Fahrenheit 451 i verkligheten

I Fahrenheit 451 av Ray Bradbury finns det robothundar som spårar upp brottslingar och dödar dem. Brottslingar är i det fallet främst personer som har och läser böcker.

Boston Dynamics har nu skapat robothundar i verkligheten. Spännande och obehagligt om en har läst boken och minns den.

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Biomech – Giger och Alien-filmerna

Biomech är i SF-världen och konstvärlden bland annat en förkortning av Biomechanical Art. Den mest kände företrädaren för stilen är den alldeles nyss avlidne H.R. Giger (1940-2014). Kanske går det att säga att Giger var den som skapade konstformen och de biomekaniska uttrycken inom konsten genom sitt arbete med Alien-filmerna.  De två första i serien håller jag fortfarande som några av de allra bästa SF-filmerna som gjorts.

Space Jockey

Space Jockey från filmen Alien.

Biomech verkar vara speciellt vanligt inom tatueringsvärlden där populariteten dock tycks ha varit störst på 1990-talet. Andra konstnärer inom genren verkar mycket starkt påverkade av Giger.

Locutus

Locutus, en Borg-entitet i Star Trek. Den assmilierade Jen-Luc Picard

 

Men Giger och Alien-filmerna var knappast först vad det gäller biomekaniska varelser. I Ray Bradburys Fahrenheit 451 måste nog hundarna som jagar böcker och bokägare anses vara biomekaniska skapelser liksom senare också många Borg-entiteter i Star Trek. Giger själv tycks till viss del ha varit inspirerad av H.P. Lovecraft. Ray Badbury har ju också beskrivit en man med levande tatueringar i Den Illustrerade mannen. En av de bästa SF-böcker som finns. Något som ju kanske också kan anses ha vissa beröringpsunkter med BioMech med tanke på hur vanlig konstformen har varit inom tatueringsvärlden.

Biomekanisk jakthund

Biomekanisk jakthund (hunter-killer)

När de invaderande utomjordingarna i Falling Skies förslavar människor så sker det genom att barn och ungdomar förvandlas till en slags biomekaniska varelser för att nämna en nutida användning av biomech inom science-fiction vid sidan av Alien-filmer som Prometheus och i spelvärlden Warhammer 40K där vi nog kan säga att det finns rätt mycket biomech.

Cyborger finns i många fler SF-sammanhang är också biomekaniska varelser men de har väldigt lite med konstgenren biomech att göra. Borg-entiteter som de assimilerade människorna i Star Trek kan också sägas vara en sorts cyborger.

De levande skeppen i Farscape är helt klart biomekaniska varelser, men hur är det med orbitaler, skepp och andra intelligenta maskiner i Culture-universat skapat av Iain M Banks?

Biomekanisk bakgrund

Biomekanisk bakgrund

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Red Peppers tio SF-favoriter – en klar dag kan man se revolutionen

Red Pepper är en radikal brittisk tidskrift som skriver så här om sig själva:

Red Pepper is a bi-monthly magazine and website of left politics and culture. We’re a socialist publication drawing on feminist, green and libertarian politics. We seek to be a space for debate on the left, a resource for movements for social justice, and a home for anyone who wants to see a world based on equality, meaningful democracy and freedom.

Red Pepper is completely independent, and whilst not rejecting party politics, seeks to help build the kind of pluralistic, dynamic movements which can fundamentally challenge our economic system, with its entrenched injustice, structures of power and oppression, and tendency towards war and environmental destruction. Although based in London, we have links around Britain, and have always covered events and perspectives from outside the capital.

Jag citerade i ett annat inlägg tidningens intervjuer med några kända SF-författare med hjärtat till vänster. De beskrev på ett bra sätt varför jag tycker om science-fiction. Tidningen har också gjort en lista på 10 favoriter bland SF-böcker:

  • Iron Council, China Miéville
  • Body of Glass, Marge Piercy
  • The Star Fraction, Ken MacLeod
  • White Queen, Gwyneth Jones
  • The Dispossessed, Ursula K Le Guin
  • Swastika Night, Katharine Burdekin, writing as Murray Constantine
  • Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  • Babel-17, Samuel R Delany
  • Culture Series, Iain M Banks
  • Forty Signs of Rain, Kim Stanley Robinson

CultureTre av mina favoritförfattare i genren finns med på listan, Ursula K. LeGuin, Iain M Banks och Ken MacLeod. Om Iain M Banks Cultureserie skriver Red Pepper så här:

Banks just has to be included here but it’s pretty much impossible to select one from among the ten books in the decades-spanning Culture series. What Star Trek would have been if the Federation was organised on anarchist principles and the Enterprise was a living ship guided by a prodigious artificial intelligence with a nice line in wry humour, the Culture universe is a provocative playground for committed post-humanists. The sad news of Banks’ death means the series is at a close, but these books will be read, re-read, pondered and critiqued long after the rest of us have returned to galactic dust.

