20 November 2008

How to win a Nobel Prize

Paul Krugman, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Economics, has some interesting advice on his website for anyone embarking on a piece of research.
  1. Listen to the Gentiles: Read outside your discipline. In his own words, ‘Pay attention to what intelligent people are saying, even if they do not have your customs or speak your analytical language.’
  2. Question the question: The questions asked in any academic discipline are theory laden. There is no such thing as a bare fact in any subject. Everything is affected by the presuppositions of the discipline, so Krugman quite rightly advocates paying critical attention to those presuppositions.
  3. Dare to be silly: Don’t be content with the safe and the familiar. Dare to strike out into uncharted territory.
  4. Simplify, simplify: Keep shaving with Ockham’s razor. Personally, I like A.N. Whitehead’s approach: ‘seek simplicity, but distrust it’. Or, to paraphrase Einstein, theories should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.

18 November 2008

SF@NS

The New Scientist has a special feature on science fiction. Marcus Chown asks the inevitable question: Does science fiction have a future? And gives the inevitable answer. The feature also includes short pieces by major SF authors including Bill Gibson, Ursula Le Guin and Kim Stanley Robinson on the future of SF and a series of short books reviews. Some tasters:

Ursula Le Guin:
‘The distinction between science fiction and realism was never as clear as the genre snobs wanted it to be. I rejoice to think that both terms are already largely historical; they are moulds from which literature is breaking free, as it always does, to find new forms.’

Bill Gibson:
‘“Earth is the alien planet”, . . . the future is pretty much now. Outer space (as far as science fiction went) became metaphorical. Became inner space.’

03 November 2008

World Fantasy Awards 2008

The World Fantasy Awards 2008 have just been announced (results here). Sadly none of the Glasgow SF writers have been honoured (this time). However, I was pleased to see one of my favourite authors, Guy Gavriel Kay, win the best novel category with Ysabel. And Pete Crowther won a well-deserved special award for PS Publishing.