ASU’s newly-published collection of sci-fi stories has people talking about space



TED SIMONS: ASU CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND THE IMAGINATION PUBLISHED A NEW COLLECTION OF SCIENCE FICTION ALONG WITH ESSAYS AND ARTWORK. ALL DEALS WITH THE FUTURE SPACE EXPLORATION AND IT'S CALLED VISIONS, VENTURES, ESCAPE VELOCITIES: COLLECTION OF SPACE FUTURES AND AVAILABLE FOR FREE AS A DOWNLOAD AND JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THE SCIENCE SPECULATION IS ED FINN HE IS THE FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND THE IMAGINATION, I'LL GET IT OUT SOONER OR LATER AND THANKS FOR JOINING US, WHAT IS THE IDEA BEHIND THIS BOOK?

ED FINN: THE PREMISE OF THIS BOOK ORIGINALLY AND IT STARTED OUT AS A GRANT PROPOSAL BEFORE IT TURNED INTO A BOOK WE ARE TURNING A CORNER HERE IN HOW WE THINK ABOUT SPACE EXPLORATION. ALL OF THE FUNDAMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES OR MANY OF THEM WE HAVE. SOME OF THEM WE'VE HAD FOR 50 YEARS, WE KNOW HOW TO BUILD ROCKET SHIPS AND GET PEOPLE TO THE MOON AND BACK SAFELY AND GET THINGS IN AND OUT OF ORBIT AND KNOW THE MATH AND KNOW THE MATERIALS AND SO WHAT WE ARE ARRIVING AT NOW IS A POINT WHERE THE REAL QUESTIONS ARE SOCIAL QUESTIONS AND ECONOMIC QUESTIONS NOT JUST HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THERE HOW SHOULD WE GO, WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT AND WHAT THE BIG STORY IS AND THAT STORY IS CHANGING AND CHANGED FROM THE 1960S APOLLO PROGRAM TO WERE LOOKING FOR NEW STORIES ABOUT SPACE TODAY.

TED SIMONS: AND TELLING THOSE STORIES BY WAY OF FICTION IT ALMOST KIND OF LET'S YOU HAVE ANOTHER ANGLE TO IT DOESN'T IT?

ED FINN: ABSOLUTELY ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT FICTION AND SCIENCE FICTION AND SCIENCE FICTION ESPECIALLY IS THAT IT INVITES MANY DIFFERENT AUDIENCES MANY DIFFERENT KIND OF EXPERTISES AND INTERESTS INTO THE SAME CONVERSATION AND TO THE SAME VISION OF THE FUTURE. YOU MIGHT AGREE OR DISAGREE WHETHER YOU LIKE THAT PARTICULAR FUTURE BUT NOW YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT.

TED SIMONS: LET'S LOOK AT SOME ILLUSTRATION FOR THESE STORIES BECAUSE THEY ARE INTERESTING IN AND OF THEMSELVES BUT THE ILLUSTRATIONS ARE KIND OF FUN TOO AND WE START WITH A MECHANICAL ARM WHAT ARE WE LOOKING AT HERE?

TED SIMONS: SO THIS IS FROM A STORY CALLED VAN GUARD 2.0 SO THIS IS -- THE BOOK IS DIVIDED INTO FOUR SECTIONS THAT ARE EXPLORE DIFFERENT AREAS WHERE WE MIGHT BE HAVING REAL HUMAN ACTIVITY IN SPACE IN THE NEXT SAY 20 YEARS AND SO THIS IS FROM THE AREA LOW EARTH ORBIT AND THAT MEANS SATELLITES ANYTHING THAT IS ORBITING THE EARTH RIGHT NOW SO IN THIS STORY BY CARTER SHOLE THERE IS A VERY WEALTHY ZILLIONAIRE OF A CAR COMPANY, A CAR COMPANY THAT YOU CAN HAIL RIDES FROM EVEN TODAY BUT THIS IS A FICTIONAL ACCOUNT OF A FUTURE SUCH PERSON AND HE DECIDES HE WANTS TO TAKE THE SATELLITE FROM THE EARLY AEROSPACE EXPLORATION CALLED VAN GUARD AND BASICALLY TURN IT INTO A CHANDELIER AND A DECORATION IN HIS HOME I THINK IT'S OVER HIS DINING TABLE IS THE PLAN AND SO THE STORY IS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN COMMERCIALIZATION IN SPACE CREATES THESE TREMENDOUS NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR CORPORATIONS SO IT'S A STORY ABOUT POWER, IT'S A STORY ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL, THE LITTLE PEOPLE IN THIS COMPANY AND THE BIG PEOPLE AND ACTUALLY TURNS OUT TO BE A STORY ABOUT DUAL USE TECHNOLOGIES AND THE WAYS OF THE THINGS WE DEVELOP FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES COULD ALSO BECOME MILITARY AND VICE VERSA IT ALWAYS HAS BEEN A GRAY AREA IN SPACE EXPLORATION.

