Philip K. Dick: What science fiction is, and is not.

The true protagonist of an sf story or novel is an idea.

Preface to The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford and Other Stories
By Philip K. Dick

I will define science fiction, first, by saying what sf is not. It cannot be defined as

“a story (or novel or play) set in the future,” since there exists such a thing as space adventure, which is set in the future but is not sf: it is just that: adventures, fights and wars in the future in space involving super-advanced technology. Why, then, is it not science fiction? It would seem to be, and Doris Lessing (e.g.) supposes that it is.

However, space adventure lacks the distinct new idea that is the essential ingredient.

Also, there can be science fiction set in the present: the alternate world story or novel. So if we separate sf from the future and also from ultra-advanced technology, what then do we have that can be called sf?

We have a fictitious world; that is the first step: it is a society that does not in fact exist, but is predicated on our known society; that is, our known society acts as a jumping-off point for it; the society advances out of our own in some way, perhaps orthogonally, as with the alternate world story or novel. It is our world dislocated by some kind of mental effort on the part of the author, our world transformed into that which it is not or not yet. This world must differ from the given in at least one way, and this one way must be sufficient to give rise to events that could not occur in our society — or in any known society present or past. There must be a coherent idea involved in this dislocation; that is, the dislocation must be a conceptual one, not merely a trivial or bizarre one — this is the essence of science fiction, the conceptual dislocation within the society so that as a result a new society is generated in the author’s mind, transferred to paper, and from paper it occurs as a convulsive shock in the reader’s mind, the shock of dysrecognition. He knows that it is not his actual world that he is reading about.

Now, to separate science fiction from fantasy. This is impossible to do, and a moment’s thought will show why. Take psionics; take mutants such as we find in Ted Sturgeon’s wonderful MORE THAN HUMAN. If the reader believes that such mutants could exist, then he will view Sturgeon’s novel as science fiction. If, however, he believes that such mutants are, like wizards and dragons, not possible, nor will ever be possible, then he is reading a fantasy novel. Fantasy involves that which general opinion regards as impossible; science fiction involves that which general opinion regards as possible under the right circumstances. This is in essence a judgment-call, since what is possible and what is not possible is not objectively known but is, rather, a subjective belief on the part of the author and of the reader.

Now to define good science fiction. The conceptual dislocation — the new idea, in other words — must be truly new (or a new variation on an old one) and it must be intellectually stimulating to the reader; it must invade his mind and wake it up to the possibility of something he had not up to then thought of. Thus “good science fiction” is a value term, not an objective thing, and yet, I think, there really is such a thing, objectively, as good science fiction.

I think Dr. Willis McNelly at the California State University at Fullerton put it best when he said that the true protagonist of an sf story or novel is an idea and not a person. If it is good sf the idea is new, it is stimulating, and, probably most important of all, it sets off a chain-reaction of ramification-ideas in the mind of the reader; it so-to-speak unlocks the reader’s mind so that that mind, like the author’s, begins to create. Thus sf is creative and it inspires creativity, which mainstream fiction by-and-large does not do. We who read sf (I am speaking as a reader now, not a writer) read it because we love to experience this chain-reaction of ideas being set off in our minds by something we read, something with a new idea in it; hence the very best science fiction ultimately winds up being a collaboration between author and reader, in which both create — and enjoy doing it: joy is the essential and final ingredient of science fiction, the joy of discovery of newness.

(in a letter) May 14,1981

Manden i den Hvide Kittel, ebog, kr. 35 (EPUB / mobi)

Forlaget Se, sne!s 6. ebogsudgivelse.

 

11. november 2011 udgives

den stort set samlede Manden i den Hvide Kittel
(1987-2004).

Forlaget Se, sne! 2011
ISBN 9788798893288 (EPUB)
ISBN 9788798893295 (mobi)




den stort set samlede Manden i den Hvide Kittel

består af trykte digte fra mine udgivelser, samt uudgivne digte og kortprosafortællinger fra den hvidkitledes (u)virkelighed.

Hvad han kalder sig selv, hvis noget, ved jeg ikke, men hér følger et eksempel på det sympatiske væsen, som okkuperer den skikkelse, jeg kalder Manden i den Hvide Kittel:

ambassadør for O’djibash

en lys passerer en sortmand, denne mulighed kan ikke forbigås, spørger indtrængende “hvem, eller hvad, er du?”

Sortmanden stopper beredvilligt op. “O’djibash. Jeg er O’djibash, mine venner således også; verden er O’djibash”.

