The Big Think

December 7, 2007

Aquarium Car!

Filed under: Hobbies — jasony @ 11:20 pm

Pretty cool video of a car converted over into an aquarium, though I do wonder what all the chemicals from the plastic and seats do to the quality of the water. My various aquarium-related books talk about the importance of completely washing anything that goes into the tank so it doesn’t off-gas anything harmful to the fish.

Speaking of Science Fiction

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 4:48 pm

Gizmodo has an awesome photo spread of busted-up sci-fi models. You think an AT-AT looks cool? How about one that’s abandoned in place?

Why Don’t We Love Science Fiction?

Filed under: Current Reading — jasony @ 12:04 pm

England’s Times Online has an interesting article on the popular debasement of science fiction:

No other country is quite so contemptuous of the literary genre, though, in the movies, we happily accept SF as high art: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris is rightly regarded as a great film, as is Ridley Scott’s masterpiece Blade Runner. (If you want to see just how great Scott’s film is, the seventh and “final” cut has just been released in cinemas and on DVD. It’s visually enhanced and, says Scott, “tweaked”. It looks, and is, superb.) The further oddity is that fantasy – Terry Pratchett, Tolkien, Philip Pullman – is not embarrassing to us at all; indeed, it’s downright respectable. Perhaps this is because these are seen as children’s books that grown-ups can read, whereas SF is seen as irredeemably adolescent. This is to ignore the fact that it tends to be much more demanding and much bleaker.

I’ve dealt with this since I was a junior high schooler. I’ve always had a book tucked away in my bag, and it was, more often than not, a science fiction book. I’ve read everything from Asimov to Zelazny and am quite well acquainted with the world of SF, but throughout my life there has always been a feeling that I should keep those books hidden, or at least downplay them. And it’s not just imagined. In high school I had several teachers comment negatively on my choice of books, even going so far as to say that they were going to tell my parents what I was reading. Here’s the book that provoked that comment, by the way.

So the message that I heard was that SF was somehow shameful or inferior to “real” literature. But at the very same time (the late 70’s, early 80’s), science fiction was positively killing at the box office. Star Wars I, II, and III had phenomenal attendance, followed by spin-offs and wanna-be’s showing up all over the place. Nascent Futurism started showing up in everything from art to architecture, and shows like Beyond 2000 gushed about the kind of world we’d live in once the 1 clicked over to the 2. All this time, though, lovers of science fiction were still regarded as childish or immature. That’s starting to change a bit, but my old habits die hard. In spite of the fact that I’ve read over 50 Science Fiction books in the last few years I still feel the need to lay the book cover-down when I’m in public. I probably don’t need to do that any more, but the memory of my English teacher deriding me for actually, you know, reading a book, is strong.

And for the record, even though SF remains a staple of my diet, it’s not the only thing. In addition to those 50 SF books in the last few years I’ve read another 150 non-sf. It’s all about balance, but I would hate to give up the knowledge, sense of wonder, and sneaky second-hand science education I’ve earned from reading SF.


Filed under: Humor and Fun,Technology — jasony @ 11:42 am

Best video of the day. Here comes another bubble.

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