TED SIMONS: SHAKESPEARE AND THE ATMOSPHERE. OUR NEXT ONE IS SOMETHING CALLED MOZART ON THE CALAHARI THIS IS WHERE THIS VISUAL COMES FROM WHAT ARE WE LOOKING AT HERE?
ED FINN: THIS IS A VISUAL OF THE DISNEY OBSERVATION PLATFORM SO THIS IS ANOTHER PIECE OF TOTAL FICTION FROM THIS STORY BY STEVEN BARNS AND IN HIS NARRATIVE HE EXPLORES THE PREMISE NOT JUST OF WHY SHOULD WE GO TO SPACE BUT WHO IS GOING TO GET TO GO TO SPACE. SO HE IMAGINES IN EARTH IN THE NEAR FUTURE WHERE A LOT OF THE TRENDS WE SEE TODAY CONTINUE WITH A DECLINING MIDDLE CLASS, THERE IS POVERTY, THERE IS A LOT OF CHALLENGES ON EARTH AND IT'S A STORY ABOUT A YOUNG KID WHO LIVES IN STRUGGLING CIRCUMSTANCES AND HE GETS KIND OF A GOLDEN TICKET. HE WINS A SCIENCE FAIR AND HE GETS A CHANCE TO GO TO FULFILL HIS DREAM AND GO TO THE STARS. SO IT'S A STORY ABOUT RACE AND SPACE, IT'S ALSO A STORY ABOUT THAT POTENTIAL WE ALL HAVE TO SORT OF DREAM BIG AND THE IDEA THAT YOU NEED VENTURESHIP AND YOU NEED SUPPORT AND IT'S REALLY FUN THE WAY THAT HE IMAGINES THAT SPACE IS A PLACE FOR TOURISM RIGHT THERE ARE BASICALLY A FEW HOTELS YOU CAN GO AS FAR AS SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND OTHER COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY.

TED SIMONS: ALRIGHT, THE BAKER OF MARS IS ANOTHER STORY AND WE HAVE AN ILLUSTRATION FOR THIS AND DEALS WITH THE MARTIAN SURFACE.

