Saturday, July 22, 2017

"All sci-fi will be cli-fi" (Cat Sparks said) while James Bradley said ""Sci-fi is about technology, cli-fi is about fixing economics"




CliFi panel

Some interesting tweets and comments this week from recent Australia writters conference with Cat Sparks, James Bradley and many more at the New South Wales Writers Center conference....

hat tip to Australian Twitterer Adeline Teoh:

TWEETS BELOW:

Adeline Teoh (张美鍊)‏ @witmol
"Sci-fi is about technology, cli-fi is about fixing economics" - said James Bradley at @cityoftongues #nswwc

Adeline Teoh (张美鍊)‏ @witmol
"All sci-fi will be cli-fi" - said Cat Sparks at @catsparx #nswwc



================================

JANE RAWSON NOTES:

I am in Sydney, I’m on at NSW Speculative Fiction Festival. I’m chairing a panel on

‘The Future we Deserve: From sci fi to cli fi’,

featuring Daniel Findlay, Cat Sparks and James Bradley, and festival runs all day on 22 July at the NSW Writers’ Centre in Rozelle.
CliFi panel

Friday, July 21, 2017

This 5 minute explainer video by Charlie Johnson is about cli-fi

This 5 minute video by Charlie Johnson on cli-fi is here --


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqhyGKPbHLU


When Charlie Johnson decided to create a five-minute ''explainer'' video about the popular movie "The Day After Tomorrow," he delved into the trailer archives of several Hollywood films and relied on a five-part ''Yale Climate Connections'' series of articles about Hollywood and cli-fi, written by George Washington University creative writing professor Michael Svoboda.



The video he made has been titled "The Day After Tomrrow: Why Cli-Fi Matters" and it can be seen here on Youtube. The video narration offers viewers a brief analysis of the 2004 climate-themed movie ''The Day After Tomorrow'' and why Hollywood disaster movies and ''Cli-Fi'' in general matter for what Charlie refers to as ''climate action.''
A very good magazine cover story from 2004 and titled "Surveying the Impact: The Day After Tomorrow," via a pdf link about the movie is listed here.


Charlie's video is short and to the point, and he speaks directly to how cli-fi movies in the past and in the future can influence and impact the raging debate worldwide over what do to about runaway global warming and climate change. Countless newspaper and magazine articles are now debating the issues from all points of view and this Youtube video concept is a good way to explain things with film clips in living color. Somehow seeing these clips while listening to Charlie's observant narration makes for a very good ''visual.''


Not everything has to be in text these days. Sometimes, a well-produced video explainer can go a long way to reaching a wide audience worldwide. I certainly hope so in this case.

Apocalypse bloom

When American literary critic Amy Brady began pondering on her Twitter feed in late 2016 if the new genre of cli-fi was a legitimate literary genre or just a passing fancy, the seeds were planted for her to launch a dedicated cli-fi literary column in the Chicago Review of Books, edited by Adam Morgan and titled "Burning Worlds."


The monthly column launched on February 7, 2017 and has had six iterations so far, with more to come.


In the first column, Brady, a versatile and graceful columnist, set the tone for readers, writing: "Burning Worlds" is a new monthly column dedicated to examining important trends in climate change fiction, or "cli-fi."


"It astonishes to think just how long humans have known that the Earth is getting warmer," Brady noted in her introduction, adding: "The term "global warming" didn’t enter public consciousness until the 1970s, but scientists have studied our planet’s natural greenhouse effect since at least the 1820s. In 1896, a Swedish chemist named Svante Arrheniussome concluded that human activity (like coal burning) contributed to the effect, warming the planet further.


"And yet, here we find ourselves in 2017, still wrestling with manmade climate change like it's a new phenomenon. Why have we not acted sooner? The answer may lie in what [Brooklyn] author Amitav Ghosh calls humanity’s ''great derangement": our inability to perceive the enormity of the catastrophe that awaits us.


"That's where fiction writers come in," Brady said.


