Shineanthology’s Weblog

An anthology of optimistic, near future SF

Archive for July, 2009

A Travel Schedule, part 2

In week 32, I will be attending Anticipation, the Montréal WorldCon.

My travel plans and preliminary schedule are as follows:

Flight to Montréal:Departure:

  • Tuesday August 4 @ 15.20 hrs. with flight KL 0671;
  • Arrival: Tuesday August 4 @ 16.35 hrs (flying time approx. 7.15 hrs.)

After clearing customs & immigration I’ll be heading to the Best Western Europa for a full week (there was a CAN$ 80 per night special if I booked a full week, so why not…;-).

This gives me the Tuesday night and the Wednesday daytime for preparations, especially — I hope — to do some shopping for a special event.

montreal_aggrandi_port

Also, an ‘unofficial’ event: Pubcrawling with the Pros.

Last year, Jim Minz had the luminous idea to do a Microbrew Pubcrawl in Denver (actually two: one on the Wednesday before, and one on the Sunday afternoon). As it happened, only two people showed up on the Wednesday (Jim and me), but we had a great time, and tasted some great beers. Sunday we redid it with a nice group (Jim Minz, Jeremy Lassen, John Picacio, Chris Roberson, Allison Baker, John Picacio, Diana Rowland, Christian Dunn, George Mann, Mark Newton and a few others whom I can’t recall right now) to great acclaim.

Montreal supposedly has Belgian type beers, so I think a repeat is in order.

So, the way things look right now, there will be two pubcrawls:

  1. Wednesday evening August 5 from 8 PM onwards: where I will be waiting in the bar of the Hotel Delta Centre-Ville for the estimable Mr. Jim Minz to arrive, after which we set off;
  2. Monday afternoon August 10 from 1 PM onwards: we gather in Le Fourquet Fourchette restaurant (which is located right in the Palais des Congrés), and from there we will set off;

Since we expect that the group on the Monday will be much larger, the Monday pubcrawl will be less extensive (we’ll concentrate on a group of brewpubs which are within crawling distance) than the Wednesday evening one.

Anybody who wishes to join us, feel free to drop me an email at Jetse.deVries@gmail.com .

At Thursday the WordCon takes off, and — so far — I have the following items scheduled:

palais02

–> Thursday August 6:

When: Thu 2:00 PM

Location: P-511A

Session ID: 345

Title: Translation Challenges

Description: What are the artistic and professional challenges faced by translators? How do they tackle translating between languages whosegrammars are incompatible?

Language: English

Track: Literature in English

Moderator: Kari Sperring

Duration: 1:30 hrs:min

All Participants: Jetse de Vries, Kari Sperring, Rani Graff, TomClegg, Fabio Fernandes, Eileen Gunn.

NB: Fábio Fernandes is still listed as a participant, but unfortunately he will not make it. Too bad: I was looking forward to meeting him, as well.

********************

When: Thu 5:00 PM

Location: P-518A

Session ID: 549

Title: Putting the World into Worldcon

Description: Our information about SF outside the English language isoften provided by (mediated by) Anglophone experts who have been tothe foreign land in question and brought back what interests them.Here, instead, we gather experts from SF/fantasy traditions outsideEnglish to tell us what we should look out for.

Language: English

Track: Literature in English

Moderator: Jetse de Vries

Duration: 1:30 hrs:min

All Participants: Aliza Ben Moha, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Jetse de Vries, Stefan Krzywicki, Tara Oakes, Tore A. Hřie

NB: a handy map for the locations (which is available on the Anticipation website):

palais_meetings_level

Furthermore, on Thursday evening — as things stand now — I will be having dinner with a few very good friends: Adam Rakunas and Daryl Gregory and his family in Au Pied de Cochon.

–> Friday August 7:

When: Fri 3:30 PM

Location: P-523A

Session ID: 1008

Title: Anatomy for Writers, Heroes and Tavern Brawlers.

