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August - December 2006

Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness

Date: 12/24/2006 From: Edmund Horner
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Hi Greg,

In at least two places you've written of minds damaged to the point where important human faculties are entirely gone, but which nevertheless present an appearance of healthy ordinariness. I'm thinking of Emmanuel Goldsmith from Queen of Angels -- e.g. the interesting quiz he was given before his Country was explored, and what the psychologists concluded from his reactions; and the people in Dead Lines -- I seem to recall references to people who have been turned into automatons that are able to mimic genuine human self-awareness to the degree that they seem just like everyone else -- I think the villain was an ordinary woman who had undergone a serious mental breakdown and been turned into a monster. There may be other instances in your writing of similar phenomena.

Am I right in thinking that this is a theme you've intentionally explored multiple times (as it seems), and will you return to it in the future? And do you believe that this condition may actually exist for many people in the real world? It seems a lot like some kind of sociopathy, from my shallow understanding of it.

A recent Economist article on Free Will versus Determinism has set me thinking on such things (with all the usual philosophical questions about whether a human is more deterministic than any other machine, and how this impacts responsibility, etc.).

It's Christmas Eve in New Zealand now, so I'm prepared to wait a while if you're on holiday... (PS. Will Christmas really be something of a novelty in Los Angeles circa 2048 ?)

Best Wishes,

Edmund Horner.
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 12/24/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Edmund! Merry Christmas morning to you. You've hit on a pretty consistent theme in many of my works, which is the possibility of problem-solving intelligence without overt self-awareness. As western, upper-brain thinkers, we tend to believe that will--focused self-awareness, usually accompanied by an Olympian wrinkled brow and a HUGE mustache--is the only way to get things done, but as a writer, I know very well that most of my work is accomplished well below my conscious perception.

Social animals require something like self-awareness to fit into a group, to model their role and place in that group, and to model the reactions of others to their actions. Minus that kind of self-awareness, individuals may lose certain inhibitions and perform badly on the social stage. This is almost certainly not the only explanation for such phenomenon as serial killers, craven CEOs, and corrupt politicians, but it could be ONE explanation.

Determinism is an aggravating position. Leibnizian determinism--if we knew the position and velocity and such of everything, we could compute and therefore predict all future states--begs the question, compute with WHAT? Most deep thinkers in this area have long since realized that if you can't actually build the machine that does the miracle you're proposing, you're talking through your hat. Mathematically speaking, such complex systems are their own most efficient computers--only by observing the system will you be able to understand the system. And human beings are in no way comparable to clockworks, PCs, or even super-computers--we are like no machine ever designed or conceived of by any human. Our past states do not ratchet in any complete, mathematically tractable way to our future states. Therefore, we are--so far--pretty unpredictable. And in our confusion, it's possible that every now and then, we actually exercise free will--within our limited range of choices! So--is free will a roll of the dice, or a conscious decision made by a ghost in a non-existent machine? Very big questions here! Thanks for writing.
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 12/26/2006
From: Rouald Laurenson
Location: Switzerland

A nice Christmas-eve-time post, Greg.

And I think you are in fact a considerable contributor on these 'big questions', by means of many generous explorations in your fictions.

I much appreciated and enjoyed the treatment of quite a few personalities in transition throughout Slant. Not least Giffey himself, or Mary, or Alice, or in the pre-ending, Jill; more transparently Jonathan, and his wife.

I guess the ones that change are the heroes - and the ones that in one of many ways, choose about their relationships ;)

Kind regards,
'Rouald'
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 12/26/2006
From: David Markwick
Location: United Kingdom

Ever since I first heard of this idea that I might be spending time talking with perfectly ordinary acting people who are actually not experiencing any kind of conscious experience I've been fascinated by the notion. I have no idea of course what to ultimately think of it all because the question remains outside of meaningful conclusion. But as an idea it's interesting.

I guess I came to the conclusion that what we see of other people are essentially shadows of their actual existence where they intersect with my own. "They" might be having their own totally different experience, with a shadow of my own existence being observed by them.

Equally a nutty idea I know :D

Religion is also an interesting idea, I suppose that someone who believes enough can meander his way through his experiences and life (making "choices" of observation according to deeply held beliefs) toward a place where the outcome does actually closely resemble what he/she believes. Of course this opens up the possibility of dysfunctional people finding their own place too, I hope the lawyers never get a handle on this. ;)

But then why do these people still seem mostly compatible with my own worldview? I guess it's possible for people to live on a broad plane, with only the intersections having any meaningful existence, observers needing to be observed sort of thing. Or something. Merry Christmas to you :)
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 12/26/2006
From: Greg Bear

Who was it that suggested that we end up in the heavens or hells we imagine or plan for ourselves? Interesting Christmas speculations, now post-solstice!
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 12/27/2006
From: Rouald Laurenson
Location: Switzerland


Well, I see we have to give you compliments only after the philosophy season ;).

BTW, pen name invented just because I need to preserve a 'clean' professional one, am sure you understand.

Besides, I started a nice story once, on characters Rouald and Laura...makes me smile to think of them.

Kind regards,
Rouald
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 12/27/2006
From: Greg Bear

Ah, the philosophy season! Now what decorations would we put up for that? And how would Talk Radio attack the War on Philosophy? ("Happy thinking!" vs. "Merry Platonism!")

Compliments are welcome any time of the year...

 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 12/28/2006
From: patrick
Location:

Decorations?

Recall, Uncertainty has only to do with the particle level, whereas uncertainty is based on a lack of information. Regardless, the universe does manifest, so there must be a determining process. As for free will, if there is any, it would appear to me that it is the ability to entertain new data. From then on, it's a matter of what drives exist within us. As with genetic potentialities, and despite our awareness, the strongest will express. Hence, the more we are capable of realising data that contributes to a thing, the more likely it will be available, and then automatically enabled.

Supplemental: whether this is actual, it is suggestive of how one can be....and, as John Cage so adamantly tried to attain, we will be relieved of choice. Or, perhaps, the anxiety enshrouding it.
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 01/01/2007
From: ryan costa
Location: cleveland, oh

Sometimes I'll see footage of a criminal being sentenced in court for some violent crime. I'll wonder if they are self-aware, or mildly retarded and/or psychotic to such a degree it doesn't really matter.

The new complex automaton is made possible in our complex hyper-stratified society. Suburbanites re-devolve into a new type of hillbilly/yokul easily manipulated into mass movements of war, of socio-economic structural change resulting in more of the stuff that got them riled up in the first place. There are dozens of hyper-specialized channels and professions and schools, and it is easy enough to for the human machine to reassure himself with exactly what he wants to hear while wearing blinders to the bigger picture or the consequences.
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 01/01/2007
From: Greg Bear

True enough--but I suspect we've had these problematic individuals with us for ages. It's simply very difficult to construct and train a fully functional, socialized human being--no surprise then, however tragic, that many get lost in the process. As you suggest, however, increasing complexities could push out individuals who might otherwise get along well enough in earlier times.
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 01/02/2007
From: Nikki
Location: Idaho

I find this discussion particularly interesting because I am an aspie - that is, I have what is known as Asperger's Syndrome, a so-called "autistic spectrum disorder" caused by a genetic mutation in the brain. Several of the characteristics described in these posts could certainly be descriptive of AS; we lack a certain awareness of social etiquette and cues, are often completely unable to read or interpret body language and other non-explicit communication, and care little for peer approval. These qualities, however, do not make us sociopaths; they merely make us the outcasts, eccentrics, mad geniuses and Silicon Valley geeks of the world. :)
The incidence of the Asperger's mutation is increasing throughout the world, and there is a certain group of aspies who believe that we are actually an evolutionary step forward for the human race (a la the X-Men) in a time when the previous human herd mentality is no longer needed, and indeed could even have become a severe liability. I personally find it an interesting theory but am not yet prepared to declare myself a member of a new sub-species, hehe.
Btw, Greg (Mr. Bear?), I have read almost all your books, starting with Blood Music when I was 14, which led me into a lifelong literary love affair. You are by far the best hard sf/speculative fiction author around today and I want to thank you for years of enjoyment and provocation and challenging ideas. Happy New Year! xxx
Nikki
www.myspace.com/melantha_o
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 01/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Nikki! I've long been fascinated by Asperger's and autism, and recognize the possibility of a spectrum from nerd/math whiz to Rain Man--I'm somewhere along that curve myself, more in the word-nerd region than math-nerd, however. It's an intriguing concept--but a little vague,I think, and perhaps too inclusive now--and too long a part of folklore. The absent-minded professor, Einstein can't tie his own shoes, Revenge of the Nerds--all contribute to the legends. As to whether all us nerds represent an evolutionary shift--well, who would have guessed that bona fide nerds would rule the Northwest, and top the list of the world's richest individuals!

In my experience, there's no group friendlier or more accepting of behavioral differences than nerds--and they make up a large part of the science fiction community I grew up in, thank goodness for their example. On the opposite end of the scale, I think, are those who are far too sensitive to social signals--and that could include fanatic fashionistas, gossip columnists... and some of those people who made us miserable in high school.

Psychopaths can be incredibly attuned to the social and behavioral patterns of others, but their interior state seems quite different, certainly where compassion is concerned. They have little or none. Think Stalin or Saddam--and then compare them with a relatively minor-league butcher like Ted Bundy. They are often socially adept animals turned pure predator.
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 01/02/2007
From: Nikki
Location: Idaho

Greg, I just went back in your blog archives and came across a post in which you said you gave a talk on the contribution of AS and autistic people to the sf scene/community; this was at a convention in 2001, I believe. Very cool! You are so right about nerds being the most accepting, non-judgmental group; I've experienced it myself and have seen it commented on numerous times by others on various aspie websites. In fact, that very trait has been listed by Tony Attwood (a leading figure in the AS field) as one of the identifying criteria for AS: "free of sexist, "age-ist", or culturalist biases; ability to regard others at "face value"" - which he calls a "qualitative advantage in social interaction". The entirety of the list, and its context, can be found at www.thegraycenter.org/sectionsdetails.cfm?id=38

I agree that there is certainly a tendency towards over-inclusiveness at the present time. But I also feel that that is in itself a classically aspie flaw and should not be seen as a reason to doubt/negate the entire concept of AS. For those of us who have long known that there was something incontrovertibly *different* and *alien* about us but had no understanding of it, the AS diagnosis is an unimaginable relief. Not so much for the "label", but for the knowledge that we are not alone and that we are part of a larger community of kindred spirits. Despite the general disinterest of aspies in peer approval and social niceties, we are only human beings after all, and loneliness is an omnipresent shadow in many an aspie's childhood and even adulthood. Identifying the "cause" of one's difference and connecting with others who share it is a liberating and self-affirming experience.

What you say about psychopaths is interesting. Obviously there is often a super-developed social sense, and an absence of both empathy and compassion. But I wonder if that in and of itself is a recipe for a Ted Bundy? Does lack of copassion in and of itself lead one to kill? Is empathy the only thing restraining us from becoming murderers? I think a person like Ted Bundy is the result not only of the absence of certain qualities, but of the *presence* of another quality most of us do not have - the active desire to kill and cause pain and suffering to other people. We all have the *ability* to do these things, but an active lust for it? No. And I don't believe that is simply because we have compassion.
As for the Saddams and Stalins of the world... well, who can say for sure whether they truly took pleasure in their evil deeds or whether their egomaniacal visions simply overrode their normal human faculties? In many ways I think it would be fairly "easy" to be a genocidal dictator as opposed to a serial killer; the dictator has the advantage of delegation and thus both physical and psychological distance from his acts, and as mentioned his vision/ambitions provide him with moral justification, while at the same time the massive scale of what he does renders it numbingly incomprehensible.
Oh, and I changed my page to "Public" instead of "Private" - so, on the slim chance that you have the time and inclination to take a peek, you are now able to do so. :)
Once again, thanks for everything. xxx
Nikki
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 01/03/2007
From: Ryan Costa
Location: Ohio

I can't help but think of the Wall Street Sociopaths. The Thomas Friedmans, the Stephen Moores, the Ayn Rands. Chains of command and consultants so long no one is responsible for anything in the push button wars of the present. A generation of car addicted baby boomer chickenhawks trying to live up to the fantasies of movies about World War II.
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 01/03/2007
From: Greg Bear

Let's not confuse philosophy, enthusiasm, and personal drive--even extreme forms--for psychopathology. The psychopath has a real problem--not a problematic set of persuasions!
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 01/03/2007
From: Nikki
Location: Idaho

I haven't read up on any of this recently, but if I remember correctly psychopathology is, as the name would indicate, a psychological defect in which the psychopath has no sense of wrong and right. No moral sense or ethics; so he just does what he pleases. He really can't help himself. A sociopath, by contrast, understands the social conventions of right and wrong, but sees himself as above and beyond such trivialities; he is narcissistic to the point of having a God-complex and sees others as inferior beings who only have worth if they can serve his purposes at any given moment. So sociopathology is more of a personality disorder as opposed to a "true" mental defect.
Ryan, following 9/11 there was an excellent article in Tikkun magazine (Vol. 16, No. 6) called "Confronting Evil" by Andrew Kimbrell. Did you read it? It is in much the same vein as your comment, first outlining the difference between "Hot Evil" and "Cold Evil" and then delving into the anatomy of cold evil and what he calls the "Techno-Cocoon" which allows us to remain so distanced from the effects of our war-making. Very interesting reading.
 

Re: Minds that only mimic complete self-awareness
Date: 01/04/2007
From: Greg Bear

Apropos of this thread, I highly recommend Deirdre V. Lovecky's excellent book on Asperger's and Autism, DIFFERENT MINDS, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in the UK.

Why not a litter?

Date: 12/22/2006 From: Why not a litter?
Location:

This is generally about procreation, rather than specifically any of your books:

I was looking at some pictures of polar bears. Whether lying down, though particularly when walking upright, they seem very...human in form. And I very quickly thought through evolution, species relation, and bearing young. Which led me to: many animals - quadrupeds, in particular - have many offspring in one session. Humans can have twins, triplets, etc....why isn't this considered a litter?...and, more importantly, why are humans divergent in this biological aspect?
 

Re: Why not a litter?
Date: 12/22/2006
From: Greg Bear

Interesting question. Humans rarely have more than three, naturally; bears can have two, more typically--but I defer to the experts on this question. Any answers? As for why they're not called litters, that seems a question of tone, no? (And as for Komodo dragons and virgin birth, a news story recently, my son, Erik, did his research and informs me that female reptiles carry both sex chromosomes, males only only male chromosomes. Like birds. So virgin births from a female can produce both males and females in a litter--oops, nest!
 

Re: Why not a litter?
Date: 12/24/2006
From: patrick
Location:

This causes me to think a bit outside: there are some who believe humans are a mix of terrestrial and non-terrestrial creatures. If such were the case, then perhaps the male carrying the sex determinator was programmed in....that the male originally could decide on the sex of the offspring. The almost ultimate male power thing, mmm? Unless one believes, as I do, that both genders have the potential to control their bodies, determining by sheer will whether pregnancy will occur (in the female, fertilisation; in the male, the release of sperm, regardless of ejaculation - this latter of which I have experience in, and the former have observed).
 

Re: Why not a litter?
Date: 12/24/2006
From: Greg Bear

Interesting possibilities, but it begs the question: why? Maybe we're just the sexual equivalent for aliens of a game system--an XBox 360, say, which does sound like the name of a chromosome--but a female one!

Sheer will--is that like a sheer negligee?
 

Re: Why not a litter?
Date: 01/01/2007
From: ryan costa
Location: cleveland, ohio

Reproductive biology has played a strong part in our culture or psychology. If people regularly had 3 or more kids at a time, we would probably be much more warlike or brutal. This would mean outright war, ritual lethal combat, or infanticide/child-cide.

The politics of the war of the sexes would also be much different if women were only fertile once or twice a year.

Slant.

Date: 12/22/2006 From: Waldemar A Schmidt, PhD, MD
Location:

Just finished reading this book. Masterful depiction of a truly alient culture derived from present day events and trends. In my experience, getting the "other wordly" feel is not easily done. Lots try but few have succeeded the way you have here. Enjoyed it a lot and will be looking for more of your works. Best regards and happy holidays,
Waldemar.
 

Re: Slant.
Date: 12/22/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Waldemar. Always helps to have a little alien blood to draw from... which, to paraphrase Bob Bloch, I keep in a little jar on my desk!

Could You Give Me a Quote For My Novel?

Date: 12/22/2006 From: Mike Lynch
Location: United States

Dear Mr. Bear,

My name is Mike Lynch, and I have been a fan of science fiction since my youth. For the past few years I have channeled that enthusiasm into writing a science fiction novel of my own. After shopping the story around to different publishing houses, one of them wants to publish it. I was wondering if I could e-mail excerpts of my novel to you with the hope of getting a quote I can use to promote my book. I am not asking for much, just a sentence or two which conveys your feelings about the story that I can put on the cover. You can e-mail me back at this address with your reply.

Any help you can offer me in this regard is most appreciated.

Mike Lynch

Eon Challenge

Date: 12/20/2006 From: Andy Moore
Location: Tacoma, WA

Just finished browsing some of the graphics for the Eon Challenge, and I have a lot of misgivings. Seems to me that few of the people slinging pixels around have bothered to read your careful and detailed descriptions of scenes, let alone read the novel to get the whole human story. Sure, each of us probably paints a different mental picture while reading Eon, and I'm all in favor of granting a certain amount of artistic license. But one the things that makes all of your novels in general, and Eon (and Eternity) in particular, so enjoyable is the beautiful and intelligent images you paint with words.

Take, for just one example, Axis City. Your descriptions of each of the components of the City are fairly specific in terms of geometry, color, scale, features, and so on. And yet the entries I managed to view on the Eon Challenge (the website is horribly slow) missed the point completely. They were interesting and beautiful to various degrees, but they clearly did not really read and understand your prose. And most of the various scenes I've seen fail the capture the scale and grandeur of your novels...

If the Eon Challenge is just an artistic exercise, and the art that is submitted need only be "inspired" by Eon, then feel free to ignore my criticism as being too anal. But if any of these graphics are destined to be used in a motion picture (and I certainly hope that someday we see such a movie), I implore you to be selective, to hold out for visuals (as well as story/plot) to be as true to your original novel as practical. Eon has been my favorite novel for several decades, and if it can't be faithfully executed as a movie, I'd rather see no movie at all...

Respectfully yours,
Andy
 

Re: Eon Challenge
Date: 12/20/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Andy! No one ever said that you can force artists to read. Still, there are a surprising number of good artists in the Challenge who do seem to get the vision--and we'll see how it all turns out in late January, when the judging begins. (Some of the artists face difficulties finding editions of EON in other countries, or understanding the English excerpts posted on the web site--I think they're doing very brave work under the circumstances.)

Your point is well taken. Professionals do their homework--wannabes get winnowed out by very stiff competition. And all it takes is a few with vision and talent. 'Twas ever thus, no?
 

Re: Eon Challenge
Date: 12/21/2006
From: patrick
Location:

I would never've known about this if not for this posting. Was Patricia black?.....I need to read this, again.
 

Re: Eon Challenge
Date: 12/21/2006
From: Greg Bear

Patricia is Hispanic.
 

Re: Eon Challenge
Date: 12/21/2006
From: David Markwick
Location: United Kingdom

Hi Andy, I am actually one of the competition participants, specifically the Eon Trailer competition.

There is a wide scope of interpretation going on at the site, remember that it's a showcase for talents, and some people are amazing modelers (not me alas) and would like to put something of their own into the outcome. I think some amount of interpretation and even re-imagining is desirable given the large number of participants, although I would expect winning entries to be recognisably Eon in nature. The final result is all important, but remember Greg Bear himself is one of the judges :)

As an aside, the trailer outcome is particularly interesting to me, as the brief for the project states that "story is everything" and yet we only have 90 seconds or so to distill the salient story points. My own thoughts are that only enough of the story needs to be presented to "hook" target audiences in, so much of the storyline has been discarded (by me) and only what I would think of as the 3 main audience hooks are presented. This further limits the showing-off nature of all of us who participate (yes we're showing off ;)) in that we can only show the scenes for these hooks, and not necessarily the scenes we would like to work on.

My only concern for some of the trailer work going on is that some amount of Eon knowledge might be being assumed, whereas a trailer (in my view) needs to grab people who know nothing, and leave them wanting to know more.

And if book literal interpretation is a prerequisite then I'm out of the running because I've put in scenes that are not even in the book :D

Modesty and fairness forbids me from mentioning my competition username here ;)
 

Re: Eon Challenge
Date: 12/21/2006
From: Greg Bear

Actually, I look forward to seeing things I didn't imagine in the novel--as long as a scene follows the spirit! Filmmaking is definitely a collaborative art.

Hello from Djibouti

Date: 12/18/2006 From: Dwayne Overby
Location: Djibouti

Mr. Bear,
I took a Sci Fi literature class at NC State back in the mid 80's from John Kessel and anyway one of the stories I read was Blood Music and I've enjoyed your writing ever since. I'm deployed here in Djibouti and I found your book Darwin's Radio and it mentioned your website and so I just wanted to say hello and that I enjoy your writing.
Dwayne
 

Re: Hello from Djibouti
Date: 12/18/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Dwayne! Great to hear from our friends in sub-Saharan Africa. If you have time, I'd like to know more about your experiences there. Djibouti sounds like a fascinating place--learned to speak French yet? (And yes, I did just dip into the CIA World Factbook... I'm as ignorant as most of us about some of these far places.)
 

Re: Hello from Djibouti
Date: 12/19/2006
From: Dwayne Overby
Location: Djibouti

Greg,
Djibouti is hot, and it's basically a desert covered in volcanic rock. I didn't know anything about it until I came here. I signed up for a French class, but I had to be away to often to complete it. I'm part of an Anti-terrorism task force, trying to change hearts and minds, to use a worn out phrase. We are trying to increase the country and areas ability to provide it's population with medical and veterinary care.
Dwayne
 

Re: Hello from Djibouti
Date: 12/20/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hope it goes well for you out there! Very worthy work indeed. Understanding and winning hearts and minds, long-term, is the only possible way to prevail out there. Best of luck, and please let us know how things progress.

Mr. Bear, just wanted to compliment you on your amazing works.

Date: 12/13/2006 From: Tachyon
Location: Canada

I am a huge scifi fan, and a voracious reader. I have read several hundred novels and I have to say, your work stands out as by far my favourites go.
Azimov and Clarke, Bradbury, Welles, Verne are where all should start in scifi reading, then move to the likes of Niven, Pohl, Anderson, Card, etc. But when you become an experienced scifi consumer, in search of more. In search of depth and research and character development. When your mind has opened to the limitless possibilities of the universe, when you need to move to the final level, you read Bear.

My compliments, respect, and thanks. Thank you for taking me to the far reaches of the universe and beyond.

The Real Tachyon
 

Re: Mr. Bear, just wanted to compliment you on your amazing works.
Date: 12/13/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Tachyon! It's a great community of inspiration to grow up in.

Quantum Biology

Date: 12/10/2006 From: Michael Ronayne
Location: Nutley, New Jersey

Greg,

A recent research paper by Sean C. Lema and Gabrielle A. Nevitt suggests that some species of the desert pupfish are morphologically plastic and may exist in several forms depending on environmental factors such as temperature, water conditions and food availability. The paper is available here:

"Testing an ecophysiological mechanism of morphological plasticity in pupfish and its relevance to conservation efforts for endangered Devils Hole pupfish"
Sean C. Lema and Gabrielle A. Nevitt
J. Exp. Biol. 2006 209: 3499-3509.
http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/abstract/209/18/3499?

Additional information can be found at the following web pages:

"Extreme environment changes fish appearance"
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-10/uoc--eec101206.php

"WHAT MAKES DEVILS HOLE PUPFISH SPECIAL?"
http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/209/18/i

If environmental factors can cause the Amargosa River pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis amargosae) to morph into a facsimile of the Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) and visa versa, an obvious question is: are the two species unique or are they two morphological manifestations of the same species? Are there other species which will do the same thing?

This is almost quantum biology, where one species can exist in two states depending on environmental factors. I am not sure that I would call this quantum evolution as the genetic coding for both forms is already present in the genome. This reminds me of the stories written by Hal Clement such as Cycle of Fire.

Michael Ronayne
Nutley, New Jersey


p.s. I have the PDF if you want a copy.
 

Re: Quantum Biology
Date: 12/11/2006
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Michael! This is very interesting work indeed. We know about genetic plasticity in bacteria--and there have been strong hints in metazoans--multi-celled organisms. Plasticity in vertebrates might also be reflected in Lake Victoria cichlids, and is likely to be much more widespread than conventional thinking would lead us to believe. We respond to our environment in almost every other way imaginable--why not genetically? The mechanisms that could facilitate such change are being revealed right now. Epigenesis--the switching on or off of genes--is just one potential technique for phylogenetic change. Genes, as it turns out, are a small part of the information and "learned responses" encoded in DNA!

These pupfish, by the way, live close to my favorite desert town, Shoshone, California--and not far from the volcanic outcrop where I set the beginning of my novel, THE FORGE OF GOD.

Water on Mars

Date: 12/06/2006 From: Terran
Location: Winter Park, FL

Just saw this NASA post about the possibility of flowing water on Mars and thought your readers would be interested:


http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mars/news/mgs-20061206.html
 

Re: Water on Mars
Date: 12/06/2006
From: Greg Bear

Something fluid is on the move! Thanks, Terran.

Causality Experiment

Date: 12/06/2006 From: John Koziol
Location: Tallahassee, FL

Hi Greg,

Apparently, there is a means to test time causality as mentioned here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15817394/

I have to admit, to a degree, this freaks me out as it is a fundamental test of the elasticity of spacetime in my opinion. On one hand, I'd love for the experiment to succeed because that'd open the door for the "many worlds" hypothesis. On the other, if the universe is rigid this might be the "God takes his dice and goes home" trigger.

