To Boldly Go Where Lots Have Gone Before
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  • Jim.

    I like your taste in Science Fiction.

    KS Robinson’s Mars trilogy was great, although it faded as he extrapolated farther and farther from present day. It peaked at Green; by Blue, he was building off of his own fictions rather than anything based in fact. It’s worth reiterating, though, how great Red and Green are. No computer model ever devised will teach us more about climate systems than any attempt we might make to terraform Mars. The prize — a whole new world for humanity — would be worth the cost.

    Fallen Angels is as much fan service as anything, but the premise is one that we would do well not to overlook. A warmer Earth is not necessarily one that is less hospitable to humanity. (Particularly if it increases the availability of fresh water, for example.)

    Canticle for Liebowitz is one I’ve always had lurking somewhere on my reading list… maybe I can talk Dad out of his copy one of these days.

  • M. Thompson

    The best SF can be prophetic; the worst is indulgence.

    In fact, the tidbits to set the tone in some of Heinlein’s later books are uncanny in how close they are to today.

  • Fuzzy Curmudgeon

    Oldie but goodie: The Sixth Winter (John Gribbin/Douglas Orgill).

  • John W.

    If you’d like to read one more in tune with real science than “settled science,” try “The Last Centurian” by John Ringo.

  • Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl was very impressive, but definitely fulfilled my minimum annual dose of being preached to. Somebody let me know when he gets a new schtick so I can read another.

  • Andrew

    See also: Timescape by Gregory Benford; Mother of Storms by John Barnes; Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach; Voice of the Planet by Michael Tobias; Earth by David Brin. The list goes on…

  • Yes, eco-SF has been done before. Philip Wylie tried it in “The End of the Dream.” You could say Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was SF, as well; it was certainly about as distant from actual science as you can get. However, no fiction writer since Ayn Rand has been able to make a mass audience resonate to a sociopolitical theme.

    Perhaps the eras of the Bellamys, the Sinclairs, and the Rands is finally over.

  • RNB

    Try ‘Ark Liberty,’ by Will Bradley [Brad Strickland] if only to shock the author when he gets a residual after twenty years!

  • NaSa

    It is August 15th today and happens to be India’s Independence day -we are not exactly thrilled with the way things are going here but we could be doing a lot worse. Sure there are a lot of things to be thankful in today’s India but one “thing” that i am acutely embarrassed of is the extraordinary number of scamsters like Rajendra Pachauri that India constantly produces.

    the green movement or the environMENTALS as i call them will not stop at anything- they are nothing less than a religious cult and if they have to brainwash whole generations into believing their warmongering stories of utter panic, they will most shamelessly do so.

    Bold Prediction : No title that says “I am with the Bears” will sell in Wisconsin.. or Minnesota for that matter :=)

  • TFJ

    Striebner and Kunetka collaborated on scary books of both the nuclear apocalypse and environmental ragnorak variety. Slightly leftist, but pretty well plotted and entertaining: ‘War Day’ and ‘Nature’s End’. There is a scary, scary left-wing nut who is the ultimate villain in Nature’s End. He makes explicit policies that Erlich and Carson must have dreamed about in their darkest hearts.

  • Dark Eden

    My problem with The Windup Girl is my problem with a lot of cyberpunk and post cyberpunk… they are great in regards to street culture and memorable characters, but they have no idea about economics at all.

    The Windup Girl was particularly bad about this and had corporate CEO’s as mass murderers with a bigger body count than leftist dictators Stalin, Hitler and Mao put together. It seems like someone would be bothered by this and put them in jail or seize their assets but as usual the megacorporations get away with it. I seriously expected a scene where one of the eville corporates ate a kitten just to show how dastardly they were.

    Despite the cringe-inducing black and white portrayal of capitalists, The Windup Girl was actually enjoyable and I would even recommend it. Hopefully once the author gets some preaching out of his system he can move on to better stories.

  • McKibben was a journalism major, and his understanding of science is just not that good. Bjorn Lomborg mopped the floor with him in a debate a Middlebury College, McKibben reduced to name-calling and sneering that Lomborg just didn’t get it. All the best people just know that McKibben’s POV is right.

    Okay, actually at Middlebury that’s a pretty good debate strategy.

    I have long maintained that much of liberalism in general, but particularly environmental liberalism, is a set of social and aesthetic responses – tribal markers of a particular class – masquerading as scientific and rational thought. In its darkest corners, it is about making people live a certain way*, seeking any excuse to effect this. As the science gets farther and farther away from them, they reveal themselves with their comments. McKibben is actually pretty blatant about it here: that he feels this so strongly it must be true, and we should be persuaded in nonrational ways to agree with him. Wow.

    AGW was a plausible theory. It may still have some use going forward, though the catastrophe aspect has been pretty well buried. But it was adopted by a political class for other reasons, to make sure that the wrong people – their main social competitors – didn’t get rich and get status.

    *That way, coincidentally, would elevate the status of this particular tribe. Quelle surprise.

  • JAH

    He’s not a science fiction writer, per se, but T.C. Boyle’s ‘A Friend of the Earth’ is a good example of what the article talks about.

  • billylauderdale

    Why is all Sci Fi apocalyptic?

    Can’t anyone see a future without desolation?

    I’d rather watch the Jetsons.

  • PFM

    Don’t forget the sometimes prophetic, dystopian novels of John Brunner – Shock Wave Rider, Squares of the City and The Sheep Look Up.

  • Cateagle

    Well, for “climate-change” and political sf, along with a fair bit of action, I’d recommend John Ringo’s “The Last Centurion”. It, too, seems more likely now than when it was published.

  • Bill Woods

    “… there’s Fallen Angels by Larry Niven, blogger Jerry Pournelle and Mike Lee …”

    The third co-author was Michael Flynn.

