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Archive for November, 2003

Ken Mac Leod: assimilation

Category: science/fiction

in an interview of Ken Mac Leod, by Ernest Lilley

SFR: Which culture will assimilate which? Communism, Capitalism, or Islam?

Ken: Capitalism will assimilate everything that exists in the world today, no question. The interesting question is what happens then. Professor Meghnad Desai of the London Schoolo of Economics has recently written an interesting book called Marx’s Revenge, in which he argues that what happens then is that capitalism begins to press hard against its limits, and socialism comes on the agenda for the first time.

Ken: Islam is a religion, not a mode of production, and is not counterposed to capitalism. Communism is a potential mode of production which, in the words of Lenin, ‘requires the joint efforts of several advanced countries, which do not include Russia’. Well, today Russia is arguably an advanced country, but it could only reach socialism through joint efforts with other advanced countries. Stalin’s ‘socialism in one country’ was always a utopia, and a reactionary one at that. There was never the slightest chance of the Stalinist states assimilating the capitalist countries. Nor is there the slightest chance now of the Islamic countries assimilating or overwhelming the largely secular West.

The West could destroy itself, and it’s possible – if the destruction wasn’t universal – that the successor civilization would be Muslim, but then *they* would be ‘the advanced capitalist countries’ and the religion would have to bend to that – as it was beginning to do, in Moorish Spain for instance, before it was over-run by Christians and sank into a long sulk.

SFR: You don’t seem to give faith based cultures much staying power in you fiction, is that because you see them as antithetical to advanced tech and hence limited in their ability to propagate themselves through space?

Ken: I don’t see faith-based cultures as antithetical to advanced tech, at all. Islamic societies were among the most advanced in the world in the Middle Ages. There’s no reason why a space-going civilization couldn’t be religious, so long as the religion’s dogmas didn’t rule out space exploration. As to my fiction, the future culture in The Sky Road has in the story endured for centuries, and is either Deist or pantheist, and is reaching out to space. The Christian fundamentalist Beulah City, in The Star Fraction, is a kind of like Singapore – repressive, but not anti-technological. The religion that really gets the boot in my books is that of the Greens and ‘their evil goddess, Gaia.’

Le bonheur de la gachette

Category: Uncategorized

Hop, un post en français une fois n’est pas coutume, mais à propos d’un livre en anglais. “Trigger Happy” de Steven Poole n’est pas bien vieux, mais comme il parle de jeux vidéo, le lecteur/la lectrice risque de penser qu’il est déjà rance, ce qui serait dommage. Même si Poole au moment d’écrire n’avait pas encore pu jouer sur de nouveaux morceaux de plastique qui n’existaient pas encore, le propos reste captivant.
Trigger Happy est une tentative (souvent réussie) de développer un discours critique un peu poussé sur les jeux vidéo, et en profite en cours de route pour expliquer pourquoi le vocabulaire critique du cinéma n’est pas forcément bien équipé pour traiter des jeux, et pourquoi la fameuse convergence cinéma/jeux est, à la réflexion, une mauvaise idée. Et plein d’autres choses pas toujours abouties, mais c’est un bon début. On ne trouve pas grand chose en français allant dans ce genre de directions mais certainement un jour ça viendra.

(à noter aussi que le/la gamer est alternativement “he” ou “she” tout au long du texte ^_^)

Embrace the Decay

Category: science/fiction

info from the NEWSgrist newsletter

Embrace the Decay
by Bruce Sterling

(unfortunately you would need the infamous Makkkkromedia plugin)

Launch date: September 2003

Embrace the Decay is an interactive, web-based project about the
destructive relationship between computers and typewriters. The
artwork turns the web-surfing computer-user into an unwilling
typewriter clerk. But the era of the typewriter is over and beyond
all retrieval: the dead machine rusts and crumbles, its pages fade
and rot in surprising ways, and it is finally, ritually entombed.

“Viewers will feel an ache of pain and wonder as the once-glorious
typewriter and all its works are methodically destroyed by electronic
means,” says Sterling.

Bruce Sterling is the author of nine novels, three of which were
selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. He has
published short stories and works of nonfiction, as well as contributed
regularly to Wired magazine since its inception. His most recent book,
Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years, was published 12/02.