I've been reducing my blog postings to once a week, because each takes care and attention. (Likely more than you'll get from anyone else using this odd publishing art form!)
But right now I'm editing for republication (via Open Road Media) two of my best novels. GLORY SEASON was a delight to read again after more than two decades! (I did not recall how ripping a yarn it is!) And once they fix the glitches that Cheryl & I found, then I'm sure you'll like it, too! Watch for the publication announcement before mid December!
Right now I'm steeped in editing EARTH, which is on almost every list of Top Ten novels that accurately predicted the future. It had web pages years before there was a Web, and URL addresses that look vaguely like the ones we wound up using, and... well tons more.
As I read and edit along, I blink at some of the 'interludes' glimpsing the world of 2038 - envisioned 30+ years ago. As in John Brunner's classic STAND ON ZANZIBAR, these interludes are mostly extracts from media of that near future era concerning politics, entertainment, social issues, science... and especially the vexing problems of saving a planet that our children will continue relying upon, for a long time to come.
(Note early description of concepts you now take for granted, like online discussion groups, comment threads, screen-clickable links and so on, some of which did not appear until some years after the book came out.)
Many of these interlude sections are kinda, well, cool. Both in retrospect and as samplers of the idea stew that brews and churns through that novel. Which - like GLORY SEASON - should be issued in a new edition - with fabulous new covers, some time before mid December.
Hence, I'll do some midweek postings of these interlude segments posing questions that were plausibly provocative in 1991... and just as much so, today.
== Solutions? Circa 2038 (excerpt interlude from EARTH) ==
For consideration by the 112 million members of the Worldwide Long Range Solutions Special Interest Discussion Group [ SIG AeR,WLRS 253787890.546], we the steering committee commend this little gem that one of our members [ Jane P. Gloumer QrT JN 233-54-2203 aa] found in a late TwenCen novel.
She calls it the “Offut-Lyon Plan.” Here’s Ms. Gloumer to describe the notion:
“Our problem isn’t too many people, per se. It’s that we have too many right now. We’re using up resources at a furious rate, just when the last of Earth’s surplus might be used to create true, permanent wellsprings of prosperity. Projects such as reforestation, or orbital solar power, or [ list of other suggestions hyper-appendixed, with appropriate references] aren’t making any progress because our slender margin must be spent just feeding and housing so many people.
“Oh, surely, the rate of population growth has slackened. In a century, total numbers may actually taper off. But too late to save us, I’m afraid.
“Now some insensitive members of this very SIG have suggested this could be solved by letting half the people die. A grim Malthusian solution, and damn stupid in my opinion. Those five billions wouldn’t just go quietly for the common good! They’d go down kicking, taking everybody else with them!
“Anyway, do billions really need to die, in order to save the world? What if those billions could be persuaded to leave temporarily?
“Recent work at the University of Beijing shows we’re only a decade away from perfecting cryosuspension ... the safe freezing of human beings, like those with terminal diseases, for reliable resuscitation at a later time. Now at first that sounds like just another techno-calamity—plugging another of the drain holes and letting the tub fill still higher with people. But that’s just small thinking. There’s a way this breakthrough could actually prove to be our salvation.
“Here’s the deal. Let anyone who wants to sign up be suspended until the twenty-fourth century. The U.N. guarantees their savings will accumulate at 1% above inflation or the best government bond rate, whichever is higher. Volunteers are assured wealth when they come out the other end.
“In return, they agree to get out of the way, giving the rest of us the elbow room we need. With only half the population to feed, we problem solvers could roll up our sleeves and use the remaining surplus to fix things up.
“Of course, there are a few bugs to work out, such as the logistics of safely freezing five billion people, but that’s what SIG discussion groups like this one are for—coming up with ideas and solving problems!”
Indeed. Jane’s provocative suggestion left us breathless. We expect more than a million responses to this one, so please, try to be original, or wait until the second wave to see if your point has already been stated by someone else. For conciseness, the first round will be limited to simple eight-gig voice-text, with just one subreference layer. No animation or holography, please. Now let’s start with our senior members in China ...
== Back to 2023==
Among many predictive aspects of EARTH, one that folks found implausible in 1990 was the notion that China might one day be a leader of the world.
One that failed: my expectation that serious adults would join discussion fora that involved patient, multi-stage argument, unlike today's mostly-lobotomized but always-impulsive spasm posting, even by the smartest people!
Well, 2038 is still 15 years away. Maybe AI will help!
Anyway, more of these soon.