Used Science Fiction Books

Why We Need Big, Bold Science Fiction
New York s first sci-fi bookstore opens its doors, wants to save

April 4, 2012 6:30 AM Text Size: . .

The future isn't what it used to be. And neither is science fiction. While books about space exploration and robots once inspired young people to become scientists and engineers—and inspired grownup engineers and scientists to do big things—in recent decades the field has become dominated by escapist fantasies and depressing dystopias. That could be contributing to something that I see as a problem. It seems that too many technically savvy people, engineers in particular, are going to work for Web startups or investment firms. There's nothing wrong with such companies, but we also need engineers to design bold new things for use in the physical world: space colonies instead of social media.

If I'm right, that's bad for all of us. But are we really losing the will to do big things or are the big things just different than they used to be? I asked around and, on this subject, found science-fiction writers to be pessimistic.

One of today's best SF authors is Neal Stephenson, whose books include Cryptonomicon and The Diamond Age. In a recent article in the World Policy Journal, he writes that during science fiction's so-called golden age—roughly the late 1930s to the late 1960s—the stories being published were about big things and big breakthroughs: moon rockets, Mars bases, robots, and teleportation. Perhaps by coincidence, those were times when the United States was actually doing big things and making big breakthroughs. Now, writes Stephenson, "[s]peaking ­broadly, the techno-optimism of the Golden Age of SF has given way to fiction written in a darker, more skeptical, and ambiguous tone."

Those stories can be good—some credit Stephenson's own 1992 book, Snow Crash, with anticipating the social media revolution—but are they good for us? Or have we been focusing our imagination and efforts on things that are amusing but unimportant? Stephenson recently told The New York Times, "We can't Facebook our way out of the current economic status quo." He is calling for new ways to expand civilization, not new forums for gossip.

I called Stephenson and asked him to elaborate. "There was some moment in the late '60s and '70s when people thought we had enough tech, " he says. "Technology was too dangerous, and people became reflexively skeptical of new ideas. If you stay that way for a couple of decades, it can come back to bite you. There's also a less obvious danger, which is that if science and technology stop wowing us, people start to develop skepticism about the scientific method."


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Slightly off topic, used book stores

2003-01-15 12:52:28 by bookstosell

Have about 30 books to sell to supplement my meagre income, does anyone know a store that will buy them?
They are all popular novels, science fiction, crime, thrillers, except for a few new hardbacks- fiction also. Stuff like Tom clancy, Dune etc.
Took them to greenapple a few days ago and they didn't want any of them.
Was a bit surprised since they are new, popular and imagine resellable. maybe they have too many?
Does anyone have any more suggestions

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