“Og mig. Hvad med mig?” Lys er hvidthyllet. “Er jeg også O’djibash?”

“Nej,” svarer sortmanden tålmodig, mørkestrålende “jeg kender dig ikke. At se Ukendt som O’djibash er at fornægte O’djibash – og det er umuligt. O’djibash er verden.”

“Jamen”, jamrer den hvidkitlede, for ham er det, “hvad er jeg så?”

“En fristelse. Et fantasifoster. Men det generer mig ikke”, svarer sort og bereder sig på at gå. “Jeg taler ofte og gerne med mig selv. Det renser”.

(alle veje fører til magtenbølle, Gyldendal 1994,)

Manden i den hvide kittel er Forlaget Se, sne!s 6 eBogudgivelse. Inden længe vil alle være til salg i butikken her på 1000 stemmer.

Jeg modtager med glæde kommentarer om bogen på forlagetsesne @ menneske.dk eller hér på siden.

Vil du bidrage med et beløb som støtte til forfatteren, siger jeg mange tak. Klik på knappen og gå til PayPal.

 

Sølvbyen og andre Helsingør-noveller

Helsingør har meget at være stolt af. Og nu har en mængde forfattere naglet byen til det litterære verdenskort.

 

I dag, d. 11.11 2011 kl. 11.11 udkommer med brask og bram “Sølvbyen og andre Helsingør-noveller”, en samling historier og fantasier om Helsingør.

Jeg deltager med Novellen “Modstand uden ende”. (Læseprøve ses nederst.)

I morgen, d. 12.11. kl. 14, læser forfatterne op i biblioteket på Kulturværftet… i Helsingør.

Digter, forfatter, interviewer, redaktør og initiativtager til adskillige offentlige digteraktiviteter, Lonni Krause, er initiativtager og fundament  under samlingen, der havde sit udspring i en lille samling digte og fortællinger fra 2010 om Helsingør, som blev vel modtaget af forfatterne og omverden lige.

Fra Foromtalen:

“Helsingør er en bemærkelsesværdig by. Ikke blot siges Amled, Shakespeares Prins af Danmark at hjemsøge Kronborg Slot og spille terninger med Holger Danske i kassematterne uden for åbningstid. Helsingør er også den yderste spids af Danmark i mere end ét henseende: Hér tanker svenskerne op, når de ikke kan få drikkevand hinsidan, som stort set ikke er længere væk, end at en rask dreng eller pige kan slå smut og ramme bjælkerne i færgelejet i Helsingborg på den anden side af Øresund. Og byen ligner noget, der ikke brændte ned i København i 1866, hvilket helsinganerne endnu er meget stolte af. Ikke at det var dém, der påsatte branden. Det kan i hvert fald ikke påvises.

Nå, men helsinganere og andre kan fra og med i dag købe bogen i velassorterede boghandlere, og inden så længe kan den også lånes på biblioteket.

Den formidabelt lave pris for humor, spænding, overraskelse, kærlighed, historie, fantasi og virkelighed er199 kr.

I dag ved du så nu, hvad du skal gøre, når tid er. God læselyst. Og god rejse til Helsingør.

vh, Lonni Krause

(Omslag: Bjørn Rønne)

Uddrag af “Modstand uden ende, af Kenneth Krabat”:

Foran kopien af statuen af den legende, folk kendte som Holger Danske, rullede Holger Wuideliin sit værktøj ud.

Som hvad som helst kan blive rutine, der er underlagt et steds kausalitet, var jobbet rutine: Når energien Holger Danske søgte manifestation for at opfylde sin sagnforpligtelse over for nationen, skulle den metafysiske ports tænkte hængslers og dørforstærkningers forestillede bolte efterspændes, og ditto uhåndgribelige håndtag og låsebeslag gås efter for tegn på eftergiven.

Kort fortalt skulle energien neutraliseres, når der blev for meget af den.

Varede det for længe, inden porten blev solid igen og uigennemtrængelig for HD-energiens insisteren, ville borgere i Helsingør og Helsingborg og Hørsholm, Lillerød, Tikøb Helsinge, Gilleleje, ja alle omegnsbyerne inden for en radius af 25 km opleve sig uforståeligt gennemsyret af den akkumulerede harme over landets tilstand, der havde skabt HDs navn i populærhistorien. Og jo, det lykkedes af og til Holger Danske kortvarigt at nå ud til nationen – selvom Bureauets top insisterede på vedvarende nedjustering af energiens indblanding i nationale kriser. Folk skulle i kausal forstand flytte til Nordøstsjælland på grund af naturen og havet og husprisernes evne til at tiltrække sig national opmærksomhed. Ikke i væsentlig grad på grund af indigneret omsorg for nationens fremtid.

