Houston Matters

Author Sim Kern imagines what would have happened in Houston if Al Gore had won in 2000

The novel The Free People’s Village suggests some things would be better — and other things worse.


Sim Kern, author of The Free People’s Village.


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You've no doubt heard of the butterfly effect: a butterfly flaps its wings and that has a small impact on something that impacts something else and so on. And before you know it, big changes have occurred.

Houston author Sim Kern contemplates what happens when you start with one big change and see how the world spins out radically differently.

In Kern's case, that big change is the 2000 presidential election. In their upcoming novel, The Free People's Village, Kern presents what might have happened had Al Gore won that election, and, instead of a war on terror, America declared a war on climate change.

But that fantasy doesn't exactly turn out the way you might initially think. And Kern contemplates whether it could lead to new kinds of inequality in the city this story is set in – our very own Houston, Texas.

In the audio above, Kern talks about how their own experience as an activist in Houston inspired the ideas for the story.

Joshua Zinn

Joshua Zinn

Producer, Houston Matters

Joshua is a producer for Houston Matters on News 88.7 as well as the host of Encore Houston on Houston Public Media Classical. He joined Houston Public Media as a radio intern in 2014 and became a full-time announcer the following year. Now he prepares segments and occasionally records interviews...

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Craig Cohen

Craig Cohen

Executive Producer & Host, Houston Matters

Craig Cohen is the executive producer and host of Houston Matters, which airs weekday mornings at 9:00 on Houston Public Media, News 88.7 FM. Craig is a 20+ year veteran of broadcast journalism. He's spent the bulk of his career in public media, in roles ranging from programmer and manager,...

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