Cory Doctorow’s Hopeful Vision: Let’s Imagine Better Things

In my last post I promised I would write pieces about what is making me hopeful in a time that does not always seem hopeful. This does not mean turning away from the realities of the climate crisis or how too many people seem to be drawn to authoritarian leaders or how hard it is to reduce one’s carbon emissions. No. I will continue to gaze at the world in all its ugliness and imperfections, including my own. But I will make every effort not to be paralyzed by the difficulties of being part of a hopeful future.

The perfect place to start my hopeful postings is with the activist and science fiction author Cory Doctorow, who is perhaps best known for his novel  Little Brother. Recently for Canada’s Globe and Mail, Doctorow wrote an opinion piece entitled Science Fiction and the Unforeseeable Future: In the 2020s, let’s imagine better things.

On his website Doctorow posits that “science fiction can’t predict the future, but might inspire it” and “how the dystopian malaise of science fiction can be turned into an inspiring tale of ‘adversity met and overcome – hard work and commitment wrenching a limping victory from the jaws of defeat.'”

Here an excerpt from Science Fiction and the Unforeseeable Future: In the 2020s, let’s imagine better things:

Considered in the grand sweep of human achievements, resolving the climate crisis is a big job, but it’s not the biggest thing we’ve ever done. We have built great cities, international aviation systems, an internet that wires together the planet like a vast digital nervous system. We can do this.”

Then Doctorow goes on to imagine a Canadian Dream, which could be a dream for all of us:

Full employment is guaranteed to anyone who will work on the energy transition – building wind, tide and solar facilities; power storage systems; electrified transit systems; high-speed rail; and retrofits to existing housing stock for an order-of-magnitude increase in energy and thermal efficiency. All of these are entirely precedented – retrofitting the housing stock is not so different from the job we undertook to purge our homes of lead paint and asbestos, and the cause every bit as urgent.

Canada goes on a war footing: Full employment is guaranteed to anyone who will work on the energy transition – building wind, tide and solar facilities; power storage systems; electrified transit systems; high-speed rail; and retrofits to existing housing stock for an order-of-magnitude increase in energy and thermal efficiency. All of these are entirely precedented – retrofitting the housing stock is not so different from the job we undertook to purge our homes of lead paint and asbestos, and the cause every bit as urgent.

How will we pay for it? The same way we paid for the Second World War: spending the money into existence (much easier now that we can do so with a keyboard rather than a printing press), then running a massive campaign to sequester all that money in war bonds so it doesn’t cause inflation.

The justification for taking such extreme measures is obvious: a 1000 Year Reich is a horror too ghastly to countenance, but rendering our planet incapable of sustaining human life is even worse.

Doctorow makes a compelling argument for hope, and I would encourage readers to read the whole Globe and Mail piece, which can be accessed through the above link I have provided to Doctorow’s website.

Welcome, 2020!

As my mother-in-law, Ethel, would have put it, the holidays went by in a mad dash. We had lots of fun, but I will admit to being more than a little tired. Never mind! Plenty of time to rest in January, which, believe it or not, is one of my favorite months. I love the snow and the quiet and the clarity of the light.

I was too busy to take pictures during Christmas, but on the last day of the year, it snowed and things slowed down. (Shannon, sorry you missed this. I know how much you like cozy days.)

We started the day with waffles and veggie sausages. I realize this is bragging, but Clif makes the best waffles. Ever.

Here is the master by his machine.

Then there was the snow, to make everything feel snug and warm inside. We had just the right amount—about five or six inches—and clean up was easy.

Here are some more snowy pictures.

Ending with some snowy frogs.

For some reason, I am starting 2020 with a hopeful feeling. I know. I know. Australia is burning—oh so terrible!—and the politics of hate, racism, and lies continue to rage in this country as well as around the world. Nevertheless, I feel hope stirring inside me.

Maybe it’s because today I have read several pieces where other writers have felt the same way. Or because a very good friend did something so cool I would have jumped for joy if my creaky knees had allowed.

