The Future of the Book, Volume II

The Future of the Book, Volume II

Our second book sprint, at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, explored the future of the book as a system for creating, organizing and sharing knowledge.
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  • How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors Are Shaping Your Future

    How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors Are Shaping Your Future

    By Eileen Gunn, Smithsonian Magazine

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    How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors Are Shaping Your Future

    By Eileen Gunn, Smithsonian Magazine

  • Imagining Possible Worlds

    Imagining Possible Worlds

    To the Best of Our Knowledge, Wisconsin Public Radio / Public Radio International

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    Imagining Possible Worlds

    To the Best of Our Knowledge, Wisconsin Public Radio / Public Radio International

  • CSI and Imagining Possible Futures on Public Radio

    CSI and Imagining Possible Futures on Public Radio

    This article originally appeared on ASU News Ed Finn, director of ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination, and an assistant professor in the School of Arts,…

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    CSI and Imagining Possible Futures on Public Radio

    This article originally appeared on ASU News

    Ed Finn, director of ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination, and an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English, was featured on the public radio program To the Best of Our Knowledge, in an episode titled “Imagining Possible Worlds,” about science fiction and visions of the future.

    “Let’s use the nightmares and the dreams together to come up with a roadmap to the world that we really want to live in,” said Finn, responding to a question about the center’s “thoughtfully optimistic” approach to the future that seeks a middle ground between sunny utopias and gloomy, apocalyptic dystopias.

    Finn also discussed the center’s Project Hieroglyph, which teams up science fiction authors with scientists, engineers and other researchers to create ambitious visions of the near-future, grounded in real science and technology. The project, according to Finn, strives to create “new icons … big ideas that could drive lots of different people to work on a problem collectively.”

    To the Best of Our Knowledge is produced by Wisconsin Public Radio and distributed to hundreds of public radio stations nationwide by Public Radio International. Other guests on the “Imagining Possible Worlds” program included authors Kim Stanley Robinson, Junot Díaz and Samuel R. Delaney, as well as Gates McFadden, a cast member on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

    To listen to the full program or download it for free, visit To the Best of Our Knowledge. You can also download an extended interview with Finn to hear more about the Center for Science and the Imagination, Project Hieroglyph and thoughtfully optimistic visions of the future.

  • Cory Doctorow’s Jagged Edges

    Cory Doctorow’s Jagged Edges

    This post is part of CSI’s Thoughtful Optimism and Science Fiction project. To learn more about the project, visit http://csi.asu.edu/category/optimism/. Listening to my co-readers react to the…

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    Cory Doctorow’s Jagged Edges

    This post is part of CSI’s Thoughtful Optimism and Science Fiction project. To learn more about the project, visit http://csi.asu.edu/category/optimism/.

    Listening to my co-readers react to the stories in Cory Doctorow’s A Place So Foreign and Eight More (2003), I’m thinking about how Doctorow’s free-culture politics and Creative Commons distribution schemes shape the way his stories work. We’re marvelling at how he creates a compelling world, with characters who seem to have fully-formed lives that extend far beyond the story, without resorting to tedious info dumps. We’re also wondering why the stories start so many threads and peek down so many avenues that never get fully resolved.

    My theory: Doctorow is writing stories that are meant to be hacked, forked, expanded, adapted and reshaped. Want to learn more about the mysterious alien “Dugouts” in “The Super Man and the Dugout”? Wondering how an entire economic system can be built on donkey-trading in “Return to Pleasure Island”? Write your own answer! Turn it into a play, or a YouTube video, or a graphic novel, or a haiku.

    By the way, the entire book is available as plain text, free to use, share, destroy and rebuild at Cory’s website.

  • Cory Doctorow and Personal Narrative as a Vehicle

    Cory Doctorow and Personal Narrative as a Vehicle

    Time-traveling, a fantasy carnival and superhero fiction. We read a trio of Cory Doctorow short stories from the collection A Place So Foreign and Eight More (2003) – “A Place So Foreign,” “Return to Pleasure Island,” and “The Super Man and the Bugout” – and noticed a common trend between these radically different stories.

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    Cory Doctorow and Personal Narrative as a Vehicle

    This post is part of CSI’s Thoughtful Optimism and Science Fiction project. To learn more about the project, visit http://csi.asu.edu/category/optimism/.

    Time-traveling, a fantasy carnival and superhero fiction. We read a trio of Cory Doctorow’s short stories from the collection A Place So Foreign and Eight More (2003) – “A Place So Foreign,” “Return to Pleasure Island,” and “The Super Man and the Bugout” - and noticed a common trend among these radically different stories.

    A quick summary: “A Place So Foreign” details the adventures of an adolescent boy in 1898 when his father is chosen as the time-traveling ambassador to a futuristic 1975; “Return to Pleasure Island” describes the familial troubles of a trio of ogre brothers who turn young boys into donkeys, a la Pinocchio; and “The Super Man and the Bugout” examines an “alternate history” where Superman landed in Canada instead of Smallville and was adopted by Jewish-Canadian parents.

    All three of these stories are, in premise, radically different from each other and extremely outlandish. However, there is an important common thread throughout all of them – the personal narrative of the main characters is eventually drowned out by the scope and ambition of the worlds they inhabit. Each protagonist faces a personal, intimate, and relatable conflict – one is struggling with the loss of his father, another is torn between familial obligation and personal desire, and another must choose between his morals and his need to survive in a world that increasingly disregards him. Each of these conflicts is subtly interwoven throughout the narratives of these vast and interesting worlds; each builds towards a climax, a breaking point; and each, unfailingly, has its momentum reversed at the last second, with no resolution for the personal narrative, or with the conflict being forgotten altogether.

    Why is this? In these stories, does Doctorow fail to find the balance between detailed, personal stories and the vast, grandiose richness of fictional worlds?

    Doctorow uses these characters and their relatable personal stories to delve into the complex fictional worlds that he creates and structures for us – but it’s as if, halfway down the road, he gets so fascinated by the scenery that he leaves the car idling by the highway. Or, perhaps, maybe his point is that the stories of these characters are ultimately insignificant in the face of the larger mechanics of their universes. Either way, Doctorow’s stories only serve to highlight the growing divide in science fiction: the separation between intimate personal narrative and grandiose speculative world.

  • An Aerialist, Two Clowns, and a Robot Walk Into a Carnival …

    In his 1984 film The Terminator and its sequels, James Cameron imagines a dystopic future in which armies of intelligent robots move with startling suddenness from positions of servility to utter and violent dominance, destroying civilization and driving humankind to the brink of extinction.

    This, of course, is pure science fiction. There’s little reason to believe things will unfold that way. First, they would take all our jobs and wreck our economy.

    This is the nightmare narrative of our future with robots and artificial intelligence. The utopian version of this tale—one accepted by many powerful people in industry and government—involves a …read more

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    An Aerialist, Two Clowns, and a Robot Walk Into a Carnival …

    By Lance Gharavi

    In his 1984 film The Terminator and its sequels, James Cameron imagines a dystopic future in which armies of intelligent robots move with startling suddenness from positions of servility to utter and violent dominance, destroying civilization and driving humankind to the brink of extinction.

    This, of course, is pure science fiction. There’s little reason to believe things will unfold that way. First, they would take all our jobs and wreck our economy.

    This is the nightmare narrative of our future with robots and artificial intelligence. The utopian version of this tale—one accepted by many powerful people in industry and government—involves a …read more

    Source: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/03/25/emerge_2014_an_aerialist_two_clowns_and_a_robot_walk_into_a_carnival.html