ED FINN: THAT IS RIGHT THIS IS A STORY BY CARL SHRADER ANOTHER AUTHOR WE LOVE TO WORK WITH AND THIS IS A TREMENDOUS COLLECTION PUT TOGETHER AND FOR CARL'S STORY HE WAS GRAPPLING WITH THE SAME QUESTION WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT AND SO WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THE HUMAN COLONIZATION OF MARS AND HE COMES UP WITH A REALLY SURPRISING ANSWER WHICH IS THAT ACTUALLY NO HUMANS ARE GOING TO GO TO MARS FOR A LONG TIME WE ARE GOING TO SEND ROBOTS AND PEOPLE ARE GOING TO ENGAGE IN THIS SORT OF VIRTUAL REALITY, THEY ARE GOING TO WEAR GOGGLES AND HAVE RIGS AND THEY ARE GOING TO CONTROL THESE ROBOTS AND THEY ARE GOING TO BE HOME STEADERS OVER VR AND THEY ARE ALL HANGING ON, THEY HAVE INVESTED THEIR LIFE-SAVINGS IN SENDING THE EQUIPMENT TO MARS TO STAKE THE TERRITORY AND STAKE A CLAIM AND HOPING AS THE PLANET GETS MORE DEVELOPED THEN THE BED IS GOING TO FLIP AND SUDDENLY IT'S GOING TO MAKE ECONOMIC SENSE AND ALL GET BIG PAY DAYS AND ARE ALL LIVING ON MARTIAN TIME IN THIS COLLECTION WE HAVE A SERIES OF NONFICTION ESSAYS AS WELL AND ONE OF MY FAVORITE IS BY AN ASU GEOLOGIST NAMED STEVE RUFF WHO IS AN OLD HAND AT MARS EXPLORATION AND HIS ESSAY IS ACTUALLY ABOUT HOW HE HAD TO LIVE ON MARS TIME WHEN HE WAS HELPING WITH ONE OF THE ROBOTS ON THE RESEARCH TEAM FOR THAT. AND THAT IS VERY COMPLICATED. I FORGET I THINK IT'S SOMETHING LIKE 20 MINUTES OFF OF EARTH TIME AND SO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT EVERY DAY YOU ARE 8:00 A.M. IS MOVING 20 MINUTES LATER IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO STAY ON MARS TIME IF YOU ARE ON PLANET EARTH.

TED SIMONS: THAT IS BAKER MARS KIND OF FROM A DISTANCE COLONIZING MARS. THE NEXT, THE DEATH OF MARS SHOWS WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU JUST GO UP THERE AND START EXTRACTING LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW.

ED FINN: ACTUALLY, IT'S INTERESTING THAT YOU GET THAT IMPRESSION. THE STORY IS SORT OF DIFFERENT THOUGH. IT HAS A NO TOMORROW ELEMENT TO IT AS YOU CORRECTLY GUESSED. SO AND IF YOU HAVEN'T GUESSED THIS IS THE SECOND BIG THEME OF THE COLLECTION AS MARS SO THESE ARE TWO MARS STORIES SO THIS STORY BY MADELINE ASHBY HAS TWO REALLY INTERESTING PREMISES. THE FIRST IS WHAT IF WE SENT AN ALL FEMALE CREW BECAUSE IF YOU DO THE MATH IT'S CHEAPER, IT'S MORE EFFICIENT NOT JUST AS MADELINE JUST JOKED ON ANOTHER INTERVIEW WE DID NOT JUST BECAUSE WOMEN GET PAID LESS THAN MEN BUT ACTUALLY BECAUSE IT'S JUST THEY ARE CALORICLY MORE EFFICIENT AND YOU NEED LESS FOOD AND THEY WEIGH LESS SO IT'S A VERY INTERESTING PROVOCATIVE THOUGHT. SO THE IDEA AND FICTION HERE IS NASA TRIED THIS OUT WITH A TEAM OF WOMEN WHO GO TO FOBOS, WHICH IS ONE OF THE MOONS ORBITING MARS AND THEIR CONTROLLING THE WORMS WE SEE IN THE IMAGE, AND THOSE WORMS ARE BIG DIGGING MACHINES LIKE THE BIG BERTHA IN SEATTLE AND ARE TUNNELLING OUT A HUMAN HABITAT IN MARS.

TED SIMONS: SO THEY’RE NOT EXTRACTING THINGS NECESSARILY, THEY’RE JUST TRYING TO BUILD PLACES TO LIVE.

ED FINN: THAT IS RIGHT AND THERE ARE OTHER ASTRONAUTS ON THEIR WAY WHO WILL LIVE IN THE NEW HABITATS BUT THE BIG KICKER IS ONE OF THE ASTRONAUTS THESE WOMEN IS CONCEALING THAT SHE HAS A TERMINAL ILLNESS.

TED SIMONS: OOHH.

