Friday, March 30, 2012

We Come From Ballard Land

So next Friday, Easter, I'll be in a hotel just outside Heathrow airport, at Olympus 2012, the British National Science Fiction Convention. Mostly, I'll be hanging out in the book room or the bar (I like to think I'll be in my room, writing, but I'm easily distracted), and I hope to renew my acquaintance with the Heathrow chicken-rat farm, but I do have a few panels.  Two are on Friday.  The first on how science fiction has engaged with climate change, 'The Drowned World' (2012 is the 50th anniversary Ballard's novel; maybe we can spend 40 minutes discussing whether or not it's really about climate change); the second, 'Beyond Red Mars', about how our knowledge of the Solar System has changed in the twenty years since Kim Stanley Robinson's novel was  published.  I'm moderating that one, so will have to think up some questions to prod the panellists.  Name your favourite pet probe and explain why you think it's so cute, kind of thing.  Then on Saturday I'm taking part in a panel on 'The Fantastic Landscape' (perhaps we can make it a field trip), and on Sunday I'm down for 'Sequel-itis', or why it's such a terrible thing that Hollywood loves franchises (apart from Aliens and Alien 3, and The Dark Knight...).

Meanwhile, Evening's Empires slowly deepens. And I have a couple of short stories to write, and hope, soon, to have some good news about republishing the Confluence trilogy in one fat omnibus.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Human Architecture

The fundamentals of human life in these first cities did not differ greatly from ours today.  From the love of good food expertly cooked and enjoyed with friends and family, to the need to work and the pleasures of shopping, their daily live mirror ours...  By 2000 BC, as Mumford has said, 'most of the physical organs of the cities had been created.'  These were recognisably cities in the modern sense of the word.

P.D. Smith: Cities, A Guidebook For the Urban Age
If the fundamentals of human life, and the cities which reflect those fundamentals, have not changed in 4000 years, will they have changed 2000 or 4000 years in the future?  And how will those changes (if any) affect the cities our far-future descendants inhabit?
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