Thursday, October 28, 2010

Alas, poor SF, it suffers from premature mourning

Yes, yet again SF is on its virtual deathbed, diagnosis terminal - and yet, the shambling corpse keeps staggering on. And on. And... well, you get the idea. This latest case is part of a broader treatise on the nature, life, and death of genres by Daniel Abraham . He's got some good ideas, although why he feels the need to wrap it all in academicese is something I'm not going to think about.

The basic argument this time is that modern life is so SFnal that there's no room for the kind of "gosh-wow" optimism that was all over Golden Age and pre-Golden Age SF. Cloning is mainstream lit, vampires are sparkly (speaking of which, just so you can share my nightmares, go take a look at Freefall for today (http://freefall.purrsia.com/default.htm until Friday, then it should be at http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff2000/fc01950.htm), and SF is so dystopian 1984 starts to look positively chipper.

I disagree. Yes, there's a lot of modern life that looks a lot like SF, but there's still plenty of places imagination can take us, and they don't all look darker than the Pit of Despair. Oh, wait. That's just Fezzik blocking the light. Sorry.

We're right on the edge of self-replicating gadgetry - and affordable, too - that can make all sorts of useful stuff to spec. We're not that far from figuring out how to stop age from killing us, or failing that, slow it down even more (and let's face it, "old age" happens a lot later than it used to even 25 years ago). If we wanted, we probably could get a functional scientific base on the moon, although at current tech levels it wouldn't be all that comfortable - but it would be there, and be usable for research and as a jump-off point to bigger and better things.

What's missing? In my view the voices of PC have drowned out everything that doesn't fit their view - and many of the loudest voices boil down to "all things about humans that aren't straight from nature are evil". So, those of us who've put a lot more distance between us and our poop are much more evil than those of us who haven't. This, in the view of certain PC factions, is tied into skin color. Presumably distance from poop causes bleaching (ahem). Um. Sorry.

Anyway - what do you think? Where can SF go, why are people so keen to hold the funeral, and why did Westerns die and Romances get out of the back corner of the bookshop?

32 comments:

Ben Godby said...

I don't get the PC-equals-bad-SF correlation, though I've heard others use it. I've never read an actual explanation of why political correctness is killing hard SF; Elizabeth Moon's recently "controversial" political views, for example, are not about science fiction - they are about society. And it doesn't make sense to carry an author's politics and apply it directly to how they write their writing (thus making the organizers of WisCon, e.g., incredibly villainous - and basically mentally handicapped - in my eyes).

If someone can show me an actually logical, non-emotionally-charged argument for "political-correctness-kills-hard-science-fiction," I will write a blog post draping you with laudations. Kate, I don't want to sound like a jerk, but your argument seems hollow. For example, Iain Banks writes about a culture that has no material scarcity - and he's a pretty liberal dude. That counter-example is imperfect, but only because your argument lacks actual definable points to argue against - and that's my beef with this anti-PC thing. I'm anti-PC because it is unnatural, ironically enough; but not because of some SF mumbo-jumbo yadda-yadda "I'm sad because we don't have any more Robert Heinlein" stuff.

There was a chart I saw once, that seemed to actually demonstrate the correlation between right wing political beliefs and hard science fiction. I think that maybe what I call the "social red shift" is annoying to hard-science-fictioneers because "liberals" are more interested in "soft" SF, and the right-wingers' fiction - the hard stuff - is consequently less popular overall just because most people have differing beliefs.

It would be like producing a whole bunch of Bibles in Pakistan.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to someone offering, or pointing me to, a cogent argument on the PC-equals-bad-SF matter.

-bn

Kate said...

