The second part of my interview with writer Antonia Malchik
Also--have you all read A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers? My son loves that book and I loved it too--the AI comment made me think about it--the idea of AI actually becoming something more loving and loyal--I've thought about that too and there are elements of that in that book--it's really such a great, thoughtful, creative, work-- just really well done.
Love this! And this gem: One of the questions I've been stuck on quite a bit is why trespass laws are so vigorously enforced in the U.S.–you can't set foot on land owned by someone else–but pollution, basically a property right, the right to pollute, is allowed to trespass into our bodies as well as into the commons.
I'm grateful to be meeting (and now subscribing to) Antonia through this interview. I'm a brit living in the US and very much involved in the concepts of commons and ownership here. I keep tripping over them in my work on sea level rise, drinking water, and more. I have some thoughts on why private property rights are such a sacred cow in the US (literally, when it comes to grazing rights!). Would love to nerd out with you some time on that.
Since Battlestar Galactica was mentioned, E. J. Olmos also played Gaff in Blade Runner ( " You've done a man's job, sir ! " implying that Deckard was a Replicant, & supposedly came up with " Cityspeak " ).
He gave Tricia Helfer a DVD of Blade Runner to help her play a Cylon.
Is that 6 degrees of separation or less ?
Science fiction is something akin to mythology or folklore, except most of the events are set in our future or in alternate futures, unlike Arthurian lore or the Epic of Gilgamesh, or several other examples that I could pull out of the air.
"The other side of Artificial Intelligence–what if it's actually kinder and more loyal than any of us are capable of being?"
I'd have a 50p bet on that being right. If AI still functions on a basis of logic then I think my 50p is safe.
Re proprioception - thanks for the warning. I shall steer clear of space flight because I'm already lacking to the point where I have to look to see where my arms are in my yoga lessons. E is A is *so* useful!
I love both of you! I can’t believe I’m so far behind on your newsletters which are both ones I want to read. They demand my attention so I don’t want to read them when I’m skimming, which I so often am. Thank you for sharing this conversation and reminding me of my own love of stories and love-hate with science fiction. My dad loved sci-fi. The original Star Trek was on at 6 pm weeknights when I was young (already reruns) and my dad insisted on watching it during dinner. I loved it but also wished my dads attention wasn’t always elsewhere. For my 8th birthday we went to the premier of Star Wars (nice of them to release the first three all timed with my birthdays). We went to the big fancy theater downtown and waited in line forever, but I was totally in love. Wish I hadn’t thrown out all my original memorabilia, but who knew in the 80s? My dad read the lord of the rings books to my mom and I so I got them in true storytelling form. Ah, what nice memories! Thanks for this discussion.
Great interview Mike. I enjoy On the Commons immensely so I managed to get through this very long treatise :) -- My favorite sci-fi writer is Ted Chiang. Tying it back to "On the Commons", property rights etc -- I think nearly every aspect of our wonderful natural system framed by the atmosphere (living stuff) that is in overshoot is due to either lack of regulation or ill-thought regulation. Poverty, child mortality, water, air, extractive industries, CO2, single-use waste are some working examples. I am an optimist and that means the problems are NOT INTRACTABLE. Solutions that minimize what we do not want or that put humanity at risk should be our focus. I love Sci-Fi that focuses on possible alternate cultural organization that leads to a world more in balance.
Kim Stanley Robinson! Arkady Martine! Battlestar Galactica! Xena! Foundation!
I think Mike and Antonia should marry and adopt me.
Love this interview! And I also love broken earth 🤩😍
Really enjoyed reading this. My wife thinks sci-fi and fantasy are stories for kids because it’s not real. For me it’s a lot of what you said in this piece. Taking the story out of reality but still making it relevant to our world.
I just finished The Expanse series. Really enjoyed them and the story actually ended which seems to be getting rarer. I love the ideas in sci-fi . Alastair Reynolds: What if aliens appeared with the some purpose of wiping us out - taking entire planets apart to make the machinery of our destruction? Neal Asher - though his are the lone hero and explosions type - but great action, technology and alien creatures. William Gibson - closer to home but I love the way he weaves a story, with it barely making sense at first.
Some explain the workings of the tech, others use it like magic to support the story.
I just love the ideas it all brings.
Oh and I just re-read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy about 25 years after first reading it. That’s just bonkers but so packed with ideas!
Well this just confirms why I adore you and Antonia--Austen, Alien, Tolkien, and Next Gen? Hell yes! :) My people!
When I worked on an archaeological dig in Jordan the summer out of college, I had that first feeling of finding my people because all of us loved next gen. That summer was the series finale (ahem, yes, I'm old), and a friend of someone sent us a VHS (see aforesaid aside, re: old) tape snail mail (yes! old! ack!) so that we could all watch it together. Such a bittersweet fond memory of us all geeking out to the last episode together after days in the desert. 💜
For sci-fi reflecting commentary back on contemporary society, it was good to see Atwood in the list of authors, but where were Iain M Banks' Culture novels? How would society work of there were no shortages, if people changed gender at will, if everyone used an artificial language that helped frame thought unambiguously? What would our reactions to such a depicted society tell us about our own society.
"it is what Banks has called a “post-scarcity” society, in which everyone has everything he or she wants. A Culture citizen can live in any environment, under any climate, in any kind of dwelling, and can wear any kind of clothes and own any imaginable objects. Sexual prowess and pleasure are ensured by genetic modification and precisely infused drugs: glands secrete at the citizens’ commands to produce whatever mood or energy is needed. The Culture has no laws, and nothing that we would call a government. All power remains in the hands of the omnipotent and omnibenevolent Minds. As Banks himself has written, “Briefly, nothing and nobody in the Culture is exploited.”"
So .. no more excuses. Gender, race, wealth, .. and every other polarising division no longer apply.
How do you feel about that?
Quoted text from an article by Alan Jacobs in The New Atlantis , summer 2009, here:
Funny you mention PADDs, so did I on my recent podcast with the Quantum Levitation pod designer (On Creation and Meaning). Did you know that there were no automatic sliding doors before Star Trek? Fascinating, as Spock would have said. Good interview!