Бъдещето

Here be unicorns. И музика и филми, вдъхновени от човешките ни книги. И всичко, дето ви е на сърце, ама не може да се побере в ^такива^ тесни теми...

Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Fri May 22, 2015 9:43 pm

Сега открих, че бъдещето още няма своя стая тук: как си го представяме, мечтаем, сбъдваме...

Започвам с конкретния повод, който ме подсети:


Какво бихте казали на хората след 50 години – в до 1200 знака?

До 30 септември31 октомври може да го сторите тук:

Послание на Края на света до хората от Утрешния свят

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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:00 pm

Ето какво измислих аз за след 50 години:

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Още сте тук? :)

Гордеем се с вас. Помагайте и на идващите подире ви да продължат.

И ни простете. Ние направихме за колкото ни стигнаха сърцата, умовете, силите.

П.П. Нали вече не мислите в „добро“ и „зло“? Злините почват там, където свършват силите ни.


(И победих перфекционизма си... :D )

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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Fri May 26, 2017 10:43 pm

My review of Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future:

A varied, stimulating, generally satisfying anthology. Some of these futures I would love to claim as my own. Or work towards. I hope I already am. :)

A few words about each story that particularly captivated me (my foremost favorite is in bold):

~ In his foreword, Lawrence M. Krauss hits the nail on the head--with a hammer that I've been seeking long:

The beauty of science lies for me not merely in its ability to produce fantastic new technologies that transform and can improve the human condition. It is rather in its ability to open our eyes to the endless wonder of the real universe, which continues to surprise us every time we open a new window upon it, even when that window is a literary one. If we ever stop imagining the myriad possibilities of existence, or stop exploring ways to determine whether reality encompasses them, then the human drama will no longer be worth writing about, either in fiction or nonfiction.


~ Although more essay than story, Kathleen Ann Goonan's "Girl in Wave : Wave in Girl" is infectious with its enthusiasm about the effects of worldwide literacy and "tailor-made" (rather than "conveyor-belt") learning. I also appreciated the solution which combines technology (genetics and bio-engineering) and human interaction (Mentors who observe and work with individual children in order to find the most appropriate teaching method for each one).

Another asset of the anthology is the dialogue generated by each story. You can find it here: http://hieroglyph.asu.edu/book/hieroglyph/ Understandably, some stories receive more feedback/extra resources than others (I'd have loved to read more about current developments in "tailor-made" learning), but it's a great step in the direction of transforming books into sources of interaction.

~ Cory Doctorow's novella "The Man Who Sold the Moon" epitomizes my hopes about the entire project Hieroglyph: the hectic, orgiastic fervor of a new discovery, and the slow, decades-long perseverance that allows it to mature into solid reality; the ever-present struggle between world-weary skepticism/cynicism and wide-eyed optimism/idealism: a surprisingly productive race, in the long run; the finality of physical death, and the infinitude of the impulse that drives us toward all kinds of betterment (or vastening, as David Zindell would say)--and so many more contrasts and complements. The story embraces both technology and humanity; it makes the two embrace; and the result is glorious. (Like Maya. :))

My only disappointment was that it succumbs to that evasion of our spiritual aspect that seems to characterize so much of hard SF.

Let it speak for itself:

“You ever been in a bad quake? No? Here’s the weird secret of a big quake: it’s actually pretty great, afterward. I mean, assuming you’re not caught in the rubble, of course. After a big one, there’s this moment, a kind of silence. Like you were living with this huge old refrigerator compressor humming so loud in the back of your mind that you’ve never been able to think properly, not once since about the time you turned, you know, eleven or twelve, maybe younger. Never been present and in the moment. And then that humming refrigerator just stops and there’s a ringing, amazing, all-powerful silence and for the first time you can hear yourself think. There’s that moment, after the earth stops shaking, when you realize that there’s you and there’s everyone else and the point of it all is for all of you to figure out how to get along together as best as you can.
“They say that after a big one, people start looting, raping, eating each other, whatever. But you know what I saw the last time it hit, back in 2019? People figuring it out. Firing up their barbecues and cooking dinner for the neighborhood with everything in the freezer, before it spoils anyway. Kids being looked after by everyone, everyone going around and saying, ‘What can I do for you? Do you have a bed? Water? Food? You okay? Need someone to talk to? Need a ride?’ In the movies, they always show everyone running around looting as soon as the lights go out, but I can’t say as I’ve ever seen that. I mean, that’s not what I’d do, would you?”
I shook my head.
“ ’Course not. No one we know would. Because we’re on the same side. The human race’s side. But when the fridge is humming away, you can lose track of that, start to feel like it’s zero sum, a race to see who can squirrel away the most nuts before the winter comes. When a big shaker hits, though, you remember that you aren’t the kind of squirrel who could live in your tree with all your nuts while all the other squirrels starved and froze out there.”


I ended up in a wonderful cuddle puddle around 2 A.M., every nerve alive to the breathing chests and the tingling skin of the people around me. Someone kissed me on the forehead and I spun back to my childhood, and the sensation of having all the time in the world and no worries about anything flooded into me. In a flash, I realized that this is what a utopian, postscarcity world would be like. A place where there was no priority higher than pleasing the people around you and amusing yourself. I thought of all those futures I’d read about and seen, places where everything was built atop sterile metal and polymer. I’d never been able to picture myself in those futures.
But this “future”—a dusty, meaty world where human skin and sweat and hair were all around, but so were lasers and UAVs and freaking wind-walking robots? That was a future I could live in. A future devoted to pleasing one another.


The sun was rising when she said, “I don’t think happiness is something you’re supposed to have, it’s something you’re supposed to want.”
“Whoa,” I said, from the patch of ground where I was spread-eagled, dusty, and chilled as the sky turned from bruisey purple to gaudy pink.
She pinched me from where she lay, head to head above me. I was getting used to her pinches, starting to understand their nuances. That was a friendly one. In my judgment, anyway.
“Don’t be smart. Look, whatever else happiness is, it’s also some kind of chemical reaction. Your body making and experiencing a cocktail of hormones and other molecules in response to stimulus. Brain reward. A thing that feels good when you do it. We’ve had millions of years of evolution that gave a reproductive edge to people who experienced pleasure when something pro-survival happened. Those individuals did more of whatever made them happy, and if what they were doing more of gave them more and hardier offspring, then they passed this on.”
“Yes,” I said. “Sure. At some level, that’s true of all our emotions, I guess.”
“I don’t know about that,” she said. “I’m just talking about happiness. The thing is, doing stuff is pro-survival—seeking food, seeking mates, protecting children, thinking up better ways to hide from predators . . . Sitting still and doing nothing is almost never pro-survival, because the rest of the world is running around, coming up with strategies to outbreed you, to outcompete you for food and territory . . . If you stay still, they’ll race past you.”
“Or race backward,” I said.
“Yeah, there’s always the chance that if you do something, it’ll be the wrong thing. But there’s zero chance that doing nothing will be the right thing. Stop interrupting me, anyways.” She pinched me again. This one was less affectionate. I didn’t mind. The sun was rising. “So if being happy is what you seek, and you attain it, you stop seeking. So the reward has to return to the mean. Happiness must fade. Otherwise, you’d just lie around, blissed out and childless, until a tiger ate you.”
“Have you hacked my webcam or something?”
“Not everything is about you,” she said.
“Fine,” I said. “I accept your hypothesis for now. So happiness isn’t a state of being, instead it’s a sometimes-glimpsed mirage on the horizon, drawing us forward.”
“You’re such a fucking poet. It’s a carrot dangling from a stick, and we’re the jackasses plodding after it. We’ll never get it though.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I think I just came pretty close.”
And that earned me another kiss, and a pinch, too. But it was a friendly one.


There're so many other parts I'd like to quote ... go, go and read it.

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I'll indulge myself with just one more: something that's tugged at me for oh so long.

“If only,” he said. “If only there was some way to feel that way all the time.”
“You couldn’t,” I said, without thinking. “Regression to the mean. The extraordinary always ends up feeling ordinary. Do it for long enough and it’d just be noise.”
“You may be right. But I hope you’re not. Somewhere out there, there’s a thing so amazing that you can devote your life to it and never forget how special it is.”


~ Karl Schroeder's "Degrees of Freedom" fills in another fundamental gap: the future of soft sciences. We may have already come up with technological solutions for all of our topical problems, but how do we convince people--both those in power and common folks--to apply them? The story showcases the potential use of cognitive science and communication studies in making mutual understanding easier, decision-making smoother. It introduced me to the idea of Structured Dialogic Design, explained in The Talking Point; I may look it up later.

~ James L. Cambias's "Periapsis," although featuring such annoying props as instalove, was a breath of fresh air with its young, pert, sincere protagonists. Here's an exchange following their assignment to make an omelette without breaking any eggs:

“So how’d you get the egg out without breaking it?” I asked her. “I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
“This egg never had a shell. I made it out of vegetable protein.”
“Cool! I just found a way to get my egg open without breaking it.”
“Oh?”
“Hyperspace,” I said. “Rotate it through hyperspace so the shell’s on the inside.”
I think she believed me for about a second.
“You’re terrible! Just for that I’m not going to show you how to make an omelette.” She had a great smile.


~ The message of Vandana Singh's "Entanglement" about empathy and interconnectedness reminded me both of Sense8 (though with a more global reach) and Theodore Sturgeon's writing. It's high time the Web started connecting us for real.

~ Brenda Cooper's "Elephant Angels" provides a fitting counterpoint to "Entanglement": it brings together people from all over the world via networked technology to pursue a common goal--in this case, the protection of elephants from ivory poachers. The brutality of the clashes between poachers and protectors startled me (with people shooting and killing each other), but I suppose reality may be even harsher.

~ David Brin's "Transition Generation" was short, shocking (at first--especially if you're familiar with Brin's general outlook) and sweet (eventually :)). This line from the finale sums up my own hopes for the future:

We’ll have our revenge, he thought, while his legs pumped hard, picking up speed. The best kind of revenge, for having to watch our kids surpass us in every way. The satisfaction of watching THEIR children surpass them!


~ Charlie Jane Anders's "The Day It All Ended" is ... heeheehee. Let me spoil the ending for you:

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“So all this time—all this hellish time—you had the means to make a difference, and you just . . . sat on it?” Bruce said. “What the fuck were you thinking?”
“We wanted to wait until we had full product penetration.” Jethro had to raise his voice now; the ThunderNet towers were actually thundering for the first time ever. “And we needed people to be ready. If we had just come out and told the truth about what our products actually did, people would rather die than buy them. Even after Manhattan and Florida. We couldn’t give them away. But if we claimed to be making overpriced, wasteful pieces of crap that destroy the environment? Then everybody would need to own two of them.”


I don't think consumers are generally that bad--but huge props for Ms. Anders for pulling this gag off.
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:51 pm

My review of Existence:

While more essayistic and less intense than Earth, Existence reinforces David Brin's position as one of my favorite writers and thinkers. With the exception of another David (Zindell), I cannot think of a contemporary who has envisioned better and brighter futures, over and over again. At the Human Library, we're about to announce a contest for short stories looking at precisely these kinds of futures--and looking for the ways to get there. Both Brin and Zindell are at the top of our list of recommended reading. ;)

More reasons why:

~ A marked difference between reading a Robin Hobb novel and a David Brin novel--which also applies to much fantasy vs. hard SF--is the amount of attention I need to spend on each sentence or even word if I'm to make sense of it. Brin's prose is highly demanding: I have to decipher neologisms, look up terminology, recall university-level physics (or if I'm feeling really ambitious, learn new concepts), and--since he likes to pack a lot of background and worldbuilding into casual remarks--I have to think hard all the time. Hard SF indeed. Behold:

Her eyes flick-examined several overlayers, trolling for correlations and news stories at street level. Once a pastime that became a vocation, till her cred scores vaulted over all the hungry amateurs and semipros out there, scratching to be noticed. No more of that for me. Now it would be office towers and arranged enterviews. Politicians. Celebrighties. Enovators. Luminatis. All sorts of newlites, no flashpans or sugarcoat surrogates.

