07 August 2013

On science faction

Particularly when holding my breath and passing through London--not that it smells, it's just the oppressive energy of the place--particularly then, I am reminded of science-fiction dystopias narrowly avoided.

I really enjoyed my undergraduate experience, but at the same time it destroyed my interest in "literature" (I took an English major within European Studies at Sussex). Immediately after the last of my final exams (13 3-hour papers in 10 days, as I remember--nothing else counted to the degree; I apparently forfeited my 1st-class honours, by the stupidest error; every other paper required that one answer three questions, but this one required four, and I didn't realise until the chatter afterwards.) immediately after that I caught a train homewards from Brighton station. And bought a couple of paperbacks from W H Smiths on the platform to read on the train, realising as I did so that I was FREE to read anything I wanted. At last!

I bought a thriller (long since forgotten), and the first volume of Asimov's Foundation trilogy (later a seven-volume series; a heptology?) I was, as newly-minted graduate, rather sniffy about the style... But I was hooked on science-fiction. For 15 years I read little else (apart from thrillers I could pass on to my Dad, who couldn't bring himself to buy such rubbish, but was not above picking up my leavings), then I added fantasy for a few years. Now I devour non-fiction, and read perhaps a couple of novels a year at most. Such was the product of a first-class literary education.

BUT! The real-world is converging with at least some of the SF scenarios. I claim little prescience for the authors--they could imagine anything they wished, and the odds were that eventually they must be plausible. Of course, for the good authors, it was not the postulates but the consequences which were really interesting...

Here are two issues they anticipated, from memory:
Perhaps I wasn't wasting my time as much as I castigated myself for.

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