Ben,

PC is an infestation that poisons everything it touches from inside out. It defies intelligent observation and - here is the crux of the matter - puts entire fields of inquiry out of reach of scientific investigation by making them 'taboo'. Consider: it is an observable fact that not all cultures are equal. It's even possible to make comparative judgments provided you clearly indicate what you're using as your standard of comparision and why that standard is applicable to all cultures involved. It is also a clearly observable fact that not all racial groups are equal. All you have to do is watch any sports
channel for a while. But PC has made it impossible to suggest that there might perhaps be differences in inherited intellectual capacity between racial groups. PC has also made it impossible to suggest that the brains of different groups
might just process information differently (which is pretty bloody obvious in my view, given that thought processes arise out of a complex biochemical soup interacting with a neural matrix, either of which can be affected by - among other things - gender, diet, cultural influences, the amount of light in a day, genetics...).

Now for a quick tour through some of the genre examples I've read or read about recently (in the case of read-abouts, the premise is enough to make me gag, so there ain't no way I'm reading the book). This could also serve as a hot-list of bad writing and worse cultural memes.

I'll start with a whole bunch of post-Singularity pieces - all the ones that assume the existence of benign AIs guiding we poor humans for the greater good. Let's unpack that a bit. Benign AIs I can accept, although I have my doubts. Greater good? Whose greater good? Mine, the AI's, yours? Hm. Not to mention the PC assumption that those who promulgate the goals of PC do so for the "greater good", and that people who disagree need to be "enlightened", or possibly "re-educated". I admit this isn't necessarily obvious, but I guarantee you it's there.

Somewhat overlapping is the no-material-scarcity fiction - all of it that I've read has turned me off very quickly with oh-so-PC base assumptions such as some organization, generally portrayed as benign, guiding and allocating those non-scarce materials to everyone. Okay, once more we've got a thin shell of SF over the desire of the self-proclaimed PC elite to lord it over the rest of us.

Next up, the reams of SF in which humanity is the villain. I literally do not remember the last time I picked up a big-publisher SF piece (Baen is excluded from this list, BTW - I'm talking the ones that are hooked to this or that
mega-corporation) where alien life forms weren't one of: enlightened protectors; idyllic non-technological savants; mysterious creatures beyond human knowledge; or some combination of all of these. Humans, on the other hand, were almost always nasty, brutal, stupid, and sometimes downright evil. Especially the ones in the military or private enterprise -
which, with very few exceptions, the aliens never seem to have.

Then there's what I call the touchstone SF, that doesn't show up often but when it does it deals with Neanderthal culture (I call it touchstone, because Neanderthal culture in these books always seems to reflect what the author thinks humanity should be, where humanity represents what the author thinks we are). The latest effort has them as noble, spiritual mystics, and Homo Sap as - you guessed - brutal materialists with genocidal tendencies.

Kate said...

(continued)

Frankly, the underlying theme of PC is that we as individuals are not capable of making our own decisions and need to be guided by wise La... leaders. It's also that all those PC "protected classes" are protected because the people in them are incapable of reaching the heights of the wise leaders who decree that we shall not show protected classes factual
evidence of difference in case it offends them.

Put that into fiction - any fiction, and the result is toxic. In SF, it leads to idiocy like Star Trek's oh-so-enlightened culture that's moved "beyond" money and everyone what they need. Does that remind you of anything, Ben?

Oh, and for the record: my post is very generic because to me it's so bloody obvious I see no need to make an argument. You do not want me to change that: I tend to see the pattern of the whole when there are very few pieces in place.
If I have to break down what I'm seeing into semi-logical steps, I'm likely to drop all the way to baby steps and insult everyone who reads this.

A couple of random references for you:

http://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/science-fictions-political-failure-2-the-rise-of-political-correctness/ - note the definition of PC partway through the post.

http://harlanellison.com/buzz/bws006.htm

MataPam said...

I think Abraham is mistaken in think fear drives our reading. It is not fear of loneliness, but a desire for love/sex/marriage/children that makes romances popular.

SF is about striving for the good part of the future, even when it looks at the abuse of technology.

Westerns - which are not dead, BTW - are read by people who value moral strength and the grit to do what's right. Not because we fear the loss, but because the writing gives us an example to follow, leads us upward.

