Popular Science Magazine’s July issue (available June 18) will visions of future cities by writers–including me–and artists. It will be in their print newsstand magazine, on their PopSci site, and on tablet.
The Popsci site is marvelous, and worth visiting daily. Popular Science has been published since 1872, and included writing by, among others, Darwin, Thomas Edison, Thomas Huxley, and William James. So I’m thrilled to be invited to contribute.
May 14, 2013 No Comments
“A Love Supreme,” first published in Discover Magazine, will appear in Year’s Best Science Fiction #18, edited by David Hartwell. I’m pleased!
May 13, 2013 No Comments
“Sundiver Day,” a novelette about a Key West teen whose brother has gone missing in a Middle East war, will be in this summer’s CICADA MAGAZINE. I first read it to a packed room when I was a Special GoH at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts several years ago (after a fulsome introduction by Lisa Yaszek of Georgia Tech, where I now teach as a Professor of the Practice). First published in THE STARRY RIFT in 2008, it is in my 2011 collection ANGELS AND YOU DOGS and available as an ebook from Amazon and B&N. I’m very pleased to be published in CICADA!
May 9, 2013 No Comments
If you are one of the ninety percent of Americans who wanted the Senate to pass the Manchin-Toomey Amendment that would have expanded background checks for those who buy guns in many venues, write or call your representatives to voice your anger and disappointment and to tell them, definitively, that you will not vote for them the next time. It seems increasingly difficult for these people to understand that they are there to vote for what we, the individual voters, want them to vote for. That’s what “represent” means.
April 18, 2013 No Comments
Tom Lux, who holds two endowed chairs of poetry at Georgia Tech, hosts one of the finest poetry readings in the country several times a year, Poetry At Tech. He invited me to read fiction, IN WAR TIMES (a first for Poetry at Tech), which I did, but I began with a poem about Lew Welch called “City Lights.” This is from December 2010, when I first began teaching at Georgia Tech, where I am now a Professor of the Practice.
Poetry At Tech is free and open to the public, so if you live near Atlanta you should check their schedule and hear marvelous poets read their work.
April 14, 2013 No Comments
April 11, 2013 No Comments
April 9, 2013 No Comments
Today I opened an envelope containing CYBERPUNK WOMEN, FEMINISM AND SCIENCE FICTION, A Critical Study, by Carlen Lavigne. I thought, this looks interesting. I order lots of books–as presents to my near-future self, as a professional necessity, and for love. Books are my joy, my drug, my economic original sin, and I was glad that I had ordered, in some seemingly unremembered past, this intriguing-looking book.
When I opened it, Carlen’s card fell out, and I remembered: a while back, I had answered a lot of her email queries. I never imagined I was contributing to something as ambitious, wide-ranging and necessary as this study.
A few years ago, a Wikipedia editor and close reader of my work said, “Your Wikipedia entry calls you a cyberpunk writer. That’s odd. Do you think of your work as cyberpunk?” I told her that I didn’t, although what an author thinks about her work is generally neither here nor there when it comes to how it is interpreted critically, by the public, or by her most avid fans. However, I’m glad to see my work so strongly included in Lavigne’s book. She views cyberpunk through a new and refreshing lens.
In her Introduction, Lavigne writes, “As this study will show, authors such as Marge Piercy, Melissa Scott and Kathleen Ann Goonan have indeed used the cyberpunk mythos to work against prejudice and limited worldviews; they have expanded the genre far beyond its original tenets (7).”
I’m eager to read this book not only because Lavigne sees my work and the work of Pat Cadigan, Sage Walker, Melissa Scott, Lisa Mason, and many other women who began to publish science fiction in the 1980′s and 90′s as critically important–that’s not new, although SF written by women has indeed not been given as much critical emphasis as that written by men–but because, from my initial brief tour of the book, her work goes a long way towards giving women in science fiction, and the ideas they consider worth writing about, their due. The cover copy says “The study treats feminist cyberpunk as a unique vehicle for examining contemporary women’s issues and analyzes feminist science fiction as a complex source of political ideas.”
