Join me for 1984 and a good cause

I’ll be speaking about 1984, and its continual relevance, at The Little Theatre, on April 4.  Come join me, and the novelist Ed Ashton, to discuss the importance of this book.  First, starting at 6:00 pm, there will be a screening of the 1984 version of 1984 (you know the one–with John Hurt and Richard Burton).  We’ll be talking afterward.  And it’s all for a good cause:  a part of the ticket sales will go to support the ACLU.

More details at:

Predator Space Chronicles 3 available now!

The third installment of the Predator Space Chronicles is up.

Amir Tarkos is one of the only humans in the Predator Corp, the most feared and respected military force in the Galaxy. With his partner Bria, a bear-like carnivore, Tarkos is on a dangerous and difficult mission to fight the Ulltrians, a race that once extinguished much of the life in the Galaxy.

War has begun, but Bria has been accused of murder and treason and Tarkos is suspected to be an accomplice. Only they can save the Alliance, but first they must escape from prison, raise an army of artificial intelligences, and seize control of the most dangerous weapon the Alliance ever created.


Money speech is better than peer-reviewed scientific speech

So we all missed this one.  Science fiction writers have for decades been imagining different ways in which a technological society can turn on science.  Standard tropes are that fundamentalist religion takes over the state, and bans science; another standard trope is that some catastrophe happens, and people blame science and scientists (Interstellar had a few lines devoted to this trope, to cite a very contemporary example).

This morning, I read the text of the bill that passed the House last week:  HR1442.  This bill would determine who can advise the E.P.A.  It includes (I cut for readibility some clauses):

(2) Each member of the Board shall be qualified by education, training, and experience to evaluate scientific and technical information on matters referred to the Board under this section. The Administrator shall ensure that–

“(C) persons with substantial and relevant expertise are not excluded from the Board due to affiliation with or representation of entities that may have a potential interest in the Board’s advisory activities, so long as that interest is fully disclosed to the Administrator and the public and appointment to the Board complies with section 208 of title 18, United States Code;

“(E) Board members may not participate in advisory activities that directly or indirectly involve review or evaluation of their own work;

So (C) above would open the advisory board to include corporate representatives; these people are specifically redefined as acceptable as long as we know that they work for industry.

But (E) above means that a scientist whose has published on global warming, for example, cannot be part of the board if they are discussing global warming, because of course then her work would be evaluated as part of the discussion of global warming.

In other words, working for a corporation that would be directly affected by the regulation does not cause a conflict of interest, but the scientific method and peer review do cause a conflict of interest.

No dystopian fancy ever encompassed a world in which “I am paid to say P” is treated as no serious conflict of interest with respect to P, but the person who publishes peer-reviewed scientific papers on P has a conflict of interest because… I just don’t know why because.

We are laggards, we science fiction writers. The world is leaving us behind.