Samuel R. Delany is a grand master of science fiction. Literally. The Science Fiction Writers of America association named him a Grand Master for lifetime achievement. He’s a gay, African American author who writes fearlessly about sex and race… and the future.
Is it still possible to have a hopeful future vision? Ed Finn directs the Center for Science and the Imagination in Arizona. He says it’s time to change the stories we tell about science. The Center’s Heiroglyph Project pairs sci fi writers with scientists to dream up the next big science project.
Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the "Mars" trilogy, "2312," and "Shaman," has been called our greatest living science fiction writer AND one of the greatest political novelists. He writes post-capitalist page-turners set in the far future and the distant past. We talk with him about the politics of science and the imagination.
Interview with Alex Bellos, author of the book Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Number and Numbers Reflect Life.
On "Word of Mouth" program on New Hampshire Public Radio
The first in this series features James Bridle and Ingrid Burrington, discussing "The Black Chamber". As technology advances and becomes increasingly networked and integrated with our daily lives, it tends towards a greater invisibility, a seamlessness and an unreadability. From the Cipher Bureau to Room 641A, from the datacenter to the iPhone, from the drone command module to the shipping container, the black boxes of the network litter the contemporary landscape. Unable to see inside them, we construct fantasies about their use, develop new ways of thinking about them, and attempt to probe them through techniques legal, technical, and magical. Eyebeam Residents Ingrid Burrington and James Bridle will explore the aesthetic and imaginative space of the black box, and outline some of their own practices for approaching them. http://anything2mp3.com/
Gavin Rothery, concept designer and VFX supervisor for the 2009 film Moon joins us this week to share his adventures working in this industry, and his upcoming short film The Last Man. We dive deeply into what the crucial aspects of good filmmaking are, and we explore the strengths and flaws of some of the biggest Hollywood films in recent years.
Our conversation was so epic this week we had to cut it in half, so stay tuned for Part 2 next Monday!
I’ve been looking forward to speaking with Sara Soueidan on this week’s episode of Unfinished Business for a long while, not least because I’m a huge, huge, fan of her work. She’s been writing what I consider to be the best articles about CSS and SVG. We talk about those, yes, but we also talk about what it’s like for her, living and working as a web developer in her home country of Lebanon. We discuss the preconceptions and misconceptions that people in the West have about Lebanon, its people and its customs. I think you’ll find what she has to say fascinating. I know I did.
Thinking about the future is so hard and so important that any trick to get some traction is a boon.
Adrian Hon’s trick is to particularize.
What thing would manifest a whole future trend the way museum objects manifest important past trends?
Building on the pattern set by the British Museum’s great book, A History of the World in 100 Objects, Hon imagines 100 future objects that would illuminate transformative events in technology, politics, sports, justice, war, science, entertainment, religion, and exploration over the course of this century.
The javelin that won victory for the last baseline human to compete successfully in the Paralympic Games for prosthetically enhanced athletes.
The “Contrapuntal Hack” of 02031 that massively and consequentially altered computerized records so subtly that the changes were undetected.
The empathy drug and targeted virus treatment that set off the Christian Consummation Movement.
Adrian Hon is author of the new book, A History of the Future in 100 Objects, and CEO and founder of Six to Start, creators of the hugely successful smartphone fitness game “Zombies, Run!”
His background is in neuroscience at Oxford and Cambridge.
Legendary singer-songwriter Mark Lanegan performs live at the KEXP studio with a set including two new tracks from his upcoming full length album, Phantom Radio, interspersed with a reworked 15th century ballad and an Irving Berlin tune. Recorded 07/03/2014 - 4 songs:
- Judgement Time,
- The Cherry Tree Carol,
- I Am The Wolf,
- Reaching For The Moon.
It’s easy to look back at old science fiction and see it as silly. But there are important ideas embedded in those stories that influenced scientists and the way technology developed. Take the first science fiction film, Le Voyage dans La Lune or A Trip to the Moon, based on a story by Jules Verne. This 1902 silent movie blasts scientists to the moon in a giant cannon. Claire Evans, editor of the recently rebooted Omni magazine, says Verne was on to something. “He just extrapolated from the technology around him,” she says. “A massive shotgun barrel shoots people into space. That’s not what happened in the real world” of rocketry, but “that essential gesture is correct.”
“A successful science fiction story — or novel, or film — allows its readers to become comfortable with the future, with radical new technologies and ideas before they become commonplace,” she says. “It softens the edge of change.”
Science fiction continued to inspire, even predict, real-world developments. H.G. Wells, author of The Time Machine, imagined the first atomic bomb in a 1913 short story titled “The World Set Free.” Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, was also a mathematician who proposed the first geostationary satellite in a 1945 scientific technical paper. Astrophysicist and science fiction author David Brin remembers, “There was a period during the space race when suddenly science fiction authors were very much in vogue — when they were on the platforms next to Walter Cronkite and talking about the future of civilization and where we were going to go next.”
But as society became more cynical, so did science fiction. In the 1980s, writers imagined addictive digital fantasy worlds long before the web existed. “Cyber-punk was the first science fiction movement to really understand that science and technology weren’t separate from us,” Evans explains. Or as the science fiction writer Frederik Pohl once said, “A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile, but the traffic jam.”
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