My latest column for Locus, "Ten Years On," looks back on my first decade as a novelist, and speculates about what a difficult utopia might be, and announces my next novel project:
And then I realized I had no idea what novel I’d write next. I have notes for about five books, but none of them feel quite… ripe. The closest is probably a prequel to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – it would be awfully nice to check in on those old friends and see what they’re up to after a decade. Down and Out is a utopian novel, modeled in part on Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge, a brilliant, absolutely engrossing novel about a zoning fight over a baseball diamond in a small town in a future Orange County where all of humanity’s existential problems have been decisively solved.
Utopian fiction is often characterized as optimistic fiction, because it’s fiction about a future where the existential crisis is behind us – where we know that whatever else transpires, we are likely to survive as a species. Our children and their children will live. Our deeds will not be forgotten. Life will go on.
It’s tempting to say that people who are happy in the midst of peace and plenty are doing nothing much of much. This, of course, isn’t true. Being miserable or happy has as much to do with your internal state as it does with the stuff going on in the rest of the world. Safety and a lack of material want is not guarantee of happiness – indeed, for the traumatized, it’s the quiet moments when the yammering ghosts of past horrors can be heard best.
Ten Years On
NCR reports in-the-wild sightings of “deep skimmers” (tiny, disposable card-skimmers that run on watch batteries and use crude radios to transmit to a nearby base-station) on ATMs around the world: “Greece, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.”
Here’s a puzzle from Martin Gardner’s “Mathematical Games” column, which ran for many years in Scientific American. I found it in his anthology, My Best Mathematical and Logic Puzzles, which is only $3.42 on Amazon. There is a simple procedure by which two people can divide a cake so that each is satisfied he has […]
Religion blogger Fred Clark is fascinated with the urban legends and panic surrounding “satanism,” so years ago he set up a Google News Alert for the word “Satanic.” Over at Pathos, he posted the funny, ridiculous, and fascinating things he’s learned. Here’s a sample: • Every year, dozens of filmmakers try to recapture the magic […]
White hat hackers get paid to find holes in their own employers’ online systems, and plug those holes before they become serious security risks. It’s a job that pays handsomely…mostly because few job candidates, even experienced IT professionals, have the skills to scamper over firewalls and infiltrate the deepest recesses of a battle-tested network. But […]
Why buy one of those expensive and confusing universal remotes, clogged with enough buttons to launch a space shuttle, when you could accomplish the same electronic control right on your favorite mobile device? The Blumoo Universal Remote, now just $52.99 in the Boing Boing Store, harnesses the audio power of all your household equipment right […]
You may not love Microsoft Word, but you’ve definitely used it. Other than being one of the most ubiquitous programs on the planet, it’s been the go-to word processing system for more than a quarter-century because it’s as basic as it gets. But occasionally, you’ve got assignments that beg for a lot more options than simple […]