What say you? Does this rank along with changing the false vacuum state or am I being paranoid?


 

Re: Causality Experiment
Date: 12/06/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, John! John Cramer (mentioned prominently in this piece) is one of our brightest Seattle folks, and I highly recommend his novel TWISTOR and columns in ANALOG, also available on his web site,

http://faculty.washington.edu/jcramer/

Testing quantum entanglement is cool, but I'm not sure that it will confirm or deny time travel to the past. "Spooky action at a distance" has its own intriguing possibilities, however! No one has yet figured out how to transport large quantities of information using entangled photons, however, so FTL seems held at bay for the moment.
 

Re: Causality Experiment
Date: 12/06/2006
From: John Koziol
Location: Tallahassee, FL

I wasn't thinking about time travel, just causality. For example, if Cramer stops the beam before it is sent but was already detected 50 microseconds ago. If it's not sent, how could it have been detected.

Also, if I recall my creaky quantum physics, it's theoretically impossible to convey information via quantum entanglement.

Now my head hurts
 

Re: Causality Experiment
Date: 12/06/2006
From: Greg Bear

If information other than the state change can be conveyed between entangled particles, this does indeed become an open question, or at least a new kind of question. I never was very convinced by classic, formal causality to begin with... Too rigid for a happening place like our universe-- like a very tight tuxedo!
 

Re: Causality Experiment
Date: 12/07/2006
From: patrick
Location:

Hmhmhmhm. For a somewhat parallel direction, you might be interested in Fred Alan Wolf.

Missing Poul

Date: 12/04/2006 From: Chris Stevenson
Location: Hemet, CA in the Pleistocene

It's taken me years to get up the courage to write this. Please forgive if it's off-topic. I thought that you would surely understand. I miss Poul Anderson, so very, very much. I've been misting up sporadically ever since his passing. You see, His Vigrin Planet was my first intro to SF. After I joined the SFWA back in 1990, Poul and I became correspondants for a bit, sharing at least two dozen letters. He became my mentor, of sorts. I loved his voice and style of writing so much that I wrote like him, learned so much from him. He taught me about mood, color, and atmosphere.

Today I owe my talent, if that is what I have, to my assoication to that wonderful man. He took the time out for this newbie back then--was always a postive charge and delightful person. The impact has stayed with me all these years, and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of his wonderful stories, sense of irony and humor.

So, Greg and Astrid, may I say that I share a strange kinship with you via some glorious memories. I just thought that I could release these pent-up emotions by finally telling the ones he loved, and were close to him, just how special he was, and how he affected my life.

To this day, I hope there is more than a little of Poul in everthing I write. A few people seem to think so. I take great pride in saying that he does indeed live on in me, and it all my scribbings.

Thanks for listening.

PS And Greg, what a wonderful talent you turned out to be! You're the second greatest writer in the world.

Sincerely,

Chris Stevenson
 

Re: Missing Poul
Date: 12/04/2006
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks for writing, Chris. We do indeed share a love for Poul, and I was privileged to know him as both a mentor and a father-in-law. Fond memories include having him help me work out orbits while I was writing THE FORGE OF GOD...

And before that, we also exchanged letters and I enjoyed Poul and Karen's company at many conventions. Poul touched a great many lives with his generosity and talent and intelligence. We all miss him.
 

In Memoriam
Date: 02/04/2007
From: Sean M. Brooks
Location: Massachusetts

Dear Mr. Bear, I hope I might be permitted to bug you a bit on a possibly minor point. One of the books I have is
FOUNDATION'S FRIENDS: STORIES IN HONOR OF ISAAC ASIMOV, edited by Martin H. Greenberg (Tor Books: 1989). A collection of stories to honor Isaac Asimov on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first pro publication of an SF story by him.
Many of the stories in this work greatly pleased me. And it aroused the hope a similar volume honoring Poul Anderston would be pub. in 1997 (which was the 50th anniversary of PA's first professional sale of an SF story: "Tomorrow's Children." Alas, I was disappointed not to see anything like that either in 1997 or 1998.
My question: was there such a commemorative volume? Perhaps I merely missed it. If not, I hope SOMETHING like this will be done. Even if posthumously.

Sincerely. Sean M. Brooks


 

In Memoriam
Date: 02/04/2007
From: Greg Bear

A retrospective collection, GOING FOR INFINITY, was published shortly after Poul's passing, with his own notes on his stories, and there may be another in the works.

I have read several of your books...

Date: 11/29/2006 From: John G. Brown
Location: Tamuning, Guam USA

Sir,

I have read 'Darwin's Radio' and the 'Eon' series of books as well as 'Anvil of the Stars' and its sequel. Of all the works I have read by you, the 'Eon' series stands out as one of the most imaginative and breathtaking that I have ever read. I am enthralled by the infinite possibilities of The Way.
I have been rereading that series and have discovered things that I didn't realize the first time. I have read many books and have written a few short stories and would also like one day to write a book about time travel from an aspect that has yet to be discussed. At any rate, I consider books to be well written if i read them more than once. Yours are most enjoyable and I thank you.

Take care,

John G. Brown
TSA Guam USA
 

Re: I have read several of your books...
Date: 11/29/2006
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, John! In some respects, CITY AT THE END OF TIME--currently in progress--stretches a bit farther out than EON... I'm looking forward to your reaction. Last time I stopped in Guam was on a flight to the Philippines in the 1950s! If I remember correctly, we also stopped in Hawaii... Before the days of big jets and nonstop.
 

Re: I have read several of your books...
Date: 11/29/2006
From: patrick
Location:

You was just a little tyke, then, Greg.
 

Re: I have read several of your books...
Date: 11/29/2006
From: Michael Pine
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Austrlia

Greg,

City At The End Of Time, Do you actually have a date when that is going to be released or is it one of those when it is ready cases :)

Waiting in much anticipation.
 

Re: I have read several of your books...
Date: 11/29/2006
From: Greg Bear

About six!
 

Re: I have read several of your books...
Date: 11/29/2006
From: Greg Bear

No date set yet--possibly end of 2007, early 2008. We do have Orion on board as our UK publisher. I hope to finish it soon in rough draft...
 

Re: I have read several of your books...
Date: 12/01/2006
From: Donnie
Location: California

Mr. Bear, Darwins Radio and Darwins Children were sci fi fantasy at is best in my opinion. I would like to point out however that some of us tight ass republicans actually believe in evolution. I myself believe that a vast number of descent humans today evolved from democrats. Derivative of a sleeper virus most likely. A virus that can be witnessed constantly effecting most democrats. Just a tad bit offened by your political attacks as you can see. I thoroughly enjoyed your books however. Please keep em coming.
 

Re: I have read several of your books...
Date: 12/01/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for you kind words, Donnie! And for your gentle chiding--which is always welcome on this blog.

You may have noted that I'm not a hardliner on some evolutionary principles--such as random variation. Nor am I a hardliner on political parties, as anyone would know who's read my previous books. (The wayward president in THE FORGE OF GOD is a Democrat.) And both parties come in for some sharp invective in QUANTICO. But my most basic principle is that anyone who's been in power too long, starts to stink. And anyone who plans to keep our system a one-party system forever and ever and ever--and turns national tragedy into political fodder, meant to last forever and ever and ever--needs to spend some hard time in the ol' woodshed. Believe me, Donnie, the Democrats are now getting the same skeptical eye I deliver to the Republicans when they act like horse's asses. They better do right by our country, or I'll let them know about it! (And you let me know when I screw up. Deal?)

question about darwin's children

Date: 11/29/2006 From: k dufford
Location: cincinnati, ohio

In your story about darwin's children, you used the term "bitch godess". I believe it was alluding to nature or genetics.... After I read your book, I read "Lady Chatterly's Lover", where I encountered the same phrase; "bitch-godess" about 5 times throughout. Did you get your idea from this book? (It was written in 1968) Or is it two human minds trying to express a similar sentiment?
 

Re: question about darwin's children
Date: 11/29/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing! (May I call you k?) D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover is a classic, written quite a while before 1968--first privately published in 1928, and very mild by today's standards. Lawrence's biography is fascinating--especially his hopes for freedom of society and expression between the sexes, and the difficulties he actually faced dealing with such matters. While I don't remember grabbing the phrase from his novel, it's possible, but it certainly has currency elsewhere. Of course, in DARWIN'S CHILDREN I'm referring to nature's difficult nurturing-destructive aspects--and so was Lawrence, I suspect!

Question to "Quantico" - Special Agent Winter

Date: 11/26/2006 From: Michael Sprotte
Location: Germany

Dear Greg,
with delight and emphasis I'm just reading your novel "Quantico". Once more a great one!
I wonder, if Chao's description of Agent Winter's genetic physic's structure is more "fiction" or near to "science".
May I get more information of this item by you? Which are your sources?
Sincerely Your's

Michael
 

Re: Question to
Date: 11/26/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Michael! To the best of my knowledge, we have yet to find a chimeric individual quite like
former Special Agent Winter. Just in the news recently, however, we have an example of "fetus in fetu," or a boy born with its partially developed twin in its abdomen. (Both Henry S. Whitehead and Stephen King have written about absorbed twins, quite effectively.) Twins united and born as one completely healthy, integrated individual are likely extremely rare, but I suspect they're out there. Winter's case--well, let's not make this a spoiler for the rest of the readers!
 

Re: Question to
Date: 12/03/2006
From: DMarkwick
Location: UK

I saw a documentary recently about real-life chimeras, very interesting it was too. There's very little reason for any chimera to come to public notice for any reason other than an unusual medical problem or a criminal investigation I suppose. There were examples of people with different DNA profiles related to their reproductive organs, the case of a woman who was apparently unrelated to her own children was very interesting.

I was particularly taken with one image of a chimera's torso: it had what I can only describe as a "checkerboard" pattern, where one skin tone was obviously different to the other. It was symmetrical down the middle with alternate skin tones on one side then the other. I had no idea that the human body could possibly divide itself like that, with perfectly rectangular skin borders, I would have said it was impossible if I hadn't seen it. I have no idea if symmetrical organs (such as eyes for example) could have different DNA profiles but after looking at the torso images I guess anything might be possible :)
 

Re: Question to
Date: 12/04/2006
From: Greg Bear

Fascinating stuff, David! The study of chimeric individuals is just getting started. Who knows what nature can cook up, under the right circumstances? After all, genetics is all about customization and making things work together...
 

Re: Question to
Date: 12/12/2006
From: David Markwick
Location: United Kingdom

Thinking about it further, I suppose one beneficial advantage to studying chimeric individuals is in the field of transplant surgery. Getting different DNA profiles to live withing the same body without a lifetime dependant on suppressive drugs can only be A Good Thing :)

If the technology can be extended further then the dream of growing human-compatible organs from animals (as I have read is being researched) is possible. And so much more besides, I wonder where it can possibly lead.
 

Re: Question to
Date: 12/13/2006
From: Greg Bear

Indeed. A lot of interesting questions here--the biggest being, how do cells of differing genotypes learn to get along with each other?

Real life reflection of the book, "Darwins Radio"

Date: 11/21/2006 From: Merriel Sanders
Location: Cebu City, Philippines

First I read the book, "Darwins Radio", then I find this review of a book supporting the science behind the book, what next??
............................................
The Dark Side of DNA
Fred Gould
Genes in Conflict: The Biology of Selfish Elements. Austin Burt and Robert Trivers. x + 602 pp. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006. $35.

Although many of us have gotten used to the idea that our bodies serve the needs of a variety of viruses, bacteria, mites and other parasitic species, it comes as a surprise to most people when they hear that their bodies are also hosting alien parasitic DNA.

from the website:
http://www.americanscientist.org/template/BookReviewTypeDetail/assetid/54050
 

Re: Real life reflection of the book,
Date: 11/21/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for the link, Merriel. We do indeed seem to be fancy spaceships for bacteria--and viruses!

Evolution and scent

Date: 11/18/2006 From: Les Peterson
Location:

Dear Greg,

I enjoyed greatly the hints of the children's world-to-be you fictionalized in the Darwin Series. The adaptations of the children were a fascinating response to a continually dysfunctional, urbanizing enviornment. The scene in Darwin's Children where the girls seem to be communicating almost-what? transdimensionally?- was most intriguing.
I am, however, curious as to why you choose the scenting concept, and the development of the vomeronasal organ as a key component of this biologic/evolutionary enhancement. I, perhaps like others, have always considered the attraction by pheromones, and the vomeronasal organ to be vestigial, if you will, not a direction evolution might take, but one we as Homo sapiens might be leaving behind. How did you decide on this idea?
 

Re: Evolution and scent
Date: 11/20/2006
From: Greg Bear

Most current research indicates that the human pheromone receptors are far more active and important than once thought. Best references: J.V. Kohl's books on scent and human behavior, particularly THE SCENT OF EROS. We seem to have far more genes coding for these receptors than once anticipated, and they have practical effects on our lives--mate choice, for example! So--not really all that vestigial, just not to be discussed in polite company (sniff).
 

Re: Evolution and scent
Date: 11/20/2006
From: Les Peterson
Location:

Thanks for the clarification. It appears I have some reading to do to start getting caught up!

Tranhumanism

Date: 11/15/2006 From: kurt
Location:

Greg, I read a recent interview of you. It seems you don't care much for life extension. Other than restricting reproduction (to prevent overpopulation) what other restrictions did you have in mind for us to live indefinitely long youthful life spans?

We really are committed to achieving this goal. Serious money is starting to flow into this endevour. I also read somewhere that the South Korean government has started to finance research aimed at understanding aging. Some of us do not have alot of time to waste in achieving this (I just turned 30).

You should understand, those of us who are into radical life extension are into it because we intensely dislike the conventional life cycle. We consider a prison that we want to break out of. We aspire to the "lazarus long" life style (defined as where you cruise around doing all kinds of different stuff, having many different careers and what not). I think such will become the norm in a post-mortal society.

If we have to give up having kids to have this, so be it. I have no problem with it. It is a small price to pay.

It would seem in the long run (more than 50-100 years out) that we will get into space, one way or another. This should certainly give us all the room (lebensraum) to be able to do whatever we want (including living forever) without stepping on each other toes and to go our separate, desparate ways. Perhaps you would prefer to see the space thing take off before we get the cure for aging. I can understand this point of view.

BTW, have you heard of Aubry de Grey and SENS? The SENS website is at www.sens.org. There is a section that answers all of the "social" objections to life extension.
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/15/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, kurt! I have one major objection to indefinite life extension. Not everyone can experience indefinite life extension--even if they forego having children, which most won't anyway. (Vows get broken. The instinct is to have a family and kids.) Therefore, only a select few--almost certainly the wealthier individuals--will benefit from the procedure. That's not terrible in and of itself--but as the wealth and power of these "immortals" continues to grow, they will become tremendous burdens on their communities over the centuries. With money, their political power will also grow. Without children, these individuals will feel no need to do other than amass wealth and increase their power, no matter what the cost to society. With children--wealthy, powerful individuals throughout history have tended to have LOTS of children. Thus, each "immortal" will behave much as tumor cells do in a body--suck up more than his or her share of resources, lose any sense of responsibility, and cause tremendous damage to the health and welfare of the community as a whole. If they have children, those children will no doubt wish to be immortal. This is called metastasis. The parallel is exact, the metaphor is strong.

The almost inevitable social reaction against such individuals--the immune response, so to speak--will probably render their treatments moot.

I've given additional objections in my novel, VITALS, and also recommend Joe Haldeman's THE LONG HABIT OF LIVING (AKA BUYING TIME) for some possible work-arounds that don't quite work as planned. For the emotional cost of long life without parity, there's Poul Anderson's BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS and of course Robert Heinlein's METHUSELAH'S CHILDREN and subsequent Lazarus Long stories.
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/15/2006
From: Nick Riggs
Location:

Greg, what you say may be true, providing only a limited number of individuals become immortal.

However, if immortals don't suffer from age-related infirmities (otherwise why bother?), and the cost of the immortality treatment is not exorbitant, then countries with national health care (such as the UK) may make immortality mandatory at a certain age, say 45, in order to reduce the state's crippling and spiralling health costs.
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/15/2006
From: kurt
Location:

It is true that rich people, once they make it, often become parasites and try to "kick down the ladder" so others cannot make it as well (we call such people "limousine liberals"). I understand your point about this. Adam Smith talked about this issue (the first thing two capitalist do when they get together is to conspire to keep out the third).

I think your argument is more a criticism of socialistic economic policy than of immortalism, per se. Free market capitalism is inherently open and dynamic, a positive sum game. As long as post-mortals engage in productive enterprise (that is, continue to engage in wealth creating activities like developing new technology and products, starting new businesses, etc.), would they not add value to the surounding communities, rather than "consume" or take value away (I believe this is called "trickle down")?

Also, is it not possible that post-mortals may choose to form their own communities (city-states and the like) politically independent of others? It seems that this option will become available once we get out into space. It seems that this option could be available on Earth (the 1000 state sovereignty model).

I read "Time Enough for Love". I have not read any of the other Heinlein stuff. I read "Pandora's Star" by Peter Hamilton, which also portrays an immortalist society.

I'm sure when the treatments first come out, they will be quite expensive. However, as with all technology, the costs should come down over time. Also, much of the treatments are gene therapy type stuff, which should eventually become as cheap as vaccines. it seems to me that the economic class/access problem would resolve itself over time.

Also, "immortality" treatments have market economies of scale (everyone has the aging problem) that most other medical therapies do not. That should further accelerate the cost/performance progression.
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/15/2006
From: kurt
Location:

Your response prompted a memory of a discussion I had with a friend around 1990 or so. Changing the tax base from income tax or VAT to a fixed asset based tax would resolve your objection to immortality.

Under the current system, taxes are levied on wealth creation activities in the form of either an income, capital gains, or VAT tax. Fixed assets are not taxed. Such a tax base favors the already wealthy and further entrenches their wealth into the system. It also encourages the already wealthy to invest their money into fixed assets such as real estate (that are often finite in supply), which further concentrates wealth and ties it up in a form which does not really benefit everyone else. If that money were to be invested into productive enterprise instead, then that wealth generates all of the new technologies, products, and opportunites that, by definition, benefits the rest of us.

If the tax system was changed to a fixed asset based tax (first residence excluded - the details have to be worked out) and eliminating income and other tax, the already wealthy would have far more encentive to invest in productive enterprise, rather than to engage in speculation games of fixed, finite supply assets such as real estate. A more specific benefit of this would be to encourage investment in space enterprise and to help us get out into space.

Over the time scales of greater than, say, 100-200 years, we should be in space in a big way and the concept of the finite community will be obsoleted.
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/15/2006
From: Greg Bear

We can propose ideal situations all we want--we simply don't know how expensive such treatments will be, or how long they must be maintained. A one-shot treatment followed by perfect health forever is more than unlikely--it would probably go up against certain immutable laws of physics. Nanotech--a dream, to be sure, but how often must it be renewed, and how dangerous could it be if it went wrong? No--the economics argument doesn't impress me. And if everyone gets the treatment--or everyone who wants it--there had better be some very inexpensive and efficient escape valves to get populations off the planet earth!
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/15/2006
From: Greg Bear

Again, to many suppositions, too many idealizations, too many theories. Biology--and politics, and economics--are much messier in practice.
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/15/2006
From: Greg Bear

All worthy points--but they don't get around the immortal truths that the rich get richer, and the old tend to be richer than the young, the the ladies tend to prefer rich to poor, and prosperity and health tend to multiply indefinitely. As well, we must consider how dense populations can get within our solar system over, say, a thousand to ten thousand years--and given FTL star travel, over a hundred thousand years. I believe Isaac Asimov once calculated (for a 1960s TV GUIDE article) that given present rates of procreation, unchanged and unrestrained, within a hundred thousand years or so, every bit of mass in the galaxy would be made of human flesh--immortal, but how happy? (Actually, I believe he was assuming present-day rates of mortality--and probably only a hundred billion or so stars.)

And you WILL live to see it! Given certain ideal conditions, of course.
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/17/2006
From: patrick
Location:

Ya all are fixated on one crucial element, here: economic system. Dispel this concept, dispel the agency of currency, dispel the concept of career....the need to work....and you have a leisure society:

Leisure (funxional):

A lifestyle or existence that is based in the exploration of consciousness through physical and mental pleasure and progress. (No, this is not Hedonistic - read on...) This is informed by a principle of basic research (funxionality), whereby one openly presents themself to the cosmos rather than actively approaching or seeking. Accordingly, the constant optimisation inherent in the process relinquishes the need for and of labor. As the paradigm is holarchical and singular (non-dualistic), there is no moral frame of reference.
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/17/2006
From: Greg Bear

Sounds wonderful to me--now, cite me some examples in nature and/or history, where the seeker/learner survives! Of course, with proper extreme conditioning...
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/19/2006
From: Patrick
Location:

Greg, least of all from you would I have thought to hear alluded, 'where has it been, so how can it be?'.

And, in response to the latter part:

"Focus on problems - the Universe hands you more. Focus on creative ideas (not solutions) and the Universe sends people, information, events and circumstances your way to help you 'make it happen'."

- Matt Furey
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/19/2006
From: Tim Beaulieu
Location: Presque Isle, Maine

Your repsonses to life-extension seem very reasonable, given humankind's current cognitive abilities. Now we know that the human brain functions at approximately ten to the sixteenth power operations per second and the total amount of information in a human brain equals about one hundred terabytes, and we STILL only use about ten percent of our total capacity. What would you say to these problems if we were able to surpass that? The dorsal and median raphe nuclei of the brain are currently thought to be the primary limiters on brain activity (as posited by Howard V. Hendrix in his novel 'Lightpaths' and its sequel 'Standing Wave'). Say that we could damp them down and reach almost one hundred percent activity (and prevent brain burnout while we were doing it). What would your answer be to the economic fallbacks if we had people who were capable of thinking of solutions almost before they finshed hearing the problem? Personally, I think such people would almost never be safe, because they would be viewed as EXTREMELY valuable military assets. What do you think?
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/20/2006
From: Greg Bear

This "ten percent capacity" idea goes back a long ways--and it's wrong. The human brain uses nearly all its capacity, it just doesn't use it for upper-brain thinking. Running the body and regulating subconscious, so-called "sub-rational" activity is what keeps us alive long enough to get some upper-brain thinking done. Consider, for example, the extraordinary ability the body has to walk or run around in changing conditions (or to play Ping-Pong). Assign those tasks to the cerebral cortex, and you'd fall over. Haven't yet read Howard's book--perhaps he'd like to comment?
 

Re: Tranhumanism
Date: 11/20/2006
From: patrick
Location:

Ya, I've long thought the same as you, Greg. The 'ten percent' gig I think is a popcul myth (at least in its perpetuation). It shares company with the 'big brain' theory. From what I've read, it comes down to density of neural proliferation and connection. Although, if there is some kind of photonic, gravitonic, or exotic quantum signature to consciousness, then a couple things are possible: that transcendence is a release of the physical anchoring to brain; that one can extend cognition hyperspatially. (Or realise this inherent capacity.)

Kaye's changes in "Darwin's Radio"

Date: 11/09/2006 From: Emily
Location: Provo Utah

Dear Mr. Bear,

I'm yet another of the students from the science and literature course at BYU.

I wanted to ask about your thought process as you created the character of Kaye Lang in "Darwin's Radio". As I read, I couldn't help but notice that she seemed to undergo multiple sort of mini-revolutions - from wife to widow to lover to Eve figure, from an independent scientist to a pawn and back again, from pro-choice activist to the voice for letting babies be born, among others. The one that was most interesting to me was her role as kind of a new mother/Eve figure that had never been before. (This is possibly because my first baby is six months old.)

My question for you is simply this: why was she married at the beginning of the book? Did she need to have experienced the "traditional" sort of marriage with Saul and then progress to a relationship that was new to her in order to make her fit for the job as Stella Nova's mom? Was it essential to her character to have been through so many of the phases of a woman's existence before she could be an "Eve"?

Thanks. ~Emily
 

Re: Kaye's changes in
Date: 11/10/2006
From: Greg Bear

There are lots of currents back and forth in Kaye's life, and I think most of us--male and female--go through similar loop-the-loops before we find out who and what we actually are. Saul, Kaye's first husband, is both partner in her biotech endeavors and a man suffering from severe stress, which pushes him over the edge. Later, Kaye and Mitch will learn that the overwhelming stress of the 20th century helped push the human race into speciation. Saul is a microcosm reflecting the larger issue--we're having a hard time getting along with each other. We don't communicate all that well.

Mitch is a hardier breed, but has gone through his own failures and tough rites of passage before Kaye meets him--at which point, their quests intersect. Is Kaye using Mitch? Perhaps--but it's definitely love, and they will be put through their severest test in DARWIN'S CHILDREN.

Most of my novels take advantage of smaller instances of character reflecting the larger themes of history and humanity.

It's a peculiar fact of life that sometimes our mistakes or missteps--even our broken and troubled relationships--are not so much failures, as necessary stages. They give us the perspective necessary to reach our full maturity.

Every aspect of human experience is both derived from, and reflected in, biology. We learn as individuals, as a culture, as a species--and the genome learns as well.

Have you seen this? Congratulations on your prescience!

Date: 11/04/2006 From: adam Holland
Location: Boston, MA

Viral Fossil Brought Back to Life

http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2006/1101/4?rss=1
 

Re: Have you seen this? Congratulations on your prescience!
Date: 11/06/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Adam! This one does indeed sound very familiar to me--I lived with this scenario, as I researched and wrote DARWIN'S RADIO and DARWIN'S CHILDREN, for almost ten years!

mankind's egocentrism

Date: 11/02/2006 From: Leisa
Location: Provo, UT

Dear Mr. Bear,

I am taking the Science and Literature course at BYU that I'm sure my classmates have mentioned to you in other messages.

