It wouldn't be terribly original of me to observe how the supposed "comedy" of The Daily Show often does a better job serving the media's role as the "fourth estate" than network news, but I mention it here because it dovetails with another ongoing concern of mine. Lately, I've been struck by the absence of the Science Fiction Writer as Expert in future-minded news media, Discover Channel programming, etc... Where is David Brin in CNN's Future Summit, for instance? Why no SF writer consultants in any of Miles O'Brien's recent future-focused pieces?
So, given the above, I shouldn't be surprised that it was The Daily Show and not CNN that hosted Greg Bear last night, (June 21st), on to talk about his role as a member of Sigma, the group of science fiction writers who recently advised the Department of Homeland Security at the Homeland Security Science and Technology Stakeholders Conference . What did surprise me - given that his latest, Quantico, is a techno-thriller out from a non-genre press - is the way that host John Stewart introduced him as a "science fiction writer, a hard science fiction writer" in a tone that seemed to apply respect for that implied distinction. Stewart's humor was largely self-deprecating (as always, but he avoided the low hanging fruit we can easily imagine others stooping to pick), as when he said Bear was "here to tell us Nebula-Award winning ways we can all die." Whatever your politics, I chalk this up as another sign that respect for SF in the mainstream is on the rise. (And yes, The Daily Show is the edge of that mainstream, but things seem to start here and filter in.)