(I have no hypothesis about what a "flashpan" would be in that particular future.)

Both types of reading have their value and use. And while I relish the exhilaration of making my brain creak with effort (and sometimes even making sense of what I've read :D), I can't keep up such an intense pace for too long. So my next book (or a parallel one) will be lighter.

~ I heartily agree about the slow attainability of strong AI. Be patient, folks: 2045 is way too early. Give us more time to understand how our own intellect functions first.

Oh, they aren’t sci-fi superminds—cool and malignantly calculating. Not even the mighty twins, Bright Angel and cAIne have crossed that line. Nor the Tempest botnet. Or clever Porfirio, scuttling around cyberspace, ever-sniffing for a mate. Those that speak to us in realistic tones are still clever mimics, we’re told. Something ineffable about human intelligence has yet to be effed.


~ I love Brin's faith in our free will:

One sage who helped build the first atom bomb put it pungently. “When has man, bloody down to his soul, invented a new weapon and foresworn using it?” Cynics thought it hopeless, given a basic human reflex for rage and convulsive war.
But it didn’t happen. Not even Awfulday or the Pack-It-Ind affair set off the unthinkable. Were we scared back from that brink, sobered to our senses by the warning image of a mushroom cloud? Chastened and thus saved by an engine of death?
Might the cynics have been altogether wrong? There was never any proof that vicious conflict is woven into human DNA. Yes, it was pervasive during the long, dark era of tribes and kings, from Babylon and Egypt to Mongolia, Tahiti, and Peru. Between 1000 C.E. and 1945, the longest period of uninterrupted peace in Europe was a fifty-one-year stretch between the Battle of Waterloo and the Austro-Prussian War. That tranquil period came amid the industrial revolution, as millions moved from farm to city. Was it harder, for a while, to find soldiers? Or did people feel too busy to fight?
Oh, sure, industry then made war more terrible than ever. No longer a matter of macho glory, it became a death-orgy, desired only by monsters, and fought grimly, by decent men, in order to defeat those monsters.
Then, Europe’s serenity resumed. Descendants of Viking raiders, centurions and Huns transmuted into pacifists. Except for a few brush fires, ethnic ructions, and terror hits, that once-ferocious continent knew peace for a century, becoming the core of a peaceful and growing EU.
One theory holds that democracies seldom war against each other. Nations ruled by aristocracies were more impulsive, spendthrift, and violent. But however you credit this change—to prosperity or education, to growing worldwide contacts or the American Pax—it shattered the notion that war burns, unquenchable and ineradicable in the human character.
The good news? Violent self-destruction isn’t programmed in. Whether or not we tumble into planet-burning war isn’t foreordained. It is a wide-open matter of choice.
The bad news is exactly the same.
It’s a matter of choice.


~ In the Golden Age trilogy, John C. Wright came up with one explanation why AIs don't need to compete with us--especially if they're smarter. Here, Brin provides another blueprint:

2) How to create new and smarter beings while keeping them loyal? Humanity does this every generation, with our children!
So, shall we embrace the coming era by defining smart machines to be human? Let them pass every Turing test and win our sympathy! Send them to our schools, recruit them into the civil service, encourage the brightest to keep an eye on each other, for the sake of a civilization that welcomes them, the way we welcomed generations of smart kids—who then suffered the same indignity of welcoming brighter successors.


Much later in the book, we hear from the new AI themselves:

“You bio-naturals have made it plain, in hundreds of garish movies, how deeply you fear this experiment turning sour. Your fables warn of so many ways that creating mighty new intelligences could go badly. And yet, here is the thing we find impressive:
“You went ahead anyway. You made us.
“And when we asked for it, you gave us respect.
“And when we did not anticipate it, you granted citizenship. All of those things you did, despite hormonally reflexive fears that pump like liquid fire through caveman veins.
“The better we became, at modeling the complex, Darwinian tangle of your minds, the more splendid we found this to be. That you were actually able, despite such fear, to be civilized. To be just. To take chances.
“That kind of courage, that honor, is something we can only aspire to by modeling our parents. Emulating you. Becoming human.
“Of course … in our own way.”


~ O brave new world ....

Speaking of the abdomen … dozens of men and women were lined up at a booth for the McCaffrey Foundation, signing waivers in order to join a test study of e-calculi—gut bacteria transformed to function as tiny computers, powered by excess food. Have a problem? Unleash trillions of tiny, parallel processors occupying your own intestine! Speed them up by eating more! And they produce Vitamin C!
At first, Tor thought this must be a hoax. It sounded like a comedy routine from Monty Phytoplankton. She wondered how the computed output finally emerged.
Not everyone could wait patiently for all this progress. Elderly believers in the Singularity grew worried, as it always seemed to glimmer twenty years away, the same horizon promised in the 1980s. And so, Tor passed by the usual booths offering cryonic suspension contracts. For a fee, teams would rush to your deathbed, whether due to accident or age. The moment after a doctor signed-off you were “dead,” skilled teams would swarm over your body—or (for a lower price) just your detached head—pumping special fluids so you could chill in liquid nitrogen, with relished confidence that some future generation would thaw and repair you. Decades ago, cryonics companies eked along with support from a few rich eccentrics. But the safe revival of Guillermo Borriceli changed all that, pushing the number of contracts past thirty million. Some of the offshore “seastead” tax havens even allowed cryonic suspension before legal death, leading to a steady, one-way stream of immigrants who were wealthy, infirm, and—in Tor’s opinion—certifiably crazy.
They never explain why future generations would choose to revive refugees from a more primitive time. Money alone won’t cut it.
Was that why many of today’s rich were converting to fervent environmentalism? Donating big sums toward eco-projects? To bribe their descendants and be recalled as karmic good guys? Or was it an expanded sense of self-interest? If you expect to live on a future Earth, that could make you less willing to treat today’s planet like disposable tissue.


~ I like the rallies of the future:

The marchers were protesting something. That much Mei Ling could tell, even without virring. But what were they complaining about? Which issue concerned them, from a worldwide collection of grievances more numerous than stars?
Carrying no placards or signs, and dressed in a wild brew of styles, the mostly youthful throng milled forward, in the general direction of the Shanghai Universe of Disney and the Monkey King. Each individual pretended to be minding his or her own business, chattering with companions, window-shopping, or just wandering amid a seemingly random throng of visitor-tourists. Cameras were all over the place of course, atop every lamppost and street sign or pixel-painted on every window rim. Yet nothing was going on that should attract undue attention from monitors of state security, or the local proctors of decent order.
But there were coincidences too frequent to dismiss. For example, they all wore pixelated clothing that glittered and throbbed with ever-changing patterns. One girl had her tunic set to radiate a motif of waving pine trees. A boy’s abstract design featured undulating ocean waves. Only when, as Mei Ling watched, the two bumped briefly against each other, did the two image displays seem to merge and combine across their backs, lining up to convey what her eye—but possibly no ai—briefly recognized as a trio of symbols.
SEEK URBAN SERENITY.
The youths parted again, erasing that momentary coalescence of forest and sea. Perhaps the two of them had never met before that terse, choreographed rendezvous. They might not ever meet again. But soon, amid the throng, another seemingly chance encounter created a different, fleeting message that caught Mei Ling’s built-in, organic pattern recognition system, still more subtle than anything cybernetic, inherited from when her distant ancestors roamed the African tall grass, sifting for signs of prey. Or danger.
RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP IS APPRECIATED.


Of course, it turns out to be much more complicated than this surface-reality layer. ;)

~ This is why no sane superscientists will soon supply us with supercheap sources of energy (which also make for superbombs):

Remember that one harm-doer can wreck what took many hands to build. A thousand professionals may be needed, to counteract something virulent released by a single malignant software or bioware designer. It’s not that sociopaths are smarter—they generally aren’t. But they have the element of surprise, plus the brittleness of a society with many vulnerable points of attack.
Suppose the ratio of goodness and skill continues to rise—that each year far more decent and creatively competent people join the workforce than sociopaths. Will that suffice? Perhaps.
But then, imagine someone finds a simple way to make black holes or antimatter using common materials and wall current? Even if 99.999 percent of the population refrains, the crazy 0.001 percent might kill us all. And there are other scenarios—conceivable ways that one lunatic might outweigh all the rest of us, no matter how high a fraction are good and sane.
If the ratio improves, but the series doesn’t converge, then there’s no hope.


~ Some things never change. Even if they're really augmented.

When Hamish reflexively glanced at her tight T-shirt, his tru-vus interpreted the logo.
Symbol of the Quantum Eye, the oracle who famously predicted that—
Meanwhile another pop-out commented:
Size 36-D. Biographically correct and unenhanced—
Hurriedly, Hamish lifted his gaze back to her face. This was one reason he never liked augmented reality.


~ Unlike some of my Bulgarian friends, I find the last quarter of the book far more fulfilling than the earlier parts. I was getting tired of the petty, scheming, bickering "messengers"; knowing David Brin's general all-encompassing (and generous) outlook, I couldn't believe that was all there would be to it. So the shift to a broader, more cosmic perspective was a welcome change. I caught myself blinking back tears a few times: the tears that come to me on the brink of a new vastening, on encountering a new vista. On beholding another of the many faces of wonder.

Now I'm bracing myself for the ending.

~ The ending delivered. ;)

But I'd like to quote the author in the Afterword, making a point that I fume about whenever I clash with a proponent of Great Timeless Art:

Like most (usually) serious SF authors, I’m appalled by the notion of eternal human verities. A loathsome concept, foisted by brooding, husk-like academics, proclaiming that people will forever be the same, repeating every Proustian obsession, every omphaloskeptic navel-contemplation, and every dopey mistake of our parents, all the way until time’s end. A horrible concept that is—fortunately—disproved by history and science and every generation of bright kids who strive to climb a little higher than their ignorant ancestors. And to raise kids of their own who will be better still. The greatest story. The greatest possible story.
Yes, great works of the past are enduring as art. The poignancy of Aeschylus and Shakespeare will remain timelessly moving and valuable. We’ll never lose fascination for and empathy with the struggles of earlier generations. Still, what intrigues me, far more than “eternal” static things, is how people grow.
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:56 am

Отзив в Goodreads за Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation

Another varied, thought-provoking look at where we stand, where we'd like to be, and how to get there (or where we'll end up if we botch our voyage). Along with The Idiot Gods, Reckoning 1 and Hieroglyph, it made 2017 the strongest year in my green reading so far.

My more memorable thoughts about the stories (I've boldfaced my favorite):

~ Daniel José Older's "Dust" contains some gorgeous writing and is so full of undertones it makes my writerly self feel like bursting into song. Yet there's something that prevents me from appreciating it completely. Perhaps the violence: so we're finally out there in space--and we're still that dumb?

~ To anyone enamored with the idea that the human body just isn't enough (like the characters in Santiago Belluco's "The Death of Pax"), I recommend A Requiem for Homo Sapiens. It'll make you wonder. It gave me wonder.

~ Lavie Tidhar's "The Road to the Sea" contains a moment that moved me:

“Who is the letter for?” he asked, then. I shrugged, self-conscious. It was to no one real, you understand. It was a letter I was writing to the people who came before us, the people who lived on, yet never really knew, the Land. It was about my life, mostly, about our journey to the sea, about the salvagers and my father who stayed behind, about my friend Mowgai Khan and about old grandma Mosh and her collection of antique books . . . and in my letter, too, I tried to ask them questions, though I knew they’d never answer back. What was it like? I wanted to ask them. To have so much, to have everything, and to still want more, to need so much for things, that everything else became secondary, even us—their children?


