Is this the real life? Is it just fantasy?

So, last Friday night I went out to an event hosted by the Roseville Library called “A Night of Science Fiction”. Three SF authors were showing up to talk about their books and the genre. I admit, the thing that had me raring to go was that one of the three authors was Kim Stanley Robinson, who most of you know as the guy that wrote the Mars Trilogy (Red/Green/Blue Mars).

Neither of the other two names rung a bell at first, until I found myself in the Roseville Library looking at the in-library ad. They had helpfully reprinted cover photos, and I recognized one of the covers from John Scalzi’s blog series “The Big Idea”. The book in question would be Jeff Carlson’s Plague Year .

In fact, here’s the specific Big Idea< /A> in question. Go ahead and read it; it’ll play a part in the surreal moment I had this weekend. I’ll wait.

Anyway, seeing that reminded me that I had been interested in reading the book — I’d queried the Sacramento Library to see if they had the book, but had turned up empty-handed, and then got sucked back into dealing with the normal craziness of life and my new NaNoWriMo duties. So, I forgot until that moment I was standing in the library that I had wanted to read the book.

So there it was. I had a good time at the event and had a nice conversation with Jeff. (BTW, the second book in the series comes out at the end of July, just in time for Worldcon. Woo!)

Last night, I cracked the book open and began reading, and finished it off this morning. I rather enjoyed it. There’s some great moments — bringing the space shuttle down, a hike akin to a game of Russian roulette, and of course, my favorite, when the characters come to Sacramento. (They come towards the end of the book, so saying much would constitute spoilers.)

Anyway, the basic premise of the book is that somebody created nanotech that was designed to fight cancer. Instead, it got loose and proceeded to kill every warm-blooded creature below ten thousand feet. This is important for understanding the next bit.

My mom calls me in her room. One of the reports on 60 Minutes tonight is how they were using nanotechnology to fight cancer.

I pause, double take, and fall over laughing. My mom wants to know what’s so funny. Did I think it was bull or something? Instead I went and fetched the book so Mom could read the cover blurb.

I had burst out laughing because my immediate thought was to tell my mom, “We have to get up in the mountains RIGHT NOW” before I got my head out of the fiction I’d been reading and back into the real world.

Which just goes to prove the point that Jeff and KSR were making Friday night. We live in the future, for heaven’s sake, where there really is the possibility of using nanotech to cure cancer. So next time somebody tells you they don’t read SF, tell them that’s okay, they’re living it.

(KSR also had some neat thoughts on California as the place the future is born, which collides neatly with some thoughts my California history prof mentioned. However, that’s a post for another time.)

So my thanks goes out to Jeff for causing that brief moment in which I wasn’t sure just what world I existed in, which I suppose is the hallmark of a good book. *grin*

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