Archive for September 2009
Oh, those New York hipsters:
Their first act of Awareness Terrorism – as they called it – had been to alter some dozen or so billboards throughout Manhattan, turning cigarette ads to GOT CANCER? After that, they’d placed OUT OF DISORDER stickers on hundreds of vending machines all over the island.
Woah. For their next act of mindblowing cultural subversion they decide to patch a live feed of them having sex into a giant screen in Times Square. But they chicken out. But in the course of chickening out they get turned on so have sex anyway. But what’s this? They accidently switched the camera on!
This story is as lame as its characters.
This is the first story in the anthology that actually reads like a piece of erotica rather than a just story with some sex in it. This overdetermines the story but in a pretty successful manner. The program rewires men to make them better lovers. There is not a great deal of plausibility here but that is not the point and Bonhomme wrings a lot out of not very promising material.
I did make the mistake of flicking to the back to find out more about Bonhomme though. As an artist it is of course your prerogative to turn in a bio like this:
G. Bonhomme is a thorny rose.
G. Bonhomme dreams of world where all men are sisters.
G. Bonhomme disbelieves in heavier-than-air flight.
G. Bonhomme watches it snow.
G. Bonhomme hopes you are not too totally abandoned.
However, people are likely to think you are a bit of a nob.
It was always going to be unlikely that a story named after a Joy Division song was going to be particularly erotic. And so it proves. James has a Godzilla fetish; not in the sense he wants to fuck Godzilla, in the sense he wants to be Godzilla and lay waste to Toyko. Enter stage left an ex-girlfriend with a preposterous business model who allows him to realise his desire.
Everything Is Nice is one today! Hooray! Actually, it was some time last week but I didn’t notice. The year has gone very quickly.
In hindsight I should probably have picked a unique name for this blog rather than one that throws up loads of other references but fuck it, it felt right at the time. And it still does, I’m still beating the nice nice thing to death with fluffy pillows.
The greatest hits of this blog so far as voted for by you, the public:
1) Taking An Ethical Stand
2) Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology
3) Lists, Beautiful Lists
5) Dying Earth
6) ‘Hell Is The Absence Of God’ by Ted Chiang
7) ‘Sea Oak’ by George Saunders
8) ‘The God Of Dark Laughter’ by Michael Chabon
9) 2008 Everything Is Nice Book Awards
10) Top Dog
So there obviously is a demand out there for writing about short fiction. I’m not sure that it was a demand that was especially met by those pieces though…
This is a story by Scott Westerfeld, the most significant writer in science fiction, but it is a long way from the young adult novels he is best known for these days.
There was something vulnerable in the sound, and Paul stopped. He’d feel foolish if he let this opportunity pass.
“Look, Eurisa,” he sais to the door. “After work. Do you want to have a drink?”
When you read a passage like this in a contemporary SF story you expect it do be subverted, you expect the predator to become the prey. In fact, with its overtones of horror I wouldn’t have been surprised if the object of desire to turn out to be a vampire (Westerfeld has form). Eurisa isn’t a vampire though, she is just undead; resurrected using future tech following a fatal car crash. Westerfeld subverts the expectation of the standard subversion and instead produces a queasy psychological profile of a man undone by his own issues.
The other day Kim Stanley Robinson said several things, one of which was: “Science fiction. Yay! Historical fiction. Boo!” Why can’t we all get just get along? Well, we almost can:
Why stop there though? There is a more fundamental synthesis: prehistoric fiction! Dan Hartland reviews The Fire In The Stone by Nicolas Ruddick:
The Fire in the Stone is the first comprehensive study, in English, of its subject (though see Angenot and Kouri’s bibliography of the genre). Nevertheless, on the relatively minor planet of his topic, Ruddick places himself between two poles: between on the one hand Charles DePaolo’s position that prehistoric fiction should be judged on the extent to which it properly adheres to the paleoanthropology of its time, and on the other Joseph Carroll’s that emphasises quality of characterisation and the rigorous attainment of empathy. Ruddick is by his own admission closer to Carroll in this debate, but he neither holds that scientific accuracy, or a thorough simulation of consciousness, is necessary if prehistoric fiction (or “pf” as he calls it) is to succeed. Ruddick simply holds that pf must use the basic concepts of paleoanthropology to enlighten the reader: “Good pf [. . . ] tells us about ourselves today [. . . ] by reminding us of the great journey in time that we have travelled to get here” (p. 3).
“Okay. Here we go. Let’s say female orgasm is a fixed value, but the travel, the distance required to move from position one to orgasm, is variable. That’s our first unknown.”
Maths makes everything sexier. The story is told entirely in dialogue as a couple attempt to unravel the mystery of the female orgasm using an extended mathematical metaphor. Rather the disappointingly the answer turns out simply to be cunnilingus.
It’s not actually a science fiction story, it is instead one of those stories that creep in to SF anthologies from time to time purely on the strength of the fact they are likely to appeal. to science fiction readers. I also lied about maths making everything sexier so slightly marked down on that score but it is good, clean fun.