As mentioned earlier, I had the privilege of participating in Creative Santa Fe’s Disrupted Futures Dialogue last month on Cli-Fi: Altered Futures Through Film and Literature. It was a fantastic evening where local sustainability partners like The Santa Fe Watershed Association, 350.org New Mexico, The Santa Fe Community College Controlled Environment Agriculture Department, City of Santa Fe’s Environmental Services Division and Water Conservation Department were invited to talk about their initiatives, fellow author and editor-in-chief of World Weaver Press Sarena Ulibarri and I sold books, and we watched some amazing films related to climate change.
Photography courtesy of Luis Castillo Photography
Sarena read a story from the Glass and Gardens anthology she edited that she felt best captured the aesthetic of solarpunk, a burgeoning subgenre of speculative fiction invested in optimistic, sustainable futures that she’s been a tireless voice in championing. I followed with a reading from the Compton Crook nominated Implanted, which also focuses on a way forward after the climate cataclysm, and there was a great question-and-answer session with Creative Santa Fe executive director Cyndi Conn. You can get a sense for the entire evening here:
I participated in my very first book club appearance at a group in Albuquerque who has been meeting for over ten years. Implanted was their June selection, and I had the honor of selecting what the potluck dinner theme was and try to relate it back to the book in some way.
I confess I had to put my thinking cap on for that. Ultimately, I decided to go with “secret vegetables” — ways to creatively include vegetables into meals that may not otherwise include them without sacrificing flavor. Given the theme of sustainability in the book and the vertical farm chase sequence, I thought that would be a nice way to go, whether it was subbing in cauliflower for pasta or adding extra veggies to a sauce or coming up with creative sides that don’t default to potatoes.
Well, the group was not daunted by the task before them, and we got to sample some amazing takes on mac and cheese (made with carrots, cauliflower and butternut squash), meatloaf (augmented with grated carrots, zucchini, and other veggies), cauliflower riced pudding, two kinds of black bean brownies, pumpkin cake, and some amazing salads.
I was also asked to lead a discussion of the book, for which I prepared a couple of questions (for those of you who want to play along at home):
- Internet usage, communication styles, and adoption of new technologies are all things I explore to varying degrees in Implanted. Emery and other characters have the option to respond verbally or nonverbally, use their voices or the augmented one their implants construct to communicate, depending on the situation. What are some of the considerations people in New Worth make when deciding how to respond? How does that change with the person they’re communicating with, the situation they’re in, their surroundings?
- The implant technology portrayed in Implanted doesn’t yet exist. However huge strides in neural imaging and implanted devices are being made currently in the biomedical fields. If the technology becomes available in your lifetime, what are some aspects to it that you are most interested in using? What are ones that don’t appeal to you? We’ve already seen the changes the internet and mobile phones have had on society. What additional considerations would we need to make for implants?
- The Law of Digital Recency plays a big role in how implants have changed society. What has been the impact on the people of New Worth, and how does Aventine take advantage of those changes? How do the Disconnects take advantage?
- Early on in the book, Emery is faced with a tough decision when confronted by Aventine about her past and the future she’s risking. She chooses to give up her old life so her family will not stay trapped in the Terrestrial District. How was her choice justified or not? Would you make the same decision given the circumstances? What other potential complications could you see arising from giving up the digital footprint of your old life to go undercover?
- Issues of sustainability feature prominently in the book, and a large part on the plot hinges on the idea of Emergence, when the people of the city can finally return to the land they had to abandon. It’s a founding conceit for the city of New Worth, a guiding mythology, a promise for the future, a given or a lie, depending on a person’s point of view. How does that play into the plot? Is such a concept beneficial even if it’s rooted in lies or misunderstandings?
While I was a bit nervous, as I am with all events, I realized pretty quickly that this one would be far more pleasant, in part because I didn’t have to convince anyone there to buy the book—they already had or purchased it on audio. So that immediately eliminated the whole marketing shtick that always makes me uncomfortable. Then there was the fact that they had all read it beforehand and enjoyed it (not that they would say otherwise to my face ;). That changed the dynamic dramatically and we could get into the nitty gritty details about the book and dive into my influences and intentions in a way that simply isn’t possible at most book events.
The resulting discussion was extremely gratifying, and I look forward to the next opportunity to share my work in this manner.