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  We're All Right!

20 July 1999

5:01 PM:

"What is true in Antarctica, is true everywhere else."

Go out right now and buy Antarctica. Or click right there. Don't argue. Get this book. It's in paperback now, $6. If you're absolutely totally broke, you can steal it, but it would be better to steal something else and sell it and use the money to buy the book. Rewarding intelligent fiction is a good investment.

Ooooh, root beer jelly beans! Wow, strong too....

7:25: Oh, sorry. What was I about to go on about.... oh yes! Antarctica.

Trying to think of how to describe the deep thrill of racing through this book last night, it occurs to me that in a sense, Antarctica is everything that Wired and its imitators & cohorts never were. Facing up to real problems in the world with a strong sense of the possibility that we will blow it, and everything will get much much worse, instead of pupils dilated with optimism and whining about being able to keep your porn downloads a secret. A deep sense of place and history, instead of Everything is New!

I suppose a way to put it might be, Kim Stanley Robinson knows what he is talking about. Others often don't, for all that they themselves sneer at the unhipsters who "just don't get it." A little clue can be a dangerous thing.

Meanwhile, it's getting to be that kind of swirl of ideas locking into events that fit recently-learned patterns of history that back up previously-pondered ways of thinking, all up and around the giddy feeling of stuff beginning to maybe make some sense. Like yesterday, going from Bruce Sterling's address to the Industrial Designers Society of America, on to Antarctica.

Things are screwed up. Yes. But the way to deal with them is not to retreat into some fucked-up hippie fantasy of crystals and faeries and oh, couldn't it just all go away? No, what we need is to get smart. And luckily, we might just be close enough to stumble through.

It doesn't seem like I'm actually talking about the book too much, I know. Just read it. There will be a lot of place names, they won't make sense, but don't worry about that. I know some people who said it seemed slow to them, but I think that's because we're not used to stories that take place anywhere anymore. Besides, believe me, right about halfway through the solid fuel rockets ignite and it is anything but slow.

30 years after Neil and Buzz found a parking place nearby, we're farther away from the great Out There than we've ever been. So OK. Maybe we have to figure out some other things first, like how to live without fouling ourselves into misery. I don't think it has to be sequential, me. The nice thing, though, about getting smarter - it can make big differences in directions you never planned for. So maybe this time, the space program can be a spinoff of the new Teflon.

Willfully blind self-indulgent nebbish or amusingly quirky old coot? And how bout that local sports team? Discuss among yourselves.

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