With the stakes so high, we need to keep asking critical questions about how machines conceptualize and operationalize space. How do they render our world measurable, navigable, usable, conservable? […] In a coming age of robot warfare and policing, we could see designers specializing in the creation of robot-illegible worlds rather than machine-readable ones […]
Some time in early 2016, I and a few others decided to set up an award for speculative fiction, the Sputnik Awards. The idea was to do things a little differently, and to spark thinking about what literary awards can and should be. Or, um, shouldn’t be. Because we are so very scrupulous in our awarding, we are only now ready … almost ready! … to announce the winner. So without any further ado, here is some further ado, giving the story so far:
The Sputnik Award 2016 was primarily a popular award (voted for by about 200 fans, mostly courtesy of File 770’s signal boost) with just a tincture of a juried award (I chose the shortlist, mostly guided by the shortlists of other then-major awards).
The name Sputnik, by the way, came courtesy of Ian Sales, although he had something a bit different in mind and is blameless in this affair. The notion that the Sputniks could do this genre-jump for its final showdown, from dungeoncrawl to duel, came from Zali Krishna and Christina Scholz. Christina happens to be published here this week: check out her article, “Superhero_ines: Rebooted Comics and Trans* Identity.”
The BSFA holds regular events in London, usually on the last Wednesday of the month, at the Artillery Arms near Old Street. These events are free, and open to members and non-members alike. Keep an eye on the BSFA website for news of future events. In February 2017, Ian Whates caught up with SF and fantasy novelist Adrian Tchaikovsky. Andrew Wallace chronicles the encounter …
Adrian Tchaikovsky is known for his ten-volume epic fantasy series, Shadows of the Apt, whose clashing civilisations are based around insect species. More recently, Adrian has been lauded for his science fiction, with his novel Children of Time winning the 2016 Clarke Award. Children of Time starts from the premise of a nano-virus sent across the stars to seed life on a distant world. Unexpectedly, it is the spiders and ants – species meant to play mere bit parts in the glorious epic of mammalian expansion – who get sped towards sentience, and the kind of richly detailed space-faring society that great SF does so well.
So the question we all want to ask Adrian Tchaikovsky is: what’s with the bugs?
It is Wednesday. I am in Helsinki. So is everybody else.
There are a few issues of Vector and FOCUS on the freebies table, courtesy of Dave Lally; but, of course, not for long.
I put in time in Messukeskus 209, the academic track. On Wednesday, Merja Polvinin introduces the Finnish Society for SFF Research (Finfar), its journal Fafnir, and the theme of the next five days. The theme is ‘estrangement.’
Speculative fiction isn’t about other worlds, it’s about this world! In speculative fiction, we encounter real, familiar things, only made strange! There is a political value to such encounters. In the movie Elysium, we encounter something real and familiar (unjust access to healthcare), only that thing is made strange.
By making the world strange, we can unsettle the distinction between what is possible and what is not. By making the world strange, we can see the world for what it really is, including all its promise and possibility.
At least, that’s the idea. Over the five days, I am struck by how accommodating and flexible and familiar the concept of estrangement has become.
You may have noticed a few changes to the Vector website. Changes may be ongoing for a while. The old Vector has woven its cocoon, but the new one has not quite emerged.
All the older content has been preserved, but some of it has been tucked away. Here is where you’ll find information about the 2010 special publication Twenty Years, Two Surveys. Here you can find still-mostly-live links list associated with a discussion, in the same year, about the under-representation of women in speculative fiction. Torque Control has become the ‘News’ tab you’re reading now. The old open thread is located here.
And speaking of threads: of course, even transitional arrangements can still require serious thought. Here, the long suspension thread is probably to dishearten ants, and the loosely-woven chrysalis is probably to prevent rainwater from pooling. Image credit: Smarter Every Day, still from ‘Nature’s 3D Printer.’