A recent exchange reminded me of a great book I read recently, as an attempt to rediscover the love of science fiction I’d once had, and which had faded with the devolution of sci-fi into bleak pessimism, a perverted wallowing in the supposed hopelessness in our species, diseased and fetishistic lusting for (and after) the apocalypse as a sort of displaced modernization of the religious sickness of the flagellant, and war war war war war war war and every narrative turning on the gun, because people can’t be bothered to read Ursula K. Le Guin’s elegant counter in the brief, but insightful, “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction.”
I’d gone so far as to attempting my own sci-fi novel as a nod to James Murphy’s excellent dictum that the best way to complain is to make things, setting some basic rules—no war, no AI, no FTL travel, no artificial gravity, no murders…and so on—writing at a leisurely pace that equates to “I wonder if I’ll finish this before I die,” but along the way, helpful fans in my circle pointed out some excellent humane modern science fiction of a genre that’s been dubbed “solarpunk,” which inspired me to wonder if I could catch the tail of that flowing gown as its practitioners stride into a future that’s not the usual grimdark catalog of miseries.
One of my favorite suggestions has been the work of Becky Chambers, a fantastic writer in the field, and I recently finished the first two books of her Monk & Robot series, which exist in a pastoral future where, when AI arose suddenly in that stabilizing green future, the response wasn’t war war war, but a collective release with an apology, as their former workforce was treated to an apology and the right to live as they chose…and they chose to disappear into the recovering forests of the moon where they all lived and disconnect from their former masters.
One of the things I truly lament about the social-mediafication of the internet is how I’m stuck looking at an endless thread of posts about political creeps, bible-waving hysterics, celebrities I’ve never heard of and care even less about, and other things that have no direct impact on my life that I can do anything about, and that all that AI horsepower producing billowing clouds of atmospheric carbon in competition with digital mining for moronic fake money can’t seem to recognize the things I *do* care about (probably because few of them result in online purchases), and it’s because of this that I only just found out this week that one of my all-time favorite composers, Stephen Scott, died a year ago.
I’ll share this video to illustrate his amazing, lush, and satisfying work (as well as the craftsmanship and astonishing precision of the people in his ensemble), but will it get the same traction as me bewailing or ironically demeaning some random crime of taste? I post videos and links to amazing things I love all the time and they get zero traction, because the AI sees they don’t get the endless arguments that descend into the mudpits of prog and kitchen appliances and pulls them out of everyone’s feeds.
Stephen Scott was amazing and I wish more people knew his work, and even further, I wish there was more work to come, but his catalog is closed now, and that’s terribly sad. I’d have liked to meet the guy, if for no other reason than to say “thanks for the inspiration and all the time I’ve escaped from the world into your musical realm.”
I’ve been writing a lot, performing here and there, and gearing up for more performances in the summer and fall, and in the midst of it all, I’m missing the way I used the internet as a social tool and a medium back when I was first venturing on the web.
It’s all very topical, of course, but I’ve been reminded quite often that Facebook just isn’t what Livejournal was, and it really games the system to generate revenue while not making us better off.
Cal Newton wrote a great piece (which I’ve linked to here) about managing the social internet in the era of social media, and I’m increasingly interested in using the internet as a tool instead of as an obligatory ludic loop, forever devouring time and attention in exchange for…well…what, exactly?