"For years, authors have been writing 'climate change fiction', or 'cli-fi,' a genre of literature that imagines the past, present, and future effects of climate change. Their work crosses literary boundaries in terms of style and content, landing on shelves marked sci-fi and literary fiction.
"Perhaps you’ve read one of the classics: Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake or Kim Stanley Robinson’s Forty Signs of Rain.


Then there’s Ian McEwan’s Solar and J. G. Ballard’s 1965 novel The Burning World, from which this column derives its name. Each of these novels -- like others in the genre -- help us to "see" possible futures lived out on a burning, drowning, or dying planet.




Here at the Review, we feel it's time to give cli-fi more attention. To that end, we bring you "Burning Worlds," a new monthly column dedicated to examining what’s hot (sorry) in cli-fi. It'll feature interviews, reviews, and analyses of the genre with the hope of generating a larger conversation about climate change and why imagined depictions of the phenomenon are vital to the literary community -- and beyond."


The tone of the column was set and Brady dug in, interviewing Kim Stanley Robinson for her second column, 11 cli-fi writers for her third column, UMass scholar Malcolm Sen for her fourth column and cli-fi novelist Aaron Thier for her fifth column. Her sixth column was a profile and interview of Jesus Carrasco, a novelist from Spain.


As a result of her cli-fi column in Chicago, Brady has been invited to appear on several podcasts and contribute articles to the Yale Climate Connections website. In addition, several other literary critics and academics have taken note of her column and mentioned it in their own columns.




So "Burning Worlds" has taken off, and Amy Brady is leading the way...


===============


About Amy Brady

Amy Brady is Senior Editor of the Chicago Review of Books and Deputy Publisher of Guernica Magazine. Her writing has appeared in The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @ingredient_x

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Rebecca Onion at SLATE asks in regards to Climate Change Doomsday articles in the media: WHAT GOOD IS FEAR? PLENTY OF GOOD, she says!


What Good Is Fear?

As we face down the existential threat of climate change, it’s worth considering how fear of nuclear war has spurred humanity into action.