Having never read a Nurse Novel, I can only guess that they were popular with girls and women looking toward a rewarding career as something other than "wife and mother" and that at that time nurses and teachers were about the only open road. The few women who fought there way through universities and into other careers are probably the cause of the decline in the specific novel type - nursing became one of a wide suite of options, not the focus of half the young women.

If reading is driven by anything, it's stress. Stress relief can come in many forms, from fictional adventures to fictional romance. Fictional life as a werewolf to fictional life in a space station. The strong characters solving their problems serves to make us think our problems can be solved too.

Ben Godby said...

Kate,

I agree with basically everything you're saying. I lived in Quebec for four years, where anglophone children are forced to learn French and any English signage must be fifty percent the size of French signage because of abberrantly conservative laws; whereas, when I'm down in the States, I'm starting to see Spanish being put on products not because of laws, but spontaneously, because... it makes sense for merchants to sell to Hispanics. So I'm down with you on the front of, shall we say, "laissez faire."

But! (Just to continue being a gnat:) I think maybe you're not taking a panoptic view here (we could say synoptic, but I prefer to think that as soon as we start talking politics, we imprison ourselves...). Alright, the last two SFs I read: "Brightness Reef" by David Brin and "The Player of Games" by Banks. Player of Games: culture with no material scarcity (PC?)... goes and obliterates another culture (realpolitik). Brightness Reef: races uplift each other on the path to sapience and live in harmony together (PC)... and commit genocide when a race extends itself too far (realpolitik)!

If you take a panoptic view, usually there's always a little realpolitik mixed with the the utopianism; I don't know that I've ever read something where things were perfect, all the time. In what might be called "conservative" SF (last read by me: Old Man's War, John Scalzi), the "real grits" of the world (killing aliens competing for space) is offset by our own moral dubiousness: ought we to be killing all these aliens, in a moral (and not just pragmatic) sense? The liberal stuff, perhaps ironically, usually ends up pretty dystopian...

Anyway, any political stance will have its drawbacks and will create this utopia-dystopia dysfunction. Want wealth? Oppress others. Want peace? Fight wars.

That's why I laugh instead of voting!

Hope this sounds amicable, because honestly I think we agree on the perniciousness of stultifying real thought. But I suspect that the "happy-go-luckiness" in "PC" SF that you so dislike exists in the SF you like also, only it exists in a manner that jives with your politics and so you don't see it.

-bn

graywave said...

Kate, I have to agree with you on the perniciousness of political correctness, cultural relativism and all the other claptrap of recent left-wing ideology. In fact, whenever ideology (or theology) trumps reality (and when does it not) the truth and those who uphold it, suffer.

Having said that, I don't think it is PC that is leading to the decline in SF. PC pervades everything. The fantasy I have read lately is sick with it - and fantasy is doing very well indeed. In fact, I don't think there is a decline in SF at all - only in written SF. SF films, TV and games are doing extremely well - SF films alone are reaching a wider audience (and making more money) than the whole of literature of all genres.

Why is written SF declining when other genres are booming? I think there are two reasons. One is the existence of alternative media (like films and games) that do the "wow factor" so much better than text does - for most people. The other is the idea you dismissed: that people really do feel that they are currently "living in the future". Not that we already have FTL travel and transhumans and AIs, but because, for the great majority of people, science and technology have already gone so far beyond their grasp that reading about speculative, future science and technology really doesn't make any sense. It just adds to the confusion and anxiety.

I think that is why techno-thrillers (which I think of as a sub-genre of SF) are so popular. It is sci-fi, now (or in the near future) but with just one, incremental technical development. I also think it is why sci-fi fantasy, timeslip romance, and all the other magical but vaguely sciency genres are doing well; people can't tell the difference between plausible technologies and magical ones, since most technology seems magical anyway.

Chris L said...

