godshatter

Tanaqui tweaver at imbolc.ucc.ie
Wed Aug 23 09:55:19 EDT 2000


Ven:
 
+ area of dangerously out of control nano- and bio- tech called the 
+ Blight. 

Have you read _A Fire Upon the Deep_? The practice of godshatter is
definitely fantastical in Clarke's science-sufficiently-advanced way.
As is the Blight, slightly beyond our human grasp, although we can "wake" it.

Your post also brought to mind Ian McDonald's _Hearts, Hands and Voices_ 
and _Chaga_, with the transformative wild-life-tech landscape. A faint frisson
from _The Unconquered Country_ is probably not justifiable.

+ Basically its a place of dangerous transformation, where 
+ nothing can be trusted to be as it seems. So I have the landscapse 
+ as integral to plot stuff. 

Yup.

+ However as soon as I decided I was using a planet as my setting everything 
+ changed and it became undeniably science fiction.

Um, er, why? If you thought through the mechanics to a point where everything
was logically integrated and had a scientific rationale, fair enough. I am,
however, going to argue with your grounds |-) on this:

+ Fantasies may be set on planets, obviously, its something to do 
+ with what the people in the world know of that world. Once there's 
+ the idea of spinning through space around a sun the world is finite 
+ and knowable. Its a different paradigm (meta model), not at odds 
+ with fantasy,  just with high fantasy. This is probably very relevant 
+ to the subject that started all this off --   
+ the role of universities in fantasy.

How does Ursula Le Guin's work fit with this idea? She starts messing with the
SF/Fantasy interface in _Rocannon's World_, where the fantastical novella 
"Semley's Necklace" relies on science-sufficiently-advanced to add depth. Is 
the story of the lost, peculiarly unaged, heiress and her necklace made less
fantastical because we understand time-dilation as the Angyar hilfs do not? 

Le Guin makes the interaction ever more ambiguous: in _The Pathways of Desire_,
the anthropologists' nightmare world turns out to be stuck in a teenage rut
for a rather scary internalised reason... although the anthropologists have
gone out to that place in starships not gone into it with psycho-analysis.

This ambiguity of SF objective reality with fantastical subjective reality
is redrawn with the three stories about the churten principle which make up
the bulk of the most recent collection _A Fisherman of the Inland Sea_. If
you travel consensually, do you create your destination among yourselves?

+ These are ideas in desperate need of feedback, very much IMHO.

Can't resist... 

On topic, _Tale of Time City_ has SF elements and has often been linked with
the more overtly fantastical _Hexwood_ in some sort of SF-fantasy class war, 
but I don't quite see this. OK, so Hexwood contains magical fields and dragons
and knights, but also a robot and a machine's field and a battle over control 
of a galaxy-spanning commerical transport/trade empire. Do the explanations of
ghosts in Time City explain them away scientifically? I think not. And Faber
John keeps reminding me of the line "there were giants in the earth in those
days". It's very difficult to segregate the sensible mind-magic in DWJ from
SF, which covers the possible as well as the practicable... OK, so it's plain
witchiness in _Wilkin's Tooth_, but the planned efforts of the Ring and the
Magids are very principled.

I need a good working definition of fantasy, which I would probably peg to
magic and that would leave SF scraping the scientific-method barrel. hmm.

Now, if I can just figure out if _The Child Garden_ is SF or fantasy...

Tanaqui  
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