ED FINN: SO THAT IS THE REAL DRAMA IS NOT REALLY ABOUT FEMALE CREW MEMBERS IT'S ABOUT THIS NOTION OF WHAT KIND OF PRIVACY DO YOU GET TO HAVE, HOW DO YOU GRAPPLE OF THE ISSUES HAVING CONTROL OVER THE END OF YOUR LIFE AND CHOOSING THE MANNER OF YOUR DEATH AND WHAT YOU CAN SHARE, IT'S A REALLY COMPELLING AND POWERFUL STORIES.

TED SIMONS: THERE ARE REGARDING MINING, AS ASTROIDS OUT THERE AND A LOT OF COOL ARTWORK THIS IS FREE AS A DOWNLOAD. HOW DO FOLKS GET AHOLD OF THIS THING?

ED FINN: GO TO CSI.ASU.EDU AND WE HAVE A BIG BANNER IMAGE THERE YOU CAN CLICK ON THAT AND GET A LINK TO THE DOWNLOAD AND WHAT WE WANT PEOPLE TO CHECK THIS OUT, WE'VE HAD IT'S BEEN OUT FOR JUST ABOUT A MONTH NOW WE HAD 19,000 DOWNLOADS ALREADY AND WE WOULD LOVE TO GET THIS IN THE HANDS OF MORE PEOPLE AND WE EVEN HAVE A VERSION WITH ALL THE NAUGHTY WORDS BLEEPED OUT FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO USE IT IN HIGH SCHOOLS AND OTHER TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS AND YOU CAN GET A PRINT COPY, PRINT ON DEMAND, WE DON'T MAKE MONEY OFF OF THAT BUT YOU HAVE TO PAY AT COST AND I FORGET HOW MUCH IT IS YOU HAVE TO PAY WHATEVER IT COSTS TO PRINT THE BOOK AND GET IT SENT TO YOU AND MAKES A NICE HEFTY GIFT OR SOMETHING TO PUT ON YOUR BOOKCASE IT'S 346 PAGES LONG I THINK.

TED SIMONS: COLOR PHOTOS?

ED FINN: COLOR PHOTOS, IT'S A BEAUTIFUL EDITION. THESE IMAGES WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT ARE BY A WONDERFUL POLISH ARTIST WE WORKED WITH NAMED MAC REBISZ SO THE IMAGES ARE THERE AND THE COLLECTION INCLUDES THE FICTION AND THE NONFICTION BY SCIENTISTS AND SOCIAL SCIENTISTS LOOKING AT THE ECONOMICS, THE TECHNICAL QUESTIONS, SOCIAL QUESTIONS AROUND SPACE.

TED SIMONS: VERY GOOD, CSI.ASU.EDU CONGRATULATIONS ON THE PROJECT VERY FUN.

TED SIMONS: THANK YOU SO MUCH ITS TREMENDOUS TO HAVE IT OUT IN THE WORLD.
TED SIMONS: ALRIGHT GOOD TO HAVE YOU HEAR.
TED SIMONS: WEDNESDAY ON ARIZONA HORIZON REPUBLICAN LEADERS AT THE CAPITOL WILL TALK ABOUT THEIR PRIORITIES FOR THE UP COMING FOR THE CURRENT LEGISLATIVE SESSION AND LOOK AT CONGRESS MARTHA MCSALLY'S ENTRANCE FOR THE SEAT AND THAT IS IT AND I'M TED SYMPTOMS AND YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING. º ARIZONA HORIZON IS MADE POSSIBLE FROM CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ARIZONA PBS MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION, THANK YOU. º

Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination are getting people ready for a talk about space with their new collection of science-fiction stories, “Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures.”

What started as a grant proposal from NASA blossomed into a creative project designed to encourage people from various areas of expertise to join the talk about space. Ed Finn, co-editor of the collection, says the real questions have become more social and economic. How to get to space has already been answered; now, people are asking why should we go to space and who’s going to pay for it, says Finn.

The collection of stories are all fictional, which Finn says will help draw a wide array of people into the discussion. The stories revolve around future explorations as well as trips to Mars, and are accompanied by artwork from Maciej Rebisz.

“Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures” is available for free at csi.asu.edu/books/vvev/.

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Ed Finn: ASU Center for Science and the Imagination

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