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
Entries in Sci-fi (5)
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.
Many science fiction novels take place in realistic simulacra of our own future, tackling modern day issues from an advanced, but also parallel perspective. Not Iain M. Banks Culture novels, a loosely connected series of titles that documents a largely humanoid (but not terran) society that has transcended scarcity, taboo, internal strife and, if its citizens so choose, death. A utopia in the truest sense, the Culture is an anarcho-socialist civilization with no currency or even real government. Disease and genetic disabilities are unheard of and, though the average lifespan is 400 years, individuals can choose to forgo death or go into stasis with the order to be woken when something interesting happens.
Released in 2009, Moon is a different breed of science fiction than the ones we’ve seen in recent years. Duncan Jones’ directorial debut (let’s get it out of the way here, yes he is David Bowie’s son), it takes a slower, more personal approach to the genre. A character study at its heart, there are only three individuals in the film and one of them is a machine. Instead of a blockbuster explosion-fest, Moon is a study of personal identity and what it means to be human.
So. A lot of people figure that the twin genres of science fiction and fantasy are only about space ships blowing up and knights saving princesses; robots and dragons and swords, oh my! But that just isn't true. About every novel, short story or movie (those worth a damn at least) uses the setting to explore social issues, either modern or imagined, and the ways that people would react to impossible events.