MisteR SF: Grown-Up Lit in the 21st Century

469192821Okay artists, writers, readers, fanboys, tweeter, tweens and creative types…
Here’s the presupposition: (from Arthur C. Clarke)
Any science sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.
 
If Science Fiction is about science (magic) that we can’t do YET (or as with Star Wars — can’t do now, but could long ago) — expecting that time will pass and a lot of it will become science documentary….
and Fantasy is about magic which is really just a different science not available to our world (location) —
and they are both just fiction spinning around in a world that’s either not here, or not now (or both)…
then — what’s behind the trend in the fiction/ art/ narrative itself that just adds dashes and dollops of magic (science that is not here and/or not now), but doesn’t make it the center piece of the story? As in an otherwise historical novel, or romance, mystery or movie — where there is a smattering of magic here and there for color, for laughs, or for diversity — but not the main interest of the story?
 
Magical Realism (literary) is otherwise ordinary mainstream literature — where one (usually very small but essential) aspect of the story features a magical event, or magical item or character — but the rest of the story ticks along and hums a normal everyday song. Sci-Fi/Fantasy literature would be a story about the magic (or magic item, ability, person, race, event) itself, and the whole world of the story spins around that magic.
 
Contrast:
Fantasy
1. Game of Thrones — an action, adventure, historical-feeling saga with just a few zombies and 3 hatchling dragons and their mother. Everything else in the story could be an alternate British history (or any other geography dropped into that 11th or 12th century time period.) and,
2. Harry Potter 1-7 — which is great story telling, but couldn’t exist if you pulled the magical creatures, spells, wands, potions, and people out of it.
or
Sci-Fi
1. Hunger Games — which again is a virtual political drama and adventure / coming of age story with a bit of technology that separates it from here and now, and
2. Star Wars which depends on the technology and science (as well as the tech / tech-enhanced characters) to function in every aspect of the narrative.
 
Is there a “growing up” of the SF literature everyone in the 20th Century grew up with — bringing Science Fiction and Science Fantasy into a slightly more mature 21st Century Magical Realist mainstream?
That’s really my question.
Is this really a trend? Will it last? Will literature for children be the landing pad for more magic-y SF in the future? And the Magical Realist SF stuff be the grown-geek fiction? And will that Magical Realist SF (MR-SF) move to take over the position of mainstream literature? Are we headed for MRSF as the norm for art and story telling?
–As in “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” (that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2001) or “The Man in the High Tower” (HUGO award winner in 1963, where we got one of our earliest tastes of alternative history — true history with one event that has magically changed — and all the ripples that single change creates.) Alternative Reality art/lit features a single magical change that is meta to the literature itself — the author/artist is the magician, rather than one of the characters (as in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.)
 
So is this the future of SF lit? Of mainstream lit and art? Are we the adults that want even our political thrillers and historical romances sprinkled with a few potions and fire-breathing lions?
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Quality of Life? Pain and Inconvenience

Yesterday when I wrote, More Info About Hands, after having been to see the hand  specialist again, I was confused and stressed out.  Today, things came a bit clearer….

(for general reference purposes, here’s the Quality of Life Index used to compare countries — but it’s pretty easy to extrapolate for the individual….  OR — here’s a blog/reference site about Quality of Life and Power that’s pretty interesting….) [click the image]

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours after my visit to the ortho-doctor thinking out-loud in this blog about my options re: my hands and the mechanical problems I’ve been having with them.

It’s a not-so-obvious problem, made more difficult by the general tendency of orthopedic surgeons (and all other surgeons, I suspect) to believe that they can fix something if they can just cut into it.

After I wrote and published my adventures in the doctor’s office, one of my friends commented that she knew this hand-stuff was causing quality-of-life problems for me.  Which I guess is sort of true — I really used to like to knit in the evenings, and not being able to drive without hurting my hands is a real inconvenience.  I’d never really thought about Quality of Life before.

