Ebooks from Infinity Plus

One of my first discoveries in the world of British Science Fiction was the sophisticated website of Keith Brooke and Nick Gevers, Infinity Plus. I liked it so much that I contacted Keith to express my appreciation. We have been in touch since then. The site was online from 1997 to 2006, and became a chief resource for reviews of the best in speculative fiction, as well as high-level articles and interviews. It is now an archive that is well-worth perusing and supporting by donation. Keith is a well-known British SF author, academic, running enthusiast, IT specialist, and most recently seller of ebooks. His store is here.

Ian Graham on Gaming

Before I moved from Amsterdam to Uppsala, all I knew about gaming was that many people engage in it. Later I was surprised to learn how intellectually challenging and deep some of  today’s games are. Several months ago I started to see items online about the possible effects (good and bad) of the Net in general and of games in particular. I know enough neuroscience to be reasonably certain that we do not know the truths of such things. A British FB Friend, fantasy writer Ian Graham, has written a perceptive piece about some of the issues. One needs no scientific background at all to read this interesting paper.

Macleod on Uppsala

I moved to Uppsala on 8 Jan, 2009. The main reason for this move was medical, but SF played a significant role in motivating me to choose Uppsala over my other possibilities, Helsingfors and Leuven.  In 2003 I read some quite complementary words about the SF scene in Sweden. They were written by Ken MacLeod, a person whom I admire very much. Since I’ve mentioned this text to Upsalafans and Uppsala philosophers many times, I decided this morning to display it here. It’s from Ken’s excellent blog, but has appeared in other places as well.

De Vries on the possible death of Science Fiction

Jetse de Vries is a thoughtful SF commentator, reviewer, and editor of some of the best SF. Towards the end of last year he had his say in the current debate on the future character and very existence of Science Fiction.  The issues are many, complex, and interrelated. They transcend the genre and, I think, literature. Jetse’s contribution is filled with links that flesh out his necessarily schematic presentation of what might be more of a social than a purely literary matter. It’s from his excellent blog.

An Interesting Name in ’District 9.’

Last Saturday evening I viewed ’District 9’ on my new DVD system. Two days ago I described the film to a Dutch woman who was active in the Anti-Apartheid movement in the Netherlands. While telling her a bit about this important film and its alien ’prawns,’ I mentioned that the protagonist’s surname was van de Merwe. She burst out in laughter. When she calmed down she told me that this name is South African slang for a shady, untrustworthy, character. The sort of creep one wouldn’t want to buy a used car from.

This is a brilliant cinematic move. Wikus van de Merwe undergoes a series of transformations: from the phonily-smiling, ever-optimistic-seeming, bureaucratic spokesperson of a mercenary firm, to the firm’s slimy deportation boss, to a genetically modified violent human desperate for a ’fix’ back to fully human form, to a person who, while motivated solely by this powerful desire, perhaps does several good things for the Prawns. At each stage he’s as unreliable as his name suggests. The fit is perfect. Too bad that few outside South Africa and the Netherlands (’Apartheid’ is Dutch for ’apartness’) would get the devastating point.