Thinkstock/Thinkstock
Thinkstock/Thinkstock
It’s not often that a story about climate change goes viral, but last week, David Wallace-Wells’ New York story “The Uninhabitable Earth” did. (It even claimed the distinction of being most-read-of-all-time article on the magazine’s website.) The piece, which is an assessment of how bad things could get if we don’t curb greenhouse gas emissions, also prompted a huge conversation about whether its “worst case scenario” framing was too scary to be helpful in spreading the climate message. Some argued that the deep terror the article inspires would be paralyzing, not productive, invoking psychologists who found that fear froze up their research subjects. Others parried: “Social scientists are forever testing how individuals respond to various messages in lab conditions, in the short-term, but the dynamics that matter most on climate are social and long-term,” Vox’s David Roberts wrote. “It may be that there are social dynamics that require some fear and paralysis before a collective breakthrough.”
Rebecca Onion Rebecca Onion
Rebecca Onion is a Slate staff writer and the author of Innocent Experiments
This is an excellent point, and one that can be adjudicated using history. We’ve managed to live for decades with another existential fear: the threat of nuclear war. What can years and years of atom bomb terror teach us about how the existential fear of mass death and societal collapse might affect our ability to respond to climate change? And why did atomic culture thrive, producing hundreds of books, movies, essays, and songs, while climate change has struggled for attention—Wallace-Wells’ barnburner aside?
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I asked Spencer Weart, historian of science and author of Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (1989) and The Rise of Nuclear Fear (an update published in 2012), if he could help me think through the comparison. Besides those books, which are jam-packed with examples of the many novels, movies, essays, television shows, and video games produced in response to the advent of atomic weapons and nuclear power, Weart has also written The Discovery of Global Warming, putting him in a fine position to comment.
Weart was dubious about the scientific accuracy of Wallace-Wells’ article—several scientists have been, which is why Wallace-Wells later released an annotated version of his story for others to assess, a somewhat unprecedented move. Given that we spoke just as that updated version was published, and Weart had not had a chance to see it, I will not adjudicate his factual concerns.
But Weart was willing to speak in favor of the piece’s rhetorical style. “There’s this widespread idea that it’s dangerous and counterproductive to elicit fears,” he said. “But I don’t think the history of nuclear fears supports that.” Instead, Weart has found that in some cases the terror associated with Cold War nuclear capabilities, felt throughout culture and at the highest levels of government, did help mitigate nuclear threats. At other times, though, the dread of nuclear war has prompted increased defensiveness and an unhealthy concentration of power.
Psychologists have studied how the existence of nuclear weapons changes people’s worldview for the past 70 years, but when I asked Weart whether he thought these findings might be transferrable to the psychology of climate change, he was skeptical. “Much less so than you would think,” he said. What is perhaps more useful is to think through how the threat of nuclear weapons has activated people’s fear and inspired action, and consider how this could apply to climate change.
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One of the main differences between the two cases is that stories related to climate change have failed to tap into deep-seated pre-existing terrors. Nuclear fear doesn’t have that problem—it draws on a number of extremely potent tropes. As Weart put it: “the mysteries of the universe, the mad scientist, the apocalyptic end of the world.” During the Cold War, people living in the grip of nuclear fear often reported feeling like they were being carried away by something ancient and inexorable. In The Rise of Nuclear Fear, Weart cites a widely reprinted 1945 editorial, Norman Cousins’ “Modern Man is Obsolete,” which described this new terror as a resurgence of an atavistic anxiety: “It is a primitive fear, the fear of the unknown, the fear of forces man can neither channel or comprehend. This fear is not new; in its classical form it is the fear of irrational death. But overnight it has become intensified, magnified. It has burst out of the subconscious and into the conscious.” The primal nature of nuclear fear amplified its potency: Everyone could picture the impending apocalypse.
So far, Weart argues, climate change lacks a visceral image of the worst-case scenario. “What we actually see with [public awareness of] global warming is some kind of a bloodless Manhattan, with water up to a certain level,” he told me. It’s not very scary-looking. And the prominence of the Arctic and Antarctic in coverage of warming hasn’t done us any favors. “The most common imagery of global warming, which you see everywhere and has become iconic, is the collapsing glacier with bits of ice flowing into the ocean,” said Weart. “That has no psychological history. It’s not like giant radioactive Godzilla monsters, which have a history going back to witchcraft.” Weart suggests that the imagery of the flood, with its biblical resonances, could possibly anchor climate change in one of our most durable myths, but people-free diagrams of flooded city streets don’t tap into that potential.
Nuclear fear also benefits from our bias toward individual stories. In his essay, Wallace-Wells cites Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement, in which Ghosh argues that because climate change is about social fate, not individual agency, it’s hard to narrativize. Nuclear war, unlike climate change, has often been imagined as the opposite—it is a tragic story of individual folly. A person who creates or deploys nuclear weapons, Weart writes in The Rise of Nuclear Fear, is on the brink of becoming a murderer, but also on the brink of committing suicide. The story of the scientists who unleash the atom on the world harks back to the trope of the wizard, witch, or shaman, who meddles with the occult to become more powerful. It’s a permutation of the Faust story, and it’s both recognizable and useful.
Nuclear fear offered another familiar figure for 20th-century novelists and screenwriters to play with: the warmonger whose feckless ego dooms us all. This is why the idea of Trump’s wee fingers on the nuclear button is so scary. We understand that we’ve concentrated world-changing power in these weapons, and that that our governmental and social structures don’t guard us from the possibility that a single deranged person—or a small clique of determined maniacs—could end everything. Climate sins, on the other hand, are sins of omission, not commission: much less dramatic to witness, much more difficult to villainize, and much easier to ignore.
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The split-second nature of nuclear war, in which you could be fine one minute and ashes the next, also amplifies nuclear terror. With climate change, Weart said, bad effects are “projected into some future beyond our time. Whereas with nuclear war, it was something that could literally happen tomorrow.” Novelist and doomsayer Philip Wylie, who often worked with nuclear themes, underscored this with an exclamation point in the title of his 1954 book called Tomorrow!—which compared the fates of two cities hit by bombs. Imagery like photos of the “shadows” left by victims in Hiroshima show how nuclear fear is the fear of (as Cousins put it) “irrational death,” which can strike at a moment’s notice. The immediacy makes it a priority.
Nuclear fear, Weart told me, could be useful in influencing decision-makers, even when it was exaggerated. Look at Nevil Shute’s On the Beach, a 1957 book (and 1959 movie) in which the last survivors of a nuclear war, the residents of Australia, wait for the inevitable southward drift of fallout to kill them. “People understood at the time that this was fiction,” Weart said, but the drama of the situation lingered nonetheless. “When the Cuban Missile Crisis came along [in 1962], we have it on the record that both Kennedy and Khrushchev said [privately], ‘This could be the end of humanity if we don’t get a rein on this.’ ” The atmosphere of apocalyptic fear may have helped resolve the situation without conflict. During our second big wave of nuclear fear, in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan watched the TV movie The Day After in the White House. Apparently, it depressed him for days, and his biographer Edmund Morris thought the viewing experience might have pushed him to pursue a policy of strategic defense rather than deterrence.
Weart argues nuclear fears may have “intensified suspicion and hostility on both sides” during the Cold War. Drawing on work by Garry Wills, Weart writes that nuclear terror facilitated the creation of a national security state, and the expansion of presidential powers “far beyond anything imagined in the original Constitution.” Unlike in the case of climate change, where a campaign of disinformation has obscured scientists’ message of danger, people on the right and the left “agreed that nuclear war was terrifying,” as Weart put it to me. But that fear didn’t always lead to positive outcomes.
This history warns us that existential alarm, even if it does prompt action, has diverse results. Our current president seems entirely unbothered by climate change, which makes it tempting to think that ringing alarm bells could force citizens to insist on positive action. But in the case of the nuclear, that feeling of fear was only the beginning. In some cases, it prompted leaders to do the right thing. In others, leaders used the people’s panic to expand their own power. Critics of the “securitization” of climate change echo this warning, noting that if the military is in charge of planning our response to warming, the outcome might not be good.
It seems that in both cases, the answer to the question “Is fear helpful?” is a resounding (and unsatisfying, save perhaps to historians!) “It’s complicated.” It depends on what the fear yields. And it depends on what you are trying to achieve.

