August 20, 2012 @ 8:17 pm
I've been hoping for years to do a project with my old grad school colleague Betsy Huang. It hasn't worked out so far, but I'm delighted to plug her work whenever I can. So, in between listening to the pieces of my Nancy Fulda interview, read Betsy's interviews with young Asian American science fiction authors. The first one is with Ken Liu, who wrote "The Paper Menagerie," a great little fable (which won a Nebula, and is also nominated for a Hugo this year) that my son and I heard while waiting out a pouring rainstorm in the car on my birthday. The interview is not particularly about evolution, but there's some good stuff in there about the stupidity of artificial genre boundaries, which certainly applies to the stupid artificial boundaries between scientific fields.
There's a neat discussion around how fitting into a new culture is like reading a science fiction novel about an alien culture. DS Wilson talks in E for E about the difference between oral and written cultures, which I see every day with first-generation college students trying to join a professional, written culture. They don't understand the rules; more than that, they don't understand that there are rules, at least rules that are not personally negotiable the way oral rules are.
And there's some good thoughts about how we in the West always divide issues in two (evolution/creation being an obvious example), and we have to pick a side, have to declare a winner, where the Asian traditions like Confuscianism emphasize compromise and harmony. How much does that tradition have to do with the higher acceptance of evolution in those countries? Is it just the fact that you can politely agree with multiple positions at the same time?
Following up on both cellulosic literature and Asperger's syndrome, my son's been really into Tom Anglebarger's books recently, featuring Origami Yoda, Darth Paper, Han Foldo, and the Fortune Wookie. We spent part of Wednesday night watching Anglebarger expertly work a crowd of pre-teens at Barnes & Noble. If it seems ironic that someone with Asperger's could do that, keep in mind that performance is not necessarily all that social. You don't have to listen well or respond to subtle social signals when you're the center of attention, and the crowd is yelling the answers to your questions out at you. Anglebarger spent the whole time calling every kid there "Larry," except for my son, who he called "Bacon Man," after the shirt he was wearing. That's a coping mechanism I'd steal if I thought I could get away with it, but college students are a little more socially sensitive than ten-year-olds.