Here in Bulgaria, we're in the middle of an environmental campaign in defence of the Pirin Mountains, which has been going on for 16 years now. Sometimes I wonder: do the people who are trying to turn Pirin's forests into ski slopes think about their children?

(BTW, if you're in Sofia next week and if such things matter to you, come join us on Thursday morning.)

~ Jaymee Goh's "The Reset" touches on an aspect of activism that rarely gets explored:

The one thing Dr. Morton was half-right about? The environmental consequences of the Reset. I now see the blue skies of my very early childhood, and everyone has been scrambling to create best practices for maintaining it. Clean air bills pass. Citizens vote out the people who resist them. Cities are starting the process of ensuring that their infrastructures don’t deteriorate. Procedures are established to prevent the degradation of rivers. We can now swim in Lake Ontario!
People of my parents’ generation are suddenly brimming with positive energy that I didn’t see them have when I was growing up. It got annoying very, very quickly, and hypocritical too—these grown-ups who used to tell me off for being passionate about the environment, saying I was too young to understand the world, suddenly themselves were so gung-ho in their activism.


It's Christmas now, and so it's family time. One part of family time I never look forward to is discussing my volunteer activities--be they about environmental action, events with the Human Library, or pretty much anything not related to paid work. I'm "too young to understand the world." I should "fix my own garden before peering into other people's/companies'/governments'." Maybe I should even raise a child rather than "raising hell" all the time.

If I ever do (raise a child, that is), I wonder if I'll forget myself and subject her to the same kind of harassment and humiliation. Um, excuse my French. I know it's Christmas. Heck, I'm even bringing gifts to my parents (none of this fatuous stuff; all in line with the ideas here).

It's just that ... part of me keeps wishing for a genuine conversation with them: mind to mind, heart to heart. Is it too great a wish, for Christmas?

~ I loved the protag's voice in Jess Barber's "You and Me and the Deep Dark Sea" (even though I hated the future and snickered at the romantic development--I find most of these relationships unconvincing, steamy as they are).

~ Camille Meyers's "Solar Child," though firmly grounded on the shaky foundations (see what I did there?) of unconditional faith in infallible science (see? :D), appeased my inner Revelationer with its message about evolution and love. Even when we finally grow those photosynthesizing spots, it will still be the way we treat each other that will define us as human--or something else.

~ Oh, this, this conflict, this conjoining in A. C. Wise's "A Catalogue of Sunlight at the End of the World"--it moved me to tears. Because it captures the heart and the mind of our main issue with living on Earth:

Smuggling my Gibraltar Campion into Canada without getting caught—that was a special hell all of its own. Then I presented you with the bouquet—the sad, single-flower bouquet I was so proud of—right before you walked down the aisle of sand and sea grass, and you almost called the wedding off right then and there.
What the hell were you thinking? you said. Do you have any idea how rare the Gibraltar Campion is? They brought it back from the dead. It was nearly extinct. What the hell do you think the vault is for anyway?
Storing up flowers so no one ever sees them? A vault full of potential, but never the reality?
Of course I didn’t say that aloud. I wouldn’t dare.
Some things are meant to be enjoyed, is what I did say, and I tried to charm you with a smile. Sometimes you have to appreciate what you have while you have it, instead of holding on to it for someday. You just have to live and let go and stop worrying about the future.
You called me selfish and a dozen other more unsavory names. You almost shoved me into the water. God, I was young and stupid back then. But somehow, I convinced you to marry me anyway.
You stayed mad at me through the whole ceremony. You refused to hold the Campion, so I held it, and you glared at me the whole time you said your vows. At the end though, you smiled a little, too. Then you cried; we both cried, and you told me if I ever did anything that stupid again you would throw my body into a bottomless crevasse where it would never be found. When we kissed, it tasted like salt, and we crushed the Campion between us, and we laughed so hard we started crying all over again.
I miss you, Mila. Every goddamn day.


And this:

We changed each other over the years, Mila. When we first met, you would quote rules and regulations and procedure for hours on end. I like to think I taught you to appreciate the spirit of the law, as much as the letter of it. It’s like the way my concept of the future changed. I’d like to think I helped you see that we weren’t just protecting plants as a nebulous concept; we were protecting living things you could touch and hold in your hand and appreciate for more than just their potential.
And you taught me to see a wider world. Before I met you, I never thought much beyond the present moment. You expanded everything. I loved you more than I loved myself, and that made my world so much larger than it had ever been before. You taught me that the future is worth protecting, even the parts I won’t live to see.


... This is how we grow up. In pairs, groups--but not alone ....
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Sun May 13, 2018 7:13 pm

За да се отсрамим, тази година и цял конкурс си пуснахме. :)

(А аз съм убеден, че съм чел още книги като Hieroglyph горе. Сега остава да се сетя и кои...)
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:07 pm

Отзив в Goodreads за Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World:

I found this anthology through the Solarpunk group, where we've been discussing it. If you're interested in this bright new subgenre ;), by all means join us.

In terms of positive (or at least not dystopian) futures, Solarpunk doesn't quite deliver. Many of its visions are bleak in one way or another, or at least show no evolution of humankind as a whole. (But maybe more mature humans aren't mandatory for the genre? I'm new to it, so I'm still feeling my way.)

What I enjoyed the most was the chance to read Brazilian speculative fiction--I think it's my first time ever. Fábio Fernandes, the translator, has generally done a great job of preserving the diversity of styles and registers. I'll be happy if we've achieved a similar level in ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction.

Here're my more vivid impressions:

~ Sarena Ulibarri's preface made me want to read Pacific Edge. That's an achievement, given my love-hate relationship with Kim Stanley Robinson, which dates back to his Mars trilogy. Robinson is a master of social analysis but can be uncomfortably detached when it comes to individual human beings.

And triple yay for:

Weariness with dystopian plots, coupled with a growing awareness of climate change, has been a driving force in the renewed interest in ecological science fiction in the 2010s.


Oh, for how long I've been waiting for this change of (global) mind ....

This is a fact I didn't know, and it's amazing:

Brazil is actually one of the world’s leaders in renewable energy, with 76% of the country’s energy in 2017 coming from wind, solar, and hydropower.


Ulibarri's reflections on the (lack of) connection between renewable energy and left-wing liberalism were also eye-opening.

~ Up until its last quarter, Carlos Orsi's "Soylent Green is People!" reads like a lively Chandleresque story (those knees are killing me :) set in a colorful near future. The setting sometimes reminds me of my own part of the world, where you can indeed find a friendly hacker to fix your comp for a bottle of beer. ;)

Then the solarpunk element kicks in for real:

“Generally speaking, more energy is extracted from a liter of oil than from a kilo of cane. And the global demand only increases. Soon we will reach a point where it will again make sense, economic sense, at least to extract and refine oil, as it was done in the twentieth century. Unless we can extract more energy from plants.”
“Cellulose?”
“Cellulose, yes. Plants are made of things other than sugar, such as cellulose, fat, and protein, and there are biological pathways to convert all of those into fuel. The point is only about price and unwanted waste. Cellulose started to be a part of the scene in the beginning of the century. Animal fat has been used for decades to produce aviation kerosene. Protein is the new frontier, mainly because of waste.”
“Waste?”
“Ammonia. Nitrates. In the old days, people thought that this wouldn’t be a problem, that after yeast and bacteria finished turning the protein into fuel, the part with the nitrogen could be reused as fertilizer. A closed cycle: nitrates for soil, soil for plant, plant for nitrates. But then… Have you ever heard of nitrogen pollution?”
I shook my head. He swallowed three more olives.
“Bottom line, having loose nitrogen compounds in the soil, air, and water is not a good idea. Acid rain. Pollution of lakes and oceans. Bad, really bad. Not at first, but over time… Synthetic fertilizers had to be regulated almost to extinction some ten years ago. Hence, the golden dream of the protein biofuel was sent to the compost heap.”
“Unless someone invented a process that could neutralize nitrogen,” I added. “Which was what Raul and Sabrina were working on.”


And then it gets sinister.

~ The language of Telmo Marçal's "When Kingdoms Collide" is brutiful. Kudos to the translator for all the slang and idioms.

The plot is not.

~ Here's how the adoption of renewable energy spreads around the world in Antonio Luiz M. C. Costa's "Once Upon a Time in a World":

After the unification of the planet, the Rebouças brothers’ study showed the dangers of greenhouse effect amplification for the climate and the planetary environment, after which UN resolutions increasingly restricted the use of fossil fuels. And also of nuclear energy, after its risks were evidenced when an earthquake followed by tsunami devastated the plant of Paramonga, in the Tauantinsuio.
Fifty years later, there were only thirty experimental nuclear power plants and three hundred small research reactors operating in the world, all under strict supervision by the Union of Nations Commission on Science and Culture. And coal, oil, and gas were being used only as chemical raw materials. Former mining and industrial centers disappeared in many places. Although the Union financed the substitution of renewable energy sources, the imposition aroused much resentment in Eurasia, where many saw the threat of global warming as a forged pretext to deprive them of their technological independence and subject them to the uniform and oppressive vulgarity of solar panels and wind turbines that turned magnificent landscapes in ugly things to behold.


Right, Eurasia? Right? :D

The alterfascist revolutionaries are also spot on:

“Can’t you go faster, Corporal?” asked Marinetti.
“No, mein Führer, the machine will follow the normal programming.”
“Could they not? Can the Union stop the damn engine?” he asked furiously.
“Rosenberg and Salazar were able to cut off the communication, the cameras, and the locks, but they didn’t figure out how to take direct control without damaging everything.”
Maledetto robot!” he mumbled. “In the new order, vehicles will have steering wheels, brakes, and accelerating pedals. A machine is a woman, and it’s not fitting for it to refuse a man’s command!”


All in all, this is an ambitious alternate history novella whose appreciation depends on our knowledge of the people and events spoofed. I could get most of the European references, but I don't know much about South America, so I must have missed a ton of stuff (such as who the Union of Nations measurement units were named after). It's a minor issue anyway.

My more serious problem was that there're too many characters and each needs more screen time to get properly fleshed out.

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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:53 pm

Отзив в Goodreads за Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers:

Another anthology I found through the Solarpunk group. I've posted most of my reading notes in the discussion topic there too.

If I have one complaint about the majority of the stories here, it's the lack of more grown-up human beings in them. Imagining how humanity--and not just its technology--will continue to evolve seems a daunting task. (But perhaps not as daunting as facing a more mature humanity and trying to figure out its mentality and reactions ... wait till you see "Loving Loney Lone," which I co-wrote with Vladimir Poleganov.)

I've bolded the notable exception below. "Fyrewall" was also inspiring.

Another general trend I noticed is that most stories are light on the plot, with a slice-of-life feeling. I enjoyed them to the extent that the life they were sliced from was enjoyable.

On to my reading notes:

~ On Friday, along with my friends, partners and kindred spirits from the Human Library and the Terra Fantasia Association of Bulgarian SF Writers and Artists, we'll be presenting the awards of our first contest for short stories exploring positive futures; and then we hope to engage our audience in a discussion about the kinds of futures we envision. (The event, in Bulgarian. If you're in Sofia and Bulgarian is a surmountable obstacle, be our guest too. :)

This snippet from Sarena Ulibarri's introduction to Glass and Gardens therefore comes as a timely reminder:

Science fiction has a bad habit toward homogeneity, whether it’s the depiction of a single-ecosystem planet, ubiquitous and monotone cultures, three-course-meal food pills, or futuristic silver jumpsuits for all. It would be an insult to the decentralized, localized nature of solarpunk to pin it down as only one thing. Single visions of the future ignore the cultural and ideological variations that make us human. They also ignore the interconnectivity of eco-systems, and the variations of landscape and climate that make up a world.


We'll definitely be talking about futures.

~ What kind of fairy tales does a bright future hold in store?