Cli-fi has moved from what was once a fringe concept to what is now a very marketable literary genre

VIDEO UPDATE: This 5 minute video by Charlie Jefferson on cli-fi is here -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqhyGKPbHLU






After a glacially-slow start in April 2013 when NPR ran a five-minute radio segment produced by Angela Evancie about ''the rise of a hot new genre'' that she dubbed "cli-fi"


CORRECT LINK HERE
http://www.npr.org/2013/04/20/176713022/so-hot-right-now-has-climate-change-created-a-new-literary-genre


to Professor Jennifer Hamilton's recent pronouncement on an Australian website that "Cli-fi" has moved from what was once a fringe concept to what is now a very marketable genre of modern fiction, cli-fi has arrived.


There's no stopping its rise worldwide now. It's in the air, and even the early naysayers who were skeptical about adding a new literary subgenre to traditional science fiction's many subgenres are coming on board now.




This is good for writers, for publishers and for readers. Cli-fi is here to stay, and most importantly, to make a difference. While Nevil Shute's 1957 pulp fiction novel about nuclear war and nuclear winter "On The Beach" was a very public warning about the dangers of nukes being used by military powers around the world, so too will future cli-fi novels, as yet unwritten, warn future generations of the dangers and risks of runaway global warming and unstoppable climate change. When will this new Nevil Shute arise and in what country will he or she reside? Time will tell.


Meanwhile, there is only good news for fans of cli-fi and for academics stuyding the genre. Jennifer Hamilton put in this way: "In a fictional sense, solarpunk sits across the table from "cli-fi". In recent years, the term cli-fi has moved from a fringe concept to a marketable genre of fiction. Coined in the first instance by a PR guy in Taiwan, it has grown so big that scholarly researchers are now able to produce studies of the genre's conventions. In addition, new novels and short story collections are now published in this gernre category each year."




