Looking Further

With Kim Stanley Robinson, Science Fiction Author; hosted by David Brin, Physicist and Science Fiction Author

DB: Towel day? Stan, Greg Bear, were english majors, yet do hard stuff. Learned you can bribe experts with pizza and beer. If you need to pay more, you name a character after them. Lives in Hobbittown: all streets are names after Tolkien characters.

KSR: There are no secrets involved in science fiction except to make up a story your readers can be entertained by. HG Wells: Novels had effect on world for quite some time. Tool of human thought: entertaining but useful.

Trying to figure out how to make situations work. Science is the process of looking for facts and trying to figure out the world as it is. Fiction is about values.

I don’t like being condescended to when I’m doing something as cool as science fiction.

2312: so far out that imagining it is simply mind-boggling. Imagining it and trying to create a realistic history between now and then is really a struggle.

Science fiction’s near future: talk about things happening right now and several years ago and then mix them. Don’t ever date them.

We appear to be in a choke point: no good food reserves, grotesque union and equity. Dangers seem high of crashing the system before technological intensity can be fully enacted.

It’s important not to be apocalyptic because there are these positive trends.

DB: What makes it very tense and movielike is that if we fail, we just barely fail, but if we make it, we make it by the skin of our teeth.

KSB: Notion that we can use technology to work things for the better. There are systems for human beings getting along. Would love to see CTO challenge applied to making up incrementally new economic, legal system. How could economics do a better job? We’re constantly selling things for less than they cost to make: dumping costs on the future generation. It would be interesting to see if you could properly cost things.

Also, shareholder value as only determinant for judging corporations. Shareholders equally important as government, planet, etc. Metrics have been invented in the past and have now become incredibly useful, but we need a new metric.

As science fiction writer, I’m always looking for next economic system, but it’s always reflecting current system. We don’t get speculative economics.

Most novel writing is not about creativity leaping out of the head of the artist. It’s about being the sensitive receiver of what’s out there.

DB: Just won right to set up the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UCSD.

Science fiction is a larger question of the sciences & the humanities; conversation on values guiding application of science/tech.