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Oct 25, 2015

Punkgate

New England in the Ekcolir Reality
We humans like to play with words. In the Exode Trilogy, I imagine that in the Ekcolir Reality there never was a nation called The United States of America, instead there was Beverwijck en Nicotiana, named so because of the importance of beaver pelts and tobacco for the early economy of a fledgling nation that only later became New England.

A sensible place for George Gordon to build (1745) a tobacco inspection house was along the Potomac (the modern name for the river was derived from the native term "Patowmeck") river, south of the fall line, near the site of a native beaver pelt trading village (native name: Nacotchtank). The colonial settlement that grew up there became known as Georgetown.

Postcard From The Future
Case study: how we fail to use technology wisely.
For the Exode Trilogy, I imagine that in the Ekcolir Reality global warming became a serious problem by the middle of the 20th century. Coal burning drove much of the early rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

George Washington was among those who worked to extend shipping upstream past the Potomac fall line. A goal was to provide a navigable canal all the way to the Ohio river. Eventually, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal extended from Washington D.C. to Cumberland, allowing huge amounts of Allegheny Mountain coal to be shipped to the coast starting in 1831. Later, the railroads made canals obsolete and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was not used after 1924.

Case study: how technology fails us...
the "Rose Mary Stretch"
In 1960, the southern end of the canal and its water gate to the river (on land that was still owned by the collapsed Chesapeake and Ohio Canal company) was purchased and the land slated for development. The area eventually became part of what we know as the Watergate Complex. In 1972, offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Hotel and Office Building, were burglarized by President Nixon's re-election team. Eventually, investigation of the Nixon administration's corrupt practices spread to include Nixon's own role in the "cover-up" of illegal acts committed by all the President's henchmen and within two years Nixon was forced to resign the presidency.

Ever since the mid-1970s, the media have used the suffix -gate to name new and unrelated scandals including, in 2015, even the sports-related "deflate-gate". So, now, Punkgate...

Punkgate
Will computers let us down?
cover art: Murray Tinkelman
In the 1980s, when it became fashionable to publish dystiopian science fiction and label such stories with terms such as "cyberpunk", I gave up trying to read "up and coming" science fiction writers, particularly those who knew nothing about science. I retreated into the safety of science fiction written by older authors who understood science and had never adopted the idea that science fiction should be dark and/or shocking just for the sake of shocking people.

Then there was steampunk. More recently, it has become a habit for additional science fiction subgenres such as nanopunk to play with the -punk suffix. I suppose you could call the Exode Trilogy "nanopunk".

self-proclaimed solarpunk
Interview - Sheryl Kaleo's solarpunk
Five years ago I blogged about my preference for optimistic science fiction (see also). I was impressed during the past few years when some folks within the science fiction genre began speaking out in favor of a shift back towards a culture of wonder and optimism, a movement that led by 2014 to increasing amounts of attention being paid to "solarpunk".

"Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us" -Adam Flynn

Solarpunk
1941: Reason
Original cover art: Stephen Youll
Back to the future. I grew up reading Isaac Asimov's stories about space-based solar energy collectors "beaming" energy to Earth. In the Exode Trilogy, the good people, robots and aliens at Space Energy Missions hatch a plan to beam solar energy to Earth from a vast solar energy collector on Mercury. So you could call the Exode Trilogy both nanopunk and solarpunk.

Our green world
But do we really need to use the terms nanopunk and solarpunk? The problems that currently confront the science fiction genre originated with people who knew little more about science fiction than what some English teacher had to say about Mary Shelly's gothic novel and what they had seen while watching some horrible alien invasion flick they saw on TV.

The end of PUNKGATE?
Such folks saw a chance to make $$$ by writing "science fiction", but all they could write was other stuffTM that got crammed sideways into the science fiction genre under labels like "cyberpunk".

Rather than invent a batch of new -punk names, I'd prefer simply calling the other stuff "dytopian drek" and return to calling science fiction "science fiction".

But what do I know? I don't make my living as a marketer who can get people to buy anything.

Space Queen
Related Reading: climate fiction
The New Utopians

2016 update (12/3/2016). I was amused today by an article in my local newspaper. The writer expressed surprise that people have actually been spending their money in movie theaters to watch movies that make them feel good. What a novel idea!

Next: return to Jack Vance's Sirneste Cluster
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