What???s the link between the Difference Engine and the General Election?

Well, the Difference Engine is the mechanical computer designed, but never built, by Charles Babbage. It is also the title of a novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling that speculates, as an alternative history, on what might have happened if it had been built.

Apparently, Bruce Sterling is also credited with writing one of the manifestos of science fiction (relating to cyberpunk), in the preface for Mirror Shades.

Another science fiction manifesto would be Hugo Gernsback’s 1926 editorial for Amazing Stories, attempting to define the whole genre.

As we are now in the middle of campaigning for a general election and it is the season of political manifestos. This might be a good time to suggest a few more science fiction manifestos. Has anyone got any suggestions?



    April 15, 2005

    “China Mieville???s”:http://runagate-rampant.netfirms.com/ guest editorial from “The Third Alternative”:http://homepage.eircom.net/~albedo1/html/the_third_alternative.html 35 (summer 2003) is seen as trumpeting the newest manifesto within SF, namely the “New Wierd”:http://urchin.earth.li/cgi-bin/twic/wiki/view.pl?page=TheNewWeird … in his comments Mieville’s remarks that “Something is happening in the literature of the fantastic. A slippage. A freeing-up. The quality is astounding. Notions are sputtering and bleeding across internal and external boundaries. Particularly in Britain, where we are being reviewed in the papers, of all things, and selling copies, and being read and riffed off by yer actual proper literary writers. We are writing books which cheerfully ignore the boundaries between SF, fantasy and horror ?? despite all our differences, share something. And our furniture has invaded their headspace. From outside the field, writers like Toby Litt and David Mitchell use the trappings of SF with a respect and facility that has long been missing in the clodhopping condescension of the literati.???
    This is the New Wierd … So what is the ‘Old Wierd’ ? Perhaps we should we return to Peter’s comments on H.P. Lovecraft?

    Mark Brake

    April 15, 2005

    A quick web shufty reveals the following links between science
    fiction and manifestos:

    Nuketown’s Libertarian (i.e. right-wing) Science Fiction
    “page”:http://www.nuketown.com/features/libertariansf/ , a Politics in Modern Science Fiction “course”:http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~sumanah/decalsyllabus.html at the University of Berkeley, and a “review”: of one of the US’s most visionary left-wing novelists, Kim Stanley Robinson, he of the famous “Mars trilogy”:http://mars.deltos.com/


    April 15, 2005

    Should that read Politics in Modern Science Fiction courses?

    Prof Mark Brake

    April 15, 2005

    Just the one course I found on a quick search mate, unless I’m
    missing a far subtler point here?

    You referring to us?! Sssshhh; noone’s caught on yet!

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