971-50: madeline ashby



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TORONTO, CANADA
what’s your favourite smell?

It’s hard for me to pick a favourite. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I love the smell of fresh rain. Also fresh lilacs. Fresh coffee. My partner, fresh out of a shower. Fresh things in general, I suppose. I know authors are supposed to prize the smell of old books above all else, but the oldest smell I like is that of well-aged bourbon.

what are you listening to lately?

I’ve been mainlining Exitmusic’s latest, a record called “The Passage.” It’s moody, it’s atmospheric, it’s apocalyptic, it’s ethereal. I was listening to it when my plane landed in Toronto after an unplanned sojourn to Los Angeles when my wallet and passport were stolen this autumn. I’ve been listening ever since.

do you think of Dubai as part of the Global North or Global South?

I think of Dubai as Global North. I came to that conclusion while researching Las Vegas hotel development culture for my next novel, iD. The Las Vegas City Center would not have been possible without investment from Dubai. To me, that really says something. Granted, when we in Canada think of Dubai, we always think of hotels. So it should come as no surprise that Dubai hoteliers and their investors know exactly what they’re doing. But when your influence extends to the world of luxury and entertainment, when those things are some of your primary exports, you’re Global North. Because you’re retailing the trappings of privilege.

what’s the future of print?

Print will always be with us. But I expect it to change, to become more artisanal than it already is, to become a boutique art in much the same way that wine and cigars are. I expect paper otaku to take over. We already have font otaku (fontaku?), so I think specialty-blended papers are next. Print is a primarily tactile art. We associate it with visual culture because it’s the medium of visual culture, but the people who love it, who need it, are tactile people. And academics. Until there’s a really killer app for academic readers, one that allows them to read and cut and paste quotations and cite sources accurately (i.e. MLA, APA, etc.) by default and work them into a thesis-in-progress, then we will always have print.

what will 2070 look like?

Bruce Sterling says it’ll look like a bunch of old people staring fretfully at the sky, and I’m not really one to disagree with him. But I will say that it will look different for different people. If you have access to resources now, 2070 will probably look great. If you don’t, it won’t. Overall, I’m looking forward to the point at which compute moves to zero — when chips are in everything, and everything is smart. We’re really going to have re-think interaction design when that happens, when our chunky handheld devices are free to disappear completely. It’s going to look like The Force, or airbending, or whatever franchise of magic you like best, when that happens.

Madeline Ashby is a science fiction writer, strategic foresight consultant, anime fan, and immigrant. She recently published her debut novel, vN. Her non-fiction has appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, and Tor.com






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