CYBERPUNK WOMEN, FEMINISM AND SCIENCE FICTION: A CRITICAL STUDY by Carlen Lavigne is published by McFarland. Lavigne holds a Ph.D. in Communications Studies, and she teaches Red Deer College in Alberta, Canada.
February 16, 2013 No Comments
INTELLIGENT MACHINES, UPLOADED MINDS, edited by Russell Blackford and Damien Broderick, has been accepted for publication by Wiley-Blackwell. This will be an extensive and wide-ranging book, to which I will contribute one chapter, based on the following abstract:
“’What does it mean to be human?’ is the iconic question that religion, philosophy, many of the sciences, and science fiction explore. The development of computers has encouraged many serious thinkers to believe that we can create computers to which we can transfer the contents of our living brains and retain that elusive but essential aspect of ourselves that we call consciousness — our self-awareness — and thus extend our lives and enable humans to change at a more rapid pace than is now possible. Exploration of the problems and questions such scenarios suggest is essential to posing them as puzzles to be considered and solved before concrete progress can be made in this endeavor. I will explore the problems and questions that seem most pressing in this chapter, focusing on the complexity of biology, recent progress in the neurosciences, the seemingly inextricable embeddedness of the brain in the body and the body in the world, present-day models of consciousness and memory, societal implications of realization of this far-off goal, and a possible nanotech model for preservation of the self in a new body.”
With contributions from eminent participants in this long-running conversation, ranging from David Chalmers, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University to Max More, Ph.D., founder of the Extropian Institute and CEO of Alcore Life Extension Foundation, Intelligent Machines, Uploaded Minds will be “a state-of-the-art selection of articles and essays on the themes of mind uploading and machine consciousness.”
I am excited to be a part of this project.
–Kathleen Ann Goonan, Professor of the Practice, LMC
February 3, 2013 No Comments
Paul Kincaid reviews ANGELS AND YOU DOGS on the SF Site. The review begins:
“I get the impression that Kathleen Ann Goonan would like to live very far away from the rest of us, in a remote cabin somewhere, preferably where it snows a lot. This is not necessarily a place to escape the present, but rather a place where one might encounter, understand, and perhaps even embrace the future.”
He gets the right impression–I perpetually await snow! And, because I am in Florida most winters, I live in a somewhat Proustian state of perpetual longing for that ur-space of creativity, which for me seems to be the isolation that snow imposes. Perhaps longing is better than reality–flying off the road in my Ford pickup, busted water pipes, reviving the cooking skills of my Midwestern ancestors at a time when winters were harsher and colder and there were no grocery stores . . . oh, heck, the reality is still tempting! There is the cozy necessity of laying in a good supply of wood, down and wool clothing and canned goods and sturdy boots, and other pleasures. But there is also the daunting realization that my wood-splitting skills and strength have atrophied somewhat over the years.
I prepared for this, as a child. Sure, I had a calling for writing, but perhaps more importantly, I had a calling for wilderness. I read many Tales of the Frozen North, James Oliver Curwood in particular, and SNOWBLIND, and THE COUNTRY OF THE POINTED FIRS, and WE TOOK TO THE WOODS, books in which isolation seemed to bring moral fortitude and the associated search for identity into sharp relief. I emerged from used book stores with sacks of depression-era books about Living Off The Land. I studied the Boy Scout Handbook to hone my survival skills. I wanted to Live in the Woods on a Nickle a Day. I practiced knots, slapped bannock bread (an unhealthy mix of white flour, baking soda, and water) into frying pans, had my father build a portable camping kitchen. The places that enchanted me were cabins far back in the woods, on lakes big and small, in Michigan. In my formative years as a young adult, I did live in such places in the mountains of southwest Virginia, near the West Virginia state line, experienced deep, isolating snows. During those snows I tramped through a world mysteriously transformed, was buffeted by invigorating winds, pelted by rain, hail, sleet, and snow, took evocative photographs, stoked wood stoves, and got a lot of painting and writing work done.
