A behind-the-scenes look at what Public Books editors and staff have been reading this month.
Tag: Science Fiction
All Futures Are Possible
“It is fanciful to invest too much faith in the isolated act of reading – the stimulated, inspired or entertained brain does not store carbon.”
“In Any Version of Reality”: Talking SF with Charles Yu
“It’s why science fiction matters so much to me: I’m trying to dislocate our sense of the normal.”
One More Embrace: Octavia’s Future/Present
Butler’s work helps us see how time is a spiral, how the present moment is always layered with multiple pasts and underlying alternate futures.
Octavia E. Butler: The Next 75 Years
Rather than politically utopian, Butler’s stories teach us about grief, consolation, hope, and—most of all—how to live in struggle.
“Keep Your Own Counsel”: Talking Octavia E. Butler with Lynell George
“She wanted people to be curious and take action in their lives. Not be sheep. To find the ways we can work together in crisis.”
The World Continues to Need Octavia E. Butler
Pandemics, racist violence, climate change, democratic collapse: it’s finally clear that it’s Butler’s world. We’re just living in it.
The Work of Inhabiting a Role: Charles Yu Speaks to Chris Fan
“I am paralyzed by the infinite degrees of freedom that you start out with, and so constraints can be freeing. To say, I can start here—I'm writing a story about time travel.”
To Air Is Human
An aerodynamicist and an anthropologist discuss the world of “Dune,” finding it as aesthetically beautiful as it is functionally implausible.
At its core, noir is a feeling: realizing one’s own helplessness, when faced with the vast networks of power that control everyday life.
A Messy Utopia Is All We Might Get
Climate change didn’t just wreck the planet; it closed off and reshaped the future. Even utopia—if we reach it—will be a mess.
Meritocracy Is a Dystopia
Netflix Brazil’s 3% presents a desperate future city that nevertheless proclaims its citizens all have an equal shot at success. Sound familiar?
How to Build a World
Storytelling like that of Ursula K. Le Guin or Hayao Miyazaki reveals how real-world politics is similarly an act of collective “world building.”
Plants and Other Science Fictions
Can thinking like a plant save the world?
A Quiet Disaster: Mexico City, Mexico
Apocalyptic writers would be surprised by the suddenness with which Mexico City, during the pandemic, took on the guise of a ghost town.
The DJ Is a Time Machine
Let’s rupture and reject the “timeline,” a flawed and colonial form of teaching history.
The Realism of Our Times: Kim Stanley Robinson on How Science Fiction Works
“We're in a science fiction novel now that we are all co-writing together.”
All Tomorrow’s Warnings
Both left and right employ “speculative nonfiction” to imagine the world after climate change. But who will win the battle of the futurists?
The Worst of All Possible Worlds?
The most interesting science fiction is not about the future at all but about the present.
Reading Black Futures
Digitizing works of fiction by Black writers catalyzes history, so that it can build new futures.