This week, we’re checking out futurist thinking. What is it with humanity, anyway? Seems like, since the beginning of time, we have just been waiting for it to all fall apart. (Seriously, how many sci-fi books have you read set in a time of global peace and infinite resources?) And how is it that the best futurists, like the three-time Hugo winning novelist N.K. Jemisin (check her out in the estimable WBEZ podcast Nerdette), can extrapolate an entire world from just one concept? Listen in as we explore future-tense ideas on technology, the way we treat each other, the way we view ourselves and our environment.
Eugene-based artist Julia Oldham spent time this summer in the Ukrainian city of Pripyat, a would-be Atomic Age paradise, and the closest town to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Today, Pripyat is part of what’s called the exclusion zone — the area evacuated and ultimately abandoned after the explosion. Oldham went to capture the dogs who make their home in the exclusion zone, long after the humans left.
You can see her photo exhibition, “Dogs of Future Earth” at Olympic Mills Commerce Center through November 21. She’s hoping to have a cut of her documentary film, “Fallout Dogs” finished this winter.
Daniel H. Wilson is a New York Times best-selling novelist, robotics engineer and Cherokee citizen. His best-known novels, “Robopocalypse” and “Robogenesis,” are set in the future. In 2017, he published a novel that brought the past into play. It’s called “The Clockwork Dynasty,” and it imagines a world in which robots predate the invention of the microchip by tens of thousands of years.
You can find him at the Portland Book Festival November 10, talking about his latest story collection, “Guardian Angels and Other Monsters.”
Ursula K. Le Guin was known for subversively letting go of both past and present to re-construct new futures without gender or dominant culture — or even formal political structure. While her worlds weren’t utopian, they certainly imagined more diverse worlds, while her contemporaries were still extrapolating stories from militaristic, patriarchal setups.
NW Film Center is presenting the much-anticipated U.S. theatrical premiere of the documentary “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin” September 14-16. Director Arwen Curry will be there, along with other guests for post-screening talks.
Lidia Yuknavitch wove a new narrative for gender with her novel “The Book of Joan,” about a Christ-like, Joan of Arc character, on a much-changed future Earth. Humanity flees a devastated planet to float around the solar system on CIEL —a high-tech colony. Adaptations to war and the environment have brought humans to a genderless state. With humankind’s narrative warped in the hands of a populist dictator, a handful of radicals seek out new forms of resistance, written on their bodies. Yuknavitch spoke with “Think Out Loud” in 2017.