Can Science Fiction Help Solve Our Biggest Problems?

Over his nearly four-decade career as a novelist, Neal Stephenson has built complex visions of future worlds that, looking back at them now, feel eerily prescient. He writes about the possible ways unchecked globalization, pollution, and technological capitalism could transform our planet. Along the way, he’s introduced readers to concepts like cryptocurrency, virtual reality, and the metaverse. In his new novel, Termination Shock, Stevenson brings readers into a near future when an eccentric billionaire puts forward a radical plan for slowing climate change by blasting sulphur into the Earth’s atmosphere. Sounds plausible, doesn’t it? Maybe.

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

Show Notes

Neal Stephenson’s new book Termination Shock is available now. Read Adam’s WIRED story about Neal Stephenson taking on Global Warming. Check out more from our RE:WIRED sessions here.

Recommendations

Adam recommends getting your Covid-19 vaccine booster shot if you’re eligible, and also the show 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 is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Neal Stephenson is @nealstephenson. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

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