Tag Archives: science fiction

Titles from a strange upbringing

There are many titles I wish I had read; I have bookcases filled with unread and partially read volumes. But here are some that are high on my list:

Untouched by Human Hands: The Last Dangerous Visions, by Robert Sheckley and Harlan Ellison. Ellison’s famous epic struggle to get his last Dangerous Visions anthology out is assisted by Sheckley.

All the Myriad Ways: Of Man and Monsters, Heroes and Horrors, Parsecs and Parables, Nightmares and Geezenstacks, Ice and Iron, Digits and Dastards, Murder and Magic, Ape and Essence, Fancies and Goodnights, Alchemy and Academe, Foundation and Empire, Visions and Ventures, Time and the Stars, by Larry Niven, William Tenn, Fritz Leiber, Robert Silverberg, Fredric Brown, William Tucker, Frederik Pohl, Randall Garrett, Aldous Huxley, John Collier, Anne McCaffrey, Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon and Poul Anderson. A galaxy and time-spanning story of nouns smashed together into subjects.

“Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman, Or All the Seas With Oysters, formed of Mist, and Grass, and Sand, and ruled by the Queen of Air and Darkness, will carry you Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38º54’N, Longitude 77º00’13″W, where you may watch The Dance of the Changer and the Three, and learn that Love is the Plan the Plan is Death, and that The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas must confront The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth, never to discover that Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones is the Good News from the Vatican, by Harlan Ellison, Avram Davidson, Vonda N. McIntyre, Poul Anderson, Terry Carr, James Tiptree Jr., Usula K. LeGuin, Roger Zelazny, Samuel R. Delany, and Robert Silverberg. This surprisingly thin science fiction-fantasy mix is essentially a fleshed-out expansion of the title.

Do androids dream of electric sheep?

7825

Philip K. Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was the inspiration of one of the best science fiction movies of all time, the 1982 feature film Blade Runner. And that was the only reason to take this photo, with an iPhone, of a shop in University Village, Seattle, Washington.

wpid-clones20110228-2011-02-28-23-32.jpg

Flash Forward

2754

There is a new ABC TV series called “Flash Forward.” It is an exercise in non-sequiturs, or possibly pre-sequiturs. Each episode consists of short vignettes, from the past, present or future, in which the characters try to figure out what is happening now and what will happen at a specific future time, with references to things in the past.

Normally, this would be simple fiction, but there is a science fiction element. A tachyon wave (or some other quantum event escaping into the non-quantum universe) allowed everyone on the planet to see what they were doing for a few minutes in the future. Some people saw nothing, and presumably will die between now and then. Others saw actions and activities they don’t understand. Others saw actions and activities they are desperately trying to prevent from becoming real.

It is an interesting plot device, with ample room for discussions of determinism (which it mentions only in passing), predestination, inevitability, and a whole bunch of other big words that we as humans shy away from addressing, unless we are philosophers, historians or divinity students.

It is vaguely based on a science fiction novel, Flashforward, by Robert J. Sawyer. Many of the characters are the same, but in the novel the flash forward is a view in about 21 years. ABC wimped out of trying to figure out what Geneva, Switzerland would look like in 21 years, and settled for envisioning Los Angeles after a few months.

Wimps.

[Added later: and then the network canceled it in mid non sequitur.]