Cold Memories

I’m delighted to announce the publication of my story Cold Memories in Nature Magazine. They gave me a fun little teaser for it on twitter, too! This is what I wrote about it for their blog:

In Cold Memories we have a traditional climate-disaster backstory. I feel this is something of an obligation for a science-fiction writer to put out at present, although I generally prefer to present more positive futures. I don’t expect the entire planet will be ruined as in the story, but I do believe greenhouse-gas emissions will continue unabated for far too long due to the intransigence of the major industrial and consumer nations. I imagine some kind of too-late technological intervention such as atmospheric particle release or catalytic carbon sequestration to be attempted eventually, with real effects. But because such interventions will probably be enormously expensive, I doubt they will occur in time to prevent hundreds of millions or even billions of deaths, upsetting the entire order of nature and horribly disrupting civilization and the survivors’ quality of life for many generations.

In this story I feel I’m being extremely optimistic about our space travel and planetary colonization capabilities. It’s been more than 60 years since the first Sputnik was launched with no great technological advances for getting off the ground since then, and for 45 years no human has travelled beyond low Earth orbit. And yet, in just over a century I’m suggesting viable asteroid colonies as far out as Neptune’s trojans. I should say that science fiction is in my view primarily the literature of optimism, and despite everything, I see this story as optimistic in its way. But, of course, I would happily trade a few million colonists on the Moon, Mars and in the asteroids for billions of lives on Earth, if only it was within my power to preserve our ecology.