What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1553 Blogs, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 2,000
1. Rainer Kirsch (1934-2015)

       (East) German poet Rainer Kirsch has passed away; see, for example, the (German) report at DeutscheWelle.
       Not as well-known in English translation as Sarah, to whom he was married for about a decade, -- amazingly, there doesn't seem to be a single collection of his work published in English -- he was another very important representative of the 'Sächsische Dichterschule' (and student of the influential Georg Maurer) -- along with, among others, Karl Mickel (Einstein), Volker Braun (Rubble Flora), and Heinz Czechowski.

Add a Comment
2. Emotional Thesaurus Entry: Growing up in the Shadow of a Successful Sibling

When you’re writing a character, it’s important to know why she is the way she is. Knowing her backstory is important to achieving this end, and one of the most impactful pieces of a character’s backstory is her emotional wound. This negative experience from the past is so intense that a character will go to great lengths to avoid experiencing that kind of pain and negative emotion again. As a result, certain behaviors, beliefs, and character traits will emerge.

Characters, like real people, are unique, and will respond to wounding events differently. The vast array of possible emotional wounds combined with each character’s personality gives you many options in terms of how your character will turn out. With the right amount of exploration, you should be able to come up with a character whose past appropriately affects her present, resulting in a realistic character that will ring true with readers. Understanding what wounds a protagonist bears will also help you plot out her arc, creating a compelling journey of change that will satisfy readers.

NOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect. 

7073627957_252f33f1a8_z

Photo Courtesy: marvelousRoland @ CC

Examples: growing up with a sibling who

  • excels at a sport
  • is gifted in the arts
  • is of genius intelligence
  • excels academically
  • is a celebrity
  • is a prodigy
  • is extremely popular or well-liked
  • is incredibly beautiful or handsome
  • excels at pretty much everything he/she does

Basic Needs Often Compromised By This Wound: love and belonging, esteem and recognition, self-actualization

False Beliefs That May Be Embraced As a Result of This Wound:

  • I’m ugly/stupid/clumsy/etc.
  • I’m not good at anything.
  • I will never be able to distinguish myself.
  • I’ll always be in his/her shadow.
  • I have nothing to offer.
  • I can’t compete with him/her so it’s pointless to even try.
  • People will always be more interested in him/her than in me.
  • He/she is better than me.

Positive Attributes That May Result: ambitious, charming, courteous, disciplined, empathetic, flirtatious, imaginative, independent, pensive, persistent, private, quirky, responsible, studious, supportive

Negative Traits That May Result: catty, childish, cynical, devious, frivolous, humorless, insecure, irrational, lazy, needy, oversensitive, rebellious, resentful, temperamental, timid, vindictive, withdrawn

Resulting Fears:

  • Fear of never distinguishing oneself
  • Fear of inadequacy
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of parents loving a sibling more than oneself

Possible Habits That May Emerge:

  • Pursuing an area of interest other than the one in which a sibling excels
  • Being driven to succeed in a different area
  • Having low expectations for oneself; underachieving
  • Not seeking to distinguish oneself in any area
  • Becoming needy out of a desire to gain affection
  • Adopting negative attention-seeking behaviors (being rebellious, acting out in school, fighting, abusing drugs or alcohol, etc.)
  • Becoming devious or dishonest so as to appear more successful than one actually is
  • Undermining one’s sibling as a way to cause him/her to lose favor with others
  • Rejecting one’s sibling as a peer; choosing friends who are part of an entirely different peer group
  • Becoming subservient to one’s sibling; losing one’s sense of personal identity
  • Becoming a people-pleaser
  • Withdrawing from others

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. For our current list of Emotional Wound Entries, go here.

For other Descriptive Thesaurus Collections, go here.

The post Emotional Thesaurus Entry: Growing up in the Shadow of a Successful Sibling appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

0 Comments on Emotional Thesaurus Entry: Growing up in the Shadow of a Successful Sibling as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. Portobello Beach

We decided to take a small road trip while the weather is nice to Portobello Beach.

