The Synthesis of Science Fiction

A good deal of the "end" parts of my recent educational experience were synthetic projects. That is to say that to prepare for the "real" world, I was encouraged to "look back" [1] in an attempt to find some sort of salvageable greater whole. Conveniently, I rather like this approach to thinking, writing, and production.

Maybe it's because I'm something of a second rate thinker, or maybe it's because I'm still incredibly green, but it strikes me that coming up with successful ideas/projects/outcomes that are compleatly new is much more difficult, even impossible, whereas making--to borrow a contemporary term--mashups is much easier, and ultimately more useful: standing on the shoulders of giants, and all. So all this to say, that I rather like this mode of thought, and have enjoyed trying to come up with an account of all my varied interests--I know they're all connected in some greater way and the connections seem obvious to me, but perhaps not for you.

This is of course a problem here at TealArt: there's a connection between how I approach knitting and how I think about Deleuze and technology, or hypertext, or productivity. I swear, but I can also understand if you all don't see it as clearly.

In parallel to all this thought about synthesis, I've rediscovered an interest in science fiction. I was always a geek growing up and I loved all sorts of completely embarrassing science fiction, and as longtime readers of the site will remember I even wrote a long crappy science fiction novel when I was in high school. These things happen to the best of us.

I somehow got off the SF bandwagon at college. The SF club at school wasn't my scene (with the exception of a half dozen folks), and there were other things on my creative imagination. I did take a class my second semester where we read Octavia Butler's Kindred, and I was introduced by that class to Samuel R. Delany (who has been incredibly influential on me for some time.) Which is a completely different kind of SF than the stuff I grew up liking.

And then something clicked and I realized that in a lot of ways sci-fi is the synthetic glue that holds everything together. My interest in how individuals conceive of themselves and exist in social(ly constructed) networks, my interest in technology and hypertext, my interest in cultural theory. In terms of refocusing TealArt, I think the connection between cultural theory (in this case, Deleuze) and science fiction is particularly interesting and relevant, and worth exploring.

While I had hoped to avoid taking on the commitment for another "series" for TealArt, I think at least occasionally, as we move forward towards "the new tealart," whatever form that takes, I'm going to be musing about this, a little. But because I've been "out of the world for a spell," I'm interested in seeing what you all, kind readers, think about SF these days. What's the future of the genre? How is it changing? What kind of contemporary SF do you think is particularly successful?

A friend, whose very involved in fandom told me the other day that she didn't really get into sci-fi. I refused to believe her, and I maintain that there's something about SF that appeals to an audience beyond the typical "geek" crowd. With luck these musings will help us explore these issues and ideas together.

Cheers, tycho

[1]No, really, the subtitle for one of my courses last semester was "looking back, looking forward." I can't make these things up.
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