Or maybe it’s because on New Year’s Eve, we timed Avengers: End Game so perfectly that at the stroke of midnight, Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, snapped his fingers. At which point, the evil Thanos and all his minions blew away. (I’m not going to put too fine a point on the symbolism of this.)  But it was indeed a thrill to have those snapping fingers precisely at midnight at the dawn of a new decade with a number that implies clarity.

Who knows why I’m feeling this spark of hope? But I am. And for a while, anyway, I will be sharing hopeful things on my blog.

Happy 2020 to you all, dear blogging friends. I look forward to reading all your wonderful posts in the upcoming year.

The Countdown Begins!

While it might be only five days until Christmas, it is just two days until the kids—all right, they’re really adults, but they will always be kids to me—come home. Tomorrow, Mike and Shannon will be leaving North Carolina on Saturday and spend the night with Dee in Brooklyn. Then to Maine, to Maine, they all come, and the whole crazy crew will be together until Sunday, December 29, when Shannon and Mike head back to North Carolina. Dee will stay with us until the New Year.

Clif and I are more than a little excited to have everyone home. The shelves, freezer, and refrigerator are bursting with good things to eat. There will be movies, of course, and board games and pizza with friends. And lots and lots of talking. I know the time will fly by ever so fast, but what a delicious feeling it is to be at the beginning of the festivities rather than at the end.

I will be taking a break from blogging until the New Year. With so much family and fun, I’m not sure how many blogs I’ll be able to read, but I’ll be back in the saddle come the beginning of January.

Two things to share before I sign off.

The first is from Suzzane’s Mom’s Blog, a wonderful source of offbeat news, most of it positive. Recently, there was a post about how in 1955 NORAD began tracking Santa’s progress. After all the upsetting news about politics and the climate crisis, this is sure to put a smile on your face. Go, Santa, go!

The second are some snowy pictures I took around our yard. I know that in different parts of the world, Christmas looks different, and that’s as it should be. The world is big, and there is lot of variety. But to northern New England, Christmas means snow, and here are some pictures I took around our yard after the last storm a couple of days ago.

Happy holidays to you all. See you in 2020.

A Short Story Advent Calendar

This year for an early Christmas present, my daughter Shannon and my son-in-law Mike gave me Hingston & Olsen Publishing’s 2019 Short Story Advent Calendar.

This present is as delightful as it sounds and looks. In the box, there are twenty-four short stories labeled from 1 to 24. Each story is sealed, waiting to be broken on the appropriate day by the eager reader. As is described on the Advent Calendar website, “this is a collection of literary, non-religious stories for adults.”

So far my favorites have been “Save-A-Lot” by Anthony Doer; “An Errand in the Country” by Olga Grushin; and “Natural Light” by Kathleen Alcott. In fact, I liked Gushin’s story so well that I have requested her novel The Dream Life of Sukhanov through interlibrary loan, and it might very well be the first book I read in 2020.

Naturally, not all the short stories in the collection have resonated with me, and that is to be expected. But what a treat it is to settle into bed with the story of the day, and this sort of advent calendar is a perfect gift for those who love literary fiction.

Many thanks, Mike and Shannon!

A Christmas Surprise

In Maine, December is a dark, cold month. The days are at their shortest—dusk comes at around 4:15—and how lovely it is when the sun sets. A star twinkles in the evening sky. Everywhere, trees with bare branches stand in silhouette, framing the glowing moon as it rises.

December is a perfect month for sparkling lights and surprises, for getting parcels that you don’t expect. One such package came yesterday, from my blogging friend Judy of New England Garden and Thread. Judy’s creativity—her sewing and quilting—is a constant source of inspiration to me. How I enjoy seeing the posts of the various project she makes throughout the year.

And how pleased and surprised I was to receive this lovely gift from Judy.

It has pride of place in the living room, resting against books on a shelf by the couch.

Many, many thanks, Judy! What a wonderful addition to my Christmas decorations.

 

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