:42 PM, June 09, 2005  
Anonymous timv said...

The original James Bond novels could not be classified as science fiction. Or, was that a joke?

8:58 PM, June 09, 2005  
Blogger CatsFive said...

True. It wasn't my comment, it was some guy's, and I think he was trying to make a point. Then again, an Astin Martin with an ejector seat, machine guns, and some sort of pre-GPS system does sound reasonably sci-fi.

12:36 AM, June 10, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

Oh yeah- I should mention that for the most part, 2046 ISN'T sci-fi. There's a story within the story that is sci-fi, but overall, it isn't. (That threw me the first time, too.)

4:08 PM, June 10, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

To be honest, I don't even really typically think too much in terms of sci-fi or not sci-fi (well, outside of obvious genre examples, i.e. Heinlein is pretty obviously "Sci-Fi" to me), especially since a lot of Real Literature Type Things Of Late would be Sci-Fi if that genre weren't so ghettoized (i.e. Infinite Jest actually is a sci-fi novel -- just that since it's "Real", it's just straight fiction). But it ultimately doesn't matter, since, hey, a good story's a good story, right? 8) (And, hey, I'm guilty of doing my part to ghettoize certain genres -- aside from my own thinking of "Eh, that's just a generic Sci-Fi novel", witness my "I don't really like Fantasy much at all!" comment from a few posts ago..8)

6:28 PM, June 10, 2005  

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