Alumni Author Talk - The Devil's Dictionary with Steven Kotler (A&S '93)

Photo of the book cover for The Devil's Dictionary on the left and a photo of the author on the right

Sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association and the Arts, Entertainment, Media, and Entrepreneurship Affinity

Join us as we hear from Steven Kotler (A&S '93), one of the world’s foremost experts on human peak performance and the New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Impossible, The Rise of Superman, and others, as he returns to thrill readers in THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY (St. Martin’s Press; April 19, 2022; Hardcover $27.99), an action-packed cyberpunk novel that will also appeal to fans of cli-fi—as it provides a serious approach to addressing the myriad complex issues surrounding climate change.

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Releasing just in time for Earth Day 2022, THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY addresses key conservation issues and explores groundbreaking ideas about how to preserve species and ecosystems, including mega-linkage—or those large areas of rewilded land linked together by migration corridors that are starting to be implemented around the world.

The twist is that—unlike most cyberpunk and cli-fi, THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY is not a dystopian novel. Says Kotler, “I’m a big believer in the power of imagination to shape the future and the power of fiction to expand the imagination. I wrote The Devil’s Dictionary to provide an alternative vision of our environmental future. If we can’t imagine this possibility, we’ll never create this future. I wanted to bridge that gap, but had no interest in creating a perfect utopian world. I wanted a near-term version of our world where we’ve battled back the worst parts of species die-off and climate change.”

To create this world, Kotler needed to explore the idea of “empathy-for-all.” This is the ability to feel empathy for all living beings, not just humans, but for plants, animals, and eco-systems—or what scientists call “cross-species empathy.” Enter Lion Zorn, also the protagonist of Kotler’s breakout novel Last Tango in Cyberspace, who is the first of his kind―an empathy tracker, an emotional forecaster, with a felt sense for how culture evolves, and the future arrives.

When a routine em-tracking job goes sideways and em-trackers themselves start disappearing, Lion finds himself not knowing who to trust in a life and death race to uncover the truth. And when the trail leads to the world’s first mega-linkage, a continent-wide national park advertised as the best way to stave off environmental collapse, and exotic animals unlike any on Earth start showing up―Lion’s quest for truth becomes a fight for the survival of the species.

Perfect for fans of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY is a unique blend of eco-fiction and traditional cyberpunk that explores hot topics in psychology, neuroscience, technology, as well as ecological and animal rights issues. 

Filled with science-based brilliance and cult comic touches, this groundbreaking cyberpunk science fiction thriller will make you laugh and make you think and mostly keep you turning pages until long after your bedtime. Plus, there are killer robotic polar bears in the book. And, seriously, who doesn’t love a good killer robotic polar bear tale.

This program will be presented on Zoom and moderated by Elena Stokes (A&S '96)

Disclaimer: The perspectives and opinions expressed by the speaker(s) during this program are those of the speaker(s) and not, necessarily, those of Johns Hopkins University and the scheduling of any speaker at an alumni event or program does not constitute the University’s endorsement of the speaker’s perspectives and opinions.

ABOUT Steven Kotler
Author | Journalist | Executive Director, Flow Research Collective

Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author, an award-winning journalist, and the Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective. He is one of the world’s leading experts on human performance. You can check out his talk at Google on “The Science of Maximizing Human Potential” and can also see Steven speaking at TEDxABQ on “How to open up the next level of human performance.”

Steven is the author of ten bestsellers (out of fourteen books), including The Art of Impossible, The Future is Faster Than You Think, Stealing Fire, The Rise of Superman, Bold and Abundance. His work has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes, translated into over 50 languages, and has appeared in over 100 publications, including the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Atlantic Monthly, Wall Street Journal, TIME, and the Harvard Business Review.

A lifelong environmentalist and animal rights advocate, Steven is the cofounder of Planet Home, a conference/concert/innovation accelerator focused on solving critical environmental challenges, the cofounder of The Forest + Fire Collective, a network of individuals, organizations and institutions dedicated to ending catastrophic wildfire and restoring forest health to the American West. Alongside his wife, author Joy Nicholson, he is also the co-founder of Rancho de Chihuahua, a hospice care and special needs dog sanctuary.

 Event Date
Friday, April 29, 2022
Start Time: 12:00pm EDT
End Time: 1:00pm EDT

Office of Alumni Relations
Jamie Seward
Associate Director of Lifelong Learning
1-800-JHU-JHU1 (548-5481)

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