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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:20 am 
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Geoff Ryman writes:

A year from now the May-June issue of Interzone will be devoted to Mundane SF. Guest edited by me with Julian Todd and Trent Walters, it will feature approximately 35,000 words of Mundane SF.

What makes a story Mundane? A few simple rules:

• no FTL travel or communications
• no aliens
• no time travel
• no parallel universes
• no immortality or telepathy

We believe that these SF 'inventions' are powerful myths whose presence may be drowning out some very important ideas. They may be entertaining to write and read about, but could there be something else we are all missing? The time comes when someone has to throw these babies out of the bathwater and see if there is life besides.

No matter how strong your convictions are regarding the inevitability of one, or all, of the above so-far non-existent phenomena, you can still write Mundane SF if you set your story between now and when the first of these becomes possible within your own personal belief system.

Just because we don't want to see any of these usual elements doesn't mean we don't demand the highest standards of quality and sense of wonder expected from all good SF. We promise, however, that if your story so much as hints at the existence of any one of these banned memes it will not be accepted no matter how good it is. A great Mundane story will most likely focus on the future here on Earth. It can be near or far future. But any story that does not violate established facts or simply throw out experimentally supported theory can be Mundane. To see in more detail about what makes a story Mundane, visit http://www.mundane-sf.blogspot.com.

If you are struggling for ideas in the absence of spaceships, alternative realities, brain downloads, etc, try checking out some of the shocking developments that have been happening here on this Earth, according to the best scientists.

Stories are likely to be 2,500 to 5,000 words. You can submit by using the forms http://www.freesteel.co.uk/cgi-bin/mundane.py.

Submissions must be in by 31st October 2007.


Last edited by Andy on Mon Nov 19, 2007 4:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 7:45 pm 
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I take it one can still use singularities, turing compliant AI systems, and insystem conventional space travel for these submissions. Right? :lol:

I ran into a bit of trouble at one market for my use of the Singularity as a part of a project.

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S. F. Murphy
Trapped in the Show Me State where he says, "Show me the exit."

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 6:55 pm 
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What's with the 'freesteel' e-mail address? I've not been jailed yet.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 5:20 pm 
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So is Mundane SF allowed to violate the laws of thermodynamics? What about the conservation of mass?


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 2:11 pm 
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Actually, I'd propose that mundane SF shouldn't include the singularity. If we're going to keep all the other stuff out, why not this theory?


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 9:44 pm 
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I had a story shot down recently because the editor said the concept of Singularity wasn't general enough or accessible enough to be good SF short hand, unlike FTL.

You remove all of these things and I find myself wondering what is left that makes a story even remotely science fictional.

The other thing is that I have a naturally virulent reaction to any sort of literary rules. I write what I want to write. The Editor either buys it or not.

Lastly, I don't know about anyone else, but I already live in a mundane life surrounded by mundane people doing very mundane things. I read my fiction as a means of getting away from it for just a little bit. I write what I write for the same reason.

I want to be careful to qualify my remarks as basically general thoughts on the Mundane SF movement and not as a criticsm of Andy's Editorial Decisions.

He signs my paycheck after all. :)

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S. F. Murphy
Trapped in the Show Me State where he says, "Show Me the Exit."

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 5:41 am 
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There are plenty of SF stories and novels that don't contain time travel, FTL ect. For example Greg Egan's "The Caress" (involved a chimera), Jay Lake's "Where the Water meets the Sky", any post-apocalypse story (Greybeard, Metal Fatigue), most alternate history stories, most steampunk stories and most cyberpunk stories - the list is pretty long.

Furthermore these kinds of stories are often a long way from being entirely mundane. The name for this issue seems to be more of a convenient tag then a hard and fast description of the content - I don't think SF can ever be described as "mundane

PS. Wouldn't most singularity stories have to include some of the stuff that's been thown out?


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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 8:07 am 
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Can Religious SF be included (like 'The Canticle of Leibowitz') which includes a religion that believes in one of the banned memes?

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 10:37 am 
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GlenH wrote:
I don't think SF can ever be described as mundane


I've been thinking the same thing, and the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that what's really being discussed here is actually a non-radical hard-SF/ tomorrow's world/ close-focus type of story that's grounded in current (not theoretical) tech... not the next-gen 'big ideas' sensawunda stuff we all know and love.

Not sure what makes an appropriate one-word tag for this sort of SF, though. Mundane does it a great disservice.
:roll:

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 10:41 am 
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Grounded SF? Grounded Speculative Fiction? Pseudo-extrapolative fiction?
True SF?

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 10:50 am 
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Would a simple rule of thumb be, 'if you need to suspend your disbelief or give a technical explanation, then it's not mundane'?

I mean, for example, you can say 'cloning' in a story, and every one knows what you're talking about, because it's a concept we're all familiar with. It's a few easy steps from Dolly the sheep to people to genetically engineering people.
If, however, you say something about FTL travel, then people need to know how, when and why because that breaks the commonly understood laws of the universe, and that needs rationalising.

Or maybe compare a civilisation built above ground level (for example, via inter-connecting sky-scrapers) with matter transportation.

Or maybe we could just paraphrase Einstein: 'if you can't explain it to your grandmother, it's not mundane sci-fi'.


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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 2:02 pm 
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:o
Ah, Granny SF!
:lol:

Seriously, though... now that Des mentions 'spec fic', I realise that term would IMHO (definitions vary, of course) account for what "mundane SF" is all about.
8)

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 6:47 pm 
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Here is what the guidelines mentions on the form. Tech we don't have today that is.

Faster than light travel
Psi power
Nanobot technology
Extraterrestrial life
Computer consciousness
Materially profitable space travel
Human immortality
Brain downloading
Teleportation
Time travel

It goes on to say we may never have most of this stuff.

I don't know. Per space travel, I often find myself thinking about Polynesia. You would think it utter insanity to pack up into a leaky canoe and take your chances on the Pacific Ocean. Yet they did and spread out across the entire region. Profitable from our current economic models? Probably not.

I can see time travel/teleportation/ftl limitations (they are really variations of a theme). Brain downloading I don't. I suspect that will happen sooner rather than later.

Nanobot tech I can see banning from certain stories, but that is only because it has been so overused. It seems to be the black box or magic formula that makes a story go.

But is coining a movement really an answer? And how do you coin a movement? It seems to me from my limited time with my English Minor that movements come into being as a result of creative drive of a cluster of people at a particular time, not some sort of guidelines imposed upon the community as a whole.

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S. F. Murphy
Trapped in the Show Me State where he says, "Show me the Bar."

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 7:39 pm 
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Steven:

Hey, the "mundane SF" thing is only for one issue! The rest of the time the IZ editors will be looking at whatever you send their way. There's nothing that says you have to submit for that particular issue, so if you don't care for the ground rules, don't submit.

Me? I like the idea (although I don't have anything suitable on hand to submit at the moment). I think there's a lot of validity to the argument that some of the staples of SF serve as substitutes for good storytelling. Too many writers try to wow their readers with these "big ideas" at the expense of character and prose, etc. You and I have been down this road before on another thread, so I won't rehash that discussion here. Suffice to say that I think there are plenty of SF ideas that don't need any of the "SF canon" stuff. You said you read to escape the mundane world. That's fine, but not everyone does. I certainly don't. On the contrary, I read fiction not to escape the mundane world but to try to understand it.

It'll be cool to see what people come up with.

Dave


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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 8:57 pm 
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Surely the creative cluster can define rules and create a movement, Dogme for example.


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