VIDEO: David Brin Defines Science Fiction

In this video, Author David Brin (Startide Rising, The Postman, The Uplift War, The Transparent Society, Earth, Existence) defines science fiction as the Literature of Change, shows how it has evolved through history, and how it differs from fantasy and mainstream literature.

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In episode 183 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester chats with author David Brin.

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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Iain M. Banks’ Consider Phlebas was published in 1987, the first book written of what would come to be known as the Culture sequence (or cycle). Released just this year, The Hydrogen Sonata marks the tenth book in the long running, award winning Space Opera series. But what makes for a good Culture novel, what is the secret to Banks’ longevity?

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: In celebration of Iain Banks’ CULTURE series, what do you think sets this work apart from other space opera fiction? What specifically makes for a good CULTURE novel and why?

Here’s what they said…

John Scalzi
John Scalzi has opposable pinkies.

I’m going to be honest and note that the reason that I read the Culture novels are not for the stories themselves — which are very good, mind you — but because I like wandering around the books like a tourist, gawking at all the cool shit that’s in the Culture. So I suppose what I really want is an “encyclopedia of The Culture” sort of book with pretty pictures and maps and a timeline and crap like that. Which is the exact opposite of a novel. I’m not sure if this makes me a bad reader of Culture novels or just a highly specialized one. What I do know is that I’m always looking out for the next one. So for me, what makes a good Culture novel is that Iain Banks has finished it and his publisher has offered it up for me to buy.
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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

You hear new stories every day: humans are ruining the planet. If we don’t do something now, we’ll certainly destroy the world for our children. Dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction is wildly popular, and for good reason! These scenarios, while bleak, are also exciting and offer the opportunities for lots of what-ifs. However, in the spirit of optimism, I wanted to explore some future scenarios that offer hope and a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: It’s not unusual to hear negative things about what the future might bring for the Earth and humankind, and dystopian narrative certainly makes for entertaining futuristic sci-fi scenarios (environmental disaster, overuse of technology, etc). In the spirit of optimism and hope, what are a few of your far future scenarios that speak to the possible positive aspects of our evolving relationship with our world?

Here’s what they said…

Brenda Cooper
Brenda Cooper is a technology professional, a science fiction writer and a futurist. She is the author of The Silver Ship and the Sea, Reading the Wind, Wings of Creation, Mayan December, and her newest novel, The Creative Fire, was just released by Pyr.

We are backing into Eden. I’ll actually be delivering a talk about this at the next World Future Society meeting in Chicago in the summer of 2013.

I have always been an optimist. It IS a little tough to pull that off right now, but there is still reason for hope. I know that climate change is a common topic, and you’ll get more than this post on it. But I do think we can get better at taking care of our world than we are now. The just-past election is one example. President Barak Obama mentioned climate change in his acceptance speech (after it had been off the radar all election). Here in Washington State, we just elected a rabidly pro-environment Governor, Jay Inslee. In fast, the US elected five people who are expected to drive change in this area. In addition to Jay, there are two new senators and two new congressional representatives who get it. Our city just passed a levy that funds, among other things, a program called Green Kirkland that is about support for our beautiful local environment. Katrina was a knock on the door. Sandy was a louder wake-up call.

The trick is that we are past the first tipping point – the climate is going to keep on warming even if we shut off all of the carbon spigots tomorrow. Success now looks like slowing and eventually stopping or even (maybe!) reversing the trends that are putting us in mortal danger right now. We caused a lot of this problem, and as ill-equipped as we are, we will have to help mitigate it. In addition to gaining at least some of the policymakers that we need, there is significant progress being made on important fronts: Electric cars, higher emission standards, more efficient buildings, green energy, better batteries. We are also gaining deeper understanding the world through big data modeling. We have the Internet. We have increasingly specific and high quality mapping and sensor nets. We can intervene on some levels, and we’re going to have to.

We have the communication tools to support what we’re going to need to do. If we could turn these tools to unseat bad governments all over the world last spring, and to occupy our own ill-behaved banking system, we can use the power of the Internet to spread ideas and action on climate. All we need is focus. Hurricane Sandy was a focus point. The heat waves were focusers. There will be more on the way. It will take some pain, some death, and a lot of action, but we can transform our relationship with the planet. That may leave us as the tenders of the garden in more ways than we want, but it is a path to success.

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This video features with science fiction author an futurist David Brin talking about the role of science fiction as literature, the merits and hazards of extrapolation in science fiction, cynicism in sf and enlightened optimism in the face of that cynicism.
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VIDEO: David Brin on Our Reborn Future in Space

From YouTube:

Mining Asteroids! Has the future finally arrived? Is this B.S. or not B.S.? Scientist and Sci-Fi author David Brin breaks down the idea into its fascinating ideas, taking a look at how Planetary Resources is planning to obtain metals and fuel by mining asteroids.

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Saturday Morning ‘Toon: “Voyager”

A cute animated short film, found by David Brin.

VIDEO: David Brin Talks at Google TechTalks

David Brin gave a talk Google LA on March 26, 2012…

David Brin is a scientist, speaker, technical consultant and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages.

As a speaker, he is best-known as a “futurist” who comments plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society, including some of the challenges that may confront our rambunctious civilization in the decades ahead. One favorite topic: creativity, or helping members of the audience think “out of the box” about both near- and long-term problems.

His 1989 ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and near-future trends such as the World Wide Web*. A 1998 movie, directed by Kevin Costner, was loosely based on The Postman.

EXISTENCE – David Brin’s bold newest novel (due June 2012) explores the ultimate question.

Billions of planets may be ripe for life, even intelligence. So where is everybody? Do civilizations make the same fatal mistakes, over and over? Might we be the first to cross the mine-field, evading every trap to learn the secret of Existence?

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MIND MELD: Our Fondest Memories of Science Fiction

When I met Allen Steele at a convention two years ago, he told me a great story about when he first met Robert A. Heinlein. At a previous convention, David G. Hartwell talked about the time Barry Malzberg responded with good humor about a less-than-flattering review Hartwell had given him. There are lots of similarly fascinating stories floating around the minds of writers, and this week we aim to set them free. We asked some of the giants of science fiction to share their stories:

Q: What are some of your fondest memories of your life as a writer?

Here’s what they said…

C.J. Cherryh
C.J. Cherry has written more than 60 books since the mid-1970s, including the Hugo Award winning novels Downbelow Station (1981) and Cyteen (1988), both set in her Alliance-Union universe. Her latest novels are Conspirator and Regenesis. Besides writing, C.J likes to travel and try new things, like fencing, riding, archery, firearms, ancient weapons, painting and video games. She also has an asteroid named after her: 77185 Cherryh.

My first Worldcon was MAC—I’d never been to a con. So I packed what I’d wear for a very fancy business trip; I never entered a panel late, and because I was wearing heels, I was late to almost everything. So I saw almost no panels at all.

And the announcement was out that Robert Heinlein wanted SFWA members to really dress for the awards, I saw people in tuxes, and I knew for one event I must surely be underdressed. So I decided to go to the coffee shop and get something to eat. Marion Bradley saw me sitting by myself, took the chair next to mine, asked if I was missing the awards. We’d never met, mind. I said I hadn’t brought anything that fancy, she said she hadn’t either, so we both sat there at the counter, ordered a modest dinner, and just sat and talked for the duration of the event. I read her books. She took the trouble to say hello to a new writer, and we ended up talking about life, the universe, and everything and having a great time. Of course I found out later that my business dress would have been overkill—but I wouldn’t trade the awards dinner for the sandwich at the counter if you’d offered me the fanciest gown at the event.

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SF Tidbits for 8/17/09

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