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science fiction

Stories of Our Life: The Great Derangement and Splinterlands

Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life, a short science fiction piece which I reviewed a few months ago, keeps infiltrating itself into my reading. Oddly, it reverberates most when I read nonfiction.

Story of Your Life is so fascinating due to its subtle manipulation of time. You may know it as the basis of the movie Arrival, where, for one character, the future is part of the present. Nonfiction, though, often looks backwards (cultural history, natural history), using “time’s arrow” to explore the present.

But one of the most powerful non-fiction books I’ve read lately is Amitav Ghosh’s non-linear look into the future to question the present, called The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. The question Ghosh asks boils down to, “Why doesn’t the greatest issue of our time – climate change – show itself in more contemporary fiction?” Read More..

Temporal Turn, Turn, Turn

The Spencer Museum of Art recently underwent a transformative renovation that lasted eighteen months and celebrated with a grand re-opening weekend in October. This reinvigoration was more than cosmetic; it was necessary. The museum upgraded nearly 30,000 square feet —further details can be found on their website.

After dedicating great energy to time and space, the Spencer is prepared for their new exhibition, Temporal Turn: Art & Speculation in Contemporary Asia. The museum offers an eloquent summary: “Temporal Turn explores a rich mosaic of ideas about time and history from a generation of contemporary artists grounded in what has been dubbed the ‘Asian Century.’” It incorporates an impressive cohesion of works of 26 different artists from Asia, four of whom were in residence at the Spencer: Rohini Devasher (India), Jaeyoung Park (South Korea), Sahej Rahal (India), and Tomoko Konoike (Japan).

There are five themes to the exhibit—Pulse, The Edge of Infinity, Mythopoeia, Human/Posthuman/Inhuman, and Anthropocene—that unify this collective effort and its multiple literary references. The Spencer’s expansive catalog for Temporal Turn also contains two contributions from KU: short story “The Empress Jingū Fishes” by Kij Johnson, Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing, along with the piece “Time, Space, and Physics” by Philip Baringer, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Read More..

Story of Your Life Makes the Alien Accessible

Has this ever happened to you? You’re at work, thinking about, say, Fermat’s theories, and an idea is sparked for an intriguing short story. But then you realize you really know nothing about the foundation of such a story, and it would take a long time to learn it. Read More..

Like, Try, Why: Science Fiction

Science fiction is a genre with many classic titles that have endured the test of time. But as new technologies emerge and culture changes, the genre continues to evolve. Here are some newer releases that are natural follow ups to classics, whether you are a die-hard fan or a new sci-fi reader.  Read More..

Like Try Why: Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is the 2014 recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Her novels transcend the (artificial) division between literary and genre fiction. If you’ve never read Le Guin, this guide will give you a place to start, and if you’re already a fan, hopefully you’ll find a new book.  Read More..

The best sci-fi and fantasy?

Nominations for the Nebula awards in the category of Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy have been announced! Which of these have you read? Which one should win? Have you read last year’s winner, The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman?

The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. at the awards banquet held this year on May 16-19th. Check back here in May to find out who won! Read More..