Description: Author, karate instructor, fencer and first aid officerSean McMullen provides a tour of how the human body can and cannot bedamaged. Want to know where a hero can be punched without any effect?Worried about his vascular dilation? Curious about the real-lifeversion of Mr Spock’s nerve pinch? Not sure whether a really longsword fight is three hours or seven seconds? Wondering why readers arelaughing because your hero has microsecond reactions? Come along andfind out in complete safety.

Language: English

Track: The Light Programme

Moderator: Sean McMullen

Duration: 1:30 hrs:min

All Participants: Jetse de Vries, Sean McMullen, Darlene Marshall, Kirsten Britain

NOTE: this should be great fun: I will be the wild barbarian who gets his arse kicked by the Master. Or maybe, maybe the unwashed barbarian can pull a quick one…

********************

AngryRobot-party

When: Friday 7.00 PM

Location: Room 2231, Party Level, Hotel Delta Centre-Ville

Session ID: C2H5OH

Title: Angry Robot Launch Party.

Description: Launch party for new HarperCollins imprint Angry Robot. With introduction speech by Neil Gaiman. Drinks, drinks, drinks & snacks arranged by your Moderator who has a reputation (Interzone party, LACon IV; Pyr party, Denvention) to uphold. Wine aficionados will be attended to by connoissuer Adam Rakunas; beer lovers will be helped by The Flying Dutchman; there will even be soft drinks and mineral water for teetotallers. This is the party to be on the Friday night: don’t miss it!

Language: English/Français/others/

Track: The Party Floor

Moderators: Jetse de Vries, Adam Rakunas (wine master)

Hosts: Marc Gasoigne & Lee Harris (Publishers/Editors)

Duration: ??:?? hrs:min (depending on when your ‘Moderator’ decides to call it quits, or when the booze runs out, or when the suite needs to be vacated: whichever comes first…;-)

Special Guests: Neil Gaiman & Mystery Guest, various Angry Robot authors

Note that Neil Gaiman, as Guest of Honour, has a very full schedule, so will make an appearance at 7 PM and give a short speech. If you want to see him, be early!

All Participants: everybody is invited!

Be often, drink early! (Or was it the other way around?)

Delta_2

–> Saturday August 8:

When: Sat 12:30 PM

Location: P-521A

Session ID: 1625

Title: Jetse de Vries–Kaffeeklatsch

Description: A chance to ask those burning questions.

Language: English

Track: Kaffeeklatsch

Moderator: (I’ll be there: don’t worry)

Duration: 1:00 hrs:min

All Participants: Jetse de Vries & all who wish to show up. Come by & ask anything you want!

(NB: tax-free sales willing I might have something to go with that coffee…;-)

********************

When: Sat 3:30 PM

Location: P-516AB

Session ID: 586

Title: How to Pitch Your Novel … And How Not to

Description: You’re an aspiring writer, you’ve run into an editor oragent in a bar. After buying them a drink, what’s the next thing to do? Talk about your just-completed novel? Thrust the printout into their hands? Or … something else? Some advice from those who know.

Language: English

Track: Literature in English

Moderator: Cathy Petrini

Duration: 1:30 hrs:min

All Participants: Cathy Petrini, Jetse de Vries, Mike Resnick, Sean Wallace, Ginjer Buchanan

–> Sunday August 9:

When: Sun 10:00 AM

Location: P-511CF

Session ID: 87

Title: When the Oil Runs Out

Description: Oil is a limited resource but is the basis of much ofour energy usage. What are we going to do as it becomes more expensiveand eventually runs out? Turn your bicycle into a dynamo to power yourphone or laptop?

Language: English

Track: Science and Space

Moderator: Jetse de Vries

Duration: 1:00 hrs:min

All Participants: Chuck Cady, Jetse de Vries, Paul Kincaid, MichčleLaframboise, Richard Lynch, Paolo Bacigalupi.

********************

When: Sun 12:00 PM

Location: Other

Session ID: 1527

Title: Jetse de Vries Signing

Description: Jetse de Vries Signing ehrm … something.

