N is for Not Sci-Fi but Pi-Fi

youtube-Logo-4gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on March 13, 2017

Discuss this article at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Dier


Right now, it seems like people's faith in the idea of endless progress is being shaken. Whether it's the UK leaving the EU, Donald Trump's ascension to the American presidential throne or simply a gnawing feeling that something 'big' has gone wrong somewhere, more and more people are expressing anxiety about the direction in which we are heading. If one wants to see proof of this phenomenon one need look no further than the mainstream media, traditionally the gatekeepers of human consciousness in terms of the day-to-day business of sorting out what is important from what is not. Even a brief glance at an online news site will show a slew of articles that are more biased opinion pieces than factual news items, and the reader comments below — if they are permitted at all — will more often than not display a remarkable level of hostility towards anyone who disagrees with them. Is it any wonder that trust in these mainstream publications has fallen to historic lows across a broad range of demographic groups, with only the over sixties still possessing much faith in them at all?

At the same time, faith in science and technology is facing a similar crisis. Casting an eye back over the last few decades, to give a couple of examples, it would seem that new inventions have been supplanted by mere innovations and 'upgrades', whilst actual space travel has been replaced by theoretical space travel (or low Earth orbit space stations). If one wants to see them there are plenty of artistic impressions of what faraway planets 'might' look like, presumably to make up for the occasional blurry pixel we are told is the actual, and the public at large is ambivalent at best about the latest discoveries made by particle physicists with research grants the size of small countries. Once again, is it any wonder why faith in science is being tested when there are so many things we were told were scientific proofs are now discredited, such as the idea that a low-fat diet makes you slimmer and that you must drink eight glasses of water and five (now increased to 10) portions of fruit and veg a day to maintain health? No, those men and women in white coats are having to fight harder and harder to win over an increasingly sceptical public.

Of course, this cannot be permitted. The reaction by the guardians of the media and the scientific technologists to this loss of faith by their subjects is to double down on their claims and amp up the rhetoric. Thus information that emerges from a non-mainstream conduit is decried as 'fake news' or 'propaganda' and science that emerges through a non-approved channel is debunked as 'pseudo science'. No quarter is given in this battle of consciousness, and no dissent is permitted.

And yet people do dissent. Finding themselves caught in an ever-tightening vice of economic policies which make them materially poorer with each passing year, and faced with an indifferent class of media-savvy personalities who insist that things are getting better all the time, they are wont to ponder whether, in the realm of hopes and dreams, they've been sold a dud. Most people, no matter where in the world they live, yearn for practically the same thing. They want peace and security, a decent low-crime area in which to raise a family where they might have a little place of their own with maybe a space to grow some food, and a few good friends with whom they can share a meal or a drink while feeling happy within their own cultural boundaries. That's basically it: a modest, happy life with peace and a degree of autonomy. Is this too much to ask?

Instead, what they get, is an increasingly degraded living situation where, if they live in a poor country, they either have to work long hours in a factory producing gadgets and other consumer items, or else they get a subsistence wage working in dangerous conditions mining minerals or producing chemically poisoned cash crops for the commodities market. And if they are fortunate enough to live in a rich country, the majority will have to work long hours in an office doing unfulfilling work to pay off the huge loans they have taken out to finance buying the gadgets made by the poor people. Here they are forced to dine in the staff canteen on chemically poisoned food from abroad while their bosses wax lyrical about replacing them all with robots made from the commodities mined by the even poorer people abroad.

Weren't we supposed to be living in Utopia by now?
 

And so people need some kind of new plausible vision. In the past, in the industrialised nations at least, we were offered salvation in the form of Sci-Fi fantasies about living in space and travelling around the universe meeting interesting new aliens. Now, unless the aliens come to us, these dreams appear unlikely. The dwindling of oil supplies, and the technical inability of renewables or anything else to replace it, means that the industrial basis of our civilisation has a very short shelf life. Indeed, due to the immutable and non-negotiable laws of thermodynamics, the party really will be over sooner rather than later. Mention this to most people of course and they'll airily dismiss it as an apocalyptic delusion, and that "they'll" think of something before then. But given that an ever growing groundswell of people are losing their faith in "them" — what's a narrative-driven sapient mammal with an above average sized brain to do?

That's where the PI-FI writers step forward. PI stands for Post Industrial and Fi for Fiction, because that's what is needed right now. So what's the difference between a sic-fic writer and a Pi-fi one? Well, instead of dreaming up yet another variation of the tired old trope of muscular space-heroes travelling around the galaxy in spaceships and saving virgins/peoples/planets from annihilation*, the PI-Fi writer recognises that the limits imposed on the human race by geology, thermodynamics and the biosphere mean that we're not looking to the stars for salvation, but under our own feet on the nice blue magic ball we call planet Earth.

