Sunday, 24 May 2009

Hay Festival - Sunday

A glorious day. Again the sun is shining. It's mid-day and we're back from the festival site after a fascinating morning in the company of Dan Pearson and, again, Professor Martin Rees.

Dan Pearson is a garden designer who spoke about landscape and how it has influenced his approach to garden design. He cited examples of places from Yosemite to Gower that have moved him and informed his ideas when creating spaces that are personal to others.

Gardening is not my bag, but not one Latin botanical name passed lips his during the entire hour, instead he spoke about spaces and framing and transitions, and I was totally enthralled. I may even be inspired into mowing the lawn when I return home.

Then we had more of Martin Rees. Today he spoke about the possibilities of extraterrestrial life in the universe. I was pleased that he was more complimentary to Science Fiction writers than yesterday, with complimentary references to Arthur C Clarke in particular. In fact he said that he often "advised students to read first-rate science fiction rather than second rate science." I had to write that one down.

He spoke to a sell-out audience, that was moved to the larger Barclays Pavillion, so great was the interest. He expressed a hope that there might be more manned exploration of space. He spoke of the possibilities of man returning to the moon, although he felt that in all likelihood the next steps on the moon would be those of Chinese astronauts.

Some of the follow-up questions made we wonder if Star-Trek-Science was now the principle source of scientific education in this country. Perhaps Buzz Aldrin was correct when he said that SF writers had a lot to answer for in stunting the growth of manned space exploration. Wormholes and other FTL fancies are certainly more sexy than rockets these days. Maybe we ought to be more careful when we use these plot devices.

Okay, it's Dave Gorman this evening, then some Indian/Jazz fusion to round off the day. Right now I have the afternoon off for some work on the novel, sitting in the shade of a hawthorn tree beside a babbling stream. Does it get better than this? Naw.

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