My grandmother’s antique snow globe burst in one such setting; I left for my job as a Montessori teacher–you see, I have been in the world of humans, and for many, many years–after dressing under my electric blanket (for I always let the stove go cold at night) driving a ribboning high road over said snowy mountains, was immersed in a world of children and their parents for the day, and returned to find that my beautiful snow globe, my emblem of fantasy, had frozen and burst–not unpredictably–during the day.
Perhaps I simply long for childhood days in Cincinnati–far from being a wilderness!–where my mother and I trekked intrepidly through the snow, took buses everywhere, and enjoyed many a snowy day. A month in Michigan every winter could not have hurt. My deepest happy memories are embedded in the snows of childhood.
I am a bit surprised at how strong this germ of what fosters my own creative life is in these stories. I think that most creative people used to thrive in isolation, free from chatter, and probably still do. How else is one to get work done? And if this work is the most important thing in one’s life, and if one’s attention is fragile, as is mine, than it is much better to gaze at snowy mountains than to rent a windowless room, as do some writers, and to ensure that if a visitor braves long, snow-covered roads, cutting trees blown over the road with the chain saw one keeps in the truck for just this purpose, it must be for a very good reason. Writing through the night resembles writing during days of snow. There is metaphorical isolation, and the comforting knowledge that I will not have to start a fire in the stove at dawn because electricity will brew the coffee.
I know, but do not understand, that many creative people enjoy working on teams, collaboratively. Perhaps I would enjoy it too. I enjoyed the collaborative dance of teaching preschoolers where I and other adults slipped unobtrusively in and out of each child’s sphere with those light suggestions that are the essence of teaching, forming that creative world, that low buzz of concentration, that seems a single entity when it works, when light builds in the room. Perhaps that is how team-building and maintaining a fictional digital world works, and how it feels–more than the sum of its parts.
(As an aside, I always opened my school on snow days. I’d drive crunchy, slippery, unplowed roads in the dark, put my key in the door, open another kind of world that I’d built from a dream, welcome ten children rather than fifty, tell my employees to stay home, and delight in the brilliant, white day, with children.)
The most important point is that I am not really alone in wilderness. In fact, I am never alone. The world, whether in city, in wildness, in that in-between space of country, is alive for me. We intersect with one another. I am not sure that I nourish it, but it nourishes me. The characters in my stories and novels, who are fictions, ghosts, build themselves in such spaces and are my companions. They insist on themselves.
No one ever said that writers are normal, did they?
Most people spend much of their time surrounded by fictional people and stories, via television. Television fills those quiet, creative spaces and tramples on the quiet voice of Thought, but obviously most people do not feel that their time in this world, their time to think and to create, is limited, as do I. People may be watching said television with others, they may discuss the characters and plots with others, but they are, essentially, alone when they engage with that screen. They are tethered to it. They bend over their phones and watch, alone; they buy more cable options so they can watch their own shows, sucking down these worlds like I suck down solitude.
I like fiction, too. I have my own television, which is filled with fictional worlds in which characters insist on and argue for their own existence, reveal their lives in dialogue. I can best hear and see it, and think about how to transmit it, however engaging it may be to others (one never knows), when alone. Writing is active, not passive, and it is kind of like a virus. It takes over one’s life. Writers who publish are those who cannot turn off that urge. Happy writers like myself have families who understand this urge.
And I hasten to add that I have written many more short stories than these fourteen, bursting! with engagement and . . . and . . . . Well, come to think of it, the main character in “A Love Supreme,” which appeared in October’s DISCOVER MAGAZINE, is an agaraphobe . . .
For works just bursting with Engagement, see: The Novels of Kathleen Ann Goonan. And keep an eye out for “Bootstrap,” a story of collaborative engagement, in MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW SCIENCE FICTION, out next year, and “Sport,” in ARC early next year. You’ll see!
And great thanks to Paul Kincaid for his wonderful review.
November 17, 2012 No Comments