I found Darwin's Radio to be very thought provoking. I've been thinking about how egocentric humans are. As a human, I'll use the pronoun we, but I realize that by using this collective pronoun I am indicting myself as well. We are self-centered, and I think that the depiction you give of paleontological and biological research shows this well. We constantly are trying to defend our position in the present as the logical, rational life form that can create technology and use the resources of the world to our advantage. We defend this position by defining what is not us in relation to ourselves. We are threatened by the past and the possibility that we are not as different from neanderthals as we originally imagined ourselves to be. There are various reactions to this threat from the past: we label it to be different from us or we appropriate it and use it as justification for our central position.

You show that the future is also a great threat to mankind's centralism. The characters label SHEVA as a disease, and use all of their resources to stop the changes that it will cause. Their failures and stopping it threatens and challenges their knowledge and ability to use the revelation of the virus to their advantage. The characters fear the disease as a threat to their existence as they are in the present. Thus, they fear the future as a threat to their central position.

It seems to me that you present a very pessimistic outlook on whether or not we can escape this desire to be central. As the novel proceeds, the reader is forced to realize that the characters that were central to the novel are just peripheral characters; they are not mainstream, in fact they are marginalized renegades. The fact that Stella Nova meets the other homo sapiens novus and wants to be with people like her shows this human need to feel centralized by being among people like her, even though she is theoretically more advanced than us. Does this mean that evolution cannot get rid of this desire for centrality?

Furthermore, Stella spends no time without language. I've been reading a lot lately about how language creates the subject "I," and that the very structure of language requires the different between the I and the you, or any other for that matter. The fact that Stella takes no time to acquire the perception of that difference makes her instantly self-aware and conscious of her differences and her existence as an individual. Granted, she is able to speak with multiple voices simultaneously, but this still requires an other, a listener at very least. What positives do you see arising from the immediate language abilities that Stella has?

Thanks for any comments that come to mind, and for sharing your thoughts on mankind in your novel.

best,
Leisa
 

Re: mankind's egocentrism
Date: 11/03/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Leisa! Sounds like a great discussion going on in your class--and a very thoughtful response from you. Being a social animal pretty much requires some form or another of "tribal" thinking--family, neighborhood, church, nation, world. Because of our need to fit into the most immediate social group, to get paid, raise and educate our children, seek medical help, overcome our traumas, etc., we react--often negatively--to challenges to that social group, whether justified or not. These challenges and our reactions, in a healthy society, add up to a balance which benefits the greatest number. The society becomes unhealthy (and unstable) when one individual or group perpetually benefits while others perpetually suffer.

One of our greatest problems remains communication within our groups--and with other groups outside of our immediate alliances. Stella Nova and her peers are not necessarily smarter or superior to us, individually-but they are much more sensitive to what is being communicated by others. They are more efficient at this essential part of being social--interacting and expressing needs and opinions.

Not perfect, just better talkers... And listeners! (And--probably the most dangerous new talent--they know when another member of their group is lying. Instinctively. Conversely, to lie for one's own selfish advantage causes an individual to feel real pain.)
 

Re: mankind's egocentrism
Date: 01/16/2007
From: Bryan
Location: New South Wales, Australia

Or perhaps, Leisa, evolution is about humankind receiving ego-consciousness and developing it to higher levels. Being able to say "I" is humankind's crowning achievement thus far in evolution- it's just that these beings who can say "I" haven't overcome desire (among other things) yet!

Retrovirus brought back to life

Date: 11/02/2006 From: Dave
Location: WI

Longtime fan here. Thank you for existing. I thought you might find this article interesting:

http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2006/1101/4

"In a controversial study, researchers have resurrected a retrovirus that infected our ancestors millions of years ago and now sits frozen in the human genome."

Made me think of you when I saw it. Looking forward to reading Quantico. Any rough idea when the City at the Edge of Time will be published? Next year?
 

Re: Retrovirus brought back to life
Date: 11/02/2006
From: Greg Bear

Interesting piece, Dave! Thanks for bringing it to our attention. One more piece to fill in the puzzle. QUANTICO will be published this spring in the U.S. by Vanguard Press, and CITY AT THE END OF TIME may be published in late 2007, early 2008. Have to get it finished first!

Science and Literature

Date: 11/01/2006 From: Greg Baum
Location: Provo, UT

Dear Mr. Bear,

My name is Greg Baum, and I'm studying comparative literature at Brigham Young University. One of my classes deals with the relationship between science and literature, and in that class we are reading your book Darwin's Radio. I was wondering what background you have in literature and science. Did you study one and have the other as a hobby? Or were they both part of your formal studies? Could you tell me a little about how your background with two seemingly different disciplines led you to writing? I'd appreciate any input you have, because I have a very limited background with science, and so I'm trying to bridge that gap. Your book is my first experience with "hard" sci-fi, and I really enjoy it. Thanks again.

Greg Baum
 

Re: Science and Literature
Date: 11/02/2006
From: Greg Bear

Good to hear from you, Greg! I'm mostly self-educated in science, though I did take a science minor with my bachelor degree in English. For me, science is more than a hobby--it's a passion. Discovery--vicariously, more often than not, by reading the research done by working scientists--is part of my everyday life. And trying to bring together the humanities and the sciences--to make them part of the full spectrum of human activities--is a substantial part of my mission.
 

Re: Science and Literature
Date: 11/03/2006
From: Zach
Location: Provo, UT

Aside from science articles, do you induldge in philosophy of science like Thomas Kuhn. I noticed several changing paradoxes in Darwins Radio, so I was wondering how much philosophy you incorporated. Along the same lines, was the Stella Nova idea partly inspired by the christian shift in religion? You do mention immaculate conception and a million baby Jesuses, so it seemed like you had a religious paradox shift in mind as well as scientific.
 

Re: Science and Literature
Date: 11/03/2006
From: Greg Bear

Actually, I got "immaculate conception" wrong, and should have called it "virgin birth," which is also not quite appropriate from a Christian perspective. Immaculate conception refers to Mary being born without original sin. And none of my SHEVA moms are virgins! So--secondary conception without an additional sexual act? Tough to label in religious terms...

But to get to your real point, I have no doubt that an event like a new species--a new type of human--would cause real shock waves in any society, religious or not. We have to create new metaphors and new myths when we face such challenges--or modify our older myths. (I'm one of those people who do not consider the word "myth" a pejorative--using the wider, anthropological definition made popular most recently by Joseph Campbell.)
 

Re: Science and Literature
Date: 04/30/2007
From: Patrick McGinley
Location: Pismo Beach, Calif.

I am a longtime fan and have just finished "Quantico."
Children are so utterly subordinate to and dependant upon their parents that they will love and revere a parent(s),
even if they are mistreated and abused.
That being said do you think it is wrong to teach
children religion before they have basic education? I guess I really mean religious indoctrination, either by a parent or another authority figure.
I once was smug and contemptuous towards the claims of religion but now I think it is dangerous in it's own right and not because it is used in conjunction with those seeking power. The Darwin books and Quantico seem to demonstrate this idea.
 

Re: Science and Literature
Date: 05/03/2007
From: Greg Bear

Religion is a part of every culture. Intolerance and violence also exist among those who espouse no particular religion--witness Stalin and Hitler. To paraphrase--it isn't religion that kills, but zealots with an intolerant view of faith. One of the central messages in QUANTICO is that it isn't belief that leads to war and violence, it is the refusal to actually pay attention to the core values of most religions--that is, pride and hate overcome any willingness to actually "listen to God."
 

Re: Science and Literature
Date: 05/08/2007
From: Patrick McGinley
Location: Pismo Beach, Calif.

In regards to your point about listening to God I agree. But the powerful religions have sequestered God and even hold God hostage. I know that any and all dictionaries define God as separate and apart from institutional spirituality but those same institutions have muddied the distinction and present themselves as one and the same.
I am re-reading Sagan's "Contact." Dr. Arroway has the right idea of listening to God. She listens to music, of the spheres no less.

P.S. I hope we haven't heard the last of "Queen of Angels," Mary Chong.

good physics info

Date: 11/01/2006 From: patrick
Location:

You probably use this resource, Greg, but for the readers who ask you about new physics developments and such related to your writing. Also, perhaps Terran could make a sort of sticky(ies) (or maybe a FAQ) for things like this, and for particular posts you've answered that may seem like potential returners.

http://physicsweb.org/articles/news
 

Re: good physics info
Date: 11/01/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for the link, Patrick!
 

Re: good physics info
Date: 11/02/2006
From: Terran
Location: Florida

Thanks for the suggestion, Patrick - I didn't see an RSS feed for that site (maybe I just missed it?) but I've added a link to the site itself on the "Science News" page (see link at the bottom of this page).

I like the idea of flagging certain discussion threads, too - I'll look into that.

new book

Date: 10/31/2006 From: Stephen Godshall
Location:

I felt that Darwin's Radio was a truly great novel providing a solid presentation of an excellent theory on how macroevolution might have occurred. I recently completed writing a book about the human condition, our origins and great destiny as viewed through the lenses of our evolutionary heritage. I am interested in your opinion of the book. It is available at http://www.mandala-press.com/rain.htm
 

Re: new book
Date: 11/01/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Stephen! A bit jammed up with finishing a new novel at the moment, but I'll try to take a look.

Recommended reading order

Date: 10/29/2006 From: Jeff
Location:

Greg,

Been thinking of reading Eon, Legacy and Eternity again. Do you recommend reading the books in order you have written , or in chronological order? In other words, read Legacy first?

Jeff
 

Re: Recommended reading order
Date: 10/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

Either way will work! EON is always a good place to begin, since it introduces you to the main concepts. Then, you can go back to LEGACY and "The Way of All Ghosts," get caught up on Olmy's history, and move on to his greatest challenge in ETERNITY.

The Fermi Paradox

Date: 10/29/2006 From: Andrew Carley
Location: Seattle, Washington

Dear Mr. Bear,

This has probably been asked and answered before, but hopefully you won't mind that. I just read Forge of God and am reading Anvil of Stars now, and I am curious about your opinion on the Fermi Paradox...it's such an interesting question because there really is an answer and we just don't have the information to answer it..Are we alone? Are we being monitored by advanced civiliations a la Star Trek? Are we some kind of experiment? Is this reality a computer simulation? I believe the answer is that the universe is just big and that most, if not all, intelligences end up destroying themselves before they can get out amongst the stars. I think this is a likely answer, but again, who can say at this point? I hope we can find out in our lifetimes.

 

Re: The Fermi Paradox
Date: 10/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

The possibilities are wide open. We simply don't know what's going on out there, or not going on. Attempts to quantify the potentials/risks of communicating with other intelligences are tentative at best, and misleading if they give us any sense of security. In FORGE, I proposed an answer--that the smart civilizations lie low and stay quiet until they know a lot more--a likely answer, in my opinion, if there ARE a lot of spacefaring intelligences out there.
 

Re: The Fermi Paradox
Date: 10/30/2006
From: patrick
Location:

Well, there is the singularity, too - that some have reached a point of self-containment and content. (I know Greg knows of Vernor Vinge, but in case Andrew doesn't, check him out.) Additionally, there are super-dimensional options - in which case, it's possible some of the mythical (or, depending on whom you hear from/speak with, psychic) phenomena could be examples of such.
 

Re: The Fermi Paradox
Date: 10/31/2006
From: Andrew Carley
Location: Seattle, WA

It's frustrating, our lack of knowledge. I really wish cryonics was an option...or how about this: A spaceship that could hurtle to 99% of the speed of light for 5 years out, then back to Earth. You'd literally be a time traveler. I would SO go for that.
 

Re: The Fermi Paradox
Date: 11/01/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hmmm... instant acceleration, instant braking, then all over again to get back to Earth...or ten-twenty years each way to reach near-lightspeed? I think I'll work on a more Wellsian time machine and see what happens... Both possibilities kind of stretch our knowledge of physics! And who knows--maybe the aliens just haven't sent us their catalog yet. It's in the mail...

Thanks, Andrew!

Judgment Engine

Date: 10/29/2006 From: Darren
Location: Guernsey

Dear Greg,

Last night I read your short story Judgment Engine, one of a collection in The Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction. I haven't read many books, sci-fi or otherwise, since my late teen years, and this was the first story of yours that I have read.

I spend a lot of time wondering what the future holds for us, with a touch of melancholy that I won't get to see the wonders to come. So I decided to investigate the "hard sci-fi" genre by buying this compilation. Your story "Judgment Engine" was considered the ultimate by the editor of the anthology, and I couldn't help but read it first.

Thank you Greg for re-awakening my imagination after so many years! I have a keen interest in technology & spirituality, and this story is probably the ultimate conclusion for both topics. Wow, I'm still so excited about it now, and probably will be for days to come!

Thanks again, Greg. I can't wait to read more of your work.

Best regards,
Darren.
 

Re: Judgment Engine
Date: 10/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

Great to hear from you, Darren! You've got a lot of great material to catch up on. I'd recommend the far-future works of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert (and his successors, Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson), Poul Anderson, Ben Bova, Frederik Pohl, Paul McAuley, Joan Vinge, Stephen Baxter, Gregory Benford, David Brin, Vernor Vinge, and our modern model and master, Olaf Stapledon... just to get you started! And I'll also point out that my current project, CITY AT THE END OF TIME, is set in large part a hundred trillion years in the future.
 

Re: Judgment Engine
Date: 10/30/2006
From: Adam Crowl
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Hi Greg

Wow! And I thought Stapledon was far-sighted, but he only covered 100 billion years. Have you seen the work of Fred Adams, Peter Bodenheimer and Greg Laughlin on the long term future of the Universe, particularly red-dwarf stars in the 10^13-10^14 year range? They posit stars being made from brown dwarf collisions long after the ISM is exhausted of hydrogen to make regular stars. Brown dwarfs should collide once every 100 billion years until the Galaxy relaxes in ~ 10 million trillion years or so. There's a good chance of a supersymmetric phase transition to exact SUSY conditions in that time according to some research I've read - that'll really make the Universe an interesting place!
 

Re: Judgment Engine
Date: 10/30/2006
From: Darren
Location: Guernsey, Channel Islands

Dear Greg,

Thanks for the recommendations. I can't wait for City at the End of Time. The 'far future' concept is very new and exciting to me, a far cry from the sci-fi of my childhood like Star Trek, which, although brilliant at the time, is quite mundane compared to the possibilities of life a hundred trillion years in the future. Looking that far ahead it is hard to imagine that we will be able to relate to any of the concepts of that time. Maybe the only constant will be human nature.

This may seem a bit random, but here is a link to the website of a Polish artist called Zdzislaw Beksinski. I mentioned my excitement and sense of wonder after finishing Judgment Engine. Well, the last time I had that feeling was after stumbling upon this artist's website earlier on in the year.

The website is very atmospheric, with mesmerising music. Best viewed in a darkened room! Have a look at Original WorksPaintingsGalleries 1, 2 & 3.

http://www.beksinski.pl/

Best wishes for the new book,
Darren.
 

Re: Judgment Engine
Date: 10/23/2007
From: Carl Rosenberg
Location: Vancouver, B, Canada

Dear Mr. Bear,

I also liked your story "Judgement Engine" and other stories along these lines, like the ones in the above-mentioned anthology, and Gregory Benford's anthology Far Futures.

In addition to the various works you recommended (Clarke, Stapledon, etc.) another interesting "far future" story is one by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, "Utopia of a Tired Man," in his collection The Book of Sand. Borges' stories are not exactly science fiction, certainly not hard SF, but there is a certain SF affinity in some of his stories, especially in this one, but also in stories such as "The Library of Babel," "The Lottery in Babylon," "There Are More Things" (the latter a tribute to Lovecraft). Borges was a strong admirer of H.G. Wells' early science fiction, and was probably influenced by it to some extent.

Best wishes--keep up the good work!

Carl


 

Re: Judgment Engine
Date: 10/24/2007
From: Greg Bear

Borges has had a great influence on me, and I give him a less-than-cryptic reference in CITY AT THE END OF TIME. I was privileged to meet him in San Diego around 1970. He's definitely one of the finest fabulists of the last century. He was very knowledgeable about science fiction and fantasy, and talked about many such writers in his essays.
 

Re: Judgment Engine
Date: 10/27/2014
From: Fred Meagher
Location: San Diego

Mr. Bear: I attend a Bear Dance on the grounds of Long Beach State University as part of an Ancestor Walk every year. My friend who first brought me to it, Norrie Iberal, had a father who designed one of the first proto-type space suits; he is listed in the first reference I am using in a Future Studies class project. I am working Judgment Engine in as a great bridge between my other class project in Mythology. My title is From Bear Skins to Space Suits for both classes. I propose your story for part of a holon derived educational system; as opposed to an holostic approach.

My final project in holon education is a simple overview of the primary sciences such as the sociology of knowledge, history, physics, geology, the anthropology of religion; and the arts, literature, music, theatre and painting are best together as S.T.E.A.M with the blossom of Culture. As S.T.E.M only a thorny stick is provided the student/citizen of the future. Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, humanities, history and Math are required for a true human response as Politics in a Global Internet Democracy.

Thank You Mr. Bear; missed you at the San Diego Comic Fest.

Fred M.

ps. Awesome Quantum Mythology Dude!

Some sources:

Foundations for Social and Biological Evolution; progress toward a physical theory of civilization and of speciation A. Iberall, D. Wilkinson, D. White. Cri-de Cour Physical-Philosophic Series; Cri-de Cour Press. 1993

Pg. 128

In the Spring 1993 issue of Comparative Civilization, we- Iberall, Wilkinson- were finally able to reach a simple working definition for culture-civilization, the precursor to civilizations. The basic idea is that when two or more cultures have to coexist contiguously or in the same territory, with frequent interaction, and they all work hard to preserve their own cultures within the framework of interaction, they begin to develop the elements and institutions of civilization, e.g., founder myths, language, religious beliefs, sharply defined value systems, etc.

The Collapsing Universe; the story of Black Holes Isaac Asimov; Walker and Company, New York 1997.

Pg. 35

At the start, the material out of which the planets were formed was a vast mass of gasses and dust. Most of this material was hydrogen, helium, carbon, neon, oxygen, and nitrogen, with hydrogen making up perhaps 90% of all the atoms. All of it, slowly swirling in separate turbulent whirlpools, slowly came together under the weak, but ever sustained pull of the mutual gravitation of all the atoms and molecules.



Science and the Akashic Field; an integral theory of everything Ervin Laslo, Inner Traditions, Rochester, Vermont 2004.

Pg. 83

Whole System Coherence: The coherence of the organism is quintessentially pluralistic and diverse at every level, from the tens of thousands of genes and the hundreds of thousands of proteins and other macro molecules that make up a cell, to the many kinds of cells that constitute tissues and organs. There are no controlling and controlled parts or levels; all components are in instant and continuous communication. As a result the adjustments, responses, and changes required for the maintenance of the organism propagate in all directions at the same time.

This kind of instant, system wide correlation cannot be produced solely by physical or even chemical interactions among molecules, genes, cells, and organs. Though some biochemical signaling-for example of the control genes-is remarkably efficient, the speed with which activating processes spread in the body, as well as the complexity of these processes, makes reliance on biochemistry alone insufficient. The conduction of signals through the nervous system, for example, cannot proceed faster than about twenty meters per second, and it cannot carry a large number of diverse signals at the same time. Yet there is evidence that the entire organism is subtly but effectively interlinked; there are quasi-instant, non-linear, heterogeneous, and multi-dimensional correlations among all its parts.



While the Gods Play; Shaiva oracles and predictions on the cycles of history and destiny of mankind Alain Danielou, Inner Traditions International, Rochester Vermont 1987


Pg. 63

Nature and Perception: Absolute Being is the only reality. It is external to existence, to the worlds it invents. It is neutral, nonactive, without substance, duration, or place, and is beyond the perceptible or conceivable. Although indescribable, it is called Parama-Shiva (beyond the creative principle); although without dimension, Para-Brahman (the beyond infinity), although impersonal, Paramatman (the beyond self).

It escapes human understanding, it is not identifiable. It is not part of the Tattvas, the definable. It is outside what has been created. It cannot be represented by any symbol, verbal or visual. Absolute Being is beyond Prakriti (nature), substance, and creation; it is without form, color, name, evolution, or effect; does not suffer deterioration; is indestructible and unchanging. All that can be said of it is that the universe rests on it (Vishnu Purana, 1, 2, 10-13).


 

Re: Judgment Engine
Date: 10/27/2014
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Fred! Indeed, sorry to have missed Comic-Fest, but I very nearly became part of contemporary mythology myself. Doing much better now!

HERVs and Human Evolution

Date: 10/28/2006 From: Adam Crowl
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Hi Greg

I read "Darwin's Radio" years ago and found your discussion of HERVs and "quantum evolution" to be quite interesting, though unsatisfying incomplete. Have there been more advances in our understanding of evolution along the lines you sketched out in the novel and the endnotes? ERVs have certainly played a significant role in the evolution of all animals and HERVs themselves are now thought to contitute 8% of the human genome - which, as you'd realise, is even bigger than the gene-encoding exons and their regulatory regions in the genome - but there isn't any clearer picture of the kind of natural 'mind' behind evolution as you suggested. Or have we missed something in the regular journals and news sources?
 

Re: HERVs and Human Evolution
Date: 10/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

While HERV and EREV science and data has increased enormously, and their importance has become more and more obvious, the "networked" view of evolution within and between genomes is still speculative. A number of scientists are exploring similar ideas in bacteria, which very obviously do swap genes and traits on a regular basis using virus intermediaries. But the human view of viral communication is still fairly formative. In this field, data arrives in truckloads now--but theory associating all the data lags far behind. Still, take a look at the recent works of Lynn Margulis, Stephen Jay Gould's massive summary THE STRUCTURE OF EVOLUTIONARY THEORY, and Lynn Caporale's works. Richard Dawkins' recent books are also well worth exploring. Changes are afoot!
 

Re: HERVs and Human Evolution
Date: 10/30/2006
From: Adam Crowl
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Hi Greg

I've read Margulis and Dawkins - almost opposite ends of the spectrum there - and Caporale's work is clearly the most relevant to your concepts. Her ideas on a genome selected for evolvability makes a lot of sense of the ERV and transposon data. Stripped back genomes do exist which have dumped large parts of their ERV & transposon 'bioburden' and yet most species' genomes hang on to such 'parasitic' DNA. If such components aren't actively selected against and aren't obviously neutral (some cause disease) I do wonder what they might be selected for. Your 'proposal' makes sense.

On a related issue what do you think of Howard Bloom's "The Global Brain" which discusses the biological network, and Robert Wright's "NonZero" which discusses a possible immanent purpose within the evolutionary process? I think they both make strong cases for an overall 'guidance' of evolution, most likely in the distributed intelligence form you describe.
 

Re: HERVs and Human Evolution
Date: 10/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

I'll look into these. Howard's work I'm familiar with. Thanks, Adam.

Real-life strategists in "Anvil of Stars"

Date: 10/23/2006 From: Marc
Location: Idaho

Mr. Bear,

I just finished "Anvil of Stars," and, as a casual student of military strategy, I was very impressed with your treatment of the topic. However, in investigating some of the names mentioned (on page 45 of the U.S. hardcover edition) I ran across what I believe are some spelling errors in the text. By "Caemerrer" (the text's spelling), does the book mean Cal Tech behavioral economist Colin Camerer? By "Gilbert" does it mean Guibert, one of the great influences on Napoleon?

On a related note, did you learn of these authors and their theories before starting the "Forge" series, or did you look to them after developing your premise of interstellar war?

Also, I can't wait for a third installment in the series - which I consider to be the best saga in science fiction.

Cheers, Marc
 

Re: Real-life strategists in
Date: 10/23/2006
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Marc! I suspect these names are all coincidences--unless I was being fiendishly clever. Which I doubt was the case. Military strategy in space warfare (as Heinlein, Niven, and Pournelle, among others, have pointed out) is remarkably similar to naval warfare in the age of sail...
 

Re: Real-life strategists in
Date: 10/24/2006
From: Ricardo
Location: Glendale, CA

Marc, Forge/Anvil gets my vote as well for best saga in science fiction. Unfortunately, I don't think Greg has ever mentioned a 3rd installment. Heck, we'll be lucky if we even see "City at the End of Time" by 2008. Although if I'm wrong on either of those points Greg, PLEASE go ahead and correct me...
 

Re: Real-life strategists in
Date: 10/24/2006
From: Greg Bear

Looks like late 2007 for CITY. Just putting some of my characters through a very strange journey...
 

Re: Real-life strategists in
Date: 10/25/2006
From: Marc N.
Location: Idaho

Ricardo,

I could have sworn that Mr. Bear mentioned a third installment tentatively entitled "Crucible."

Mr. Bear,

While "Caemerrer" could be made up, I think that "Gilbert" is a genuine spelling error, attached as it is in the book to "and Bourcet."
 

Re: Real-life strategists in
Date: 10/27/2006
From: Bryan Jones
Location: Dallas

Marc, I did read somewhere that Warner Bros has optioned the Anvil series for a possible movie trilogy, featuring Forge, Anvil, and an as yet unwritten third installment. I hope that doesn't mean the movies have to get made to get the third installment.

I first read Anvil at 17, and it was my first Sci-fi novel ever. Since then I try to read the book at least once a year, though about 5 years ago I read it 3 times. Guess I'm an addict.
 

Re: Real-life strategists in
Date: 10/27/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Bryan. Warner Bros. still has options on both FORGE and ANVIL, and there have been screenplays written, the most recent of which combines the two novels. No status updates on the project have been issued for some months, however.

World Internet access to leave the world behind?

Date: 10/12/2006 From: patrick
Location:

Yum! Libyan Linux freeware!

