Tuesday 23 May 2023

Micro-interview with Samuel Lowd Goldstein

We invited over Samuel Lowd Goldstein, author of “Interstellar Wallflower” in The Future Fire #65 to talk about space travel and human exceptionalism.

TFF: What does “Interstellar Wallflower” mean to you?

Samuel Lowd Goldstein: There is a lot written about first contact, and yet we live in a world populated with beings with whom we have (at best) rudimentary communication. And while we like to make hierarchies of life-forms and their importance, sentient visitors might well make different assessments.

TFF: Would you like to visit another planet?

SLG: Absolutely! My father worked for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and I remember watching the landing of Viking in the 70s. It was very evocative seeing the surface of Mars and finding it simultaneously familiar and strange. This has been amplified by subsequent landers and probes. I can spend hours looking at the pictures!

The logistics of visiting another planet are another question.

TFF: Do you see a parallel between your poem and the story “The Pool Noodle Alien Posse” in this issue?

SLG: Yes, and I enjoyed that story very much. It seems to me that "The Pool Noodle Alien Posse" plays with some of the same ideas that "Interstellar Wallflower" does. In "Interstellar Wallflower," I was exploring the idea that extraterrestrials might not share our opinion that we're the most important beings on our planet. We project upon them our perceptions, and find ourselves surprised when they have their own understanding—worse yet, it does not match our own.

"Pool Noodle" also explores (among other things) our expectations of and projections upon extraterrestrial life in sort of the flip-side to that: what if being technologically advanced in some ways doesn't translate to having all the answers? We expect space-faring beings to come and solve all our problems for us, only to find they're not that different from us. They take one look at our mess, and decide it's not for them.


First contact didn’t go well
it went like a junior-high dance.
After emerging from their crystal ships
they didn’t even look in our direction
but went to hang out with the cephalopods
and cetaceans.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/04/new-issue-202365.html.

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