A spoiler thread for “Arrival”, which is not about how aliens make first contact to tell us who shot JR, the nature of Rosebud, or what question is answered by ‘42’.
Or if they do, you’ll read about it here.
Donald Trump Will Be President. This Is What We Do Next. By Jon Schwarz. This is the piece that got me back on my feet.
Masha Gessen, Autocracy: Rules for Survival. “I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now.” Rule #1 is “Believe the autocrat. He means what he says.”
Laurie Penny, On the Election of Donald Trump. “I am done listening to my liberal friends contort themselves to take into account the notional opinions of the ‘white working class.’ What does that even mean? How did we come to the craven consensus that the ‘white working class’ is a homogenous mass of blustering bigots who must be pandered to as one might pander to a toddler having a tantrum at the edge of a cliff? A great many white people who are far from wealthy take issue with that particular patronising strain of self-scourgery on the left. A great many non-wealthy white people manage not to blame all their problems on feminazis, immigrants and their black and brown neighbours. Those people are real Americans, too.”
Bruce Sterling, Notes on the 2016 Election. “It’s hard to write of momentous events in the hot, crispy, pan-fried moment in which events are momentous. But I know that the events of this week are just a part of stranger, larger things that are coming. During my lifetime there’s always been something sacrosanct about the American Presidency. Not anymore. Yes, it will still be the office of a chief executive with atomic bombs and a huge military and spy apparatus. But it’s no longer the lay Papacy for a unipolar superpower. Like other aspects of the digital landscape, the Presidency is just up for grabs.”
Monica Hesse, Stop saying “This isn’t my America.” Sorry, it is. “‘I’m seeing so many posts, from mostly white friends, saying, “America, I don’t even know you,”’ says Wendy Tien, a Milwaukee attorney and second-generation Taiwanese American. ‘And I’m thinking, “Where have you been? What do you mean you don’t know this America? Why haven’t you seen it?” I’ve seen it. I see it all the time.’”
Alex Steffen, There Will Never Be a Better Time to Save the Planet. “2°C is a vanished target now. But this isn’t a 2°C or bust fight. It’s a fight to limit consequences. It’s a fight for every 1/10th of a degree. If we fail to hold to 2°C, we have to fight for 2.1°; failing that, we battle on for 2.2°. With millennia of impacts at stake, we never get to give up, even if we end up in 4°C. For future generations, 4° is still better than 4.1°. ‘Game over’ is neither realistic nor responsible. Even the most catastrophic outcomes humanity aren’t the apocalypse—the end of the future itself—they’re just appalling failure and tragedy. We have a duty to people who will live after those failures.”
Teju Cole, A Time for Refusal. “[O]ne by one, various people in the town begin to turn into rhinos. Their skin hardens, bumps appear over their noses and grow into horns. Jean had been one of those scandalized by the first two rhino sightings, but he becomes a rhino, too. Midway through his metamorphosis, Berenger argues with him: ‘You must admit that we have a philosophy that animals don’t share, and an irreplaceable set of values, which it’s taken centuries of human civilization to build up.’ Jean, well on his way to being a rhino, retorts, ‘When we’ve demolished all that, we’ll be better off!’”
Let’s Have a Fresh Start. Bush speechwriter David Frum isn’t buying the everybody-come-together happytalk.
Seems relevant: People will literally risk their lives for stories.
Hope in the Dark: Rebecca Solnit is giving away one of her books for free. You want this one.
This morning, at 9:30, saw a long-planned major meeting at Tor, not quite all hands but definitely the majority of our staff plus various Macmillan-level sales and marketing managers.Last night, I found myself very grateful that I work in science fiction.
It could have been better timed, obviously.
I took the opportunity to make some remarks. Here’s what I said:
Science fiction came into being in response to a new thing in human history: the understanding that not only was the world changing, but also that the rate of change was speeding up. That in a normal lifetime, you could expect to experience multiple episodes of rapid, disorienting change. Science fiction at its best has always been about examining and inhabiting those experiences when the world passes through a one-way door.
Modern science fiction grew up in the Great Depression and flourished in World War II. It thrived in the strangeness of the 1950s and the different strangeness of the 1960s. It has continued to be an essential set of tools for engaging with our careening world.
I don’t want to argue that reading science fiction makes us smarter or morally better. (I personally believe that, but I don’t want to argue it.) But I do believe that good storytelling is a positive force in the world. And I really do believe that science fiction and fantasy storytelling makes us, in some fundamental way, a bit more practiced in the ways of a world caught up in wrenching change—and more open to imagining better worlds that might be possible.
Bottom line: I’ve never been more convinced of the need for more good science fiction and fantasy, and I’ve never been more fired up to find it and publish it, hopefully with the help of everyone in this room. Thank you.