Astrogator's Logs

New Words, New Worlds
Artist, Heather Oliver             

Rises and Falls

As is common with me, things have once again come in groups.  In addition to the acceptance of The Wind Harp, a book has just come out with a tiny contribution from me.  It is The Rough Guide to the Future by biochemist, science historian and science writer Jon Turney.  The book surveys new technologies and their impact on humanity and the planet, and includes the hopes, fears and predictions of “fifty of the world’s leading futurologists and scientists” (blush!)  Here’s Jon’s introduction to it, and here’s my contribution:

Highest hopes: In decreasing order of likelihood, that we will conquer – or at least tame – dementia, which will make the increase in average life expectancy individually worthwhile and collectively feasible; that we will pick up an unambiguous SETI signal (search for extraterrestrial intelligence); and that we will decipher the ancient script Linear A and find out that the Minoans were indeed enlightened, if not matriarchal.

Worst fears: Most of our activities will devolve into inward navel-gazing (“social” Internet, virtual reality) rather than outward exploration, and our politics (broadly defined) will force all research into applied/profit mode, doomed to produce results and reagents that will make the long-term survival of the planet and all its species increasingly problematic.

Best bet: Barring a natural or human-created catastrophe, we’ll muddle along just as before and run out of resources and lebensraum before we’re able to establish either a sustainable terrestrial footprint or expand beyond Earth.

Additionally, I will be one of the reviewers of Rise Reviews, the brainchild of Bart Leib, the co-founder of Crossed Genres and Science in My Fiction.  As Bart said in his blog:

“I’m pleased to announce that I will soon be launching Rise Reviews, a site dedicated to reviewing quality speculative fiction that did not receive professional pay.

This is something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. See, most review sites either only review fiction from professional-paying markets, or take most of what they review from those markets. I don’t hold that against them – every review site receives FAR more review requests than it could possibly accomplish, and each one has to decide for itself how to narrow down the pile.

But the result is that, more often than not, smaller presses which don’t pay pro rates are the ones that get passed over. And that’s what Rise Reviews will cover. Many of these publishers produce excellent quality publications, and I hope that Rise will be able to help bring new writers and smaller presses to the attention of readers.”

Rise Reviews will be a partial corrective to those who think, à la Tangent, that only Leaden Era-style speculative fiction (aka boys and their toys) deserves to be read and reviewed.  And it may give an incentive to independents to start paying in more than copies, even if it’s the proverbial $5 — it will make the works eligible for reviewing in Rise.  The site will launch January 1, 2011 with a veritable avalanche of reviews across subgenres.

Images: The covers of The Rough Guide to the Future (by Tom Cabot/ketchup) and the 1st year anthology of Crossed Genres (by Nicc Balce).

15 Responses to “Rises and Falls”

  1. Bart Leib says:

    Thanks for the signal boost! Rise Reviews will actually launch January 1, not January 3.

  2. Asakiyume says:

    I like your highest hopes, and I think I more or less agree with your best bet.

  3. Athena says:

    Fixed! I went by what the blog said but January 1 sounds more heraldic anyway!

  4. Athena says:

    It’s actually scary to think that we may be living at the best times of humanity — when there was hope galore that we would make it long-term.

  5. Rose Lemberg says:

    Excellent news all around. Congratulations!!

    I am really excited for your participation in Rise Reviews, both because I love your reviews and because it is a much needed mission. I’ll be looking forward to reading the first installments on Jan. 1st.

  6. Athena says:

    Thank you for both the lovely words and good wishes! I look forward to it as well. To me, the best thing is that these reviews will highlight neglected genre hybrids. Stone Telling is on the reviewable list. Aren’t you happy you didn’t pay in copies? *smile*

  7. Sophy ZS Adani says:

    Wonderful news – congratulations!

    My worst fears nearly match yours. Sometimes I think we’re already spiraling towards that.

    I’m glad there will be a review site devoted to small presses. They’ll be flooded with requests, but I’ll ask them to review Destination Future.

  8. Athena says:

    Thanks, Sophy! Yes, I have a sinking feeling about our long-term prospects.

    Rise will review semi-pro works — strictly defined by SFWA compensation guidelines (less than 5 cents a word for stories or $2K for novels). Does the anthology fall in that category? If it does, I’d like reviewing dibs on it!

  9. Sophy ZS Adani says:

    I agree.

    Yes, the antho fits the bill. 🙂 The rate was 3 cents per word.

    I’d love to read your review! Would you prefer a Pdf copy or you want me to send you a hard copy? If the latter, let me know in email.

  10. Athena says:

    Let me clear it with the Coordinator-in-Chief and get back to you!

  11. Sophy ZS Adani says:

    Sounds good!

  12. Sue Lange says:

    I tend to believe your worst fears are what’s in store. But that may be the media’s love of superbole mixed with sensationalism. In my heart of hearts, though, I think we will just bugger on. We will eventually attain a sustainable terrestrial footprint. How many of us will die before that happens is the question. And how many earthlings will be around after that is another.

    I’m off to go get Turney’s book now.

  13. Athena says:

    Exactly. Most people assume there will always be a technological fix — or that they will be among the “saved” when the culling happens. But neither is a given, especially when you bump up against the finite resources. Unless we manage to switch to solar massively and soon, fuel will run out very quickly (in terms of civilization time units). If we cannot sustain the present level of technology, our vaunted globalization will break down in a matter of months, starting with the Internet.

  14. LauraJMixon says:

    Congrats on the new publication, Athena! Your list is a good one. It was interesting to me how well it corresponds with my own hopes and fears for the future.

  15. Athena says:

    Thank you, Laura! My contribution is truly miniscule — blink and you’ll miss it! What, correspondence even down to Linear A? *smile* But yes, I know what you mean. Many people fear running out of resources.