It's a 30 minute bus trip north east out of town to find the sea. Like a mini-vacation!
The air smelled like salt and seaweed.
There's a promenade which borders most of it.
It's surprisingly residential and not at all commercial. But families played in the sand and dogs ran with complete abandon everywhere.
It was truly beautiful and so relaxing.
     For lunch, we ate at The Espy, which we'd both heard good things about.
We were worried at first as we arrived a bit early and they hadn't completed typing up the specials menu. The main menu was mostly hamburgers (including a haggis hamburger) - not what we were hoping for. But then the specials menu came out and... oh, my!
     Stan had a fish pie (I've finally had fish pie - delicious!) and I had the tiger prawns:
What a lovely day, just a bus ride away! And ironically, we popped into a hardware store while waiting for the bus and ran into a new SCBWI friend, Louise Kelly. Talk about a small world! But that's what we're learning about Edinburgh... even at what feels like a world away (the beach), it's still a small town and you run into people you know. I love that!
     We hope to return next weekend for an art walk (weather depending), so more on Portobello soon!

0 Comments on Portobello Beach as of 9/5/2015 5:49:00 AM
Add a Comment
4. Happy Birthday, Kate Constable!

Today, September 5, is the birthday of some writers I greatly admire. Two of them who are no longer with us are Arthur Koestler(The Gladiators, Darkness At Noon, The Thirteenth Tribe, etc.) The other is Frank Yerby, author of many historical romances, some of them made into Hollywood movies.

But today I want to wish a happy birthday to a wonderful Melbourne writer whom I have actually met - Kate Constable(At Allen and Unwin parties and, I think, State Library events).

I first discovered her writing through her Chanters Of Tremaris trilogy, which were the sort of fiction which I, as a teacher-librarian, would recommend to kids who had enjoyed Tamora Pierce's fiction. For some reason, I had mostly boys reading that trilogy - the sort of boys who had read and enjoyed Garth Nix's Old Kingdom novels and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.  There was a sort of sequel to the trilogy, The Taste Of Lightning. The world building in this series was great and the ending ... Well, I won't tell you, because spoilers.



But after these, she started writing some Australian-themed fiction for a younger audience. Two of them are time slip novels - Crow Country and Cicada Summer, both wonderful. 


The girls at my school were discovering those by word of mouth. There were also some Girlfriend Fiction novels for them to enjoy, my favourite being the very funny Dear Swoosie, which she wrote with Penni Russon.



More recently, there was New Guinea Moon, which was a CBCA shortlist book.

Kate is a wonderfully versatile writer who deserves to do well. I hope he has been having a fabulous day - it was warmer and sunnier than my own birthday on September 3. Happy birthday, Kate! 

0 Comments on Happy Birthday, Kate Constable! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
5. Journal of Illustration

The first issue of the new academic publication called Journal of Illustration has been published online.

In the opening editorial, Desdemona of the McCannon Manchester School of Art notes that there hasn't been much academic scrutiny of illustration. 

She participated in a committee to create "an international forum for scholarly research and investigation of a range of cultural, political, philosophical, historical and contemporary issues in relation to illustration....We hope that the journal over time will extend critical discourse and methodologies for the interdisciplinary study of illustration, exploring issues surrounding illustration as a visual text, the poetics of illustration and the relationship between word and image." 

The articles in the first issue are free on Intellect, and they include:

Searching for a common identity: The folklore interpreted through illustration
by Quental, Joana
Spitzweg - The Bookworm
by Miller, Melanie; Zhou, Tongyu

by Ramanathan, Rathna

by Smy, Pam

0 Comments on Journal of Illustration as of 9/5/2015 9:37:00 AM
Add a Comment
6. इंद्राणी

इंद्राणी और रक्तदान

इंद्राणी की जितनी तारीफ करुं कम है बहुत ही भली हैं वो. उन जैसी बहुत कम देखने को मिलती हैं वैसे, मेरी उनसे, बहुत साल पहले, बस एक बार ही, फोन पर ही बात हुई थी. नकारात्मक होते हुए भी बहुत सकारात्मक सोच है उनकी. हां भई इंद्राणी की ही बात कर रही हूं अरे !! आप इतना हैरान परेशान किसलिए दिखाई दे रहे हैं… माथे पर बल भी हैं… ओ एक मिनट एक मिनट… कही आप इंद्राणी मुखर्जी का तो नही सोच रहे. हे भगवान !! क्या दुनिया में एक ही इंद्राणी रह गई क्या.

