Saturday, April 21, 2007

"You mean, it's not supposed to do this?"

The Hugo nominees have been announced, I'm doing My Civic Duty and attempting to work through them before the winner is announced.

Just finished Watts' Blindsight - enjoyable enough. I'm a sucker for any novel that has an appendix with footnotes. But I think I might be jaded, given how highly praised it's been.

During WWII, Britain and the US were courting Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz. Churchill gave him a car (with the wheel on the disfavored side); but FDR gave him an airplane (with a support crew). There's a (probably apochryphal) story that they took the Bedouin king up for his first flight in an airplane, and asked him: "Aren't you impressed?" To which, his entirely reasonable response is supposed to have been: "Isn't it supposed to do this?"

Which is sort of my response to Blindsight. A good, solid sf novel, lotsa sense-of-wonder, but not quite paradigm-shattering, as some of the reviews would lead you believe. I've already read a bunch of stuff on the question of consciousness, thank you. This held my interest, but didn't really change the way I view the world. If I were twelve, it would have blown my head off, but today I think I need an even-stronger dose.

Oh, and I think I've invented a name for some of this stuff. Now, ANY work of speculative fiction - heck, any work of fiction - can be made to sound ridiculous by over-summarizing the plot, to the point of parody.

But I'm noticing a trend I think can be called "dash" SF: it's
"A familiar premise (dash) -- but with an exotic element added".

It's a re-telling of the history of the Napoleonic Wars -- but with DRAGONS.
It's a re-telling of the "Jupiter Space" segment of "2001" -- but with a VAMPIRE.

(Both of which are interesting novels, btw.) "Dash" SF. Or perhaps "Butwith" SF.




At 2:34 AM, Blogger Blue Tyson said...

You've read the dragon one?

I emailed Peter Watts, saying thanks for the online stuff, and asked him if he had read Colin Wilson's 'Space Vampires'. Said he had never heard of it. :)

At 9:52 PM, Blogger "As You Know" Bob said...

Huh. I don't recall if I've read that one, but I can extrapolate from the Wilsons that I do recall and see the similarities. I was unimpressed with his "Mind Parasites", I quite liked "Philosopher's Stone".

Nice of Watts to write back.


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