Babel had its first outing on Friday. I talked about the issues in it and how the society on Terrestra in the year 3500 dealt with a healthy but aging population.
The HUROPEL Conference is taking place at the University of Salford 4-15 April 2011. HUROPEL is a collaboration between Universities in 6 countries in Europe running an ’Intensive Programme’ for two weeks on the themes of Human Rights, Older People and End of Life Care.
Babel fits, because in Babel there is “switch-off”. Much of the novel is about doing away with “switch-off”. Yet the issues are complex. Terrestra is scared of disease because it has none. So, it keeps itself isolated. Coupled with this is an intolerance of imperfection. It’s actually quite difficult to talk about one issue without bringing in another.
Fiction is useful to us, however, because it can explore factual material in a closer emotional way. Science Fiction is particularly useful for young adults because it stylises and symbolises our present lives. It can be to young adults and adults what anthropomorphism and glove puppets are to younger readers.
I talked and read passages for about 50 minutes. We then spent another 45 on questions. Which were lively and interesting. I had the impression that Babel’s first public appearance actually went rather well.