terça-feira, 8 de dezembro de 2009

Across the wounded galaxies - Interviews with contemporany american SF writers

Big Science. Hallelujah. Big Science.Yodellayheehoo.
-Laurie Anderson", Big Science"

A new world is only a new mind.
-William Carlos Williams, "To Daphne and Viryinia"

Surely, it's apparent by now that science fiction writers are producing some of the most significant art of our times. Equally apparent is the pervasive influence of science fiction (henceforth, SF) on other fictional forms as well as on television, the cinema, advertising (television advertising in particular), rock and electronic music, and numerous hybrid forms.

We see its influence in the clothes we wear and the architectural features of the shopping malls we walk through. We hear its effect in the slang we use and in the white noise hovering constantly in the airwaves just beneath perceptibility. In short, we are already living out the existences predicted by earlier generations of SF authors.

Much of the artistic energy apparent in contemporary American SF is obviously the same energy that is rapidly transforming American lfe today into the materials of an SF novel. Still, it's difficult to account for American SF s rapid transformation from its despised, ghettoized subgrenre into an art form of considerable sophistication. Critics specializing in SF have already begun extensively exploring the subgenre's literary history the political and cultural contexts that produced so many disruptive and decisive changes within and outside SF during the '60s, and SFs relationship to popular culture and "serious art." (For a good overview of these studies, see Neil Barron's exhaustive annotated bibliographical guide to SE Anatomy of Wonder.) ... Some critics acknowledge the centrality of SF more indirectly as they examine the chief issues of postmodernism, twentieth-century history and politics, and the history of ideas.

For example, Fredric Jameson's various discussions of modernism and postmodernism (notably in The Political Unconscious and "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism") have been widely used to account for specific SF themes and stylistic tendencies; the poststructuralist analyses of Jean-Frangois Lyotard, Arthur Kroker, and Jean Baudrillard are central to the current cyberpunk controversy; Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientffic Revolutions, Alvin Toffler's Third Wave, and the anthropological investigations of Claude Levi-Strauss and Margaret Mead are now regularly cited in serious discussions of SF.

...A natural dialogue emerges as these writers discuss common or divergent goals, formal methods, thematic treatments, views about their genre. The main focus here is not on personality issues-the numerous SF specialty magazines and fanzines provide plenty of that. Nor am I tryrng to convince people of SF's cultural and artistic significance, or to draw converts. The time for defensive posturing about SF has passed, just as similar arguments concerning the cinema became superfluous in the early '60s, and just as parallel discussions about rock music will eventually seem anachronistic. Across the Wounded Galaxies takes it for granted that SF deserveso ur seriousa ttention, that the issues being examined by contemporary SF authors are absolutely central to late twentieth-century life and art. My premise is that SFs formal and thematic concerns are intimately related to characteristics of other postmodern art forms, that SF has been influencing and influenced by these forms.

Science fiction can, in fact, be seen as representing an exemplar of postmodernism because it is the art form that most directly reflects back to us the cultural logic that has produced postmodernism.

What has been occurring within SF is also important because it has had the effect of promoting an active engagement between science and the arts-an interaction that has been badly (and sadly) undernourished, especially in the United States. While SF has long been a "respectable" and perfectly "legitimate" endeavor in Europe-witness the tradition of H.G.Wells, Karel Capek, Olaf Stapledon, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell, right up through Vladimir Nabokov, Italo Calvino, and Stanislaw nom-American SF has, almost since its inception, been stigmatized as low-brow, adolescent fare.

Ironically, the country that first placed a man on the moon, that has probably contributed most to the development of this century's technological wonders (and horrors), is also a country where SF has only recently begun to attract the attention of major artists.

Clearly this wedding of science and the arts is a welcome development.

Science needs our most active and wide-ranging imaginations.
It needs humanistic insights, perspectives that derive from our hearts and our ethical sensibilities as much as from logic and calculation.
It needs science fiction.

An Interview with
Gregory Benford
William S. Burroughs
Octavia E. Butler
Samuel R. Delany
Thomas M. Disch
William Gibson
Ursula K. Le Guin
Joanna Russ
Bruce Sterling
Gene Wolfe

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