*I don't think I can even count the ironies in this article, much less describe them.....

http://blog.wired.com/sterling/
 

Re: World Internet access to leave the world behind?
Date: 10/16/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for the heads up, patrick!

The Rob Cousins Mystery....

Date: 10/12/2006 From: Cory Cudney
Location: Buffalo, NY

Why did Lissa shoot the skinny man in the herringbone suit? Why? A month since I've read Vitals, and I still can't figure that one out. Somebody help me!
 

Re: The Rob Cousins Mystery....
Date: 10/12/2006
From: Greg Bear

Because he had a gun and had been programmed to kill them, as I recall...

Nanotechnology in the news...

Date: 10/11/2006 From: Terran
Location: Florida

I had no idea that nanotechnology was even being used in cosmetics now! That could explain a lot...

FDA told to watch nanotech products for risks
by Lisa Richwine, Reuters, October 11, 2006

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061011/sc_nm/nanotechnology_dc_2
 

Re: Nanotechnology in the news...
Date: 10/11/2006
From: Greg Bear

Well, very small particles of pigment, encapsulated emolients, that sort of thing. I don't think they've yet incorporated nanites or biochips in Revlon! Nanotechnology is the new corporate buzzword, without coming anywhere near the original vision, which I'm sure irritates K. Eric Drexler no end.

Concerns appear to be about artificial particles small enough to slip into cells and interfere.
 

Re: Nanotechnology in the news...
Date: 10/11/2006
From: Terran
Location: Florida

That's a relief!

Although, it would be awfully nice to have makeup that went from day to evening wear automatically in response to light quality or loud music. Or how about perfume that released itself only when in close proximity to members of the opposite sex?
 

Re: Nanotechnology in the news...
Date: 10/11/2006
From: patrick
Location:

From what I've seen, the technical methods are still relatively simple. Far from the actively-creating-something that ordinary construction is, nano today is more like setting up the right circumstance and letting it fall into place, hence the structures aren't very complex, nor have much utility/application, yet.
 

Re: Nanotechnology in the news...
Date: 10/16/2006
From: Steven
Location: Corpus Christi

My MS work was on using low-pressure flames to synthesis nano-powders/particles. I have to agree, calling such work "nanotechnology" is rather misleading. Nanoparticles can be extremely useful in a chemical sense because their surface area-to-volume ratio is so high. If you can create a nanopowder version of a useful catalyst, it has much more useful surface area than even a highly porous block of otherwise solid material. Possible improvements to catalytic converters, making catalytic combustion a real possibility, improved chemical detectors, and yes, cosmetics and sunscreens... the uses are quite extensive.

But "nanotech" it ain't.

The Forge of God

Date: 10/07/2006 From: Denyse D
Location: UK

Hello Greg,
I read The Forge of God when i was 16 some years ago now, I was gripped and it's still one of my favourite books. I re read it recently Aged 32, it still had the same impact. I'm glad to hear that there's a possibility of a film, i think this story has an important message especially towards the end. I think what got me was imagining watching my home explode, um i wonder whether adding anvil of stars will give the story a typical hollywood happy ending when the collective needs stories to help us understand the consequences of not taking care of our planet.
How would it be if a thousand people had to witness what we have done to earth ourselves.
My 13yr old son is now reading the book and thoroughly enjoying it.
Thankyou so much for brilliant sci fi books

best wishes

Denyse
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 10/09/2006
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Denyse! So far, the screenplays I've read (by Ken Nolan and Steve Susco) are remarkably faithful to the vision of my novels.
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 10/09/2006
From: John Corwin
Location: Atlanta

I've been reading SF for decades thanks to my late grandmother who got me hooked on it. I remember reading Forge so long ago and just recently re-read it. I also just finished re-reading Eon and am debating whether to finish re-reading the trilogy. It's amazing how far my understanding has come from the first time so many years ago.

I still get somewhat depressed reading such apocalyptic versions of what for us is now an alternate past. Good to see what so many thought might happen didn't!

It's good to hear about a possible movie. I never read Anvil but will probably get it now that I've stumbled across mention of a movie that combines the two books.

 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 10/09/2006
From: Greg Bear

ANVIL OF STARS is in the stages of being brought back into print from Tor. The Warner paperback edition may still be available through some distributors.
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 10/09/2006
From: John Corwin
Location: Atlanta

Excellent. I do see that Amazon has new versions of the Warner Books reprint edition from Feb. of 1993. Wonder where they dug that up!

I do like your hard science approach to these books. I've read quite a bit of space opera and just got sick of so many ill-explained illogical devices that it was refreshing to hop back into something with a more plausible background.

I finished writing a ms recently and used a more hard science approach to the technology as well. I can't say how much of a blessing it is to have the Internet, Wikipedia, etc. not to mention computers.

Were you using word processors back in your early days? And did you have to do tons of reading and research to come up with some of your speculative science?

One other question, if I may: How do you come up with the name for your novels? Do you slide it into the book somewhere later when you've decided? I.e. in Eon it's near the very end, in Forge it's rather early that you mention the book name. I puzzled over the name for my ms for quite a while and still am not entirely satisfied with it.

Sorry about the shotgun blast of questions. I'm sure they're some you've answered 50^100 times already. :)
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 10/10/2006
From: Greg Bear

I purchased my first word processor in 1983--after more than ten years of dreaming about something similar. Never looked back! And the Web and Internet are marvels for research--though we do have to develop somewhat different instincts than if we were searching through a formal library.

Titles can linger for years without stories--the title EON is mentioned in my high school/college notebooks, describing a Stapledonian future history timeline. I don't remember when THE FORGE OF GOD came into play for that book, but sometimes it takes a while for a title to crystallize out of all the ideas and themes.
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 11/12/2006
From: Ira Stoller
Location: Butler, NJ

I hadn't heard of your Novel EON before reading this blog, and neither had my niece, a PhD in psychology who is just getting back to work after maternity leave. The reason I bring this up is that she & her husband - who also doesn't read SF - named their son, who was born in June, EON. What's in a name, right?
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 11/14/2006
From: Greg Bear

Good choice! Sounds like a great "live long and prosper" moniker.
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 04/05/2007
From: Brian C McKinley
Location: Silverton, Oregon

Mr. Bear,

Much like the author of this thread I found the Forge of god in my late teens and now in my 30's I have found that the book still sits on my 10 favorite shelf, #1 actually. I am eagerly awaiting the possible movies and am sure that they will be massive hits. Just a thought, I always for some reason read the book with Tom Hanks as Arthur..... Just a random thought!
Brian
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 04/06/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Brian! Great minds think alike. Tom Hanks is a fan of Sir Arthur Clarke, and Sir Arthur really enjoyed THE FORGE OF GOD.
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 08/26/2011
From: Susan Caryl
Location: Clearwater Fl

Forge of God is one of my all time favorite science fiction novels. Have been reading sf since my dad started me on it when I was a child....and in my mid 60's, I'm a child no longer! lol Always hoped there would be a movie and imagined Arthur Hill as Arthur....unfortunately too late now, but Tom Hanks does sound like a good choice now.
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 02/23/2012
From: Walter Fortin
Location: Houston, TX

Absolutley agree ! Love Forge of God, one of my all time favorite sci fi novels. Is their any news about this being made into a movie ? It would be fantastic to see this on the big screen.

Cheers,
Walter
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 04/07/2012
From: Greg Bear

Hope never dies! The project is still in the works. Thanks, Walter!
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 05/13/2013
From: Ken Gostchock
Location: Milwaukee, WI

Dear Mr. Bear,

I am 37-years-old male and have been an avid science fiction enthusiast for most of my life. In my opinion, science fiction is the new method of telling myths, in that they are fictional stories that carry a deeper, more universal message.

That being said, sadly I had not heard of you until just last year when I read 'The Forge of God' for the first time. I was then, and still am today, enthralled by the vastness of the story and all of its intricate sub-plots.

I recently got 'Anvil of Stars' and from what I understand that is the second installment of that story. The obvious first question is: will there be a third? And then the follow-up: did you intend to create a series like this from the beginning?

Thank you for you time, and I eagerly await your next books!

Sincerely,

Ken Gostchock
 

Re: The Forge of God
Date: 06/17/2013
From: Greg Bear

Good to hear from you, Ken. No sequel to ANVIL OF STARS is currently in the works--but I'll be taking another, very different run at these themes in WAR DOGS, which is scheduled to run for three volumes.

On the path to Roddy?

Date: 10/05/2006 From: patrick
Location:

Virus boosts nanoparticle memory
4 October 2006

A new type of digital memory device has been created by incorporating inorganic platinum nanoparticles into the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV).


Tobacco mosaic virus
The work was done by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who claim that the result could find application in the development of bio-compatible electronics (Nature Nanotechnology 1 72).

In recent years researchers have exploited the unique selectivity of biomaterials by nanostructuring biological molecules with inorganic materials for applications such as biosensing. The UCLA researchers have taken this idea one-step further with a hybrid biological system that can store digital information.

We have developed an electronic device, fabricated from the tobacco mosaic virus conjugated with nanoparticles, which exhibits a unique memory effect, Yang Yang, the groups lead researcher at the University of California, told physicsweb.org. This device can be operated as an electrically bistable memory device whose conductance states can be controlled by a bias voltage. The states are non-volatile and can be digitally recognized.

The TMV is a 300 nm tube consisting of a protein capsid (outer shell) and RNA core. According to the researchers, the TMVs thin, wire-like structure makes it suitable for attaching nanoparticles. In this case, it allowed them to add an average of sixteen positive platinum ions per virion. The device works by transferring charge, under a high electric field, from the RNA to the Pt nanoparticles with the TMVs surface proteins acting as an energy barrier, stabilising the trapped charges.

The TMVs surface makes it an ideal template for organizing the nanoparticles, which can bind to the specific carboxyl or hydroxyl sites on the surface, said Yang. The RNA core in TMV is likely to serve as the charge donor to the nanoparticles with the coat proteins acting as the barrier to the charge transferring process.

The TMV hybrid, says the team, has an access time ( the delay between a call for storing data and for data storing to begin) in the microsecond regime. This is comparable to todays flash memory. In addition, the device is non-volatile, which means that data is retained once the computers power is turned off.

The researchers say the device still needs to be scaled-down to a smaller size to increase storage density and to include more circuitry. There will be issues involving retention time, power consumption, and integration of drivers required to write and read each bit, which we need to consider in order to optimize the system, said Yang.

In the long term, these devices could one day be integrated in biological tissues for applications in therapeutics or biocompatible electronics.
 

Re: On the path to Roddy?
Date: 10/05/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Patrick! I'm hearing more each year about virus particles--including bacteriophages--being used as templates for circuit growth, etc. Fascinating work. Roddy (the strange AI in SLANT) of course utilizes the problem solving abilities of living bacterial networks--but that'll likely be a few years off!
 

Re: On the path to Roddy?
Date: 10/09/2006
From: ricardo
Location: Glendale, CA

Resistance is futile.

Possible Epic Film To Be Produced From "Songs of Earth & Power"???

Date: 10/05/2006 From: Ric Brehm
Location: Boston, MA

heard a rumor that a major sci-fi producer was toying with the idea of a trilogy of films based on "Songs of Earth & Power"......Any truth to the rumor? I'd pay double to see it if it stayed within the story lines. Pretty tough to do the special effects though!
 

Re: Possible Epic Film To Be Produced From
Date: 10/05/2006
From: Greg Bear

Unless my agent is withholding good news, this rumor appears to be unfounded. Too bad!

Accessibility of your books for people who are blind

Date: 10/02/2006 From: Nadine Riches
Location: Australia

Hi Greg,

I am a blind person living in Australia, and unfortunately suffering from lack of good sci fi available in Braille, which is my preferred reading format. recently I came across a review of Slant and, being very keen to read itg since it deals with nanotechnology, which utterly fascinates me, I bought a copy in pdf format from ebooks.com. Because of its graphical nature, PDF is a lucky dip at best for blind people: depending on its level of encryption you can sometimes read them and sometimes not. The file I bought was heavily encrypted and even though it says text extraction for accessibility is allowed, I can't for the life of me get anything out of it. I'm interested to know whether you are interested in making your books accessible electronically in a way that enables you to get paid for your product and us to enjoy it. Even though ebooks are often cheaper than print copies, I don't see any reason not to pay the same price for an ebook as I would for a print copy, if I could only then load it onto my PDA and read it in Braille.

Ebooks could be a fantastic resource for blind people, giving us access to the same material as the sighted world in the same time frame. Often, if a book is even produced in Braille at all it isn't done until years after publication, meaning by the time we get it everyone else has moved way on, at least in this country.

I'm very disappointed that I'll miss out on Slant (and probably most of your other books as well).

Cheers,

Nadine.

 

Re: Accessibility of your books for people who are blind
Date: 10/02/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Nadine. I'm sorry to hear about these difficulties--I actually know very little about Braille accessibility in countries other than the U.S., where our contracts usually allow production of Braille editions. Do you have access to an electronic voice reader? If anybody has further information, please let us know!
 

Re: Accessibility of your books for people who are blind
Date: 10/02/2006
From: Harald Elsebo
Location: norway

I just have one tip and that isnt exactly what was asked for.
But i found that adobe acrobat reader could read it out loud, was under the view tab.
I will try find out something of extracting it and post it here as soon as i do.
 

Re: Accessibility of your books for people who are blind
Date: 10/05/2006
From: Nadine Riches
Location: Australia

Hi again,

Yes, I do have access to an audio player, but I find listening to audio very unfulfilling. I love Braille, and now etext, probably for the same reasons sighted people love print: I like to be able to carry my books around with me and read on the train for instance, and listening to audio while traveling is pretty impractical for a blind person . I also really don't like having a book interpreted for me. Audio books are almost always narrated by actors who obviously like to perform them rather than read them. I'd rather interpret the characters and stories for myself, so to me listening to an audio book is just way too passive.

Also, on a more serious note, I'm very passionate about ebook access because of the doors it opens for deaf-blind people. I think sighted people are surprised to learn just how many blind people have additional hearing impairment, and the number of totally deaf, totally blind people is larger than I'd thought too. Currently there is a lot of attention being focussed on a new digital audio format called DAISY (the only thing I like about this is the name, which was also the name of my not-long-retired guide dog). With all the resources being put into DAISY development and the production of materials in DAISY, I fear that Braille will be forgotten about. This isn't helped by some in the blindness field who will actively tell you that Braille is dying out and that's OK because there are plenty of audio resources.

I think it is important for sighted people to understand that not all blind people are alike and, just as there needs to be a diversity of materials to meet the needs of sighted people - indeed I'm sure if there were not you would demand them vociferously - blind people have the right to be able to access those smae materials in a reasonable time frame and also in a variety of methods. Just because audio is not for me doesn't mean it's not for everyone. I don't believe we should be made to accept anything less than sighted people would accept, espeically now that resources are becoming more easily obtainable, such as ebooks and digital audio that can be bought online.

I may sound paranoid about this, but I work in the Braille library here in Australia (note, there is only one) and I see this from the inside. As resources in various formats should be getting easier to come by, paradoxically it seems to be getting harder. I truly believe that authors can make a difference in this, if for no other reason than if blind people were able to buy the books in etext legitimately authors would boost their sales.

Cheers and apologies for the long fiery response,

Nadine.
 

Re: Accessibility of your books for people who are blind
Date: 10/05/2006
From: Greg Bear

I understand completely, Nadine--I love to read, all by myself. Wish I could help! I suspect that any machine that can transcribe to a Braille reader could also output text to a pirated file, and that may be our biggest problem. I'll continue to post responses from people with more information--and please keep us all updated on progress, if any.
 

Re: Accessibility of your books for people who are blind
Date: 10/05/2006
From: Terran
Location: Winter Park, FL

I'm curious to know more about the braille translator machine - can it read other formats of eBooks? I know that some of the different eBook publishers offer their books in a variety of formats besides PDF format, but I'm not sure if they are only readable with proprietary equipment. ereads.com is one of the companies that offers a few of Greg's books in different formats, and I think ereader.com (if I'm reading the Help page correctly) uses some sort of a digital text format instead of a PDF.

I completely understand the need to be able to be able to read for myself as well. I commute over 2 hours a day, so I do listen to a lot of audiobooks in my car, but I tend to choose different types of books to listen to than I choose to read because of the different experiences they produce. I rarely choose to listen to a sci-fi novel on audiobook because I prefer print, but I've found that I particularly like to listen to mystery novels on audiobook -- possibly because they remind me of old radio dramas.
 

Re: Accessibility of your books for people who are blind
Date: 10/05/2006
From: patrick
Location:

I can dig that Terran. Nadine, I agree with you - for example, in pop culture, few people know how to read music; it's nearly all done by ear, and with the lack of musical structure, this translates to a lack of substance. (Not that I don't listen to a bit of popcul stuff, from time to time, but I recognise its level of quality.) In relation to this topic, it sounds like an imminent result is a return to an oral tradition - a treacherous, as often depicted in various fiction stories over the years, circumstance.

Lastly, the thing that first caught my intense curiosity was the question of how the braille device you use changes to different characters?!
 

Re: Accessibility of your books for people who are blind
Date: 10/05/2006
From: Nadine Riches
Location: Australia

Hi again,

The Braille device I personally use is called a PACMate and it's basically just a pocket PC with a Braille display attached instead of a screen. Although the hardware doesn't look like a typical PDA the internals are pretty much the same. It runs Pocket windows, pocket word, all that sort of stuff. It doesnnot have any special software on it and there's no way to extract text from encrypted files or anything like that. Basically, I can load plain text, Word, RTF and Braille files files on it. If any other formats open on it I'm not aware of them.

To create a Braille file you first need prefereably a Word file and you put it through translation software. It sounds easier than it actually is. Sometimes a lot of work needs to go into producing a good Braille copy.

It's unfortunate, but I suspect that pirated files will proliferate because some of us can't get legitimate access to the ebooks that are being produced. There's always someone out there who likes a challenge and has the smarts to meet it. That's not me by the way.

Cheers,

Nadine.
 

Re: Accessibility of your books for people who are blind
Date: 10/06/2006
From: Terran
Location: Winter Park, FL

Patrick - I too was curious about how the braille worked mechanically. Here's a website that explains it:

http://www.deafblind.com/display.html

Very ingenious!
 

Re: Accessibility of your books for people who are blind
Date: 10/11/2006
From: patrick
Location:

Thank you, Terran. Curiously, this (pistons of some sort) is basically what I thought of the other day before you provided the link. Simple, really, but regardless of technical possibility, a device's manifest is always an 'if'.
 

Re: Accessibility of your books for people who are blind
Date: 11/13/2008
From: Mark Williams
Location: UK

Hi Greg, All

I, too, am blind and an avid but extremely vexed fan. Predominately accessing books through audio versions, I am frustrated by the lack of titles available in audio format to UK listeners.

Whilst US listeners have full access to audio versions of all your books, mainly at Audible.com, only Darwin's Children is available to UK listeners. Is there any way I can get hold of other audio versions or obtain digital versions that can be accessed via screen reading software? Alternatively, can you convince Audible.com to make all your titles available to UK listeners?

Yours in hope.

Mark Williams
 

Re: Accessibility of your books for people who are blind
Date: 11/13/2008
From: Greg Bear

DEAD LINES, QUANTICO, and CITY AT THE END OF TIME are available through BBC Audio, and they should all be available in a local library. Let me know if you're having difficulty getting these titles!

The essence of Cyberpunk?

Date: 09/29/2006 From: Justin
Location: Seattle

When it comes to defining Cyberpunk it seems that there are almost as many opinions as there are readers, and that most oppinions fail to encompass the entire genre. Definitions that apply to the more identifiable works such as SLANT fail to hold true works like FONDLY FAHRENHEIT. Indeed there are many CP works that are worlds away from what some people would call the Gibson Cyberpunk.

My first question to you is this. How would you as a Cyberpunk author define Cyberpunk?


My second question is one that I have debated many times with associates. What do you think about the statement that the essence of Cyberpunk can be traced back over one hundred years to Mary Shelley?
 

Re: The essence of Cyberpunk?
Date: 09/29/2006
From: Greg Bear

Interesting debate! If we define "punk" as "rockstar romantic sensibility," then Bill's classic is the defining example. (This might bring in M & PB Shelley and Byron as well, as romantics flirting with goth--but minus the tech, of course.) A broader definition--hi-tech, generally hard-sf with a cyber sensibility which includes SLANT and QUEEN OF ANGELS should also include STAND ON ZANZIBAR and FONDLY FAHRENHEIT.
 

Re: The essence of Cyberpunk?
Date: 09/30/2006
From: patrick
Location:

Relativism is a dangerous quality; recognising origins (boundaries) is important. Cyberpunk did categorically begin (emerge?) with Gibson and Sterling.
 

Re: The essence of Cyberpunk?
Date: 09/30/2006
From: Justin
Location: seattle

If the romantic nature of Shelley fills the 'punk' requirment, then can we not say that Frankenstein was in fact a work of Cyberpunk. Certainly the experimental nature of the monsters creation fullfills the 'cyber' requirment.
Much of the 'punk' that I have seen in the genre is less about standing up to the man, and more about using, exploiting, or destroying the technologies which society has yet to fully accept and/or appreciate. The social conflict caused by the new technology is, in my eyes, the most defining aspect of cyberpunk.
If this can be said to be true, then the demand that Dr. Frankenstein take responsibility for his 'monster', and that we later see the Dr. as being the true monster of story, is in fact similar to many of the more social aspects of Cyberpunk.
 

Re: The essence of Cyberpunk?
Date: 10/06/2006
From: Ebie
Location: NYC

(Hi all -- New to the site, just finished re-re-reading Eon. Great book. Not cyberpunk :)

For me, "Cyberpunk" is almost entirely defined by the glam that Wm Gibson brought to the mix of drugs and computer geeks that he evoked. Much less to do with content than with style.

Think "mid-80's" here and the culture wars that had been brewing in the US and Europe -- there's a different *aesthetic* from the popular authors of the day. By way of analogy, it's the difference between 80's indie pop vs. crap like "Eye of the Tiger".

Sterling's The Artificial Kid comes close to being cyberpunk -- certainly in terms of content: a "combat artist" f'r crissakes? -- but stylistically and in terms of moral concerns it owes more to the 70's than to the 80's.

Cyberpunk has a kind of noirish acceptance of corruption and lives within it rather than trying to overcome it. -- Hm, that may be too precise. I want to be able to include books like Jennifer Government and Accelerando under the aegis.

Anyway, my basic thought is that it's about style (both a writing style as well as aesthetic perception), and to some degree about underlying assumptions of the world, rather than about a particular set of stories and subjects.

"Pattern Recognition" is almost cyberpunk, isn't it? But there's no fictional tech in it at all...

Sorry to go on and on about another author on your site Greg. I think you rock :)

PS Frankenstein isn't cyberpunk IMO. But what about Wuthering Heights?



 

Re: The essence of Cyberpunk?
Date: 10/06/2006
From: Greg Bear

Way back when, I eschewed the label, but with respect--didn't think I fit the bill. Style certainly helps define flavor. Is BLADERUNNER cyberpunk? I think so--very eighties, classic style and flavor. But given that, FRANKENSTEIN certainly combines goth-noir with high-tech and romantic attitude!

Wonder what the Bronte sisters would be writing if they were alive today? Laurel K. Hamilton or Anne Perry?
 

Re: The essence of Cyberpunk?
Date: 10/06/2006
From: Ebie
Location: NYC

Bladerunner -- definitely.
Do Androids Dream? -- not so much :)

You make a good case for Frankenstein as cyberpunk, using my own criteria, dammit!

Long as the Brontes wouldn't be writing Danielle Steele, I'm okay. I suspect they'd be TV screenwriters, maybe showrunners for something dark on FOX...
 

Re: The essence of Cyberpunk?
Date: 10/18/2006
From: Annastasia
Location: UK

Please could you help me in defining cyberpunk. iam doing a style book all about cyberpunk, and would love some views on there fashion, makeup, music ect.

thanks very much
xx
 

Re: The essence of Cyberpunk?
Date: 10/18/2006
From: Greg Bear

Any thoughts/definitions for Annastasia? I have a hard enough time defining science fiction, so I'll pass for now...
 

Re: The essence of Cyberpunk?
Date: 11/02/2006
From: Justin
Location: Lynnwood

As I have said before, cyberpunk is more then just computers and outlaws. If it were then a good portion of CP works would not fit within the barriers. There is a wonderfull style about Cyberpunk that draws us near to it, but this style is not uniform, nor is it defining. Cyberpunk, TRUE Cyberpunk, is an outlaw genre and as such it has something to say about our world.
There is one constant in Cyberpunk. Society. Every work of Cyberpunk that I have ever read has shown some sort of social element. We don't read these story's because they contain cybernetic limbs... we read them because of what these technologies say about us.
Ghost in the Shell is perhaps the most complete work of Cyberpunk. It may not be a book, but true cyberpunks do not stay at home on staerday and read, they watch movies and listen to music. If you examine GITS you will see that almost every story centers on a social issue. Why does the laughing man do what he does? Why has the scientist downloaded his ghost into tank? These story's are entertaining, but more importantly they ask us questions about how society will respond to these technologies. They address the "Social Morality".
 

Re: The essence of Cyberpunk?
Date: 11/03/2006
From: Greg Bear

I agree, GITS is a fine example, and definitely cyber-punk--but we can't define cyberpunk by social awareness alone. Most of the best SF takes a long, hard look at one or more social issues. Are THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, FAHRENHEIT 451, FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON, or THE FOREVER WAR cyberpunk?

Organic Chemistry

Date: 09/26/2006 From: Dr. Howard Deutsch
Location: Atlanta Georgia

Good to meet you tonight and mention some of my work on the origin of life from an organic chemist's point of view. I think that you and otherwriters need to start devoting some energy to the "origin of life (OL)" problem which is completely different than evolution. There are many facts and good theory about evolution (and much more needed), but there are virually no facts and no theory on the OL problem. A few bio molecules forming under "primorial" conditions is the first step in walking to the sun.