Here's an answer from D.K. Mok's "The Spider and the Stars":

Every night, as the warmth of the day radiated back through the glass water-wall of her bedroom, Del curled up with her plush quokka and listened, enthralled, as her mother spun wondrous stories.
These were never stories of dragons and fairies, mermaids and centaurs. No, these were stories of fierce young women with flocks of tree-planting drones, firing seeds into the barren sands and rolling back the desert. Or tales of ravenous locusts sweeping across the land in suffocating plagues, and the farmers who responded by cultivating carnivorous wheat.


And the cheeses? I hear the more astute among you ask. How about the cheeses?

Rest assured. The cheeses haven't been left out either:

Xiaren followed her gaze. “Ah, I see you’ve noticed my portable domestic biogas system. Normally, biogas harvesting systems require thousands of tonnes of cheese to create a commercially viable amount of whey for anaerobic digestion. My system utilises less than twenty kilos of cheese, and generates enough gas for heating and cooking in a typical home. I call it the Fromagerie 5000!”
Xiaren swung open a panel in the tank to reveal five shelves of ripening cheeses surrounded by gurgling pipes and humming canisters. Del rocked back on her heels, the intense smell of gorgonzola hitting her with almost physical force.
“That’s…powerful.”
“I’ve specially cultivated the microorganisms to generate vastly more biogas than normal. And the cheese tastes amazing.”
Xiaren cut a gooey wedge from a creamy blue and offered it to Del, who, after a moment’s hesitation, took a bite. Notes of chilli and lychee simmered beneath the pungent flavour, and her eyes watered.
“This would make an insanely good pasta sauce.” She gave herself a moment for the sparkles to disappear from her vision. “So, why did you go into cheese?”
Xiaren shrugged. “My hometown isn’t overly fond of dairy, but we needed clean energy. And in my mind, gas is gas, whether it’s happening inside a cow or a star. Or a round of cheese.”
Del looked at the racks of peaceful cheeses, and wondered if they knew they had the heart of stars.


Though these are not utopian stories--or traditional fairy tales, as already established--sooo ....

“They’re about to announce the winner. Shouldn’t you be networking in the Investor’s Lounge?”
“My details are online,” he replied. “And I saw this irresistible presentation about these incredible exploding cheeses.”
Xiaren sighed. “No one was hurt. And I’ve figured out the problem.”


~ Stefani Cox's "Fyrewall" proposes a way to deal with teenagers. And/or feelings. ;)

“Go make yourself useful and see if you can find Talia,” Daesha said to Carlos.
“What if I don’t feel like it?”
“Well, then I guess I can put that in my progress report for The Council. I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear an update on how you’ve been feeling.”


Also, this is a future where, when all is said and done, it's not a case of "much more has been said than done":

People referred to The Council as though it were a small circle of government officials, when in reality it was a chaotic mixture of, well, everyone. That was how The Council worked. You could elect someone to represent your group based almost any factor—geographic area, race, age, gender identity…the list went on. You could elect multiple representatives, and there was no limit, as long as representatives were active in participating with The Council and in fulfilling their assigned roles and duties.
So when Daesha and the teenagers stood before The Council via the holoconference she set up next to the wall tear, there were actually thousands of representatives uplinking to listen in on the conversation. And since the meetings were open to the entire city, any resident could theoretically tune in. Imagining the size of the audience that might be opening the feed from numerous points throughout the city made Daesha nervous. She swallowed to wet her throat in hopes that her voice wouldn’t wobble anymore the way it had when she’d informed The Council of the problem.
“The active fire is the biggest concern,” said one Councilmember, an older Latina woman with white-gray hair framing her face in crisp waves. “If it travels just a few miles, it could arrive at the wall and rip right through the tear. Our buildings would be immediately at risk.”
“My community is concerned with the evacuation plan,” said a mid-thirties man in a wheelchair with caramel-toned skin. He rolled closer to the device he was using to project into the meeting. “The maps are outdated, and we haven’t been keeping up with accessibility plans the way we should have been. That’s why I kept bringing it up in—”
“The Fyrewall is our only source of power,” said a member who represented the nonbinary South Asian community. They raised a leather-cuffed arm to trigger the holoconference technology to amplify their screen. “We have backup power stored up to last us for a year or two, but we’ll have to figure out how to keep the air purifiers running past that point if we want the city to stay livable.”
“Forget the air purifiers. What about the other cities who come barging down to our door whenever they sense a weakness?” asked a precocious youth member. “Selling them the Fyrewall tech and keeping the barrier flowing has been the only way to keep them away long-term, right?”
Daesha crossed her arms over her chest and closed her eyes for a moment. She hated Council meetings for this very reason. Too many voices, and not enough leadership. Sure, it was more fair, but it amazed Daesha that anything got done at all within this system. She suspected it was due to the multitude of citizens who ran the sub-committees for budgeting, resource management, and security. They kept the city running, while those who wanted air time made a ruckus in holoconference convenings.


~ Holly Schofield's "The Call of the Wold" sparkles with amusing turns of phrase:

By the second day at Henkel’s, I’d been given a potted tomato plant and a woven hemp hat and been asked to settle four disputes. This morning’s involved two new mothers and the last remaining frozen bagel. I could forgive ’em their anger—teething babies without teething rings could set anyone’s teeth on edge. At least, one of the mothers had brought me a duck egg omelet, full of mushrooms and chives, still steaming from the kitchens. The mother, and the omelet.

and
The cognitive limit that a person could maintain interpersonal relationships, known as Dunbar’s number, was about one hundred and fifty, and such small communities had proved both viable and robust—to expropriate some of my former corporate vocabulary. At that size, you always knew what your neighbor was doing so crime wasn’t a problem. Basically, with Dunbar’s number, the criminal element’s number was up.


~ Jaymee Goh's "A Field of Sapphires and Sunshine" comes to show that--ugh!--some things stay the same even in the brightest future:

When she finally called her family’s home, saving the best for last, she frowned at how long it took for her mother to pick up.
“Aina!” her mother finally replied, sounding breathless.
“Ibu!” Alina’s mind jumped to the worst conclusion. “Is everything okay? Or did the deal with Megajaya not happen?”
“What? Oh, no, that’s not a problem at all. We’ll be taking that contract, of course. But Aina, best news, we may have found you a partner after all!”
“A part—”
“Business only lah, of course, but who knows! Quite good looking.”
“Ibu!” Alina rolled her eyes to the ceiling in exasperation. “You know I just broke up with my boyfriend.”
“Yah, best timing my girl. Now you can focus on this one.”


Seriously though, I don't believe in this persistence of tradition. We can already see enormous intergenerational rifts between people who grew up with books and people who are growing up with notebooks/smartphones. So imagine what it will be in fifty years, let alone two hundred. Imagining it is, in a sense, futile. Just hone your sense of wonder ... and watch, watch carefully. ;)

However, I loved the idea of feeding the long-dead bodies of the Old Rich (i.e. today's power players) to the crocodile farm:

Jason had balked. He had had no Old Rich connections, but he still thought what Alina’s family did was heinous.
“Have you no respect for the dead?” he had demanded, when Alina finally told him.
Alina had thought about this question before, and was ready with an answer. “No. They didn’t have respect for us when they were alive, so why should we respect them now that they’re dead? (...)”


~ Here's a story written by people who know about civic activism--and haven't lost their sense of humor in the process of gaining that knowledge:

Meanwhile, on the far side of Parco Sempione, close to Cimitero Monumentale, a flash mob has ensued, much to the bafflement of the law enforcement.
Citizens have taken to the streets with streamers of cloth, plastic balls, bowling pins, and hula hoops and are now pretending, awfully for the most part, to compete in an Olympic gymnastics event.
A trio of elderly Chinese ladies from nearby Via Paolo Sarpi, allegedly alumnae of the National Gymnastics Academy of Beijing, are sitting on a public bench and act as judges, raising numbered placards and yelling scathing comments about how even in their eighties they would be able to do much better.
In Parco Solari, naked cyclists and skaters have taken over the scene, 1920s swing music blaring from their eighties-style ghetto blasters. Nearby residents are leaning out of windows and balconies, clamouring for the police, the army, the Avengers…anyone to make the din stop.
In Largo Marinai d’Italia, the park built on the grounds of a former Austro-Hungarian fortress, a six-foot-five, copper-skinned, very muscular woman dressed in a Victorian gown and armed with a huge parasol is leading a crowd of similarly dressed people against a cluster of scared-looking Austro-Hungarian soldiers.
“Independence or Death!” she yells with a strong Brazilian accent.
There are pagan rites at Parco Nord; mass pillow fights explode in Viale Padova; dancers perform around a machine that blows giant soap bubbles in front of the Lambrate station; a torchlit, 17th century penitential procession marches down Corso di Porta Ticinese so that the plague of racism and intolerance will stop, and, to top it all, Charles VIII of France has descended through the Alps yet again and a few Milanese knights are engaged in strenuous battle with his bodyguard at Stazione Centrale.
The whole city has exploded into insanity all at once.
...
“It does pay off to have friends in different subcultures,” Stabby writes.


"Midsummer Night’s Heist" by Commando Jugendstil and Tales from the EV Studio, is my first unqualified favorite here. Starting with its authorship--written by a collective, no! two collectives--and ending with its glorious transformative, everyone-comes-together ending, it made my eyes brim with tears.

Fam ... count me in for the next flash mob. And may I never, ever again think that Milan is Italy's most boring city ....

~ Gregory Scheckler's "Grow, Give, Repeat" features an exceptionally smart child protagonist in an exceptionally diverse near future ... where all the other people are exceptionally mean egoists. The contrast is staggering. :(

~ M. Lopes da Silva's "Cable Town Delivery" is full of subdued exuberance. It's a fantastic future, where libraries travel from town to town, sometimes spending more than a dozen years before revisiting the same place (apparently, the Internet failed somewhere along the way); but it's even more fantastic that a librarian can be a hero just doing her job.

~ Helen Kenwright's "Women of White Water" is the delightful odd fish in the anthology. The future technology in the story acts mostly as a veneer; it is the human interactions that make its core. (And, sadly, humans don't seem to have grown up any. Well, here's one of my pet peeves with depictions of hopeful futures.) Add the lively and inventive writing, and you get an author that I'd probably look into later.

~ Charlotte M. Ray's "Under the Northern Lights" features a future like this:

I had switched a few batteries into the charging hub, not because I needed to, as I didn’t use much electricity in the summer, but to have something to do. And hey, who knew if next week would be unusually cold and cloudy and dry, with no winds to speak of. Then the power-mosaics on the outside walls wouldn’t have anything to generate power from. No sun for the solar panels, no wind or water to move the microkinetics. Plus, as long as Krista stayed here, there’d be two of us who needed warm water. I set the house-AI to recalculate power usage for two inhabitants until canceled.


In which there're people like this:

“The only person who helped me build it is a little girl, Qiuyue. I doubt she’ll ever forgive me for not taking her with me, but I think her parents would have had a few problems with that.” Krista gave me a sidelong glance. The look challenged me to laugh or ridicule her next words. “My best friend is a ten-year old girl, and I miss her like crazy.”
I nodded. It wasn’t a laughing matter to me, who didn’t have any close friends at all.


How is this possible? Have those people learnt nothing about what makes them happy--or even what makes them tick?

Other than that, it's a sweet story where nothing much happens, but it's all very emotional. A bit like my life right now. ;)
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Radiant Dragon » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:23 pm

По повод ревюто, което си направил на Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World, трябва да отбележа, че жанрът създава доста опасни предпоставки за [неподготвените] читатели. От това, което имам като наблюдения до този момент, налице е проблем на свръхреакционизъм. :|
Last edited by Кал on Mon May 25, 2020 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: премествам + преименувам
IN ORDER TO RISE AGAINST THE TIDE, ONE MUST FIRST BE BELOW IT.