Language: English

Track: Autographs

Moderator:

Duration: 12:30 hrs:min (this is what it literally says in the email I received from programming: I’ll just assume that it’s a typo and it’ll take oo.30 hrs:min. Or they’ve mistaken me for J.K. Rowling…;-)

All Participants: Jetse de Vries

NOTE: from 8.00 PM onwards you have the Hugo Awards Ceremony, followed by the Hugo Losers Party (actually Hugo Nominees Party, but as a four-time loser ‘Losers Party’ just sounds better) and various other parties.

NB: I understand from Jim Minz that the Baen party will also be on the Sunday night. There will be — as ever — no lack of booze.

********************

–>Monday August 10:

The second pubcrawl.

Gasthering time: 1.00 PM

Gathering spot: Le Fourquet Fourchette restaurant (which is located right in the Palais des Congrés).

As Jim has something scheduled at 6.00 PM, we intend to return before that time.

It’s also much better to do this before the Dead Dog party, as then you can actually taste the great beers Montréal has to offer. After that it’s Dead Dog time, and all will be well…;-).

Then I’ll be flying back home on Tuesday August 11:

Flight from Montréal:

  • Departure: Tuesday August 11 @ 18.25 hrs. with flight KL 0671;
  • Arrival: Wednesday August 12 @ 07.05 hrs (flying time approx. 6.40 hrs.)

No rest for the wicked, as then I need to finalise the Shine ToC, and reminisce about SF plans for the future. Next Con will be World Fantasy in San José.

A Quick Note

A quick note to say that I am indeed back from China (where I couldn’t access Twitter, Facebook and the Shine blog), and that I am reading Shine submissions like crazy.

Also, I will read anything that comes in over the weekend (Saturday August 1 and Sunday August 2). I’ll have to draw my final line in the sand at Monday August 3: then I have to pack for Anticipation (Montréal SF WorldCon), to which I’ll fly on Tuesday August 4.

Schedule for that will be posted here tomorrow (it’s after midnight again, and the day job calls early in the morning).

So I’ll repeat that anything that hits my gmail inbox over the weekend (say, until Monday noon my time) will be OK. Anything after that will get a friendly form reject. And I’ll read the deadline crush entries probably on my trip to Montréal.

Keep writing, and send me those stories!

The Week in Tweet, Week 26

@outshine is small in your eyes, but great is your worth, and you can do this right: This is your life!

Monday June 22:

[Quote for the Monday] “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

[Source] Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) / U.S. president / Speech at Bloomington, Illinois.

Tuesday June 23:

Still holding the flag for politics in old-school punk – but how revolutionary is it to ask the same questions as the newspaper pundits?

[#SoundBytes] THE PEOPLE OR THE GUN by Anti-Flag – http://www.anti-flag.com/ / Side One Dummy Records – http://www.sideonedummy.com/.

Wednesday June 24:

Footfalls, sunlight, waves, wind, and heat—we used it all. But it wasn’t until we used life itself that balance returned to the planet.

[Bio] Ben White doesn’t have enough hours in the day, not even close: www.benwhite.com.

Thursday June 25:

Find out whether two hours of watching a giant lawnmower sport-fucking a helicopter makes you a nicer person or lowers your verbal skills.

[#Spitballs] Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen / Directed by Michael Bay / http://www.transformersmovie.com/ .

Friday June 26:

[Quote for the Friday] “Hope is necessary in every condition. The miseries of poverty, sickness, of captivity, would, without this comfort, be insupportable.”

[Source] Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) / British lexicographer and writer / The Rambler..

Saturday June 27:

Blasted alien technology! Mary sighed and prepared for a day of déjà vu, after accidentally setting her new alarm clock to yesterday.

[Bio] Bio Deborah Walker can often be found in the British Museum nicking ideas from ancient cultures.

Sunday June 28:

An intriguing beginning for Batwoman’s major debut, backed by excellent artwork; the Question backup seems more by the numbers, however.

[#ShineComics] DETECTIVE #854 by Greg Rucka (story), J.H. Williams III (art, Batwoman) & Cully Hamner (art), The Question; DC, 2009, $3.99.

