There was more than just discussion of Apollo in Rocket Men. Kurson sought to place the mission in its historical and geopolitical context. Although 1969 and Apollo 11 is what most people remember today, Apollo 8 and the events of 1968 were perhaps the true "moon shot" part of the entire program. Considering the events of this year, the inclusion of that context made for a more meaningful story. In 1968, America was torn by riots, deep political divisions, repeated tragedy, and a flu epidemic. Sound familiar? We do not today live in unprecedented times. History may not repeat itself, but as Mark Twain said, it does rhyme.
For a publishing site, there aren't really a whole lot of published works here on IGC. We have The Grounds Warden, which is just a stand-alone short story, and we have Zombies in a similar vein. Of course, we also have half a season of Blood Magic, with new episodes coming out at the end of each month. It's this last that I want to address, because I alternate between being excited about how well our library of Blood Magic stories is developing, and worried about how working on Blood Magic stories has led to drastically less work on my other projects.
The world is a dangerous place. That's true any time, and at any point in history, but certainly this year the point has been emphasized repeatedly. Although it is often easy to imagine that either it is hubris to think that we live in important times, or alternatively that what is happening right now must be a matter of grave and unprecedented significance, the objective truth is that this year has already seen more uncertainty and tumult than usual. So, naturally, I read a book written to scare people.
It's a question I get all the time: will you ever write an IGC story? A sort of autobiographical account of your time as an agent of the Intergalactic Coalition, with special emphasis on your last six thousand years or so of service here on Earth?
That being said, this book does have its place. The synthesis it provides is thorough and insightful, and it provides a robust terminology with which to simplify the approach to what is really an incredibly complex concept - the concept, in fact, that Adam Smith attempted to communicate in Wealth of Nations and never quite managed to clarify. The concept of the infinite game is really a question of taking a long view or a short view. Finite games are about short views, infinite games are about long views.
Perhaps it’s not terribly surprising then that I try to avoid introducing contradictions into my fictional worlds. For most of the time that I’ve been writing, I’ve operated in world creation under the premise that contradictions in world-building will drive readers away and make the world less believable. After all, overt contradictions would seem to undermine the idea of plausible impossibility, and leave the reader less immersed in the world. A contradiction can act like a sort of car accident that abruptly stops the flow of traffic and ejects the reader from the story.
Unlike many other history books, which look at grand, sweeping ideas and focus on facts, dates, statistics, and artifacts, Brook presents major portions of Chinese history through the lens of narratives, sort of like miniature biographies. Each chapter focuses on a different individual of whom we have a record and who can be used to explain and demonstrate the evolution of China in that time period. This format helps keep the book from falling into the trap of many other nonfiction works I have read recently, where the first 1/3rd to 1/2 of the book is interesting, and the remainder is repetitive.
It is absolutely essential that we keep our minds open to alternative explanations for the universe in which we live and with which we interact. Just because one explanation is the accepted explanation doesn't mean it is "right" - there may not even be a truly "right" answer to a lot of the deep, probing questions about the universe. If we hew too strongly to a single explanation simply because it is the one that is commonly accepted, then we will inevitably be scoffed at by our ancestors the same way we scoff so readily at those who did not accept Copernicus's teachings.