Interview by Neal Stephenson: Can Science Fiction Help Solve Our Most Problems?


More than his almost four decades of a career as a novelist, Neal Stephenson has built complex visions of future worlds that, looking back on them now, feel awful. He writes about possible ways that uncontrollable globalization, pollution, and technological capitalism can change our planet. Eventually, he introduced readers to concepts such as cryptocurrency, virtual reality, and metaverse. In his new novel, Shock at the End, Stevenson takes readers into the near future when an eccentric billionaire puts forward a radical plan for slowing climate change by exploding sulfur into the Earth’s atmosphere. Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Tingali.

WIRED senior correspondent Adam Rogers spoke with Neal Stephenson at the annual RE: WIRED conference earlier this month. This week, we’ll listen to audio from the interview, and we’ll hear from Adam what Stephenson’s profile looks like — and examine the role of his fiction in shaping policy and promoting action — for the November issue of WIRED magazine.

Show Notes

Neal Stephenson’s new book Shock at the End available now. Read Adam’s WIRED story about Neal Stephenson takes on Global Warming. See more from our RE: WIRED sessions HERE.

Recommendations

Adam recommends getting your Covid-19 vaccine booster shot if you qualify, and also the performance Star Trek Prodigy. Lauren recommends Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy on HBO Max.

Mike recommends “The Veggie”Newsletter from The New York Times.

Adam Rogers can be found on Twitter @jetjocko. Lauren Goode at @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore to @snackfight. Neal Stephenson to @nealstephenson. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show was performed by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is Keys of the day.

If you have feedback about the show, or just want to enter to win a $ 50 gift card, take our short audience survey HERE.

How to Listen

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