Howard Deutsch
Research Scientist, Georgia Tech
Retired
 

Re: Organic Chemistry
Date: 09/28/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Howard! Great to chat with you and sign all your books at Emory. As we discussed, there's considerable interest now in clay minerals and their chemical properties, in particular montmorrilonite. And A.G. Cairns-Smith wrote a pioneering work on the evolution of terrestrial organics, "Genetic takeover - and the mineral origins of life," Cambridge University Press, 1982 Look it up and let me know what you think!

Songs of Earth and Power

Date: 09/26/2006 From: Jim Golden
Location: Connecticut

Just got done re-reading Songs of Earth and Power for the 3rd time. I've read the books (together and seperate) once every decade or so since they came out and its a real thrill to read it in ones 20s, 30s and 40s and get a different emotional response each time. This is just a fan note - Its one of the best fantasy epics (or any kind of epic) I've ever read; and as I get older my interest in fantasy has really declined. You want to know more and more about each character as they evolve, transitions between scenes were great and nothing about it got tiresome. Even the really intense scenes were always just enough and never over the top. Phenomenally well written. The afterwords was just icing on the cake. I've got Mahler's 10th on my computer in the background and I've got to get on Amazon and see if I can find any Waltiri...

Thanks for a superb novel. Please revisit this world(s) again. Cheers,

Jim
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 09/28/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Jim! Arno Waltiri is a figment, of course, but you might look around for Korngold, Max Steiner, Newman, and others I used to shape his character. There's a real renaissance in recorded film scores!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/06/2007
From: Roy
Location: Japan

I finally read this novel about a year ago and it absolutely floored me. I'd picked it up because I enjoyed all of your SF novels (the one's I've gotten around to reading so far anyway) but something about this book was actually far more satisfying-it was actually a very emotionally powerful piece of work.

I would like to echo the sentiment of the above poster, that I would love to see this world or these characters revisited, but I would also worry that a sequel would lack the intensity of the original. If you have any ideas for a followup, I would love to see you pursue them, but I wonder if it would be possible for you to get back to whatever it was that made the writing at that time feel so personal.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/06/2007
From: Greg Bear

Probably difficult to recover those days--so I advance to new topics, new subjects!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/15/2007
From: Aniruddh
Location: India

I've read a host of science fiction and fantasy novels. Songs of earth and power transcend both these genres and is something else altogether. The mysticism associated with fantasy novels is derived from Michael's experiences in the realm, and does not conform to established standards. Like all good books, the message(couldn't find a better word here) is applicable to society as it exists, as it had existed, and as it will, in a tantalising glimpse of the future.

Recovering this series will no doubt be wonderful, yet, if nothing more were to be published, then it's just as well. This is a wonderful work of art, and it is without doubt among the finest books i've ever read. Just had to let you know that this book means so much to me. Thanks for this.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/15/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thank you very much, Aniruddh! SONGS contains ideas (and a few passages) that date back to my high school days. It's special to me, as well.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/27/2007
From: Mike
Location: UK

Gorgeous Book, thankyou :)Loved Eon too!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 03/06/2007
From: Greg Bear

My pleasure, Mike.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 03/15/2007
From: Jesse Gordon
Location: California

I have to echo everyone else's comments here. This was the first of your books that I read, and to this day it's my favorite. I tend to pull out old favorites once a year or so and re-read them, and Songs of Earth and Power never loses its magic. In fact, this was one of the books that made me want to be a writer, so I guess I owe you a double thank-you. ;)

Take care, Greg.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 03/15/2007
From: Greg Bear

Much appreciated, Jesse!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 07/14/2007
From: Tamiko
Location: Nashville

First off, your book was brilliant! It's the first of yours I've read, & I've already read it twice (in less than a year). I read at least one book every week and a half.

I never even considered myself a science fiction reader, but when I read this book and a series by Octavia Butler I was floored!

I know none of what I experience in the world of pages will ever be the same.

Thanks for capturing me!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 07/14/2007
From: Greg Bear

To be in the company of Octavia Butler is high praise indeed! Thanks, Tamiko.
 

Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 07/23/2007
From: Maria
Location: Isle of Skye

Have just been introduced to the above by my housemate. I'm not a big fantasy fan (LOTR and HP aside) and I can't say I was really enthralled by the first of the books, but it interested me enough to tackle the second and I'm very pleased that I did. It really is amazing. Being an ex student of Celtic Studies with an interest in music it hit all the right notes. Thanks!
 

Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 07/25/2007
From: Greg Bear

You're most welcome, Maria. And you're in the right place for reading fantasy!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 08/08/2007
From: Larry
Location: Los Angeles, CA

I'm not a big fantasy reader...if anything, I usually avoid it. But, there are two books that I will constantly go back to because of how enjoyable they are - Heinlein's "Glory Road" and Bear's "Songs of Earth and Power". I've read the latter twice, and each time, it's almost impossible to put down.

I just sent my copy to my brother-in-law, who is a big Harry Potter fan. I think he'll find this more engrossing than that.

Big Bear fan since Eon, and will continue reading as long as he keeps on writing.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 08/09/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Larry!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 11/24/2007
From: Marshall Ireland
Location: San Diego, CA

There are few of the oh so many books I have read over my lifetime stayed with me long after I have put it down. This is truly one of those books and I am very happy to have found a place to thank you.

As a teen, I had two methods of escape, cycling and reading. And over the next several decades, many authors have taken me on many incredible journeys, though few I revisit. The Infinity Concerto has that rare magic though, and even now barely holds together from the many times I have reread its pages to myself and aloud to my family.

A thought though, I would love to see this animated by one of the greats like Hayao Miyazaki from Studio Ghibli. Any thoughts?

Anyway, thank you again for taking us all to such a wondrous world, and for the other worlds as well!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 12/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

Ah, that would be wonderful, wouldn't it? I feel the same way about SPIRITED AWAY, TOTORO, and so many others from Studio Ghibli. (We own a number of Cat Buses.) Always a delight.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 12/21/2007
From: Michael Loveless
Location: Lewisville, TX

I, too, just finished reading it for the second time, but it was like reading it for the first time. There were so many events I didn't remember, or struck me in a different manner.

Of course, being a musician/composer/aspiring film composer named Michael kind of attracts me to the story.

You mentioned in the afterword being a painter. I'd love to see some of the locales you described so well on paper or canvas.

Thanks for a great story!
Michael Loveless

 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 12/24/2007
From: Greg Bear

I only did a few sketches for these books, and I'm not sure where I put them... Ah, I'll have to get back to painting some day soon! But there's always that next novel to get working on...
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/10/2008
From: Ian Hocking
Location: Canberra Australia

Hi Greg, Thanks so much for this fantastic book, I am recovering from a paragliding accident and have been house- bound for some time with a broken leg. Both this book and Eon have been a great way to pass the time over the past several months, and I can't thankyou enough for helping me escape the confines of my house sending me on a trip that is far beyond anything my humble imagination could ever produce.

Thanks again
Ian.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/16/2008
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Ian! At least you get out and go paragliding... Here's to a swift recovery and more, safer adventures.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 03/09/2008
From: Alan Boffey
Location: Australia

Hello Greg
I have read EON Eternity and Legacy about 3 times now and they are amazing. I keep rereading them much to my partners annoyance but each time I feel I connect a little more with the characters. Songs of Earth and Power although being around for some time is a recent read and I am just reading the second half which is The Serpent Mage. Again a great read and makes me look outside myself an consider the world around me.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 03/11/2008
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Alan!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 08/21/2008
From: Hazel Collier
Location: Scotland

This is my 'hospital book'. I go in and out more frequently than the average person and it is always my first choice, like a best friend. The story has sustained me for years and I'm going to have to replace my copy now because the pages are coming loose. Every time I read it I am happy. Thanks for a wonderful story that never loses anything from repeat readings.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 09/01/2008
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks for your kind words, Hazel. Here's hoping your hospital stays are shorter and fewer, and the reading experiences more idyllic! Let me know how it goes.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/17/2009
From: Will Duquette
Location: Los Angeles

I love these as well, but the detail I like best is the building on Sunset Boulevard with the rubbish tube going down the front. I used to drive by it regularly, back when it was still there.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/24/2009
From: Greg Bear

And it's still there now--reburbished once again as a luxury hotel! It's now called the Sunset Tower Hotel; it used to be the St. James Club and Hotel (built in 1929), and for a time was known as the Argyle--after I wrote THE SERPENT MAGE.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 03/02/2009
From: Megan
Location: Ft. Stewart GA

I just read this book again for the second time. I believe I first read it in 98 or 99, around my freshman year of high school. It is the only book of yours that I have read, but I once again found it enjoyable. I just sent it to a friend of mine serving prison time, I hope he can enjoy it (sometimes people do very stupid things out of desperation and pay the price long after).

All in all a very good read, full of emotion and curiosities, just as any novel in this genre should be....but many fall short of the mark. Thank you for an intriguing story that grows with the reader.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 03/02/2009
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Megan.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 04/29/2009
From: Steve
Location: California

I saw after googling that this had been touched on a couple of years ago, so thought I'd ask. Has Songs of Earth and Power been released as an audio book yet? Would love to enjoy this on my commute as this is still one of my all time favorites. Many thanks for your reply!

-Steve
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 04/30/2009
From: Greg Bear

Actually, I don't believe it has been made into an audiobook. Seems to have missed out on that particular trend.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 09/11/2009
From: Alex
Location: Canada

I read The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage (they were separate books then) quite a while ago. Recently I wanted to recommend them to an acquaintance and, searching for an online reference, stumbled upon this forum.

First, I'd like to say that I am impressed by the open dialogue between the author and the readers. Every single comment posted on this topic was answered, even if by a simple "thank you". Kudos to Mr. Bear.

Now, since I'm already here, a few words about the book. It's been a while and I don't remember a lot of the details, so I'll concentrate on the impression it left on me.

I really liked the Infinity Concerto, for multiple reasons. First, it was different. The protagonist wasn't some kind of epic hero off to save the world from a peril only he can combat, for the most part, he had trouble just staying alive. The fantasy land was not a beautiful utopia, it was dark, brutal, deadly and unfair. The magic had a sense of boundaries and was not used as "deus ex machina". The characters were not stereotypical good/evil but had a depth that made them believable.

Come to think of it, "believable" is the operative word here. Greg Bear managed to create world that, on one hand is very alien but on the other hand, is self-consistent and thus feels "real".

All in all, one of my favourite speculative fiction books.

That said, I was somewhat disappointed by the sequel. Don't get me wrong, I do not consider The Serpent Mage a bad book, it's just that it wasn't, in my humble opinion, as good as the first one, mainly because I felt that it compromised on some of the qualities that made The Infinity Concerto so enjoyable to me.

I'd also like to comment on the idea of making an animation film based on the novel. Unfortunately, not every work translates well from print to screen and I suspect that "Songs" may lose a lot of it's appeal if the transition is not treated extremely carefully. Also, while I enjoy Myazaki's work, I am not sure that he is the right person for the job. If I have to pick an animation film that's close in feel to The Infinity Concerto, it would probably be Hiroyuki Okiura's Jin-Roh.

Sorry for rambling...

Best regards,
Alex.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 09/23/2009
From: Greg Bear

I'll happily entertain proposals from any of the masters of anime! Thanks, Alex.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 10/10/2009
From: Joost Lommers
Location: The Netherlands

I just finished rereading the first part, The Infinity Concerto, and again I am overwhelmed. I read both book from Songs of Earth and Power back in the eighties. As separate books, and in the Dutch translations. I love music and the role it plays in these books always felt close to how I relate to music. The first time I read the books, I went out the buy some Mahler. Now I was looking for some Waltiri, and was somewhat disappointed to find out in this discussion he isn't real.

On the other hand, it is quite magical to be able to find out on this site that Waltiri is fictitious, to be able to reread the books in English, bought second handed on Amazon.com, and have the writer of these great books respond to a message from someone from the other side of the earth.

After some twenty five years, Songs of Earth and Power are still greatly written, inspiring books. Thanks for sharing these stories with us.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 10/11/2009
From: Brenda White
Location: Cheshire, England

Dear Mr Bear,
Someone lent me a hardback copy of your books - (Infinity Concerto, & the Serpent Mage) about 5 years ago. It didn't look like the sort of book I would usually read, but I'm very glad I did. What a wonderful (and very believable) story. I could really feel the eerie atmosphere at the beginning, when Michael goes into the Clarkham house with Arno's key. Your skill is such that for the rest of the book, I felt like I was watching the whole proceedings myself. I had to return the book of course, but then spent many months trying to get hold of my own copy, which was out of print here in the UK. I did eventually manage to buy them both, & since then I've re-read both books many times. On the strength of how I liked those stories, I bought a copy of Eon, (which is also not the type of book I would normally choose) & discovered what a truly gifted author you are. Mr Bear, your books are modern classics in the making. Thank you so much, & please please, carry on scribbling. Kind Regards
Brenda
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 10/14/2009
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Joost! If you want a dose of Waltiri, just listen to the works of Korngold and Steiner...
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 10/14/2009
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Brenda. Got to get these books back in print!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 11/04/2009
From: Art
Location: Seattle

Dearest Mr. Greg Bear, Sir....

I'm a fan and Songs Of Earth And Power possibly ranks as my all time favorite piece of fiction; right up there with Slaughter House 5, Mother Night, the collected works of Tolkien and Tim Powers. I have purchased this story numerous times and gifted it always. I own the audio version of City At The End Of Time(I love it) and I would dearly love to see Songs Of Earth And Power receive a very similar treatment in the audio format. And yes, while you're at it, please option it to film or animation studio who is contractually obligated to not screw it up.

Will audio ever happen? I would happily re-purchase Songs as well as Eon, Eternity, Queen Of Angels, Slant, etc. I'm sure I'm not alone.

Sincerely,

Art Behrman
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 11/05/2009
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Art! No audio books yet for many of these titles. Queen of Angels was recorded on tape many years ago and might still be available.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 12/16/2009
From: Melissa Dryden
Location: New Zealand

Hi Greg,
I just want to say THANK YOU for giving me so much joy and pleasure from reading Songs of Earth and Power - my all time favorite book. I just hope that one day Songs of Earth and Power is transformed onto the big screen (I am sure Peter Jackson could do it justice) Once again thank you &for sharing such a majestic journey of wonderment and adventure.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 12/17/2009
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Melissa! I'm scanning some film negatives from a 1993 visit to New Zealand... Actually revised Songs of Earth and Power while on tour in Australia and New Zealand in 1992. Beautiful place to live!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 01/06/2010
From: Stephan Crabtree
Location: Florida, USA

Never thought I'd get to reply to the author of this book. I got it in my early teens...had to have been 10-15 years ago. In that time I have no idea how many times I have read it, but each time it is always a pleasure. Thank you for your work.

I know you've said you didn't intend a sequel, but I'd be interested to see the world later. Perhaps a repeat of the first war brewing? Anyway, thanks again.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 01/29/2010
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Stephan! I did use similar elements in CITY AT THE END OF TIME, but with a very different result...
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/28/2010
From: Alan Sturdivant
Location: Ft Hood, TX

Thank you for such a great read. This is definitely one of my favorite books of all time and I look forward to buying it again...for the third time.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 03/04/2010
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for the triple, Alan!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 06/30/2010
From: Mike Bernhardt
Location: SF Bay Area

I was just looking to see if Arno Waltiri was real and came across this site- how great! I just finished reading Songs of Earth and Power for the 2nd time. The first time was in the mid-90s. I never forgot it and recently managed to find it used on Amazon so that I could read it again. I read a lot of other stories by you since then but this one will always be my favorite (followed by Queen of Angels and Slant). It's just a beautiful story with a rich universe, riveting characters-- and it's wonderfully looong. Thanks for writing it!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 07/20/2010
From: Greg Bear

I thank you, Mike, and Arno thanks you! (In his third incarnation, he's currently writing music for the video game WOLFLANDS OF THE DARK SIDHE...)
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 08/17/2010
From: Andy Dawson
Location: Ash Green, Surrey, England

Just bought these books (book) again to read on holiday in Sardinia, as I couldn't find my original copies after moving house. It must be 25 years since I last read them, but they made a great impression on me at the time and something about them has always remained in the back of my mind. Very powerful and thought provoking writing.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 08/19/2010
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Andy! Which edition did you find in Sardinia?
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 09/15/2010
From: David Idrogo
Location: Houston, TX

I am eager to share your "finishing" of "Kubla Khan" with my sophomore lit class tonight. Most of my students do not see any relevance in such "old" literatre as the British Romantics.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 10/02/2010
From: Adrian Jowett
Location: Isle of Man, UK

A big fan of much of your stuff, but an especial lover of these two stories. I have pretty much read my copy to death over the years and was wondering if there were any plans to release an electronic version? Just received a Kindle and would love to have it available there!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 10/02/2010
From: Greg Bear

I love Coleridge! Who could not love "Kubla Khan"? And have them check out THE MONGOLIAD, as well (online at www.Mongoliad.com), about Kubla's ancestors thirty or forty years before the Pleasure Dome.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 10/02/2010
From: Greg Bear

Another in the queue! I'll check, Adrian.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 11/16/2010
From: Hazel Collier
Location: Scotland

I'm still taking Songs of Earth and Power into hospital with me and would like an ebook version for my iPad. I can't find one anywhere.
Can you tell me where I can buy one? I'd hate to leave it out of my iPad library.
I have four hospital stays coming up in the next twelve months so it's a bit urgent.
Having had a stroke since my last illness I am aiming to have enough to keep my mind occupied in case the next stroke leaves me unable to talk.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 11/19/2010
From: Greg Bear

Funny you should mention that! I've just yesterday sent a long file to Richard Curtis for publication in the e-reads program. Might take a month or more to get it into the proper form, but it's coming!

And let me know how the hospital stay works out.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 11/24/2010
From: Marian
Location: Miami, FL, USA

What does one say about a book they still own in its original form for the last 25 years- bought when I was 13 and learning to play the cello... sadly I didnt continue playing nor did I have the self discipline or drive to keep me playing. I bought it simply because it sounded interesting and had to do with music... Little did I know it would become one of my all time favorites- visited many times over the years. I've even managed to rescue it at least twice from the give-away stack and more recently about 6-8 yrs ago from the trash pile due to it's poor condition- my mom just figured it was time to go to its eternal rest... Yeah ok, it can go to its eternal rest scotch tape and all forever on my book shelf until I die... This is one of my all time favorite books and baring natural disaster intend to keep it!!! Thank you for this cherished novel... I have to agree with sooo many of the posts on here through out the years...
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 11/26/2010
From: Greg Bear

Worn out books are like the Velveteen Rabbit! Much loved, imbued with our own spirit, carrying history and thought.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 01/28/2011
From: Tom Elmer
Location: Westmont, IL

I'm glad to hear that Songs of Earth and Power in e-book format is coming! I bought myself a Nook for Christmas. Eon was the first book I bought for it (still my favorite book of all time). In the publication notes it mentions that SoEaP was available, but I couldn't find it anywhere (legally). It being another of my oft-read top 10 books, I can't wait for an e-book version.

(I think it's actually my most re-read book. I tend to read it when I'm feeling low and need a boost of self-confidence. This is rare for a fantasy novel. Often you'll read fantasy books and want to stay in the universe with a sequel or something. However, I always feel like /doing/ something after reading this one. Thank you!)
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/02/2011
From: Greg Bear

I hope to see SONGS available soon, Tom. I'll keep on the e-Reads publisher about this! (He's also my agent, so he listens...)
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 03/29/2011
From: Wes Tower
Location: Penn.

I have always enjoyed this duology, just because of how orginal the material is. I believe I read in a forward or comment by Mr Bear about the story, how he was inspired by his father in law 's take on elfs in Broken Sword, about how alien Poul Anderson made the elfs and trolls feel. I think that is what captured me. It takes the elements of celtic myth and enriches them in whole new ways.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 04/10/2011
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Wes. Poul's take on the Nordic myths was quiet faithful to the originals.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 05/06/2011
From: Andrew
Location: Cardiff, Wales

One of a select few books I have not donated to charity after reading! Have lost count of the number of times I have read this book and love how battered it now looks from many years of thumbing through it.
Thanks for all the happy hours lost in all your works.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 05/25/2011
From: Greg Bear

Good to hear, Andrew! Nothing reveals the life of a story like a well-thumbed book.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 08/03/2011
From: Bob Huffer
Location: Orlando, Fl

I was glad to see the discussion on this site about an e-book version of this work. It's one of those I keep going back to again and again. It's like visiting an old friend. I check about once a month, but still no sign of it. Any update on its availability?
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 09/13/2011
From: Marcy
Location: Oregon

Wow, it's so great to see how many people love these books the way I do! I read them for the first time in or just after high school (80s or early 90s) and have re-read them so many times that I can pick either up, start anywhere in the book, and know exactly what's going on. Quotes from them pop into my head often. And I thought I was the only one. The only book on my shelf more battered than these two is "American Gods," by Neil Gaiman.

I almost hope there ISN'T ever a movie; it won't compare to the one in my head.

Thank you, Mr. Bear, for these wonderful books. I'm looking forward to when my kids are old enough to enjoy them with me... it won't be long now!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 09/25/2011
From: Greg Bear

It's being prepared for ereads now. I'll check up on its status!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 09/25/2011
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Marcy--good to be on a shelf of well-worn favorites!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/18/2012
From: George Michaelson
Location: Australia

I was struck by how hard it seems to find 'the serpent mage' now that a revised 'songs of earth and power' exists.

I have no deep rooted objection to authors revising: Michael Moorcock reworked 'warlords of the air' to cast some real people as minor characters and I think improved the books, so its even-stephens on the concept.

But, despite a number of 'disappointed by the sequel' responses here, and, if I can project, a suspicion the author also felt the second work didn't gel, I want to say that I LIKED IT. So, I see the revision as not neccessarily a net "win" compared to the original two volume set.

Can I also say that Alongside the pub of stale beer for book thieves, there is a sandwich shop of stale bread and tired lettuce for publishers and authors agents who negotiated crap e-publishing deals.

I wish more of the older work was available. It is sad that neither of the originals of the songs of power are available legally as e-pub and I can only imagine this is because somebody snuck out of a time-warp, and made the youthful author sign the contract-from-hell which made it impossible to get them uploaded legally at any fair return.

Sad
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/22/2012
From: Greg Bear

Both books are coming from EReads shortly, set from my own files, so let me know if you find any problems!

Thanks, George.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 06/20/2012
From: George Michaelson
Location: Australia

quotes: "From: Greg Bear
Date: 02/22/2012

Both books are coming from EReads shortly, set from my own files, so let me know if you find any problems!"

any news? still not visible at EReads. Desperately waiting to give author money...



 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 07/12/2012
From: Jason
Location: Pennsylvania

Mr. Bear,

I first read Songs of Earth and Power about twenty years ago and I just wanted to say thanks for creating such a beautiful and vivid world for the rest of us to experience. The Realm is one of my favorite fantasy worlds to revisit, and the speech by Tonn/Adonna about the nature of the universe and music still strikes a chord (haha) in me every time I read it. Thanks much!

P.S. Way to mess with my head with Hull Zero Three. I had wonky dreams for weeks afterward. haha
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 07/23/2012
From: Greg Bear

Good to have you on board both for the fantasy and the science fiction! Thanks, Jason.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 09/19/2012
From: Bob
Location: Orlando

I keep checking about once a month, but I still can't find an e-book available. Any update on the status?
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 10/17/2012
From: Greg Bear

No pub date yet! But I'll stay on it.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 10/31/2012
From: Greg Bear

Check in with E-Reads and remind them you're waiting! Thanks, Bob.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 01/21/2013
From: Richard
Location: Bedfordshire

Hi Greg,

This morning, I finished listening to Eon narrated by Stefan Rudnicki & started listening Eternity this evening! I will also get Forge of God & Anvil of Stars on audio.

Will Songs of Earth and Power become available too on audio?

Thank you for transporting me to many different worlds. I first started reading your works with Eon in late 1980s.



 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 02/03/2013
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Richard! I do believe SONGS will be coming out in audio as well, but I do not know when.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 05/28/2013
From: M. Azurin
Location: Philippines

Hi Greg,

I read The Infinity Concerto as a teenager, but could never find a copy of The Serpent Mage in my country. Maybe 15-20 years later, I picked up a copy of Songs and finally got to read the whole thing.

That was a few years ago. Yesterday I finished re-reading it for the second time and it passed the test of all great books: it rewards the rereader with things he never noticed the first time around :)

I especially liked the idea of our living in worlds that we created for ourselves, and the line "those who stand in the final sunlight and final rainstorms in the weather beyond the world ... perhaps they understand souls" -- this is now my favorite line in the book. Sums up my worldview perfectly.

Thank you so much!

Mike
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 06/17/2013
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks for the kind words, Mike! SONGS has themes that I later developed in my science fiction novels. Interesting back and forth between fantasy and science...
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 07/24/2013
From: Richard Steinberg
Location: Indianapolis, IN

I am becoming an increasing fan of your work. Still a few pages from the end of this one, so the specific compliments have yet to completely gel, but you sent me to the web trying to figure out which completion of Mahler's 10th comes closest to the one in your book. Of course I can only hear snippets from the free samples online, but of those I could find,the version by Rudolph Barshai (Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, Rudolph Barshai) seems the most like your very detailed writings of Michael Perrin's perception of the performance.

A few preliminary comments -- one of my other favorite authors, A.A. Attanasio, has taken a similar approach to novels with both f and sf elements. In Radix, he emphasized the sf side, but in his later Arthurian series (where I first learned about the Sidhe) vibratory nodes and electromagnetic life forms are more prominent as a hint of an explanation for magic. Both of you are highly original, but I wonder whether either of you influenced the other or spoke about this since publication.

Back to those last pages, and thank you for your works.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 07/31/2013
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Richard! The version of Mahler's 10th that I'm familiar with is Deryck Cooke's. I'll have to listen to the others! I do enjoy Attanasio's work. No other cross-currents I'm aware of, however! We just swim in the same seas...
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 04/13/2014
From: Jake walters
Location: Poplarville Mississippi

Mr Bear I must say songs of earth and power was one of your greatest works, I must truly admit great masterpiece and while I think the story could be continued on in his daughter I believe you did the story justice by ending where you did. its been in my home for nearly 10 years now and I don't plan on letting it go anywhere soon. PS just so you know that book got me through a lot of hard times, can't wait to read your new book. shout out from the last nerd in the south.( whispers) I think they killed the rest of us off already lol


 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 04/15/2014
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Jake! I'm very touched by your response. And they'll never get rid of us nerds! We abide north, south, east and west.

What is it like to work in a universe like George Lucas created?

Date: 09/25/2006 From: Adam O'Brien
Location: Brisbane, Australia

What is it like to work in a universe like George Lucas created? The restrictions that it gives you set certain boundaries. Did you feel cornered in your imagination at times?

I ask this as i am attempting to write in the Star-trek world, its daunting to say the least.

Thanks

Adam O'Brien
 

Re: What is it like to work in a universe like George Lucas created?
Date: 09/28/2006
From: Greg Bear

I was given considerable latitude while writing ROGUE PLANET. But then, I knew pretty much what my degrees of freedom would be! So I did not push too hard in certain directions. Even so, I was surprised by how much I was allowed to shape the SW history--mostly by collating facts derived from other sources, of course. Great fun. When I wrote my ST novel twenty-three years ago (wow, has it been that long?) I was also given similar latitude. Other writers have experienced greater or lesser degrees of freedom.

Politics and Science Fiction

Date: 09/25/2006 From: Professor Courtney Brown
Location: Emory University

Hi Greg,
I just wanted to welcome you to Emory, and to let you know that I teach a course each year that features at least one of your books. The course is "Politics and Science Fiction." I podcast the course, and you can even listen to how we discuss your book. Here is the url:
http://www.courtneybrown.com/classes/podcasts.html
We did Darwin's Radio last semester, but will use another one of your books next semester (Spring 2007). If you have any suggestions, please feel free to make them. The syllabus is
http://www.courtneybrown.com/classes/scifi/polinscifisyl2006.html
I will be at the public lecture tomorrow (Tuesday the 26th), and I am really looking forward to it. Thanks for coming here.
Warmly,
Courtney
 

Re: Politics and Science Fiction
Date: 09/28/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Courtney! I had a wonderful time at Emory--excellent audience and discussion Tuesday night. Students and professors gave me a lot to think about!

Rogue Planet!

Date: 09/22/2006 From: Adam
Location: BIrsbane, Australia

Hi Greg,
I bought your Star Wars novel Rogue Planet years ago and read it three times. I recently read it again after watching the revenge of the sith. It makes great sense of the prequel world of Star Wars... i particularly loved the interaction between Anakin and Obiwan, kind of fueling what's to come. I hope that you can do more with them in the future. I think your writing along with Zahn's is the best in the field.

Yours sincerely

Adam O'B.
 

Re: Rogue Planet!
Date: 09/23/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Adam! I think Timothy Zahn is a ruling Jedi master in the Star Wars saga. It was fun to play in George (and Tim's) sandbox!
 

Re: Rogue Planet!
Date: 10/02/2006
From: ricardo
Location: Glendale, CA

Adam, you would really like a certain two-in-one paperback I have....Greg's "Hardfought" on one side, turn it upside down and Timnothy Zahn's "Cascade Point" is on the other! Remember that release, Greg? TOR should have put out more of those.....
 

Re: Rogue Planet!
Date: 10/02/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, ricardo!
 

Re: Rogue Planet!
Date: 01/09/2007
From: David Nelson
Location: Australia

G'day Greg, I just wanted to know whether I need to read any other Star Wars books in order to read 'Rogue Planet'.
I'm astounded as to how many books have been written in this 'super' series and don't really want to read them (at)all. I've seen the movies (1,2,3-Yawn. 4,5,6-Wide awake) and hope that that's enough.
I suppose that if RP had been written by anyone else, then I wouldn't be asking this question, but you did a great job playing around in Asimov's sand pit that I'm eager to try it.
Regards
David Nelson
 

Re: Rogue Planet!
Date: 01/09/2007
From: Greg Bear

G'day, David! ROGUE PLANET makes light reference to events in later STAR WARS novels, otherwise, fits right in between episodes 1 and 2, and movie knowledge is all you'll require.
 

Re: Rogue Planet!
Date: 01/16/2007
From: Bryan
Location: New South Wales, Australia

Hello everyone. While I haven't read many novels from the Star Wars universe, I must say Greg your's is easily my favourite. The way you wove the story and characters into the Star Wars movie universe (as mentioned above) was very satisfying. You captured the "flavour" of the universe to the point where it was like watching one of the movies- meaning I didn't want it to end! Thank-you.

I'm sure you're QUITE happy to write your own fiction (which I love too), but I gotta say it- feel free to write more Star Wars fiction Greg! ;p
 

Re: Rogue Planet!
Date: 01/16/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Bryan!
 

Re: Rogue Planet!
Date: 10/17/2007
From: george
Location: cleveland,oh

im in the middle of Rogue planet! you did a great job folling up the phantom of the mentice! im a young teen but i really like star wars. what made you want to do a star wars book? is there more coming? thanks,george
 

Re: Rogue Planet!
Date: 10/20/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, George! I'm a STAR WARS fan myself--and the chance to write about a teenage Darth Vader seemed too good to pass up. No more books are planned, however.

Thank you

Date: 09/16/2006 From: Simon
Location: London


Hello,

I just wanted to say thank you so much for creating both darwin's radio and the sequel, they are undoubtedly the best books I have ever read. The one problem is I tend to get obsessed with characters and there tales, so much so that I feel physically sick because I can't conceptualize not being apart of there world, especially so with these books. I was once on the bus reading Darwin's Children when I felt like I was being physically sucked into the book which as you can imagine was a bit scary but also dissapointing when I recaptured my handle on reality. I just wanted you to know how much I love your characters and your mind and thank you for being born. :)

p.s even though the genre of these books was different, I was more compelled and connected to kaye, mitch, stella and the world they populated more then any of the harry potter/lord of the rings books. Thanks again.

 

Re: Thank you
Date: 09/18/2006
From: Greg Bear

I'm very flattered, Simon!

Question from an old friend.

Date: 09/16/2006 From: Jon Jackson
Location: Santa Rosa, CA

Hi Greg.

I'm asking this for someone else, as I don't remember the story myself. But can you tell me the story name and author, if you know it? Italian opera buffa composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi is saved from death and brought forward in time. He subsequently becomes a rock star, and (once again) dies of drink/drugs/and the like. Ring a bell? One of yours? Thanks for your help! I hope you're doing well.

Jon Jackson
 

Re: Question from an old friend.
Date: 09/16/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Jon! Good to hear from you--but sorry that I can't answer this question. Not one of mine--does this ring any operatic bells, readers?
 

Re: Question from an old friend.
Date: 02/19/2007
From: Stefano Frega
Location: Verona

Hi Mr. Jackson,
the novel is Robert Silverberg's "Gianni".
Is your friend Professor Robert Greenberg?
Hope this helps.
Stefano
 

Re: Question from an old friend.
Date: 02/19/2007
From: Greg Bear

Sounds like our mystery might have been solved! Thanks, Stefano.
 

Re: Question from an old friend.
Date: 02/19/2007
From: Jon Jackson
Location: Windsor, CA

Hi Stefano! Thank you for the answer to this question! Actually, my "old friend" is Greg himself. But, it was, indeed, Dr. Greenberg who asked the question.

Jon
 

Re: Question from an old friend.
Date: 02/20/2007
From: Stefano Frega
Location: Verona

Happy to have contributed to the solution of the "mystery".
Jon, do you know Bob Greenberg personally? If so, please tell him I am an admirer of his lectures on music history. They are marvellous and I am eagerly awaiting new ones, especially a cicle on Baroque Opera. Do you think it could be possible to write directly to him? Unfortunately I do not have his e-mail address.
Thank you very much!
Stefano

Many a junket on this side of the Atlantic

Date: 09/13/2006 From: patrick
Location:

Noticed these at Bruce Sterling's Wired blog. Don't know whether you know him, but are you aware of these?


http://ideaconference.org/

http://www.ubicomp.org/ubicomp2006/conference_program/keynotes/
 

Re: Many a junket on this side of the Atlantic
Date: 09/13/2006
From: Greg Bear

Sounds like fun! I hadn't heard of this event before now. Bruce is always worth listening to.

Darwin's Radio

Date: 08/30/2006 From: Ken Dalton
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Hi Mr. Bear
I've just finished Darwin's Radio and I thought it was great science fiction. I have a B. Sc. in Biology and often put down sci-fi books half unread because of biological nonsense that I read. Not so with Darwin's Radio! It was well researched and I think sticks to the known facts. Sure it goes beyond known science, with evolution being controlled by a virus, but after all, it is fiction.
It was a great story, had great characters and had good science. Keep it up Mr. Bear, I'll start looking for Darwin's Children (the sequel, right?) ASAP.

Ken
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 08/31/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Ken! After eight years or so, I'm pleased to say that the biology in DARWIN'S RADIO is still current and cutting-edge. (And ERVs do play a substantial role in development--so is evolution next?)
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 09/12/2006
From: Daniel Assange
Location: Victoria, Australia

Hello there! On the subject of biological developments, I'd just like to point out an article I read recently which immediately reminded me of Darwin's Radio!: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10054-why-viral-stowaways-are-a-babys-best-friend.html

Personally I think it's quite neat how ERVs assist in defending against other invaders-- I think one way to look at it is as parasites 'upgrading' themselves to a symbiotic relationship with the host, which is more evolutionarily advantageous for both of them. I'm a biology student, and I must say your book and its sequel were quite inspiring, and well-researched. I had very few qualms with the science (although the conclusions were naturally very far-fetched)!

Keep up the good work,
- Daniel.
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 09/12/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Daniel! I can't open most science magazines without finding similar astounding bits of news. Biology is crackling with change!
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 09/13/2006
From: Ken Dalton
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Now that I've thought about it more, the science that Darwin's Radio reminds me of is something I discussed in my biology honours thesis, phenotypic plasticity. This is an interesting phenomenom, that the same genotype, in different environments, will produce very distinctive phenotypes.
It's like separating twins and raising them in completely different places and ending up with two completely different adults, each suited for the environment they were raised in.
That might make an interesting project for you Daniel, maybe even a Masters or Ph.D. thesis.
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 09/14/2006
From: Greg Bear

Epigenesis could be where it's at! How to regulate and alter phenotype without changing the genetic code...
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 09/17/2006
From: Ken Dalton
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Epigenesis is a very intersting topic and probably includes "phenotypic plasticity" as well as "gene regulation". Google those Greg and you'll probably be set for your next sci-fi novel.
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 09/18/2006
From: Greg Bear

Could take me right back to one of the early quasi-inspirations for DARWIN'S RADIO, Larry Niven's PROTECTOR. Humans as early-stage life-forms which, when mature, become very different beings... Highly recommended!
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 09/20/2006
From: Ken Dalton
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Larry Niven's PROTECTOR? I'll look around for it for sure.
Incidentally, there is a very interesting article about ERVs in the latest NewScientist, see
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10054-why-viral-stowaways-are-a-babys-best-friend.html
.
It seems they have been with us for a very long time.
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 09/21/2006
From: Greg Bear

Do a search on HERV and Luis P. Villarreal and you'll find some fascinating pieces posted by this eminent UCI virologist. Many twists and turns in the virus saga! I was recently interviewed by French documentary filmmakers, and their work is now finished: a film by Jean Crepu and Ali Saib called "Dr. Virus and Mr. Hyde," which explores the ways in which viruses can be useful. Recommended!
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 10/29/2006
From: Denyse D
Location: UK

I've just finished Darwins radio and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was a bit perplexed by the a the lepar nigger comment made by kaye in the supermarket towards the end. I nearly picked up this novel when i was pregnant back in 2002 and i'm quite relieved i didn't, lol. Darwins children is definatley next on my reading list. Thanx Greg
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 10/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Denyse! DARWIN'S CHILDREN expand upon the problems of discrimination facing the virus children and their parents--which Kaye is both sensing and anticipating when she makes this outburst.
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 02/16/2007
From: John Vester
Location: Rancho Cordova, California

As an interested reader though not formally educated in biology, can someone tell me if Epigenesis or "phenotypic plasticity" is what metamorphosis is? Ive often wondered how one genotype could produce two such distinct phenotypes.

The Darwin books by Mr. Bear are wonderful, and make me wish I had studied more biology.
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 02/17/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, John! Epigenesis is an amazing conceptual addition to our knowledge of evolution--that one's organism's genomic sequence can be the same as another's, but because of the control of certain genes, shutting them on or off or moderating their output, phenotype can be distinctly altered. And these traits can be passed on--inherited. Once inherited, they can also then be turned off--switchable traits, when and how they are switched determined most likely by environmental factors. This is part of the genetic toolbox I discuss in my novels--though, unfortunately, I didn't quite get around to talking about epigenesis!
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 02/18/2007
From: John Vester
Location: Rancho Cordova, California

Thanks for responding!

Is this the effect that causes serious changes in domesticated pigs, for example, when they go feral? Does it indicate that environmemntal stress is the cause? Or is it something more subtle? Can you cite an example, or a reference? This is facinating. Lends some support to saltationism, I would think.

Thanks for the great books, AND the chance to "talk" with you directly. The new tehnology has some real benfits (although I imagine you sometimes wonder about that as you face piles and piles of fan "letters").
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 02/18/2007
From: Greg Bear

Over generations, I suspect feral pigs undergo permanent changes of gene expression--but then, so do athletes! Do feral pigs breed true with so-called feral traits? Whether these would qualify as epigenetic or not, I don't know. Better example would be daphnia babies--water fleas--acquiring much heavier armor in the presence of predatorial larvae, maintaining it for generations until the threat passes. Very likely this is epigenetic.
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 02/18/2007
From: John Vester
Location: Rancho Cordova, California

Interesting, as is all of this. I just read your essay on the new biology and I have to agree, though on purely subjective grounds, that the one gene-one protein Central Dogma must find a place on the trash heap of history (am I being too harsh?).

I have never been able to understand how organisms can become so perfectly tailored in shape to their environmental and behavioral niches. How can there be any survival penalty if one's fin is not exactly perfect (absolutely perfect) for swimming? And if there is no penalty, why do we see species being so homogenous in form?

Epigensis and phenotypic plasticity make a bit more sense than the slow gradualism beloved of Dawkins, et al. What we need now is some communication between the environment and the active ingredients of this new view, so changes are directed by environment somehow. Perhaps stress?

If this all pans out as you are suggesting, maybe Mr. Lamarck should be rehabilitated some?

Thanks for the stimulating read and the resulting pleasant discussion.

By the way, have you read Matt Ridley's "Genome?" I found it to be one of the most mind boggling reads I can remember. His new book, "The Agile Gene," (which I am reading now) expands on a topic Genome suggested....that it is not "nature vs. nurture", but "nature through nurture." Right up your alley, I'd guess. People may argue about the meaning of it all, but the people researching what genes do and how they do it, are probably moving us closer to the truth than all the speculation ever can. Of course, I don't have to tell you that.

Thanks again.

 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 02/19/2007
From: Greg Bear

Actually, the Central Dogma was DNA begets RNA begets protein, and never the reverse. That's been dead for decades now, but it's still taught as a rule of thumb--a very bruised thumb. As I researched DARWIN'S RADIO, I kept finding amazing facts that flew directly in the face of random gradualism and the traditional mechanisms proposed for evolution. What struck me most of all was how an aristocracy of established thinkers could blithely ignore or explain away these inconvenient truths. And perhaps most disturbing of all, the suggestion from these same quarters that disagreement with these theories would aid and abet the enemies of science! Back in the late 1990s, it seemed best to throw all I had found into a work of closely researched and reasoned speculation (with a few outrageous bits as spice) and slip it under the radar. The reception has been very gratifying--especially from biologists who have told me, over and over again, that they never knew many of these facts. They had been buried in journals for decades, the secret treasure trove of bacteriology, virology, botany, and molecular genetics. Now, they're front-line, out in the open--but the war is from from over. A lot of reputations are at stake.
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 02/20/2007
From: John Vester
Location: Rancho Cordova, California

Greg

In looking into "epigenesis" I found some very interesting stuff in Wikepedia. In case you have not seen this, it appears that "epigenetics" is of real interest, above epigenesis, in your discussions.

Epigenesis is everything, beyond the genetic code, that makes cells differentiate. If there were no epigenesis, then cloning from a skin cell would be imposible, because the cell started from is already differentiated.

But epigenetics is, in addition, the study of any phenotypic changes inheritable from one generation to the next, such as methylation of DNA (see fragile X syndrome).

Boy, have you stared me on a quest to learn more!

Thanks!
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 02/21/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, John. I'm referring to changes in genetic expression beyond base pair sequence. Epigenetics is the proper word.
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 07/17/2008
From: Clint
Location: Jones County

I am looking for a test for Darwin's Radio to issue to students. Does anyone have any information that would be helpful?
 

Re: Darwin's Radio
Date: 07/17/2008
From: Greg Bear

Any leads for Clint's class, readers?

Little hint...

Date: 08/30/2006 From: Rainer A. Schmitz
Location: Cologne, Germany

Dear Greg,

your "Darwin" books were the best SF I ever red. But second to this is Stephen Baxter's "Evolution", a sequence of short stories starting 145 million years b.C. As yours, it's a lot of science in a living style. (I'm just reading it)

CU
Rainer

PS. BTW: In Europe it's absolutly uncommon to use to first name if you aren't really friends ;-)

Blood Cells with consciousness?

Date: 08/30/2006 From: Rainer A. Schmitz
Location: Cologne, Germany


Dear Greg,

I can't find it any more, but anywhere on your HP there was the question concerning "Blood Music", wether blood cells can have consciousness, or if, perhaps, they all might be regarded as a unit having consciousness.

First of all, the question of *mere* consciousness (not self-reflection!) ain't a yes-no-question, but one of it's degree. Every animal has some kind of consciousness, even without a nerve system, I think. May be stones too? I don't now, but, by logical reasoning, where to put the limit? If nerve nets have consciousness, how many nerves do you need? Does a single nerve have it? If nerves, why not other cells? From that, other large molecules? You see, it's hard to find the limit.

And what about group consciousness, I think it's proven to exist. To that, let me tell something out of a book I'm working on (translated by SYSTRAN ("bable fish"), sorry)

"And there is still another beautiful phenomenon, which worth mentioning I in this connection consider: the termite hill! There are many thousands of very small, very stupid animals, which create an enormous, complicated building. In addition they must cooperate and must have a precise conception of how this is to look like. That is at least as difficult (as comparison), as if a group of apes would create a modern multistoried building including installations, caretaker and security, planning included. And the termites do that nevertheless! And, now the joke, there is even a boss, the queen. She is just as stupid, but if one kills her, the game is over: Absolutely nothing runs anymore! How can one explain that? Well, if we regard 10,000 to 100,000 primitive nerve sytems as a unit, perhaps that is already enough. And the queen is then the center, and if we switch that off, the process ends."

CU
Rainer A. Schmitz
Cologne, Germany
 

Re: Blood Cells with consciousness?
Date: 08/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

I suspect red blood cells are pretty much tools rather than thinkers, but other cellular networks definitely cooperate and exchange commands and data to solve problems, which is one good definition for thinking. As for consciousness--in the sense of self-awareness--that is probably a later-stage property of complex multi-cellular individuals who need to model the behavior of other individuals within their social groupings. I doubt cells in themselves would be self-aware--unless messed with by Vergil Ulam, of course!
 

Re: Blood Cells with consciousness?
Date: 08/30/2006
From: Rainer A. Schmitz
Location: Cologne, Germany

Dear Greg,

sorry, but you seem to ignore that consciousness is NOT (reflecting) self-awareness. That's, of course, a very much higher level needing (probably) social interaction. Nevertheless I stay to my claim, that consciousness (!) is a very common attribute of nature, even of "dead" nature.

CU
 

Re: Blood Cells with consciousness?
Date: 08/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

I was referring to self-awareness. As you suggest, the more abstruse sort of consciousness may very well be widespread in nature, as I've discussed in many of my novels--including VITALS. No argument there, Rainer.

To act, or not to act...

Date: 08/29/2006 From: Per Ulrik B￸ge Nielsen
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Hi, Greg

In these troubled times of terror, be it from fundamental dark agers or our own supposedly enlightened governments, there is especially one book from your hand, which I find deals in an excellent way with our dilemma. That book Im sure you have guessed  or maybe you havent?  is Anvil of stars. The alien modus operandi in Anvil of stars is actually not dissimilar to the way, in which modern styled terrorists conduct themselves in battle.  Allow if you please for the fact, that your aliens are incredibly more advanced and sophisticated, than Hezbollah or indeed any other common terrorist group.

Well, to make my case as short as I possibly can: The dilemma posed by you in the book in question is as follows: In order to effectuate The Law of the Benefactors the agents of justice, which in this case are mere human teenagers have to kill trillions of hostages. And to add to that problem: no one can be really sure that the guilty party is actually punished/annihilated following this mass murder.

In the book, three characters in particular carve out the common positions available to men with such a massive responsibility at hand. I choose to call them: the Intellectual, the Action Man and the Fatalist; represented by Martin, Hans and Rosa  am I right?

As I see it:

The Intellectual must obtain knowledge in order to prove to himself beyond a reasonable doubt, that his action is justifiable in accordance with a moral code/construct - which paradoxically can be quite irrational in origin. However, in this case as in many throughout our lives justification is unattainable  in fact no comprehension can ever quite constitute certainty - hence the metaphysical concept of: beyond a reasonable doubt. The question that mares the intellectual is: when is proof, proof of proof?

The Action Man will recognize the limited ability of the intellectual to legitimize a course of action and stops short of the proof loop. He acts on something we could call his gut feeling, and he may as a result commit injustice, when in fact he paradoxically may have set out to do the opposite. He poses no questions beyond his limited skills of comprehension - rather they seem to irritate him and he tends to ignore them  he leaves them perhaps to the intellectual&? Action Man is largely instinctual. Contrary to the Intellectual he is in command exactly because he can omit the need for certainty! Better yet: morality is not a debilitating factor when he contemplates his possible actions.

The fatalist on the other hand deducts as a result of the described paradoxes that all justice is injustice and poses as the solution, that men should not judge, and that we should leave such things to the powers that be  whatever they are& None action however, essentially amounts to death, which does not compute, when you decipher the message as one of the living. The fatalist message interpreted: there is no absolution in action, to bad that youre alive, in death or abstinence theres absolution. The Fatalist construct is utterly metaphysical/other-worldly: Simply suffer your fate and beg that others do so as well. In the end the Fatalist resolves the paradox with a paradox: Life without recognizing life; or death as a solution to the inherent problems of life.

These archetypes or mental modes I find again and again mixed in various ways in the debate on how to handle terrorists and their methods (how to put your enemy at rest?)  I wonder how much is genetic. Anyway, consider the end to your book and the justification you put in place, and please let me know, which of the above types appeal to your gut  if not your intellect? Or to put it objectively: which if any is fit to stay alive?

Keep up the good work, Greg :-)

Greetings

Per
 

Re: To act, or not to act...
Date: 08/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

Astute analysis, Per. There is no quick-but-long-term solution to the problems we face in the middle east, however, whatever our psychological profile--and it's proven naive to believe there are such solutions. This conflict has been going on for hundreds if not thousands of years in various forms--Kipling called it the Great Game.

ANVIL OF STARS and FORGE OF GOD were written in part to model a biological/ecological approach to old-fashioned space opera themes, and to answer the Fermi paradox--but the echoes struck quite a few of us over the past three years.

Another series with echoes of the Great Game is of course the DUNE novels by Frank Herbert--carried on by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson--in which we come to sympathize with the terrorists... Now that's artistic and cultural diversity!

escape plans

Date: 08/28/2006 From: Ryan Costa
Location: Cleveland, OH

It is popular to write about colonizing outer space or another planet after The Earth isn't worth sticking around on.

A funnier Idea would be to hide out in suspended animation or Doc Savage's immortality pills on Earth for a few hundred or thousand years. However long it takes for most of humanity to die out and enormous quantities of easily harvested wildlife to regrow. Oh wait, this is a comedy.....it would be funnier to hide out long enough for geologic processes to endow us with a vast quantity of easily retrieved oil and natural gas. Ha.
 

Re: escape plans
Date: 08/29/2006
From: Greg Bear

Sounds a bit like the Rich Bastard's scheme in SLANT... With robot servants, of course.
 

Re: escape plans
Date: 08/30/2006
From: patrick
Location:

The thing that seems to escape most people when coming up with such ideas is that the technological capacity required to enable them, ironically, gives the option of transcending them. It's all mental, kiddies.
 

Re: escape plans
Date: 08/30/2006
From: ryan
Location: cleveland

I'm not sure what you are referring to technology enabling us to do or transcend.
 

Re: escape plans
Date: 08/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

Well, presumably if we could hang around for a few hundred or thousand years, we'd have some power supply other than oil. And perhaps the technological prowess to get around any other material shortages! (I'm reminded of the pit-monster on Tatooine, who can digest you for a thousands of years--hm! Must somehow make you live longer to be digested longer...)
 

