Welcome to “Not a Planet Anymore”!October 1, 2008
This is Not A Planet Anymore – yet another pit stop on the information superhighway where we endlessly examine the world of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, surrealism, magic realism, horror and whatever else you want to stuff in this bag) in literature, television and movies, and where we also probe the world of video games. We’ll review the new stuff, rehash the classics and mercilessly pick at the navel lint of geek culture.
Not A Planet Anymore is the bastard brainchild of harrysaxon (of Rassilon’s Arcade) and bloginhood (of, well, bloginhood). Each of us is a self-confessed, life-long, card-carrying geek, and we’ve been discussing, recommending, and debating SF with each other off and on for about 17 years now. While we’ve independently been inflicting our views upon the world from our respective blogs (and will continue to do so), we figured it was high time to join forces and build our own forum to talk about SF and video games and maybe build on each other’s ideas. From time to time we may have guest columnists who’ll throw a little fuel on the flames, and some may even take permanent seats here. We hope you’ll join in the fun too.
But why “Not A Planet Anymore”? Well, obviously it’s a reference to Pluto recently being stripped of its status as a planet. But what does Pluto have to do with SF and video games?
We could say Pluto works as an excellent metaphor for SF and video gaming. It wanders out along the edge of the solar system, a last outpost marking the boundaries between the neighbourhood we know and the deep unexplored realms beyond, much the same as SF and video gaming sit out along the border of modern literature/film/tv/culture/entertainment, allowing us to step across from the familiar to strange places of new ideas, possibilities and ways of looking at ourselves and the universe. Even before being disowned from the family of “planets”, Pluto has always been marginalized – neither part of the exclusive, highly visible clique of inner, rocky worlds, nor fitting in with the outer gas giants. It’s always been a thing unto itself. SF is in a similar position, excluded by the self-proclaimed literati who refuse to take the skill of its storytelling and breadth of its imagination seriously, but also having no place among the non-intellectual cultural camps. Video games are also ostracized by the cultural elite, labeled as childish and potentially dangerous and having their storytelling, artistic merits and (yes, even debatable as it may be) their community-building capacity generally unrecognized. The ultimate solution was to reclassify Pluto so it didn’t have to be acknowledged as a planet – even an oddball one – anymore. For several years now, we’ve seen SF getting this treatment, with pop culture writers slumming in its ghetto, dipping into the deep well of its ideas and tropes, then promptly renaming what they’ve found so that they don’t have to acknowledge the truth that they’re now a part of a genre they’ve spent years marginalizing. This has happened on TV as well, where shows that are obviously SF are relabeled as non-traditional dramas in an alternate setting (or some such nonsense) to make the idea of the shows more palatable to network execs, critics and mainstream audiences. It has been a reclassification designed to banish SF to the outer darkness where it won’t get any further recognition. And so, we could say that SF and video games are very much like Pluto, and that’s why we chose this name.
We could say that. But we’re not. Nope. The reason behind the choice of this blog’s name is nothing remotely that profound. We were just looking for a workable name for the site that we could both agree on, and, after hours of brainstorming that eventually petered-out to a trickle, our conversation took a turn for the pointless, making many wrong turns and getting sidetracked by asides, and eventually skidded into this name which we both thought was fairly ridiculous (much like the declaration that Pluto is no longer a planet) and thus fairly appropriate and kinda cool.
Welcome to Not A Planet Anymore.