Almost daily now, mentions of cli-fi appear online in book reviews, academic papers and magazine essays. A recent mention noted: "One could argue we live in the golden age of literary dystopia, with the resurgence in popularity of classics like George Orwell's '1984' and Margaret Atwood's 'Maddaddam trilogy,' as well as the emerging genre of cli-fi -- speculative fiction set in a place of environmental devastation."




There's even a Hollywood listing now of favorite cli-fi movies at the popular imdb website, headlined "Best Cli-Fi or Climate Change Movie Climax."




Film producer Dean Devlin has produced a new cli-fi movie titled "Geostorm" starring Gerard Butler and it's due for worldwide release in October this fall.




It's true, a summer intern at the New Yorker magazine wrote in a blog post in 2014 that while "cli-fi was an interesting new genre term to think about, it probably won't last as a literary term." Well, that was 2014 and now it's 2017, and cli-fi is on a roll. The New Yorker was wrong when it wrote: ''These books have been labelled 'cli-fi' but chances are that the name won't stick."








Fat chance.






So as we approach the last few years of this second decade of the 21st century, and as 2018 and 2019 move toward 2020, bookmark "cli-fi" on your computer and get ready for more and more novels using this genre as a global platform. It's written on the wind. We are here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jesús Carrasco was born in Badajoz in 1972; he is the author of OUT IN THE OPEN in English translation now (Amy Brady reviews it here at link)


About the author:

Jesús Carrasco was born in Badajoz in 1972, author of ''OUT IN THE OPEN'' in English translation now (Amy Brady reviews it here at link)


https://chireviewofbooks.com/2017/07/18/out-in-the-open-jesus-carrasco-interview/


http://www.powells.com/book/out-in-the-open-9781594634369?partnerid=44373&p_ti





Jesús Carrasco was born in Badajoz in 1972. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and has worked, among other things, as a grape-picker, a washer-up, a physical education teacher, a music manager, an exhibition fitter, a graphic designer and an advertising copywriter. He took up writing after moving to Madrid, in 1992. Over the years, he has kept diaries and has written short stories, two books for children and one novel, and has grown as a reader. In 2005, he published an illustrated book for first-time readers, and that very same year, he moved to Seville, where he currently lives.
In 2013, his first novel, Intemperie, made a stunning debut on the literary scene. Carrasco received the Book of the Year Award from the Association of Madrid Booksellers, the Award for Culture, Art and Literature from the Fundación de Estudios Rurales, the English PEN Award and the Prix Ulysse for the best first novel. He was also short-listed for the European Literature Award in the Netherlands, the Prix Médi- terranée Étranger in France and the Dulce Chacón, Quimera, Cálamo and San Clemente awards in Spain.


================


https://cli-fi-books.blogspot.tw/2017/07/jesus-carrasco-was-born-in-badajoz-in.html - Jesús Carrasco was born in Badajoz in 1972; he is the author of OUT IN THE OPEN in English translation now (Amy Brady reviews it here at link)


=================================


An Interview with Spanish Author Jesús Carrasco
Olivia Snaije By Olivia Snaije Published on May 15, 2017

Found this article relevant?

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This article was updated on June 12, 2017
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Jesús Carrasco was born in Badajoz, Spain, near the Portuguese border and as a boy lived in the town of Torrijos, smack in the center of the country where Don Quixote wandered. As an adult, he moved to Madrid where he studied Physical Education and went on to live in Seville, where his wife is from; he now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his family. In 2013 his debut novel, Intemperie (Out in the Open), was published to international acclaim, and went on to be translated into 25 languages. Film rights were bought and last November a graphic novel adaptation of the book was released in Spanish. His second novel, La Tierra que Pisamos (The Earth We Tread) was published in 2016 and won the European Union Prize for Literature. Bookwitty caught up with him at the Literatura em Viagem literary festival in northern Portugal, where La Tierra que Pisamos is just out in Portuguese. His novel Out in the Open, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, which begins with a very dramatic description of a boy hiding in a hole in the earth, was published in the UK in 2016, the US edition will be published this July.
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You have been writing for 20 years but your first novel was published in 2013. What was it that made this novel, Out in the Open, such a success?
I have no recipe, no particular explanation. I think the book's success is because readers could engage with  human feelings, and understand a boy's suffering. I used universal archetypes to build the novel; a boy, a shepherd and a bailiff, and anyone can identify with these.


