Sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) breaks the surface to breath.

Breaking the surface

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It’s been quite awhile since I posted anything new to the blog, and some explanation seems justified. The last few years have been busy. While the world at large has careened from crisis to crisis, from climate change, to the pandemic, to financial panics, an insurrection in DC, and now a genocidal war against Ukraine, for many months I found myself almost unable to write. What was there to say that others hadn’t already said much better about the world situation? What was the point? Except for one post at the height of the Covid Omicron wave urging readers to get vaccinated, I focused instead on things closer to home, reading, listening, and taking part in the ongoing reinvention of my university because there my efforts might move the needle a bit.

And then I retired. As a result, I was able to make time for long walks, to ruminate and, finally, to take on some larger writing projects. Here’s the scoop:

  • With Sally Davies as editor, I am collecting some of my essays together and will publish them as a book with the not-so-surprising title: The Icarus Question: Essays about Science, Technology, and the Search for Home in a Changing World. For the jacket blurb and a short bio of Sally, see the ‘Books‘ section of the menu above. This has been quite an adventure, and Sally has been wonderful to work with. I’ll be posting updates here along the way as we get closer to the launch, which is currently slated for the Summer of 2023.
  • Last year, I also wrote a book proposal entitled A View From the Edge of Forever: Existential Risk and the Prospects for an Open-ended Human Future. I am now seeking an agent to represent me for this project. (Let me know if you are interested, or have any good leads.) Readers of this blog know that this topic is something I circle about in my writing. The proposed book will do a deeper dive than is possible in blog postings, taking an extended look at topics like nuclear weapons, climate change, rocks from space, the rise of intelligent machines, global pandemics, etc. What are ‘existential’ risks, what makes then different from other more mundane risks? What can be done about them? There are steps we can take to reduce our exposure to these risks, but we always seem to be sleepwalking into catastrophe, turning away when instead we should be facing things squarely. As the book will relate, many people are working hard to improve the prospects for a healthy and open-ended human future, but they do this against strong headwinds arising from the current political disfunction of our time. The Edge of Forever, therefore, will also consider ways we might nudge our politics in healthier directions.

Although these book projects have been fun and rewarding, they took me away from attending to the Icarus blog. Even so, it’s never been far from my mind, and now I’ve got some ideas about how to reenergize things. In coming weeks I will be posting new materials, revisions and updates of some earlier essays, a sampling of some fiction, reviews of things I’ve been reading/viewing/listening to, and I also hope to include some interviews with interesting people. Comments and feedback are most welcome.

As I relaunch the blog, I will also engage in a bit of renovation. Have no fear, most of the essays will remain, but I will move them under a new menu area called very creatively: ‘Essays’. There will be separate menu items for the ‘Reviews’, ‘Interviews’, and ‘Fiction’. The ‘Home’ area will remain the landing page and I’ll use it for updates like this and things of a more newsy nature.

Stay tuned…

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