Som det nu var muligt for ham at opleve sig personligt involveret, var Holger Wuideliin ikke helt uinteresseret i Helsingør. Arbejdet hér var rutinepræget, men det var altid en udfordring, ikke mindst på grund af  Holger Danske-energiens til tider meget kraftige udsving.

Han forstod, at drilleriet blandt de andre agenter var anerkendelse, og at han så ofte blev sendt til Helsingør, fordi han gjorde bedre fyldest dér end andre steder. Skadesstatistikken sagde, at HDs lejlighedsvis massive harme sjældnere berørte ham end de andre agenter, der blev udsendt for at udføre neutraliseringen, når han var optaget andetsteds.

Nej, problemet var, at der var opstået et mindre, kausalt set, uforståeligt problem: Han var begyndte at føle noget, når han som Holger Wuideliin kom til Helsingør. Noget selvstændigt.

Hvilket i sig selv var en del af problemet – det burde ikke være muligt. Ikke for en agent.

Dét forvirrede ham. Hvilket i sig selv var forvirrende.

 

Omtale: Sky City (ed. by Carl-Eddy Skovgaard)

Endnu en omtale.
Desværre mere om Bogen end om Indholdet.

 

Sky City edited by Carl-Eddy Skovgaard.

This is another worthy volume of SF gathered away from the beaten track from Denmark’s Science Fiction Cirklen. Their previous collection I reviewed a few years ago (Creatures of Glass and Light) that sprang out of Denmark hosting that year’s Eurocon (European SF Convention) and was an anthology of European SF short stories. Now (2011) SF Cirklen have given us a window into Denmark’s own contemporary science fiction short story scene and as such will be sought by those who are die-hard serious SF reader with a passion for the genre.

The volume includes a short, non-fiction article by Niels Dalgaard that presents a summary of the history of Danish SF which itself will be of interest to those non-Danes with both a casual passing interest in SF beyond their own country as well as those whose study of the genre is more scholarly.

First though a word about the book’s publication details as these are not as clear as they might be. My understanding, and I checked with the publisher for this review, is that this volume first came out in 2010 printed in Danish with an ISBN 978-8-790-59248-6 and these are the details given on the inside front (copyright) masthead page of this English language volume. However this English volume came out in 2011 and (according to the accompanying press release) has a different ISBN 978-8-771-14158-0 (which is not the one on the masthead or back cover bar code). Now, I mention this not only because those who send us review copies like us to get the publication details right, but also because we are aware that the SF2 Concatenation site is occasionally used by those studying the genre for arts courses, as well as because you may want to buy a copy, and the last thing you will want (if you do not speak Danish) is the original edition as opposed to the 2011 edition in English. Translation volumes are a nightmare to produce and in this case we are told that another publisher (effectively acting as producer and distributor) took over the printing and much of the distribution with SF Cirklen doing the commissioning and copy editing. The good news is that this other publisher (BoD) provides print-on-demand copies in Great Britain, Germany, Canada and the US. Hopefully that explains everything, so let’s move on…

This book came about as part of a very laudable goal of the Danes wishing the rest of us to have a taster of what they were producing. SF Cirklen does, and has for each of the three years up to and including 2010, ran an annual short story competition with the best getting published in a paperback anthology. The first two of these anthologies were called Leige Under Overfladen [Beneath Surface] (2007) and I Overfladen [The Surface] (2008) and the stories in Sky City (2010/2011) are taken and translated from these two earlier anthologies.

Before getting on to the stories, potential readers will want to know about the quality of translation. Translation between languages is extremely difficult. Professional translators are expensive; so much so that even major fiction publishing houses in developed markets, such as Britain’s, do not always use the professionals. Furthermore, it is nearly always (but not absolutely always) best to use a translator whose first language is the language into which the translation is being made. Failing to follow these two general rules of thumb can result in trouble. Indeed a number of SF translations of non-Anglophone fiction into English that I have come across from various countries in my time have been truly horrible: one country is particularly bad and I have yet to come across an SF anthology (having tried to read four) from that nation that is not so awful that the stories are impenetrable. So it was a little worrying when before reading Sky City I noticed that the translations were undertaken by different Danes. Having said that, I was hugely relieved to find that all the stories were translated into quite a readable standard of English with only the occasional awkward use of phrase or opaque sentence: Science Fiction Cirklen is to be commended. In fact the only thing that leaps out at you is the non-standard (non-Anglophone) use of speech inverted commas but this the reader can easily ignore. Less prominent is that the anthology is written in a mix of English and non-English North American, and sometimes both English and American English are used in the same story: someone at SF Cirklen needed to set their PC Word.doc program language to one or the other (English as written in England as part of Europe would probably have been the more appropriate). However this last is a minor point. For the most part the quality of translation is sufficiently good for readers to follow, and indeed enjoy, the stories on offer.

