Response to “Covenant”

What I love about Hieroglyph and about the Center for Science and the Imagination is that I totally believe that you can’t have better futures without better dreams. With Hieroglyph, the idea is not that we’re utopians; it’s that we’re thoughtful about how things might go right. And that’s incredibly important. There are some turning points in history recently which were basically failures of imagination and failures of optimism. The challenge is for us to think big and think rigorously and think smart because lazy dystopianism is child’s play.

I read through “Covenant” several times asking myself, “Why did she choose that title?” A covenant is an agreement between two parties; it’s a legal term. I think what Bear is trying to communicate is that there is an agreement here between the protagonist’s two selves: the psychopathic male that she was and the new person she has become. If I were writing an undergraduate paper about this story – and I guarantee that there will be a whole lot of them – I would write about the covenant that is established between these two selves.

“Covenant” is such a well-done piece of fiction. It’s not at all a utopian vision, nor is it dystopian. It walks the line very nicely between portraying a future that’s great, that’s really aspirational and one that’s horrible, that you’d never want to see happen. It walks that line in a lovely fashion, and that’s one of the things that I like about it most.

Joel Garreau is the Lincoln Professor of Law, Culture and Values at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. He is the author of the books Radical Evolution, The Nine Nations of North America, and Edge City: Life on the New Frontier.