"Science Fiction has become an exclusively literary genre, with books inspired less by new scientific research than by previous science fiction books, and, regrettably, movies. Ideas turn into tropes, and instead of extrapolation, we get variation: of the generation star ship, the space alien, the artificial brain, the parallel universe.

"Not that there's anything wrong with that. Writers like Ted Chiang and Gene Wolfe write brilliant books by breathing new literary life into these old tropes. But their concerns are ultimately moral. They're not interested in New Ideas About Everything as much as in the problems and choices those ideas pose.

"In the last thirty or so years, the only sub-genres of Science Fiction willing to take on new science and technology have been cyberpunk and its cousin ribofunk (addressing respectively info- and bio-tech.) But recently, both these sub-genres have been petering out because, I would argue, real-world progress in both those areas has been both too fast and too gradual: fast enough to make most writing obsolete shortly after, or even before, publication; too gradual to produce anything truly transformative for the long view (we're still waiting for AI, immersive VR, and genetically modified humans.)" - Dmitry Portnoy's Amazon.Com review of Neal Stephenson's Anathem [via Wading Through Treacle]


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