PI-fi, it could be said, is a maturation of a form. Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to be a rock star? You played the music on volume 11 and stood in front of a mirror with a hairbrush and imagined thousands of adoring fans swooning, of lighting cigars with wads of money and seeing pictures of yourself in magazines (I know I did)? And then you get older and you realise it will never happen, and you learn to take life's tragedies and victories in your stride and you see on the news that another pop star has taken a drug overdose or died at a relatively young age and you think, "Thank God my teenage dreams never came true!" It's the same thing with fiction and all those ideas of conquering the universe and dominating other planets.

What does Pi-Fi look like? Thankfully we already have plenty of examples, probably the most well-known of which is James Howard Kunstler's World Made by Hand series. John Michael Greer's After Oil: SF Visions of a Post Petroleum World burst onto the scene in late 2012, cementing the establishments of a new genre, and in the meantime we have had the launch of the quarterly magazine Into the Ruins, showcasing further talent. Another new magazine, Mythic, explores post industrial fiction, as well as more traditional Sci-Fi, and I'm sure there will be more as we move forwards and old narratives continue to disintegrate.

Obviously Pi-Fi has more constraints placed on it than Sci-Fi in terms of possible story lines — or so it would seem. But, wait a minute, doesn't true creativity flourish best when it is constrained by form and must follow agreed-upon conventions? Don't the boundaries of the field of play focus the attention of what's happening in the centre? A case in point: which piece of music sounds better to your ears, Bedřich Smetana's Vltava, with its sinuously flowing phonics that evoke a force of nature, or a piece of avant garde 'noise music' that adheres to no rules or form whatsoever? As ever, the choice between the two is subjective and depends on the listener, and admittedly the latter is evocative of a certain technological dysfunction in its experimental nature: it has its place in the auditory sound ecosystem, but which piece would you rather listen to on your deathbed?

What qualifies as Pi-Fi? At its heart, any narrative that is written with this genre in mind must be set in a post-industrial future. This is our most likely future, and therefore the one that the tool of fiction is the most powerful and useful. This raises the question, what does 'post-industrial' mean? After all, we are often told that we live in a post-industrial society, since most manufacturing moved to China. No, Pi-Fi is different. We are considering a future in which industrial civilisation is either ending or has ended. To that end the following assumptions would have to apply:

1 – Humankind's access to highly concentrated forms of energy will be severely curtailed in the near to medium term
2 – There will be a corresponding collapse in the complexity of civilisation and the population it can support
3 – The future will be haunted by the mistakes of the past, especially in the form of inappropriate technologies

Sound a bit gloomy, or merely realistic? It's been pointed out by others that we have a binary obsession with either/or visions of the future, namely that either we will head off on a grand space adventure in the stars, or else face apocalyptic annihilation at home. But there's a huge amount of ground between those two poles — ground that Pi-Fi is more than happy to occupy. Neither of the two extremes is particularly useful to us, except as a means of escapism, and what if neither of our standard assumptions takes place? What if — gulp — the human story continues for another few thousand years, with different types of technology, different ways of organising our societies and different ways of relating to our planet? True, those skeletal horsemen are certain to be busy — just as they have been throughout nearly all human history — but the folks sticking around will likely have a lot of good stories to tell about their experiences.

Can you imagine telling some of them?

If you think you could then you might be interested to hear that I'm moving forwards with a small publishing venture, with the aim of publishing a handful of Pi-Fi books every year. At present there is not much going on in this genre over on this side of the Atlantic (Europe, that is), or indeed the world outside of America — so I'm particularly interested in, but not limited to, stories taking place in the wider world. I'm going to kick this off with a call for submissions for an initial anthology of stories up to 8,000 words in length, but 2,000 at a minimum.

For this anthology, writers will need to follow these seven rules for their story:

1 – Stories must be set in the future at some point within the next 100 years

2 – The laws of physics as currently understand them must be abided by

3 – Due consideration must be given to the natural limits placed on humans, as well as the damage done to Earth's ecological systems by industrialism

4 – No deus-ex-machina technology that rescues industrial civilisation at the last moment

5 – Stories must be stories, with believable characters, plots, narrators etc., and not just thinly-disguised technical propositions, sociological commentaries or screeds

6 – Metaphysics is permitted and even encouraged as a story device so far as it relates to popularly understood concepts (metaphysics doesn't run on oil, so there's no danger of us running out)

