The genre that best captures California today is science fiction (and not just because Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is currently playing Terminator to the Californian dream). It is no accident that so many exemplary science fiction writers are associated with California, including Robert Heinlein, Ursula Le Guin, Philip K Dick and Ray Bradbury. Kim Stanley Robinson said that he started reading and writing science fiction after witnessing the agricultural areas of Southern California where he was raised being changed ‘absolutely’ within a decade. For him the genre simply ‘described what I experienced’. … Vollman links Imperial County, which adjoins Mexico, to one of Bradbury’s novels: ‘recently I reread Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles and realized that the Martians … speak and behave in eerily familiar ornate fashion—why, of course! They’re Mexicans! We conquered California from them, expelling their laws and ways; California, Imperial California, is our Mars, but the Martians are coming back! I know it's a personal crochet, and I know I live here (and am, therefore, biased), but isn't the landscape of SF that portion of southern England between about Reading and Central London? Of course it is.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Interested, although slightly nonplussed, by Michael Saler's ‘By the Salton Sea’ [TLS Jan 29 2010] and its take on SF. Reviewing William Vollmann’s Imperial and Kevin Starr’s Imperial Dreams. Saler argues that California is the topographical locus for key contemporary science fiction: