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January - June 2007

Research for Quantico?

Date: 06/27/2007 From: R. Karas
Location: Virginia

I really enjoyed "Quantico", and it felt like a lot of the details were well-fleshed out. Did you have an opportunity to visit the FBI Academy or the FBI Laboratory when doing research for this book?

Thanks!
 

Re: Research for Quantico?
Date: 06/28/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks! A visit to the Academy was the beginning of the whole process. Take a look at pieces posted on quanticothebook.com for a more detailed explanation.

Quantico:A dilemma

Date: 06/26/2007 From: Arvind Mishra
Location: Varanasi

Hi Greg,
I am overjoyed as I am now the proud owner of a copy of Quantico,Vanguard Press,NY sent to me as a gift by my uncle Dr.S.K.Mishra,Texas.I have just glanced over it and tempted to start reading it any time.But there is a hitch!The shipment also carried A copy of River of Gods by Ian Mcdonald which has a strong Indian backdrop.I am in a state of dilemma which one to begin first? Could you please rescue the situation?
regards,
Arvind
 

Re: Quantico:A dilemma
Date: 06/27/2007
From: Greg Bear

I'm an Ian McDonald reader myself. Since I've already read QUANTICO, personally, I'd start with RIVER OF GODS...and besides, Ian is part of the word India, no?
 

Re: Quantico:A dilemma
Date: 06/27/2007
From: Arvind Mishra
Location: Varanasi

HA.. HA.. Hats off to your eloquence!As indicated by your good self I am beginning with Ian,Quantico awaits a more leisurely treatment.I shall apprise you what an Indian sf reader thinks of Quantico.
Regards,
arvind

Daily Show Anthrax Question

Date: 06/23/2007 From: Joe P.
Location: Branchburg, N.J.

During your interview with Jon Stewart he cut you short on your theory of who the responsible party was. Can you please elaborate on your thoughts.

Thank you,

Joe
 

Re: Daily Show Anthrax Question
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Actually, we didn't go there--because that might spoil the novel! My speculations in QUANTICO are not meant to be authoritative--just suggestive.

Second Life

Date: 06/23/2007 From: Howard Miller
Location: Augusta, GA

I've been spending some time in the online world, 'Second Life', and it occurred to me that it would be fun to set up an online world in 'Second Life' based on 'Songs of Earth and Power'. I suspect, however, that acquiring the proper legalities to do that would be both complex and expensive. I was wondering if you could shed some light on what would be needed to have permission for such a project?
 

Re: Second Life
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Well, you'd have to do it with very little help from me, and give me credit for the original inspiration! No copyright or trademark notices allowed, however, and no cash revenue without further negotiations and a contract. Let me know what you're thinking of.
 

Re: Second Life
Date: 07/05/2007
From: Howard Miller
Location: Augusta, GA

I've set up a Group in Second Life called 'The Pact Lands'. For all you 'Songs Of Earth and Power' fans who are also Second Lifers, please join. Help me figure out how I'm going to pull this off. There is no cost to join.
 

Re: Second Life
Date: 07/05/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Howard! Now, all we need is timeshare rentals in the human camps, run by elves...
 

Re: Second Life
Date: 07/05/2007
From: Howard E. Miller
Location: Augusta GA

Personally I intend to have a house in Euterpe and chase women in Halftown.

I'd like to reserve Alyons and his coursers for administration, and security. They'll roam around the Pact Lands catching griefers and throwing them in the Children's Pit.

I also want to reserve the Crane Women for some special role, but I don't know what yet. Of course, whoever plays these roles will have to be an actual female. Not necessarily human, but female.

Someone asked me why I want to do the Blasted Plain instead of the forests and mountains, so I had to give it some thought. It seems to me that the plains, where Michael first arrives in the Sidhe universe, represents the state of affairs between the Sidhe and the humans. Everything is desolate, has been for a long time, and looks to continue that way. Everyone is scratching to stay alive, and hope is a very scarce commodity. It's the sparseness of this scene that attracts me. I intend to liven things up a bit ... Sidhe and humans have come to a less confrontational relationship, and people are beginning to have a good time.

I don't intend to explain how the Pact Lands survived the collapse of the Faer universe; it happens in soap operas and scifi shows all the time, so we can take it for granted.

A Turn Of Phrase

Date: 06/23/2007 From: Howard Miller
Location: Augusta, GA

Ok, I know I have a perverse turn of mind, but the phrase 'A silent but deadly terrorist threat.' on the ad for 'Quantico' on you opening page strikes me as an unfortunate turn of phrase.
 

Re: A Turn Of Phrase
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

This had been noted before--and it's not on the final jacket. Wonder what you all are thinking of?
 

Re: A Turn Of Phrase
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Howard Miller
Location: Augusta, GA

Ahhh ... well you have to have German heritage, like me, to understand.
 

Re: A Turn Of Phrase
Date: 06/29/2007
From: DMarkwick
Location: UK

I'm pretty sure my copy says "a real ripper of (a) yarn" :)

I guess some things are cross-cultural ;)
 

Re: A Turn Of Phrase
Date: 07/01/2007
From: Greg Bear

Beans for breakfast, anyone? (One of my UK morning favorites: beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and bangers...)
 

Re: A Turn Of Phrase
Date: 07/05/2007
From: Greg Bear

Not the strangest names in UK Cuisine, or world cuisine, for that matter. "Pigs in a blanket" makes some sense, but "Naked babies in the grass"? (Denmark, I believe...) Then there's my favorite in one of Edward Gorey's Earbrass panels, wherein Mr. Earbrass discovers he has an autograph (or has signed a book--I forget which) "Will you ever forget the Bloaters?" I happen to like bloaters quite a lot, actually...
 

Re: A Turn Of Phrase
Date: 07/05/2007
From: Howard E. Miller
Location: Augusta GA

Sounds like the Danish have had some hard winters.
When the Huygens probe landed on Titan I thouhgt that some of the terrain looked a lot like that part of the world. So maybe gloomy Titan will eventually be settled by the Scand.

Eternity as an eBook

Date: 06/22/2007 From: Peter Ohler
Location: Japan

I really liked your Darwin series and am ready to start on the Eon
series. I have not been able to find an electronic copy of Eternity.
None of the 3 companies referenced by the links to electronic book
stores offered the book for sale. Is there another source for the
book? I would prefer not to resort to getting the paperback even
though Amazon has it for $0.71. Can you help me out?
 

Re: Eternity as an eBook
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Should be coming soon from eReads! Along with ANVIL OF STARS. Check their site.

The Daily Show

Date: 06/22/2007 From: Alex Tolley
Location: Los Gatos

Greg,
Just saw your Daily Show interview. Both Stewart and Colbert interviews do wonders for books sales and it looks like you got a very nice boost based on Amazon's ranks. Cutting to just SciFi and excluding the usual school text book classics, you have jumped almost to the top of the pile. Hopefully your exposure will have introduced you to the wider audience you deserve.

Congrats.

Alex
 

Re: The Daily Show
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Ah, but we'll never top Ms. Rowling! Though I did once beat her on Amazon.co.uk for a day or so... Pure serendipity.
 

Re: The Daily Show
Date: 06/27/2007
From: ricardo
Location: Glendale, CA

Great interview Greg! In case anyone else missed it the first time around like I did, the interview can be replayed on the Jon Stewart show website, here's the link, just scroll down a little under the "most recent videos" box: http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/index.jhtml
 

Re: The Daily Show
Date: 06/27/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Ricardo--

Don't worry about the message

Date: 06/22/2007 From: Marilyn Walgora
Location: Carnegie Mellon University

Hi,

Our book store was able to purchase the 32 copies of your book.

Marilyn Walgora
 

Re: Don't worry about the message
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Good news! Look forward to hearing about the class.

Looking for 32 copies of Blood Music

Date: 06/22/2007 From: Marilyn Walgora
Location: Carnegie Mellon University

Hi,

I am helping a co-worker search for 32 copies of Blood Music to use for a LEAP Seminar that starts on Monday, June 25. The professor just asked for them and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. do not have that quantity.

Could you please give us the name and telephone number of the publisher. We would like to call him to see about getting 32 copies in as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your help.
 

Re: Looking for 32 copies of Blood Music
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Marilyn! We're between publishers with this novel for the moment. There might still be iBooks backlist lingering in certain distributor warehouses, so I suggest you try Ingrahams, B&N, etc.--and if that fails, there's a reissue of the UK edition that can be ordered from Gollancz, perhaps through Amazon.co.uk

Great Interview w/ John Stewart!

Date: 06/22/2007 From: Jeff Martin
Location: San Diego

I've been a fan since Eon rocked my world twenty years ago. I was thrilled to hear John say you were his guest tonight. Having only seen your sleeve cover photos, I didn't know what to expect. You were a delightful guest and proof that those of us who wander/wonder in quanta can be emotionally engaging, very charming and wise all at once. Clearly, you are not and should not be confined to paper.

Keep going!
 

Re: Great Interview w/ John Stewart!
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Jeff. Ah, it's great to be lifted off paper and plumped out on the screen--but it's easy to fall flat on TV as well! Jon Stewart is a terrific interviewer. He made me look good.

Saw your interview tonight

Date: 06/21/2007 From: Brian
Location: Philadelphia

Hey Mr. Bear,

Saw your interview on the Daily Show tonight, great stuff! Your work sounds really interesting. I've been looking for some new authors to look up after having exhausted some of my not-so-hard Sci-fi authors such as Sterling and Gibson. All the best!
 

Re: Saw your interview tonight
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Brian! It was great fun. But I do think of Sterling and Gibson as hard sf--on occasion, at least, just like me.
 

Re: Saw your interview tonight
Date: 06/27/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Not quite as hard. Not quite the same schtick. Great, nontheless. Arr, there are times (though very rare) that watching TV would perhaps be an enjoyable thing. I'll have to see if I can scare up the interview on Youtube or something.
 

Re: Saw your interview tonight
Date: 06/27/2007
From: Greg Bear

Available on the Daily Show website.

Songs of Earth and Power - Audio request

Date: 06/19/2007 From: Ann
Location: Reno, NV

Like several other posters here, I have read "Songs of Earth and Power" several times, starting in the late '80s. I spend approx. 2 hours commuting each day and have discovered the wonderful world of audio books. Is there any chance that "Songs" will be available in audio format (unabridged please, I HATE abridged recordings)? I previously downloaded "Darwin's Children" from audible.com not realizing that it was a sequel to "Darwin's Radio". although audible.com has "Darwin's Children" in abridged and unabridged, they only have "Darwin's Radio" in abridged format. Any chance of an unabridged version for "Radio". I prefer to be able to download from audible.com, but will be happy to purchase CD's if necessary.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power - Audio request
Date: 06/19/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Ann! I'm a little surprised that there isn't an unabridged DARWIN'S RADIO on audible.com--I'll look into it. No one has yet produced an audio book of SONGS OF EARTH AND POWER. A new audio recording of QUANTICO has been produced by BBC, which has also done DEADLINES--both unabridged.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power - Audio request
Date: 06/20/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Just curious, as I've never done an audio book: how do they abridge a novel?
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power - Audio request
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Editor(s) move in on the text and decide which are the key scenes and plot elements, then remove "unnecessary" description, dialog, and details. In a sense, the book is de-rezzed, but the sense--in a good abridgement--can still be intact. It's a learning experience to look over an abridged version and wonder--can we be more concise? Or is richness lost if we become too efficient? For the reader, time can often be a limiting factor...

Quantico

Date: 06/17/2007 From: Alex Tolley
Location: Los Gatos, CA

Hi Greg,
Just read Quantico. I really liked this one. The writing was taut, a fast-paced plot, with good dialogue and interesting characters. I liked that you pushed the tech into the background for the most part. Ink-jet printers to aerosolize bacterial vectors - sweet.

I do have a couple of questions;

1. The transition from anthrax to the "memory-loss" prion-like proteins. I get that Tommy was the instigator (the chance theft?), although his motives escape me. But why would Sam go along with this? Wouldn't he have tried to keep Tommy on track for the original plan? It also seems to me that the middle east anthrax tests were going on simultaneously with the yeast production - I'm not clear how that would be possible in Tommy's lab.

2. The orbital lances (OWL). Great imagery - a real Zeus' lightning bolt and interesting successor to "brilliant pebbles". To be deployed as fast as indicated, they would have to be in LEO and there would have to be many of them in order to circumvent the 90 minute orbits. For a near future world that is clearly losing its US hegemony, I find that politically unlikely to be acceptable to the UN or other similar bodies.

All in all, a good, almost mainstream novel, that should get you a shot at a script. Congrats.
 

Re: Quantico
Date: 06/17/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Alex! (Some spoilers involved here...) Politics seldom responds to a logical analysis. Orbital kinetic kill weapons (or, more likely near-term, delivered from the backs of cargo planes) are already in research and possibly in development. They've been talked about in various forms for more than twenty-five years. No U.S. weapons system is subject to UN review, whatever our international posture or status. I'll leave discussion on the psych/bio aspects of the book to a time when more readers will have a chance to do their own analysis!
 

Re: Quantico
Date: 06/17/2007
From: Alex Tolley
Location: Los Gatos, CA

One other thing. The OWLs reminded me of the weapons in Clarke's "Earthlight". The OWLs in Quantico were directed by the ship, Robert A Heinlein. As I recall, the SDI program that included these sorts of weapons caused a rift between these 2 authors that was never repaired, and related in McAleer's bio of Clarke. Was this some conscious/unconscious desire to reconcile them?
 

Re: Quantico
Date: 06/18/2007
From: Greg Bear

They later reconciled, before Heinlein's death.

Songs of Earth and Power

Date: 06/15/2007 From: Gracie
Location: SC

Dear Greg:

I know that you are already in the process of making a movie out of "Forge of God", however, I thought I must comment on this. I have read several of your books and I must say that The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage are by far my favorite books of all time. I would LOVE to see these two made into a movie. What do you think the chances are of this happening? Can you make my dream come true????

Sincerely,

Gracie
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 06/17/2007
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Gracie! No interest in these novels for now. But they're among my personal favorites, as well.
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 06/18/2007
From: Gracie
Location: SC

Well, if you do decide to make this into a movie, could I be on the crew? I have had the film for these books made in my mind for several years, and I would love to see it in reality sometime soon...

Your Biggest Fan,

Gracie
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 06/18/2007
From: Greg Bear

Ah, if only authors had such power!
 

Re: Songs of Earth and Power
Date: 06/19/2007
From: Gracie
Location: SC

I will never understand why they don't!!!! They should have more power! Of course, on the same note, common people like myself should have more power too, but that is never going to happen, so I guess that is LIFE!

Still waiting on "Songs of Earth and Power" to become a movie!!!!!

Me Again,

Gracie

Immunity by Incompatibility

Date: 06/15/2007 From: Jarek Duda
Location: Poland

I have a concept which will prevent virtually ANY microbe (virus, bacterium, protozoan, etc) from infecting an organism such as the human being  by making humans incompatible to these microbes!

There is a very effective way of achieving this - by reconstructing ourselves using the mirror reflection of our cellular components! Just by replacing left-handed amino acids with right-handed ones, we would get (chiral) mirror reflections of natural proteins. Analogically, we could get reflected sugars, DNA, etc, on which reflected enzymes would work perfectly. Finally we would get a normally functioning mirror reflection of a natural organism - a chiral counterpart organism - with which natural viruses couldnt interact. Electromagnetic force (chemistry) is unchanged under such molecular reflection transformation (P-symmetry). There is a small alteration of weak interactions under reflection, which can produce very small corrections, but these corrections are many orders of magnitude lower than thermal noise - almost certainly too tiny to alter any biochemistry.

Such a chiral organism would obviously need to be feed with reflected food, produced by reflected plants. The great advantage, though, is that such chiral organisms should enjoy a disease-free life, completely immune to all viruses and microbes (which virologists are now beginning to understand underlie a huge number of human diseases). And we would eliminate plagues and epidemics.

Viruses would be completely incompatible with the reflected human cellular structures; and bacteria, protozoa and fungi could not function because they would not be able to find normal sugars inside reflected organisms. The reverse sugars circulating in the chiral human body would be indigestible as far as normal bacteria are concerned, so any bacterium entering a chiral human would simply starve to death. The chiral environment is absolutely hostile for normal viruses, protozoa, bacteria, etc.

In order to infect a chiral human, existing bacteria would have to evolve their own mirror image structure from scratch. This is extremely unlikely to happen (since DNA holds the genes, the alphabet of evolution, but DNA itself is a priori to genes, and therefore untouched by the process of evolution). Terrorist acts, however, are a concern. In the case of sabotage, though, it may be easier control the spread of any terrorist-engineered chiral virus, using anti-terrorist measures already in place today.

How do we create a chiral organism, such as a reflected human? The synthesis of every molecule, a reflected zygote is difficult, because we dont have chiral enzymes. But the real problem is creating the correct structure of membranes with specific concentrations & fill it with life. Nevertheless, with advancing nano-engineering, this could be possible in lets say 50 years, when we could slowly transform our ecosystems, starting from the bacterium E. coli, which will act as our factory, and later plants. Finally, if all goes well, the human being.

But in such a sterile environment, would we have perfect health? Maybe the stresses created by small infections can, like small amounts of radiation, have positive long-term influence? For example, infection helps to get rid of damaged and weak cells in an organism. And the hygiene hypothesis states that the actual absence of exposure to microbes can lead to autoimmune diseases (although more probably, autoimmune diseases are due to chronic underlying infection from viruses and bacteria that have insinuated themselves deeply inside a living organism and its cells, rather than the lack of exposure to microbes; so we should eliminate autoimmune conditions in once we have shifted into chiral life).

There are other dangers too: imagine a reflected unicellular organism, which needs only light and symmetric molecules like H2O, CO2, O2. Such a chiral unicellular organism could spread, evolve, and could even overthrow plant life.

So the main rule from the beginning should be: in the case of chlorophyll organisms: only plants whose population can be controlled should be transformed!

Transformation of our ecosystem would be expensive, but in the future we may need to create completely new ecosystems for populating other planets like Mars. In these situations, the effectiveness of such an ecosystem will be very important. We would need many kinds of microorganisms. Symbiotic ones wouldnt need to have aggressive mechanisms; aggressive microbes would only re-emerge if they evolved from zero. I cannot imagine that chiral viruses would be needed; they wouldnt be transformed at all. Thus chiral viruses would just re-appear if they evolved from zero, like free DNA, which is unlikely. Furthermore, the last time this happened, the viruses evolved in parallel with their targets; now organisms have very advanced specific/non-specific defensive systems, which will make it hard for any chiral virus to appear and establish itself in a chiral ecosystem.

Of course, once our ecosystem is transformed, if in the distant future, we find a new major problem, we can always reverse again!
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/17/2007
From: Greg Bear

Many fascinating speculations and possibilities here, Jarek. But we NEED many microorganisms (including viruses--or at least virally introduced genes) to stay alive! And if we engineer some of them to join us in this mirror biology (which is possible in some respects, and far less likely in others--not all chiral proteins or other molecules have similar qualities or behaviors) then in time our tiny good buddies are likely to mutate to become pathogens. We might end up right back where we started! (Might make a great story...)

I wonder--if we went to a completely synthesized or reconfigured biological system, how long would it take for unpredictable variations to occur? This leads us into more interesting questions about top-down control vs. bottom-up customization...
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/17/2007
From: Jarek Duda
Location: Poland

Why do You think that we NEED viruses?
I have a discusion about it - please join us
http://www.scienceforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=27078
And without viruses, evolution of microorganisms should be much slower...

Energy effectiveness can be essential for our civilisation, before we learn to terraform other planets, and in such difficult enviroments this effectiveness is even more essential...
I think we will make such simple sterile ecosystems and slowly replace our own.
I imagine that they will select, combine best human genomes and create chiral elite... after a while the richest will be able to adopt them, maybe based on inywidual DNA ... and after a long time they will be a significant percent of the population...
I don't have to add that it will be very interesting social/political time... :)
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/18/2007
From: Terran
Location: Winter Park, FL

I'm sure I read a story based on this, but the details are escaping me. Does anyone else remember it?

I believe the main concept was an accident with a teleportion device - someone got transported, but reassembled backwards and then starved because they could not digest any food. Maybe it was a Larry Niven short story?
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/18/2007
From: Greg Bear

As I've pointed out in both the DARWIN'S books and in papers on this web site, we actually use at least one gene supplied by viruses to get born. That's pretty essential! Viruses are far from just "poison." They're Fed-Ex for genes of all sorts, and contribute greatly to evolution and probably to chromosome management within cells, and perhaps even between individuals in species--or species within ecosystems!
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/18/2007
From: Greg Bear

It's an Arthur C. Clarke story, I'm pretty sure--but I looked through my collections and can't find it! Any readers out there who remember? The man starves to death because is mirror-reversed and he can't absorb sugars.
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/19/2007
From: Jarek Duda
Location: Cracow

"we actually use at least one gene supplied by viruses to get born" - it's very interesting, I couldn't find it...?
I agree that viruses helps the evolution, but if we made precise, customized ecosystem - evolution is rather something unwanted - it's difficult to predict, control and can throw out of the stable point.

I've got to this idea by my previous one - to became incompatible by changing the language which encodes nucleotide triples into amino acids (be replacing eg tRNA), but it could result in enormous number of problems with gene regulation.
I haven't read this novel and I belive that chiral life is to 'simple' to be new idea. I want to show that it can be quite realistic possibility and danger - it should be widely discussed.

How to make such prokaryote?
Huge problem is to create chiral enzymes, I will sketch in a moment how how I imagine that.
Now take :) a solution of phospholipids, it will automatically create a bubble, fill the membrane with proteins, pump DNA, ... , ATP ... and voilla :)
About the other parts of it...
The cell should stay 'alive' in specyfic, precise conditions, without most of them.
Then it should try to stabilise itself, rebuild what's needed (like the wall).
This would give us time to do something to allow it to reproduce.
Having this small factories, synthesis of elements will be simple.
But the real problem is with eukaryote. I think we could use the original cell and just replace/add what we need...
Most of the its proteins work with symmetric molecues, the other we could block or do nothing with them - if we place the cell in good conditions, feed it (even artifically with eg ATP), it should be stable while 'slowly' adding chiral molecues, replacing DNA ... and after some time/generations it will replace the rest itself.

Here is a sketch of production the (chiral) string of protein(/DNA):
Prepare a surface with with oriented lattice of something that can adhere amino acids and that they can be easly released (by light, electric current, pH, temperature...).
Then 'just' print (like ink printer) or litograph (use different solutions of aminoacids and light specyfic pattern to adhere) given patterns of strings of amino acids...
Then use some catalysis to join neighbours.
We would have maaany copies full of errors at one time.
For selection process, we can use something the correct ones would adhere to.
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/19/2007
From: Greg Bear

Take a look at this paper on the web:

http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/102/3/725

Mirror-reversing complex proteins strikes me as a very difficult procedure to get right, since how they fold and interact with other molecules is key to their functions. What you're talking about is completely re-engineering nearly all the components of a cell. That would be possible, certainly, but let's call it what it is--creating a new form of life!
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/20/2007
From: Jarek Duda
Location:

If I correctly understood, the problem is that we cannot replace all ERVs to something neutral, because we use eg their capsids in some of our mechanisms.
Over this millions of years, this capsids have been optimized for our purposes. Maybe it's good point for viruses to begin evolution again, but there is still a long way, counted in thousands-millions of years. Viruses for evolution requires friendly environment - cells. Ours has quite good protection, much better then when viruses evoluted last time...

People are talking about nanorobots - isn't a new life?
I'm young(27) theoretics (MS physics&math&computer science), grown up on SF, RPG, so for me it's 'easy' to sketch such procedures :)
But I realize that it's not so easy ... but it's imaginable ... possible? ...
So someone, sometime will try to do it ... we should discuss to help him or how to prevent ...
And if You are looking for the author of this idea ... maybe Carroll and his Alice ... :)
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/20/2007
From: patrick
Location:

As is evident in biology, and homeopathy is confirming, regardless of whichever institutions want to think otherwise, symbiosis is the most balanced form of existence.
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/23/2007
From: Jean Lagarde
Location: Ridgecrest, CA

Re the Arthur C. Clarke story, I would not remember something like that, but I am reasonably adept at searching the Internet: The story is "Technical Error", available in "The Collected Stories" (ISBN 0-312-87821-4).
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

I have no doubt we'll be doing some substantial deconstruction and reconstruction of biological systems--and not just in the far future. Near-term proposals are being researched now. But any such system will have to take into account the unpredictable consequences even of simple changes--in one instance, new and different kinds of viruses. Complete control is likely out of the question!
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Symbiosis is what happens after you've exhausted all attempts to expunge and purify, and discover that your enemy can be your friend.
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

That's the one--thanks, Jean!
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/26/2007
From: Jarek Duda
Location:

I completely agree that this idea has maaany aspects - both possibilities and dangers.
I only want to show that it looks achievable and it's better to think about it now than in eg 30 years, when required technology could be generally accessible.

What are the costs of such project?
The most of the cost is to transform a few cells of each needed specie - I think that required technology should be standard in a few dozens of years.
Then we have to replace seeds for a few fields, clone some cattle ... and humans for adoption...
The replacement process can be very slow.
And the income ... HEALTH ... crop production ... pests ... maybe to be or not to be for natural Martian life until terraforming

We can also think about transforming only eg human, and use original bacterial flora, which could be compatible (after teaching the immune system)?
I've received a long letter from Steve Winter. One of many things he mentioned was that " there was a study where a group fed some bacteria chiral food, and it eventually evolved the ability to eat the food".
It's large problem, but I think they should have much more problems with evolution of interactions (like aggressiveness) with chiral organism, and in supported by us chiral ecosystem, they should be dominated...
And they usually die with the carrier.
But the largest benefit from chiral life are viruses - let's say that we can manage with microorganisms, but elimination of viruses looks hopeless
http://virology.wordpress.com/
And the lack of them should slow down the evolution of bacterias, making the creation of stable ecosystem easier.
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 06/27/2007
From: patrick
Location:

"Symbiosis is what happens after you've exhausted all attempts to expunge and purify, and discover that your enemy can be your friend."

This indicates a psychological inconsistency. It has no bearing on its efficacy.

"I have no doubt we'll be doing some substantial deconstruction and reconstruction of biological systems..."

Have been doing for decades. This is one reason for 'scientific ethics'.
 

Re: Immunity by Incompatibility
Date: 07/16/2007
From: James
Location: pittsburgh

I believe that this idea is not very realistic. We interact with millions of organisms every day. It is impossible to say which of these hurt and which help. One example is the bacteria in our digestive track. The idea is rather close minded.

"Complex networks" in DNA

Date: 06/14/2007 From: Steve D
Location: Kent, UK

To my layman's brain, the findings discussed in the following article seem to be getting very close to Darwin's Radio territory:

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/findings-challenge-basic-views-human-genome-13465.html

The next few years could be fascinating.

Slashdot discussion here:

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/06/13/2246219&threshold=3

Steve
 

Re:
Date: 06/17/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Steve! We are indeed deep into the future of biology I speculated about in DARWIN'S RADIO and elsewhere. I've been highly critical of the notion of so-called "junk DNA" since the early 1980s, when I was writing BLOOD MUSIC--but the idea is remarkably stubborn! So I'll put it bluntly--there is no junk DNA. The term should fade away. All of it is put to some use or another.
 

Re:
Date: 06/19/2007
From: Kurt9
Location: Oregon

The subject of the article has been obvious for a long time. The "one gene to one protein" paradym has been obviously flawed for some time and the notion of large portions of the genome being "junk" has never made sense to me. I know that natural processes are supposed to be inefficient, but having most of the genome being "useless" has always seemed over the top to me.

The good news is that bio-science, like any other science, is tool-driven; and the performance/cost of those tools is continually progressing.
 

Re:
Date: 06/20/2007
From: patrick
Location:

I think - as with the case of the condensing of Maxwell's equations by those who either didn't understand the unabridged set, or used them for their own ends - biology is no different than other branches in that those in the field have contrived it according to their own psyche.

Quantico

Date: 06/12/2007 From: Michael Grosberg
Location: Israel

Hi Greg,
I just finished reading your latest novel, and I enjoyed it immensely. I liked the near future setting and the extrapolation of the results of American involvement in the middle east (I do have a vested interest in the outcome :) )

I do have a couple of questions. First of all, I'm interested in Tommy's habit of miming a quotation mark whenever somebody says the word "think". Where did you get that detail from? Does it signify anything about Tommy's way of looking at people? at himself? Does he not believe himself to exist or to be self aware?

In Quantico you also wrote about American muslims, Iraqi citizens and Israeli religious fanatics. Is writing them different than writing about the mindsets of, say, characters from Mars Binding Multiples or Axis city? Did you interview such people?

All the best,
michael
 

Re: Quantico
Date: 06/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Michael! All social groups tend to be committed to their own perpetuation--what becomes interesting to me is the phenomenon of small offshoots with remarkably repetitious and familiar ideologies--purifying apocalypse, racial purity, religious inerrancy, etc.--who believe everyone else is wrong, so wrong that they must die. Sometimes, of course, the offshoot is allowed to grow and becomes mainstream--and then, perpetuates and edits (persecutes) on a much larger scale.

Tommy's habit does indeed reflect the difficulty he has committing to a smoothly self-aware state, or connecting socially with large groups of people. He's smart enough to suspect this lack--but can't repair it. In short, his social brain is damaged.

new reader

Date: 06/06/2007 From: Dianne Smith
Location: Blaine, WA

Hi Mr. Bear,
I am a avid book reader, but had not come across your books until recently. I must say, I am now a big fan. Your books are very thought provoking and some of the setting take place in the state I call home.
I will be checking your books out from the local library and I look forward to reading each one!
Sincerely,
Dianne Smith

 

Re: new reader
Date: 06/06/2007
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Dianne! Looking forward to hearing your reactions.

Open Source Not Addressed In SF?

Date: 06/05/2007 From: Swapnil Bhartiya
Location: Delhi

Dear Greg,

The other day I was having a discussion with Richard Stallman, better known as RMS. I was writing a story for Linux For You magazine...and we both were surprised that Open Source movement has not been noticed by the SF community, this is bit strange given that OSS is emerging as major movement after industrial revolution, what say you?
 

Re: Open Source Not Addressed In SF?
Date: 06/05/2007
From: Greg Bear

There has been plenty of debate in the extended sf community about open source. A few years ago, Neal Stephenson and I attended a special Microsoft event where Eric Raymond gave a speech; there have been debates at conventions and in web exchanges for many years. The promise of open source software to compete with that from major corporations such as Apple or Microsoft has yet to be fully realized. Still, there are interesting branches of growth and development within the Linux community, and in countries like India, open source may yet prove to be a viable model--as long as there is little or no competition from pirated software. What is required is the dedication and focus of a large community of programmers and developers, with an almost religious zeal for creating, maintaining, and upgrading software--for no immediate pay! A tough model under any conditions. But as a force for education and acquiring skill sets, open source can be a boon for the young, and a way to make a mark in a competitive environment.
 

Re: Open Source Not Addressed In SF?
Date: 06/06/2007
From: tobias s buckell
Location: http://www.tobiasbuckell.com

Hi Greg, please pass on to Swapnil this URL: http://www.penguicon.org/ it's an open source/linux/SF convention hybrid, most of the SF authors who attend get involved in discussions about the intersection of this kind of stuff.
 

Re: Open Source Not Addressed In SF?
Date: 06/06/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Tobias!
 

Thanks Tobias: Re: Open Source Not Addressed In SF?
Date: 06/06/2007
From: Swapnil Bhartiya
Location: Delhi, India

Thanks Greg...that pretty much addresses my concern.

And thanks Tobias for that link!

I will go through the link and see if we could do a story on this scenario FOSS in SF in the Asia's only GNU/Linux-focussed magazine LINUX For You. By the way, may I take liberty to ask, how are you associated with GNU/Linux?

If you have time please go through

http://efytimes.com/archive/preview.asp?articleid=14

Regards
Swapnil
 

Re: Open Source Not Addressed In SF?
Date: 06/07/2007
From: patrick
Location:

There are actually many communities, often hobbyist, that generate free products and services. One is a sort of underground movement of retro gamers who grew up in the 80s, during the 'golden age' of video games, or somewhat after during the console revival (Nintendo, Sega, etc). However, in the current world market, as Greg alluded to, there must be some way for people doing free services to somehow generate income.

Though I think the open source movement is socially and philosophically important, what seems more significant is what may allow the development of this: not just technology, but cultural paradigm. Not simply wanting things people use to be open source, but their actual lives. A truly open community.

This has been speculated on to differing degrees, and in my humble reading experience, the most desirable, if not successful, is that of the Edenists in Peter F. Hamilton's Confederation Universe. Although in a more enigmatic fashion perhaps the 'little brothers' in ANVIL OF STARS could be another example.
 

Re: Open Source Not Addressed In SF?
Date: 06/12/2007
From: Michael Grosberg
Location: Israel

Swapnil -
In the hopes it is not bad form recommending another writer's book on Greg's board, I'd like to recommend Vernor Vinge's "Rainbows End". It's a closed-source Dystopia of sorts, where GNU HURD is illegal (Linux itself is not mentioned by name) but it does address the idea of open source (or lack thereof), and the idea of user-created content and collaborative online projects in the future.
 

Re: Open Source Not Addressed In SF?
Date: 06/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Very good novel. Vernor is one of the Killer BVDs.
 

Re: Open Source Not Addressed In SF?
Date: 06/13/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Greg, is that a matter of privy? Both my memory and google bring up the underwear manufacturer.
 

Re: Open Source Not Addressed In SF?
Date: 06/17/2007
From: Greg Bear

Killer B's plus V plus David's first name... BVD, though some have thought our ideas more Fruit of the Loom. We do at times combine to form a kind of privy council. Though we've never been shorts-listed for the Booker Prize. But I must be brief...
 

Re: Open Source Not Addressed In SF?
Date: 06/17/2007
From: Swapnil Bhartiya
Location: Delhi, India

Michael Grosberg/Patrick:

Thanks for the valuable inputs. I am doing an article for a magazine where I am trying to explore the references to OSS in SF lit. We would also try to explore how SF could help in popularisation of OSS. Could you give me more inputs. You can reach me at arnieswap@gmail.com

Regards
Swapnil
Assistant Editor
EFYtimes

Bear Books.

Date: 06/03/2007 From: Gary Clark
Location: 1.25 miles from the Bear household (near Martha Lake) :)

Dear sir,

It was nice to see you on TV promoting your book signing event. I will try to make it - but of course, I have already made one signing for Quantico at UBooks. I spoke to you once about my collection of sci-fi paperbacks. While most of the really early paperbacks have been given away or in some cases, sold, I do still have a dozen or so left, but they are mainly from the 50's and 60's - let me know if you would still be interested.

I hope to see you at the Locus awards again this year.

While I an not in anyway obsessive about my Greg Bear collection, and I am sure there are any number of collectors with more of your books.... Do you have or do you know where I could obtain: ARCs, Proofs, etc...?

All my best, Gary
 

Re: Bear Books.
Date: 06/05/2007
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Gary! ARCs and proofs trade frequently at conventions--those might be the best sources. Other than that, I can only suggest SF dealers online--or ABEbooks.
 

Re: Bear Books.
Date: 06/06/2007
From: Terran
Location: Winter Park, FL

Hi Gary - You can also try Wrigley-Cross Books (http://www.wrigleycrossbooks.com). They are in Troutdale (just south of Portland), but I believe they do online sales as well and they always have a wonderful selection of books including small press, ARCs, and imports. I haven't shopped them online, but when I lived in Portland that was one of my favorite places to browse and I never walked out of there without some sort of treasure!
 

Re: Bear Books.
Date: 06/06/2007
From: Greg Bear

Wrigley-Cross are great folks--and frequent exhibitors at the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair, one of my favorite events here.

Sequels

Date: 06/01/2007 From: Termy
Location: Au

Hi Greg.

Are you planning to write a sequel to Anvil of the Stars? It, and Forge, are two of my favourite books and I've always thought it would be good as a trilogy.

Cheers.
 

Re: Sequels
Date: 06/01/2007
From: Greg Bear

Nothing in the pipeline at the moment, but there was always a third book in the back of my head...

Contemporary realities and SF

Date: 05/31/2007 From: arvind mishra
Location: Varanasi,India

Hello Greg,
Trust you are fine.These days some spirited Indian sf writers are debating whether contemporary realities/scenes/situations should be depicted in sf stories or not?Or only projected/imagined future events should find place in sf?
Kindly enlighten your Indian fraternity on the issue and oblige.I must remind you of our invitation of visiting India and meet our small but beautiful group of Indian sf writers.
Regards,
arvind mishra
 

Re: Contemporary realities and SF
Date: 05/31/2007
From: Greg Bear

My answer is brief--I do this sort of thing much of the time, and so have many others--from Asimov and Heinlein to Michael Crichton--so I think the merger of sf with contemporary issues is a natural. Of course, we always like to get away from home and explore the far stretches of the imagination. A healthy balance!

And please tell us more about your writer's group!
 

