Cli-fi popularity on the rise

What’s cli-fi?  It’s fiction, often science fiction, that’s climate related.  The first cli-fi I remember reading was Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear”.  It wasn’t one of his best novels, and it has mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it because it made me think about what I know and don’t know about climate change.  In my own writing, my short story “Above the Mississippi” in my e-book “Science Fiction: The Arts” is a cli-fi story — though I didn’t know the term cli-fi when I wrote it.  It’s a Mark Twain like story in a science fiction setting.

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A Beautiful Path

30 years ago I designed and developed “Truckin'”.  I wanted players to deal with travelling salesman or shortest path problems, without thinking of that as a math problem.  During testing, I saw a number of players come up with excellent paths over the roads to reduce time while delivering goods.  Even with the limited number of routes and roads in the games, many players enjoyed the challenge.  Now researchers have developed new algorithms to find not the shortest route, but rather the most beautiful route.  Think there’s a game idea there?  Maybe.  In any case, I’m looking forward to being able to do a map routing online for a vacation by searching for the most beautiful route between cities rather than the fastest route.

Self Driving Cars

Bits on The NY Times blog had a nice piece recently about the challenges of self driving cars.  While it may not be easy to bring self driving cars to city streets, small trip electric automated cars may eventually replace subways and light rail for lots of people who want to go exactly from point A to point B.  Taxis will remain competitive until such time that small trip automated cars can provide rides cheaper and safer.  I have no idea what the time frame will be, but I think it may soon make sense for city leaders who are evaluating future transportation needs to consider how small trip automated cars will fit into the mix.  Mercedes (below) and others are working on self driving cars for the highways, but if car manufacturers can beat the issues for city driving too, the rewards may be huge.