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Daniel Pearlman: Dystopias will never go away.

11 May 2011 in international | questo post รจ lungo 777 parole

_A conversation with Daniel Pearlman
_by Daria Bernardoni

Daria: Nowadays technologies are all around us. Does writing science fiction still make sense?

Daniel: The extrapolative reach of good SF usually goes well beyond any current technology. And even if current technology does catch up with the gadgetry employed in SF tales, a good story never should - and does not - depend on the "wonder" reaction to its scientific content alone or primarily. A good old SF story, even if using a now-unsurprising technology, will succeed insofar as the author shows insight into the human challenges that technology might present to the characters - namely, to society in general.

Daria: What is the role of science fiction in today's society?

Daniel: I think the best SF is still cautionary, and that's why dystopias will never go away. Bioethics panels wrestle with questions of certain types of technological capabilities that present moral dilemmas, but I would guess that most of the advice such panels offer can be garnered from a reading of lots of good SF - where most of these issues get thrashed out over and over again in morally illuminating ways.

Daria: According to you, what is the most fertile period in sci-fi history?

Daniel: I think that the fifties set the gold standard of imaginative exploration. It was still a literature open to the general public in its use of accessible language and themes that had not yet become rigidified conventions.

Daria: In The Final Dream, technology is a civilization's mean to control the dark side of human mind, but, at the same time, technology is a kind of paintbrush in Iones's hands, so it is something that can help an artist to create his piece of work. What do you think about the relationship between new technologies and creativity?

Daniel: New technologies require, of course, tremendous creativity, but need to be held in check because of the possible damage they can inflict. Take the controversies regarding Facebook, privacy issues, etc. As to my novella, the more extreme concern I suggest therein is that we need to be on guard against the enchanting dreamspinners of this world, convincing masters of imagination who offer us simple solutions to our social problems. A social dreamer with a big enough audience is what we eventually come to recognize as a ruthless dictator. They sure know how to take advantage of our "dark side."

*****Daria*: Looking for happiness, Brian and Audrey try to keep every single aspect of their relationship under control, even sexuality is regulated by strict rules and turns. They are open-minded, but this doesn't seem to satisfy themselves. That pungent portrait of love affair looks like knocking over, inter alia, the meaning of Rhapsody: A Dream Novel (1926) by Arthur Schnitzler. Moreover, the incipit of Eyes Wide Shut (1999), one of Kubrick's masterpiece based on the same novella, picture the quite exactly same scene that you describe in The Final Dream (1995), when the couple share the bathroom. Is your short novel related to Schnitzler's work? And do you recognize your pen behind Kubrick's scene?

Daniel: I don't know the Schnitzler work and don't remember the Kubrick scene. My fundamental inspiration came from my examination of our society's highly exploratory sexual mores and the way the media have continued to exploit the sexual revolution of the sixties. My sense is that, in spite of the allure of free love, nothing important comes for free; that when it comes to the complexities of love, there is a price to pay when we attempt to divorce the physical from the emotional.

Daria: The Final Dream pictures a society in which people seem to stop thinking at all. Is that a kind of social criticism against our present way of life? Why?

Daniel: We wish for a life without pain, but if somebody or some institution magically diverts us from our existential conflicts - the things that cause us the most pain - then we are no longer forced to think. Currently we are, of course, living under the spell of the great dreamspinners - the movie-makers, the TV personalities that hypnotize many of us for over five hours a day; and our all-absorbing media toys: Iphones, Ipads, etc. (I do happen to love my new MacBook Pro, though!) - so that we pay less direct attention to our closest human relationships, living more like outer-directed automata, creatures who don't even manage to have time to think (i.e., for critical reflection of any basic sort).

Daria: Would you like to suggest to our readers three authors or titles?

Daniel: I suggest Paul Di Filippo, Stanislaw Lem and Jonathan Swift.

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