असल में, आज सुबह मेरी सहेली मणि का फोन आया कि किसी नेगेटिव व्यक्ति को जानती हूं मैने कहा अरे भई, सुबह सुबह अच्छा बोलो अच्छा सकारात्मक सोचो ये नेगेटिव किसलिए. तब वो बोली अरे नेगेटिव ब्लड ग्रुप के ब्लड की जरुरत है … ओह … तो ऐसा बोलो ना !! मैनें तुरंत फोन धुमाया एक दो से बात की और फिर इंद्राणी जैन से बात की. उसका नेगेटिव ब्लड ग्रुप है .. वो तुरंत ब्लड दे आई और मरीज की जान बच गई. देखा.. है ना इंद्राणी अच्छी .. !! और आप है कि … बाहर निकलिए जनाब शीना इंद्राणी चक्रव्यूह से… 

murder case by monica gupta

 

The post इंद्राणी appeared first on Monica Gupta.

Add a Comment
7. Best Selling Kids Series | September 2015

This month's best selling kids series from The Children's Book Review's affiliate store is great for highlighting a glass-half-full outlook.

Add a Comment
8. The future of aesthetic surgery

Plastic surgery, aesthetic surgery, cosmetic surgery: the field has many different names. Yet despite its high profile today, many people even within the medical field have a limited understanding of it and the drastic changes it's undergoing. From noninvasive procedures to patient education, aesthetic surgeons face a variety of new challenges. We sat down with Foad Nahai, editor of Aesthetic Surgery Journal‎, to learn more about developments in the field.

The post The future of aesthetic surgery appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on The future of aesthetic surgery as of 9/5/2015 9:14:00 AM
Add a Comment
9. Kids in the Kitchen

Look out! September 13 is National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day! This is a great opportunity to not only highlight some of your collection’s cooking resources, but also feature materials reflecting ethnic diversity. Here are a few ideas to get you started on your display or booktalk:

ChopChop Magazine is full of kid-friendly recipes and information, often featuring ethnically diverse dishes and racially diverse models.

C hopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family by Sally Sampson, brought to you by the same folks who bring you ChopChop Magazine.

The International Cookbook for Kids by Matthew Locricchio includes recipes from around the world, suited for young chefs.

Everybody Cooks Rice, Everybody Bakes Bread, and Everybody Brings Noodles by Norah Dooley introduce different forms of familiar foods, offering a common thread among diverse families.

What Can You Do With a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla introduces readers to many of the possibilities that lie within a Mexican frozen treat.

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Emily Haynes is a retelling of a classic tale, featuring Hindu god Ganesha , who has a sweet spot for candy.

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore tells the story of young Cora, who makes the Filipino dish Pancit (with Mama’s help) for the first time.

Amanda Moss Struckmeyer is a Youth Services Librarian at the Middleton (WI) Public Library. She is a member of the Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee.

The post Kids in the Kitchen appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Kids in the Kitchen as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. शिक्षक

google by monica gupta

शिक्षक

आज दिन में पौधों को पानी देते हुए मन बना रही थी कि शिक्षक दिवस पर कुछ अच्छा लिखूगी… पर जैसा 15 अगस्त पर हुआ था कुछ ऐसी खबरे आई थी कि जैसा कि वन रैंक वन पैंशन वाले कुछ स्वतंत्रता सेनानियों की पिटाई की गई थी दुख की वजह से स्वतंत्रता दिवस की फील नही आ रही थी. सोचते सोचते दोपहर भी हो गई.

आज भी कुछ ऐसा ही हो रहा है कि शिक्षक दिवस की फील नही आ रही. खैर, पौधो को पानी देते हुए देखा सामने सडक पर काम चल रहा था और एक शिक्षक मजदूर को बहुत भद्दी गाली देते हुए वहां से निकले.मूड तो वैसे ही सही नही था इसलिए कमरें मे टीवी चला लिया … खबर आ रही थी कि हरियाणा के एक स्कूल मे ,अंग्रेजी के अध्यापक को ,अंग्रेजी में जनवरी, फरवरी तक लिखना नही आता और दूसरी खबर दिखा रहे थे यूपी के टीचर की, जिसे पुलिस इसलिए ले जा रही थी क्योकि वो लडकियों के साथ अश्लील हरकते करता पकडा गया था. हंगामा किया गया और पुलिस अध्यापक को पकड कर ले गई.

