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Special Book Event with Francis Spufford and Kim Stanley Robinson: RED PLENTY / RED MARS

When Nov 05, 2013
from 04:00 PM to 06:00 PM
Where CSIS/STS Room, SSH 1246
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The Center for Science and Innovation Studies will hold a discussion of Francis Spufford's 2012 book Red Plenty (based on historical material about Soviet computer scientists). Joining Francis will be renowned science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, author of many SF books including Red Mars, a key reference to Red Plenty.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP here.

About Red Plenty: Strange as it may seem, the gray, oppressive USSR was founded on a fairy tale. It was built on the twentieth-century magic called “the planned economy,” which was going to gush forth an abundance of good things that the lands of capitalism could never match. And just for a little while, in the heady years of the late 1950s, the magic seemed to be working. Red Plenty is about that moment in history, and how it came, and how it went away; about the brief era when, under the rash leadership of Khrushchev, the Soviet Union looked forward to a future of rich communists and envious capitalists, when Moscow would out-glitter Manhattan and every Lada would be better engineered than a Porsche. It’s about the scientists who did their genuinely brilliant best to make the dream come true, to give the tyranny its happy ending. Red Plenty is history, it’s fiction, it’s as ambitious as Sputnik, as uncompromising as an Aeroflot flight attendant, and as different from what you were expecting as a glass of Soviet champagne.

Also of interest is a website with extensive discussion of RED PLENTY book including contributions from novelists, academics, lawyers and bloggers (of various permutations): http://crookedtimber.org/category/red-plenty-seminar/

Look for links to pdf and ebook versions of essays compiled from online discussions of the book that ran online from May 29 to June 14, 2012.

Finally, for an extensive discussion of the theoretical possibility of a computer-coordinated economic system, please visit this blog entry by Dr. Cosma Shalizi (computer scientist and Associate Professor of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon).

Note: Dr. Shalizi's discussion is also available as pdf in the CrookedTimber compilation (pp. 21-46). For a more mathematical follow-up, see Dr. Shalizi's additional blog post here.

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