The Early Days of a Better Nation

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

To Boldly Stay

Like a flu pandemic, a new movement in SF has been overdue and anxiously awaited for some time. It's not yet clear whether Mundane SF is the Big One that's destined to devastate the globe, but already the scientifictional experts are on the case, shaking their heads over the chicken-coops where the virus spreads.

What Mundane SF has in common with two notable previous outbreaks - New Wave in the 60s, cyberpunk in the 80s - is a vehement turning away from what most people outside of SF identify as SF (rockets and rayguns and talking squids in outer space and all that) and towards the scientifictionality of the real world. Forget about shiny starships and galactic empires! Look at the present! Vietnam! Sex! Drugs! (New Wave.) Japan!! Sex!! Drugs!! (Cyberpunk.) America. Sex. Drugs. (Mundane.)

Through both of its previous returns to Earth, SF renewed itself, and turned again to the stars. New Wave was followed by a new Hard SF; cyberpunk, by New Space Opera. Each of these reactions took with them the lasting gains of the preceding revolutions. Mundane SF, if it takes off, can likewise expect to end up as a wisp in the wake of a better warp-drive.


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