After suffering serious brain injuries, Scott Routley spent 12 years in a vegetative state. But his family were convinced that he was still aware – could a pioneering ‘mind-reading’ technique prove them right?
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Kim Stanley Robinson and Sheldon Solomon on exploration and death – books podcast | Books | The Guardian
Can humanity escape extinction by reaching for the stars? We confront final questions with the science fiction novelist Kim Stanley Robinson and the psychologist Sheldon Solomon.
We’re heading off into the unknown in this week’s podcast, with a pair of writers who explore what drives our human experiment.
The writer Kim Stanley Robinson has been examining possible futures for humanity for 40 years in a series of novels that stretch from nuclear devastation through climate chaos to Mars and beyond. His latest novel, Aurora, pushes 500 years onwards with a story of a vast starship on a 200-year journey to Tau Ceti.
Robinson explains why he decided to write a generation starship novel and why he’s happier pushing at the boundaries of fiction rather than the boundaries of science.
The psychologist Sheldon Solomon has, by contrast, been expanding the realm of science, putting an insight from ancient philosophy – that our lives are shaped by our awareness of our own mortality – on a sound experimental footing.
Solomon explains how he and his colleagues Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski have been measuring the ways in which the fear of death alters our behaviour and how the stories we tell ourselves against that fear have forged history.
Fresh from signing a £1m deal with Gollancz, the science fiction author Alastair Reynolds has penned a story for the Guardian which follows a new recruit sent out to battle in an interstellar war.
Nineteen years after his first short story appeared, and nine years after the first of his eight novels was published, Scales is Reynolds’ first foray into militaristic SF. In it, he explores the transformations war imposes on soldiers as his hero Nico’s mission evolves into something stranger than he could have possibly imagined.
Reynolds is best-known for his mastery of space opera – the SF sub-genre in which the stakes are high and the aliens deadly – but, after 16 years working for the European Space Agency, he brings a scientist’s rigour to the genre’s high drama.