Happy New Year!
I just got back from Hanoi. I think I love it. It’s a fascinating city, full of street vendors and craftsmen and twisting back alleys and deep ‘tunnel houses’ and Buddhist temples and more. It’s over a thousand years old, layered with history. The Vietnamese have taken culture from all the more powerful countries that tried to invade them — the Chinese, the French, the Americans — and made it their own. You can see it all here.
At first I hated Hanoi. In the Old Quarter, the roads are packed with motorbikes zipping in all directions — and the sidewalks are all used either as motorbike parking lots, or restaurants with people sitting on little plastic chairs, so you pretty much need to walk in the road a lot of the time. Traffic lights are few and rarely heeded.
It seems like a pedestrian’s worst nightmare. Try walking across this:
But on my first night there, I ran in a philosopher friend from Singapore, an expert on Moore’s paradox: John Williams. He was sitting in a bar, looking out the door, watching the world go by. Strange coincidence!
So we had a beer, and I relaxed a bit, and I noticed that the traffic is actually governed by a set of unwritten rules that you can learn by watching. Little old ladies or gaggles of laughing teenagers can stroll across the street, motorbikes whizzing past them in both directions, and not get hurt! And so can you, once you learn what to do.
And then the fun starts. There’s way, way, way too much to tell you about, so I won’t even try now. Maybe later, probably on my diary.
I think Jeremy Kressman said it right: “You don’t just visit Hanoi. Hanoi visits you.” The picture above is from his blog. I’ll replace it with one of my own as soon as I get around to downloading my photos.
But as I’ve already hinted, this blog entry is not really about Hanoi. It’s about a new collection of SF stories, all tackling the theme of global warming:
• Gordon Van Gelder, editor, Welcome to the Greenhouse, O/R Books, 2011.
It includes stories by Brian W. Aldiss, Jeff Carlson, Judith Moffett, Matthew Hughes, Gregory Benford, Michael Alexander, Bruce Sterling, Joseph Green, Pat MacEwen, Alan Dean Foster, David Prill, George Guthridge, Paul Di Filippo, Chris Lawson, Ray Vukcevich and M. J. Locke.
It’s long past time for SF writers to start envisioning the world we seem to be heading towards. Were some of these stories published a while ago? Have you read any of them? Are they any good?
This item was pointed out to me by David Roberts. And by the way: in case you missed it, check out the global warming game that Giampiero Campa brought to our attention:
• Fate of the World, website.
It’s not free, but Giampiero says it’s fun, and I trust him. He wrote:
But don’t waste your time, winning is plain impossible!
but then later:
I take it back, I have finally won today, which basically means that I got to the year 2120 with less than 3 degrees increment without destroying civilization. I mean, Latin America has to be rebuilt and there’s war raging in China, but other than that, it’s an excellent result :-)