Episode 344: Time, Cities and Moving to the Poles

And we’re back with our 344th episode, which one of us incorrectly thought was our 343rd because we counted 342 twice. Ugh. Apologies for the confusion! This week:

The rise and rise of the time travel story

Dr Who has been telling time travel stories for fifty years. Robert A. Heinlein made his name with a time travel story. Kids grow up watching Back to the Future. Time travel is a well-established theme and story device, and it seems to be enjoying prominence at the moment. Kelly Robson used it in Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach. Ian McDonald used it in Time Was. What makes time travel an attractive idea? Have we changed how we’re treating it as a trope in fiction?  

How urbanisation is impacting how we’re looking at the city in SF

7.5 billion people live on Earth, up from 1.5 billion in 1900. Likely to increase to 10 billion by 2050. Levels of urbanisation – people living in cities – are increasing, especially in Africa, China, and India. The largest cities in the world are in those places. How does this growing urbanisation appear in SFF? Has our vision of cities in SF changed from James Blish and Isaac Asimov when you now look at Paolo Bacigalupi and Sam Miller?

Why are looking to move to the Arctic?

Antarctica, Black Fish City, Austral, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. Climate change is heating up the world and we’re heading to the poles.  Read Charlie Jane talking about climate change. 

Epilogue: You don’t need to read . . . The Drowned World, J G Ballard

Readers don’t need to read Ballard’s novel if you think it ’s an early climate change warning novel, because it isn’t. If you want to understand Ballard’s ideas about “inner space” or psychic spaces, it’s a pioneering work, but it’s in no way a serious precursor of “cli-fi.”

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