SONG LOGIC - my new book!|
An Ridire Risteard
I love SF for its speculative powers and bold acts of prophesy. It is an act of extended interpretation, a radicalisation of the New. But it also has its transparent problems on a structural level. Basically, the technologies of typical SF have (supposedly) undergone several generations of paradigm shift — within the limitations of what we currently conceive to be possible later. Regrettably, the technology has advanced but the narrative worlds haven’t. The narratives are always predictably 20th Century human. Why else is the clear-cut moral range of the Western so adapted to SF? On a very basic structural level that ignores for the moment the leaps of faith involved, and which ignores the trends and fashions of narrative culture, narrative has, when viewed in technological parallel, changed little over the last thousand years. Good guys on grand adventures fight against evil aliens or technologies; there’s friendships, loyal teams and skimpy heroines; missions spinning out of control that become desperate journeys home; mysterious objects/omens/phenomena that teach humanity crucial lessons about itself or the vastness of space; there’s power plays within hierarchies and rebel factions — and all with the clearest scenario establishment, suspense and resolution of within 1-2 hours or 190 pages (and I beg indulgence here — it is an error to confuse plot with narrative — narrative is the whole active field of story and effect, not just its obvious formal/genre elements). For us, these are a series of fixed and universal forms which change little except in shape and colour but which inform much of the novelisation, filming and televising of SF. An episode of Star Trek might deal very intelligently with an interesting and debilitating problem of interstellar physics, and the formal execution of the episode might reflect this; but it’s still an extension of the problem/teamwork/solution form worked out in 50 minutes. (Star Trek - The Next Generation embodies most perfectly what could be called the corporatisation of SF — a reliable, bankable and easily-consumed SF-product franchise. More on this later.) It’s easy for SF to dream up convenient stellar drives and beeping tricorders — it is much harder to conceive and execute a narrative experience that is truly futuristic or that hypothesises how future generations might expand and experience the structures of narrative beyond superficial trends. Because narrative too should also undergo paradigm shifts if it is to be truly futuristic.
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Alternatively, read about it at: The Slow Review or the long blog. Or even Nurture Health