Kim Stanley Robinson on how the coronavirus is rewiring our imaginations

Science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars, New York 2140, Aurora) has a fascinating piece in The New Yorker on how the pandemic is opening our thinking up to new possibilities, both good and bad, as we suddenly find ourselves in a world we only used to know in dystopian fiction.

Imagine a heat wave hot enough to kill anyone not in an air-conditioned space, then imagine power failures happening during such a heat wave. (The novel I’ve just finished begins with this scenario, so it scares me most of all.) Imagine pandemics deadlier than the coronavirus. These events, and others like them, are easier to imagine now than they were back in January, when they were the stuff of dystopian science fiction. But science fiction is the realism of our time. The sense that we are all now stuck in a science-fiction novel that we’re writing together—that’s another sign of the emerging structure of feeling.

Science-fiction writers don’t know anything more about the future than anyone else. Human history is too unpredictable; from this moment, we could descend into a mass-extinction event or rise into an age of general prosperity. Still, if you read science fiction, you may be a little less surprised by whatever does happen. Often, science fiction traces the ramifications of a single postulated change; readers co-create, judging the writers’ plausibility and ingenuity, interrogating their theories of history. Doing this repeatedly is a kind of training. It can help you feel more oriented in the history we’re making now.

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This new fiction anthology is punk as f*ck

A Punk Rock Future is a brand new fiction anthology featuring 25 speculative sci-fi and fantasy writers smashing the State in whatever fantastical futuristic form that it might take. Editor Steve Zisson (not to be confused with Steve Zissou) was smart enough to realize that a good short story is already like a punk song—fast, effective, and brutally DIY, with a fistful of meaning that explodes in your face with pure undistilled emotion. It only made sense to slam the two together.

The anthology features a setlist of writers with all the scene cred you need, including Nebula Award-winner Sarah Pinkser, who just released her debut novel about an illegal underground music scene; Margaret Killjoy, whose book The Lamb Will Slaughter The Lion was nominated for a Shirley Jackson award; and Marie Vibbert, who has published some forty-plus short stories and also attended the Clarion Writer's Workshop with me (where BoingBoing's own Cory Doctorow was our instructor).

We might be trapped in the dystopian cyberpunk hellhole of a future we were promised is children, but another world is possible. So check out A Punk Rock Future, or there's no future for you.

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Here's how Fisher Industries would like to make lots of money building a taxpayer funded border wall

You can almost hear the narrator drooling as he gleefully describes how Fisher Industries proposes to build a wall between Mexico and the United States, one mile a day, in ten years.

By the way, illegal border crossings have been declining for the last 20 years. "In 2017, border-crossing apprehensions were at their lowest point since 1971." (NY Times)

Fisher Industries seems well-suited for a president like Trump. From Wikipedia:

Fischer Industries is a privately-held construction company based in Dickinson, North Dakota, led by Tommy Fisher. It is a child company of Fisher Sand and Gravel.

President Donald Trump has lobbied for the company to receive contracts on the US-Mexico Trump wall, to the Department of Homeland Security, to Todd T. Semonite of the Army Corps of Engineers, and promoted the company in an interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity. Jared Kushner has also endorsed the company, as well as freshman North Dakota senator Kevin Cramer, to whose campaign the Fisher family contributed $10,000.

Tommy Fisher has appeared on local and conservative TV and radio and is a donor to several charities and the Republican Party. Senator Kramer suggested Fisher's Fox News appearances are what attracted Trump to the company.

The High Plains Reader has documented environmental violations and tax evasion by the company, including 169 citations and paying $1 million in air quality violation fines in Maricopa County, Arizona over the past 10 years. In 2009 Michael Fisher, then-owner of Fisher, pled guilty to nine counts of felony tax fraud, being sentenced to 37 months in prison and over $300,000 in restitution.

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