Yeah, alright, dumb title, yadda yadda yadda. Anyway, today I am going to talk about a videogame, a science fiction one of course. Why a game? Well, part of it is admittedly that I’m running out of semi-obscure genre novels that I read recently (and I can’t just do something on, say Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter; got to keep my nerd-hipster cred high after all), but also there’s the fact that, apart from my movie review, all I’ve done is blab about books.
Humanity in the unreal
Using the works of sci-fi and fantasy to reflect our own world
I meet Farrell McGovern and James Botte in the latter’s office at Carleton University. Jumbled with old computer parts, monitors and motherboards, it makes for the perfect environment to talk speculative fiction. Both men work in the high-tech industry and James is in the middle of getting his degree at the school, where he also works as a research assistant. More importantly, they are the founders of CAN-CON (not to be confused with the CRTC edict on broadcasting), Canada’s first speculative fiction convention that brought the focus to the literary side of fandom, rather than the “media,” a catch-all term they use to describe more profit oriented affairs than writing.
A lot of people know of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, even if they haven’t read them. Though they should! Pratchett’s novels take place in an anachronistic and inventive fantasy world, the Disc is a flat circular continent perched on the backs of four elephants standing on top of a gigantic, space faring turtle that is peopled with flawed and interesting characters, and deal with topics of society of politics. They are also very, very funny. I would honestly argue that the man has become one of the best satirists around. Anyway, this blog is going to be a little different; I’ll give a brief introduction on a specific “arc” of his books before focusing mostly on Monstrous Regiment the most recent one I’ve read.
China Mieville is part of the so called "New Weird" movement of writing and the logo is well applied. Perhaps his most famous novels take place in the world of Bas-Lag. Though a fantasy trilogy, Mieville defies the staples of the genre, and tends to draw influence from horror and science fiction instead. For one, Bas-Lag itself is a setting you're more likely to find in your fevered dreams and nightmares than anywhere else. Instead of taking place in the times of armoured knights and stupid pants, the world is an industrialized, adaptive place, but straining at the seams and peopled by a myriad of bizarre, inhuman races and twisted cultures and its heroes are scientists and unionist, in fact a group of "adventurers" hired in the first book are shown as sociopaths and killers. Though the setting is wildly inventive, the author doesn't go for the traditional approach to world building, instead scattering details of far off locations, such as the nation of High Cromlech and its zombie factories or the long dead and transdimensional Ghosthead Empire, who mined and monetized probability.