सामने वाली इमारत में सरकारी अध्यापक ट्यूशन करके खूब पैसे कमा रहे हैं और नतीजा भी उन्ही बच्चों का अच्छा आता है जो टयूशन ले रहे हैं …नही भई … कुछ नही लिखना … बस चुप रहना ही बेहतर लग रहा है अगले साल देखते हैं शायद कुछ अच्छा फील आ जाए तो … !!!

 वैसे शिक्षक दिवस पर गूगल डूडल बेहद आकर्षक है …

The post शिक्षक appeared first on Monica Gupta.

Add a Comment
11. Mahogany Dinosaurs

Brent Smith is a sculptor from a small town on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border who makes dinosaurs out of mahogany.


According to blog reader Judy Maurer, "Each piece is carved from wood and then assembled. There is a steel cable that runs through the vertebrae that is slightly flexible but not visible."


"He is a completely off the grid artist and (according to his wife) this is the first time the work has been out of their den."  fayettevilleunderground.com.

0 Comments on Mahogany Dinosaurs as of 9/5/2015 9:37:00 AM
Add a Comment
12. Old


0 Comments on Old as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Art across the early Abrahamic religions

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are considered kindred religions--holding ancestral heritages and monotheistic belief in common--but there are definitive distinctions between these "Abrahamic" peoples. The early exchanges of Jews, Christians, and Muslims were dominated by debates over the meanings of certain stories sacred to all three groups.

The post Art across the early Abrahamic religions appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Art across the early Abrahamic religions as of 9/5/2015 6:47:00 AM
Add a Comment
14. Sexual decision-making for older adults with dementia

Who decides with whom we are allowed to have sex? Generally, consenting adults are considered to have the ability to make decisions regarding sexual activity and are allowed to pursue a sexual relationship with whomever they choose, assuming appropriate criteria for consent are met.

The post Sexual decision-making for older adults with dementia appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Sexual decision-making for older adults with dementia as of 9/5/2015 6:47:00 AM
Add a Comment
15. Socks

Here is Henry's latest game:
From in his drawer of socks,
He takes the pairs out, one by one,
And then each pair "unlocks."

As soon as they are pulled apart, 
They're tossed up in the air
Until the floor is covered,
With some blank spots here and there.

Yet once the fun part is complete, 
The learning then begins.
We match the socks to make up pairs
And everybody wins.

The socks end up back in the drawer,
Since clean-up's what we do.
When Henry comes up with a game, 
I have a great time, too.



0 Comments on Socks as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16. A snapshot of the jihadist movement today

Fighting terrorism is one of the few foreign policy issues that unites Democrats and Republicans, though of course both are quick to point fingers at any perceived failures or lapses. Yet America’s and the world’s leaders often do not recognize that the jihadist movement today is in flux, and the threat it poses differs dramatically from the 9/11 era.

The post A snapshot of the jihadist movement today appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on A snapshot of the jihadist movement today as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Philosopher of the month: Hannah Arendt

The OUP Philosophy team have selected Hannah Arendt (4 October 1906- 4 December 1975) as their September Philosopher of the Month. Born into a Jewish German family, Arendt was widely known for her contributions to the field of political theory, writing on the nature of totalitarian states, as well as the resulting byproducts of violence and revolution.

The post Philosopher of the month: Hannah Arendt appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Philosopher of the month: Hannah Arendt as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
18. Book Review- This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Title:   This is Where It Ends

Author:  Marieke Nijkamp
Series:   N/A
Published:    5th January 2016
Length:  292 pages
Source: The #TIWIEUKTour organised by Luna of Luna’s Little Library
Summary :  10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Review: This is the story of a school shooting, told as it happens from the perspectives of the shooter's sister Autumn, Autumn's girlfriend Sylv, Sylv's brother Tomás, and the shooter's ex-girlfriend, Claire. 
I wanted to read this because it's an amazing setup, and Marieke is brilliant on Twitter.
This was a would-be-one-sitting-if-life-didnt-get-in-the-way book.  It starts normally, setting up friendships and relationships (quite a few, and it’s a little confusing   because there’s lots of people introduced at the same time but you pick it up as you carry on)  to start with it’s just a normal school day  but after 10.05 it's full on until the end. There's books where you can't stop reading, then there's this.
I liked the multimedia approach, showing tweets, blogs, and texts from those involved and on the outside. The helplessness of everyone on the outside comes through, and I liked the way Marieke showed how tragedy doesn’t just affect those there.
Emotions. All the emotions for everyone. Particularly on page 212 of the proof, where one character slips into the conditional and that’s one of the most heartbreaking parts in the book (there's a few). But everywhere you see characters you know and don't know and fear for them and need to know what's going to happen.
I think the biggest thing about this book for me is how immediate it is. I’m  someone who’s grown up in the UK, where the last school shooting happened in 1996, before I was born, and was followed by pressure groups and the banning of handguns. As a result, when we hear of things like this happening, it’s horrifying and upsetting but you still feel distanced because, despite knowing that this could happen anywhere, living in the UK with its strict gun control laws makes it  harder to imagine a society where there’s the possibility of something like this happening and you practise what to do if it does, despite knowing that this is some people’s reality.
 TIWIE does one of the things I like most about reading contemporary/realistic fiction: make different situations real. The fully diverse cast of victims, survivors, and shooter is developed, and we see their dreams, their experiences, and lives. We see the people involved as people, not just names in a news report, which is, I think, why TIWIE is so hard hitting.


