Showing posts from August, 2023

Recent Reading: The Thick and the Lean by Chana Porter

Stories that deal with our evolving and often dysfunctional relationship with food have been a running thread through science fiction for decades. Isaac Asimov's "Good Taste" imagines a society in which eating natural-grown food is considered grotesque and disgusting. Adam Roberts's By Light Alone invents a technology that allows people to photosynthesize nutrients from the sun, which immediately turns the consumption of food into an elite status marker. In contrast, the elites in Sarah Tolmie's NoFood have undergone a surgical procedure to remove their GI tracts, which makes visiting a restaurant an experience not unlike immersive theater. More recently, Meg Elison's Hugo-nominated story "The Pill" imagines a society which invents a no-fuss cure for fatness, and then insists that everyone should take it. With her second novel, Chana Porter adds to this tradition, but complicates it with a core SFnal setting. The Thick and the Lean is set on an al

Podcast: On a Road Called Oppenheimer at Lawyers, Guns & Money

One of the nice things about Oppenheimer is that it's spurred so much conversation on so many different topics. It's been a while since we had a movie that, while being a popular entertainment with a very large audience, encouraged people to talk about history, accountability, art, and the limits of biography. On top of my review of the film at Lawyers, Guns & Money , I also posted there about the issue of political criticism , in the context of the conversation that has sprung up around its choice to center the story of the atomic bomb and its first wartime deployment on the (white) man who made it rather than the people it killed and sickened. Fellow LGM blogger Cheryl Rofer, a scientist with roots in the nuclear community who worked with Manhattan Project alumni and is a self-described member of the "cult of Oppenheimer" has also contributed several discussions of the film's historical accuracy (or lack of same) and is, to my knowledge, planning more. A

The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera

"The moment Fetter is born, Mother-of-Glory pins his shadow to the earth with a large brass nail and tears it from him. This is his first memory, the seed of many hours of therapy to come." So begins Vajra Chandrasekera's remarkable debut novel The Saint of Bright Doors . It's a good beginning, full of promise. The shock of that sudden violence. The strangeness of the fantastical act. The lurch towards modernity right at the end. It is also, however, an opening whose promises—including one that we are not even aware is being made—the novel will spend most of its length breaking. Fetter is raised in the northern hinterlands of the continent of Jambu, the son of a witch known as Mother-of-Glory who has dedicated his entire existence to a great and terrible task. In addition to (or perhaps because of) his shadowlessness, he has other powers. He is gripped only lightly by gravity, and can float away if he doesn't concentrate on staying on the ground. He is impervious