A Travel Schedule, Part 1

Share/Bookmark

In week 30, I will be visiting China in order to witness the July 22 total solar eclipse (which is the longest of this century!).

My itinerary is as follows:

Flight to Shanghai:

  • Departure: Saturday July 18 @ 18.20 hrs. with flight KL 0895
  • Arrival: Sunday July 18 @ 10.55 hrs. (flying time approx. 10.35 hrs.)

As I understand from one of my colleagues at work, China is taking the swine flu (or Mexican flu) pandemic very seriously, and people will be scanned — on the forehead — with an infrared scanner in the plane, after it has landed (obviously) and before it is allowed to go to the gate. See the picture.

IMG_0836

So I’m mentally preparing for an extra two hours on the ground before we can disembark.

Then it’s off to the Crowne Plaza Century Park Hotel, where I will stay for two nights. I’ll probably visit our company’s Shanghai local headquarters on Monday.

Then on Tuesday, I’m travelling onward to Wuhan’s Hangkou station by train (and a bullet train at that):

  • July 21 — Shanghai to Hangkou — D3006 — depart 14.06 hrs. — arrive 18.59 hrs.

China High Speed RailIn Wuhan I’ve booked the Yushang Business Hotel, as my fellow eclipse enthusiasts will be staying there, as well.

My eclipse friends have booked an organised trip through the geology department of the University of Utrecht, which lasts three weeks. I didn’t book that trip because I will be going to Anticipation — the Montréal WorldCon — a week later, and I only have so many days off, and my budget only goes so far.

Anyway, reunion with friends on the Tuesday night, and then the next morning, on July 22, I hope to join the group when they set off, on 6 a.m., for a good location about 25 kilometres north of Wuhan. Climatologically speaking, this should be one of the best spots (with the lowest chance of cloud cover, which is still 61%, so it’s going to be ) to observe the total solar eclipse. Total Solar Eclipse 2008 Novosibirsk

(NB: this is the one from last year in Novosibirsk.)

Here’s the interactive map of the July 22, 2009 solar eclipse (courtesy of NASA). The centre line of totality goes straight over the Wuhan Tianhe Airport, and the place where we will — probably, as I don’t know the exact location — be has the following data re. the total eclipse:

Lat.: 30.7837° N; Long.: 114.3165° E

Total Solar Eclipse; Duration of Totality: 5m29.1s Magnitude: 1.037

Event ———————- Time (UT) – Alt — Azi

Start/partial eclipse (C1) :  00:15:01 032.4° 084.3°

Start/total eclipse (C2) : — 01:24:02 047.2° 092.9°

Maximum eclipse : ——— 01:26:46 047.8° 093.3°

End/total eclipse (C3) : — 01:29:31 048.4° 093.7°

End/partial eclipse (C4) : – 02:46:17 064.6° 108.3°

Since this is all in UT (Universal Time, then — according to the Time Zone Converter — we need to add 8 hours for China time, so totality will start at 09.24.02 hrs local time, and end at 09.29.31 local time.

Or, in solar eclipse geek parlance: First Contact @ 08.15.01 local time; Second Contact @ 09.24.02; Third Contact @ 09.29.31; and Fourth Contact @ 10.46.17.

After which we will return to Wuhan and then either celebrate a successful observation, or drown our sorrows if the event was obscured by clouds. There will be beer, nevertheless.

Then the Uni of Utrecht groep will fly onwards to Guilin in the evening: I will stay one more night in Wuhan. The enxt day I’ll be going back to Shanghai:

  • July 23 — Hangkou to Shanghai — D3016 — depart 11.23 hrs. — arrive 16.16 hrs.

Of course, I could have taken a flight from Shanghai to Wuhan and back, but I hope to see a bit more of China in the train, and a five hour train trip is just about the right length. Another, although unplanned, advantage is that the Yushang Business Hotel in Wuhan is literally a stone’s throw away from the Hangkou railway station. This is a lucky coincidence (I would’ve booked the same hotel as where my eclips friends would be staying, irrespective of location in Wuhan).

