Day: September 5, 2012

Quick Questions (More SF&F Podcast Blogging)

When I asked for suggestions for interview subjects for the NBinSFF podcast, Alastair Reynolds was high on the list (albeit mostly over email channels). Well, he agreed, and I’m scheduled to interview him  tomorrow. The focus is Blue Remembered Earth. If anyone has suggestions for questions or themes, let me know. Also, this seems as good a time as any to ask for more suggestions for interview subjects.

A few additional items:

  1. Interesting thing I’ve learned so far: the PR people at Tor? Aggressive. Very aggressive. Many of the other major SF&F publishing houses? Not so much. 
  2. The “New Books in Science Fiction and Fantasy” has a very lonely Facebook page. You should go “like” it.
  3. Because I believe in saturation linking, I should note that the podcast on The Night Sessions includes discussion of themes close to many of our readers’ hearts, including religion and secularism, terrorism, and whether or not we should be optimistic about the future. 
  4. Comments at NBN are moderated. Very slowly. 

Scottish Secessionism

My colleague, Charles King, has a great piece (gated) in Foreign Affairs on what the success of the Scottish National Party says about secesssionist movements everywhere.

Opinion polls suggest that the Scots are unlikely to approve independence outright. Instead, they will probably settle for some form of “enhanced devolution,” an increase in the considerable policymaking power granted to Scotland over the last decade and a half. But the rise of Salmond’s SNP has sent an unexpected shudder through British political life. The outcome of Scotland’s vote will also reverberate throughout Europe, setting a precedent for dealing with fundamental questions of governance and sovereignty. What kinds of units deserve self-determination, especially when they base their claim not on minority rights but on the simple desire to do things their own way? What options are open to democratic polities that seek to counter secession when military force is unimaginable? The question of Scotland’s future is not just about the durability of the United Kingdom. It is also about the uses of quiet maximalism — the way in which astute regional parties, aided by creaky central institutions and unimpassioned opponents, can unbuild a workable country while no one seems to be looking.

I’ll note that a good deal of the Scottish-based SF I’ve read recently presumes an independent Scotland, which is interesting in of itself. Also seems relevant to Quebec, where a more social-democratic leaning enclave exists within a polity that is less so.

The questions of democratic self-determination here really are thorny; I wonders if and how the discussion would be different if Scotland (for example) weren’t a pre-existing administrative unit.


Perspectives Ungated

Cambridge University Press has un-gated the New Orleans issues of Perspectives on Politics until 16 September. From the release.

This issue, themed “Post-Katrina New Orleans and Politics of Reconstruction,” takes an in-depth look at the various political and cultural issues involved in rebuilding the Big Easy, including social triage, structural violence, and more. For more background on the issue, read Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey C. Isaac’s introduction.


My Interview with Ken MacLeod

The New Books in Science Fiction and Fantasy channel of the New Books Network launched today. In its inaugural podcast, I interview Ken MacLeod about The Night Sessions. From my summary:

As I hope comes through in the interview, I found The Night Sessions (Pyr, 2012) both fun to read and intellectually stimulating. It centers on DI Adam Ferguson as he investigates the murder of a priest in a near-future Edinburgh. Following the “Faith Wars” of the early twenty-first century the world has experienced a “Second Enlightenment” and aggressive secularism enjoys intellectual and political hegemony. But not every soul, whether organic or mechanical, is happy with this state of affairs….

This was my first interview, and I have to admit that I’m pretty rough (in fact, I’m still pretty early on the learning curve even now). Ken is terrific, though, and makes up for my foibles.

So, in an act of shameless self-promotion, I ask that our readers not only listen to the podcast, but tweet it, google+ it, like it on Facebook, and so forth. Ken is the first of a terrific series of guests. The only way to do justice to authors is to promote it heavily. For that, I need your help.


Wednesday Morning Linkage

  • #DNC2012, day 1 — Biography as Politics: 1, Foreign Policy: 0.
  • What’s up next for drone warfare?
  • BLTN: Colin Kahl debunks the Obama-abandoned-Israel argument. 
  • British scientists claim that “stereotypes ‘evolve like language.'”
  • Steve Walt didn’t like that “leading from the front” manifesto. 
  • Rejoice, for Phil Arena is refining his military-capabilities measurement
  • At zenpundit, J. Scott Shipman reviews Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command, The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered


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