The Future And You
Ideas and opinion about the future based on verifiable facts of today.

Alan Dean Foster (author of over 100 novels of science fiction and fantasy and noted world traveler) is today's featured guest.

Many of this interview's topics were made possible only because of Alan's longstanding enthusiasm for traveling to places tourists rarely go. He seeks the places where wildlife is still unspoiled; and where the ancient ways that predate writing still exist. He knows they are fading rapidly, and wants to see them before they are gone forever.

Topics include: how cell phones are changing even the third world with amazing speed; primitive cultures accepting technology, and leapfrogging passed the intermediate technologies; the rise of ebooks overseas, as well as how traditional publishers may watch their income evaporate when people buy ebooks online directly from the authors, which would cut publishers out of the loop; how policing oceanic piracy is forcing the naval ships of nations which are normally enemies to cooperate, and how this may build relationships of respect: a precursor to trust.

He also shares some personal anecdotes: about writing movie novelizations such as Aliens 1, 2 and 3--and why he didn't write number 4; how he met Diana Rigg (who played Emma Peel on The Avengers) as well as Julie Newmar (who played the original Catwoman on Batman); his trip with James Gurney (author of Dinotopia and illustrator for National Geographic) who joined him on travels through Malta, Tunisia, Morocco, Dakar and Gibraltar.

He also described his intention to travel to the Western Indian Ocean, which is part of the area threatened by the pirate's that have been in the news so much lately for hijacking cruise ships and oil tankers and holding everyone aboard hostage, sometimes for many months.

Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the January 21, 2009 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 64 minutes]

While most of his novels involve worlds he has created himself, such as those in his Commonwealth series and Spellsinger series, and those in his various trilogies such as The Damned, The Taken and Icerigger, a portion of his time is spent writing novelizations of successful movies and TV shows. Examples include: the first three Aliens movies, The Chronicles of Riddick, Outland, Clash of the Titans, Starman, The Thing, Alien Nation, Transformers, The Last Starfighter, and the first Star Wars novelization, which he co-wrote with George Lucas.

The quality and extent of this body of work won him the 2008 Grand Master award from the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.


Direct download: TFAY_2009_1_21.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Authors David Drake, Alan Dean Foster, Dave Freer, Paul Levinson and Stoney Compton are joined by Ginjer Buchanan (of Ace and ROC books), Lucienne Diver (a top literary agent) and Walt Boyes (The Bananaslug from Jim Baen's Universe magazine). Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the April 1, 2007 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 121 minutes] ---

Topics include:

[1] News: (a) due to the host's vocal problems, this is the only episode which does not include an installment of the novel, Bones Burnt Black; (b) Death Stacks may now be played online for free without downloading anything; (c) TV channels from around the globe may be watched online for free by going to; (d) your humble host proposes his fix for the confusion produced by dropped cell phone calls; and (e) your host will appear at RavenCon in Richmond VA, USA (April 20-22, 2007) and at ConCarolinas in Charlotte NC, USA (June 1-3, 2007).

[2] Apartheid ended 13 years ago, so what are the trends within South Africa today? And what misconceptions do outsiders have? Dave Freer (born and raised in South Africa) talks of this as well as his scientific profession: ichthyology (the study of fish), and the thousands of times he has been scuba diving, and one dive in particular when he got his arm caught in a shellfish tunnel and very nearly drowned.

[3] Walt Boyes (The Bananaslug) and Stoney Compton provide a peak into the current issue of Jim Baen's Universe magazine.

[4] Are SF writers really trying to predict the future? Hugo Gernsback thought he was predicting, but were H.G. Wells or Jules Verne also trying to be predictors? Many people think so but David Drake says No and backs it with specific examples.

[5] With half the Japanese populous reading eBooks on their cell phones and Steve Jobs intent on combining cell phones with iPods for computerless downloading of music, podcasts and audio books, just how fast are the changes coming? Ginjer Buchanan (Senior Executive Editor and Marketing Director of Ace and ROC books) talks of this as well as: why William Gibson is a national hero in Japan, the increasing feminization of America, the Vatican's website, and her fear that unemployment is the fate of all those who create, transport and sell physical books: from press operators and truck drivers to clerks in the giant chain bookstores.

[6] An essay by your host entitled: My Father's Watch which concerns physics and nanotechnology and the drop we will see in energy prices during the next five to ten years.

[7] Does the world need more people rather than fewer? Paul Levinson suggests that, since intelligence is our best resource then, more people will produce more intelligence, more innovation and a more rapid improvement to the human condition. He also addresses other questions: Is another dark age unlikely because (unlike in the ancient world) today there are so many copies of Humanity's collected knowledge? And is the fall of New Orleans (due to hurricane Katrina) a good example of how civilizations fall? And if so what can we learn from it?