Re: Contemporary realities and SF
Date: 06/01/2007
From: arvind mishra
Location: Varanasi,India

Thanks a lot for prompt reply which definitely played a decisive role in concluding our debate on the issue in question ie relevance of raising contemporary matters in SF.
Ours is a Yahoo group of 35 scifi writers belonging to different parts and languages from India.It could be accessed at indiansciencefiction@yahoogroups.co.in.More details shall be given by its young member Swapnil,who is also very eager to contact you.
regards,
arvind
 

Re: Contemporary realities and SF
Date: 06/02/2007
From: Swapnil Bhartiya
Location: Delhi, India

Dear Greg,

The journalist and SF writer is back! I have been an advocate of embedding contemporary issues in SF literatutre, and I posted my views on the Indian science fiction writers group, and there were brilliant inputs in favour as well as againts, finally Dr Arvind Misha approached you to get a final view. I am glad to see you gave us great direction.

Let me introduce our group. As you are aware India is a diverse nation and there different languages spoken and written in different region -- they are different to that extent that they are latin to each other :-)

We have created a common platform where representatives/ experts from different languages gather here and thrash issues pertaining to Indian SF. Indian SF is highly driven by mythology, but the new breed of writers is feeling suffocated in that environment so it is trying to break free. This double edge sword makes the discussions on the group more heated and educating.

There are some national award winner writers/scientists/ acedemicians on the group. I would request you to have a look at our discussions. Please click on the link below.

http://in.groups.yahoo.com/group/indiansciencefiction/messages

Regards

Swapnil Bhartiya
Assistant Editor
EFYTimes
 

Re: Contemporary realities and SF
Date: 06/05/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks! Sounds like a great group.

Globalwarming Total Solution From Hydrogen

Date: 05/21/2007 From: Carlos Barrera
Location: Monterrey Mexico

I think the glolbalwarming can have a solution from taking the hydrogen from water, by efficienty electrolisys.
And I inform aboute the Gearturbine (as a power plant), power by barr, with retrodynamic dextrogiro vs levogiro effect, an non parasitic looses system, and over-unit engine. To see deatils:
www.geocities.com/gearturbine
 

Re: Globalwarming Total Solution From Hydrogen
Date: 05/28/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Carlos!
 

Re: Globalwarming Total Solution From Hydrogen
Date: 05/28/2007
From: patrick
Location:

That brings this gadget to mind:

http://www.aquagas.co.nz/
 

Re: Globalwarming Total Solution From Hydrogen
Date: 05/30/2007
From: Greg Bear

Though if I understand this product, you're on the power grid to generate hydrogen...
 

Re: Globalwarming Total Solution From Hydrogen
Date: 05/30/2007
From: Carlos Barrera
Location: Monterrey, Mexico.

Is an efficient power plant, than can make the electrolisys cheap, and take the hydrogen from water.
 

Re: Globalwarming Total Solution From Hydrogen
Date: 05/31/2007
From: Greg Bear

There's no net gain if the electricity that converts the water to hydrogen/oxygen comes from a conventional (coal, oil) power source, of course. Adding one more step isn't the ultimate goal--though converting water to hydrogen can have many uses. The welding use, for example, is just more convenient...
 

Re: Globalwarming Total Solution From Hydrogen
Date: 06/01/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Not sure if this one got through - but as I said, last, you can also use water in a combustion device (an application denoted at aquagas's site). As with a gasoline engine, it's very likely it takes a small bit of electricity in the process of the combustion (and separation) but can then use that reaction to generate a bunch of electricity. Simple.

Forge of God

Date: 05/20/2007 From: Jackie Smith
Location: Sale, England

Hi Greg,

I've been a big fan of your books for many years and re-read them on a regular basis. Forge of God holds a special place in my heart as it's the first novel of yours i read and, i think, the best!

It's such a scary read because it's so real. Are they making a film out of it soon?
 

Re: Forge of God
Date: 05/28/2007
From: Greg Bear

No way of knowing when they'll get around to it--but on a cosmo-geological scale, Hollywood can be relatively swift...
 

Re: Forge of God
Date: 05/28/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Not implying anything genderal, here, just commenting that my girlfriend, when I turned her on to it, had a very similar experience while reading THE FORGE OF GOD. Maybe it's the earth mother thing, I dunno, but I found it a fascinating perspective.

Go Organic!

Date: 05/12/2007 From: patrick
Location:

Your article Biospace 21 talks about this. This predicament is exactly why we need to go bio-tech.


http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2007/11may_locad3.htm?list208336

Great article on parallel universes, and universes from description.

Date: 05/12/2007 From: Ethan Bradford
Location: Seattle

Also inspired by your talk at Google, I wanted to point you to an interesting article by cosmologist Max Tegmark on parallel universes: http://space.mit.edu/home/tegmark/multiverse.pdf.

His most salient point was that any internally consistent set of mathematical equations effectively defines a "Universe", and if we can think them up, they exist, so in a sense any Universe with a consistent set of internal laws exists.
 

Re: Great article on parallel universes, and universes from description.
Date: 05/14/2007
From: Greg Bear

Hmm! Sounds like a mathematical variation of L. Sprague de Camp's classic Harold Shay stories, found in THE INCOMPLETE ENCHANTER and THE CASTLE OF IRON. De Camp imagined that all of literature posits alternate real universes--which can be visited, under the right circumstances!
 

Re: Great article on parallel universes, and universes from description.
Date: 05/14/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Well, that's assuming cognition or consciousness is some measure of the universe.
 

Re: Great article on parallel universes, and universes from description.
Date: 05/14/2007
From: Greg Bear

Of course. As far as I know, only conscious beings measure things... The most tangled problem in epistemology!
 

Re: Great article on parallel universes, and universes from description.
Date: 05/23/2007
From: Howard E. Miller
Location: Augusta, GA

Thinking about this has led me to think of several questions:

1. Why does our universe only have 3 or 5 or 11 dimensions? Why not an infinite number?

2. What's more likely: a finite number of universes or an infinite number?

3. If there are an infinite number of universes, and an infinite amount of time, won't we appear at some other time and some other place, remembering this lifetime? It doesn't seem likely, but in an infinite amount of time, everything that can possibly happen, will. Over and over.
 

Re: Great article on parallel universes, and universes from description.
Date: 05/28/2007
From: Greg Bear

This is the sort of stuff that has intrigued SF writers for generations now. Often, physicists will stand back from the more overt implications of their theories--multiple universes, sum-over-history, observer-based reality, etc.--and say that while the math seems to work just fine, some of the most spectacular of the implications should be discarded... I'm not so sure that's necessary, or even helpful.
 

Re: Great article on parallel universes, and universes from description.
Date: 05/28/2007
From: patrick
Location:

I think it's contextual. That all things are possible doesn't mean they're all possible in this frame of reference our species, at least at large, are familiar with. And this could be the case for our universe. The again, it could be as the new-agists portend, that such things are a matter of perception, informed by level of consciousness.

Following Greg's last, I think it's healthy for scientists to think beyond their boundary conditions, while at the same time keeping perspective, not for any social reasons (and the science community has its own vanity fair aspect), but relative to what they're involved in at any given time. This is an old proverb.
 

Re: Great article on parallel universes, and universes from description.
Date: 06/16/2007
From: Creel
Location: South Carolina

You should read "Physics of Immortality", by Frank Tipler. As far as it relates to Epistemology and eternal life it is a great read from a Quantum physics perspective.

An excelent XKCD comic on creating uinverses.

Date: 05/12/2007 From: Ethan Bradford
Location: Seattle

Your mention (at Google) of creating whole universes, and how you can't explicitly specify the digits of pi in a finite number of bits brought to mind this classic comic: http://xkcd.com/c10.html.
 

Re: An excelent XKCD comic on creating uinverses.
Date: 05/14/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Ethan! For those who weren't there, I had a great time at Google in nearby Kirkland discussing the theory of Universal Libraries, a key component in my soon-to-be-finished CITY AT THE END OF TIME. (A universal library is brilliantly described in Borges's "The Library of Babel." It contains all possible permutations of a string of symbols--in Borges's essay, a book of five hundred or so pages.) The Google team were sharp as tacks--no surprise--answering questions in seconds that it took me months to figure out on my own. So now I'm honing my take on this peculiar branch of linguistics/math/number theory based on their comments.

One thing I forgot to mention: when Carl Sagan, in CONTACT, posited that pi contained a metaphysical message, he was criticized for a mathematical impossibility: pi is an incompressible random number, therefore cannot contain anything that makes sense. Yet one of the questions I asked at Google was whether or not pi can contain a universal library. (The Google experts came down on both sides.) Does pi contain all possible variations of a string of numbers of length n? How long will it take before that string repeats? Does the repetition occur at random intervals? Some of these are not easy questions to answer, believe me.
 

Re: An excelent XKCD comic on creating uinverses.
Date: 05/14/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Ah, seems you and Bruce Sterling just missed each other in passing. And is there a video or transcript of your visit there?

Permutations....I know in music, at least in even-temperament, there {were} originally only four major transformations, each with 12 transpositions, making 48. Then, my theory instructor found 48 more by a sidereal rotation of the set.

The thing is, permutations are defined, not just by intervals, but, by some boundary. Which apparently hasn't been discovered yet in pi. Still, instead of grunt-crunching the string out, I would think there might be some elegant theoretical manner of finding more out about it.
 

Re: An excelent XKCD comic on creating uinverses.
Date: 05/14/2007
From: Greg Bear

There are a number of interesting methods of analyzing the complete permutations of a string of fixed length... revelation of which will have to be reserved for the novel! If I can fit it all in. Maybe in the Universal Library edition, along with all the alternate versions and drafts and outtakes...
 

Re: An excelent XKCD comic on creating uinverses.
Date: 05/16/2007
From: patrick
Location:

lookin forward to it!
 

