Sunday, August 10

Science Friction

Taking advantage of the recent cooling temperature I spent an hour or so in the attic. Normally not a task taken lightly during the sunny months of summer (Ha Ha) when the under roof temperature can easily hit the high 90s.

Digging through my back collection of books I was picking out a selection of items promised for others. For me each book is an insight into another individual's thoughts & views. Once read I usually store away the book for another day, or more likely to dig out in the future to pass on to another reader. With a hope they may do the same in turn if the work deserves it.

On backpacking trips, to ditch the weight, as I complete a read I delight in leaving it in a public place, for other potential readers to discover. There's a string of my off casts spread around railway stations, YHAs and cafes across the UK.

But back at home the majority of books work their way to roof top storage. So ppredictably any hunt through this library takes considerable persistence to root through the accumulation of the many large boxes that track my life & locations over the years.

Near the bottom of some of the older boxes I found my Science Fiction novels, the main reading topic of my teen years. Many say the 1950s and early 1960s were the Golder Age of SF. I prefer a comment I heard once 'the best time of SF is between 8 and 12 years old' A time of hope in a young mind as yet unfettered by societies Dos & Donts, with little understanding of What Is & What Could Be.

There's probably more than a hint of truth in that, looking back now. As life's reality crept in the escapism offered by SF wained. Meanwhile the science reality taking place in my daily life (moon landing, silicon chip technologies, mobile phone etc) made much SF subject matter redundant. Nowadays whilst there's new authors I'll pick up along the way as a genre its one I enjoy only in short bursts.

Perhaps it was this reminder of what-was-to-be, and what-has-come that caused me to linger over two recent news items. Neither are new subject matter, but both reflect a change in world view.

Scientists have applied to plant a group of genetically modified trees on land owned by the Forestry Commission;

Earth 'not at risk' from collider

Mutant plant growth and black hole technology. Activities undertaken by a select few, on behalf of the common good of all mankind. As they see it.

Now where have I heard that before?

All that's missing are the spaceship construction yards. Building those ships to relocate Earth's population to a far off planet.

Me, I'm off for a wander in the wilds where Nature quietly continues its own rule of life.

"Rolled round in earth's diurnal course, With rocks, and stones, and trees"
(Wordsworth - A slumber did my spirit seal)

Me - I've got my own spaceship. And its already on the journey.

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Comments:
Great post, John.
When I was in the golden age, SF (and its cousin fantasy) had to be sought out - there were relatively few authors and only a few shelves of books. Now it seems to have taken over the world - cinema, TV and bookshops are full of imagined worlds, extrapolated futures. (Perhaps my 12-year-old self made a wish, which has been granted...) I have nothing against this - I have stayed a regular reader and (ahem) go to conventions. But even from my enthusiast's perspective I'd say there is a worrying trend away from engaging with reality and towards living in fantasy worlds as if they're realer than real. In SF, we can get in our faster-than-light ships or go to another dimension and make a new start. In reality, this isn't so - the world we have is it, to all intents and purposes - so revel in it and look after it...

I tried to think of some SF books about walking. The two that have sprung to mind are both post-apocalyptic - The Postman and The Road - don't know if this means anything!

On the neighbouring shelves, Tolkein-style quest fantasies can be pretty pedestrian ;)
 
'Well I dreamed I saw the silver spaceships flying/In the yellow haze of the sun...All in a dream, all in a dream/The loading had begun/Flying Mother Nature's silver seed/To a new home in the sun.' Right on, Neil.
 
Blimey - I didn't expect this quick pondering to strike such an immediate chord

MR - nice pun
SW - grooovy
 
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