[LMB] No lefties in the Nexus

Katherine Collett kcollett at hamilton.edu
Fri Oct 4 17:05:15 BST 2019

On Oct 4, 2019, at 11:52 AM, Gwynne Powell <gwynnepowell at hotmail.com> wrote:
> <snip>
> But some of these topics need to be discussed, and not just by us. They
> say that most laws lag a few decades behind technology; that's certainly
> true of the internet. So one day, and probably one day soon, this topic
> won't be an idle discussion, it'll be our reality. And, probably, most
> societies will stumble along making up laws and regulations as they go.
> Wouldn't it be nice if we planned it first? If the ground had already
> been covered?

That’s one of the things that science fiction does, to varying degrees (even the dystopias can serve as object lessons).  Wouldn’t it be good if more lawmakers read more science fiction?

I’m reminded of one of Le Guin’s essays, where she says, "Science fiction is often described, and even defined, as extrapolative. The science fiction writer is supposed to take a trend or phenomenon of the here-and-now, purify and intensify it for dramatic effect, and extend it into the future. "If this goes on, this is what will happen." A prediction is made. Method and results much resemble those of a scientist who feeds large doses of a purified and concentrated food additive to mice, in order to predict what may happen to people who eat it in small quantities for a long time. The outcome seems almost inevitably to be cancer. So does the outcome of extrapolation. Strictly extrapolative works of science fiction generally arrive about where the Club of Rome arrives: somewhere between the gradual extinction of human liberty and the total extinction of terrestrial life. 

This may explain why many people who do not read science fiction describe it as "escapist," but when questioned further, admit they do not read it because "it's so depressing." 

Almost anything carried to its logical extreme becomes depressing, if not carcinogenic.”

Full essay here: http://theliterarylink.com/leguinintro.html (It also includes this wonderful definition: "The artist deals with what cannot be said in words.  The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words.  The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.”)


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