From J.R. Dunn: Philip K. Dick and Our Predicament
What is this but a Philip K. Dick universe?
Dick, it seems, was a far superior prophet than the colleagues who disdained him, because, unlike many of them, he had a line on human nature, which never changes.
So what does Dick have to say about surviving and prevailing in this world?
Dick had no political solutions. His personal politics was as convoluted as the rest of his personality. He was a man of the "left," but, like Orwell, very much a left of his own devising. He was once thrown out, within a period of weeks, of meetings by the local GOP and the Communist Party, in both cases for asking penetrating questions. He had no use for authoritarian systems. (His short story "Faith of our Fathers" is one of the eeriest condemnations of communism ever written, in which the leader of a victorious worldwide communist party is indistinguishable from death itself. When he grips the protagonist's arm, he leaves stigmata that continue bleeding and refuse to heal.)
Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher has died "peacefully" at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke, her family has announced. Read/view more at BBC News.
The Libertarian Futurist Society has chosen four finalists for this year's Hall of Fame Award. The Award will be presented at the 70th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in Chicago over Labor Day weekend. The nominees are as follows: Falling Free, a novel by Lois McMaster Bujold, first published in 1988. An exploration of the legal and ethical implications of human genetic engineering. "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," by Harlan Ellison, first published in 1965. A satirical dystopia set in an authoritarian society dedicated to punctuality, where a lone absurdist rebel attempts to disrupt everyone else's schedules. "The Machine Stops,” by E.M. Forster, first published in 1909. Described by the author as a reaction to H.G. Wells's fiction, it portrays a decaying future of human beings incapable of independent existence or first-hand contact. "As Easy as A.B.C.," a short story by Rudyard Kipling, first published in 1912. An ambiguously utopian future that has reacted against the mass society that was beginning to emerge when it was written, in favor of privacy and freedom of movement. The winner will be chosen by ranked choices voting by the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society. First awarded in 1983 to Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, the Hall of Fame Award honors classic works of science fiction and fantasy that celebrate freedom, show paths to its enhancement, or warn against abuses of political power. Since 2000, it has been open to short stories, films, television episodes or series, graphic novels, musical works, and other narrative and dramatic forms.
The great people at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) have a new video out this week recapping one of their most prominent victories over censorship in Academia — prominent because this case found a ready-made constituency of activists for individual rights. Fans of Firefly rushed to defend University of Wisconsin Professor James Miller after he was accused by campus police of creating a threatening environment by hanging a Firefly poster on his office door, a case in which FIRE prevailed. The video interviews author Neil Gaiman and delivers a serious message: watch the video here.
Cheers to Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin for coming to Professor Miller’s defense, and especially to my fellow fans of Firefly and Serenity. I had to laugh at Gaiman's point:
"There are people you do not want to upset in the world. And big groups of people you don’t want to upset would obviously include the politically disenfranchised who feel they have nothing to lose. And those that feel that the time has come for revolution. Then out on the edges beyond any of those are science fiction and fantasy fans whose favorite show has been canceled in an untimely way."
Not The Giving Tree, but The Taking Tree...
2011 Novel Award Finalists
* For the Win by Cory Doctorow (TOR Books)
* Darkship Thieves by Sarah Hoyt (Baen Books)
* The Last Trumpet Project by Kevin MacArdry (lasttrumpetproject.com)
* Live Free or Die by John Ringo (Baen Books)
* Ceres by L. Neil Smith (Big Head Press: also published online at bigheadpress.com)
Read descriptions of the novels here.
2011 Hall of Fame Award Finalists
*"The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster (1909)
*"As Easy as A.B.C." by Rudyard Kipling (1912)
* Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)
*"'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman" by Harlan Ellison (1965)
* Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold (1988)
Read descriptions of these works here.
He moved to Sydney around 2003 and began writing spy novels, one of which,"Fatal Weakness," is about espionage and corruption involving China and the U.S. It has been published on the Internet in China. Mr. Yang also contributes frequently to about 10 blogs, including some that run on Chinese portals that receive millions of hits daily.
Prof. Feng said he was sure that Chinese authorities were holding Mr. Yang and expressed concern that they would try to charge Mr. Yang with espionage because he had a foreign passport.