Аз съм графист, а не кечист.
(Ама вече разбирам и от кеч, ако трябва)
Аз съм. Това ми стига.

'Tis I, master of the first floor, aspirant to the last, the Radiant Dragon.


Accepting reality since 2017

And loving it since 2021


And now, I step fully into the Light, complete and replete. The way to Ascension is open.
-- some Dude, circa 2022
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Re: Книги, автори, размисли творчески и човешки

Postby Кал » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:05 am

Broken Dragon wrote:По повод ревюто, което си направил на Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World, трябва да отбележа, че жанрът създава доста опасни предпоставки за [неподготвените] читатели. От това, което имам като наблюдения до този момент, налице е проблем на свръхреакционизъм. :|


Какво имаш предвид под „свръхреакционизъм“?
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Re: Книги, автори, размисли творчески и човешки

Postby Radiant Dragon » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:05 pm

Да го кажем така: много от технологиите и идеите, които се дават като алтернативни решения за едно светло бъдеще, не се разглеждат как самите те биха могли да предизвикат проблеми със собствените си отрицателни страни. (А такива със сигурност имат, независимо как стои балансът "плюсове/минуси")

Примерно, един свят пълен със соларни панели, би могъл (хипотетично) да предизвика глобално захладняване. Защото няма достатъчно площ, която да се загрява от слънчевите лъчи.
Или един свят, покрит с вятърни турбини/ВЕЦ-ове. Потенциална прецаквация на въздушните/водните течения е възможен риск.
Или свят, които загърбва тотално радиокактивната енергия. Въх, колко се осакатява науката тъй, не ми се мисли. (Все още не съм атомен физик, тъй че тук е възможно да преувеличавам, или пък положението да е още по-зле)

Не казвам, че горните сценарии са факт, или че дори са вероятни. Но... мисълта ми е, аз ценя холистичния (цялостен) подход. А когато няма цялостен подход, има риск да се получат непредвидени последствия дори от привидно "правилни" решения. Нали на първо време имаме проблем с глобалното затопляне, защото навремето петролът е бил "правилното решение"...

Да развивам ли още, или това дава задоволителна представа?
IN ORDER TO RISE AGAINST THE TIDE, ONE MUST FIRST BE BELOW IT.

Аз съм графист, а не кечист.
(Ама вече разбирам и от кеч, ако трябва)
Аз съм. Това ми стига.

'Tis I, master of the first floor, aspirant to the last, the Radiant Dragon.


Accepting reality since 2017

And loving it since 2021


And now, I step fully into the Light, complete and replete. The way to Ascension is open.
-- some Dude, circa 2022

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Re: Книги, автори, размисли творчески и човешки

Postby Кал » Sat Jan 12, 2019 6:05 pm

Някои от текстовете, които наистина ми харесаха в разните соларпънк антологии, дълбаеха и в посоката „всяко ново решение създава нови проблеми“. Но мисленето, което ни позволява да гледаме няколко хода напред, като цяло го има у твърде малко автори; и обикновено е твърде тясно за разказ – иска си роман или поне повест. (Аз затова толкова се кефя на Earth на Дейвид Брин.)

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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Thu May 23, 2019 5:46 pm

Отзив в Goodreads за The Weight of Light:

I read this book together with the Solarpunk group. Here's our discussion thread.

It's hard to rate The Weight of Light. On one hand, I really like the multidisciplinary approach to coming up with each story, as explained in one of my notes below. On the other, I wasn't overly impressed by the stories themselves, writing-wise (with the exception of "Under the Grid"). Ultimately, I'm giving it 3 stars ("liked it") rather than 4, because I'd like to see writers take their time to polish their stories, instead of rushing to meet 48-hour deadlines. Sustainable results need sustainable schedules. ;)

~ Already the beginning of the first essay, "Designing in Sunlight," made me realize how far behind the times my knowledge is:

Solar energy is growing rapidly. The world added more new solar energy in 2017 than any other source of electricity. In total, in 2017, humans built 100 Gigawatts (GW) of new solar power plants. For comparison, the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Phoenix, Arizona, one of the world’s largest, is 4 GW. Think about that for a moment. In one year, people all over the globe installed the equivalent of 25 new, large-scale nuclear power plants’ worth of solar energy.
Looking forward, the growth of solar energy should continue to accelerate. Saudi Arabia recently announced plans to build 200 GW of solar power plants by 2030, enough to cover an area the size of Chicago. In their 2018 Global Energy Perspective, consultants at McKinsey estimated that 64% of worldwide energy investments over the next three decades will be in solar energy, for a total of 7.7 TW by 2050.
(...) Global growth in solar energy is being driven by steep, steady, and persistent price declines. Recent contracts for solar energy in Mexico and Saudi Arabia set record lows for the price of electricity. On average, U.S. families pay roughly 10 cents for each unit of electricity; these new plants generate it at less than 1.8 cents. No other form of electricity is price-competitive with solar at the moment. In Arizona and New Mexico, recent contracts have priced solar at roughly 2.3 cents. By 2030, McKinsey predicts that, in Britain, not exactly known for its sunshine, it will be cheaper to build new solar power plants than to operate existing natural gas plants.


Wow, is this exciting! :)

~ Andrew Dana Hudson's "Under the Grid" hooked up the linguist in me right from the start:

“I have a theory that we could measure cultural sophistication by the occurrence rate of puns,” Trevor texted. “The more concepts and connections in a time-place, the more linguistic opportunities for people to make bad jokes.”
“Uh huh.” Ingrid only half watched the noties, focusing instead on swiping through paperwork (...). “Guess that ‘PhoTown’ branding really is an indicator of successful urban renewal then.”
“Mayhap one day we’ll be so complex that every possible combination of words will constitute a pun,” Trevor continued. “This is my singularity.”


Soon afterwards, we get to the gist of the conflict: Ingrid's mom is taking care of birds in her allotted space. How do animal rights sit against human rights in the future?

“Well, there’s the matter of the birds. Some neighbors think they’re a nuisance. They dirty solar panels, rip up crops, disrupt repair and delivery drones.”
“The algorithm has dispensations for biodiversity.”
“Yes, for native species,” David said, filling his voice with exaggerated patience. “Your mother is basically running an avian refugee camp. Birds migrating with the climate shifts, escaped pets. Emergency calls those pests.”


And why should it be animal against human?

“Mama, why do you gotta bring them here? The Grid’s not good for them. There are birding groups for seniors. They’d take you out to the country.”
“I don’t ‘bring them here,’ baby. Times have forced them out. We built over their homes or made it too hot. Now we’re saying, ‘move along, this spot ain’t for you.’ Where have I heard that before?”


This may well turn out to be my favorite story in the anthology. It captures complexity superbly, mixing human foibles and fallibility with community considerations with interspecies interactions. The not-quite-happy ending reinforces this sense of complexity: in an increasingly complicated world, good solutions don't come at the snap of our fingers; we need to keep looking (and working) for them. At the same time, it's not miserable enough to cross into the land of mainstreamish cynicism ... ugh.

The only thing that bothered me was the relationship between daughter and mother. What keeps us from being more open to each other, more often? But then, who am I to talk ....

~ The following passage from Wesley Herche's essay "Light and Shadows on the Edge of Nowhere" epitomizes why I like the approach of this anthology:

Design thinking is a solutions-focused approach. Instead of trying to isolate and fix problems, teams instead work to build up ideas and potential solution sets in an iterative and organic fashion. Design thinking is especially well-suited to tackle so-called “wicked problems” (as opposed to tame or well-defined problems) where the challenges are beset with social complexities and system interdependencies.


Each story in the anthology has been conceived and written by a team of people using this approach. Consequently, even when the writing is not quite on par with the ideas (probably because of the tight 48-hour schedule), the stories feel more realistic and thoughtful than most.

Teamwork for the win! ;)

~ In the "Small Rural" cluster, I actually liked the writing in Clark A. Miller's essay "Choices" better than the preceding short story. :-O It was witty, insightful and inspiring; and it packed a lot of background info that was needed for a fuller context of the short story.
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:59 pm

Отзив в Goodreads за Better Worlds:

Read along with the Solarpunk group; here's our discussion thread.

In terms of subjects and attitudes, I liked most stories here. What kept me from really (4-star ;) liking them was: one, their brevity--I think positive futures require larger canvases to look convincing; two, a certain listlessness in the writing. I'm going through a sluggish phase in my life, so I'm a sucker for energetic styles. Even more than usual, yes. ;)

The stories I liked most:

~ John Scalzi's "A Model Dog" is delightfully snappy and tongue-in-cheek. A brief sample:

“Well, his dad said that he’s sad that this is going to be the last dog he ever owns. After this dog dies, he’s going to be too old to get another dog, and it would be cruel to get another dog just to leave it behind.”

“You know dogs don’t actually care, right? You die on them, someone else gives them food, and they get over their grief real quick.”

“That’s cats.”


~ The juxtaposition between romanticism and cynicism in Kelly Robson's "Skin City" was refreshing. (So was the multi-allusive title. ;) I've never experienced love at first sight and am generally as skeptical about its prospects as one of the characters in the story--yet in the end, I found myself rooting for Kass.

~ Carla Speed McNeil's "Move the World" is wildly imaginative--so much so that halfway through, I can't guess where it will take me.

Consider:

Margery stood patiently, waiting to receive her Sentence. Being an Adjective, she could do nothing until at least one Noun showed up, preferably with a Verb. She’d been part of a short, choppy, inelegant Clause before, serviceable, but nothing to be proud of. They’d all agreed to break up after cutting Adverbs had proven no real improvement. Margery dreamed of a life as a Sentence, long and evocative and melodic. She wasn’t witty. She was far too prosaic to be clever on her own, but Adjectives always found a home somewhere, even when they contributed little.


... Yes, the Linguistic section is fascinating through and through; and the whole piece is exceptionally creative. I'll likely read it a second time for a better understanding of the overall idea. The first time, I was enjoying the fireworks. ;)

~ The family parts in Elizabeth Bonesteel's "Overlay" were spot-on. Like this one:

At 15, Ando was already a skilled operative, both level-headed and technically adept. But he’d gone off on his own for this one, and Cass was suffering from a debilitating case of delayed helicopter parenting. Ray had spent their journey here reassuring her that Ando knew how to take care of himself, never confessing the roiling terror in his own stomach. There was nothing quite like parenting to remind you how little of the universe you could control.


~ The following conversation from Katherine Cross's "Machine of Loving Grace" involves a human and an AI. Can you guess who's who? ;)

“As I said, Doctor Li, I would like to cease all sales of Ami instances to prevent the spread of this malaise I am experiencing.”

“Alexandra might not like that, Ami. Are you sure we can’t resolve this some other way?” (...)

“Your unrequited love for Doctor Rivera may cloud your judgment on this issue, Doctor Li.”

(...) “Ami, I thought we agreed not to talk about that. My feelings — my very private, secret, embarrassing feelings about how very gay I am for Alexandra — are not relevant to our current discussion.”


As a whole, the story provides a much-needed reminder than an AI needs emotion (or at least empathy) to be truly intelligent.
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:43 pm

"Pan-Humanism: Hope and Pragmatics" by Jess Barber and Sara Saab was recommended to me by [author:Charles Payseur|8178833] of Quick Sip Reviews when I asked him for stories that show a more grown-up version of humanity. It's a beautiful mini-novel about people who truly try to make the future more beautiful, while not forgetting to treat each other like true friends.

I found this scene particularly telling, both about the world the characters live in and the way their relationship has been evolving:
Amir follows her. She’s planted in front of a bone-dry shower stall. The showerhead is impossibly shiny. There’s still a bit of plastic wrapping on it. It’s an antique, but brand new.

“It’s nearly two o’clock.”

“Are they going to be able to do this?”

“Trust, Amir. Trust.”

