Hollywood’s latest apocalyptic zombie romp, World War Z, could have been great. If it followed the lead that the book set out, it could have portrayed a nuanced view of life ten years after the world was overrun by zombies. When the book was turned into a movie, however,
If you’ve seen older issues of popular science fiction magazines—think from the 1930s to the 1960s—you’ve seen cover art of half-naked women being abducted by aliens or saved by a ‘handsome’ white dude in a spacesuit. (If you’re lucky, maybe you’ve even seen a cover with both at the
Television culture means that we often lack the depth to deal with ambiguity. The complexity of novels eludes our attention; we often prefer the truncated and clear narratives of sitcoms, where a plot line is fully resolved in forty-three minutes. The beauty of ambiguity, and of the blurred line
Do you have a plan in place for what to do after an apocalypse? Survivalists do. Survivalists, mainstream North American culture thinks, are a little weird. They prepare for severe disruptions in the order of everyday life, for carrying on when these disruptions obliterate the conveniences of our extensive
Life is sometimes so surreal that you feel as though you’re in a story; as though the anecdote you’ve just related over drinks has an air of falsity about it, simply because it seems too strange to be true. You have to insist to your friends that it actually
Imagine the carefully catalogued books available in your favorite library. The rows on rows and stacks on stacks, categorized with little regard for how they participate in the literary canon. There is, in libraries, a certain egalitarianism about book order. A follows B. Yet when the cover is opened, the
As fiction’s equivalent of messy chemistry experiments, thought experiments play with ideas until they explode. Most commonly found in—you’ve guessed it—speculative and science fiction, thought experiments explore imaginative possibilities in situations unconstrained by reality. Whole civilizations can rise and fall within a novel while an experiment simmers in the
Go into your local, independent bookstore (no, really), and you’ll easily be able to tell the difference between literary and science fiction — often it will be delineated for you, with sections of the store dedicated to each. Just as often, the difference will be found on the cover.