[8] Have audio book downloads become a bigger trend than eBook downloads? What about giving away free eBooks? Lucienne Diver, one of America's top literary agents, talks of this as well as her frustration with the large pharmaceutical companies and her skepticism over whether or not future medicine will ever provide a cure for the cryonics process.

[9] Less-than-lethal weapons will soon take their place on the battlefield, but will they actually change anything? No, says Alan Dean Foster, and explains why. He also addresses the probability of the world entering a new dark age, and he disagrees with the host's notion that New Orleans can be used as a miniature example of the fall of civilization.

Direct download: TFAY_2007_4_1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Authors Catherine Asaro, Kim Stanley Robinson, Alan Dean Foster and Sarah A. Hoyt are joined by Toni Weisskopf (the new head of Baen Books) and Paul Levinson (author, professor and media commentator). Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the November 1, 2006 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 150 minutes] ---

Topics include:

[1] Ideas from listeners.

[2] Why do they keep raising the requirements of artificial intelligence every time someone builds a computer that meets the requirements? Catherine Asaro (author, physicist and former ballerina) discusses this and other transhumanist concerns.

[3] With the tragic loss of its visionary founder, Jim Baen, what direction will Baen Books take into the future? Toni Weisskopf, Baen's new leader, provides many of the answers.

[4] Chapter twelve in our serialization of the novel Bones Burnt Black.

[5] Can political science become an actual science rather than a pretend science as it is now? And if it embraces the scientific method can it then become a tool to benefit all people, rather than just its divisive practitioners as it all too often does now? Kim Stanley Robinson, author and a self-proclaimed science patriot, speaks of this and other matters.

[6] Are adults different today? Has intellectual maturity become a thing of the past? Instead of reaching a plateau of stability, do we now spend all our lives in a mentally malleable child-like state in which we are continually learning, growing and changing? Sarah A. Hoyt, author and life-long learner, insists the answer is Yes.

[7] Has the time come for a single unified diagram which can integrate every kind of celestial object in the universe? Is it even possible to arrange in a single continuum all the objects from the tiniest tumbling grain of dust to quasars brighter than a billion suns? Your host thinks it is, and proposes just such a diagram in this essay.

[8] What is the likelihood of technological immortality? Why is cryonics better than cremation? And do ecological preserves without armed enforcement against poachers have a meaningful future? Alan Dean Foster, author and world traveler, covers all this and more.

[9] Can every celestial object in the universe be defined accurately using a simple notation system of just five numbers? Based on the universal diagram from his previous essay, your host makes a case for an equally universal system of classification.

[10] What's it like to go head-to-head with Bill O'Reilly on his TV show The O'Reilly Factor? Paul Levinson (author, professor and media commentator) shares his experiences in that very public hot-seat.

Direct download: TFAY_2006_11_1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:02am EDT

Authors Kim Stanley Robinson, Alan Dean Foster, Sarah A. Hoyt and Stephen L. Antczak are joined by Tony V. Baughman (newspaper reporter) and Peter Stampfel (longtime editor, musician and bottle cap collector). Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the October 1, 2006 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 130 minutes] ---

Topics include:

[1] News briefs: (a) the battle over passports being required in order to cross the US/Canadian boarder, (b) how you can watch television channels from around the world online for free, and (c) this show The Future And You has won the Parsec Award for Best Speculative Fiction News Podcast.

[2] While others debate whether or not the problem of global warming is real, the best selling author Kim Stanley Robinson is ready to move past all that and talk about solutions.

[3] Life throughout the universe may develop most readily within oceans, but does this universe contain more planets with oceans under their crust than under an atmosphere? (In this essay your host's logic forces him to conclusions which disturb even him.)

[4] Will the rise of eBooks allow authors to bypass traditional publishers and take away their piece of the pie altogether? The best selling author Alan Dean Foster has much to say on the subject.

[5] Is it possible to flip today's missile defense paradigm on its head and transform it into both a defensive and offensive weapon? (Your host explains how it can be done in this brief essay.)

[6] Collecting things as a hobby is a product of the rise of mass production: so explains Peter Stampfel who has been an avid bottle cap collector for 58 years. He also shares another song from his CD The Jig Is Up. This one is called The Squid Jiggin' Ground.

[7] Another installment in our serialization of the novel Bones Burnt Black, in this case, the second half of chapter 11.

[8] From the very beginning, our species has been radically and constantly modified by its tools. In what ways are the popularity of air travel and the Internet modifying our species now and for all time? The author, Sarah A. Hoyt--an unwilling frequent flier--draws some serious conclusions.