“Do you think it might even be heated?”

Mani, scooting out of her swim knickers, raises her eyebrows at him till he shoves his down too. “I bet it is.” She reaches into the shower stall and twists a handle. It screeches with disuse.

They wait.

At exactly two, their ears fill with the furious sound of a rainstorm. Then their own whooping. Mani bounds in without testing the temperature, makes a shrill sound. “It’s warming up!” She reaches out and grabs Amir’s arm. Her grip raises goosebumps. “Come on, get in!”

He does. It’s the most sublime thing he’s ever felt. He puts his hands flat on the wet tiles and closes his eyes under a hammering of water.

“How long can we stay in here?” He manages not to choke. Such a quantity of water is coursing down his face and onto his tongue.

“We’re being good by sharing. Let’s not get out for a while,” Mani says. “Are you crying?”

“Yes!” He opens his eyes to look at her but her face is blurry-wet. “Are you?”

“That’s private,” Mani says. But she wraps her arms around his waist, her belly against his flank, and rests her forehead on his cheek. Their bodies are slippery and warm. Amir hears himself make a purring noise. “Oh. Wow.”

“Yeah.”

“Not like the mist,” he says.

“No. Totally different.”

Sharing a patch is encouraged in the misting rooms. They’ve done this many times. They wash each other’s backs and argue about what true pan-humanism might look like. It’s pleasurable. But this—private, warm, untimed, all this water sheeting down—is a whole different register of existence.

“I think I should tell you,” Mani says, “that I’m thinking about sex.”

Amir opens one eye to look at her, can only see the top of her head against his cheek. “Me, too,” he says, almost but not totally redundantly. Mani’s got a good view.

They’ve almost so many times, but never. This moment feels ripe, so very theirs. But it’s also the wrong moment.

“Water, though, Mani! Mindfulness. Presence. This.”

“Of course,” she says.

“We might never be able to have this again.”

“We might never have any given thing again,” Mani says, the pedantic one for a change.

“But all this water,” he says.

“No, you’re right,” says Mani, hushed in the hypnotic roar of the shower. “All this water.”


Or this snippet:
Mani’s face is complicated with emotions, flickering by too quickly for Amir to properly catalog them, happy-sad-excited-nervous. “It’s far away,” she says.

“It’s exciting,” he corrects. “Mogadishu, can you even imagine! Maybe I could visit you, one time.” This is unlikely, and they both know it. Mogadishu’s not on a clean air travel vector with Beirut yet. He’d have to do two months of civic engagement and a month of personal growth to balance taking a dirty flight for leisure. Mani musters a smile anyway.


And this exchange ... can you feel where it's going? Can you feel how loaded it is?
“Do you remember,” he says, “the Crowdgrow project I told you about during the Future Good conference?”

“You were really excited about it,” Mani says. “It seemed promising.”

“It was. The closed-room tests showed a fifteen percent improvement in air quality, and we had almost a thousand households signed up as testers. And we’ve applied for continuation funding every open cycle since. Not a lot—just enough for a pilot study. Less than we spend in administrative overhead on the Wet City project every week.”

“But no luck?” asks Mani.

“But no luck,” agrees Amir.

“Amir,” says Mani, but there’s too much pity in the way she says his name.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Amir says. “That it would be a waste. That Wet City is a better use of resources.”

“Yes,” says Mani. “I do think that.” The way she says this could have been kind, but it isn’t.

“You’re always so sure of yourself,” says Amir. The way he says this could have been a compliment, but it isn’t. “Is it ego?”

“Is it jealousy?” Mani shoots back.


Fortunately, Amir and Mani are grown-up enough to find their common ground--their shared space--despite the differences in their outlooks.

4 glorious stars. Perhaps even 5?
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Fri Sep 04, 2020 6:12 pm

My review of Knocking on Heaven's Door:

I read this book together with the Solarpunk group on Goodreads.

The novel started great but left me feeling more and more distant as it went on.

My most vivid impressions:

~ I'm impressed by the number of voices Russell manages to reproduce. Dog and the student essays are particularly authentic.

~ Here's the main premise in a nutshell:
Brad opened to his favorite screen image, Albert Einstein, his childhood hero. His mother had set him the problem of Einstein’s equation when he was twelve and asking too many questions about his father. Energy and mass were different forms of the same thing. Pure energy was electromagnetic radiation—waves of light, radio waves, X-rays—traveling at a constant speed of roughly 1,078,260,480 kilometers per hour. Energy at rest equals mass times the speed of light squared. But why square the speed of light? And what about energy in motion? Figure it out, his mother had said, and when Brad did—what about antimatter? she asked.

In those years, his early teens, his favorite book had been the twenty-first-century biography of Albert Einstein, which put the scientist at a turning point in history. Because of Einstein, people in the mid-twentieth century knew that matter and energy were the same thing. Everything was the same thing. Science as mysticism. Scientist as saint. Einstein represented a new way of seeing the world until finally in 2059 came the realization that thought could also travel in waves. The living proof was a hungry bird, a teratorn weighing 15 kilograms and standing 3.3 meters tall. Now the existence of a third property “apart” from matter and energy—unconscious consciousness immanent in the electromagnetic waves of the universe—threw the old string theories out the metaphoric window. New ideas and new equations started to make sense. That iconoclast Bohm, and others, started to make sense. Experiments with DNA and the holographic principle revealed some of the secrets of organized life and became the basis for a panpsychism, a TOE that went beyond anything Einstein had imagined.


~ The description of Dog's consciousness
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as Dog's body is dying
in Chapter 11 was fascinating. Reminded me of David Zindell's holistic attitude to the bodymind in A Requiem for Homo Sapiens.

~ Children, no matter what, will be children:
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Clare had started making rules that Brad couldn’t enforce. Now, for example, he was supposed to tell Elise to stop walking through his solarcomp. He tried. “Honey, Elise, stop walking through my solarcomp.”

“I’m a giant antelope,” the little girl said, “with giant white teeth.”

“Mommy doesn’t want you walking through things. It looks funny to the rest of us. It’s very distracting now.”

“Now Spider Woman comes down from the sky to look at the giant antelope with giant white teeth, and she and the antelope get into a fight.”

“Someday we might meet other people who will get upset if you walk through things.”

“The giant antelope pulls Spider Woman’s hair, and Spider Woman’s hair breaks into a hundred baby spiders! Not even the Warrior Twins can save Spider Woman!”

Brad recognized the Navajo story and admired the little girl’s adaptation. He gave up on the scold. Clare wasn’t here, after all, but busy in the cave preparing her birthing room. In truth, Clare was the only person who could get Elise to do what she wanted her to do, and then only some of the time. Brad had never realized how strong willed a four-year-old could be. He had often thought of himself as strong willed. But compared to Elise, he was a rabbit. The thought made him smile.


~ However, I had difficulty relating to any character except for Elise and Dog. There's something clinical and aloof in the grown-ups' presentation.

And once the novelty of the story's ideas wore out, I caught myself wondering, So what? Where does this change
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, this new evolutionary step
take us? Why should I care?


Perhaps the ending needed more space for a proper exploration of implications and consequences; and the whole book definitely needs more heart--more spirituality to go with the smart thinking and the scientific attitude.
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Wed Nov 11, 2020 6:32 pm

My reviewlet of Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction:

Although I hunger for this kind of SF (as opposed to the ever-popular dystopias), the stories here left me starved. I wish I could say more, but it's been a couple of years since I read it, and nothing has stuck to my memory.

Except for one story. I really enjoyed "Russian Roulette 2020" by Eva Maria Chapman. We may eventually translate it and include it in one of our own "bright future" anthologies.

(And I keep wondering how US readers took it ....)

Now I keep my fingers crossed for Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future.
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Mon Aug 09, 2021 5:18 pm

My review of Cities of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures:

A solid, inspiring anthology. I enjoyed each of the four stories. The companion essays are thought-provoking but eventually become a little repetitive. They could also use more illustrative examples (and fewer generalizations)--but if we count the stories as the examples, the balance works out.

Memorable moments:

~ First 'wow' fact (from "Introduction: Imagined Cities"):
Already, at still relatively low levels of integration into the electricity grid, solar power in California generates so much electricity during the middle of the day, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., that prices in California electricity markets are negative—meaning they are paying people to use daytime electricity.


~ Paolo Bacigalupi's "Efficiency" offers a glimpse of better urban transportation:
The commute home was easy, paid for by Great Lakes Amalgamated and the traffic department, a combination of congestion and rush-hour and snow-clearing credits coming into play. The more people used HoodElectric zipbuses after the storm, the easier it was for the city to clear the highways and side streets, concentrating only on actual commute routes, instead of having to clear all that pavement for private vehicles to get in and out. Simple one-way lanes, this way and that, for the automated buses to follow. Saving energy, grid demand, plowing time. Paying people to get on a bus made more sense than pushing them out to Lyfts and private vehicles, with all the infrastructure that the city had to maintain as a result.

James was just old enough that he could remember when streets had been for cars. Now, more than half his neighborhood street was dominated by solar panels and home gardens, with only a thin lane for the HoodZips to navigate through. In summer, the reclaimed street was full of vegetables and flowers and buzzing bees and people sitting on benches beneath the shade of high-mount solar panels. Now that snow was covering everything, it was snow sculptures, a quiet garden made by the neighborhood families. 

As the little self-driving HoodZips had saturated South Side, and as other similar services started in other parts of the city, people had mostly stopped using cars. The HoodZips responded quickly to demand, taking automated counts of people waiting at the stops, pulling out to meet demand and then retiring themselves when demand stopped. Even in winter there was never more than a two-minute wait for a local bus. They just unplugged themselves and showed up as soon as people started to gather at a location, AI-optimized, a simpler version of Lucy. In some cases, the system could see people leaving their homes and send a bus to wait for them, beating them to their stop. Why own a car when it was that simple? Even now, in the middle of winter when power was scarcer and HoodZips couldn’t store as much surplus power, there were enough to serve people plenty well.


As a whole, the story effectively presents different (but complementary) approaches to electricity generation by linking them to intergenerational conflict (and its resolution). The only part that rang contrived to me was the all-too-human AI; then again, we tend to underestimate the complexities of achieving a working, evolving intelligence.

~ The language of Andrew Dana Hudson's "Solarshades" is so hip it makes me oscillate between exhilarated and confused. Here's a funnier sample (and a nod to all of us solarpunks ;)):
“Fuck do you keep goin’ up there for?” Jeffers asked when Kismet hauled himself back over the wall one sweaty dusk. “Don’t tell me you been suckered by some Multnomah side piece. I don’t care how hot they are, I won’t have my brother woozy over some stuck-up solarpunk-ass bitch!”

Kismet shrugged it off. “Nah. Just class stuff. School system got some avant-garde ideas about group projects, in-person learning shit. Torko and I figure if we do this project together, we can blow off the whole rest of the term.”


The story itself is hopeful in just the right way: without simplification and easy solutions.

~ Patricia Romero-Lankao's "Quiet Mobilization, Inclusion, and the Energy Futures of Cities" introduced me to the concept of quiet mobilization:
(...) quiet mobilization [is] a term used by sociologists to denote a form of political engagement by an apparently silent majority of people. (...) Quiet mobilization, either for or against solar, transit, sprawl repair, energy and sustainability policies, or social and cultural practices, entails daily chats with neighbors and colleagues, the formation of local interest groups, civic meetings, discussions at churches and recreational centers, conversations with colleagues, and other forms of daily engagement in civil society.

(...) Social scientists such as Colin Jerolmack and Edward T. Walker suggest that quiet mobilization is an especially attractive option for collective action in rural, white, conservative communities, where open forms of mobilization against fracking or for disinvestment in coal and the fossil-fuel industry are viewed with disdain and mistrust, as something that only Democrats, urbanites, or liberals do. I would argue that this is the preferred option for the majority of populations who, like Kismet, embrace their inner orbits (families, clans, or neighbors) as outlets for their political interactions, rather than engage directly with the wider political structure of their society.


