Jim, Ray, Lyle, Therese...all of you thanks for including me on the Scavenging the Future Inquiry up here at the SF Museum this weekend. It was a great topic and we covered it from many viewpoints and approaches. No good answers, perhaps, but I think it offered members of the audience a lot to think about next time they pick up a paper, turn on the TV or radio, and listen to the news. Yes, it can be daunting to look ahead, but the glimmers of hope there are real ones.
Dr. Jim Karr and I teamed up on our panel. He presented a compelling look at how the numbers we see every day...GNP, Economic Index...wholly fail to present a realistic picture of the health or 'illth' of our countries. What we choose to measure is what we pay attention to, and we are ignoring may social and ecological issues with our focus on economic growth only. In my turn, I talked about the writer's ability to put a human face on these numbers and make the future one we can imagine. What we can imagine, we can seek to change. And that desire to change, I believe, has to come one person at a time. Try Jared Diamond's 'Collapse' or 'A Short History of Progress' by Ronald Wright for a quick education on societal health.
What pleased me most were a couple of aspiring writers in the audience who seemed to share my really profound believe that the universe of story is not dead, even if the world of New York publishing and hardcover books seems to be tottering. Story really is how we put a human face on facts, and I don't think that will ever cease to be the case. And while waiting for the One Book or One Movie to make a cataclysmic change in our world is probably futile, a thousand thousand writers, poets, actors, video game authors, comics writers telling a thousand thousand stories can, I really and truly believe, make a difference.
And the new forms that storytelling may take delight me. Currently, in Africa, touring bands of people visit villages to perform free plays to entertain the populace. These plays illustrate the danger of AIDS and the need for condums. But mostly, they are a fun and exciting romance that draws an audience. Authors in other cultures are writing fiction that takes a hard look at social conditions and the envirionment and what it means to us now and in the future...Arundhati Roy is one of these, an author with a very strong focus on both the environmental and social ills of India.
I see our video game and comic universe as strong players in this world of future story, too. If you ever get a chance to watch Slide Rule, 'perform' their comics, do so! The Seattle group presents comics that come to life with powerpoint, music, and live voices as they take comics off the printed page.
Fine idea, I was honored to be included. My thanks to Richard Hugo House and the Science Fiction Museum folks.