The subject matter of this collection is varied, but displays Jones’ stance as a practicing SF writer and a feminist; the writing is characterized by both an incisive engagement with the texts and a refusal to dress that engagement in jargon. This very readable book provides insight into the work of one of the UK's most interesting writers and presents strong – sometimes eThe subject matter of this collection is varied, but displays Jones’ stance as a practicing SF writer and a feminist; the writing is characterized by both an incisive engagement with the texts and a refusal to dress that engagement in jargon. This very readable book provides insight into the work of one of the UK's most interesting writers and presents strong – sometimes even subversive – views of a range of modern SF and fantasy."Gwyneth Jones is one of the two or three most important writers of the current sf boom in the UK... from the evidence in this book it is clear she is also one of the most reflective and readable sf critics working today."—Science Fiction Studies...
|Title||:||Deconstructing the Starships: Essays and Review|
|Number of Pages||:||232 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Deconstructing the Starships: Essays and Review Reviews
Gwyneth Jones is a favourite science fiction writer of mine (I especially recommend her Bold as Love sequence) and this book collects short pieces of her non-fiction writing. Although it was published in 1999, the pieces were written between 1988 and 1996. A major point of interest, therefore, is contrasting her statements about sci-fi and predictions of the future with contemporary trends. For example, she wrote chapter three in 1988 as an extrapolation of potential leisure activities in 2020. In this, she sort-of predicts massive multiplayer games, except with less of an online component, and thus also anticipates reality TV to some extent. I am always amused by the terms used for smartphone allegories in sci-fi (such as ‘cybofaxes’ in Mindstar Rising), as ‘smartphone’ is such a silly name when you think about it. Jones comes up with ‘wristpac’, predicting that small computers would be worn on the wrist and separate keyboards carried about to use with them. Well, I did hear that Apple is getting into watches… Sadly the dream-recording technology she mentions has not arrived yet. Whilst I am put off by the Futurama concept of dream-advertising, being able to record and share dreams would be fantastic.Although some of the essays towards the start are more general meditations on science fiction as a genre and its relationship with feminism, the majority deal with specific books. These range from the Narnia series and The Lord of the Rings to Gibson’s Virtual Light and Barnes’ A Million Open Doors. Although such analysis has some interest in and of itself, you need to have read the specific books to get the most from it. Moreover, the essays on books I haven’t read comprehensively spoiled the plots, so it doesn’t seem worth reading said books. On the other hand, Snow Crash is a long-term favourite of mine so I found Jones’ critique especially interesting. I haven’t re-read it for many years and am now tempted to in light of her comments. I remember it as entertainingly satirical, yet in retrospect perhaps the satire is more glib than I realised as a teenager. Jones is very good at teasing out gender roles and political subtext in science fiction, giving her reviews a depth and thoughtfulness that I appreciated. She also has quite a distinctive writing style, featuring many asides. This bit stands out to me:Few of us realise how casually our worlds of perception are furnished. A motor car is a motor car. Its identity floats in the sensorium: a means of getting from A to B, a smell of petrol and oil, a large shiny box, a noise in the distance. If all the cars in the world were suddenly present only in so far as they were perceived, the roads would be filled with an army of coloured moving blurs, most of them completely empty under the hood and quite a few with nothing underneath to hold the wheels together. Cars would become like the content-empty ‘futuristic’ props in bad sf. The props of good sf, however, denied the protection of custom and habit, have to be built more soundly than the shadows with which we lazily surround ourselves in real life. The better the writer understands the laborious process of refining an experiment, the more successful the fantastical artefact: a sun that is nothing like the lamp, but it convinces, because the path from one to the other has been rehearsed, intuitively or consciously, every step of the way (and then the steps have been hidden, of course, under a fictional surface).There are occasional sci-fi novels that get away with naming but not explaining transformative technologies and allowing the reader to fill in the gaps. The Quantum Thief and sequels spring to mind. They are the exceptions, in my view, and the author very likely thought the technology through carefully before deciding to leave it ambiguous.
Like most essay and review collections, a mixed bag. Worth it for the last piece, which is on Le Guin's utopias.
3.5the glib tone works less well in aggregate, but lots of sharp and funny observations throughout