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The Highest Frontier and the Cold Equations

June 30, 2012

I would like to thank the Campbell Award Jury for honoring The Highest Frontier with the John W. Campbell Award. The award surprised me in that the Campbell jury rarely honors a book by  a previous Campbell recipient. I am grateful for their notice, especially given the impressive list of finalists including co-winner The Islanders by Christopher Priest.

In the next century, The Highest Frontier shows Cuban-American in her first year at college off-world–the formative year of most real-life worldbuilders like Gates and Zuckerberg. A world built from cyber kids’ toys, where human merges with machine. The book speaks to high school seniors who yearn for a top college–and wonder what they’ll find when they get there. They’ll find, says one reviewer, “a place where young minds have to use their privileged position to try and figure out how to save the world. Literally.”

So why should adults read this book? Because it argues the cold equations:

No energy source on Earth, even wind or solar, will save our planet. In the long run, no power source is sustainable. We must get ourselves and our exothermic industries off Earth–before it becomes unlivable.

Democracy as we know it is finished. With apologies to Asimov, every two-bit politician today has a pollster named Hari Seldon. The cold equations show that every election is, or soon will be, “too close to call.” We’ll be tossing a coin–perhaps the only thing left a coin’s good for.

Like Hunger Games, we send our children to die. We feed them food flown from China, and drive them to swim camp in planet-killing SUVs; and the planet that’s dying is their future.

But maybe college kids will care more to save it. They gave us our first brown leader of the free world. Maybe in Life 101 they’ll figure out how to stop the methane tsunami.

The Cold Equations,” with a twist–spaceship Earth is in the hands of the girl.

  1. heteromeles permalink
    July 1, 2012 11:58 am

    Congratulations, Joan!. Great news.

    • paws4thot permalink
      July 2, 2012 5:48 am


  2. July 4, 2012 10:05 pm

    Speaking as a JWC judge, well deserved! Only Fred Pohl has won 2 JWCs before.
    The novel embodied what JWC himself at least said he wanted — realistic looks at tough problems. I too have written about such, and the more sf that envisions our real problems and how society might deal with them, the better.

  3. SFreader permalink
    July 5, 2012 11:58 am

    Congratulations! — I hope that this provides sufficient incentive for your publisher to get this series more widely circulated. I’ve yet to see it on the shelves where I live.

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