Changing science fiction, changing the world: Scholars & Rogues honors William Gibson

I have been known to say that William Gibson is arguably the most important author of the past 30 years. That’s a mouthful of an assertion, especially since we’re talking about a genre writer, I know. But even if I’m wrong, I’m not off by much. The man who more or less invented Cyberpunk, then abandoned it as quickly as he defined it, did more than simply alter the direction of science fiction, he literally helped shape the computing and Internet landscape as we know it today. That’s pretty big doings for a guy who had never so much as played with a computer before he wrote his first novel.

This story we’ve heard before, but here’s the Reader’s Digest version for those late to the party. Gibson’s Neuromancer (the first novel to ever win the SF triple crown – the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Philip K. Dick awards) introduced us to cyberspace, a “consensual hallucination” in which humans used computers to navigate around the global online network. He imagined it as an immense, three-dimensional virtual space, and as his “Cyberspace Trilogy” (Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive) unfolded, we also encountered killer viruses, psychic online projections of humans whose flesh was being kept technically alive in protein baths out in meatspace, and even artificial life forms that had evolved from advanced artificial intelligences created by powerful corporate interests. Continue reading

Children are the future – but they can’t vote, so whatever

Whether he’s talking about the lasting effects of the economy or his achievements in school reform, Mitt Romney mentions children pretty often. He prides himself as being an education governor, emphasizing school choice and creating the Jon and Abigail Adams Scholarship for high schoolers going to school. Take for example this quote, from his remarks on education titled “A Chance for Every Child:”

“In this country, we believe every child has something to contribute.  No matter what circumstances they were born into, every child has a dream about where they can go or what they can become.”

Romney says he wants a better future for his children and grandchildren, and for the children in the United States. He’s concerned for their future and wants them to go far. But he has a lousy way of showing it.

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East Denver neighborhood organizers beat back Walmart

In everything from large cities to small towns across the country, people who care about the integrity of their neighborhoods and the health of their local economies seem to be constantly fending off Walmart expansion into areas where the company is neither wanted nor needed. It’s always gratifying when the natives are successful, as it now appears they have been in a part of town where I used to live.

I was out to dinner with my friends Sean and Jami Friday night. They live over near the old CU Health Sciences Center (a big redevelopment site now that the hospital and med school have moved out to the Anschutz campus in Aurora) and have been involved in the neighborhood organization resisting Walmart and the whore developer they’re working with. The neighborhood (polling showed opposition in excess of 90%-10%) were hopeful that they were on the right track, especially since council members Jeanne Robb and Mary Beth Susman announced that they would oppose public subsidies for the Walmart (the company’s strategy tends to go something like “we’ll come in and destroy your neighborhood, but only if you pay for it”), but nothing they said suggested that victory might be this close at hand.

So, congrats to the organizers and many thanks to Robb and Susman. East Denver is a very cool area and I’m hoping that what now emerges from the redevelopment process is something as organic and vibrant as my own West Highlands neighborhood.