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View Diary: Sunday Talk: Mad Libs (204 comments)

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    There's no doubt about Neal Stephenson's ambition, or about his seriousness. One of the great things about (much) science fiction is that the authors really mean it.

    They do think, for instance, that the human species is doomed to exhaustion and dieback if it does not get itself into space, and soon, while we have a technology-and-resource window of opportunity, this latter shuttered by NASA's inept bureaucracy. They really do believe that humans could be educated to their full potential and far beyond the levels reached by the tick-the-box grading systems of modern colleges, if we exploited available computer- and nanotechnology.

    To them (some of them), mathematics is not just fiddling with abstractions, but a guide to ultimate reality. Some of them think we need never die. In every case, though, there is strong awareness of the obstacles in the way of converting possibility to hard fact, some of them theoretical or technological, but even more of them social, financial, attitudinal.

    Maybe what's needed is a retreat from the "Saecular world," as Stephenson calls it, into the "mathic world" of pure thought and experiment. But there will have to be an engagement sometime, and much SF, like Stephenson's, has a missionary quality, to get people thinking seriously about serious matters, not the trivia that fill modern versions of the unexamined life.

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/...(not...-a0225794226

    Anathem (2008) by Neal Stephenson

    Conservatives with actual power view their motives as all about comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted, about giving more to those who already have a lot. ~ Paul Krugman

    by anyname on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:13:49 AM PDT

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