Thursday, April 13, 2006


More God and Science Fiction

My off the cuff answers to the two new questions asked on Tuesday were/are:

Our shows reject the notion of a single unifying truth. There is no single correct reading or interpretation of any of our shows. If you approach them listening for a reliable authorial voice you will not find it. If you deem God to be The Author in a narrow sense then this figure does not exist in our worlds.

At the same time, we occasionally find it useful for figures in our shows to hold quasi-Godlike positions. The two figures in Ocean of Storms and the four figures of Home Of The Wriggler appear omniscient if not omnipotent.

Ally hit the mark with her comment on the last entry. Science Fiction allows the modelling of alternative worlds to reflect on this world. As we approached the year 2000 I started to think about how much of our and other peoples theatre work seemed backward looking and somehow nostalgic, tethered in some way to the very early 20th Century or Europe circa World War 2. Bingo in the House of Babel was science fiction, but dressed in 1940s clothing. It seemed time to try and look forward more than back.

I remain fascinated by the question of what Science Fiction theatre could be. It seems like a tough challenge to make because unlike Literature, Cinema, Graphic Novels and Gaming, theatre is bound to our present technological and corporal realities. Science Fiction’s major trope is that transcends these realities. How do we approach this without wrapping our sets in tinfoil?

Be Proud Of Me and Home Of The Wriggler are some kind of answer. Maybe my next job is to investigate Ken Cambell’s Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool and find out what that was all about.


How about Tarkovsky's Stalker? It's usually described as science fiction but there's not a trace of special effects, crazy costumes, weird jargon or anything at all like tinfoil. Just lots of oily water. In fact, it could already be a Stan's show.
SF privileges speculation and conjecture, makes a fetish of futurity, calls utopia's bluff. However it also ignores all aesthetic insights afforded by modernity, retreading dead hack structures like the hero/quest triple decker novel, or hollywood explodorama. It is riven with weird schisms that make the English Civil War look unanimous. Whilst SF people often loudly proclaim its radical political credentials, it is almost entirely right-wing libertarian macho crap, and keeps company with some rather peculiar so-called visionaries like Robert Anton Wilson (& Hubbard, & worse), and dresses women in latex bathing suits and gives them big pink guns to hold. War, invasion, technology, thwarted sexuality, military hardware and conspiracy theory. It's great if you're 14, or if you want to pretend you still are for a while, and I spent many a happy hour in my youth with Philip Norman's 'Gor' series (the best SF books you'll come across, fnarr), but I would say keep away. It smells of boy. Imaginative speculation is already your business, right? Steal their good ideas by all means, but would you want to walk behind them in the parade? If you're still unconvinced, see if you can find a convention to attend - that should do it.
Hmm. Have you come across Houseplants of Gor? :).

I'm not adverse to a bit of 'macho libertarian crap' on occasion; Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell specialise in it. But I much prefer more thoughtful things that are less boy-smelling. Kate Wilhelm's 'Where late the sweet birds sang', Greg Benford's 'Timescape', Walter J Miller's 'Canticle for Leibowitz'. All have won Hugo and/or Nebula awards, which does demonstrate that not all SF people are the big-guns-and-breasts brigade :).

I am going to use the phrase 'smells of boy' on a regular basis from now on ...
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?