Re: An excelent XKCD comic on creating uinverses.
Date: 06/11/2007
From: Fred
Location: Chicago

Pi is an incompressible random number?

You seem to know more than anyone else does about it. Do you expect the Fields Medal in Hyderabad?

It's not even proven that pi is normal, a prerequisite for randomness.

Pi is an uncompressed, apparently-random number. That it hasn't been done is not a sufficient indication that it cannot be done. It's impossible to prove the randomness of pi, or any number for that matter, by appealing to the characteristics of some subset of its digits. This is an identical problem to determining whether a coin is perfectly fair using a finite number of flips. Which is to say, an impossible problem.

That being said, any non-terminating random number contains an infinite quantity of universal libraries, in any arbitrary finite encoding scheme you can imagine. That's not self-evident? (Rhetorical question; it IS self-evident.)
 

Re: An excelent XKCD comic on creating uinverses.
Date: 06/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

All good points. How nice they are so obvious to you. And so--your practical exercise, not a proof, since I don't want to just hand you the Fields Prize: write pi out to a billion digits, then run it through any lossless compression filter, and tell me what you come up with. Then add one digit and try it again. Reiterate until you get tired. (This is easily doable, of course--I'm sure it's already been done, probably to a trillion or more.)

Compare with, say, a Dickens novel--or even Finnegans Wake.

Apparently, once you're past the first n digits (I don't know how many), pi and similar key numbers denature--that is, become indistinguishable from each other--which implies the first n digits are very important to the universe, while the rest are only important to mathematicians--who will never never be able to tell them apart, once the serial numbers are filed off, so to speak.

What value of n are we looking at here, and is it the same for any such number?

Any thoughts--any dissenters?

Pardon my ignorance if all the answers are immediately obvious.

Basing in transcience

Date: 05/09/2007 From: patrick
Location:

Quick OT: strangely, that last topic doesn't display that there are any replies. Now, for this post:

"Antiferromagnetic materials are currently used in read heads for magnetic storage devices and show promise for use in spintronic devices, which could make use of both the spin and charge of the electron to process information. However, any future technologies that rely on the precise location of antiferromagnetic domains could be affected by this tunnelling. A solution, according to Shpyrko, is the introduction of defects or impurities in the antiferromagnetic materials, which tend to fix the domain locations."

http://physicsweb.org/articles/news/11/5/5/1

This got me thinking about how we conceive of design. Generally, there must be some physically-based constant to facilitate a consistency in operation of a device. Buy perhaps we could base the operation in the flux of its constituents.
 

Re: Basing in transcience
Date: 05/11/2007
From: Greg Bear

Using noise or unreliability... hm! I've heard of stochastic resonances enhancing signals or performance. Could this be a related technique?
 

Re: Basing in transcience
Date: 05/12/2007
From: patrick
Location:

I'm not sure what I meant there...you know, a eureka moment not easily reached again. Maybe there's nothing to it. Perhaps another, maybe related, idea is to somehow create (or utilise) a system that doesn't stop...it never finishes an operation, it just uses the continually-evolving behavior...Roddy could've perhaps been like this, so you've already thought of it. (Not sure I'm clear enough on this.)
 

Re: Basing in transcience
Date: 05/14/2007
From: Greg Bear

Organic systems shed entropy by sacrificing individuals, while error-correcting and replicating the essential elements. That seems a lot like what you're describing.
 

Re: Basing in transcience
Date: 06/08/2007
From: Steven Becker
Location: San Jose

This is way over my head, but really appealing. Just to add to the somewhat chaotic thread:

If charactieristics of the internal flux of a system where to be used as a reference, rather than some fixed datum, it seems like the reference would have to be established relative to the bounds or charactertistics of the enclosing system. It seems like this is the way a domain like (for example) mathematics works in which a formula can be used to provide an answer, but the formula has to exist within a contextual system for it to have meaning and predictive value.
 

Re: Basing in transcience
Date: 06/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

If I understand what you're getting at, then the contextual system is actually the interaction between the system and its environment--which is encoded in the biogenetic complex. (Note I didn't just say genes--there's actually a lot of environmentally-tuned support systems within the cell that manage and restrict genetic expression.) This determines the rules of the system--its flexibility, its range, and its final product.
 

Re: Basing in transcience
Date: 06/13/2007
From: Steven Becker
Location: San Jose

Wow! That's a great extrapolation of my mumbling. Seriously holistic.

I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean by "range." Is it something like its ability to influence its surroundings, and to what degree that influence spreads? If so, its's an interesting argument for how micro activities can scale to the macro. Maybe you'd need to add "intent" or "goals" to the list of rules you provided. Maybe not! < Your wonderful book "Vitals" certainly blurred this line in my thinking.

Best regards
 

Re: Basing in transcience
Date: 06/13/2007
From: Greg Bear

By range, I mean the environmental "space" the ecological unit can successfully occupy--which blurs the distinction between the "range" of a function--the values it can take--and "home on the range"! But now I'm probably getting much too obscure.
 

Re: Basing in transcience
Date: 06/14/2007
From: Steven Becker
Location: San Jose


Thank you for the explanation
One final thought on this, to bring it closer to the thread's original path:

Getting back to your interesting comment about stochastic resonances being used to enhance performance, I believe this is always an averaging technique that while making any given data point inherently less accurate, it pulls the average of a large number of data points above the noise level, and gives us access to data that would otherwise be obscured.

Because this has the potential to damage individual data points, it has to be applied very carefully.

The alternative is to use other data gathering/modeling techniques that essentially break the constraints of the context by introducing a new factor, such as perceptual encoding, or >3 dimensional math.'

This feels similar to what you did with Olmy's Jart.
 

Re: Basing in transcience
Date: 06/17/2007
From: Greg Bear

Excellent analysis and explanation, Steven.

20 years later...

Date: 05/02/2007 From: patrick
Location:

Perhaps the precursor to 'blood music':

http://www.physorg.com/news96801308.html
 

Re: 20 years later...
Date: 05/03/2007
From: Greg Bear

Interesting piece! Though it still amuses me when engineers discover just how amazing cells are. And it shouldn't surprise us that biology still far exceeds anything accomplished in micro-scale engineering. I've always used proteins as a proof-of-concept for nanotechnology.
 

Re: 20 years later...
Date: 05/03/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Well, you always have engineering folk who are more interested in non-organic devices:

http://physicsweb.org/articles/news/11/5/4/1
 

Re: 20 years later...
Date: 05/04/2007
From: Greg Bear

True--but at that level of miniaturization, there's nothing like organic chemistry. Silicon/metal can't compete. Now--artificial proteins, or hardy protein-like substances that haven't been invented yet... that would be interesting.
 

Re: 20 years later...
Date: 05/04/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Undoubtedly. Actually, I was thinking about just that, last night. I have a tendency to favor the idea of organic devices...but I'm not against any kind of substance developing into a self-conscious entity.
 

Re: 20 years later...
Date: 05/25/2007
From: Howard E. Miller
Location: Augusta, GA

I often think of nanotechnology as kind of a transition technology. To make nanoscale devices, why not do what we always have done ... duplicate what nature has already discovered.
 

Re: 20 years later...
Date: 05/28/2007
From: Greg Bear

It's certainly an excellent place to begin!

"Forge" news?

Date: 04/30/2007 From: Chris Pearson
Location: Watertown, MA

hi Greg-

you're probably sick of answering this question, but what's the latest on the Forge of God/Anvil of Stars film? Who is currently attached to writing the screenplay? and how long does Warner Bros. have an option on it? I really wish they would get cracking on this, if it is done right it could definitely have the potential to be one of the better SF films in recent years. Speaking of which, what are some recent SF films that you feel have been excellent? My vote would probably go to "Children of Men" (nice to see a SF film done so well, have a relevant message and leave a lasting impact...)

I actually had a dream the other night i was watching "Forge of God" in the cinema (it was the scene where the trench bombs started going off under the ocean. it was spectacular!) Anyhoo, just ordered "Quantico" from Amazon, looking forward to reading it as i do with all your material! Any guess on when you might start penning the third installment of the Forge/Anvil series?
Thanks again for all the wonderful stuff you've written, take care.

-Chris
 

Re:
Date: 04/30/2007
From: Greg Bear

FORGE is attracting directorial attention and still seems to be in play at Warner Brothers. These things can take a dreadfully long time to get going! Here's hoping you're a prophet... Ken Nolan's screenplay does indeed include that particular scene.
 

Re:
Date: 04/30/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Over at Dan Simmon's forum, we've been getting very interesting bits here and there on the types of actions (optioned, rights bought, etc) in the process of making a movie from a book. Apparently, options are common, and just as commonly run out.
 

Re:
Date: 05/03/2007
From: Greg Bear

That is the rule. A lot of money is spent in speculative investing, as it were. But a movie doesn't get made without a good screenplay--most important as a seed--and then without a director, stars, etc. The art of the deal is very important--as with any large business endeavor, and making a movie does involve a lot of money and resources and people. And then there's completion bond--think Chili Palmer with an abacus and a stopwatch... But that's when a movie is in production!

Which book?

Date: 04/27/2007 From: Chuck Berman
Location: Oak Park, IL.