Then, on Thursday late afternoon I’m back in Shanghai. shanghai_pudong-1

The Friday morning and afternoon are free for sightseeing: in the evening the plan is to have dinner and drinks (plenty of drinks) with a couple of Dutch expatriates, who know the good places in Shanghai.

Then Saturday — with or without hangover — is the trip back home:

Flight from Shanghai:

  • Departure: Saturday July 25 @ 12.50 hrs. with flight KL 0896
  • Arrival: Saturday July 25 @ 18.55 hrs. (flying time approx. 11.45 hrs.)

Which then gives me the Sunday to recover as I am expected back on the day job on the Monday. Then one week of work, and onwards to Montréal (of which more in the next post). Last year, I had only two days between returning from Novosibirsk and travelling onwards to Denvention. Now, it’s ten days, so maybe I’ll be more coherent on the first day in Canada…;-).

UPDATE: Belated apologies to Franck Giral for not attributing the fantastic picture of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Shanghai by night to him: at the time I got it from some of the (at least) 47 other websites that featured it, and couldn’t figure out the original.

Share/Bookmark

The Week in Tweet, Week 25

@outshine can’t believe it took so long for us to turn around the future, by standing up for what we all believed in all along:

[Ed] @nelilly from @thaumatrope interviewing me, tweet style:

#Interview @outshine How?
Overcome the relatively narrow focus by publishing top quality work. Excitement and exuberance. Hope to reach people outside SF fandom.

Monday June 15:

[Quote for the Monday] “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.

[Source] Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971) / U.S. theologian / Children of Light and Children of Darkness.

Tuesday June 16:

Their sixteenth studio album, but still fresher than bands a tenth as old. Breaking the rules never sounded so beautiful, so effortlessWhite.

[#SoundBytes] THE ETERNAL by Sonic Youth – http://www.sonicyouth.com/ Matador Records – http://www.matadorrecords.com/.

Wednesday June 17:

She spoke for the first time.

Roses fell from her lips.

Pearls.

Her body turned into luminescence and butterflies.

It surprised no one..

[Bio] Mercedes M. Yardley loves beautiful things: http://www.abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com/ .

Thursday June 18:

Nazi zombies, sex-mad teens, cheap laughs. It’s like a Beach Boys’ song, lame as your grampa, but hey…the cool Nazi Zombies a doo run run.

[#Spitballs] Dead Snow /directed by Tommy Wirkola / http://www.deadsnow.com/.

Friday June 19:

[Quote for the Friday] “The comic is the perception of the opposite; humor is the feeling of it.”

[Source] Umberto Eco (1932 – ) / Italian writer and literary scholar / Travels in Hyperreality.

Saturday June 20:

Dad’s alive again – simulated from memories fed into a machine. He’s happy: 404 errors are rare and he can claim he’s younger than me.

[Bio] Aaron is currently traveling the world and writing on planes, trains and buses. He’s forgotten that he ever lived any other way.

Sunday June 21:

A spin-off from THE BOYS, the story takes a distant back seat to Ennis’ penchant for juvenile sleaze, while the art is unexpectedly rough.

[#ShineComics] HEROGASM #1, #2 by Garth Ennis (Script), John McCrea and Keith Burns (art); Dynamite, 2009, $2.99 (Mature Readers).

Finally, via Lou Anders of @PyrSF, this . Or, to quote:

“…although I like a well-crafted dystopian story as well as anyone else, the balance has swung too far in that direction, and nihilism, gloom, and black despair about the future have become so standard in the genre that it’s almost become stylized, and almost default setting, with few writers bothering to try to imagine viable human futures that somebody might actually want to live in.”

Crazy Story Ideas, part 4A: Ageing in the EU

I mentioned that overpopulation is the elephant in the room. I mentioned I would be getting back to this point.

Elephant in the Room-Banksy_2

So here’s the comeback, initiated both by an article in a recent New Scientist issue where Sir David Attenborough spells it out, and last week’s “Planetary Boundaries and the New Generation Gap” article on Worldchanging.