However —

In absolute terms — even with some tactical disadvantages, my quality of life now as opposed to when I was a single parent trying to raise a child by myself; or when I had to give up graduate school to be a head of household and support us; or when I had to spend all our savings because we didn’t have medical insurance….  I’ve had a lot of quality-of-life issues that were far more crippling than this hand stuff.

My quality of life right now is pretty damn good.  My son is healthy and taking care of himself, with a good job and a great group of friends — what more could a mom want?  My husband is healthy, loves his work, and learns something new every day — and we’re each other’s favorite people in the world.  Again, what’s the point, if not those things?

My quality of life was sliding when my art studio roof leaked after a big hail storm.  (Watercolors are not good at weathering storms.) –And then leaked again every time it rained for the worst rainy season in this town’s history.

My quality of life sucked big time when I had pneumonia for nearly 6 weeks the year after Jim and I got married.  That was scary.

I’m pretty happy these days.  I’m 55, fat, and my hands hurt — but I’ve got a great life.  I’m married to my best friend, and I’ve got a cute, sweet dog, I get to read whatever I can cram into a day.  I know enough about computers to do what I need to do without much effort — and I can let the machines fix the majority of evidence of my dyslexia. (If I’d been born 30 or 40 years earlier, they would have marked me off as too stupid to function.)  I can still paint — paint brushes are very light and easy to hold.  I’m learning to cook all over again, using a different set of techniques and skills.

Leave No Child Behind Painting by Yannick Pigois Braunschweig

Banksy on Political Evolution

I guess if I lived in a country where typing free speech or painting incorrect themes and ideas could get your hand cut off or your fingers broken by a government, or  a band of righteous neighbors — that would be a quality of life issue….

Jelly beans, anyone?

-political cartoons

-graphic novels

-science fiction

-painting

-music

-sculpture

-archetecture

-fashion

-dance

-poetry

-theater

Jesus and Handguns make it to the gallery...

If I couldn’t make or view or buy or appreciate all kinds of art, from painting and sculpture to literature, dance, music and film — including political art, or art with the ideas of the artist worn on its sleeves — that would be a quality of life matter for me.

This is more like an elaborate puzzle to figure out.

I stopped knitting and gave away my heavy pots and pans on purpose.  If I can do 6 or 8 or 10 non-consecutive half hours of low-impact work with my hands each day — and I get to pick what kind of work I use those half-hours for — I choose to type some, to draw or paint some, to make dinner, to clean the bathroom fixtures, to brush the little lhasa’s coat, to make notes on whatever I’ve been reading, to go shopping, play card games or play on my Wii,  — to cram as much normal as I can into those half-hours.

But knitting eats up a lot of those half hours for not much progress.  And elaborate cooking belongs to people who love it more than anything else in the world.  I’d just as soon take short cuts and have an occasional frozen dinner.

And in the other hours — I wander about the internet; read (albeit slowly) to my dyslexic heart’s content.  In fact, this hand stuff is a lot like the dyslexia and the asthma –puzzles that can be solved.  Obstacles that aren’t so tough to maneuver around in the long game.

I make tea; paint, draw, write, talk to friends — things I’ve always done, but at different times of day.  All those things act like spacers so I don’t put a constant low-level strain on a hand that doesn’t work properly.

That’s what happened in these last couple of weeks.  I got used to the good effects of having taken such care with my hands.  I got cocky and thought I’d cook something that required opening jars and cans (both require torque,) grinding fresh peppercorn (there’s that twisting torque motion again…) and chopping lots of veggies.  Then I followed it by shuffling new decks of cards to play a new game.  And hand-washing a couple of favorite shirts and wringing them (torque, again.)  And baking Jim a pound cake.  All without much break in between.

And because my hands were hurting, I got temporarily pissed off at the inconvenience and bad timing of a little pain — so I kept going and ended up with more than a little pain.

Chalk one up to being too stupid to function.

But if I can learn to work around dyslexia, I can learn to work around this — at least until/unless it gets so bad that it really does interfere with my quality of life.

For now, it’s an inconvenient and complex puzzle.

I guess I just defined the point at which I’d actually consider surgery.  And I’m a long way from that point.