Tag Archives: internet culture

Right Wing Nationalism, and the Future

This post was inspired by reading the following article, on the diveristy of characters in science fiction:
https://www.wired.com/2017/02/geeks-guide-next-gen-sci-fi/#article-comments

At the time, I found the article fairly engaging. In retrospect, it’s not great in tone. My own view of the future is probably much darker than these writers expressed. But the concept of reviewing hidden implicit bias in a fictional character’s gender and ethnicity all made clear sense to me.

It’s lazy writing to rely on stereotypes, and cliches. It requires minimal effort, and can easily be derivative.  It also generally reproduces the image of the world we already had, rather than creating anything new. And it’s also inaccurate…

What surprised me most was the comments to the article. Many expressing real anger and disbelief at the article’s contents. I found it quite a shock, as I had literally not even conceived of their arguments. Am I in a bubble? Maybe.

The source of their irritation was the article’s accepted wisdom that science fiction should present viewpoints and experiences from groups outside of traditional western society. They seemed clearly to feel this were a waste of time, and a fundamentally fraudulent concept.

It’s an extremely persistent attitude in our culture, that I may well describe more in further posts. Soft forms of white supremacism in science fiction date back a very long way. An editorial by Isaac Asimov written in 1972 describes how previous editors of his in the 1950s would insist their tales of space describe a universe of white characters. The old Jetsons cartoon is another well-known example. It seems to present a clear narrative that whites have left behind the other races, as though separation was always the goal. White nationalism, in today’s language.

Even in films as considered as ethnically  diverse as Star Trek and Star Wars, the cast are still disproportionately filled with white characters, when planet Earth is considered. Gene Roddenberry made a massive effort  always worthy of respect to think outside the box.

Perhaps living in Asia has changed my perspective, but it’s hard to see dominance of the world by European ethnic groups as a serious possibility 100 years from now, like it has been over the past 500 years. Even less so 200 years in the future, and even less so after that…

One potential big difference in approaches to race can be the application of deep time in the philosophy of a writer. As a science fiction writer, the concept of deep time is perhaps the single most compelling reason I find to work in the genre. We are at the forefront of a species that has lasted 500,000 years. Regardless of what we do to the planet, I believe some form of us is certain to continue long ahead. Political structures such as the nation or  borders can only be fleetingly temporary. The history of life is one of constant adaption. The insistence that the future will preserve the cultures of the present seems absurd.

But other science fiction writers don’t feel the same way about these ideals. Odious and notorious members of the far right can tend to loudly make their presence known on the internet on these issues, and topics of culture. And they do feel like their time has come, at this present moment.

But I strongly doubt the future will look like they expect it will, no matter what happens.

The Resurgence of Rimmblog

Good evening.

I’m excited to welcome you to the humble return of Rimmblog!

We’ll be returning with a weekly format: posts every Saturday, and occasional extras during the week.

It’s been almost exactly 2 years since my last post. I think we can all agree that a lot has happened since then. For starters, I’m now permanently based in Hong Kong. It’s beautiful here and I’m very happy.  Also, 2015 and 2016 happened. It’s become a cliche to hate 2016, but I must confess to a certain feeling that the world is entering some new era of darkness. Understandings about the course of things that seemed certain only a year ago have entirely evaporated.

As someone who writes about bleak futures, it has the small benefit of keeping me focused.

Writing continues, and progress is excellent. I haven’t received professional rate publication yet. But I am close to finished a second anthology. And I’m developing finalized plans for writing beyond the scope of short stories. I’ll be posting updates as things progress.

One idea I’ve had is to set myself the challenge of inventing a new science-fiction character every day. The plan is that forcing myself to create when out of ideas will stimulate creativity. If nothing else, I can always recycle them into my RPGs 😉

It’s the 7th day of 2017 right now, so I guess I owe you seven:

  • Gladiator Pilot, competes in Aerial Contests
  • Jungle hermit with empathic link to a giant hairy beast.
  • Veteran Jetpack Infantry. Professional attitude. Loves his job.
  • Full-time artistic chef. Irritated by interruptions.
  • Alcoholic Baron, guaranteed immunity by diplomatic contracts
  • Reverent artillery shell bearer
  • Someone who has chosen to physically remain as a baby. A smart baby.

That’s it, I’m done. Catch you soon, everybody.

Return and exit

It’s been a lot longer than usual since I last posted on the Rimmblog, and for that I apologize. I’ve been moving house in industrial quantities, and also saying goodbye to someone for a long while. I’ll look back on these stressful times and, well, be glad I’m looking back at them and not forward. But, it’s being an event, and I would hate an uneventful life.

I’ll aim to be back to daily posts in a day or two, but Christmas will get in the way of that. I’m never mad into Christmas (I know, I’m sorry!), and one reason is that it tends to knock a massive hole in my beautiful schedule. Come 2015 I have no doubt I’ll be hitting the production line with a grim fury.

http://www.vox.com/2014/9/29/6840773/confessions-of-a-former-internet-troll

To keep things ticking over, here’s a fascinating article I read today. It’s been a hell of a year for internet culture, in that internet culture is now a smoking burnt out ruin with post-apocalyptic savages chasing each other through the wreckage. There was a once a time when I was proud to call myself a troll, in fact, it pains me a little not to, but somewhere something changed, and it didn’t change for the better. This article phrases it beautifully.

Trolling is a art. Trolls used to mock anyone who took themselves too seriously. It was like a code of honour. Now, there isn’t a group in the world that takes itself more seriously than hardline trolls. I used to see fascism as an external influence, taking over a society by force. Now it’s more of a mass illness, a tribal insanity that floods a generation with blinding rage. Was I always this pessimistic, or has it just taken on a different form, I wonder.

Leaving Scotland

I’m leaving Scotland forever this week, so sadly the Rimmblog is getting a little disrupted as I move huge amounts of stuff by hand (my limbs ache something fierce).

I’ve been entering a bit of a fantasy / medieval stage in my thinking recently, and I asked 4chan’s /tg/ for some recommended reading (no really).

The results were interesting. The /lit/ came out before /pol/ wrecked it.
The main recommendations were:

JRR Tolkien -Lord of the Rings
E R Eddison – The Worm Ouroboros
Lord Dunsany – The Gods of Pegana
Homer – The Illiad

Frank Herbert’s Dune was also recommended plenty, but it isn’t fantasy and I’ve already read it (and would emphatically recommend it). I’ve also read Lord of the Rings, because obviously.

Sadly, I’m not sure if I’ve got the time to undertake a whole gigantic masterwork in the midst of the books I already own. Maybe I should be more ambitious and add one to the list. Incidentally, the trend of modern fantasy novels to be enormously expanded in size was mentioned, along with its habit of forming a barrier to entry for the genre. Someone said that ‘with the invention of the word processor to replace the typewriter, the length of these novels sky-rocketed’. I don’t have the knowledge to know if that’s true or not, but it certainly interested me.