Positive Japan

Leading Japanese sci-fi/thriller novelist Taiyo Fujii, also chairman of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan association, visits Malaysia for that nation’s main think-fest (theme this year: ‘the Future’). The local press there reports, in “The future is bright” that…

Fujii hopes that those who have read his [novels] Orbital Cloud or Gene Mapper gain a more optimistic view of the future like him. The author said: “”I love Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and James P. Hogan. All of them write of a positive future. I’ll be telling the audience how I view the future world with optimism, whereas many literary works tend to focus on a dystopian world.”

Available in good English translations, and Kindle ereader format, though as yet no audiobooks.

I also recently had cause to notice Arthur C. Clarke’s mid-career novel Imperial Earth (1975), which apparently has a very positive tour of its main setting: the high-tech USA of the year 2276 as seen through the eyes of a visitor from the colony on Titan. Clarke was at that time in a similar situation personally: living in the British Commonwealth protectorate of Ceylon, watching his home in the UK try to shape “the white heat of technology” into a sustainable form, and touring America as it lived through the early 1970s. I’d no doubt read the novel in the 1980s, along with most other hard science-fiction, but had forgotten it in the meantime. Apparently it was also an important breakthrough novel, for its time, in its approaches to sexuality.

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New book – Arkwright

Allen Steele, Arkwright and the art of keeping the ‘golden’ spirit of sci-fi alive

I personally thoroughly enjoyed Arkwright – a novel about a science fiction writer, containing science fiction history from an age gone past, that tries to remind us what science fiction is capable of and can do as a genre. Arkwright is a book that wears its optimism on its sleeve. In an age when dystopias are ‘in’, this is required, I feel… a book that evokes a sense of wonder and hope.

The author Allen Steele grants the journalist a very short interview…

“I had a certain sense of purpose in writing Arkwright in that I’m tired of dystopian SF, particularly the sort that poses no solutions but just turns the demise of human civilization into a form of entertainment. If the end of the world comes, I promise you that it won’t be just like a movie or a game.”

For some reason the Kindle ereader version of this book does not appear via search on Amazon USA or UK. But going in through Google Search reveals the missing Kindle edition for the USA and UK (unavailable).

Going into Amazon.com with a USA VPN turned on (a free feature in the Opera browser) reveals that the title is available to USA readers as a Kindle ebook, so presumably the lack of a Kindle edition in the UK is not as as result of the author being an Amazon-hater. My guess is then that, since the novel is about an author, it probably quotes snippets of pulp sci-fi texts which are public-domain in the USA but which are still caught up in the foul nets of copyright in the UK and Europe. Amazon’s Kindle platform is hyper-sensitive to that.

Update, August: looks like they just released an audiobook version!

Xprize Airlines, boarding now, destination Future

Good to hear that another science-fiction anthology is on the way. Presumably it won’t be filled with gloom and pessimism, since it’s from the outstanding Xprize organisation (.mp3 talk by the founder). They’ve partnered with All Nippon Airlines (ANA) to “imagine a bold vision of the future” via science fiction. The trailer/think-tank for that new Xprize will be the launch of a new anthology of stories set 20 years in the future. Sign-ups for that are being accepted now, by the dedicated website.

Biding TIME

TIME magazine: “The Left Is Killing Itself With Pessimism”. Who knew?

The author has a new book, The Optimistic Leftist. Judging by the reviews the best the irrelevant political left can now expect is that… if they quit all their whining and moaning and lying… and if they slap on a big Jimmy Carter smile… and if they wait it out into the medium-term future (2030?) then…

“Good economic times will promote upward mobility and a sense of personal optimism” amid a quietly ideological “commitment to abundance” and to “opportunity” among ordinary people.

This, the author then ambitiously claims, will lull the elites into a dozy drift back towards a…

“orientation toward collective advance that will greatly facilitate the agenda of the broad left.”

If the left still exists, at that point.

The growing Rational Optimist genre of nonfiction

This week Inside Higher Ed (the U.S. equivalent of the Times Higher newspaper) has a glancing look at what it terms the Progress‘ and the ‘Rational Optimist‘ Genre of Nonfiction and asks…

“This is the sort of book that I think that every college freshman should be required to read. … What books would you add to a Rational Optimist genre of nonfiction?”

It’s a ‘do my homework for me’ question, but also a book promotion opportunity. Zero comments, so far.