Attenborough summarises the biggest problem (and why he’s a patron of the Optimum Population Trust):

There are nearly three times as many people on the planet as when Attenborough started making television programmes in the 1950s – a fact that has convinced him that if we don’t find a solution to our population problems, nature will. “Other horrible factors will come along and fix it, like mass starvation.”

World Changing talks about the huge complexity of the intertwined problems, at length, as well. However, they think we can solve our main problems:

There are plenty of reasons for despair and cynicism these days. But it’s really important not to underestimate the power of the politics of optimism, the power of actually having better ideas and answers. They are especially powerful when the people opposing us have nothing whatever to offer besides a white-knuckled grasp on a broken status quo. Their only weapons are fear, uncertainty and doubt. It’s time we counter with optimism, vision and examples. We need to counter with a future that works.

(Emphasis mine.)

We need to deal with overpopulation, and we need to deal with it in a humane way. So I am not going to accept stories where most of the world’s people are killed off in order to save the rest, or save the planet (even if we published a story like that in Interzone, “Blue Glass Pebbles” back in #205 of August 2006).

Blue Glass Pebbles

No easy way out (in a storytelling sense): thus no fabricated virusses decomating humanity, no pandemics reducing the population. Population growth needs to be curbed.

If current trends continue, we will reach a peak population of about 9 billion people in 2050, before the population will finally start to shrink. As World Changing already mentioned: “one of our biggest goals ought to be seeing to it by every ethical means possible that the wave of population growth crests sooner rather than later.”

One important way of doing that is by empowering women. Another way of curbing population growth is by increasing wealth worldwide. Because there are already countries where the population is shrinking, right here on the continent where I live: Italy, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands and even the UK. Admittedly the population of these countries is still increasing, but this is through immigration. But reproduction rates in these countries have fallen below the ‘replacement rate’, that is, more people die – one hopes from ‘natural’ causes – than are born (or sub-replacement fertility levels).

Fertility_rate_world_map

This has the following effects:

  1. the median age of the population will rise (not only because of a decreased birth rate, but also because of increased longevity);
  2. the age distribution of the population will change drastically;
  3. hence, the old economic model of continuous growth will need to change to a ‘zero growth’ model;
  4. Also, a change – hopefully gradual – from a society that mines limited resources to a society that works at a (close to) 100% recycling rate;

Politically conservative forces (who, if they were really about conservation, should be championing green policies like mad) will baulk at the prospect of a shrinking population, mired as they are in the old ways of thinking: the economy should *always* grow, the young should take care of the old, so we need more young people than old ones. Now this is where SF – supposedly the literature of change – comes in: we need to imagine a society with a shrinking population that works. And the place that is at the forefront of that particular dynamic is the European Union.

So why not imagine a story about ageing in the EU.

(Actually, people outside SF are already thinking in that direction. I particulary remember a special ‘future’ issue of Dutch magazine Intermediair – which is basically a carreer-oriented magazine for the well-educated – of about a year ago that predominantly dealt with the effects of an ageing population. It’s not online, AFAIK.)

For one, showing that an ageing society with a sub-replacement fertility rate works sets a good example to the developing world. Quite simply because it would be extremely hypocritical of the West to ask of the developing world to reduce their fertility levels if we weren’t doing it ourselves, and it would hugely help this all-important cause if we can show them that such a society is a happy one.

Thus, the EU not only needs to deal with an ageing population and its subsequent demographics, but make it a shining example, as well.

First thing is to ditch with the contemporary cultural notion that young = cool and old = uncool. It’s bullshit: young and old are just different stages in a human life. Both have their pros and cons, and while the pros of youth have been widely overexposed, it’s time to set the spotlight on the pros of maturity.

For one, as Bruce Sterling chimes in at Beyond the Beyond: an ageing population isn’t apt to support extremist movements. He surmises it’s “Not because we’re any smarter, but because we lack the brio”. Hm: I greatly disagree. My mother, now 72, is still very active and helps out handicapped people on a Red Cross boat. What I suspect is that this older demographic might indeed be a bit wiser – on average – and just won’t put up with it.

