Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

Living the Dream

Tonight’s event in New York is all about the future and how inspiration leads to dreaming, which leads to puzzling out the best ways to realize those dreams. Neil Tyson Degrasse, the curator of the museum’s planetarium, will be speaking. Along with some of the technologists attending, Neil is one of those people who ushers us into the future. I suppose I’m part of the contingent who idly speculates and dreams about the future. Not quite as demanding, cerebrally.

It reminds me of HALF WAY HOME, how they had scientists in one camp and other specialties in different groups. I’m now classified as “other.” Which suits me just fine. I feel stoked to have been invited.

Read up on the event here, at Gizmodo.com

8 replies to “Living the Dream”

Degrasse is an amazingly brilliant guy. I smile with admiration every time I listen to him.

Oh, and the “idle speculation” is incredibly important. I used to date a guy whose sister was an artist. She did space art, really detailed stuff, and NASA hired her to do art for their building. Those scientist need the creative minds to imagine what life would be like in the colonies and ships and shuttles they are designing. She did this awesome one called “Death on Mars” or something that showed the close-up of a dead astronaut with a crack in his helmet. She put her ex-husband’s face in the suit. Stories like “Halfway Home” are important to the science engineer folks thinking about how society will be in the worlds they are designing. Sorry if there are typos. I had my eyes dilated and I can’t see much right now.

How exciting! I think I can speak for all of your fans in saying we’re happy that you get to be there. As Lara said, being part of the idle speculation is definitely not inferior to the part played by scientists and technologists. Instead, it’s the counterpart. People like you are the right brain to their left brains, and both are very necessary.

Sounds like an amazing night!

There was a fascinating discussion thread last year, about the time the last Shuttle landed, about the role of SF authors – was it our “job” to imagine the future for the scientists to invent? (It was actually in response to an article by Neal Stephenson which posited that SF writers have an obligation to create in fiction the inventions of tomorrow, so that scientists will do it for real.)

My take, as a scientist and SF lover, was that writers reflect the world they live in—the collective aspirations and hopes of the people of their time. While authors can inspire (and should strive to inspire), their prime obligation is to tell the truth by telling great stories. I believe this is particularly true for children’s novels (since that’s what I currently write). In a sense, the best thing we can do is to encourage creativity – boundless thinking – the kind that comes in great thought-experiments in SF. It wasn’t specific inventions in fiction that drove me to want to create new science – it was the possibility of limitless invention. I believe the “golden era” of science fiction is only seen in retrospect that way – at the time, those writers were just messing around with ideas and writing stories they thought were cool (Frederik Pohl said as much to me, when I met him at a signing – he’s an amazing man, BTW).

I think our greatest obligation to the future is to tell the truth about the present … and then blow open the minds of our readers with fantastic possibility. The rest is up to them. :)

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