New scifi story and audiobook in Lightspeed Magazine

Lightspeed Magazine published my short story Between the Dark and the Dark in the June 2019 issue. The issue features an audio version of the story and an interview where I talk about my inspiration. If you’re not familiar with it, Lightspeed is published by John Joseph Adams, a leading publisher and thinker in the realms of fantasy, horror, and scifi.

Short version here: interstellar travel will be hard and we’ll have to put a lot of thought into how we conserve food and water. I take a look at how we might evolve culturally to deal with these challenges, with lots of suspense and futuristic technology built in. I’ve been interested in Central American and African cultures for most of my life and this story builds upon those passions.

Interview on The Imaginaries Podcast

I had a fascinating and engaging conversation with Kend and Tony on The Imaginaries, a popular podcast that examines scifi and fantasy through a critical lens. We covered Afrofuturism, the Black Panther, Jurassic Park (my favorite) and lots of other cool topics. You can download the episode on iTunes. Or subscribe on the service of your choice here: https://www.imaginaries.net/

You can read the full transcript here (downloads from Dropbox.)

Keynote at Biosphere 2, Crafting the Long Tomorrow

biosphere2

I’ll be a keynote speaker at the Crafting the Long Tomorrow conference, hosted by the University of Arizona. And it’s at Biosphere 2! Biosphere and Biosphere 2 were the seminal experiments in sustainable living in the early 90s. This grand experiment in the middle of the Sonora desert sparked the imaginations of many children, including myself.

Crafting the Long Tomorrow is a three-day, small-scale conference at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 near Tucson, Arizona. Biosphere 2 has emerged as a leading site for arts, sciences and humanities dialogues. This meeting, which coincides with the 101st anniversary of the death of the world’s last Carolina Parakeet, will encourage innovative and inventive presentations and conversation, with an eye toward public-facing engagement outcomes…

The physical sciences tell us civilization and the biosphere face extreme consequences from global trends humans have set in motion, especially climate change. Multiple disciplines can illuminate both the global emergency and the long tomorrowcrafting approaches, some likely deeply unsettling, that could extend the lifespan of our species and others. Some still deliberate about the messiness of what used to be called the two cultures of arts and sciences, even as scholars have usefully blurred those boundaries.

I’ll be reading from my novel After the Flare and discussing science fiction in Africa, creative inspiration, and Marvel’s Black Panther.

Major film company options After the Flare and Nigerians in Space

I’m thrilled to announce that my novels After the Flare and Nigerians in Space were optioned by a major film company! This milestone is a huge vote of confidence in my writing, along with my 2018 Philip K. Dick Special Citation for After the Flare.

At the moment I can’t disclose too many details, but watch this space. The best way to help get my work onto the big screen is to buy my books, enjoy them, and tell your friends.

Thanks to everyone who has helped make this moment come to fruition — you know who you are.

New fiction in Slate on artificial intelligence and sports

Slate published my short story When We Were Patched on sports and artificial intelligence. In the piece, I explore how A.I. might impact officiating in sports — specifically a future version of tennis with room-temperature superconductivity and augmented reality assistants. It’s tempting to think that code can solve the imperfections of refereing through instant replay and virtual analysis. Officials sometimes make glaring, infuriating mistakes. But there are many times when they’re managing human behavior as much as enforcing the rules. And while algorithms may be executing code, that code was written by human beings using data sets that they often curate themselves. Which means A.I. can have inherent flaws.

I’ve also long been fascinated by the people drawn to officiating, which at the highest levels of sport tend to be a thankless job with meager pay compared to star athletes. This week Serena Williams lost in the U.S. Open tennis final to Naomi Osaka and accused the match official Carlos Ramos of bias. This had nothing to do with whether a ball landed inside or outside the court, which would be assisted by a Hawkeye assistant. It had everything to do with Williams’ behavior and the officiant’s interpretation of that behavior. Williams called the decisions sexist, since she believes male players get away with similar behavior with fewer penalties.

But it’s also worth considering the factors Carlos Ramos was mulling over: how the rules of tennis applied to Williams’ behavior; what her behavior meant for the “spirit of the game”; and whether her behavior was fair to her opponent, Osaka (whose childhood hero was ironically Williams herself). And then there’s the fact that this was probably an important match for Ramos and his entire family was likely watching, so he was both trying to save face and distinguish himself before his peers at the same time.

How do you program such considerations into code? It will be hard.

My short story was edited by Joey Eschrich at the Center for Science and Imagination, and owing to their unique format, there is an excellent “response” essay on Future Tense by algorthmic bias expert Jeanna Matthews, with Kinjal Dave.

You can read the story here.