[9] How long will the comic book and manga industries continue to be flush with movie money from Hollywood? And what other trends are developing which will alter their futures? An interview with Stephen L. Antczak, an author of science fiction and of comics.

[10] Do traditional newspapers have a future? And if so, what is it? The Internet giveth, and the Internet taketh away. Tony V. Baughman, an experienced newspaper reporter, pulls no punches.

Direct download: TFAY_2006_10_1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:36pm EDT

Authors Alan Dean Foster, David Drake, Sarah A. Hoyt, Stephen L. Antczak and Doctor Travis S. Taylor are joined by Peter Stampfel, a professional editor and performing musician. Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the September 1st, 2006 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 123 minutes] ---

Topics include:

[1] Is it true that immaturity in adults is becoming universal? A new scientific study says: Yes, definitely.

[2] What unexpected changes are occurring in the third world? Author, and world traveler, Alan Dean Foster describes his first-hand experiences.

[3] Did you know that we are currently in a Golden Age for collectables? Your host makes a case for this in an essay.

[4] Would you perceive yourself--along with everything else in the universe--differently if you spoke a different language? Author Sarah A. Hoyt (formerly a professional translator and still a bit of a polyglot) discusses how languages affect individuals and humanity.

[5] What are the trends within the independent film industry? Author and filmmaker Stephen L. Antczak gives us an insider's view.

[6] Why is Fantasy dominating over Science Fiction in books, movies and TV? And what's all this stuff about a new category of Fantasy novels which are filled with sex? Long-time editor at DAW books, Peter Stampfel, spells it all out; after which he lets the host include another of his songs, this time one he wrote himself: Me and Old Dog Tray.

[7] Another installment in our serialization of the novel Bones Burnt Black.

[8] What are the changing trends and public perceptions of Motorcycles? Author David Drake aught to know, he's been riding motorcycles instead of cars for over 30 years.

[9] What's next in manned space exploration? How are we going to refuel the Hubble Space Telescope? Is the US military really planning for war in low earth orbit? And is it true the Chinese are gearing up to go to the moon? Author and scientist Doctor Travis S. Taylor covers it all.

Direct download: TFAY_2006_9_1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Authors Alan Dean Foster, Spider and Jeanne Robinson, David Drake and John Ringo are joined by Doctor Travis S. Taylor (rising author and noted scientist) and Peter Stampfel (professional editor and performing musician). Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the August 1, 2006 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 150 minutes] ---

Topics include:

[1] News briefs on: an invisible form of online shopping fraud; the fact that this program The Future And You is now a finalist for a Parsec Award; and two paragraphs from Cory Doctorow's brilliant commentary entitled: Science Fiction is the Only Literature People Care Enough About to Steal on the Internet.

[2] Alan Dean Foster describes his view of the future and how it relates to his many novels of science fiction and fantasy. He also reveals how you can find a secret Easter egg hidden on his website.

[3] Spider and Jeanne Robinson describe their courtship and collaboration, as well as their vision of the future which is distilled in their Hugo and Nebula award winning Stardance trilogy; a vision which embraces and expands upon transhumanism by describing what we as a species may transform ourselves into next. Spider also explains how he expects humanity to create Heaven retroactively.

[4] Peter Stampfel (submissions editor at DAW books and a performing musician) provides an unflinching insider's look at the terrible and wonderful trends within the music business; especially concerning recording contracts and performing live before an audience. As a bonus, we also hear another song from his album: a bouncy Glenn Miller number called Elmer's Tune.

[5] Chapter nine in our serialization of the novel Bones Burnt Black.

[6] David Drake who reads and translates ancient Latin for fun and relaxation, discusses lessons from antiquity; similarities between the USA and ancient Rome; and one of the host's (Stephen Euin Cobb's) favorite British miniseries: I Claudius. Stephen also asks David how he thinks the USA might meet its eventual and inevitable end. After all, someday the USA, like the Roman Empire, will no longer exist.

[7] John Ringo makes a serious case for his conviction that global warming is a scientific hoax perpetrated by the desperate need of researchers for grant money, sustained through academic coercion, and fed to an accepting public by media outlets locked in an endless competition for the most sensational headline.

[8] What if someone invented a Faster Than Light Drive before the end of this year? What if astronauts could get to the nearest star in a week; or any of the thousand nearest stars in a month? How would that change our world and global politics? Granted it's not likely to happen so soon. Most people figure it will take centuries before we invent FTL; if it can be done at all. But if Doctor Travis S. Taylor is correct, we may have FTL within 32 years. Within yours or your children's lifetime someone could be on their way to the stars. But then the question becomes: will these explorers speak English or Russian or Chinese?

Direct download: TFAY_2006_8_1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:13pm EDT