Presented by GE
Lena Dunham on Alice Sola Kim's Story and Women Innovators
My father is a sci-fi nerd of the highest order. Before the Internet, that meant a closet full of dusty 25-cent paperbacks, their covers crawling with cyborgs and barren lunar landscapes and microwaves that could commence time travel. Every Saturday we would walk across then-barren Soho to the now-defunct Science Fiction Bookstore, where, desperate to be every inch his daughter, I would search for my own reading material. But even at age seven I already knew what I liked: stories about girls. And it soon became apparent I wasn't going to find any of those here. The young-adult series, like Johnny Swift, had scrappy male protagonists traveling through space on glorified skateboards. As for the adult books, the only women I found were nude blue aliens with jaunty antennae, ready to sexually satisfy lonely space captains. I didn't yet know about Ursula K. Le Guin or the other grand dames of sci-fi, but then again, it didn't occur to anyone to tell me.
Science fiction is notable as a genre not just because of its escapism, but because of the way it grapples with our current reality: what are science, technology, and innovation doing to the human mind and spirit, and when they reach their inevitable full-on collision, where will that leave us humans? These are the big questions that were being contemplated in my father's 25-cent paperbacks. But never by women. Not as writers nor as heroes.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (fun and easy acronym: STEM!) are not worlds we associate with women, yet they are full of female pioneers whose stories demand to be told. GE and Lenny have partnered on a program that doesn't just tell you that women should be at the forefront of science and technology, but shows that they already are.
So it seems only natural that GE would also share our goal of supporting an emerging female sci-fi author as she herself wrestles with questions of science and human consciousness and whether the twain shall meet. Alice Sola Kim is a writer of uncommon philosophical depth and also great imagination. Her story envisions a world in which sick people don't die — they enter a state of cryogenic stasis instead — but the question remains: what's in their heads when they've been placed on pause? In a series of vignettes, our (gal!) protagonist slowly realizes she may not be among the living anymore, but, because of the advancements in medicine and technology, she is also not dead.
We've been excited about our partnership with GE from the jump — we have the chance to profile industry leaders like Beth Comstock and an all-female robotics team, and to show our Lennys just how hard women in science and tech are showing up to play. But I'm especially thrilled that my child self now has some sci-fi she can get behind. No horny three-boobed alien princesses here, just an often hilarious and sometimes painful look at a future where technology enriches our lives and yet we still can't quite escape being human.
Love & Calculus,
The Next World and the Next
By Alice Sola Kim
Franny went to college, graduated with honors. After that, she got her masters and a Ph.D, and then another Ph.D, for which she completed a thesis on the hermeneutics of online bodybuilding forums. She got tired of the humanities and went back to undergrad so she could do med school. It took a lot of time, but she had the time. She made the time.