Tag Archives: sf

Isaac Asimov (b. Jan 2nd): “Science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”

2 Jan


“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”

~ Isaac Asimov, b. 2 Jan 1920

J.G. Ballard (b. November 15): “Fiction is a branch of neurology” & other quotes

15 Nov


J.G. Ballard (born 15 November 1930, died 19 April 2009) was an English novelist, short story writer, and prominent member of the New Wave movement in science fiction. His best-known books are Crash and the semi-autobiographical Empire of the Sun, made into a film by Steven Spielberg, based on Ballard’s boyhood during the Second World War.

His work has given rise to the adjective ‘Ballardian’, defined by the Collins English Dictionary as ‘resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments’.

Quotes on writing:

  1. Any fool can write a novel but it takes real genius to sell it. 
  2. I felt the pressure of imagination against the doors of my mind was so great that they were going to burst.
  3. Fiction is a branch of neurology: the scenarios of nerve and blood vessels are the written mythologies of memory and desire.
  4. But I wouldn’t recommend writing. You can be a successful writer and never meet another soul. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
  5. Given that external reality is a fiction, the writer’s role is almost superfluous. He does not need to invent the fiction because it is already there. 
  6. I work for three or four hours a day, in the late morning and early afternoon. Then I go out for a walk and come back in time for a large gin and tonic.
  7. I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. I have plenty of ideas, sometimes too many. I’ve always had a strong imagination. If it dries up I’ll stop and look for another career.
  8. If their work is satisfying people don’t need leisure in the old-fashioned sense. No one ever asks what Newton or Darwin did to relax, or how Bach spent his weekends. 
  9. I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.

Neal Stephenson (b. October 31): “A good SF universe has coherence” & other quotes on writing

31 Oct


Neal Stephenson, born 31 October 1959, is an American writer of speculative fiction. He explores subjects such as mathematics, cryptography, philosophy, currency, and the history of science.

Quotes on writing:

  1. What’s hard, in hacking as in fiction, is not writing, it’s deciding what to write.
  2. My niche, to the extent that I’ve got one, seems to be writing about fairly recondite material, but trying to do it in a way that develops into an enjoyable and readable story.
  3. Good SF supplies a plausible, fully thought-out picture of an alternate reality in which some sort of compelling innovation has taken place. A good SF universe has a coherence and internal logic that makes sense to scientists and engineers.
  4. I was sort of going for broke with Snow Crash. I had tried to write stuff that was more conventional and that would be appealing to a large audience, and it didn’t work. I figured I would just go for broke, write something really weird, and not be so worried about whether it was a good career move or not.
  5. SF has changed over the span of time I am talking about—from the 1950s (the era of the development of nuclear power, jet airplanes, the space race, and the computer) to now. Speaking broadly, the techno-optimism of the Golden Age of SF has given way to fiction written in a generally darker, more sceptical and ambiguous tone.
  6. When I read a novel that I really like, I feel as if I am in direct, personal communication with the author. I feel as if the author and I are on the same wavelength mentally, that we have a lot in common with each other, and that we could have an interesting conversation, or even a friendship, if the circumstances permitted it. When the novel comes to an end, I feel a certain letdown, a loss of contact. It is natural to want to recapture that feeling by reading other works by the same author, or by corresponding with him/her directly.
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