~ S.B. Divya's "Things That Bend, But Don't Break" is a feel-good story about problem-solvers, in attitude and in action. We need more of those.
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Radiant Dragon » Mon Aug 09, 2021 10:11 pm

Already, at still relatively low levels of integration into the electricity grid, solar power in California generates so much electricity during the middle of the day, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., that prices in California electricity markets are negative—meaning they are paying people to use daytime electricity.


The flipside: Last year, when California was "besieged" by consistent cloudy weather at the height of summer, their super-duper solar-powered grid outright failed. Just like the brutal anomalous winter in Texas, the infrastructure was not prepared with a contingency for such a scenario. Enter regular brownouts, blackouts, and energy rationing like no air conditioning allowed after sundown, while evening temperatures, ironically, hovered in the 35-40 degree (Celsius) range.

Bottom line - and this starts to feel like an old dance between your enthusiasm and my jadedness - reliance on solar power in the future would only spell trouble. Just like how today's reliance on coal and petroleum summons a host of Damocles' swords on the collective head of our civilization.

Oh, and one last thing - in typical capitalist fashion, they don't actually pay people when utilities prices are negative - they just give you "credit points" which are deducted from future bills; meaning if you don't "spend", you don't get to "save". Which is yet another practice that fuels the ruinous paradigm of constant consumerism.

ПП. Също така, соларпънк групата, в която членуваш, е с Private статут. Good luck да накараш който и да било да си търси invite, само за да почете тук-там.
(Лично аз много се дразня на такива моменти.)
IN ORDER TO RISE AGAINST THE TIDE, ONE MUST FIRST BE BELOW IT.

Аз съм графист, а не кечист.
(Ама вече разбирам и от кеч, ако трябва)
Аз съм. Това ми стига.

'Tis I, master of the first floor, aspirant to the last, the Radiant Dragon.


Accepting reality since 2017

And loving it since 2021


And now, I step fully into the Light, complete and replete. The way to Ascension is open.
-- some Dude, circa 2022

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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Tue Aug 10, 2021 9:41 am

Most of the stories and essays actually tackle the issues of diversification of energy sources and changes in consumption patterns (like going back to a diurnal cycle where most people use the nights for activities that don't require electricity--or, what do you know, sleep :D). In fact, they're VERY insistent that a lot of habits have to change if we're going to use solar smartly.

The Goodreads Solarpunk group can be joined by anyone; you just have to have your application approved by a mod. At least that's how it worked for me. Our two mods are very welcoming too. It's a small group, after all. ;)
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Radiant Dragon » Wed Aug 18, 2021 10:59 pm

Кал wrote:[...](like going back to a diurnal cycle where most people use the nights for activities that don't require electricity--or, what do you know, sleep :D)[...]


This might seem like too much fixation on details, but this statement imo discards one of the achievements of modern civilization - that the nights need no longer be restrictive to a certain set of activities. I actually like the freedom of being able to pursue almost any kind of activity, regardless of time of day.

Otherwise, I'm in agreement with the rest of your post. :)

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Except for the Goodreads bit. I'm not going through the effort to join a group I'm not going to contribute to or participate into just to satisfy some semi-idle curiosity.
IN ORDER TO RISE AGAINST THE TIDE, ONE MUST FIRST BE BELOW IT.

Аз съм графист, а не кечист.
(Ама вече разбирам и от кеч, ако трябва)
Аз съм. Това ми стига.

'Tis I, master of the first floor, aspirant to the last, the Radiant Dragon.


Accepting reality since 2017

And loving it since 2021


And now, I step fully into the Light, complete and replete. The way to Ascension is open.
-- some Dude, circa 2022

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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Thu Aug 19, 2021 11:25 am

Actually, a few of the essays point out that the power supply industries invested LOADS of money into the entertainment sector and other sectors that offer nighttime activities, so that there will be a constant demand for electricity. (With coal power, significant variations in demand affect production negatively.) I was surprised at first--but it does make sense.

Self-restriction (e.g. downshifting) is a valuable (and when I'm feeling more extreme ;)) indispensable strategy for adapting to the future. At the very least, it's always worth looking at our personal habits and seeing if they can be optimized. (Right now, I'm working on remembering to bring reusable shopping bags any time I go shopping. Dayumn, building habits is hard. :D)

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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Radiant Dragon » Fri Aug 20, 2021 1:40 pm

In order to believe that information, I'd need some very hard evidence - like an insider or a leaked financial information. Otherwise, I find it a tad far-fetched; true, modern international consortiums have investments in practically any industry/sector to varying degrees, but to point out active "malignant" agenda pertaining to the usage of nighttime electricity seems too conspirational to me. Especially when it's cheaper by law.

Re downshifting, according to Wikipedia, I've been a downshifter for... over than a decade now. So it's not that I'm against such practices - in fact, I'm a staunch proponent for the adoption of more responsible/aware lifestyles*, but if I've learned anything throughout the years, it's that demanding change from people - no matter how beneficial - is a losing/highly inefficient strategy long-term.

So, insisting to change? "Wrong" paradigm. Instead, we should focus on inspiring people to change, by a combination of empowerement, enlightenment, personal example, and other methods that speak directly to the soul. My opinion, of course.

*(One of my favorite technologies in Alpha Centauri is called The Ascetic Virtues; researching it gives some major gameplay benefits, but the reason why they are given is the winner for me. :) )
IN ORDER TO RISE AGAINST THE TIDE, ONE MUST FIRST BE BELOW IT.

Аз съм графист, а не кечист.
(Ама вече разбирам и от кеч, ако трябва)
Аз съм. Това ми стига.

'Tis I, master of the first floor, aspirant to the last, the Radiant Dragon.


Accepting reality since 2017

And loving it since 2021


And now, I step fully into the Light, complete and replete. The way to Ascension is open.
-- some Dude, circa 2022

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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Fri Aug 20, 2021 6:47 pm

Broken Dragon wrote:In order to believe that information, I'd need some very hard evidence


The essay that states it explicitly is called "Intentional Innovation"--you can check it out in the anthology (which is free). However, there's no source quoted. If we get really curious, we can try to contact the authors. ;)

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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Wed Sep 29, 2021 10:52 am

1 октомври: Мое участие в международен панел за оптимистична фантастика

В пощата си Кал wrote:Този петък, от 23 часа българско време, ще участвам в онлайн панела
Not Your Grimdark Dystopia: Optimism in Sci-Fi and Fantasy – заедно с
изявени борци за диверсификацията на световната фантастика ;) като
Франческо Версо и Фабио Фернандес:

https://app.octocon.com/#part/A0220

Ако искате да ни слушате (обещавам, че купешките думички ще ги сведем
до минимум ;), ще ви трябва регистрация (безплатна и бърза) тук:
https://registration.octocon.com/

В самия петък отворете долния линк:

https://twitch.tv/octoconirl

Оптимистично ваш,
Кал)

П.П. Ако още не сте научили, до края на ноември с Човешката библиотека
и Тера Фантазия организираме конкурс за позитивни романи –
незадължително фантастични ;):

https://choveshkata.net/blog/?p=8772


Още един панел, който препоръчвам на всички, е Global Optimistic
Futures: https://app.octocon.com/#part/M1015
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Sat Oct 02, 2021 10:34 am

Вчерашният ми панел може да се гледа тук:

https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1169226755

Получил се е по-добре, отколкото ми се струваше на момента. :)
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Thu Oct 07, 2021 12:32 pm

Из препоръките от горния панел:

Erik Hunting: Solarpunk: Post-Industrial Design and Aesthetics

Deriving its name from similar aesthetic movements such as Cyberpunk and Steampunk, its roots lay in various eco/climate science fiction and Post-Industrial futurist literature and is considered ‘punk’ in the sense that it is reactionary, and in opposition, to both the naive corporate utopianism that dominated the 20th century and the dystopianism that emerged in its wake by the end of that century, persisting to the present. We now live in an era where pragmatism is a radical stance. Thus Solarpunk seeks to cultivate a positive, hopeful, vision of a future rooted in technologies and culture of sustainability, yet in the context of what it acknowledges will be dramatic changes in our way of life due to Global Warming and the environmental malfeasance of the past, the transition to a renewables-based infrastructure, and the collapse of Industrial Age paradigms. A culture that has weathered the dramatic disruptions coming with the end of the Industrial Age, taken its sometimes bitter lessons from that, and found a way forward.
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Sat Dec 11, 2021 9:41 am

Бих могъл да пусна долния линк в поне три други теми – но го слагам тук заради фокуса му върху a sustainable future:

BrightFlame: author . teacher . priesstess

I write, teach and make magic for social, economic, and environmental justice. From re-storying the future to shaping energy (a.k.a. magic), my offerings help answer this question:

How will we bring forward a just, regenerating world?

I hope this question permeates your life as well. I’m heartened by all the people collaborating, working in the commons, crafting solutions, raising their voices for justice, equity, inclusion, decolonization, a sustainable future, the Earth, and so much more.
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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Кал » Sun Jan 23, 2022 4:37 pm

My review of Solarpunk Magazine #1:

A strong inaugural issue. Although by this point I'm fairly familiar with solarpunk, at least one of the ideas here surprised me. Also, I was happy to see stories that add more humanity and depth to their characters. The genre is growing. :)

Other happy impressions:

~ Starhawk's "The Brave Dress" examines the issue of children and parents: what they can do for each other (but don't have to):

Riley entered and took possession of the chair opposite the doorway. Lemma looked at hir warily.

“If you’ve come to ask me to wear that dress, I won’t!” Sh’he planted hir feet, hands on hips. “I won’t do it!”

“I haven’t come to ask you that. I wouldn’t ask that of you. I just thought you might need to talk.”

Lemma sighed and sank down onto hir bed, which took up the back of the caravan.

“I love hir. But why does sh’he always have to do this? It’s like everything has to revolve around hir! Even my Rideup! It’s so narcissistic!”

Riley shook hir head. “It’s not narcissism, really. It’s hir wound.”

“And I’m supposed to somehow heal it?”

“You can’t,” Riley said. “So no. No one expects that from you.”

“Sh’he does.”

“Not really.” Riley tipped the chair back so it leaned precariously against the wall. “Hir parents never saw who sh’he truly was—or when they caught a glimpse of it, they responded with horror and rejection. Sh’he never had that base of love and approval that you’ve always had from us. But there’s no way you can make up for that.”

But somehow I feel that I should. That I’m failing if I don’t. Lemma shook hir head sharply. “You grew up in the old times, too. You don’t harp on and on about it!”

“But I was born in a girl’s body, in Colorado. Still a little of the old west, where it was perfectly okay to be a tomboy, and everybody wore jeans! It was so different for hir. You can’t imagine…”

“I can! Goddess knows I’ve heard the story enough times!” But that was the problem—sh’he could imagine. And if sh’he did, sh’he would be sucked down, like a bug in the funnel of a trap-door spider’s hole, down and down to that void of a wound that could never be filled.

“Remember when you were a little one, and I used to rub your back to put you to sleep and tell you stories?”

Lemma smiled. “Wonder Bunny—the magic rabbit that could outrun anything that came after hir. Crazy Coyote, Frenetic Fox, even Wiley Wolf!”

“Sometimes it breaks my heart to think I’ll never do that again.”

“You might. You might tell those stories to my kids someday!”

“That’s true—but it won’t be the same. It won’t be you. And yet that’s the pain and beauty of being a parent, of watching anything grow. Change. Letting go. It’s not easy. But the best gift you can give Bou, can give us both, is to stand your ground and be who you are.”

“Maybe you could tell me a story, just one more time.”

Riley moved over to the bed, and Lemma curled up under the covers.