Re: escape plans
Date: 08/30/2006
From: ryan costa
Location: cleveland, OH

Oh. In this instance I wasn't thinking of "we" as all of humanity, or basing the premise on a superior power supply. I'm not sure the place(Earth) would turn into a prettier picture if such things were possible: it would probably be more like that depicted in Nancy Kress' Beggars and Choosers novel, only more crowded, cruel, tragic, and twisted.

It would just be fun to have landed on an unpeopled and resource rich New England or Pacific Northwest with a modern understanding of chemistry, mechanics, metalurgy, and medicine with a few hundred friends. I mean, the Fishing was a lot better then and there was plenty of timber, but there wasn't great fishing gear or saws.
 

Re: escape plans
Date: 09/05/2006
From: Terran
Location: Winter Park, FL

Ryan - that sounds a little like what they're doing in Fiji right now: http://www.tribewanted.com/

No modern tools, perhaps, but modern knowledge can be applied.
 

Re: escape plans
Date: 09/12/2006
From: Greg Careaga
Location: Santa Cruz, CA

Ryan,

S.M. Sterling explored the theme of 'developing' virgin territory with modern technology in his novel CONQUISTADOR. I struggled mightily to suspend disbelief and accept his premise for dimensional travel but once I cleared that hurdle there was much to enjoy.

Trancentental Experience and Sience

Date: 08/28/2006 From: Rainer A. Schmitz
Location: Cologne, Germany

Dear Mr. Bear,

I've just red your book "Darwin's Childern" (in German).
In your last words you mentioned your own trancentental experience and the problems science has with that. - I'm just writing a book I called "Bible 2000 - The Fusion of Religion and Science" (a former, more rational subtitle was "A Religion between Information Science and Physics", but a christian priest(!) gave it that new subtitle.;-) ).

If you're interested, you'll find an older shortened version at http://www.sunlight.de/B2000/ (incl. an engl. transl.) In the last weeks I wrote some new chapters connecting the ideas to quantum information, but up to now they are not yet shortened and translated.

Yours sincerely
Rainer A. Schmitz
Cologne, Germany
 

Re: Trancentental Experience and Sience
Date: 08/29/2006
From: Greg Bear

I'll look up the posting, Rainer. Thanks.

Short Stories in the "techno-thriller" genre

Date: 08/27/2006 From: Dave Clark
Location: Renton, WA

After attending your impassioned call for science fiction authors to advocate for change, particularly social and political, at the Write on the Sound 2005 Conference I experimented with writing and revising a few short stories that are borderline science fiction but seem much more like things that if novels would be referred to as "techno-thrillers."

Two questions arise

1-Any advice on who to send those kinds of shorts to since the subject matter is a little violent/firghtening for most general fiction and not sciency (if I may coin the word) for most sci-fi outlets?

2-Have you thought about posting that speech here? I found it wonderful.


Thank you again for the few minutes talking at the book signing after word.
 

Re: Short Stories in the
Date: 08/29/2006
From: Greg Bear

Good to hear from you, Dave. SF markets take all sorts of stories, but they do have to fulfill the basic genre requirements--near future, startling tech here and there, that sort of thing. Clancy qualifies, I think--but the only way to find out is to submit your stories! Good luck!
 

Re: Short Stories in the
Date: 09/01/2006
From: James Aach
Location: USA

Dear Mr. Bear,

I've been a fan of yours since I first picked up Darwin's Radio. (Amazing how much information you crammed into that one - and still got it published.)

I view promoting change as also the simple act of providing education within entertainment so that the choices we all make are better informed. I'm wondering what you think of the following approach, suggested to me by Stewart Brand - an internet serial. http://RadDecision.blogspot.com .

I also have a commentary at the LabLit.com online magazine site regarding the difficulty of placing science and technology in today's novels. See
http://www.lablit.com/article/83 .

Thanks for keeping me entertained and educating me a bit in the process.
 

Re: Short Stories in the
Date: 09/03/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, James! I'll take a look--

movie

Date: 08/25/2006 From: tim
Location: sydney

Hiya Greg

When are they going to make one of your novels into a movie??? Psychlone, Forge, Eon & Eternity would really kick butt at the box office.

Tim
 

Re: movie
Date: 08/29/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Tim! FORGE is "in development" at Warner Bros. now--the others are still available. We're hoping for news on this front soon.
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/01/2006
From: Greg
Location: Santa Cruz, CA

I think Philip Seymour Hoffman would be a perfect Vergil Ulam.
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/01/2006
From: Greg Bear

Interesting choice!
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/01/2006
From: ricardo
Location: Glendale, CA

Hey, this is fun! Martin - Johnny Depp? Hans - Van Damme?
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/03/2006
From: Greg Bear

Well, we're casting a LITTLE beyond the eighteen-twenty year old range... for FORGE. Vergil in BLOOD MUSIC should be in his thirties--or able to play thirty well. My choice for Vergil might be Vincent D'Onofrio...
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/03/2006
From: ricardo
Location: Glendale, CA

It's not my fault Greg, it's Hollywood's; they're taking too long to get your stuff to the big screen!
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/04/2006
From: Greg Bear

Yeah, we're twiddling our thumbs and playing the equivalent of fantasy baseball!
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/05/2006
From: Randy Merkel
Location: Paso Robles, CA

Is the plan still to fold FORGE & ANVAL into one movie? I hope not, unless it's three+ hours long, as each book seems to be very different.

Find a good director! You don't want Speilberg to do a "War of the Worlds" on it, e.g., screw the plot and build a move around special effects. Perhaps someone like Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) or Ridley Scott (Blade Runner and not Kingdom of Heaven).

-- Randy
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/05/2006
From: Terran
Location: Winter Park, FL

I love the choice of Vincent D'Onofrio! In my book, he's one of the most underrated actors working today.
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/05/2006
From: Greg Bear

No hints of plans at the moment are forthcoming. Actually, I quite liked most of WAR OF THE WORLDS. Very scary film--viscerally upsetting. And remarkably faithful to the original novel. My main objections--lightning bolts delivering pilots, and a little confusion as to whether these guys are from Mars at all. But the movie is definitely a keeper, and a worthy successor to George Pal's version.
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/05/2006
From: Greg Bear

I highly recommend THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, with D'Onofrio's heart-rending portrayal of Robert E. Howard.
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/06/2006
From: ricardo
Location: Glendale, CA

Ah, I sense a slight spike in Amazon sales of this dvd over the next few days - your recomendations get taken seriously around here! Well, if we can't get a Hollywood blockbuster made, how about just a Sci-Fi channel miniseries? For example, I thought the Dune and Children of Dune mini's were really well done, with only one big name actor (William Hurt) involved. Why couldn't something similar be done with Forge/Anvil, Moving Mars, etc.?
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/07/2006
From: Stefan Johansson
Location: Renton WA.

Greg,If I had the money a lot of your books would be good films.Your excellent work is long over due in film. I have been thinking that a 3 film series on the RAMA books would be pretty neat too. Speaking of Ridley Scott, Blade Runner is still an amazing film. Just finished Quantico, now reading Queen of Angels. You might brace yourself because somebody in the film industry is going to figure out how really great your work is, and it could change your life. I believe it will happen because not even Hollywood is that dumb.
Hope you are well.
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/07/2006
From: Greg Bear

Much easier said than done! Putting talent and production and screenplay together makes the great majority of these dream projects die a-borning, so to speak. And some of them get made and you wish they hadn't been... I still marvel, however, at how many productions result in worthy films and shows. The DUNE miniseries among them.
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/12/2006
From: Greg Careaga
Location: Santa Cruz, CA

I also enjoyed Sci-Fi Channel's treatment of DUNE. I thought the treatment was much more faithful to the novel than Lynch's film. The costumes were a bit much though. The Bene Gesserit looked like they were straight out of a Wagnerian opera.

At the other end of the spectrum, EARTHSEA was very poorly done.
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/12/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Stefan! I'd love to see RAMA as a film as well. Sometimes, SF novels fare better as miniseries... And one of my favorites, not yet done well--a perfect series idea--would be Phil Farmer's RIVERWORLD. I'd pitch it as LOST meets HEAVEN CAN WAIT!
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/12/2006
From: Greg Bear

I liked the miniseries based on DUNE as well. Lynch's film of course is gorgeous, but in its final edit, plays more as Cliff's notes for a longer film! Have yet to see EARTHSEA.
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/17/2006
From: srv
Location: SF

A true Forge would be a great movie - but I can't imagine Hollywood keeping the ending. The utter helplessness of humanity, a paralyzed government, apocalyptic themes. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great message civilization needs.

The idea that it only takes one ultra-xenophopic race or one step too far outside the preserve. I have a suggestion for the opening should the movie ever be made - a wolf hones in on a noisy chick fallen from a nest.
 

Re: movie
Date: 09/18/2006
From: Greg Bear

In the beginning, that's exactly what Ken Nolan's fine screenplay did. Later, we all thought more about this, and decided to add ANVIL OF STARS into the mix, to give a more rounded emotional adventure--which is precisely what Stephen Susco did in his re-drafting. Now--we wait and see.
 

Re: movie
Date: 02/10/2007
From: Chuck O'Connor
Location: Cypress, CA

Greg,

I agree with a previous writer - - you and Ben Bova could conceivably produce a kick ass Mars movie screenplay together. However, from a sci-fi standpoint,I think Stephen Baxter could also add some unexpected surprises to whatever you would both conjure up, and Martin Caidin (if he's still writing) could add some hard realism to the astronaut-side of the saga.

If "Forge of God" is truly being made into a motion picture by Warner Bros., and there's hints of "Anvil of Stars," I feel that Moving Mars should also be given equal movie consideration by whomever is producing or chumming your books to the studios.

Haven't read Quantico yet but I plan to pick it up after all the hype I've heard about it.

Chuck O'C

 

Re: movie
Date: 02/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Alas, Mr. Caidin is no longer with us. It would take a while to count his books--aviation and otherwise--in my library. MOVING MARS was optioned about ten years ago, without result... and it seems that the Mars movie moment has passed, with mixed results making it to the screen. Still, there's always hope that a real Mars mission will kick-start interest all over again!
 

Re: movie
Date: 02/26/2007
From: Peter bland
Location: Australia

I have just been reading this and wondering why no has mentioned(that I saw) The serpent Mage or Infinity Concerto.
Two of my personal favorites cloaked with mythical references.
Greg you must have done a George Lucas and studied Hero of a Thousand faces.
I am not detracting from the books, I have read and re-read them a dozen times.
Great stuff and very surprised that has not being picked up for a Movie given the boost LOTR gave fantasy movies.
I would personally love to see the Crane women on the big screen and Cate blanchett as One or three of them would be perfect!
 

Re: movie
Date: 02/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Peter! No interest so far, but one can never tell. My inspirations were indeed Joseph Campbell--but even more, Robert Graves, Poul Anderson, and Jorges Luis Borges... And Borges is having an influence on me yet again with CITY AT THE END OF TIME, along with Sir Arthur Clarke and Olaf Stapledon--and of course, William Hope Hodgson.
 

Re: movie
Date: 10/31/2007
From: james mc mahon
Location: ireland

hi greg will you please make a movie of your book eon its the first book i read over and over again i love it its the best i ever read so go on ya will ya will ya will thanks james
 

Re: movie
Date: 11/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

Love to, James! But someone's going to have to toss some money my way and loan me a big camera. Seriously, it would be fun.
 

Re: movie
Date: 03/15/2008
From: Cormac O'Neill
Location: United Arab Emirates

I have to agree with James, I loved eon and cannot stop myself from looking for Legacy and Eternity in every bookstore I know!
 

Re: movie(s)
Date: 04/21/2010
From: Alistair Lark
Location: London UK

Discovered this forum Thread.

All i can say is that, i've pondered about the reasons why one (or more) of your amazing books have not been turned into stunning movie blockbusters by now!??

Considering that the LOTR trilogy & now Avater has shown what can be done with cleverly created CGI, Hollywood or Weta even have NO excuse not to make one of your books . say EON, into a blockbuster!

I'm sure i'll be booed & cheered, but my next statement, but after reading EON AND RAMA ... I have to say EON is superior! .. No disrespect to the Legend Clarke.

Could you not approach a director like Cameron etc?
Al
 

Re: movie(s)
Date: 05/07/2010
From: Greg Bear

Of course I'm an admirer of James Cameron. Still waiting for that Blu-Ray special edition of THE ABYSS, one of my favorites. Ah, if wishes were horses!
 

Re: movie
Date: 01/14/2011
From: corie
Location: vic

my dad and i think you could merge forge and anvil in to one movie by making the events from forge flash backs though out anvil it would be in keeping with the opening of anvil of stars
 

Re: movie
Date: 01/16/2011
From: Greg Bear

Not too far away from our current plans, Corie! Thanks for writing.
 

Re: movie
Date: 07/06/2011
From: Tonya
Location: Indiana

I picked up the book Legacy at the good will store and I can't wait to get home to read it every day. I was looking on the internet to see if any of the books were made into movies or a mini series on syfy channel and am very disappointed. I was hoping the fox series terra nova was Legacy , just renamed. Hopefully, someone will realize what a good flick these books would make. I will be looking for the other books when I am finished with this one.
 

Re: movie
Date: 08/07/2011
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Tonya! We're working on getting EON into film. Wish us luck! And check out the CGSociety Eon challenge if you haven't already.
 

Re: movie
Date: 11/09/2011
From: Eddie
Location: Florida

Hi Mr Bear my names Ed,
To me Anvil would make a great mini series, when I look back at books I've read Forge,Anvil,the Corum series and the Elric series I have wondered why they never put these to screen as they "the material" is a lot better than a lot of the junk screen writers put out there.I will say there are some good movies but most of them to me are kind of well lame.I couldn't imagine this to be anything but fantastic given today's special effects and coupled with your great story.
I really hope they tailor more to readers to make this a great experience to watch.
 

Re: movie
Date: 01/16/2012
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Eddie! Great books don't always make it intact to the screen, and movies are different from books anyway--but those would all make interesting shows. The quality filmmakers and producers simply don't have enough money or time to do everything we like, alas!

Quantico

Date: 08/25/2006 From: Tony Hogan
Location: U.K.

Greg,
Just read this yesterday in one sitting. Wonderful story. I totally enjoyed the read. More of the same please?
Many thanks

Tony
 

Re: Quantico
Date: 08/29/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Tony! UK edition is apparently just poking along, so spread the word where you can--say, Amazon.co.uk? There will be a trade U.S. edition this spring from CDS books, with a lot of promotion, so I hope this will attract more readers across the sea as well.
 

Re: Quantico
Date: 08/29/2006
From: Tony Hogan
Location: Poole U.K.

Just put a short note on Amazon. Hope it helps.
 

Re: Quantico
Date: 08/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

Great! Thanks again, Tony.
 

Re: Quantico
Date: 01/24/2007
From: David Nelson
Location: Latrobe Valley, Australia

G'day Greg, I've just finished Quantico and enjoyed it immensely. It marks the 23rd book of yours that I've read with only Rogue Planet to go.(I think?)
I loved the character's and the way you structured the story. It did, for the first hundred pages or so, feel like I was reading a Tom Clancy/Robin Cook thriller that was commissioned by X-Files creater Chris Carter, but your inimicable style showed through and I spent 3 enjoyable days reading it. Could be a series?
I liked the proposed Armaggedon when it finally showed up. Sounds like a good idea to me, perhaps it could be used on the Taxation office at the end of a finacial year.

Anyway, kindest regards

David Nelson


 

Re: Quantico
Date: 01/24/2007
From: Greg Bear

Glad you enjoyed QUANTICO, David. U.S. trade edition is being promoted even now--and will appear in April, with a few corrections and revisions to bring it up to date vis-a-vis the FBI anthrax investigations. (They seem to be admitting their previous scenarios were wrong.)

Blogging regularly?

Date: 08/22/2006 From: Jeff Knapp
Location: Poulsbo, WA

Hi Greg. I have been a long time fan of your books. Not only are they very entertaining but, you have a lot to say about what is going on in our world today in your stories. In particular, you have been rather uncannily accurate about a lot of what is happening with today's politics with your Darwin's Radio series. With that in mind, you should really take advantage of this blog format to comment on what is going on in the world today. Based on what I have read in your stories, I suspect your takes on current issues in science, politics, and religion would be very interesting.
 

Re: Blogging regularly?
Date: 08/22/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Jeff! I've been thinking about this quite a lot recently--but for the moment, with a novel under way, venting steam through a blog might relieve pressure on the old fiction factory and reduce output. It's a real possibility in the near future, however.
 

Re: Blogging regularly?
Date: 08/23/2006
From: Jeff Knapp
Location: Poulsbo, WA

Yeah, it can actually be a lot of work. I started and then faltered on a blog of my own. I really didn't have the time it would take to do the blog justice. I'm not a writer by profession and, it seems, to do a really good blog, you almost have to be one.

With kindest regards,

--JK--
 

Re: Blogging regularly?
Date: 08/23/2006
From: patrick
Location:

Yeah, what with some of the entries you've posted, and your responses to them, I've gotten the feeling some things are coursing around in you...though I wasn't sure you'd be up for displaying them in the manner suggested above....I mean, Brin is pretty forward on his blog - but he's very tame, kinda sesame street-ish - and Dan Simmons is very intense on his forum - but he kinda comes from the Ellison camp....in any case, I always like to know more of the minds of those whose books I read.

Incidentally, I like the new format - although, it doesn't show posters linked email?
 

Re: No emails
Date: 08/24/2006
From: Terran McCanna (Webmaster)
Location: Winter Park, FL

Hi Patrick -

I removed the linked emails from the website because I wanted to avoid any privacy concerns people might have that would prevent them from posting.

Of course, you are welcome to add your email address into the body of your message if you would like it to be visible.

Regards,
Terran McCanna (webmaster@gregbear.com)

Happy Birthday

Date: 08/21/2006 From: Greg Berghorn
Location: Framingham, MA

Dear GB2, Warm birthday wishes and all the best for a great year. Regards, GB4
 

Re: Happy Birthday
Date: 08/22/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Greg! This year makes it the double nickle--I've reached my speed limit!

What's your favourite writer and books?

Date: 08/19/2006 From: Stig Bull
Location: Norway

I was just wondering what your favourite sci-fi writer and books are? Also, do you draw inspiration from other writers; or what kind of things inspires you to write stories? I just finished reading Legacy and Darwin's Radio, I am currently reading The Forge Of God which is *phenomenal*, Darwin's Children is next in my stack of books, and I'll have to go to the local fantasy/sci-fi book store tomorrow to pick up Anvil Of Stars and some other of your books. Keep up the good work, you are truly one of the most talented of the bunch!
 

Re: What's your favourite writer and books?
Date: 08/19/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Stig! Thanks for your kind words. I have so many influences and favorites they would be tough to list--I kind of do a rotating list on this site now and then. Over my lifetime, I've been influenced not only by the obvious names--Bradbury, Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Sturgeon, Dick, Wells, Stapledon, and so on--but by Richard McKenna, William Hope Hodgson, Fred Pohl, Shirley Jackson, Jack Vance, Jack Williamson...see what I mean?

Welcome to the New Web Log!

Date: 08/18/2006 From: Terran McCanna
Location: Webmaster

The GregBear.com website has been updated and moved to a new ISP. Every attempt is being made to ensure a smooth transition, but it may take a few days to make sure everything is working. If you encounter any errors, please email them to webmaster@gregbear.com. If you are signed up for the RSS Feed, the address has changed to: http://www.gregbear.com/gregbear.xmlThanks and best wishes,Terran McCanna

Songs of Earth and Power

Date: 08/17/2006 From: Ryan M
Location: Tampa

Have you thought about making another installation in the series for Songs of Earth and Power? The book had a great finish but I felt there was plenty of room for a sequel. Thanks.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 08/17/2006
From: Greg Bear

No plans at the moment. Too many new books to write! But I never say never...

Was "Blood Music" fiction?

Date: 08/15/2006 From: Alan Kellogg
Location: San Diego, California

Greg,

Do a search (http://clusty.com works best for this) on the terms "Sticker's Sarcoma" (found in canines) and "Devil Facial Tumor Disease" (DFTD, a condition found in tasmanian devils). The latter is sort of descended from the former, and both are a sort of parasitic pseudo-cancer.

They are, in a word, representatives of a new phylum.

Now think of a new species of parasitic pseudo-cancer. One specific to humans, and which - for some reason - results in the appearance of what might be called a quasi uterus. An organism that functions as a sort of uterus and ovary. One able to produce gametes able to merge with the gametes produced by the host, resulting in a pregnancy. The host gametes produced by a patch of host cells modified by the parasite to perform just such a function. And since an infestation can happen to any sexually mature human, it means males and females can get pregnant. A pregnancy that can occur at any time with no need for sexual activity of any sort.

Think of how it would change society and culture. :)
 

Re: Was "Blood Music" fiction?
Date: 08/15/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hm... kind of a transferrable teratoma! Not implausible, actually. There's all sorts of horror flick ideas in the more desperate angles of biology. Like the wasp that expresses its own endogenous retroviruses to infect and subdue host caterpillars--just the sort of mechanism I was describing in DARWIN'S CHILDREN. Tough to make up stuff with news like this coming in!
 

Re: Was "Blood Music" fiction?
Date: 08/15/2006
From: patrick
Location:

Yeah, in reading this post, I was thinking DR right off the bat...

SF gives us the opportunity to look ahead and not be caught with our pants down. However, as the majority think of is as science-fiction, I think the above is an example of something seemingly fantastic to the public that could be used for an action novel, and that would incidentally cue them to the reality of such remarkable circumstance.
 

Re: Was "Blood Music" fiction?
Date: 08/15/2006
From: Alan Kellogg
Location: San Diego CA

Keep in mind that the tumor cells are not the patient's cells. In so far as they can live quasi-independently from their canine or TD ancestor, and take up residence with a different animal (of the right species), living as a parasite, one could consider them unique organisms of a new phylum level life form.

Honestly, since it is not a case of some of the patient's cells changing to become cancerous, one cannot really call them cancers of any kind. What you have is an animal of no discernable body plan colonizing a higher life form, and parasitizing it.

Note that DFTD is fatal. The tumors grow to a size that either closes up the patient's throat or covers the mouth, thus suffocating the devil. After a few weeks Sticker's Sarcoma tends to disappear, and the patient apparently makes a full recovery. However, further tests have been done on some dogs diagnosed with Sticker's Sarcoma, and researchers have found Sticker's Sarcoma cells living on inside the dog quite healthy and happy.

Now, DFTD was first diagnosed in a tasmanian devil in 1996. Thus the causative agent appears to be very young as a species. Sticker's Sarcoma may be as old as 2,500 years. Meaning it has had much more time to adapt to the canine environment. Once past the virulent stage Sticker's Sarcoma appears to pose no real danger to its host. Last I heard, three female tasmanian devils were found who appear to be partially resistent to the DFTD organism, so there might be hope for tasmanian devils.

Here's a question for your biologist friends. Insofar as the DFTD animal is not really descended from the Sticker's Sarcoma animal, can they even be called members of the same phylum?

Remember when evolution behaved itself?
 

Re: Was "Blood Music" fiction?
Date: 08/15/2006
From: Greg Bear

In the case of the Tasmanian devils, the population is highly inbred--which might encourage the spread of similar cancers, evading immune detection. I don't know how much these migrant tumors mix chromosomes with their victims--that is, whether they spread the tumor trait, or simply maintain their genes separately. Biologists?

Jill, Roddy and the Jart

Date: 08/14/2006 From: John Holton
Location: Luton, England

Dear Greg Bear

I enjoyed (although was most disturbed by) the manner in which Roddy invaded Jill before Jill realized she had been completely subjected to his ingenius powers (and her the original quantum thinker!) - it strongly reminded me of the Jart Olme thought he could control that likewise enveigled itself into his mind/brain circuitry and only after did he recognize the comprehensive invasion and also then realize it had happen long before.

Deep structure you have mentioned before and I guess that this what this is.

Deep and disturbing structure - another Greg Bear splendid novel (adding to my list of most of your canon of works - including Darwin's Radio which I found very worrying with your view of the complete ignorance of those in power who like power more than truth) that involves widespread breakdown of social structures plus general death, mayhem, and approaching armagedon.....

Will Jill return with a touch of the malignity of Roddy and end up like Hal killing the humans that made her (him)- she seems to have a touch of scorn for the desperate humans who need her to speak to show she still can.

Giffey is a splendid character also - reminded me a little of Gulliver Foyle - a man without the capacity to stop and nicely unmasked at the end too.

Poor old Mary Choy - she seems to have a bit of a raw deal in Slant and Queen of Angels, always being one of the last to know what is really going on and yet always being so close to the action. A great character to drive and explain the narrative.

Not sure I have the courage to go on to read Darwin's Children just at the moment! I think I need a little light reading before I can deal with the emotional onslaught of another prospective breakdown of world order!

Best wishes

John Holtom
 

Re: Jill, Roddy and the Jart
Date: 08/14/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for your kind words, John. Might I suggest you dip into DINOSAUR SUMMER for a little adventure reading...?

Transcendence

Date: 08/11/2006 From: patrick
Location:

Lately I've been having some serious{-}music discussions with someone and it came back to me the part in Songs of Earth and Power, the reference to Scriabin. (For those of you who aren't familiar, Alexander Scriabin was the first musical 'mystic', and knew it; he wanted to save the world with his music.)

In any case, being of similar ilk as he, it comes back to amaze that you, and so singularly in my reading experience, were aware of him.
 

Re: Transcendence
Date: 08/14/2006
From: Greg Bear

Scriabin is kind of neglected nowadays, isn't he? But his belief that music could bring on a transcendent state fit in well with the theme of the book--and I've always enjoyed listening to him.
 

Re: Transcendence
Date: 09/28/2006
From: Brian S
Location: Houston

Although I have had several ecstatic experiences with music, I tend to be a bit skeptical whenever someone speaks of transcendence; what does it mean, really! Some experience other than the normal?

I had a Jimmy Hendrix double album on which he stated that he believes that music had healing qualities to it. Interesting point of view given his musical style, and how he ended his life.

Mr. Bear, I've really enjoyed the Eon series as well as Darwin's Radio/Children. I look forward to reading others of your work.
 

Re: Transcendence
Date: 09/28/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Brian! I've experienced terrific moments with music as well--and that's what made the epiphanic experience so extraordinary. It began while I was sitting in an airplane, and continued for well over a month, off and on--music or no music. It was its own thing, and it was extremely powerful, beyond my conscious control, and very different from the aesthetic high produced by art or music. Causes? Other than the obvious and often-chosen suggestion that it's God, I haven't a clue.
 

Re: Transcendence
Date: 01/04/2015
From: Anitra Freeman
Location: United States

Greg, I was bowled over when I read Kaye's epiphany experience in Darwin's Children, because it sounded so much like an experience of my own. I was intrigued with what you wrote in the back of the book, that you had that kind of experience and so has something like 50% of the human race. Where did you get that mumber? I've looked for a source and was unable to find one.

I was tickled when you said, in an interview, I think, that you still identify as an atheist because no religion describes a god that sounds like That which you encountered. I continue to identify as a Christian for the same reason. Might as well be a heretic where I was born as go be a heretic someplace else.

Anyway, I was glad to find this board and have the chance to say Hi.
 

Re: Transcendence
Date: 01/24/2015
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Anitra! I'm thinking now that that 50% number may be high, at least when it comes to the sort of long-lasting epiphanies I experienced. But a lot of people have profound mystical experiences of one sort or another, not sure about the percentages! I don't identify as an atheist, per se, although some have lumped me into that category--but it is difficult to reconcile what I experienced with the standard conceptions of God. If there are such...

Mostly, I think it's wise to let God be God, and not try too fiercely to understand those beauties and truths.

And recently, though I nearly died on the operating table, I did not experience any post-life visions. However--maybe the anesthetic wiped those memories! I certainly don't remember the last hour before surgery began.
 

Re: Transcendence
Date: 01/24/2015
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Anitra! I'm thinking now that that 50% number may be high, at least when it comes to the sort of long-lasting epiphanies I experienced. But a lot of people have profound mystical experiences of one sort or another, not sure about the percentages! I don't identify as an atheist, per se, although some have lumped me into that category--but it is difficult to reconcile what I experienced with the standard conceptions of God. If there are such...

Mostly, I think it's wise to let God be God, and not try too fiercely to understand those beauties and truths.

And recently, though I nearly died on the operating table, I did not experience any post-life visions. However--maybe the anesthetic wiped those memories! I certainly don't remember the last hour before surgery began.
 

Re: Transcendence
Date: 01/24/2015
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Anitra! I'm thinking now that that 50% number may be high, at least when it comes to the sort of long-lasting epiphanies I experienced. But a lot of people have profound mystical experiences of one sort or another, not sure about the percentages! I don't identify as an atheist, per se, although some have lumped me into that category--but it is difficult to reconcile what I experienced with the standard conceptions of God. If there are such...

Mostly, I think it's wise to let God be God, and not try too fiercely to understand those beauties and truths.

And recently, though I nearly died on the operating table, I did not experience any post-life visions. However--maybe the anesthetic wiped those memories! I certainly don't remember the last hour before surgery began.
 

Re: Transcendence
Date: 01/24/2015
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Anitra! I'm thinking now that that 50% number may be high, at least when it comes to the sort of long-lasting epiphanies I experienced. But a lot of people have profound mystical experiences of one sort or another, not sure about the percentages! I don't identify as an atheist, per se, although some have lumped me into that category--but it is difficult to reconcile what I experienced with the standard conceptions of God. If there are such...

Mostly, I think it's wise to let God be God, and not try too fiercely to understand those beauties and truths.

And recently, though I nearly died on the operating table, I did not experience any post-life visions. However--maybe the anesthetic wiped those memories! I certainly don't remember the last hour before surgery began.

Anvil of Stars

Date: 08/09/2006 From: Stephen Davies
Location: Sydney Australia

Hi Mr Bear,

congratulations on your great books as a fellow sci fi fan they are a terrific read.

I know you must be busy but my question is I am keen to read Anvil of Stars and am having a hard time getting hold of a copy. I have been told by numerous bookshops that it is long out of print and only available from the US or UK on a special order.

I was wondering if you have an Australian distributor for your books who I might be able to contact to get hold of a copy.

Hoping you can help

Stephen
an aussie fan.

P.S. do you have any plans for visiting Australia in the near future on a book promo as I would love to meet one of the masters of the game and get some of my books signed.
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 08/09/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Stephen! Tor Books will be bringing Anvil of Stars (and Eternity) back into print in the U.S. soon, most likely in trade paper editions. We're signing the contracts now. No book promos plans for Australia--but would love to get back down there and visit again!
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 08/14/2006
From: Michael Pine
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Greg,

I have asked this question of you a couple of times, about coming to Australia on a Book Promo and you give me the same answer.

I think it is about you showed us in Australia just how much you would love to get down here for a visit!

I am going to be in The US in late October and Early to Mid November, do you have any public appearances scheduled for this time ???

cheers
Michael
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 08/14/2006
From: Greg Bear

Ah, don't I wish! A nice long tour of Australia would be wonderful--but, there's a novel to finish before the end of the year, so no major public appearances in November, alas. Have fun in the U.S.!
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 09/25/2006
From: Kev Charlton
Location: Olinda, Victoria

Hi Stephen.

I too had trouble finding a copy of Anvil Of Stars, but the trusty library system in Australia dug me out a copy earlier this year. I also came across a copy recently in a book store in Brisbane. A little bookshop on Carrara Street in Mt Gravatt, Brisbane.
Hope that helps, and Good Luck.
regards, Kev

 

Anvil of Stars
Date: 06/28/2007
From: Denis Zhorin
Location: Visaginas, Lithuania

Hello, Mr.Bear!
Thank You for such an interesting book. I was really fascinated while reading "Anvil of Stars". One strange idea came into my mind when I was finishing it. Unfortunately, I read the book in Russian, so some names and terms in translation may be misrepresented. Nevertheless, I would like to ask You a question. If You have some time, please, reply.
Martin (main character of the book) and his team, destroying the system of Leviathan, may have been doing the Job of the Benefactors who wanted to use the saved inhabitants of the Earth to kill innocent creaters of Leviathan. The "Benefactors" (they saved some people from the Earth) may set different worlds on each other. Thus,"Benefactors" may play the role of Devil. Is my interpretation possible?
I am looking forward to hearing from you.
 

Anvil of Stars
Date: 06/28/2007
From: Greg Bear

Good to hear from you, Zhorin! (And hello from our friends in the Lithuanian community here in Seattle.) The situation around Leviathan is even more diabolical. The Planet Killers have created the equivalent of "human shields" to deflect or distract those hunting them. The innocents did not create the weapons that destroyed Earth, but our hunters can't eliminate the real perpretrators without killing innocents.
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 09/23/2007
From: Scott Stahl
Location: Curtice, ohio

Hi. I found Anvil of Stars a fascinating read. I was really
moved by what I read and find myself re-reading it from time to time.
Recently I was on David Brin's site and read some interesting posts about the SETI project and foolish attempts by some to increase our electromagnetic "footprint", presumably to attract the attention of any advanced civilizations out there.

I assume you are aware of this controversy. When I read about this it brought the whole Von Neumann berserker, Forge of God-Anvil of Stars premise to mind. Do you think we Could be "bringing the Wolves" down on us by such attempts? Just wondered if you have any comment. BTW Whats the latest on the Forge of God Anvil of stars movies? I'd love to see them made. I hope they're not stuck in development hell like the Foundation. Big Foundation and Chaos fan too. Thanks

Scott Stahl

 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 09/23/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Scott! FORGE OF GOD was one of the earliest--if not the earliest--to propose this cautionary answer to the Fermi paradox: Smart civilizations keep quiet, dumb ones--or young ones--are noisy, attract predators, and are soon extinguished. Of course, this scenario has been implied in many science fiction works over the decades--recently in Saberhagen's Berserker stories and Benford's Galactic Center series. David is currently running with the issue, trying to persuade less circumspect pioneers in such research that shouting into the darkness might not be a good idea. I strongly agree.
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 05/16/2009
From: Sam Anthony
Location: Seattle, WA

Greetings from Seattle, Mr Bear.

I moved to Seattle 6 months ago. I finished up 2 books from Arthur C. Clarke... Time's eye. He didnt live to create the third one, at least that I know of. I have read almost all his books, along with his collection of short stories (a pretty thick book). I needed a new Author to be a fan of. I think I found it in your books.

I went to Barnes and Nobles in West Seattle/Westwood and picked up your book, Anvil of the Stars. It is my first purchase of a book in Seattle since I moved here 6 months ago. Halfway through, I said... this guy is definitely in the vein of Arthur C. Clarke, but adds some really good character development... something Arthur did... but he would spend 10 pages explaining a character's past...it would get tiresome at times.... but with your book I never felt that. You exposed us to the characters over time.... and I appreciated that. I read your book on the bus every day until I finished it. It took about a month, but it felt as if I woke up to friends everyday. Thank you for the ride... it was insanely cool. Make a movie of this, please!!

Lastly... I havent seen this from Authors before... but... have you or any other Authors made a technical manual to go along with your Books. Some times you read a book and have ideas of weapons, ships, planets, etc... but you'd like to see the Artist's conception or Idea, just to see if they envisioned what you did. I havent seen anything like this outside of a movie's technical manual gallery, but it would be good to see one from a distinguished Author such as yourself.

Cheers from Seattle,

Sam
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 05/22/2009
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Sam! We're still working on ANVIL as a film, in the scripting stage. Fingers crossed for seven years now...

I think you'll be pleased to know that Sir Arthur expressed his approval of ANVIL's first part, THE FORGE OF GOD--as well as EON, which of course owes considerable debt to RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA.
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 02/19/2011
From: John Walton
Location: Tendon, Ma

Hello Greg! I've just finished this work in ebook form, and twice through I miss the part introducing the discovery of the Brothers Ship of the Law. It jumps from the Crews return from the Death ship to anticipation of the coming meeting with the Brothers ship. Apparently, the discovery of the second Ship of the Law is left as an exercise for the reader. Is this the way it's written, or was this left out for some reason.

Whichever the case may be; truly fascinating story! After the first reading over Christmas, I couldn't get the imagery of the story out of my hard, and had to read it again within a month. Truly a gem.

Thanks!
John
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 04/03/2011
From: Greg Bear

Hello, John! Please send me the sentence after which you think the break occurs, and the next sentence, and I'll check it against my text to see whether there's a problem. Thanks for the kind words!
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 09/18/2012
From: Rod Piwowarski
Location: Uk

Over twenty years ago whilst I studied engineering in Manchester England my friend recommended EON.

I always felt that I could imagine the future, but after enjoying EON so much I read Anvil. Wow! I was amazed, someone else thinks along similar lines, infact probably way ahead.

After reading about the communication method, effectively pictures in the air, I wondered if this is how dolphins communicate. Recently I Googled this idea again and to my surprise researchers are now seriously considering the idea. The idea that the clicks, squeeks and ultrasonics that dolphins produce paint a detailed movie, not just still pictures, in the mind of other dolphins. We have effectively been trying to understand the noises of a TV transmission without a TV. No wonder we fail to communicate with them. Anyway, I just wonder if you had similar thoughts and had anyone noticed the connection to the communication method in
Anvil of then Stars? I feel our own communication methods move towards pictures everyday :) but Dolphines were probably there a long time before us.
Regards Rod
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 10/31/2012
From: Greg Bear

A lovely idea indeed, and it does open up our understanding of language! Thanks, Rod.
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 10/31/2012
From: Greg Bear

A lovely idea indeed, and it does open up our understanding of language! Thanks, Rod.
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 10/31/2012
From: Greg Bear

A lovely idea indeed, and it does open up our understanding of language! Thanks, Rod.
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 04/03/2013
From: Scott Stahl
Location: United States

I've just finished (Another!) re-reading of Anvil. I wrote several years ago asking about David Brin's efforts to speak out against shouting into the darkness. You were kind enough to give gracious, detailed answers to my questions. Another aspect that has held continuing fascination for me is what I would call the Liberal vs Conservative views on the enactment of the law among the characters. How much was that on your mind as you wrote? I know you may be reluctant to delve into politics (I don't blame you). I noticed Ariel's reflexive distrust, if not downright paranoia of the Mom's/Benefactors vs the strange ability to overlook the very obvious clues of the killers continued presence... The idea of blaming and distrusting the good guys while wanting to trust enemies. Liberals among us tend to be harder on ourselves than conservatives. We still see the old "Blame America" arguments crop up in our politics regularly. (On the whole I believe the US has been a force for good in the world...but not perfect for sure!) Many in the crew are guilt-ridden over "revenge". Martin at the end asking "who or what has been served?" The Brothers, most of the crew, still stuck on guilt for vengeance. Not explored by many with much depth is the concept of Justice, not just revenge. I would want to avenge the destruction of my home, but in the act of carrying out the law much more was accomplished. The finding of millions, if not billions of brand new needle ships waiting to be unleashed means that in destroying this huge civilization the crew had saved countless others (More Trillions?) from future destruction. Surely that made enactment of the law not only excusable, but absolutely necessary! Perhaps being stuck together in a tin can, no matter how big and fancy, gave the people a more Myopic view...an inability to see themselves and their actions as part of a larger whole. The perspective of the ships mind lends weight to the idea that it saw the crew as needing some growing up and perspective in times to come. Perhaps as a reader given a more god's eye view I shouldn't be too dismissive of some of the characters reactions...there are plenty of ambiguities even for us. A great read makes me want to scream at the characters- "Are You blind?!?! What the hell are you thinking?!?!" Which means you did your job very well! Hats off!
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 04/10/2013
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Scott. Going back over those themes makes my head spin!
 

Re: Anvil of Stars
Date: 04/10/2013
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Scott. Going back over those themes makes my head spin!

Slant & Beyond

Date: 08/09/2006 From: Eric Levin
Location: Tampa, FL

I am currently on my 7th or 8th reading of Slant (I think there is a 5 reread minimum to even say you THINK you know what is going on), and as always I am completely entranced by the characters and locales. It is, in my opinion, one of the most immersive and compelling books in any genre, ever. Which brings me to my point. Whenever I read Slant, I always seem somewhat unsatisfied when I finish. By specking out so many characters (hope you appreciate my use of the Slant vernacular), I find myself genuinely wondering what happened to at least 3/4's of them when the book concludes. As the attack on Omphalos plays out, it seems the other characters (most still involved in the very issues they were when introduced) get left by the wayside during the conclusion. I want to know more about Mary Choy and what happened with the illegal psynthe house. I want to know more about Alice, Martin, and everyone else.

You have created a world so rich with possibility and it seems a shame to think it might never be explored again. Have you considered continuing to write about the world of Slant and it's characters. I imagine there must be a plethora of ideas for "the continuing adventures of ..." Maybe for a few $$$ more I can even karaoke it when it comes out...

I have a feeling you'd be scratching an itch that a LOT of people who love your work share.

Take care,
Eric
 

Re: Slant & Beyond
Date: 08/09/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for your very kind words, Eric. I think here the operant phrase might be, "Always leave them wanting more!" Unless something new plays out, I doubt that publishers will be looking for sequels to older series for a number of years. Have I thought about one? Absolutely. Characters live on in my head, too!
 

Re: Slant & Beyond
Date: 09/03/2006
From: Jimmy Kinchloe
Location: Houston

Eric,

I just cannot let this one pass me by...I am right there with you about the /-Queen of Angels-Heads-Moving Mars universe. I, too, have read them many times, and long for more. I especially want a story about Mars after the "move".

Greg, this is your greatest work. Mary, Cassia, Jill...They will live on for many years.

Now, how's-about that "Mars" sequel? What do the publishers know anyway. (I'm thinking of very recent history.)


Jimmy

Oh, I admire / so much that the word is part of my username on several message boards, etc., but I won't reveal what it is. I wouldn't want to give away my true name there...

J
 

Re: Slant & Beyond
Date: 09/03/2006
From: Greg Bear

Ah! "True Names" began it all... Deep magic working there.
 

Re: Slant & Beyond
Date: 08/29/2009
From: gavin cook
Location: devon UK

I am in 100% agreement, a sequel to slant would be wonderful and there are so many places to go with the characters in it.
I too would also love to see follow up to moving mars but i can't see how it could be done without casseia etc, MM seemed to have a very definite ending and as the story is in my opinion perfect, i'm not sure i would like to spoil it.

 

Re: Slant & Beyond
Date: 09/17/2009
From: Greg Bear

How about a prequel? MARIPOSA is coming...
 

Re: Slant & Beyond
Date: 09/17/2009
From: Greg Bear

How about a prequel? MARIPOSA is coming...
 

Re: Slant & Beyond
Date: 09/17/2009
From: Greg Bear

How about a prequel? MARIPOSA is coming...
 

Re: Slant & Beyond
Date: 09/17/2009
From: Greg Bear

How about a prequel? MARIPOSA is coming...

Biblical Truth

Date: 08/08/2006 From: Nedra "Ned" Spears Black
Location: Conway, SC

Hi Greg: Thanks for responding to my message where I referred to our chance meeting on a flight to Seattle. I was reading another quote from you. Here it is: "My religious beliefs are hardly settled -- I do believe in God, but leave wide open his (or its) character. I will say that the relationship is not one so much of master or lord to servant, but of friends -- ..."

Please read John 15: 9 - 17 and you will see that "friend" is exactly Christ's desire for all of us.

I'm hedging on a trip to Seattle -- it's such a long trip from South Carolina. However, I will enjoy it when I get there. SC has been very hot and humid.

Hope you will read those verses. :) Ned Black
 

Re: Biblical Truth
Date: 08/08/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Ned!

John 15:15

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Research Material

Date: 08/01/2006 From: Timothy Beaulieu
Location: Presque Isle, Maine

Hey Greg, how's it going? Just wanted to let you know that I love your stuff and it's primarily because of the attention to detail. All the science is as technically viable as I've seen in a novel and that's one of the key elements that allows me my suspension of disbelief. I'm an aspiring science fiction author myself (I live about three hours north of Stephen King and after finding out he makes about forty million dollars a year, I could go for a slice of that pie),and have been since I was about fourteen-and no I'll NEVER quit writing. I've submitted a few things but haven't had anything published yet. I was just wondering how you go about acquiring an agent. A guy I used to work with by the name of Jim (bald guy, Massachusetts accent)who was a published author and screenwriter said that publishers basically have three piles of submitted works. They have the pile they read through and send to the printers, the pile they read through and send back for revision and the pile they read through and throw in the garbage can. Now, I had NO idea that you were supposed to double space the lines and not staple the pages together and that it was a good idea to have a decent cover letter, so I take it as a good sign that they sent my stuff back with guidelines on how they wanted it presented and with ideas for revision, but I still think an agent would be able to better guide me through the ins and outs of what I should do. Any ideas? Also, how do you go about conducting your research for the stories? I'm pretty much self-taught on most of my scientific knowledge and I do have a friend that works on the Cassini Project at Nasa (nice irish fellow by the name of Conor), but there's got to be more efficient ways of doing things, and I figured you might know some of them. Appreciate any insight you could give. Well then, until later, you keep writing 'em and I'll keep reading 'em. Peace!
 

Re: Research Material
Date: 08/02/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Timothy! First of all, get out to a local library or bookstore or the local Internet bookstore and pick up a good manual on getting published. The Writer's Digest used to provide a decent guide for beginning writers, and I think they still do. Read that, attend writer's conferences, go to panels with editors and agents, introduce yourself... Then, keep writing until you have something so good no agent will ever turn you down--and when they do, keep pursuing agents and submitting to publishers on your own, if there's any hope they'll read it. And all along, keep writing! And let us know how it goes.

Quantum technologies...

Date: 08/01/2006 From: Jon Allen
Location: Minnesota

Hi Greg, I'm just getting to the last third of "Moving Mars", one of your books I had not previously read. Like "Anvil of Stars" and some of your other works, it features some extremely high technology based on quantum physics. The quantum and nano-scale technologies seen in "Anvil of Stars", along with its pessimistic view of the moral character of advanced civilizations, made it one of the more mind-boggling and plausibly disturbing science fiction novels I've ever read.

My question is this: To what extent do you believe these sort of speculative technologies are possible or likely, however distant they may be in the future, and are the fictional "Bell Continuum" technologies/techniques you have described at least indirectly based, however tenuously or fancifully, on real theories and principles in quantum physics? Are there any resources, either in print or on the web, ideally somewhat comprehensible to the layman, that you would refer someone interested in the technological implications of quantum physics to?

Thanks for any response, and keep up the great work!

Jon Allen
 

Re: Quantum technologies...
Date: 08/02/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Jon! Thanks for writing. I've gone through this discussion before to some extent in the web blog--so I'll just summarize here. The idea of "particle bit theory" harks back to the nineteen sixties, and has most recently been advanced in different forms by folks like Stephen Wolfram. It's a sideline theory which--who knows?--could go major league as soon as string theory strikes out--and those strings look kind of frayed right now! (But the multiverse is going strong...)
 

Re: Quantum technologies...
Date: 10/28/2006
From: Howard Miller
Location: Augusta, GA

I've been thinking about multiverse theories of the Big Bang for a while. Some theories postulate that the Big Bang was an event that happened when our universe collided with another. The theories seem to imply that they collided then rebounded, but what if they got "stuck"? We couldbe living in an amalgam of two universes with each one's influence becoming dominant under different circumstances. We'd have to forget about TOEs.
This bears an odd resemblence to the "Velcro Universe" I mentioned a while back.
 

Re: Quantum technologies...
Date: 10/30/2006
From: Greg Bear

Something about branes colliding, as I recall--all very difficult to visualize, but then everything about this topic is fraught with difficulties. As I'm currently writing about colliding universes, I'm having to create very different metaphors... Ideas and visualizations people other mathematicians can connect with!
 

Re: Quantum technologies...
Date: 11/22/2006
From: Brian Linwell
Location: San Francisco

Hi Greg- I wrote a script(179 notebook pages) about sections of two universes intersecting in 1999. Actually it mainly deals with the characters involved. I haven't shown it to anyone. I guess it's time to finally re-write it. It's interesting that you are also an artist, because that is how I make my living. I'm into the Quantum- story thing too.Met the author of a book about the physics of art. Right now I'm working on the EON trailer challenge. I'm "userBrian". After finishing this challenge I hope I make a trailer for my script! Hey- we were both born in the same year, me in April. An emerging producer friend of mine said that producers want to see trailers now, not scripts, first! So i'm glad I didn't send my script in yet! I'll send my trailer first! So- glad to meet you! I hope EON gets made into a movie.
 

Re: Quantum technologies...
Date: 11/23/2006
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Brian! Looking forward to seeing both your trailers.

4400 Series

Date: 08/01/2006 From: Karen
Location:

Hello! Been a while since I've been on your site! Still sharing your books with my family... when they plunder my library, they usually go to your shelf first.

I just watched the latest episode of 'The 4400' Sunday night, and some of the elements - the facial 'disfiguration', etc. - reminded me oh-so-slightly of Darwin's Radio. Have you seen it? Any comments?

Best,
Karen
 

Re: 4400 Series
Date: 08/02/2006
From: Greg Bear

Haven't seen it yet. Everything has a date stamp on it in Hollywood--meaning elements of popular novels are going to end up in other works eventually. Wonder how many things I've been inspired to borrow or emulate, in my time? The major problems begin with plot elements and character situations, not just fragments of ideas.

What's in a name?

Date: 08/01/2006 From: Paul Dixon
Location: UK

I'm a big fan of your work - for me, few novels I've read have evoked such a sense of wonder (and underlying dread) as did Eon.

I'm a writer myself and recently, after re-reading Forge of God, I noticed a character named Rotterjack. It's a name I'd given one of my own characters, thinking at the time I'd simply made it up (a warning I guess that one should be wary of names 'popping into one's head!).

At the risk of asking a stupid question, how did this name come to you? It does sound invented, but one can never be sure when it comes to names.
 

Re: What's in a name?
Date: 08/02/2006
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Paul! I have no idea where that name came from--but you're welcome to it. (Though it does have a bit of a dark hint to it, no?)
 

Re: What's in a name?
Date: 12/21/2006
From: Eon Matthews
Location:

I was also going to ask where you got the name EON from as it is my christian name and i am in the process of researching why people are using it
 

Re: What's in a name?
Date: 12/21/2006
From: Greg Bear

Terrific name! Eon refers to a long period of time, typically thought of as a billion years. It's also similar to Eos (goddess of dawn) and Ion, as in Ion Perdicaris (look him up in Wikipedia). John Milius changed Mr. Perdicaris into a woman and set her loose against... ah, but that's another story!
 

Re: What's in a name?
Date: 04/22/2008
From: Paul T.
Location: Howard CC

I have been assigned to read Darwin's Radio for a college English class. Unlike assigned reading of my younger years, I have very much enjoyed this book and I am hoping to have the chance to read your other titles during the summer. My question is about the character names you have used. I have needed to reasearch and explain for class retroviruses, and I heard a "click" in my mind while reading. Your character Emeliano Luria, a minor character (at least at the point I am at), shares then name with a 1969 Nobel Prize winner for the genetic structure of a virus, Salvador E. Luria. Coincidence? I am putting together a list as I read and have just started searching names but have also found reference to another author, Jean Auel- The Clan Of The Cave Bear. I saw the other posting about Crickson and Temin. Am I on a wild goose chase or are these intentional?
 

Re: What's in a name?
Date: 04/22/2008
From: Greg Bear

All intentional, Paul! Good luck with the class.