Scifi about social services, transit, reparations, & a support dog
September 16, 2020 5:22 AM   Subscribe

Four science fiction stories about how we could better help each other. Two optimistic ones: "‘I’m with Muni — how can I help?’ Annalee Newitz’s short fiction imagines a new kind of social support system in San Francisco", and "Number One Draft Pick" by Claire Humphrey, in which Reshma trains a service dog to help mitigate Tyler's seizure disorder so he can keep playing pro hockey. And two cautionary stories: "A Burden Shared" by Jo Walton, on carework and chronic pain, and "How to Pay Reparations: a Documentary" by Tochi Onyebuchi, about a US city that tries to use an algorithm, plus money from defunding police, to pay reparations. (Response essay by Charlton McIlwain.)
posted by brainwane (10 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like the Annalee Newitz story is behind a paywall.
posted by Paladin1138 at 5:49 AM on September 16, 2020

Huh - it wasn't when I double-checked 20 minutes ago, but, I dunno, browsers, adblockers, regions, who knows? In any case, here's a version via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine that everyone should be able to read.
posted by brainwane at 5:54 AM on September 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

that Claire Humphrey piece is lovably dorky.. the ending.. sorry Leafs fans, the ghost of Bill Barilko will not find rest this century.
posted by elkevelvet at 7:53 AM on September 16, 2020

The MUNI story was definitely of interest--it isn't really science fiction. I work at BART and we are ramping up our outreach to riders who are in crisis. We have partnered with social agencies to refer them to help. Our Board of Directors voted in June to redirect money from our armed police force to hiring unarmed "Ambassadors" to help with intervention. We have reunited unhoused people with their families and gotten a small number of folks into detox and rehab programs. Here's an article on our website that details our efforts. It is still not enough but our current BOD is making it a priority and we should see more funds going to these programs.
posted by agatha_magatha at 8:53 AM on September 16, 2020 [5 favorites]

I wonder if the Humphrey story was inspired by Max Domi?
posted by tavella at 10:32 AM on September 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I just cried a little at the Annalee Newitz story. It's so hopeful! And so exciting that it's going to be a thing in real life, too! Now I'm feeling extra-bonus-good about having a bunch of Newitz's ebooks on hold at the library. Thanks for posting these!
posted by sibilatorix at 4:33 PM on September 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Argh that Slate story broke my browser 5 times, I finally gave up. Fucking Slate.
posted by emjaybee at 8:06 PM on September 16, 2020

What sibilatorix said about an actual hopeful story!

"Those days were over. Now that you could buy personalized vaccine patches printed with images of your favorite K-pop bands, contact tracing sounded positively quaint."

God, I wish.

I enjoyed the dog seizure story too.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:55 PM on September 16, 2020

Wayback Machine versions of the Tochi Onyebuchi short story in Slate and response essay by Charlton McIlwain, in case those are easier to read. emjaybee I hope these help?
posted by brainwane at 6:03 AM on September 17, 2020

Here's a short story from Peter Watts about one way to solve climate change


Not quite as optimistic as these others.
posted by Iax at 2:03 PM on September 18, 2020

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