Hi Greg,
I've been a fan since Blood Music and greatly appreciate your imagination. However, I'm trying to remember which book of yours (read quite a while ago) had aliens who were made up of multiple snake-like creatures, of a single consciousness and communicated by aroma. I'm ready to be embarrassed if the author isn't you. Thanks or apologies in advance. If not you, do this sound familiar? Best, Chuck Berman
 

Re: Which book?
Date: 04/30/2007
From: Greg Bear

You've come to the right man. Such creatures appeared in "Scattershot" and more extensively in ANVIL OF STARS. In the latter, they were referred to as the Brothers.

From Bill Root

Date: 04/27/2007 From: William H Root
Location: Bothell Washington

Hi, Greg,
Will you be making any public appearances in local (Seattle) area bookstores anytime soon? I plan to buy a copy of Quantico for my sister and would like to get it autographed.
Best of luck with Quantico. Like all your other books, it's outstanding!

Best,

Bill Root
 

Re: From Bill Root
Date: 04/30/2007
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Bill! I'll be doing a reading at Richard Hugo House, May 3rd from 7 to 9pm in the Hugo House cabaret. Address:

Richard Hugo House
1634 Eleventh Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
206-322-7030 (tel)

I'll also be doing a signing at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop on May 8 at noon. Address and phone number for updates, or to place your order early:

Seattle Mystery Bookshop
117 Cherry St
Seattle, WA 98104
206-587-5737

On June 30, I'll be signing at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park at 7 pm. Address:

17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155
(206) 366-3333


Infinite Hexamon

Date: 04/27/2007 From: Jacob Glicklich
Location: Central United States

It is a pleasure to be conversing with you.
I found your Infinite Hexamon polity from the Way series one of the most interesting political systems in science fiction. Dealing off this and its technological/social assumptions:
1) How likely do you think it is that an analogous system could actually develop in human society?
2) How laudatory or close to the ideal do you think such a system would be? There seem certain flaws articulated in the novels, to what extent would you view these as detrimental?
3) What sort of tensions, issues and conflicts would be likely to occupy such a group, if it were 'dealing on its own devices', away from all the Jarts and the Way, and all that glorious craziness?

In a somewhat related question, do you have thoughts/intentions on expanding the Way series? I've read Eon, Eternity, Legacy and the Way of All Ghosts, and find the whole setting one of the more intrinsically fascinating ones in science fiction, with a wide variety of possible stories. Do you have any idea of building on it in the future?
 

Re: Infinite Hexamon
Date: 04/30/2007
From: Greg Bear

It would be nice to write more in the EON universe--but no plans at the moment. As for the ideal nature of the Hexamon--I don't think we'll ever create the perfect system. As long as we're human (and biological!) we'll probably use conflict and opposition to improve decisions--which means some people will be unhappy. The trick is, that EVERYBODY gets to feel unhappy at some time or another--and happy at other times. That might be as close to ideal as we can ever get.
 

Re: Infinite Hexamon
Date: 08/13/2007
From: Jimmy Kinchloe
Location: Houston

Jacob,

I know this is months late but really enjoyed reading your questions on the Infinate Hexamon.

It is my opinion that - aside from being a fascinating book in it's own right - Eon was and is so very popular because it (and Eternity) hit so close to home with humans at this place in time. Will it take The Death to pull us all together? Will that be what it takes to unite us under one central government with goals common to all of humanity and the other lifeforms that own this planet as much as we do? And don't forget that even within the Hexamon and that society there was a rift between Conservatives and Liberals (both corporeal and stored). Will "it" ever work out?

I really hate to admit it, but I am slowly becoming a bit doubtful as events on this planet progress. Are you a Vonnegut fan? (God rest his soul.) If you are then you will know what I mean.


Peace,

Jimmy
 

Re: Infinite Hexamon
Date: 08/13/2007
From: Greg Bear

I do enjoy Vonnegut--SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE is one of my favorite novels. But I'm not quite so pessimistic as he was.

Darwin's Radio Is Music to the Ears

Date: 04/27/2007 From: Amanda
Location: Atlanta GA

Greetings and Salutations Mr. Bear!
I have enjoyed your many books over the years and have just recently stumbled on to Darwin's Radio on CD. It was one of the few books I had not read and on a whim, I purchased it to listen to on a flight to Seattle.
Your references to Seattle and Atlanta put me into giggles, as I have lived both places and know the University of Washington campus very well and currently reside not far from Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. I couldnt resist letting you know how much I enjoyed envisioning those places in the story, places that I know and love. A small thing, yes, but something that, unlike other stories, made me feel as though I was part of the characters, not just an observer. I knew their stories and I had been there with them, walking on those same sidewalks.
Thank you for that experience.
Amanda
 

Re: Darwin's Radio Is Music to the Ears
Date: 04/27/2007
From: Greg Bear

My pleasure, Amanda! Sometimes even in science fiction we get to dabble in regionalism.

Gliese 581 C, too close for comfort?!!

Date: 04/27/2007 From: Ricardo
Location: Glendale, CA

Well, if our universe is anything like the Forge/Anvil universe, 20 light years is a little too close for me!! Exciting discovery though, eh Greg?

By the way, how about a CATEOT update? I know, patience, patience......
 

Re: Gliese 581 C, too close for comfort?!!
Date: 04/27/2007
From: Greg Bear

The "c," as some apparently call it, is a marvelous discovery. Sounds a bit like Vulcan actually--

City at the End of Time is approaching the endgame, but it's a complicated effort! Have to get it just right...
 

Re: Gliese 581 C, too close for comfort?!!
Date: 04/29/2007
From: Ricardo
Location: Glendale, CA

Vulcan - maybe Gene Roddenberry was even more of a visionary than we imagined! One commentator's view was that life on "c" would mostlikely be large flat bugs,that brought to mind Enders Game...... I think I'd prefer Vulcans to Buggers for next-door neighbors!
 

Re: Gliese 581 C, too close for comfort?!!
Date: 04/30/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thinking this over, the consensus seems to be that this planet is tidally locked--one side facing the sun continuously. That leaves out Vulcan--but Poul Anderson and others have speculated about such worlds, and their strange weather!

Hal Clement's centipede-like Mesklinites lived on a much higher gravity planet, not tidally locked.

On EON/ETERNITY (small spoiler)

Date: 04/22/2007 From: patrick
Location: az

I find it hard to think those of the Infinite Hexamon, particularly as they knew about and could translate Mystery, wouldn'tve found the essence of identity. An old debate, but, regardless whether there's an energic substrate supporting matter that consciousness is embedded within, I think the next century, perhaps a little more, will reveal it. (If it hasn't been, already; as, apparently, Tesla inferred, and you, in DEAD LINES, postulated.)
 

Re: On EON/ETERNITY (small spoiler)
Date: 04/23/2007
From: Greg Bear

We can always hope! ETERNITY was going for a completely secular solution to heaven/afterlife, based on speculative physics. DEAD LINES takes a different tack, as you note. Folks interested in the former possibility might also look up Frank Tipler's THE PHYSICS OF IMMORTALITY...and Philip Jose Farmer's RIVERWORLD series, which sparked some of my own thoughts almost two decades ago.

Name Error in "Sisters"?

Date: 04/22/2007 From: E Thomas
Location: Oregon

Hello Mr. Bear,

I just recently read "Sisters," in the collection _W^3: Women in Deep Time_ and noticed a naming inconsistency. I was rather surprised by it, since it looks like the second or third time this story has been published, so I would have thought it had been caught by now by some editor or another. It *has* crossed my mind that maybe someone else has already let you know about this error multiple times, and this is a regular "bear" you have to deal with. In case no one has contacted you about it yet, though, I thought I would drop you a line for any further reprints. The supporting character of "Rick Fayette" morphs into "John Fayette" towards the end of the story.

Thanks for writing thoughtful science fiction.

Best,
E Thomas
 

Re: Name Error in
Date: 04/23/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks! I'll take a look at the story and see what went wrong... then fix it!
 

Re: Name Error in Sisters?
Date: 04/23/2007
From: Terran
Location: Winter Park, FL

That's nothing - I once read a novel (I believe it was one of Mario Puzo's lesser works) where a minor character of an slim brunette morphed into a curvy blonde!
 

Re: Name Error in Sisters?
Date: 04/23/2007
From: Greg Bear

Very clearly transhumanist.
 

Re: Name Error in
Date: 04/24/2007
From: patrick
Location:

No no, he was just aesthetically confused. Shoulda just been a curvy (an thaeck, aye) brunette.
 

A little help, please?
Date: 05/24/2007
From: Joakim
Location: Stavanger, Norway.

hi!We're some students from norway and we are wondering if we could have your proffesional opinion about how to describe Reena and how she develop during the course of the story in your book "Sisters".

thanks!
 

A little help, please?
Date: 05/28/2007
From: Greg Bear

Sure. Ask your questions and I'll try to answer them.

Symmetrical Bipolar Nebula

Date: 04/21/2007 From: Graham Jacobs
Location: Sydney Australia

Hi Greg

I have been a avid reader of your books for nearly 20 years. I only recently read the 'Anvil of God' and was fascinated by the concept of celestial engineering - this object recently discovered - although quite clearly evolved by natural forces did take my breath away http://www.keckobservatory.org/images/article_pictures/104_250_w150.jpg

It made me think - If you did want to say 'here we are' would this not be the best way to broadcast it. Keep up your wonderful writing
 

Re: Symmetrical Bipolar Nebula
Date: 04/23/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Graham! A small pic, but very evocative.

Foreign Policy

Date: 04/20/2007 From: Diana Romero
Location: Colombia

I just saw a video re. Quantico where you mention the results of "bad" foreign policy...... a clear example of this is Mr. Gore's refusal to attend a forum in Miami today because Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe, will be attending as well. Sham on him! President Uribe is a FRIEND of the United States, falsely acused of paramilitarism by those who are not friends of the USA, and who don't care about peace in Colombia.
 

