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Posts Tagged ‘society’

I am still on a bit of a posting holiday, apparently. A lot is happening here at Chez J, but it’s all ruminative on the writing front, nothing to see here… yet. Before you head off to what I hope is a terrific summer day, though, have a slice of on-point social commentary from a master of speculative fiction, in conversation with DEATH (who, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a lot to say about this business of life).

[tl;dr: be excellent to each other, or what’s the point?]

“All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

“So we can believe the big ones?”

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

“They’re not the same at all!”

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

MY POINT EXACTLY.”
― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

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Dear Republicans, from Georgia to the White House,

Congratulations, you won. Happily, that’s not the end of your journey. Winning means nothing in isolation. Instead, you’ve landed a much harder job. Politics isn’t about the race for office, it’s about what comes next.

You fought for the chance to govern. You won because you managed to convince a majority of voters that, for the moment, you were their best option for a brighter future. Go you.

What’s your prize? Celebrate, sure, but then it’s time to pay up. With great power, and all that. You are now accountable for the life, liberty and happiness* of the American people. Even the ones who didn’t vote for you. Even the ones who disagree with you. And especially the ones who will come after you.

A brief suggestion? Focus on what’s best about our way of life. This is America, imperfect but always striving for more. Look to build open, safe and productive communities, with educated people, well-fed children, healthy places to live and work, and the free and constructive exchange of ideas. Diversity is strength, and if you don’t agree with that ask yourself: did you create the iPhone, go to the Moon, build an airplane, invent video games, the Super Soaker, or make that amazing touchdown in last year’s Super Bowl? I know I didn’t, but I’m proud to come from a country of people who did.

We may disagree on methods, but look far enough down the road and we may agree on the goals. We are much more alike than not. Find those points of overlap and use them to aim for something better.

Don’t think you need to worry about those who did not support you? Take a look at your margins of victory, then ask what would happen if half of your constituents went elsewhere overnight. (Heck, ask Detroit.) That’s half of the people who pump gas, grow food, and teach in schools. It’s also half of those who keep the lights on, pick up the trash, police the streets, set bones, dispense medication, own businesses, build houses and, oh yes, pay taxes.

Even within parties there are diverse views and significant divides. Every day, we work together across those lines to make our communities function.

That’s the job.

So again, congratulations. Time to get to work.

. . . . . . . . . .

* Sounds a lot like healthcare, rights and economic wellbeing, doesn’t it?

 

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Writer and editor Eileen Gunn has a new piece out on science fiction writers and the art of possibility. For Smithsonian, no less.

How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors Are Shaping Your Future

The literary genre isn’t meant to predict the future, but implausible ideas that fire inventors’ imaginations often, amazingly, come true

An instructor at MIT’s Media Lab “laments that researchers whose work deals with emerging technologies are often unfamiliar with science fiction. ‘With the development of new biotech and genetic engineering, you see authors like Margaret Atwood writing about dystopian worlds centered on those technologies,’ she says. ‘Authors have explored these exact topics in incredible depth for decades…'”

Check out the full article for more on the role of science fiction in imagining, and creating, potential futures.

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