As for the stories themselves, I was personally pleased that they were all science fiction and not fantasy that does seem to dominate a lot of Eastern European speculative fiction and even sneak into some major annual US anthologies that purport to be SF. (Logical genre nomenclature determines that fantasy and science fiction are sub-genres of speculative fiction: fantasy, though worthy, is not a logical sub-genre of science fiction even though some consider it to be so and, of course, not withstanding the fantasy-science fiction overlap of science fantasy where the fantasy (such as a super alien from planet Krypton) has its rationale explained in completely fake science (the alien gets his powers from our yellow sun).)   Sky City’s stories are firmly science fiction.)

As for the stories themselves, as would be expected, they use a range of the genre’s established tropes. Here is a brief teaser run-through without spoilers:-

Sky City by Manfred Christiansen. A woman wakes up in a tall skyscraper built by nanobots. Do they want something with her? This is the title story for the volume and sets the anthologies tone.

Departure by Niels Gerloff. A research team on Europa prepares to boldly go…

The White Bear by Richard Ipsen. A tale set in a future China.

Helium Loves Company by Glen Stihmoe. In a post apocalyptic world half destroyed by nanotechnology run rampant, an engineered team explores the desolation to encounter… Helium Loves Company is an interesting tale.

The Last Astronaut by Flemming Rasch. An astronaut lands on a distant planet after a journey of hundreds years. The next day another ship lands and a fourth generation descendent of the first astronaut steps out…

The Organism on Maneo by Morten Brunbjerg. On a spaceship a crew member discovers an unusual creature…

The Tourist by Patrick Leis. A military officer is questioned as to why he authorised an attack in a civilian area of his own country. The motive is obscure and further investigation leads to the unbelievable…

Know Your Target Audience by Dan Mygind. A new way of getting audience feedback help tailor programme makers’ efforts which in turn feedback to the audience. But the result is not quite as expected.

The Red Parakeets by Camilla Wandahal. Future genetic engineering is not just controversial, it splits society…

The Short Arm of History by Kenneth Krabat. They were queuing up to enter the portal to who-knows-where… This story is vaguely (only ‘vaguely’) reminiscent of Pohl’s novel Gateway (1977), and there is nothing wrong with that as you should not keep a good SFnal idea down and this variation of the theme is an interesting one.

A Contribution to the History of Denmark by Soren Hemmingsen. In 1961 an expedition to Lapland in search of minerals found the tail of a frozen dinosaur… This is the story of the days that followed.

When the Music’s Over by A. Silvestri. A spaceship lands in Central Park. What do they want..? Now without wishing to introduce a spoiler, I was surprised at the aliens distain for the character Captain James T. Kirk. After all this is a Danish anthology and Denmark is famous for its bacon, whereas William Shatner is known for his ham… (Groan now if you will.)

The E-Puzzle by Nikolaj Hojberg. In the far future questions of soul and death will be answered, but then how will we deal with mortality and, as important, how might we cope with the afterlife?

Leeding, Feeding by Miriam Pederson. An alien dissection, but ultimately who is studying whom?

You are my Best Friend by Camilla Friis. We all need friends. But what are friends?

Dreams of Stone by Brian Ornbol. The city was big. I mean really big. You may have thought it a long way down to the chemist but the city really was big… Now this tale is very reminiscent of one I first read back in the 1970s (when Brian Ornbol was just beginning to go to school) and I am sure I have read it a couple of times since in different anthologies (it was a good story), but for the life of me I cannot recall where but the followers of SF Signal tell me it could be ‘Concentration City’ by J.G. Ballard). Nonetheless, as with ‘The Short Arm of History’ above, a good idea can always be revisited, and maybe it was Brian Ornbol’s first encounter with this idea.

(Han fokuserer på teknologien, der kunne minde om Gateway, og ikke på, hvad historien egentlig handler om. Titlen, ikke? Historiens korte arm. KK)

The Green Jacket by Gudrun Ostergaard. Thirteen year old Ivara has more than everything she can want but has not seen the world beyond her tower city. So she decides to have a look.