7 – Stories must not simply be "horses and hearses" i.e. a re-hash of pre-industrial Europe, supposedly set in the future

I'm really hoping that readers will respond to this and rise to the challenge with vision, imagination and plausible realism. Unleash your mind and see what happens. I will be cross-posting this blog on a number of different social media pages, channels and groups, and the closing date for entries will be May 1st 2017 — Beltaine — which is seven weeks away. To enter, ideally publish your story on a blog site or other web page and post a link to it in the comments below this post — making sure there's a way of contacting you in the form of an email address somewhere — but if you can't do that then send it to me as an email at the address found in the 'About' section on my site. The stories must be original and they must be by you. I'll pick the winners shortly afterwards and they will share an equal proportion of 70% of the proceeds of the resultant book after the costs of production have been discounted (which is simply the price of designing a cover and printing a few review copies). The book, after I've edited, typeset and printed it, will then be available through print-on-demand and published by Belenos Press (I'm working on making a website so it's just a Facebook page at the moment) — and I'll send all the published authors a copy.

Best of luck for the challenge and I look forward to reading your stories.

* I do realise that not all Sci-Fi is so two-dimensional, although much of it has been in the past, and some of it still is — and I'm as much a fan of it as you are. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

https://image.freepik.com/free-icon/musical-notes-symbols_318-29778.jpg

Support the Diner
Search the Diner
Surveys & Podcasts

NEW SURVEY

Renewable Energy

VISIT AND FOLLOW US ON DINER SOUNDCLOUD

" As a daily reader of all of the doomsday blogs, e.g. the Diner, Nature Bats Last, Zerohedge, Scribbler, etc… I must say that I most look forward to your “off the microphone” rants. Your analysis, insights, and conclusions are always logical, well supported, and clearly articulated – a trifecta not frequently achieved."- Joe D
Archives
Global Diners

View Full Diner Stats

Global Population Stats

Enter a Country Name for full Population & Demographic Statistics

Lake Mead Watch

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BX686_LakeMe_G_20130816175615.jpg

loading

Inside the Diner

Debt is always relative to equity.While equity can vary and you can certainly lose equity on assets in various scenarios, building equity is still desirable if one does NOT intend to live solely on SS and Medicare in old age. You can build equity with...

Heading back over to the Italian menu at the Diner today for a Ravioli🍝 Lunch.Back when I was a kid, Ravioli🍝 only came with two types of fillings, meat or cheese.  I was mainly a meat ravioli🍝 kid in those days.  Later I came to prefer cheese ravioli...

Quote from: Eddie on Today at 07:13:53 AMMedicaid is different that SS and Medicare, because it isn't limited to the old. I still see no benefit to an individual to avoid receiving the benefits if you are poor enough to...

All the talk about Cohen flipping is completely speculation and extremely premature. This isn't some mob attorney who knows where the bodies are buried. Besides, Mueller is probably going to stay very focused on JUST the election, and ignore Trump and ...

I agree with most of what he says.As more and more promises come due for Medicare and Social Security (not to mention paying for the endless wars, which are always fought on credit), then taxes can and will become more onerous.  The income tax is not ...

Recent Facebook Posts

Catch-22 of the Doomsteader Paradox

“Doomsteading” or setting up a survival location for making it through the Zero Point and the Collapse of Industrial Civilization is popular,..

1 hour ago

China’s first homemade carrier out for maiden sea trial

China’s first homemade carrier out for maiden sea trial–

1 hour ago

MSNBC’S Creepy Comcast Commercial Is Sinclair Lite

MSNBC is Comcastic, “Libertarian” Rolls, Pompeo Approved, Lies and Venezuela, Renegade Sheriffs, The Only Thing Missing From Georgia’s Neo-Nazi..

1 hour ago

Ana Navarro on Twitter

How does this guy make a bond, and who drops the $200 K for it? https://t.co/FrRk6Qo618

2 hours ago

Huawei P20 Pro review: the three-camera iPhone killer

Huawei P20 Pro review: the three-camera iPhone killer https://t.co/2KQJJ6iYe2 #tech

2 hours ago

Diner Twitter feed

Knarf’s Knewz

Quote from: Eddie on March 13, 2018, 05:21:10 PMAl [...]

Quote from: knarf on March 13, 2018, 03:33:01 PMAU [...]

Quote from: knarf on March 13, 2018, 03:25:04 PM [...]

A new study found that the Great Recession correla [...]

From 2003 to 2005, Gina Haspel was a senior offici [...]

Diner Newz Feeds
  • Surly
  • Agelbert
  • Knarf
  • Golden Oxen
  • Frostbite Falls

The Doomstead Diner Daily 4/23[html]News digest br [...]