How is it different to be published for the first time at age 40?
At 40 you’re at a very different stage of maturity; you are grounded, you have a family. Attempting to publish my novel was like using my last bullet. I was working full-time to pay my bills, I used my holidays and unpaid leave to write, it was my last chance, and I got lucky—[the Spanish publisher] Seix Barral spread the novel across the world.


You wrote a novel before Out in the Open?
Yes, but it’s not suitable for publication; it’s a bad novel but it was useful to me to learn how to write one. I had written short stories for a long time as well as stories for children and at a certain point I decided to tackle the novel form. I didn’t know how difficult it was to write one, it was a real challenge; at first the idea was to simply complete it. In those years I had started to write Out in the Open which began by describing the village, the family, the house, and when the boy started to flee until he found somewhere to hide I didn’t know how to go on from there. I started a new novel, and drew a very complex, beautiful plot. It’s set in Australia and Scotland but there is nothing of me in the novel. But I acquired new skills, and was patient enough to sit for three years and finish it. Then I went back to [the manuscript] Out in the Open, I got rid of 60 pages and started again. In the end, the novel begins where the boy is hiding.


You grew up in a village similar to the one in the novel?
It is my village. I don’t name it but you can recognize it. There is even a tourist route in the village now that follows the places in the novel. It’s Torrijos in [the province of] Toledo. The story of the boy who decides to flee from his family is a common one, and a common dream for kids in villages especially where the natural landscape is so close by. I thought about it many times when I was a boy, if, for example, I didn’t like my lunch or if I got angry with my parents. The point of departure of the novel is why and what are the causes for a boy to flee and not return.


Was the landscape and nature a big part of your childhood?
This landscape is an essential part of who I became and how I am. The smells, the sensations—I tried to describe the weather, the dryness, the cold, and how you can feel the power of the sun on your skin. The weather is very extreme, there are scorching, dry summers and very cold winters. When I was a boy the water was cut off at 10 in the morning and it went back on at 10 at night. Spain didn’t have modern infrastructures at the time. The well wasn’t deep enough. This lack of water was imprinted in my cells. It really had a big influence on me and I am very sensitive to environmental issues, even in Scotland where there is plenty of water I’m always very careful to turn off the tap.


Your novel, La Tierra que Pisamos is not yet available in English. What is it about?
It’s about a fictitious invasion of Spain by a powerful nation, and the consequences suffered by the main character. It’s about how he is deported and then tries to get back to his village, similar to what drives an elephant to go back home to die.
There are three themes running through the novel, the Second World War, colonization—the way Europe occupied Africa, and the Spanish Civil War in the area of Badajoz where the war was especially cruel. Members of my family were victims like many other Spaniards. My grandfather was shot trying to help his sister in August 1936. My father was one year old. My whole life I was educated by a man who had lost his father when he was one year old. They say that every war lasts at least 100 years, because it affects generations after it. My grandmother was forced to deal with several kids during the war and no food to go around. My father would tell me that my grandmother would go to get cooking oil and would come back with one or two spoonfuls of oil. Then the period of dictatorship that followed the war was very long and very tough. It wasn’t fun at all.


The book you are working on currently is less dark—did these somber novels tire you out?
It’s really tough to write these kinds of stories. The second novel is really the opposite of a comedy. In one scene the father finds the body of his dead daughter and tries to hug her. It was so hard for me to write that because I’m a father. I need to write about something brighter, the other side of the human being. Love, for example, my life is full of love. But I needed to write these two novels first.


