Putting the life back in science fiction


Dystopia or Utopia: Either way it hurts
April 10, 2020, 2:05 am
Filed under: disasters, futurism, Hot Earth Dreams, Uncategorized

I’m doing fine, asymptomatic at the moment and hoping to stay that way until a working vaccine shows up.  Hope you’re the same, or better yet, that you had a mild case and are now immune.

Anyway, good wishes aside, I wanted to say something I haven’t dared say for weeks: as bad as this crisis is, I suspect it’s a training wheels exercise for what we’ll have to do to deal with climate change.  What I think right now is that if we seriously try to flatten the curve on greenhouse gas emissions, that effort is going to be like what we’re going through now, but longer and more thoroughly disruptive.  It pretty much has to be if we’re going to avoid a mass extinction.

However, if you’re an artist looking for inspiration out of the darkness, that isn’t a bad thing. Continue reading



Through WW3 to Sustainability (?)
September 27, 2019, 11:54 pm
Filed under: climate change, futurism, nonviolence, Speculation, sustainability, The Internet | Tags: ,

I’ve been a bit busy with environmental stuff, including the climate strike on 9/20.  In honor of that, of the MCAS Miramar Air show that’s rattling my windows this weekend, and this little article from June about how the US military is one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters on the planet, I figured I’d add in one of my normally bleak predictions about the future.

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Hot Earth Dreams, 2.5 years on
June 22, 2018, 4:26 pm
Filed under: futurism, Hot Earth Dreams, Uncategorized | Tags:

Sorry for not blog posting.  We’ve been in the middle of a housing blitz, wherein developers, aided and abetted by the County of San Diego, are trying to ram through a bunch of high end, environmentally damaging housing developments.  They realized we’re slow to respond, so they’re trying to inundate us.

Still, I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about Hot Earth Dreams, which was published back at the end of 2015.  Before I published it, I seriously considered sending it to a conventional publisher.  Aside from its unconventional format and my lack of a guaranteed audience as a Celebrity Scientist, the problem with conventionally publishing  was that (given the normal one year lag between submission and appearance) it would have been published in December 2016.  While I didn’t think we’d have the politics we currently have, I did think it would disappear in the media noise.

The book’s sold pretty well.  While it didn’t sell well enough to immediately make the jump to commercial success, it’s still selling a few copies every quarter, all over the world.  The reviews on Amazon have been mostly positive, too, surprisingly for a book on climate.  Thanks to all who reviewed it!

Hot Earth Dreams actually changed my life, in good and bad ways.  One good (?) way is that it got me seriously engaged in climate activism.  I’d originally intended the book more as a source-book for writing cli-fi, but once I had some idea of where we’re likely headed, I couldn’t just sit back and profiteer off it.  I had to get involved.  One bad (?) change is that I’ve had to deal with anxiety issues ever since.  You can’t live with even a speculative apocalypse for three years and not be affected by it.  My coping strategy is meditation, and it does help quite a bit.

But I’ll bet you might be wondering what comes next, and the answer is yes, I am planning a substantial rewrite. A lot has changed since I started writing in 2012.  Back then, I was struggling, a chapter at a time, to understand what was going on.  After sitting with all the information for years, I have a better idea of how all my half-formed ideas fit together.  Rather more importantly, there’s been quite a lot of scholarship since the 2012-2015 timeframe I was writing in, and some of it has been quite useful.  And then, of course, I got a bunch of comments.  Most of them were about typos, but a few were substantive, and all were welcome.

So yes, there will be a new version of Hot Earth Dreams coming out sometime.  I hope it will be in 2019, but given politics and life, who knows?  It will be a different book, one aimed a bit more at helping people, as well as a source-book for the distant future.  Perhaps this gives you something to look forward to?



The Doom of California (?)
April 27, 2018, 12:51 am
Filed under: California, climate change, futurism, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Since Weather West’s latest blog post and paper in Nature Climate Change got a lot of media attention, why not feed him even more links?  Anyway, the blog post is cool, the NCC paper is paywalled and I haven’t gotten around to asking him (Daniel Swain, the genius behind Weather West) for a copy yet.  And I figured I’d get back to talking about climate change for a post or two.

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Beavering away at geoengineering

Two down, now three (four?) EIRs to go.  Oy.  And one of the ones I commented on planned, perhaps, to install a meter-wide water line in the same busy intersection as another group is currently going to install a 240 KW electrical transmission line.  Shocking, possibly explosive.  I can only hope that the engineers already knew of the juxtaposition, even if the environmental consultants did not.

So, I want to talk about something else: peat.  And beavers.  And some really silly ideas about geoengineering.

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Orality, Literacy, and Enchantment as a Survival Skill
November 15, 2017, 2:30 am
Filed under: climate change, disasters, futurism, Speculation | Tags: ,

Since I’m avoiding reading two EIRs right now (I commented on a third last week), I figure I might as well play with some ideas that floated up since the previous post, about our modern conceptions of magic being the residue of previous methods for storing and propagating information in an oral culture.  Right now, my bedtime reading is Walter J Ong’s 1982 opus Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word.  I wanted to highlight a point that Ong makes in great detail, echoed by others (like Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein): people process data differently depending on whether they know how to read and how to write or not. Continue reading



The re-enchantment of the future, collapse style

Sad that I missed posting in September.  My only defense is that there’s a lot going on in the real world.  Not writing for profit, sadly, but dealing with development, environmental impact reports, and policy.  And pulling weeds.  I’d rather write about something totally different: the idea that civilization collapses and magic comes back.  It’s not new, of course.  It’s the premise of, oh, the whole Shannara series, a bunch of stories by Fred Saberhagen, even the Dying Earth if you stretch the metaphor until it breaks.  You can probably name another dozen stories in a similar vein.

I think I found a different angle, one that might make practical enchantment work in the real world.  With, yes, wands, staves, amulets, fetishes, and all sorts of enchanted items and rituals. Continue reading