Quote from: Eddie on April 22, 2018, 10:58:00 AMTh [...]

Quote from: Eddie on April 22, 2018, 10:58:00 AMTh [...]

The military is the breeding ground for Nazis. Why [...]

Quote from: David B. on April 12, 2018, 04:20:53 P [...]

Quote from: David B. on April 12, 2018, 04:20:53 P [...]

Quote from: agelbert on April 12, 2018, 03:47:06 P [...]

Quote from: Eddie on March 13, 2018, 05:21:10 PMAl [...]

Quote from: knarf on March 13, 2018, 03:33:01 PMAU [...]

Quote from: knarf on March 13, 2018, 03:25:04 PM [...]

A new study found that the Great Recession correla [...]

From 2003 to 2005, Gina Haspel was a senior offici [...]

Dear Readers,  This is a must read and a view that [...]

I did study those instruments when I was younger, [...]

Quote from: Eddie on April 06, 2018, 11:51:13 AMUn [...]

Understood. However, I save a ton on taxes because [...]

 I just fell off my 5 gallon bucket seat reading t [...]

Quote from: RE on April 20, 2018, 09:05:29 AMQuote [...]

Quote from: Eddie on April 20, 2018, 08:33:16 AMTh [...]

My cuz looked like one of those Wood girls...sort [...]

Quote from: luciddreams on April 20, 2018, 09:01:4 [...]

Alternate Perspectives
  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

A Duty to Know By Cognitive Dissonance   Conversations Mrs. Cog and I have often revolve around awar [...]

The Pendulum – Part Three Seeking Balance By High Desert   Missing in the mix of hundreds of bug-out [...]

The Pendulum – Part Two Hard Work, Bad Luck and Murphy’s Law By High Desert   Missing in the mix of [...]

The Pendulum - Part One Retreat to High Ground By High Desert     Missing in the mix of hundreds of [...]

The (Mind) Games People Play By Cognitive Dissonance     Fair warning! This is a long and dense read [...]

Event Update For 2018-04-21http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2018-04-20http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2018-04-19http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2018-04-18http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2018-04-17http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

NYC plans to undertake the swindle of the civilisation by suing the companies that have enabled it t [...]

MbS, the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attem [...]

You know things have taken a turn for the desperate when women have started to drive. Or rather, whe [...]

From Filmers to Farmers is re-launched on the astounding open source blogging platform Ghost! [...]

The blogging scene is admittedly atrocious. Is there really no option for a collapse blogger to turn [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability
  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

Mycelial Mind"One thing we can say about our fungal cousins. They are vastly better connected to the natural [...]

How Many Trees Do We Need?"A city like New York (18.6 million people) should require 55.8 million trees to provide its ox [...]

First they locked up the Knowledge"If you were given the choice between continued life on earth and computerized devices and the [...]

Just One Word: Bioplastics"Any carbon that does not go back to the atmosphere can just chill. It can be a building or a b [...]

NTHE is a Four Letter Word"Collective neurosis can be attributed to a concatenation of causes — diet, electrosmog, epigen [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

To fight climate change, you need to get the world off of fossil fuels. And to do that, you need to [...]

Americans are good on the "thoughts and prayers" thing. Also not so bad about digging in f [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Lefty Greenies have some laudable ideas. Why is it then that they don't bother to really build [...]

Top Commentariats
  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

What is new and sobering is that many of the countries currently "stepping down" may be do [...]

"Scandals, bad debts, ATM cash shortages--India’s banking system has experienced them all in re [...]

"There has been an uptick in recent months in heavily-borrowed companies in the Gulf seeking to [...]

"Iran's central bank has banned other banks from dealing in crypto-currencies, over concer [...]

""A nationwide dollar-buying panic is in full swing, spurred by the plunging value of the [...]

Here is how you will know when we have DOOM/COLLAPSE! You are absolutely certain that you can not go [...]

I go back and forth on this whole thing being quick or a slow burn collapse. Thus far the fire marsh [...]

Understanding? -to stand under and look up at something and to allow yourself to be in awe. Everywhe [...]

This paper is from last spring, it's a bit dense but the overall impression should be both fami [...]

Agree Stranger in a strange land [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Simplifying the Final Countdown

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

Off the Keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Merry Doomy Christmas

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Collapse Fiction
Useful Links
Technical Journals

Mountain ecosystems are considered to be vulnerable to climate change, with potential detrimental ef [...]

Land surface temperature (LST) is one of the most important variables for applications relating to t [...]

Follow on our http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/forum/