Interview with Rob Wolfe of New Books in Science Fiction

On Monday, I was interviewed by Rob Wolfe of New Books in Science Fiction.

In contrast, Hieroglyph seeks something different. “We’re asking for a science fiction that actually addresses problems and tries to solve them,” Cramer says. “And what they [the authors of the 17 stories in Hieroglyph] thought of were the problems is almost as interesting as what they think the solutions are.”

Among the topics Cramer covers in her interview are how she overcame her initial skepticism about the Hieroglyph initiative, how she and co-editor Ed Finn selected the writers included in the volume, and how the authors worked with scientists and researchers at Arizona State University to postulate plausible technologies based on current scientific understandings.

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Hieroglyph at Tumblr, September 30th

Bear, Ashby, Cramer at Tumblir

From Madeline Ashby:

I just wrapped up my first real book tour, in support of the Hieroglyph anthology. I was lucky enough to attend events in NYC, DC, and Ottawa. So, it was a tiny tour for me, but it was pretty packed.

For example, I got to visit Tumblr HQ with editor Kathryn Cramer (right) and contributor Elizabeth Bear (left). The three of us spent a lot of time hanging out over the tour, and I’m really glad we did. It was like Bridesmaids, or Thelma & Louise, only about science fiction writers. (Someone, please steal this pitch.)

At Tumblr we did a reading and drank much iced tea. Every time I’m in the States, I try to drink as much unsweetened iced tea as I can. The only iced tea you can get in Toronto is Nestea, and it tastes like the bait left out for wasps in Hell. Pun intended.

Photo by David G. Hartwell.

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News clippings from a while back

I've had a lot of press lately for Hieroglyph. Here are some older clips.

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Hieroglyph at The National Academy of Sciences

Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future?

A conference sponsored by The New America Foundation, Slate's Future Tense, and Arizona State University's Center for Science & the Imagination.

October 2, 2014

It’s 2014 and we have no flying cars, no Mars colonies, no needle-less injections, and yet plenty of smartphone dating apps. Is our science fiction to blame if we find today’s science and technology less than dazzling? Inspired by Neal Stephenson’s 2011 article “Innovation Starvation,” in which he argues that science fiction is failing to supply our scientists and engineers with inspiration, and the new anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, this event will explore a more ambitious narrative about what’s coming. From the tales we tell about robots and drones, to the narratives on the cutting edge of neuroscience, to society’s view of its most intractable problems, we need to begin telling a new set of stories about ourselves and the future.

Join the conversation online using #abetterfuture and by following @FutureTenseNow.

Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future?
Video posted on YouTube by New America

Neal Stephenson Author, "Atmosphæra Incognita," Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future Author, Snow Crash and The Diamond Age It's 2014 and we have no flying cars, no Mars colonies, no needle-less injections, and yet plenty of smartphone dating apps. Is our science fiction to blame if we find today's science and technology less than dazzling?


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Virginia Postrel on Hieroglyph

BloombergView, October 8th:

Storytelling does have the potential to rekindle an ideal of progress. The trick is not to confuse pessimism with sophistication or, conversely, to demand that optimism be naive. The past, like the present and the future, was made by complicated and imperfect people. Recapturing a sense of optimism requires stories that accept the ambiguities of history -- and of life -- while recognizing genuine improvements.

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Hieroglyph launch at authors@Google, September 10th

Neal Stephenson, Ed Finn, Keith Hjelmstad, Kathryn Cramer, Rudy Rucker, & Annalee Newitz came to Google to talk about project Hieroglyph.

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Damien Walter on Hieroglyph

In the Guardian October 10th:

The best contributions to Hieroglyph are the least optimistic, and the best attuned to the human reality that technology so often obscures. Entanglement by Vandana Singh and Madeline Ashby’s By the Time We Get to Arizona both look at the impact of new technologies in developing nations and among the world’s poorest people. They also tackle the obvious problem of technological innovation, the looming menace of climate change, environmental degradation and resource depletion that go hand in hand with new technologies.

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WSJ Book Review: 'Hieroglyph' edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer

Tom Shippey in the Wall Street Journal, Sept. 26, 2014, Last century created the airplane, the automobile and nuclear energy. What do we have to show for this one?

Maybe the best cure for dwindling horizon really is provocative new "hieroglyphs." This collection could be the shot in the arm our imaginations need. It's an important book, and not just for the fiction.

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Ed Finn: Why sci-fi is important to innovation

Ed Fin, posted to ASU News October 16th:

This initial book project was a great way to explore different ways to build and foster collaborations between authors, artists and researchers. One huge factor here was working with Kathryn Cramer, my co-editor on the project, who has wrote or edited almost 30 science fiction and fantasy books and anthologies, and has deep roots in the science fiction world. She helped us find and work with really talented writers who were fired up about this idea, and came in ready to try new things and collaborate.

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BBC: Project Hieroglyph: Fighting society's dystopian future

The BBC on Hieroglyph by Debbie Siegelbaum BBC News, Washington:

Pop culture has painted a darkly dystopian vision of the future. But a new book hopes to harness the power of science fiction to plot out a more optimistic path for the real world.
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