Saturday, September 2, 2017

Murals Transform Public Space in Newark

I spent a day recently in Newark, NJ, and was surprised--and pleased--to see murals wherever I went. Not only were the images and the stories they told captivating, it was wonderful to see that they hadn't been defaced with graffiti. To me, this speaks to the respect people have for public art. When politicians oppose money for the arts, they should consider the power of public murals to bring beauty and instill community pride. And while pols may think that funding art is a lower priority than, say, funding police departments, they should consider that the lack of graffiti reflects the public's appreciation of the form. Or they can look at research, which has shown "the great power of public art to influence how we move, think and feel in city environments."

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Claudia Casper Explains What Inspired Her to Write 'The Mercy Journals' on the Latest Episode of New Books in Science Fiction

My new interview on New Books in Science Fiction is with Claudia Casper, author of The Mercy Journals (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016), which won this year's Philip K. Dick Award.

Set in 2047, it tells the story of Allen Quincy through his journals. Quincy--nicknamed Mercy--is a former soldier struggling with memories of his long-lost family and the traumas he suffered during a third world war.

The story touches on complex issues such as genocide, climate change, and post-traumatic stress disorder. But it's largely a book about one man's struggle for survival and his attempt to find meaning in a world turned upside down.

I had a lot of fun talking with Claudia, and we covered a lot of ground in our conversation, everything from Cain and Abel ("I wanted to flip it, so the Abel and Cain story would be reversed") to food shortages ("We're three meals away from chaos") to the problem with building walls between countries ("No, Donald Trump had not come on the scene when I wrote that, so that has felt somewhat prescient"). We also talked about her delightful essay, "Attending a Literary Award Ceremony in an Alternate Universe," about receiving the Philip K. Dick Award at Norwescon.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pressed Against a Wall

In the desire to protect American values--and rights--that are under direct fire (this week the vulnerable value is a free press--see this, this and this) a demonstration started at The New York Times building and wended its way to the studios of Fox News.

Protest signs are the new street art, but the best signs at this protest (in my opinion) weren't signs but the tape some folks wore over their mouths (although I also liked the "unpaid protester" sign, visible just above the hat of the blue-taped woman.)