The Star FractionCulture-serien är bland det bästa som skrivits i SF-genren. Bland de bästa är förstås också The Dispossessed av Ursula K. LeGuin, från vilken bok namnet på denna blogg hämtats. Men jag tycker Left Hand of Darkness är hennes bästa bok. Värt att citera är också det som Red Pepper skriver om Ken MacLeods The Star Fraction:

First in the ‘Fall Revolutions’ series and a somewhat wry dig at the factionalisation of the left in the wake of neoliberalism. A near-future UK is split into mini-states with competing ideologies; a small part of north London exists as a libertarian/anarchist enclave and the green eco-warriors are armed and dangerous. Riffing on cyberpunk’s preoccupation with artificial intelligence and its ubiquitous multi-functioning mirrorshades (here called ‘glades’), The Star Fraction is part send-up of conspiracy theorising paranoia and part serious call-to-arms for an entrenched left. ‘On a clear day,’ writes MacLeod, ‘you can see the revolution.’

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Fint om Ray Bradbury

the-martian-chronicles-book-coverCecilia Verdinelli skriver fint om en av min favoritförfattare inom science-fictiongenren. Ray Bradbury. Hon gör det i GP:

Jag läste nyligen om boken, med den försiktighet man läser om böcker man idiotälskat som mycket ung. Jag blev inte besviken, däremot lite generad över att bokens budskap till stor del gått mig förbi som tonåring. Boken är framförallt en kritik av imperialism och kolonialism. Med tanke på att novellerna skrevs under sent 1940-tal är det en sanslöst radikal kritik.

[…]

Bradburys marsnoveller säger ungefär samma saker som det som i dag skrivs inom postkoloniala studier. Han gör det helt utan tungfotad teoribildning och i en form som är begriplig för envar. Beteckningar som ”finkultur” och ”populärkultur” är irrelevanta i förhållande till Bradburys verk. Han överskrider majestätiskt de flesta genrebeteckningar. För Bradbury handlar science fiction varken om teknologi eller nödvändigtvis om framtiden. Genom att förlägga sin berättelse utanför vår verklighets fysiska begränsningar ger han narrationen en lätthet som i själva verket blixtbelyser vårt här-och-nu. Från Mars ser vi jorden klarare. Jag önskar att fler författare tillät sig själva den lättheten.

Den bok hon skriver om är Invasion på Mars. En bok som är nästan lika bra som Den illustrerade mannen.

Jag läste också Bradbury när jag var ung. Första gången alltså. Jag har läst flera av hans böcker ytterligare ett antal gånger sen dess. I motsats till Verdinelli greppade jag budskapet när jag var ung och har förstått det än bättre med tiden. Jag kan inte heller se vad böckerna har gemensamt med postkoloniala studier. När det gäller äldre sådan kan jag se det, men inte moderna postkoloniala studier med rötter i postmodernism. Det är för mig i det mesta obegriplig och oanvändbar teroibildning. Men kanske vet jag för lite om det hela.

Oavsett vilket så duger Bradbury bättre. Det är lättare att förstå, lättare att ta in. Det ger helt enkelt mer. Bättre. Det är skolande med science-fiction.

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Bästa SF-författare enligt ranker.com

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Illustrerade mannen

Mannen som skrev en av min ungdoms mest imponerande böcker är död. Författaren som dött är Ray Bradbury och boken jag blev så imponerad av som tonåring var Den illustrerade mannen. Ray Bradbury är mest känd för Fahrenheit 451 men de böcker jag tyckt bäst om är Invasion på Mars, Den illustrerade mannen och Oktoberlandet. Novellsamlingar som berörde mig bra mycket mer än Fahrenheit 451.

