Episode 64: Live with Gary K. Wolfe!

Last weekend Gary and I were in the slightly surreal space station environment of the Atlantis Casino in Reno, Nevada for the World Science Fiction Convention, where we recorded upcoming podcasts with Ian McDonald, Alastair Reynolds, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Jo Walton. This weekend we’re home and discuss the con (briefly), vow to avoid discussing awards too much, look at the work of Caitlin R. Kiernan and discuss the use of language in SF. As always, we hope you enjoy the podcast.


5 thoughts on “Episode 64: Live with Gary K. Wolfe!”

  1. Ian McDonald was actually born in 1960, not 1964. Another 1964 baby who has done rather well is Charles Stross, who was born in October of that year. I’m fourteen days older than him.

    My own entry point into science fiction was via television, namely Jon Pertwee-era Doctor Who and the original series of Star Trek in the very early 1970s. I did read some SF juveniles (e.g. Arthur C. Clarke’s Island in the Sky) and moved into the adult variety in the later seventies with an Isaac Asimov collection (The Early Asimov) which I took out of the library and which went with me on a family holiday.

  2. I was actually looking forward to hearing your responses to the Hugo awards! Oh well. Otherwise, it was another fun conversation to listen in on.

  3. Hi, Guys. Science fiction writers are bad at predicting new words, but when creating a new word, that isn’t necessarily what they’re after. A new word has to convey an idea of the thing it describes to a reader who is unfamiliar with its setting without taking the reader out of the story by describing the thing itself.

    You mentioned glassSteel (however you want to spell it). Let’s talk about plazsteel, which I believe was a word I first discovered through Frank Herbert’s works. With that word, Herbert conveys to the reader of the 20th and 21st centuries an idea of a material used in a future society. What we get from that word is that it might be a plastic as strong as steel or a steel as flexible as plastic. It’s possible that when plazsteel is created in the real world, we’ll all call it by a brand name or a process. Let’s call it Galundrum. If Herbert has said that a tool was made out of Galundrum, we wouldn’t have any idea of its properties. But we can imagine what plazsteel is without having to be told what it’s like, how it’s made or the derivation of its name.

    We also don’t need to understand all of the technological and conceptual steps that had to have occurred between the reader’s time and the time of the story. Imagine using the word “app” in a story written in 1941. A science fiction reader of the time might understand the concept of a computer program, but the words “software application” wouldn’t have any tie to anything he or she had encountered before, much less the abbreviated “app.” As terrible as it sounds, they could probably work out a word like “comprog” if it was used to illustrate the same concept.

  4. Electro-punk already exists: George O. Smith’s “Venus Equilateral”. (Vacuum tube / valve punk?)

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