Another post up on Slate last week:
What should we expect from science fiction? In a recent Smithsonian article by IO9’s Annalee Newitz, author Neal Stephenson criticized the dystopian cynicism that currently pervades the genre. Instead he calls a more optimistic, realistic approach—fewer zombies and man’s folly-style catastrophes, more creative inventions and solutions. In the spirit of being constructive, he’s also taking action. The first step is an anthology of optimistic, near-term science fiction, forthcoming from William Morrow in 2014, that will tackle this challenge head-on. Smithsonian describes the project, Hieroglyph, as a plan “to rally writers to infuse science fiction with the kind of optimism that could inspire a new generation to, as he puts it, ‘get big stuff done.’”
The funny thing about milestones in life is that they are not evenly spaced on the road. Rather they seem to appear in clusters, as they have for me over the past month or so.
The first milestone actually felt more like ten or twenty millstones that I hadn’t noticed around my neck they were lifted off one by one. After much frantic writing, revising, formatting, proofreading and emailing, I completed and submitted my dissertation! As of now, I am a bona fide Doctor of Philosophy. If you are injured and require assistance, I will read you a poem. “The Social Lives of Books: Literary Networks in Contemporary American Fiction” is currently in processing but should be available from the Stanford libraries website soon.
Second, I am very pleased to announce that I will be joining Arizona State University as a University Innovation Fellow this July. This is an unusual position and I am very excited about the opportunity. My primary focus will be supporting and developing ASU’s New American University initiative, which is an effort to redefine public higher education for the twenty-first century. I’ll be working in the Office of University Initiatives and I am looking forward to getting to know my new colleagues.