Paper and e-books

Some books I've read. May or may not have been recently

Science Fiction Books, in general

Is there a literary term for the key thing in a science fiction or fantasy book that separates the world we know from the world of the fiction? True, there are often lots of things different about science fiction worlds from the real world, but the one I am thinking of is the main thing that the question and thesis of a sceince fiction story circles around.

To investigate this, I should think about what that thing is in a variety of stories. In episodes of Star Trek, there is futuristic technologies, alien worlds, unique life forms and so much more. Many of them get their turn at being the thing at the centre of a story's thesis. Sometimes Data is both a character and that element, like in Measure of a Man or Datalore. Sometimes it is a cultural difference between worlds, such as Darmok or Half a Life. Sometimes it is a sexy candle.

Meanwhile, in the Star Wars series, there are a dizzying array of fanastic technologies—lightsabres, X-wings, droids and hyperspace— and alien worlds to visit—Dagobah, Kamino, Hoth and more—but the part that really separates this whole universe from ours is the Force.

In three fiction stories below, there is varying degrees of clarity as to what that thing is. In Frankenstein, it is the reanimation science of Dr. Frankenstein that separates his world from our own. In The Cloven and the rest of the Vorrh series, it is the existence of the mythical garden of Eden in the forest, from which other fantasitcal elements (angels, zombie-like people and bakelite beings) emerge, but which are also the driving force of the real-world thesis the story presents—that there are dark and mysterious things to think about. In To Be Taught If Fortunate there are a fair number of science-fiction elements. Spaceships that travel for decades, astronauts in cryogenic sleep pods or somaforming, the manner by which the astronauts are modified to live better on the worlds they visit. I would hazard that the main thing that thrusts the characters' dilemma and the story's thesis is the distance more than anything. Distance, ultimately isn't a uniquely science fiction concept, but distance over light years is.

All this is to say, I have no idea what to call this thing in abstract in conversation. Is it the "science fiction plot device"? The separater (as in the thing that separates the real world from the fictional world)?

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

I cannot think of a more exhilirating 200 year old book. This is truly absolutely phenomenal.

To Be Taught If Fortunate, Becky Chambers

It's short! Nice! The ending didn't work for me though. The settings are exciting, and the way the characters figure out how to be science fiction astronauts in each setting is really captivating. The big plot element that drives the emotional thrust of the book starts sneaking in around the second planet—and then figured out at the end of the book—is so separated from the astronauts. It really does capture the distance of space-travel quite remarkably. The astronauts' solution is a way of tethering themselves to Earth—14 light-years away.

The Cloven, B. Catling

Vibes vibes vibes. Maybe little a plot, as a treat. This is the third book in a trilogy that starts with The Vorrh, with The Erstwhile in the middle. All of the books are heavy on vibes, and a bit subtle on actual plot and events. Don't get me wrong, lots does happen, but it's not very often the thing that drives the characters forward, or what makes reading these books so exciting.

City of Glass, Douglas Coupland

What an emotional story of a city. Should probably do a whole page about Douglas Coupland.

Comic Books

One of my favourite comic books is Ramshackle, by Alison McCreesh. I'll write more about it and other comic books when I get the comic book page together.

Right now the "comic books" link on the homepage just goes to the Princess Mononoke page. It's like kind of related because they are both drawn. But one is decidedly a moving picture and the other is not. I'll let you figure out which one is moving.

The end!