Tag Archives: science fiction

Global warning in science fiction

While browsing I have noticed the term “cli-fi” as a book genre – but hadn’t paid much attention. I think I must have assumed it was a sub genre of erotica, or something similar. However, the article Global warning: the rise of ‘cli-fi’ by in the Guardian, cleared up my misunderstanding.

“Cli-fi” is that genre of fictional writing about climate change. More a sub genre of science fiction than erotica!

The comments on this Guardian article are interesting – they mostly suggest titles of books the commenter considers part of this new genre. But also interesting was that several commenters mentioned fellow SciBlogger Gareth Renowden’s book The Aviator. My impression was that it was actually the most mentioned example of ‘cli-fi’ so it’s obviously developing  a readership. Comments about the book were favourable – as was my review (see Kiwi science fiction with a message).

Among the other mentions was the series Science in the City by Kim Stanley Robinson. These are  Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below  and Sixty Days and Counting.
Each of these is rather long – but I have listened to the audiobook versions and actually quite enjoying them. They won’t be to everyone’s taste – for example, some of the characters indulge in a lot of introspection. But this does mean the books cover personal and relationship issues, as well as reflections on the nature of science and politics. And there is some action – even spies. However, the books are realistic science fiction, set in the near future, within the political and science bureaucracies of Washington, DC. The natural calamities are credible and realistic. As are discussion of projects for slowing climate change.

An interesting series of books.

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Testimony of non-believers

Recently I reviewed the book 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk (see Why We Are Atheists). An interesting follow-up to that book is a  talk back show (Talk back: the disbelievers) which played on ABC National radio a few days ago. This involved Russell Blackford (Co-editor, 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists), and atuhors of some of the bpook’s essays Philip Kitcher (Professor of philosophy, Columbia University, New York), Tanveer Ahmed (Psychiatrist), Sean Williams (Speculative fiction author – including Star Wars: The Force Unleashed), Jack Dann (Author and editor of science fiction, including The Man Who Melted, The Memory Cathedral and The Rebel: An Imagined Life of James Dean) and Emma Tom (Journalist, author, columnist).

However, I was really  interested in the people who phoned in. These were a random collection of non-believers who were asked to describe how they came to their current disbelief. A sort of testimony if you like.

Just personal statements, no ideological dogma. I found them a very nice collection of thoughtful, honest people. And non-belligerent.

It may have helped that the host specifically requested non-believers. Pointing out that he wasn’t interested in believers having their say in this particular programme.

You can download the audio of this show. Or go to Talk back: the disbelievers for more details.

Thanks to Metamagician and the Hellfire Club: Radio show on “Life Matters” for the links.

Thanks to Jesus & Mo for cartoon.


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Arthur C. Clarke dies

Arthur C. Clarke, the British science fiction writer, died on Wednesday at the age of 90.

Clarke wrote more than 80 fiction and nonfiction books (some in collaboration) and more than 100 short stories — as well as hundreds of articles and essays. He is best known for his book “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But science-fiction fans of my generation could mention many more. Books like “Childhood’s End,” “Rendezvous With Rama” and “Imperial Earth.”

He had a better grounding in science than most other science fiction writers. Consequently his stories have a better sense of realism than many today.

Physics professor Gregory Benford said in 2005 that Clarke “was the major hard science fiction writer — that is the writer of science fiction that is scientifically scrupulous — in the second half of the 20th century.” Benford is an award-winning science fiction author who collaborated with Clarke on the 1990 science-fiction novel “Beyond the Fall of Night.”

But Clarke was also a great visionary and had a remarkable record of imagining future technologies. Isaac Asimov once commented about Clarke: “Nobody has done more in the way of enlightened prediction.” For example Clarke wrote a 1945 article outlining a worldwide communications network based on fixed satellites orbiting Earth at an altitude of 22,300 miles — an orbital area now often referred to as the Clarke Orbit.

He also foretold an array of technological notions in his works such as space stations, moon landings using a mother ship and a landing pod, cellular phones and the Internet.

See also
Science fiction books by Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke.net
Arthur C. Clarke Foundation