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>Frontera

July 1, 2010

>Guest post by Joan Slonczewski, science fiction author:

In 2000 I started to write about a student who went to college in space to escape disasters on Earth. The decade that followed saw 9/11, the Asian tsunami, hurricane Katrina, the immigrant crisis, the Burmese Python in the Everglades, the new Depression, and Deepwater. So it sure was the decade to escape.

In the next century, Jenny Ramos Kennedy’s hometown of Somers, New York, is now full of kudzu and Cuban tree frogs. Carbon emissions are long banned, but the new source of global warming is the vast tracts of solar cells that turn landscape into desert. Antarctica has half thawed, and armies fight over its new farmland. Meanwhile, the ozone hole lets in so much ultraviolet that mysterious UV-absorbing aliens have moved in, the ultraphytes. To get rid of these alien plant-animals, Homeworld Security runs the War on Ultra.

So Jenny goes to Frontera College in an orbital space habitat, or spacehab, built to colonize in case Earth falls apart altogether. Spacehabs get financed by casinos, which are big because the entire tax system was replaced by taxplayers. Evangelical churches teach that the universe revolves around the Earth, and that whatever happens outside Earth is exempt from the Bible; so the offworld spacehabs are where anything goes.

Frontera classes are mostly on Toynet, the universal direct-brain internet invented by a six-year-old genius to play with toys. Still, teachers, administrators, and evangelical colonists all make their demands and the spacehab has its own disasters. While set in the future, this book has a lot to say about life today in Internet-driven global-warmed America. It will interest high school students thinking about college, and college students wondering what their teachers are really up to and anyone looking for an adventure off our disaster-challenged planet.

To read the first chapter of Frontera (and enter for a chance to win a book) go to http://bioscifi.kenyon.edu/index.php/Frontera.

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