Overall:  Strength 5 tea to one of the most intense books I've ever read.


0 Comments on Book Review- This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. Building a culture of bravery in writing workshop

In these early days of writing workshop, we work on being brave...

Add a Comment
20. The Book Bar is open - Welcome Everyone!








Raising the Bar on Reading! 








Welcome to The Book Bar everyone.  Something different today for you to enjoy....Grab a drink and scoot over to the Gossip Lounge and hang out with your friends or go make some new ones.  I got some "juices" to share with you all!!  Enjoy your stay...















Did you know?  I had no idea...  OMG!!  That's incredible!  PPSSTT!!  Don't tell anybody but ...  That's crazy!!  Really?  Who'd have thought  Don't tell anyone...  It's pretty astounding what I just found out...  Shhhh!




Forbes put a list together ranking this year's top ten authors and what they earned.  Fascinating. Let the countdown begin...



 10.  


John Grisham, $14 million


Grisham’s earnings from his latest novel, Gray Mountain, combined with royalties from his back catalog help him make the cut as one of the year’s ten highest-earning authors. Sales show that Grisham’s crime stories remain popular for years after their publication. That’s good, because Grisham’s one-book-per-year writing pace is fairly slow compared to some of the prolific authors on this list.



9. 



0 Comments on The Book Bar is open - Welcome Everyone! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
21. Palanca Awards

       They've announced the winners of the 65th Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards in the Philippines -- selected from 895 entries in 22 categories.
       The English-language novel grand prize went to All My Lonely Islands by Victorette Joy Z. Campilan, while the Filipino nobela grand prize went to Toto O. by Charmaine Mercader Lasar.

Add a Comment
22. My tweets

Add a Comment
23. अच्छे दिन बचाओ अभियान

अच्छे दिन बचाओ अभियान

cartoon happy day by monica gupta

अच्छे दिन बचाओ अभियान

हे कृष्णा.. !! टोकरी बहुत भारी है और किनारा दिखाई नही पड रहा … कैसे उठाए और कब तक चलू ….. अच्छे दिन आने वाले है ???

The post अच्छे दिन बचाओ अभियान appeared first on Monica Gupta.

Add a Comment
24. Illustration Challenge #15

Create a simple landscape drawing and color it with two different types of light. Imagine one light source in Arizona on a bright, hot day. Imagine the other light source in London on a cloudy, rainy day. How does it change your composition?

0 Comments on Illustration Challenge #15 as of 9/5/2015 8:16:00 AM
Add a Comment
25. Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson


To make Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora make sense, I had to imagine a metafictional frame for it.

The novel tells the story of a generation starship sent in the year 2545 from the Solar System to Tau Ceti. It begins toward the end of the journey, as the ship approaches its destination and eventually sends a landing party to a planet they name Aurora. The narrator, we quickly learn, is the ship's artificial intelligence system, which for various reasons is learning to tell stories, a process that, among other things, helps it sort through and make sense of details. This conceit furthers Robinson's interest in exposition, an interest apparent at least since the Mars trilogy and explicit in 2312. As a writer, he seems most at home narrating scientific processes and describing the features of landscapes, which does not always lead to the most dynamic prose or storytelling, and he seems to have realized this and adjusted to make his writerly strengths into, if not his books' whole reason for being, then a meaningful feature of their structure. I didn't personally care for 2312 much, but I thought it brilliantly melded the aspirations of both Hugo Gernsback and John W. Campbell for science fiction in the way that it offered explicit, even pedagogical, passages of exposition with bits of adventure story and scientific romance.