In Doctorow's words,"the world's oppressive regimes (including supposedly free governments in the west) are availing themselves of new technology at speed, and the only way for activism to be effective in that environment is to use the same tools."
Read"We need a serious critique of net activism."
It seems an appropriate day to revisit a quote or two:
"Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be. In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
"My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning the abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) — or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inaminate real of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate! If we could go back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so to refer to people.… Anyway the proper study of Man is anything but Man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Letter #52 (1943, to Christopher Tolkien), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Today, StarShipSofa became the first podcast ever to win a Hugo Award.
To Tony, to the other StarShipSofa contributors, to all of our listeners and supporters, and to every member of the larger podcasting family, I offer heartfelt thanks and congratulations. History has been made!
Congratulations to all of the 2010 Hugo Award winners, as well.
Best Novel: The Unincorporated Man, Dani and Eytan Kollin (TOR Books)
Hall of Fame: “No Truce with Kings,” Poul Anderson
The winners will receive their awards at a ceremony at this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, Aussiecon 4.
From the LFS:
The Unincorporated Man is the first novel publication by the Kollin brothers. It is the first novel in a planned trilogy to be published by Tor. The Unincorporated Man presents the idea that education and personal development could be funded by allowing investors to take a share of one’s future income. The novel explores the ways this arrangement would affect those who do not own a majority of the stock in themselves. For instance, often ones investors would have control of a person’s choices of where to live or work. The desire for power as an end unto itself and the negative consequences of the raw lust for power are shown in often great detail. The story takes a strong position that liberty is important and worth fighting for, and the characters spend their time pushing for different conceptions of what freedom is.
Poul Anderson’s novels have been nominated many times, and have won the Prometheus Award (in 1995, for The Stars Are Also Fire), and the Hall of Fame Award (1995 for The Star Fox and 1985 for Trader to the Stars). He also received a Special award for lifetime achievement in 2001. This was the first nomination for “No Truce With Kings."
Poul Anderson’s “No Truce with Kings” was first published in 1963. Like many science fiction stories of that era, it was set in a future that had endured a nuclear war. Anderson’s focus is not on the immediate disaster and the struggle to survive, but the later rebuilding; its central conflict is over what sort of civilization should be created. The story’s title comes from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Old Issue,” which describes the struggle to bind kings and states with law and the threat of their breaking free. Anderson’s future California is basically a feudal society, founded on local loyalties, but it has a growing movement in favor of a centralized, impersonal state. As David Friedman remarked about this story, Anderson plays fair with his conflicting forces: both of them want the best for humanity, but one side is mistaken about what that is. This story is classic Anderson and, like many of his best stories, reveals his libertarian sympathies.
(On a side note, thanks to everyone who listens to and supports StarShipSofa. Thanks to you, SSS has become the first podcast ever to be nominated for a Hugo Award. We appreciate it!)
Read "The BP/Government Police State" (with updates).
According to the blog This is FYF," citing security concerns that bikes might be secret pipe bombs, NYPD officers clipped the locks of hundreds of bikes along Houston Street this morning in preparation for President Obama's speech at Cooper Union. The bikes were unceremoniously put in the back of the truck. Onlookers were not given information as to what would become of the bikes. Happy Earth Day!"
For pictures of the bike seizure, destruction of locks and chains, and more information, see here.
"[B]aking surveillance, control and censorship into the very fabric of our networks, devices and laws is the absolute road to dictatorial hell."
Read Cory Doctorow's article in The Guardian.
Hidden Empire, Orson Scott Card (TOR Books)
Makers, Cory Doctorow (TOR Books)
The Unincorporated Man, Dani and Eytan Kollin (TOR Books)
Liberating Atlantis, Harry Turtledove (ROC/Penguin Books)
The United States of Atlantis, Harry Turtledove (ROC/Penguin Books)
Hall of Fame
“As Easy as A.B.C.,” a story by Rudyard Kipling (1912)
Cryptonomicon, a novel by Neal Stephenson (1999)
“No Truce with Kings,” a story by Poul Anderson (1964)
“‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” a story by Harlan Ellison (1965)
Full details are available on the LFS press release page.