Also, as longevity increases I see a lot of active retirees in my direct environment. Like my mother, they do huge amounts of volunteer work. Actually, women – on average – live longer than men, so we’ll be seeing an increased amount of active, experienced and – dare I say – wiser women. Which is, I think, certainly not a bad thing: rather the contrary.

For another, what happened to the way of thinking that tried to turn a liability into an assett? For example, we need to do away with the ingrained notion that a healthy economy must grow, grow, grow forever. It should be abundantly clear by now that we live on a planet with limited resources, so the most logical answer to deal with those resources is a ‘zero-growth’ or ‘steady-state’ (the latter is from the early 70s: so it’s not a new idea) economy.

zero growth symbol

Thus, the EU with its ageing population needs to change over to a zero growth model anyway (and its economic growth was already relatively low, which did not hamper the quality of living in Europe: rather the contrary).

Also, while we’re at it, it’s also in the EU’s (and the world’s) best interest to, indeed, develop the developing countries. So the EU should take down its tariff walls first and foremost. Yes, this will adversely affect several EU industries and the agricultural sector. But both need to adapt to the new circumstances, and it better to do this sooner rather than later (as is demonstrated by the three big car industries in the US).

Also, the EU should invest heavily in placing huge solar cell plants (like those already made in Germany and Spain) in the Sahara: this benefits both Africa and Europe. It will help develop Africa, bringing wealth to it, and remember that wealthy societies tend towards sub-replacement fertility rates and that population growth is highest in Africa. It will increase green energy production (and oil independency) on both continents, and generate labour and economic activities as those plants are being built, and huge power cables are laid across the Meditarranean.

morocsol

I can see a forerunner role for Spain and Morocco in this: for one, Spain already knows how to make huge solar collectors; for another the distance between spain and Morrocco is the smallest (the Strait of Gibraltar is about 20 kilometres wide), and finally they can do a political/economical tit-for-tat: Spain releases its claim on the Western Sahara in exchange for a hundred year warranty of energy delivered at a premium price.

Then Italy and Greece can make similar energy connections to Libia and Egypt, France can use its old ties with Algeria for a similar energy synergetic connection.

In short: yes, there will be a peak population. This is the bottleneck the world needs to pass through. However, we can try to minimalise the effects of that bottleneck twofold:

  1. Work on making that population peak lower than 9 billion;
  2. Work on making that population peak happen sooner than 2050;

And at the same time accelerate the change-over to a sustainable, green economy which will not only help us pass through that bottleneck with minimal damage, but also pave the way for the new society behind it.

This is getting a bit long, so I’ll be doing the actual *story* idea in part 4B, which I hope to post before, or over the weekend.

UPDATE: (OK: part 2 is delayed. I’m busy.) Just in today via De Volkskrant: “Agreement about Solar Power from the Sahara“. Article in Dutch, but links to the Desert Industrial Initiative, and I see that ABB is involved, as well. Together with Siemens (mentioned in the paragraph below), these are two of the absolute top technological companies in the world (yes: I know this from direct experience in the day job). So this is *very* serious business, indeed!

But the gist of it: a consortium of mainly German companies — Siemens, RWE, Eon, Deutsche Bank, Münchener Rück (a re-insurance company) and Cevital (an Algerian food company), amongst others — want to supply 15% of Europe’s energy from solar power in the Sahara by 2050. Check out the awesome concept on this PDF file.

stage-conceptOK: so I predicted it would be Spanish, Italian, Greek or even French companies, but was wrong: it’s the Germans who want to go there first. Nevertheless, the idea is sound, and yet hardly anybody (to the best of my knowledge: do absolutely feel free to correct me) dares to use this — sorry to say — fairly straightforward prediction in their science fiction.

It’s not *that* hard, right? And in my very outspoken opinion most readers will *remember* a story for making a correct prediction about the principle (Europe receiving huge amounts of solar power from the Sahara, benefitting both Africa and Europe), and *forgive* the very same story for getting the details wrong (it’ll be German/Algerian companies instead of Spanish/Moroccon ones).

So, you SF writers out there: do you still dare?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.