What are some of the subjects you’d like to focus on in your future books?
Nature is always an important subject for me, our relationship with nature.
I would also like to talk about something more focused on current events, for example refugees. I'd like to put myself in the shoes of someone who had to flee from a place nearby, like Syria. Unfortunately we are not able to be as sensitive to people who are very different from us, but when I watch the terrible images of Syrians in tiny boats I recognize them perfectly, they could be my friends or my family. I would like to write about this moment, to try to understand it, to have a record of what was happening when I was 45 years old. The role of literature is to talk about the particular problems of people who are suffering, their intimacy; and what is happening within the body and soul of regular people during our lifetime.


Did your move to Edinburgh allow you to be freer, it’s a place where you can walk down the street and still be anonymous?
I can do that in Spain too, I’m not Justin Bieber. What is interesting though, is to be free of commitments. When I’m in Spain I have to accept commitments; there are my friends, and the literary world. When you live in Scotland you can say, “Sorry, I live in Scotland.” You lose a lot of great opportunities, but on the other hand you have a long period of time to write. I need that; I need at least five months ahead of me just to write.
Olivia is a journalist and editor and manages the editorial content for Bookwitty. She is based in Paris


Dr. Who goes back in time to fix BBC website typo: ''Docotr Who?''



As everyone knows, Dr. Who is back, for the 13th iteration, or regeneration, as the writers of the BBC science fiction TV series like to say. And this time, for the first time, Dr. Who is a woman, the versatile British actress Jodie Whittaker.

But a funny thing happened when the news was announced worldwide when a newspaper and its online website ran a headlined with a glaring typo in it: "BBC reveals Jodie Whittaker as next ‘Docotr Who’ star."

The news article was from the Reuters News Service in London, and the photo was from the Associated Press in the U.S., but the headline was typed in by a copyeditor at a newspaper in Taiwan, where, since it was late at night, the typo was not seen before the newspaper was put to bed and no editors at the main desk caught it either.

These things happen at newspapers all the time. Just as "to err is human," it is also true that "to make a typo is human." I've made them in my life as a newspaper editor myself, once writing that a local woman in Juneau, Alaska had gone "widow shopping" when, of course, I meant to type in "window shopping."

But I didn't see my mistake until it was too late and the typo appeared in print the next day. Egg on my face.

These things happen in the newspaper business around the world all the time. So when I was reading my local English-language expat newspaper the other day in Taipei and the Dr. Who news story caught me eye, I had to chuckle when I saw the typo.

Instead of ''Doctor Who,'' the editor, or some gremlin in the computer late at night in the newsroom, typed in "Docotr Who" by mistake. It was a typographical mistake, and that's why we call these things "typos."

But remember, the Dr. Who show is a science fiction TV series, and in science fiction anything can happen. Giant three-eyed squids can wrestle in outer space, and characters in a sci-fi novel or movie can travel both back in time and forward in time to the future. So when this recent BBC headline typo appeared, I posted a photo of my Facebook page and a witty man in Australia, Evan Shapiro, a PR guy and published novelist, commented about the typo: "Luckily, Dr. Who can  travel back in time to fix the typo."

I didn't think of that! Problem solved!

So far the typo has not been fixed. It cannot be fixed in the print edition of the newspaper, what some pundits call a "snailpaper," because it arrives with news that is already 24 hours old. But on the Taipei newspaper's website, the typo can still be fixed, and if Dr. Who won't travel back in time to fix it, perhaps the website's editor will fix it once they see this blog post online.
Humor makes the world go 'round, and I love humor. It takes my mind off the deep blue funk of contemplating runaway global warming and inexorable climate change impact events that might end up putting an end to this wonderful civilization we humans have built up over the past 10,000 years.
Speaking of humor, there's another newsroom term you might not have heard of yet, and it's called an "atomic typo." What's that, you ask?

An atomic typo is a very small, minor typo, usually just one letter in the wrong place, that even Spell Check cannot "see" since the word is spelled right but is being used in the wrong context. It's such a small typo that like an atomic particle, it is very small indeed. Words like country for county, or nuclear for unclear, or Sudan for sedan. The term was coined by a newspaper editor in Florida in 2004 and is popular now in the Digital Age we live in.

REFERENCES: