Blog Archives

A few thoughts on Mass Effect and Space Operas

First, read this.  Or skim it.  Or take in the title.  Whatever.

http://www.popbioethics.com/2012/02/why-mass-effect-is-the-most-important-science-fiction-universe-of-our-generation/

I caught wind of this via io9.com (here).

Now, I’ll start out by saying that, yes, for all the reasons above and a few more, Mass Effect is a compelling and fascinating piece of sci-fi literature.  At its core, it is the natural progression, and the shiniest of the new-series space operas.

However, (and here comes the kicker) anyone who is foolish enough to hail Mass Effect as the most important SF Setting of our generation hasn’t been getting out enough.  Mass Effect is fundamentally built upon the foundations laid by the current generation of Space Opera writers.  Authors like Iain M. Banks, Alistair Reynolds, and to lesser extents, Peter F. Hamilton and Ken MacLeod have been toying with the ideas present in Mass Effect for more than two decades.  But if Mass Effect was simply reaching great heights by standing on the shoulders of giants, I wouldn’t have a problem.  The flaw of any media is that in order for it to be successful, it must appeal to its audience.  Mass Effect has had to dull the edges of its social commentary, its science, it’s very philosophical message in order to be a marketable version of its predecessors.  It may hold up to the even more popularized television and film worlds, but to hold it up as superior, simply because it is closer to the goal than its ugly cousins is an affront to the literature and to our intelligence. Read the rest of this entry

CBRIII Maneuver #27 – Embassytown

Target: China Miéville’s Embassytown

Profile: Sci-fi, Speculative Fiction, Linguistics

Summary: From goodreads.com “In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.

When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.” Read the rest of this entry