    Semi-appropriate: “Bears Discover Fire”, by Terry Bisson

  • Rich Rostrom

    billylauderdale says: “Why is all Sci Fi apocalyptic?”

    1) Most isn’t.

    2) Apocalyptic fiction is exciting and dramatic. Consider the volume of films that are about combat in wartime as opposed to the actual amount of people spend in wartime. Or the immense appetite for crime fiction.

  • thomas

    I need some help.
    In my teens (in the 1970′) I read a dystopian novel that I’d like to find again.
    The only things I remember are everybody wearing filters on their mouths, so they could avoid breathing in (and possibly killing) gnats and bugs, and a version of the Model T Ford being the only “allowed” form of transport.
    Thin info , I know.
    Does anybody have a clue what it might be.
    I remeber it as being a depressing, and sad book.

    Thanks, Thomas

  • mojo

    Billy’s a nut.

    What, didn’t the eyes clue you in?

  • Bill

    Other instances: Peter Hamilton’s “Night’s dawn” series (not really a trilogy) includes an Earth where everyone lives in sealed, domed cities because the weather outside is too hazardous to survive.

    For a more can-do species, Niven’s puppeteers deal with warming (largely from waste heat from astronomical energy use) by moving their planet further away from its sun.

  • Fen

    “Until we’ve really understood at some gut level what kind of a threat we’re facing, we’re unlikely to act with enough commitment.”

    I understand the threat – Socialists have taken over the enviro movement.

    You want to be taken seriously? Clean house.

  • teapartydoc

    Here goes: Soylent Green. Takes place in 2010. The population of NYC is, I think, 24 million. A small group of intellectuals has figured out something that the other 24 million have not. One of them is so distraught about it he does himself in and his body then heads for the Soylent Green plant followed by Charlton Heston’s character. In the final act of the movie Heston is chased by hundreds of plant workers. Hundreds. Not one of these guys went home and told their wife what they did for a living?

    I had fond memories of watching this movie when I was young and rented it when it became available, so my kids could watch it with me. I didn’t realize how much I had learned about seeing holes in scripts and how difficult it is today to suspend disbelief. The film should be shown to anyone who holds a conspiracy theory dear. It should relieve them of it quickly. It really is a terrible movie.

    I made the same mistake with the Supercar TV series. Maybe I should just keep my memories and not let facts destroy them.

  • Big Gene

    If you REALLY want to read an SF novel that scares the bejabbers out of you, try William R. Forstchen’s “One Second After,” a startling tale of an America whose technology is knocked out by an electromagnetic pulse.

    What makes the book truly scary is that an EMP caused by an enemy or emitted by the sun is far more plausible than any threat conjured up by the global warming crowd.

  • Touche Prof. with: “Panic doesn’t turn an unworkable policy agenda into something that people can actually do. It can waste a lot of energy and time and cause otherwise capable people to sink months or years of their lives into leprechaun chases, and it can cause pandering politicians to gesture in the direction of your agenda without ever actually doing anything significant — but that is all. And it is not much.”

    Now, if you can just get conservatives to stop trying to scare everybody with the bogus United States going bankrupt meme, and from trying to replicate the policies of the Hoover administration and the first two years of FDR’s administration both of whom were big balanced budgeteers, then you’ll have done a good days work.

  • Robinson’s Mars novels are wonderful and deal with environmentalist issues, but you should also have mentioned his Three Californias trilogy which are three alternate futures based on how people respond to global warming. Also his Science in the Capitol trilogy is directly about contemporary politics and global warming.

    I think this may have been mentioned above, but the third author of Fallen Angels is Michael Flynn (blog:

  • richard40

    We already had some really idiotic movies about global warming catrostophe. Water World had the rediculous theory that the entire earth would flood. And then there was the one about the entire US being covered in ice, caused by global warming changing the gulf stream. They were both entertaining, even with the rediculous science, but hardly persuasive.

  • richard40

    To Greg Marquez:
    The USA is going broke meme is bogus. Current projections have the US debt to GDP ratio approaching 100% in 10-15 yrs. Those were the levels where Greece, Spain, Ireland, and Italy all started worring about default. Mind you the USA could avoid a default by having the fed produce a ton of new money, soMething the Euro countries can’t do. But trying to inflate your way out of debt can lead to hyperinflation, as unpleasant a prospect as default. Doing some reasonable spending cuts now to head that off is hardly unreasonable. If it turns out we cut too much, we can always spend more later. But if we cut too little, there may be no way out.

  • @Richard40
    For what it’s worth here’ the list of debt/GDP ratios by country:

    You’ll notice that Japan is number one on the hit parade coming in at 225%, #14 Canada, #20 Germany, #24 UK,
    #32 Brazil, and #38 United States.

  • GMF

    Greg M says

    Now, if you can just get conservatives to stop trying to scare everybody with the bogus United States going bankrupt meme, and from trying to replicate the policies of the Hoover administration and the first two years of FDR’s administration both of whom were big balanced budgeteers, then you’ll have done a good days work.

    That’s right because nothing destroys a country like balanced budgets. Oh wait, maybe that’s the plot of your upcoming sci-fi novel where aliens invade and undermine the nation by forcing the government to balance the budget. [Drat] those evil conservative-aliens !!!

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Greg M: Actually, Herbert Hoover ran deficits in an attempt to stimulate the economy.

  • @Prof. Mead
    I bow to your expertise, but here’s Hoover saying he was balancing the budget and calling for a balanced budget and saying some progress toward that end had been made but more was needed to be done. Here’s the link:

    @ GMF Uh… yeah that’s kind of the point of referring to Hoover and FDR as balanced budgeteers. You do remember the result of their efforts, don’t you?

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