In 2004, Bruce Sterling spoke at the Long Now foundation on the topic: The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole. One sequence jumped out of me when listening to the audio because of the very funny at once insightful and dismissive definition of Science Fiction he cites. Before this part he’s talking about the sheer incomprehensibility of what it means to actually have a singularity occur, and how despite this incomprehensibility, science fiction writers still manage to use singularities in their writing:
When you think about it it’s a great place for science fiction novel but makes very little sense otherwise. “It’s because we had a singularity blow throgh here, that’s why” – it came and like ripped everything apart and it’s just like it’s left pieces of itself wandering around bending the plot any way I want. Kind of like the Gods on the plains of Troy.
Why would Science fiction stop to this? Why are they deploying this grand mathematical notion as like, a source of plot coupons?
Well I’ll explain this to you, and if you learn nothing else about science fiction you need to know this. This is the classic Peter Nicholls definition of science fiction from 1976. It’s very difficult to define science fiction. Many people have tried. Okay…
“Sci-fi can be succinctly defined (I’m quoting him) as speculation, whether based on established scientific facts, or, on logical pseudofacts, consistent with the framework of the fiction in question, involving smelly, green, pimply aliens furiously raping or eating or both beautiful naked bare-breasted chicks, covering them in slime, red oozing living slime, dribbling from every horrific orifice squeezing out between bulbous pulpy lips onto the onto the sensuous velvety skin writhing sweaty dripping blood and bruised whips brandished by giant blonde with vast biceps androids, and written in the gothic mode.”
That just rocks so hard.
Really funny moment.