Utdrag från Illustrated Man:

Prologue

It was a warm afternoon in early September when I first met the Illustrated Man. Walking along an asphalt road, I was on the final long of a two weeks’ walking tour of Wisconsin. Late in the afternoon I stopped, ate some pork, beans, and a doughnut, and was preparing to stretch out and read when the Illustrated Man walked over the hill and stood for a moment against the sky.

I didn’t know he was Illustrated then. I only know that he was tall, once well muscled, but now, for some reason, going to fat. I recall that his arms were long, and the hands thick, but that his face was like a child’s, set upon a massive body.

He seemed only to sense my presence, for he didn’t look directly at me when he spoke his first words.

”Do you know where I earn find a job?”

”I’m afraid not,” I said.

”I hadn’t bad a job that’s lasted in forty years,” he said.

Though it was a hot late afternoon, he wore his wool shirt buttoned tight about his neck. His sleeves were rolled and buttoned down over his thick wrists. Perspiration was streaming from his face, yet he made no move to open his shirt.

”Well,” he said at last, ”this is as good a place as any to spend the night. Do you mind company.”

”I have some extra food you’d be welcome to,” I said.

He sat down heavily, grunting. ’You’ll be sorry you asked me to stay,” he said. ”Everyone always is. That’s why I’m walking. Here it is, early. September, the cream of the Labor Day carnival season. I should be making money hand over fist at any small town side show celebration, but here I am with no prospects.”

He took off an immense shoe and peered at it closely. ”I usually keep a job about ten days. Then something happens and they fire me. By now every carnival in America won’t touch me with a ten-foot pole.”

”What seems to be the trouble?” I asked.

For answer, he unbuttoned his tight collar, slowly. With his eyes shut, he put a slow hand to the task of unbuttoning his shirt all the way down. He slipped his fingers in to feel his chest. ”Funny,” he said, eyes still shut. ’You can’t feel them but they’re there. I always hope that someday I’ll look and they’ll be gone. I walk in the sun for hours on the hottest days, baking, and hope that my sweat’ll wash them off, the sun’ll cook them off, but at sundown they’re still there.” He turned his head slightly toward me and exposed his chest. ”Are they still there now?”

After a long while I exhaled. ”Yes,” I said. ”They’re still there.”

The Illustrations.

”Another reason I keep my collar buttoned up,” he said, opening his eyes, ”is the children. They follow me along country roads. Everyone wants to see the pictures, and yet nobody wants to see them.”

He took his shirt off and wadded it in his hands. He was covered with Illustrations from the blue tattooed ring about his neck to his belt line.

”It keeps right on going,” he said, guessing my thought. ”All of me is Illustrated. Look.” He opened his hand. On his palm was a rose, freshly cut, with drops of crystal wake among the soft pink petals. I put my hand out to touch it, but it was only an Illustration.

As for the rest of him, I cannot say how I sat and stared, for be was a riot of rockets and fountains and people, in such intricate detail and color that you could hear the voices murmuring small and muted, from the crowds that inhabited his body. When his flesh twitched, the tiny mouths flickered, the tiny green-and-gold eyes winked, the tiny pink hands gestured. There were yellow meadows and blue rivers and mountains and stars and suns and planets spread in a Milky Way across his chest. The people themselves were in twenty or more odd groups upon his arms, shoulders, back, sides, and wrists, as well as on the flat of his stomach. You found them in forests of hair, lurking among a constellation of freckles, or peering from armpit caverns, diamond eyes aglitter. Each seemed intent upon his own activity, each was a separate gallery portrait.

”Why, they’re beautiful!” I said.

How can I explain about his Illustrations? If El Greco had painted miniatures in his prime, no bigger than your hand, infinitely detailed, with all his sulphurous color, elongation, and anatomy, perhaps he might have used this man’s body for his art. The colors burned in three dimensions. They were windows looking in upon fiery reality. Here, gathered on one wall, were all the finest scenes in the universe the man was a walking treasure gallery. This wasn’t the work of a cheap carnival tattoo man with three colors and whisky on his breath. This was the accomplishment of a living genius vibrant, clear, and beautiful.

”Oh, yes,” said the Illustrated Man. ”I’m so proud of my Illustrations that I’d like to burn them off. I’ve tried sandpaper, acid, a knife . . .”

The sun was setting. The moon was already up in the East.

”For, you see,” said the Illustrated Man, ”these Illustrations predict the future.”

I said nothing.

”It’s all right in sunlight,” he went on.

”I would keep a carnival day job. But at night–the pictures move. The pictures change.”

I must have smiled. ”How long have you been Illustrated?”

”In 1900, when I was twenty years old and working a carnival, I broke my leg. It laid me up; I had to do something to keep my band in, so I decided to get tattooed.”

”But who tattooed you? What happened to the artist?”

”She went back to the future,” he said. ”I mean it. She was an old woman in a little house in the middle of Wisconsin here somewhere not far from this place. A little old witch who looked a thousand years old one moment and twenty years old the next, but she said she could travel in time. I laughed. Now, I know better.”

”How did you happen to meet her?”

He told me. He had seen her painted sign by the road SKIN ILLUSTRATION! Illustration instead of tattoo! Artistic! So he had sat all night while her magic needles stung him wasp stings and delicate bee stings. By morning he looked like a man who had fallen into a twenty color print press and been squeezed out, all bright and picturesque.

”I’ve hunted every summer for fifty years,” he said, putting his hands out on the air. ”When I find that witch I’m going to kill her.”

The sun was gone. Now the first stars were shining and the moon had brightened the fields of grass and wheat. Still the Illustrated Man’s pictures glowed like charcoals in the half light, like scattered rubies and emeralds, with Rouault colors and Picasso colors and the long, pressed out El Greco bodies.

”So people fire me when my pictures move. They don’t like it when violent things happen in my Illustrations. Each Illustration is a little story. If you watch them, in a few minutes they tell you a tale. In three hours of looking you could see eighteen or twenty stories acted right on my body, you could hear voices and think thoughts. It’s all here, just waiting for you to look. But most of all, there’s a special spot on my body.” He bared his back. ”See?” There’s no special design on my right shoulder blade, just a jumble.”

”Yes. ”

”When I’ve been around a person long enough, that spot clouds over and fills in. If I’m with a woman, her picture comes there on my back, in an hour, and shows her whole life-how she’ll live, how she’ll die, what she’ll look like when she’s sixty. And if it’s a man, an hour later his picture’s here on my back. It shows him falling off a cliff, or dying under a. train. So I’m fired again.”

All the time he had been talking his hands had wandered over the Illustrations, as if to adjust their frames, to brush away dust–the motions of a connoisseur, an art patron. Now he lay back, long and full in the moonlight. It was a warm night. There was no breeze and the air was stifling. We both had our shirts off.

”And you’ll never found the old woman?”

”Never.”

”And you think she came from the future?”

”How else could she know these stories she painted on me?”

He shut his eyes tiredly. His voice grew fainter. ”Sometimes at night I can fed them, the pictures, like ants, crawling on my skin. Then I know they’re doing what they have to do. I never look at them any more. I just try to rest. I don’t sleep much. Don’t you look at them either, I warn you. Turn the other way when you sleep.”

I lay back a few feet from him. He didn’t seem violent, and the pictures were beautiful. Otherwise I might have been tempted to get out and away from such babbling. But the Illustrations . . . I let my eyes fill up on them. Any person would go a little mad with such things upon his body.

The night was serene. I could bear the Illustrated Man’s breathing in the moonlight. Crickets were stirring gently in the distant ravines. I lay with my body sidewise so I could- watch the Illustrations. Perhaps half an hour passed. Whether the Illustrated Man slept I could not tell, but suddenly I heard him whisper, ’They’re moving, aren’t they?”

I waited a minute.

Then I said, ”Yes.”

The pictures were moving, each in its turn, each for a brief minute or two. There in the moonlight, with the tiny tinkling thoughts and the distant sea voices, it seemed, each little drama was enacted. Whether it took an hour or three hours for the dramas to finish, it would be hard to say. I only know that I lay fascinated and did not move while the stars wheeled in the sky.

Eighteen Illustrations, tighten tales. I counted them one by one.

Primarily my eyes focused upon a scene, a large house with two people in it. I saw a flight of vultures on a blazing flesh sky, I saw yellow lions, and I heard voices.

Jag måste säga att boken gör starkt intryck på mig även idag.

’They’re moving, aren’t they?”

I waited a minute.

Then I said, ”Yes.”

Ursprungligen publicerat på Svensson-bloggen år 2012.

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