In the Surface by Sara Tanderup. A tale set in a future where the sea covers the planet.

Interrogation of Victim No. 5 by Lars Ahn Pedersen. The patient is questioned as to what happened to her… and then the patient realises…   This story is one of the best in the anthology and was a good note on which to end.

To be honest, none of the stories would likely to be professionally published in the west as they are presented here. Nearly all of the writing could be tightened; in a short story every paragraph has to work propelling the story along and some of these stories were way to long. Story endings also need thought; a good central plot is not sufficient by itself as the reader needs to be given a sense of completion if not story fulfilment. Having said that, a few with minor tidying and a clean up of the English, would not be out of place in a professionally published anthology. Very encouraging is that some of the authors are young: in their 20s or 30s. This is good news for Danish SF and it will be interesting to see if any in the future make professional sales in Britain (or North America). Science Fiction Cirklen is to be congratulated for enabling those of us outside of Denmark to get a taster of what those Danes are up to these days.

Jonathan Cowie

We also have much else in our autumnal edition (volume 25, No 5)
http://www.concatenation.org/whatsnew.html

Including a big news page
http://www.concatenation.org/newsindex.html

which also has much Eurocon news 
http://www.concatenation.org/news/news9~11.html#eurocon11

There is also a separate, stand-alone review of Scandinavia’s Eurocon this summer
http://www.concatenation.org/conrev/eurocon11.html

“Anything you can do to spread the word  and links of this edition to appropriate Scandinavian blogs and SF news sites would be very welcome.” JC

Michael S. Hart, Projekt Gutenbergs skaber, er død.

“Learning is its own reward. Nothing I can say is better than that.”

 

Michael S. Hart fortalte ofte historien om, hvordan han som helt ung var blevet givet gratis adgang til computerfaciliteterne på universitetet i Illinois, USA. Og hvordan han, inspireret af et gratisomdelt optryk af den Amerikanske Uafhængigheds-erklæring og som en måde at sige tak for adgangen på – som i dagens priser ville svare til 100 millioner dollars – besluttede at indtaste selvsamme tekst på systemets computere og distribuere den til andre brugere på netværket. Det var i juli 1971.

Resten af sit liv, næsten 40 år, brugte Michael S. Hart så på at digitalisere og distribuere litteratur. Rettighedsfri og dermed gratis litteratur, vel at bemærke – ialt 36.000 bøger indtastet, indskannet og korrekturlæst af ham selv og et væld af frivillige.

Den tankegang, som i dag begynder at minde om en tsunami af konvertitter på vej mod den elektroniske bog, har ikke meget at gøre med Michael S. Harts vedvarende fokus på gratis adgang til god litteratur som vejen til et opgør med uvidenhed og analfabetisme.

Han blev 64.

Michael S. Hart – Gutenberg. *8.3.1947 †6.9.2011

TV2’s blog

Projekt Gutenberg

Tidens Kælven 1 til salg på Storybag.dk

Fås som både EPUB og Mobi. Kr. 75

 

OPDATE: Eftersom Storybag er lukket, kan du i stedet hente bogen i ebutikken i linket ovenfor.

Storybag tegner til at blive et solidt sted at købe ebøger. Nede på jorden, til at tale med, vel designet; lige nu føler jeg mig heldig, at de vil have mig.

Køb Tidens Kælven 1 hos Storybag. Pris kr. 75

(EPUB-læseprøve fra Storybag.dk, KLIK)

(Kindle-læseprøve fra Storybag.dk, KLIK)

 

Vil du have bogen signeret eller en video, audio eller en billedhilsen indsat som gave til dig selv eller en begavet, så gå til min facebook-butik

http://on.fb.me/ForlagetSeSne

Hér kan du også købe Tidens Kælven 1 i PDF med højopløste, skalérbare billeder.

God læsning.

 

Lige Under Overfladen 5 – Den nye koloni

Så kommer årets Science Fiction-antologi!

 

Titel: Den nye koloni – Lige under overfladen 5
Omslag: Manfred Christiansen
Udgivelsesdag: i morgen, 15. August
Sider: 325 sider,
Pris: 298,- kr. (238,40 for medlemmer af Science Fiction Cirklen).

LEKTØRUDTALELSE (link)

Den nye koloni er femte bog i Science Fiction Cirklens novelleserie, Lige under overfladen.

 

Herunder er de udvalgte noveller: Continue reading “Lige Under Overfladen 5 – Den nye koloni”