Annalee Newitz is editor-in-chief of io9, a website that covers science and science fiction, and author of Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction. Before moderating a discussion on whether science fiction has the power to revolutionize science, she talked poetry, surrealism, and bagels in the Zócalo green room.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
I have an iPad Mini. I have a copy from the 1950s of the novel Slan [by A. E. van Vogt], which is a famous science fiction novel from the ’40s, and it has a great scantily clad lady on the cover who has nothing to do with the actual novel. And an advance copy of William Gibson’s new novel The Peripheral. And then a bunch of other stuff that you don’t want to know about.
Describe yourself in five words or less.
Extremely unusual in some respects.
What’s your favorite cliché?
Time-dislocated people from an era that’s more socially repressed than our own, living in the present-day and having slightly anachronistic romances. There’s a lot of those on TV right now!
What do you eat for breakfast?
Bagel and cream cheese. Sometimes bagel and peanut butter.
Do you know any poems by heart?
Yeah. I mean, of course. [Any you’d care to share?] I have poems memorized by Walt Whitman, John Donne, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop. I started out as a poet in my career.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
If you could learn another language, which would you choose?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s kind of a contest between Japanese, Mandarin, or kind of standard Arabic. We’ll see what happens.
What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
Who was the last person to leave you a voicemail?
[Laughs.] Let’s see … a PR rep from a T-shirt company.
Where would we find you at 9:00 on a typical Friday night?
Probably sitting on the sofa, catching up on whatever TV show I’m supposed to be writing about.