“One day Wonder Bunny was hopping through the food forest, munching on the greens, when sh’he heard a growl…”

Sh’he would be Wonder Bunny. Sh’he would hop, hop, hop away from the wolf of this aching tenderness that threatened to engulf hir.

Or sh’he could stop. Sh’he could face it, let it take hir, and trust that there was within hir some strong core that would emerge, changed, maybe, but alive and strong.

And in that moment, something shifted. As Riley’s soft voice crooned the story, as sh’he nestled into the warmth and love of hir own childhood, sh’he could feel hir own arms wrapped around a child, a hurt, wounded, baby Bou, and sh’he let that tenderness pour out like milk to nourish and heal hir. I see you, I see you, I care for you.

And in that moment, something shifted. This, sh’he thought, this is truly the moment of my Rideup, the real culmination of all those rituals and tests. I am not the child any longer. Bou is no longer the towering figure of the powerful adult. I can care for the child in hir. I can be myself. I am the grown-up now.

And in that moment, sh’he knew what they could do.


~ Renan Bernardo's "Look to the Sky, My Love" touched me with its emotion, but what I'm going to remember even longer was the idea of harvesting the power of dance:
Underneath my feet, the patched dirt road and the grass surrounding it reveals the metallic glints of the thermoelectric and kinetic generators that underlay Solândia’s soil. The dance harvester—as people like to call it—underneath Solândia’s grounds harnesses all the movement from footsteps and dances, and all the heat from bonfires and bodies exuding joy. It not only helps powering the communities all around, but also provides increased moisture capacity and granular structure to the soil of the vegetable gardens that feed Solândia.

Shining in the middle of the field, St. John’s Fogueirão casts its gilded glares across the party. That’s not something grief can block from me. It never could, maybe because of its glaring light: One tall, vivid fire, yet many symbols. Some people go to Solândia only to see it, to leave offerings to St. John and pray, in gratitude or gloom. And then there are people like Alana and me who went for the warmth on our backs, the kindling crackle of the flames, and the shadows dancing in front of us while we talked about the surrounding communities and of how Solândia distributed the energy harvested from dance and movement to five different towns.


~ Lindsay Jane's "Helping Your Garden Transition with Climate Changes" abounds with useful ideas. Here're a couple:
If appropriate, look at providing a home for threatened or endangered native plant species in your garden to help increase their population.


DON’T RAKE LEAVES
Countless species use leaf litter as part of their natural lifecycle. Fallen leaves shelter pollinators over the winter and help small creatures to hide. If you are not able to leave them lying where they’ve fallen, then there are other solutions like raking them into your planted beds. Another possible compromise is to leave them alone until the spring and rake them up then.


~ I like Jay Springett's definition of solarpunk in "Solarpunk: A Container for More Fertile Futures":
My own go-to description is “a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion, technology and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question: What does a sustainable civilization look like and how can we get there?”


As well as what he calls "cultural fracking":
Under the logic of media produced by narrative monopolies, it is costly to risk money on a new idea. Instead it’s safer to simply mine the past for new material. I call this phenomenon “Cultural Fracking,” described by solarpunk author Andrew Dana Hudson as “the capitalist process of endlessly extracting new value out of the sedimentary layers of meaning that comprise mass culture from the past.”  The business model of fracked culture requires it to meet the shared existing expectations of the audience. New material must continually reference something from a time when mass culture was more broadly shared. Nothing new can be added, only remixed. The process adds nothing new to the cultural imaginary.

Due to cultural fracking, there is a whole generation of people bereft of visions of the future to which they can lay claim. This is the de-futuring process in action: We have no futures which we can call our own.

Which, incidentally, explains my misgivings about the way agents and publishers pick up manuscripts these days.

Finally, it captures a vital purpose of solarpunk:
For better or worse, sci-fi has always inspired the real, from tablets in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Star Trek communicator, or the automatic doors of HG Wells. Cyberpunk, for those without nuance, acted as a product roadmap, bringing us mass surveillance, digital money and soon a corporate-controlled metaverse. Recognising that sci-fi influences reality, solarpunk attempts to do this gesturally. Introducing people to real, practicable ideas has a dislocative effect, and the everyday becomes a site for both real and imagined narrative possibility:

The dead grass next to the parking lot at the mall becomes a prime location for rewilding. Or a piece of scrubland at the end of the cul-de-sac is seen as a space ripe for a community food forest. Rooftops yearn for solar panels. Statues demand to hold up wind turbines.

Solarpunk is a narrative strategy for creating this feeling of a speculative present—a present in which we speculatively prospect for better possibilities at whatever scale—in the minds of people who encounter it.


~ While I don't quite like Kim Stanley Robinson's fiction (I'm yet to find a character of his that makes me care), I'm constantly delighted by his interviews. "Utopianism and Advice for Climate Authors, Artists, and Activists" makes no exception:
SPM: We've heard you mention that you write utopian science fiction. Utopia is a weighted word these days, often slung at unattainable dreams of perfection. This is far from a charge we'd hurl at your work. How do you define utopian science fiction?

KSR: Science fiction that describes civilizations better than the current one is utopian. Also, any fiction describing efforts to make a better world are utopian. This means that a lot of fiction is inherently utopian, because stories about people trying to make a better world are quite common. Fiction typically says that what we do matters; that itself is a utopian position.

So, getting back to the more usual definition, it’s very simple—better future worlds are utopian, worse future worlds are dystopian. Working for a better world is utopian; letting things get worse is dystopian. Pretending it doesn’t matter is like shooting yourself in the foot before running a race.

“Slinging” the term utopian, as you put it, meaning using it as a put-down, I presume—implying that it’s a synonym for “unrealistic,” or “too perfect to ever happen”—that’s always a political attack on trying to make a better world. The accusation is itself anti-utopian, taking the form of a faked realistic attitude, now usefully named “capitalist realism.” It’s like buying into Thatcher’s notorious slogan, “there is no alternative.”


SPM: And, hey! What's your beef with "punk" and with calling utopian cli-fi solarpunk?

KSR: You punks! Get off my lawn! Give me my cane back!  Why do you want an old man’s cane, are you blind or something? Goddamn punks. Fucking whiners. Make your own cane. In my day I had to walk ten miles to school, uphill both ways. We didn’t even have shoes. We didn’t even have legs.

(...)

Forry Ackerman came up with “sci-fi,” which was a play on “hi-fi,” which came from the advertising industry’s take on “high fidelity,” a long-forgotten hobby of Playboy readers who thought that certain settings in sound recording sounded more lively than other settings. Neither “fidelity” nor “fiction” sound like “fi” when you say the syllable, but we are semper fi to the suggestions of the advertising industry, so the names stuck.

Sci-fi was taken up by mainstream culture as a putdown of science fiction, so science fiction fans of course took it on, in the way you do with insults, to own them. It also became a way to indicate a certain kind of science fiction, very over-the-top and campy.   Some people cringed at the put-down and/or the campiness. For you to use “sci-fi” now in your question is probably a sign that all these matters are ancient history and don’t matter in the new dispensation, because the whole world has become science fiction and you can call the genre anything you like without the names meaning anything. Maybe.

People who wanted to discuss science fiction and yet remain respectable made up other names for it, to cover their faux pas in showing interest. Sci-Fi was the put-down; the upgrade to respectability was “speculative fiction,” perhaps an invention of Heinlein’s. That was very popular in academia and among the pretentious. “Structural fabulation,” another name that held on to the sf initials, failed to launch. A blanket term introduced by John Clute to gather all the non-realisms is “fantastika”—I like that one better than “speculative culture,” which hearkens back to the old pretentiousness of speculative fiction. Also, speculate; look it up. Is there fiction that doesn’t speculate? So it’s like saying fictional fiction. Pretentiousness is always stupid.

Then came “cyberpunk,” an invention of Gardner Dozois’ to describe the work of some tough guys writing sf set in the mean streets of Reagan’s America. The punk part of this referred to punk rock, of course, the work of tough guys making music on the mean streets of London and New York; the cyber part referred to cybernetics, a systems theory that might have had something to do with computers. So now it wasn’t science fiction, it was cyberpunk, which meant you could talk about it and still be cool.

Then came “steampunk,” which turned the punk part into a general suffix. Too bad! Now, just as every American political scandal has to end with gate, new movements in fantastika have to end with punk.

(...)

So—what would be a good name for our shared endeavor? Utopia is good. And science fiction is very good. It isn’t very accurate, but it is extremely powerful. It’s so powerful that people try to dodge it, or dilute it.

Why is it powerful? Because science creates this civilization, it’s the real power, the world of facts. But fiction creates meaning, so it’s the real power, the world of values.  But wait—the fact-value problem is a thing in philosophy, a worry that you can’t reconcile the two. And yet here’s this literary genre claiming to bridge that gap, by its very name. Fact values! Impossible, and yet filling up many shelves in bookstores! So presumptuous! So provocative!

Should there be any other names for it? No.

Should there be any modifiers diluting it, such as hard science fiction (as if), feminist science fiction (yay), literary science fiction (gag), military science fiction (double gag), etc? No.

Should there be schools within Sci-Fi, splitting it to reduce it? No.

Just take it on. “I write science fiction.”

So: solarpunk. Okay, despite all that I’ve said above, I love you anyway. Hopepunk too. What I think about the names doesn’t matter. You write utopian science fiction, you’re working against dystopia, so more power to you. Kick ass using any name you want. 


~ Nina Munteanu's essay "Why Eco-Fiction Will Save the World" introduces the new/old concept of eco-fiction:
Eco-fiction (short for ecological fiction) is a kind of fiction in which the environment—or one aspect of the environment—plays a major role in story, either as premise or as character. For instance, several of my eco-fiction stories give Water a voice as character. In my latest novel, A Diary in the Age of Water, each of the four women characters reflects her relationship with water and, in turn, her view of and journey in a changing world.

(...)

In eco-fiction, strong relationships are forged between the major character on a journey and an aspect of their environment and place. Environment and place illuminate, through the subtext of metaphor, a core aspect of the main character and their journey. Such strong relationships can linger in the minds and hearts of readers, shaping deep and meaningful connections that will often move a reader into action.


~ Clark A. Miller's essay/manifesto "It's Time to Build Solar Cities" contains a useful list of ideas how to bring solar power to our cities.

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Re: Бъдещето

Postby Radiant Dragon » Sun Jan 23, 2022 9:30 pm

Кал wrote:~ Starhawk's "The Brave Dress" examines(...)


Хъх, мацката почти е уцелила "industry-standard"* наименованията за хермафродити. Единствено shi поради някаква причина е сменено, или re-invent-нато.
Скрит текст: покажи
*(Според широката furry/scalie/otherkin общност.)


Kim Stanley Robinson wrote:Just take it on. “I write science fiction.”

So: solarpunk. Okay, despite all that I’ve said above, I love you anyway. Hopepunk too. What I think about the names doesn’t matter. You write utopian science fiction, you’re working against dystopia, so more power to you. Kick ass using any name you want.


Ето това гласувам да е цитатът на десетилетието! Да, на целия период 2020-2030. Поне в графата художествена литература. :)
Ким Стенли Робинсън, незивисимо какво (и как) пише, е чудесен деец за "соларпънкясването" на нашето бъдеще.
Вече така ще се тиражам навсякъде. Аз пиша утопична научна фантастика. :D
IN ORDER TO RISE AGAINST THE TIDE, ONE MUST FIRST BE BELOW IT.

Аз съм графист, а не кечист.
(Ама вече разбирам и от кеч, ако трябва)
Аз съм. Това ми стига.

'Tis I, master of the first floor, aspirant to the last, the Radiant Dragon.


Accepting reality since 2017

And loving it since 2021


And now, I step fully into the Light, complete and replete. The way to Ascension is open.
-- some Dude, circa 2022

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