H II Regions, 5 June 2012

Don’t I have a magazine to put out soon? Hmm. Welcome to the H II Regions, a weekly compilation of SF, publishing and political news. Send thoughts and story tips to cosmicvinegar@gmail.com.

The Future Is Coming

Awesome article from The New York Times about current / future technology and where it might be heading. Articles like this come along fairly frequently but they’re catnip for SF writers because they’re also a free list of future technology ideas. Some ideas are less interesting, like sucking energy from clothes (idea #1)–but some are wonderful, such as using subconcious body movements as passwords (idea #16). And idea #4–hey that’s already in my story! Because it’s a great, great idea. [New York Times]

Famous People Who Like SF

Paul Krugman–of “no, austerity is wrong and Keynes was right” fame–recently went on record saying he’s an SF fan. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising considering his tete-a-tete with Charlie Stross. Most important, though, is this view he recently shared:

I have friends, political scientists, sociologists, who all share an interest at least in certain kinds of science fiction. It’s speculative, we’re thinking about what society could be like. Never mind the gadgets, although they create the alternative worlds, but a lot of it is thinking about society.

Gadgets are fun, they’re the cheese on the broccoli, but thinking about society is an extremely important, integral job–and as Krugman suggests in this interview, SF writers are the writers best positioned to do that. [Wired]


I won’t spend a lot of time discussing the Euro mess–I am only an armchair student of the event. However; you may have heard, there was an incredible speech recently given by George Soros. In it, he explicitly lays out the blame for the crisis, why recent solutions have failed, and what might be done to fix it. For me, the important takeaway is this:

The idea that laws or models of universal validity can predict the future must be abandoned.

That is, the idea of a perfect system–say, any ideology or economic system–must be discarded. We can’t function off the idea that pure capitalism would ever work; same as pure communism. These things do not function in a vacuum and therefore they will never have “universal validity.” As Soros says, social events have thinking participants who operate with a will of their own, thus there is no independent criterion against which to judge them. In terms of social events and institutions, there is no independent truth. Therefore, all judgments come from biased points of view, and have varying amounts of fallibility.

Reading this gives me some interesting thoughts about literature, in that it too is a social institution and of course there is no independent truth. I think a lot of institutionalized education on literature and writing pretends as if there are independent truths, however, especially about what is considered “beautiful” and “good” writing. More on this later; I’m contemplating how money fits this equation–and I’m thinking it complicates things. [George Soros dot com]

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