Hi Kate,

Side-stepping some of the more considered arguments above, I'd just like to make some general (but hopefully not offensive) statements.

I've just returned from living in Africa for four years. Where I lived, PC either didn't exist, or was in it's infancy (reference the President of Zimbabwe calling the President of Botswana a raging homosexual as the ultimate insult).

I went 3km underground in a mine that had killed 70 people the year before. The workers laughed at the looks on our faces as we went down the shaft, and cheered when we emerged again alive.

When I came back to Oz I found myself in a safety meeting where a guy complained about grazing his knee when sitting down at his desk, and I found myself laughing in disbeleif as everyone sat around arguing about whether sitting at a desk was a safe thing to do. Nobody wanted to admit the aguement was ridiculous because safety is PC and I had obviously gone ferral after having lived abroud for so long.

PC makes people stupid, and stupid people don't read SF.

Brendan said...

Ben, I think you should read more deeply into Brin's Uplift universe. There is very little PC about most races uplift of client species. The Galactic Institutions are there to put rules in place to stop species ripping each other apart in a pan-galatic conflict, and the newly uplifted species(which can be altered to become speciallised technicians) spend millennia in bondage to their uplifting parents.

In Brightness Reef the six species form an accord and peace based on the idea that they are sharing the planet while they devolve back into pre-sapient species("Very" back to nature).

Stephen Simmons said...

Kate, there's yet another aspect of PC that is utter poison to SF, and I think is also the reason so many people are so eager to show SF the door.

SF, at least the good stuff, is about individuals. And not just any individuals, but remarkable individuals. Overcoming things, changing the world. Making a difference. Being just about as un-PC as it is possible to be, because they aren't being "equal to everybody else", and they aren't sitting down, shutting up, and letting the wise and benevolent Intellectual Aristocracy run their lives.

Those people are only allowed to exist in fantasy, something clearly labeled on the genre-cover, "not-even-remotely-real-and never-could-be". SF, the genre of "what if", the genre that exists on the edges of the real world, and from which a number of the older stories actually have come true? Nope-nope-nope, can't allow heroes like THAT to venture so close ...

Brendan said...

Stephen,

What you describe isn't necessarily PCism but anti-intellectualism or exceptionalism. This is a constant theme of Dr. Brin's over on his website Contrary Brin. He takes pot-shots at the far right and left but is worried much more about the right at the moment as they seem to be leading a push against experts and science.

Kate said...

Matapam,

I'd agree with you there - desire, in the sense of longing for something, is a big driver of what people read. I suspect another big driver is confirmation that things will work out no matter how bleak it might seem now. Romance certainly fulfills that one, and old-style SF - hell, even dystopian SF - does too. As Harlan Ellison puts it, by definition, SF includes humanity surviving at least to whenever the story is set.

The Western isn't dead? Oh GOOD! I haven't seen any in bookstores in forever. The basic self-reliance and taking responsibility for cleaning up messes in most of the westerns I've read is a good thing.

Kate said...

Ben,

I guess I'm not putting this clearly. The PC assumptions underlying too much modern SF gives me the horrors. Same with modern fantasy. These probably aren't even things the writers in question are aware of - they're too deeply buried for that, especially when the piece doesn't have much if any layering to it. Peaceful, idyllic, enlightened matriarchies in lush farmland that's right beside aggressive and evil male barbarians who inhabit a desert and mistreat their women. Sex without emotional consequence (maybe it works that way for men. It doesn't for women.) Traditionally "feminine" traits being bad if they lead to a traditionally feminine life, but traditionally male traits being good only when exhibited by a female. The assumption that the people in charge must know better than the rest (or that the AI in charge must know better).

I see that view in a book, that book and author are gone. Oh, and every time I"ve seen it, I've found the book unsatisfying - and other people I've talked to have also found it unsatisfying even if they couldn't nail down why.

I can't speak to your examples because I find that particular author unreadable.