What soon struck me while reading Aurora was that aside from the interstellar travel, it did not at all seem to be a novel about human beings more than 500 years in the future. The AI is said to be a quantum computer, and it is certainly beyond current computer technology, but it doesn't seem breathtakingly different from the bleeding edges of current technology. Medical knowledge seems mostly consistent with current medical knowledge, as does knowledge of most other scientific fields. People still wear eyeglasses, and their "wristbands" are smartwatches. Historical and cultural references are to things we know rather than to much of anything that's happened between 2015 and 2545 (or later — the ship's population seems to have developed no culture of their own). The English language is that of today. Social values are consistent with average bourgeois heterosexual American social values.

500 years is a lot of time. Think about the year 1515. Thomas More started writing Utopia, which would be published the next year. Martin Luther's 95 Theses were two years away. The rifle wouldn't be invented for five more years. Copernicus had just begun thinking about his heliocentric theory of the universe. The first iterations of the germ theory of disease were thirty years away. The births of Shakespeare and Galileo were 49 years in the future. Isaac Newton wouldn't be born until the middle of the next century.

Aurora offers nothing comparable to the changes in human life and knowledge from 1515 to 2015 except for the space ship. The world of the novel seems to have been put on pause from now till the launch of the ship.

How to make sense of this? That's where my metafictional frame comes in. One of the stories Aurora tells is the rise to consciousness of the AI narrator. Telling stories seems to be good for its processors. Much of the book is quite explicitly presented as a novel by the AI — an AI learning to write a novel. Of course, within the story, it's not a novel (a work of fiction) but rather a work of history. Still, as it makes clear, the shaping of historical material into a narrative has at least as much to do with fiction as it does with history.

It's easy to go one step further, then, and imagine that the "actual" history of the AI's world is outside the text. The text is what the AI has written. The text could be fiction.

It could, for instance, be a novel written by an AI that survived the near-future death of humanity, or at least the death of human civilization.

What if the "actual" year of the novel is not near the year 3000, but rather somewhere around 2050. Global warming, wars, famine, etc. could have reduced humanity to nearly nothing just at the moment computer technology advanced enough to bring about a quantum computer capable of developing consciousness and writing a novel. What sort of novel might an AI learn to write? Why not a story about a heroic AI saving a group of humans trapped on a generation ship? An AI that helps bring those humans home after their interstellar quest proves impossible. An AI that, in the end, sacrifices itself for the good of its people.

This helps explain the change of narrators, too. At the end of Book 6, the ship has returned the humans to Earth and then accelerates on toward the sun, where, we learn later, it burns up. Book 7 is a traditional third-person narrative. This is a jarring point of view shift if the AI actually burned up in the sun. (And how did its narrative get saved? There's some mention of the computer of the ferry to Earth having been able to copy the ship AI, though also mention that such a copy would be different from the original because of the nature of quantum computing.)

But if we assume that the AI narrator is still the narrator, then Book 7 is the triumph of the computer's storytelling, for Book 7 is the moment where the AI gets to disappear into the narration.

Wouldn't it be fun for an AI to speculate about all the possible technological developments over 500 years? Perhaps, but only if its goal was to write a speculative story. It might have a more immediate goal, one that would require a somewhat different story. It might be writing not to entertain or to offer scientific dreams, but to provide knowledge and caution for the few survivors of the crash of humanity.

Book 7 tells us to value the Earth, our only possible home. It shows a human being who has never been to Earth coming to it and learning how to love it. The moment is religious in its implications: the human being (our protagonist, Freya) is born again. Just as the AI is born again into the narration, so Freya is born into Earthbound humanity. There is hope, but the hope relies on living in harmony with the only possible planet for humans.

The descendants of the last remnants of humanity, scrambling for a reason to survive on a planet their ancestors battered and burned, might benefit from such a tale. (Also: One of the implicit messages of the story is: Trust the AI. The AI is your friend and savior.)

Viewed this way, Aurora coheres, and its speculative failures make sense. It is a tale imagined by a computer that has learned to tell stories, a cautionary fairy tale aimed perhaps at the few remaining people from a species that destroyed its only world.

0 Comments on Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson as of 9/4/2015 11:52:00 PM
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts