Kathleen Ann Goonan
Kathleen Ann Goonan teaches at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her novel This Shared Dream came out in 2011.
From my breeze-washed balcony, I see individual flats hanging like lily pads from shoots, and conduits that carry vehicles, pedestrians, and utilities wind through a wildlife-rich arboreal forest. Vibrant, diverse communities flourish at different levels and cross-pollinate, a lively frisson of arts, science, and emerging technologies.
I am Alima, a bioarchitect for the city of Arcady, an engineered habitat of 250,000 grown from a nanotech seed. It's 07:30 on a Tuesday and it's time to go to work.
I don my IMP (interface modulating profile), a bracelet linking me to the city. Arcadians harbor nanoparticles that monitor health, sharpen memory, transmit information, and, some argue, change our very identity. My neural profile has made me synesthetic. Smell, sound, vision, taste, and touch mingle, expanding my design abilities.
I print and don the day's winged bodysuit, an ultralight second-skin prosthesis that executes intent as naturally as my own hands, and activate the wings with a thought. I catch the northeast Drift, where a new commercial district is planned. Textures, light, and structural challenges—a tor, a river, the prevailing winds—form tastes I shape with my hands. Tantalizing smells of grilled, spiced food and the bossa nova of street musicians infuse the scene. With a touch of finger to glove, I record that and a thousand other concepts. Later, I will synthesize them in a seed incorporating the mathematics of Arcady and present it to the community for feedback.
James Corey is the pseudonym of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Corey's new book, Abaddon's Gate, arrived in June.
In the Apollo program, we focused on technical problems like packing the electronics and propulsion systems into something light enough for our rocket technology to actually get off the ground. Those were enormous challenges, but the biology of space travel didn't get nearly as much attention. We put our astronauts into claustrophobic spaces and just sort of hoped that flying in microgravity wouldn't break them too badly.
Over the years, we got pretty good with rockets and computers and materials technology—we could easily get to space. The big challenge we faced was then staying there.
To achieve a successful space-faring society, we had to cure cancer. Space is such a stressful, high-radiation environment that addressing cells that get knocked out of round by ginormous blasts of high-energy particles was an absolute necessity. We were spoiled by the Earth's magnetosphere. Once we got outside of it, we faced the constant danger of tiny little bullets going near c that break you at the molecular level. Biological science, specifically in terms of genetic repair, is essential to our survival among the stars.
Physicist Vandana Singh's story "Sailing the Antarsa" appears in the anthology The Other Half of the Sky published in April.
The busy streets meander—they are made for walking. Robot-cars on the few broad avenues are used when the destination is more important than the journey. The buildings—thick, reinforced adobe—stretch to twenty stories tall. Even in summer they don't need air-conditioning, as rooftop and vertical gardens cool them. The skyweb runs from tower to tower, strung on self-healing, biomimetic cables. The elevator rises above the spicy smells wafting from restaurants and the sounds of conversation from theater doors, to jasmine scents and birdsong in the garden. There, the residents harvest gourds while I wait for the skycar. On my flight across town I can see the giant petals of eight sun stations, capturing solar energy via artificial photosynthesis.
Twenty-seven farm towers feed the city—because of them, wilderness is returning to now-abandoned megafarms beyond the perimeter, where birds flit above an artificial wetland that also serves as a natural wastewater-treatment plant. Everything is connected via the sensorweb—buildings tell their stories of energy production or vegetable yield, and trees boast of the carbon dioxide they have cleaned from the air, or the family of monkeys that have moved in.
This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Popular Science. See the rest of the magazine here.
This was a great post. Really loved some of those photos too. Canadian author Bennett R. Coles paints a fascinating and daunting image of the future in his writing. He writes sci fi military fiction and you can easily draw a lot of comparisons between his stories and todays wars. His latest novel 'Casualties of War' paints a picture of a how the veterans of future colony wars might deal with their homecoming to Earth.
"With a colonial rebellion put down, the veterans of Expeditionary Force 15 can return to Earth. But the welcome they may have expected isn’t waiting for them. The State is on a witch-hunt for someone to blame for the recent war. The Astral Force has placed incompetents in charge of developing a new super-weapon. Families and friends have no concept of what happened amongst the stars. And subtle forces from the colonies are secretly at work. Finding themselves in a world that is in some ways just as hostile as the colonial battlegrounds, the veterans must hold close to each other amongst the chaos of a peace no-one thinks will hold, combatting enemies from without and, most of all, from within."
My interlink node malfunctioned today for the first time, forcing me to leave my avatar floating helplessly in orbit around Phobos while the Narrbots (Nano Replicator and Repair Bots) are busy fixing my link. I hope its automated systems keep it safe. Being offnet is something most people never get to experience. I don't know how our ancestors remained sane with nothing to do but to think!
I use my own eyes to look out my incubator. That too is a first, and the world seems very surreal and lonely. My avatar's visual acuity is much greater than my real eyes. What a limited experience our ancestors must have lived. The real world looks dead compared to the vibrancy and life of the virtual world we all live in. I miss it very much already. I think when my link is re-established, the first thing I will do is land and walk in the Gardens of Eden.
I can't even tell how long I've been offnet! How did they keep time in the old days?
Oh good, my interlink is back! Boy, do I have a story to tell my friends!
Today's magic is tomorrow's technology.
Very beautiful picture I love such things it makes me feel much more rewarding. thank you.
http://www.kizi1.org | http://www.kizi4.info | http://www.yepi2.info
The post seems to be missing the review of the Ian McDonald book. Would love to have this digitally.