Kate said...

graywave,

You know, in the 1950s people were talking about what a wonderfully futuristic world it was. There were ads about the latest technology and how it could transform your life. That didn't kill SF.

Now though, PC has dumbed down too many people, and convinced the ones who are capable of independent, creative thought that they don't want to do that because it's dangerous. It's made publishers timid and send marketing into a death spiral of ever-tighter market labels.

There's always been genre-bending fiction. There's always been slipstream. Was Gene Wolfe's New Urth series fantasy or SF? You tell me. It's an obvious example where sufficiently advanced science effectively is magic.

Could Gene Wolfe's New Urth series get published today. Hell no.

THAT is what PC has done to the industry.

Kate said...

Chris L

I think your last sentence sums it up beautifully. We need it in big font, everywhere.

"PC makes people stupid, and stupid people don't read SF".

Thank you.

Kate said...

Stephen,

Absolutely. Box the individualism off, keep it in a nice safe genre label where everything is "primitive" anyway so you expect that crude stuff to happen, but don't ever let anyone get the idea it might apply to - horrors! - real life.

Real life is supposed to suck, unless you belong to the elite who make the decisions.

Um. Maybe I should put the sarcasm bulldozer away?

Stephen Simmons said...

Kate -- at the risk of praising Heinlein in the presence of hi enemies ... "Glory Road". He even predicted THIS. Think about how Oscar felt in Hew Wisdom's world ...

Kate said...

Brendan,

Um. I'm afraid you just killed any admiration I might have had for David Brin. If he thinks the bigger threat is on the right side of the spectrum, he's not looking properly.

Yes, I have the data to support this statement. Yes, I can back it up with large numbers of examples. No, I am not going to do so here. I'm just going to give you the shortest possible version thereof: far-right attacks on science tend to be overt. PC kills it before it can get far enough to attract overt attacks.

Give me the outright hostility over the generations of brain-dulled overgrown children who could have been scientists if their interest in anything outside self-gratification hadn't been killed by PC.

Kate said...

Stephen,

Heinlein predicted a lot of things. He forced people to think. He posed uncomfortable questions and then used - GASP - logic to justify his answers.

Having seen the self-proclaimed elite decry logic as the whole collection of PC "-ist"s and then some, you can imagine how happy that made them.

Brendan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda Green said...

Brendan, I'm going to start with the warning that I am just now up and have had a grand total of 2 sips of coffee. That puts my threshold for anything at a very low point. One of our rules here is that we can skirt politics but we do not, I repeat do NOT, go over the line. You have here. I know you're trying to make a point but let's keep this conversation more aimed to how political correctness -- and you know what I mean -- affects writing and not go straight into the miasma of politics (especially since you have attributed comments to someone without giving citation).

Brendan said...

Appologies Amanda, it wasn't my intent to be political. I deleted the offending post.

Ben Godby said...

Alright... this will be my last post, since I didn't intend to start spewing any vitriol, and I think I may have made use of some unsensitive sentences earlier on.

Nonetheless, my initial caveat (and it be but a caveat, since Kate and I are merely two platoons skirmishing on the same side in the midst of a war... if you like bad metaphors) remains the same: "I don't get the PC-equals-bad-SF correlation."

I expect everyone involved in this discussion is to some degree an empiricist, and in commenting my main goal was to get an example: "Read X by Y, and you will see 1) PC, and 2) bad SF," thus validating Kate's initial posting.

But until someone can offer that, I don't believe this conversation is in the vein of some kind of courageous, individualistic exploration of ideas. As it stands, the argument "PC is ruining SF" is no better than the shut-down of "un-PC" authors (like Elizabeth Moon), because you're shutting down the opposite side without examples or good reason or thoughts that are shareable - just like what happened to Moon (well, okay... more or less like what happened to Moon, but the distinctions are irrelevant since both represent a priori dismissal and I'm looking for a posteriori conclusions).

You offer no examples of the phenomenon you discuss here. If you wish to excuse that by saying, "I would never read that," how did you discover the phenomenon? How are you aware of it? How can you be certain of it? You have to share these proofs with me to get my sympathetic agreement.

Examples! We need 'em.

For science's sake.

Peace out.

-bn

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Bull... pockey on "we're living in sf" -- yeah, for us. Not for our kids. But for MY parents I lived in SF and I devoured the stuff.

Look instead at what we're trying to sell these kids on. It started in the eighties with the "rusty future" SF. I don't know who in heck thought this was attractive. Since then we have had preachy SF, despondent SF and SF that concentrates on the mechanics so far only my younger kid enjoys it.

The TV and movie SF has only sometimes followed this (and the preachy one had cool tech to keep it amazing) so it still thrives.

Competing entertainment forms are never a problem UNLESS you're falling behind. TV didn't kill radio (trust me, it was still a major form of entertainment in Portugal, twenty years after the arrival of TV) and TV didn't kill the movies. And while TV audience is now more distributed, it's probably larger.

On the boys prefer games to books, that IS PC incarnate. When is the last time you read an sf adventure (or even fantasy adventure) book with a MALE main character who is someone a teen can aspire to being? Right. Exactly. I found myself several times, male heroic leads -- particularly young -- DO NOT get bought. Because "Boys don't read." Well, no. why should they when they're depicted as stupid and evil.

My boys saw through this at six.

Amanda Green said...

Brendan, thank you for understanding. I know it wasn't your intent but I wanted to head the topic off before it had a chance to get out of hand. Please, continue commenting. You add to the conversation and we do look forward to what you have to say.

Stephen Simmons said...

Sarah, boys read. At least my Aspie 20-year-old son does. But he doesn't read current American-published SF, for pretty much the reasons you delinieated. He does read manga though. Voraciously. And, quelle surprise!, the manga is rife with strong young male characters he can daydream about "being when he grows up" ...

Kate said...

Ben,

I'm not going into massive evidence dumps here. It's boring.

However, consider this: PC is antithetical to creative, adventurous thought (As witness the penalties imposed on anyone who breaks ranks). SF is a genre built on creative adventurous thought.

You shouldn't NEED evidence to reach the obvious conclusion here. If you do need evidence, I can't help you.

MataPam said...

Kate, all he wants is a couple of recomendations of books, not a masters thesis.

I've been so immersed in reading slush that I haven't been reading much published work except a few favorite writers, and I'm way behind on them.

So I'll cheat and use the example of the movie Avatar. Right, It's SF because it's on another planet and has cool tech. It's PC because the corporations and the military are Evil. Total Sociopathic killers. And it's the worst of the Liberal Elitism, because "One of Us" (More PC: A handicapped person. A ordinary soldier wouldn't do.) has to have an epiphamy and become the leader and savior "our little blue brothers" aren't capable of supplying themselves.

It's popular because it's a movie and it's got flashy effects. As a book? Liberal editors might have bought it (I think editorial buying, not public buying is what Sarah means in her post about "books with strong male leads not being bought") but I doubt it would have sold well to the general SF reading public. Those poor sales figures would have continued the downward spiral "SF is dying" trend that editors see, and many of us think they are instead creating.

When we say "destroying SF" what we mean is that poor buying decisions by the publishers are pushing books that don't appeal to most SF readers. We're saying the loss of older customers is not balanced by the number of young readers attracted by "New Wave" or "PC" or whatever you wish to call it. (If you count Sparkly Vampires stories as SF, we're wrong.)

So we read "Techno-thrillers" or Terry Prachett. MilSF and approach Space Opera cautiously, to avoid wasting our money on somthing we won't finish. Urban Fantasy (with guns) attracts hard SF readers, it's basicly an Alien invasion sans space ships, and with the possibility that you could become one of them.

I'm not one of the people declaring SF dead. I'm not sure if the people doing so are Liberals who are hoping they're right, or depressed Rednecks having trouble finding a decent read.

In any case, the e-book market is in the process of removing the filter of editorial approval. All the readers need to do is wade into the dreck to find the diamonds. Or wait until some group forms the "Explording Spaceships Press" and buys their recommendations.

Kate said...

Matapam,

THANK you! I'm so bad at examples and explaining when it's something I understand at somewhere below conscious level (This used to piss my math teachers off no end, I might add).

Lin W said...

Sarah, Matapam, I agree with your assessments. There's something *wrong* with the stories that are being purchased / published at the moment.

Meanwhile, there is an entire *universe* of people *dying* to get their hands on stories about strong main characters who help bring about a better future. But the only stories that are even remotely feeding into this, IMHO, are MilSF. Which I do enjoy reading!

But Neitzsche and nihilsm seem to have taken over the mental processes of anybody who is actually publishing books. (Again, Baen excepted!) The "anti-hero" of the 60s has *become* the hero, today, and nobody has even seen that she's killed off the actual hero and is dressed up in the heroes (illfitting!) clothes.

What to do about it? Wait until the present set of publishers drop dead from terminal enui? I think that "somebody" is also manipulating sales numbers (much easier to do now, unfortunately, in the day of ebooks) to down-play the actual number of people *buying* "good old SF."

OTOH, I may be having an attack of cynicism.

Lin

Kate said...

Lin,

Maybe I need a tinfoil hat too, but I don't think you're being excessively cynical. There's a whole lot of things in the whole system that utterly reek - starting with the interesting tidbit that returns don't necessarily have to be actually returned. Hell, the stores don't even have to provide evidence that they still have the book, and they can still get their money back for "returning" it.

(You can find that little gem buried somewhere in this site: http://www.authorslawyer.com/savage/journal.shtml - which is, BTW, a very eye-opening read, and I'm rather sad it appears to have been abandoned)

Synova said...

"So, those of us who've put a lot more distance between us and our poop are much more evil than those of us who haven't."

I think this might be the key sentence explaining how current PC is directly connected to the death of "gosh-wow" and ends up at dystopia.

It's not that we live in the technological future...

It's that people are bad, children are bad, technology is bad, big business is bad, nuclear power is bad but nuclear accelerators are worse, power is bad, energy is bad, genetic engineering is bad, building things simply because they are glorious is very bad.

We've turned into stogy old aunts who feel it their duty in life to keep everyone grounded in reality the moment they become unseemingly optimistic.

Yes, the economics of Star Trek was a sort of stupidity that could only be eclipsed by the Prime Directive's truly transcendent stupidity, but the original Star Trek Universe was optimistic.

Are people viewed as creative forces in the world or as parasites; as consumers rather than producers? Does a child born hold the universe of possibilities within, or the universe's destruction?

PC by it's nature puts some thoughts and explorations off limits. But presently PC is not only that, but enforces that list of what we aren't allowed to celebrate. Certainly we aren't allowed to celebrate human expansion.

I suppose there is a way to consider the right to be anti-science, but the left is as well. And I don't mean to get political but it's easy to see how something like new earth creationism is anti-science and far less easy to see how the politics around global warming or stem cell research is anti-science. Global warming because of the anti-human, anti-technology assumptions that accompany any talk about solutions, and embryonic stem cell research because of the very careful way that the creative power of cloning is avoided. It's the elephant in the room. If we're constrained to view the contents of the lab dish in a particular acceptable way it is anti-science. We need to be able to see what is really there.

If distance between us and poop is seen as good rather than bad, a whole lot of possibilities open up in real life and in science fiction too.

Kate said...

Synova,

Absolutely. One quick thumbnail example is that world-wide, coal based energy probably kills more people every year than have ever been killed by nuclear energy (including Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Chernobyl). But Nuclear is Evil, so we can't do that.

IMO no technology is intrinsically evil. It's all in how it's used.