Re: Foreign Policy
Date: 04/20/2007
From: Greg Bear

While the U.S. has a lot of catching up to do on foreign policy everywhere, the policy I discuss specifically in QUANTICO has to do with our Middle Eastern activities. Though there is a brief foray into Guatemala.
 

Re: Foreign Policy
Date: 04/20/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Shaming others, or ourselves, let alone placing expectations on either, is just a big distraction. Address this, then there'll be change.
 

Re: Foreign Policy
Date: 04/21/2007
From: Ryan Costa
Location: Cleveland

Shame is necessary to get over false pride. We have nothing to be proud of with Iraq War II, or our Guatemala maneuvers.

Thanks for the Interview!

Date: 04/18/2007 From: John DeNardo
Location:

Hi Greg,

Just wanted to say thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by SF Signal. I've just posted the interview at http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/004987.html.

Cheers,
John DeNardo
 

Re: Thanks for the Interview!
Date: 04/18/2007
From: Greg Bear

My pleasure, John!

fan mail

Date: 04/17/2007 From: wendell wilson
Location: graham, N.C.

I've never written fan mail before,but here goes...
I grew up reading an earlier generation of SF-
Clarke, Heinlien, Bradbury, Niven, etc...
and I fondly remember the excitment, the sense of discovery and of wonder...
time continued, later writers didn't seem to do much for me..
but then I read Forge of God. Possibly the end-of -the-world novel to end all end-of-the world novels and one of the best, if not the best sci-fi novel I had ever read.
Then I read Queen of Angels. Unequivocally the best science fiction novel ever written.

I've re-read it time and again. Each time, I notice little flaws..

None detracts from the book's perfection.

just wanted to say so. Thanks.
 

Re: fan mail
Date: 04/18/2007
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, wendell! If you have the time, pass along those little flaws--typos, misprints, etc.--and I'll correct in my e-file. A new edition of ANVIL OF STARS, the sequel to FORGE OF GOD, is coming soon from Tor Books.
 

Re: fan mail
Date: 04/18/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Anything newly-written, or just a more technically-correct volume?
 

Re: fan mail
Date: 04/20/2007
From: Greg Bear

Ah, since I set the type myself for the UK-American editions of ANVIL, it's perfect in every way... And that's the typeset we'll be using for the reprint from Tor. But should you happen to find any errors... ditto on copying them to me!
 

Re: fan mail
Date: 04/20/2007
From: James Woody
Location: San Francisco, CA

Dear Greg,
I honestly don't want to risk starting a flame war on your web site, but after reading through some of the comments made by a particular soldier elsewhere on your site, I heaved a sigh of relief to find out that you ARE NOT a flag-waving Republican yahoo!!!
Thank God!

Keep it coming!!!!
James


 

Re: fan mail
Date: 04/23/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, James. Our people in the line of fire get my utmost respect, but they surely do deserve more from our leaders!

Hello Greg - it's Ku

Date: 04/11/2007 From: Kuo-Yu Liang
Location: Seattle

Hello Greg, Congratulations on Quantico (I actually bought the UK edition - will pick up the US one shortly). Would love to catch up soon. Drop me an email when you have a moment. Best, Ku.

Question concerning "Legacy"

Date: 04/08/2007 From: Sascha Hallaschka
Location: Kassel, Germany

Dear Mr. Bear!

I just finished reading your novel "The forge of God". I really liked it (rating: 9 our of 10), because it was mysterious and full of suspense. The final destruction of Earth really shocked me. Now I want to read the sequel "The anvil of the stars".

I have a question concerning another of your series, i. e. the Eon Series. Is it necessary or at least helpful to read "Legacy" before reading "Eon"? And as far as I know, there is no German edition of "Legacy" - am I right?

I'd be very grateful for an answer!

Thanks and best wishes,
SASCHA HALLASCHKA, Kassel / Germany
 

Re: Question concerning
Date: 04/09/2007
From: Greg Bear

You can certainly begin with EON. That was the first book published, and still the best-seller in the series. I don't recall a German edition of LEGACY...
 

Re: Question concerning
Date: 08/11/2007
From: Martin
Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands

Should I read EON before LEGACY or can I read LEGACY more or less independant from EON?

I.e., will LEGACY make sense if you didn't read EON? (I read EON a long time ago and my memory is failing me.)
 

Re: Question concerning
Date: 08/11/2007
From: Greg Bear

LEGACY occurs before EON in the sequence. Both are readable without each other. ETERNITY--soon being re-released in trade paperback from Tor Books--completes the sequence.

Mary Choy and a journey into the darkside

Date: 04/03/2007 From: Stephen P
Location: UK

Hi Greg

I think the Mary Choy novels and Moving Mars are probably my favourite books of yours (though I tend to feel that way after everyone I read). I am hoping Slant is not the last we will see of Mary. I think her character is very well developed and the period is a turbulent one with the rise of Thinker/Human and dataflow culture. I would like to see more on how the "alliance of alliances" (i.e. merged minds in control) develop prior to Heads and Moving Mars and it also occurs to me that it would be interesting to see how the Earth post Moving Mars develops. There are hints in the 2 Forge novels about the sort of culture that produces Killer probes and my guess is that this particular Earth may be heading that way - I would truly enjoy a novel exploring such a culture and the levels of totalitarianism that would be required to create such probes - I suspect it would be nothing like the crude stereotypes we have of a totalitarian society and would probably not even appear to be totalitarian to most of it's members - just as Frog was not aware of the killers hiding within Sleep - there would be many levels of duplicity and seduction. Just a thought :)
 

Re: Mary Choy and a journey into the darkside
Date: 04/03/2007
From: Greg Bear

Very interesting thoughts. Perhaps we're already there--and don't know it?
 

Re: Mary Choy and a journey into the darkside
Date: 04/09/2007
From: Steven Becker
Location: San Jose

What a really fascinating exploration this would be. Darker than Mr. Bear's material, generally, but wow!

Hi Greg

Date: 03/31/2007 From: Swapnil Bhartiya
Location: New Delhi, India

Hi Greg, I am a technology journalist and sf writer. I have read you a lot and, of course, a fan. But at times I think have you tried to explore the intellect of ancient India? Indian literature is full of such instance like Nuclear Bomb -- Brahmastra; guided weapon like -- Sudarshan Chakra; plastic surgery and the concept of Geetha....? I would request you have a look into it, I guess that would enrich the SF literature.

Regards
Swapnil Bhartiya
Assistant Editor
www.efytimes.com
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Swapnil! I quite agree--I think the ancient Indian writers and thinkers would have gotten along well with science fiction writers--and certainly taught us a thing or two. I'm utilizing Hindu concepts and words (and ancient gods, reshaped) in CITY AT THE END OF TIME, but there's always more Indian source material to be mined for inspiration. (In ETERNITY, I opened the novel with a quote from the Upanishads...)
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/03/2007
From: arvind mishra
Location: Varanasi

Hi Mr.Greg,
Its great to hear you are interested in ancient hindu scriptures and mytholgy which are full of imaginative ideas and human/humane values.I know you are aware that Carl Sagan was also inspired by these sources of ancient knowledge.PLEASE
do tell me whether mythology could in any conceivable way inspire sf writing? What aspects of mythology could relate to sf?or THEY are just poles apart? Your opinion may be of great value to indian sf writers in general and to me in particular.
There are many extrapolations,imaginative plots,descriptions of gadgets very akin to sf of today in Indian mythology like
'PUSPAK VIMAN'a special kind of aeroplane full of emotions and always has a seat vacant for last time VIP[very important person] entrant[Please remember, RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA BY CLARKE].SUDRSHAN chakra AND ARROWS used by LORD RAMA comes back to the owner just after hitting the target.ofcourse these are the ideas of acient writers only but how interesting when we care to see that they came into existence thousands years ago.There are still many more like MAYA YUDDHAA very akin to virtual war,birth of an army by a live body[pind] in great epic war-MAHABHARAT and one is tempted to make an anology to human cloning with it.May be only if you like it more of it next.
regards
DR.Arvind Mishra
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/04/2007
From: Greg Bear

I don't know of any Western sf writers who haven't been inspired by one or more traditions of mythology. Physicists in particular seem taken with Buddhist and Hindu scriptures, since they deal with such long vistas of time, and such curious cognitive and metaphysical states--much like modern physics. Roger Zelazny, decades ago, wrote the much-admired LORD OF LIGHT based on Indian stories and myth. Sir Arthur's FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE takes place on both ancient and future Serendip, a.k.a. Taprobane, today known as Sri Lanka--though Sir Arthur moved it a few degrees, as Gregory Benford reminds us, to expedite a space elevator. I'm sure there are many more examples! In Western myth and legend, there are many science fiction-like tales of marvels both technological and philosophical. One example I'm fond of are the legends concerning Alexander the Great, who in medieval lore is reputed to have done many extraordinary things--defeating dragons by wearing protective armor against their poisonous breath (a space suit?), diving to the bottom of the sea in an inverted bell, etc. A heroic Tom Swift type! Human imagination has always trended toward the marvelous, and today we often call it science fiction. Perhaps the greatest analogs to stories like Mahabharata are found in comic books--tales of superheroes--and in movies and television shows like X-Men and "Heroes." Is Dr. Who a wandering god with a propensity for young human females? Perhaps we should color him blue, like Krishna!
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/05/2007
From: A hot debate In india about relevance of mythlogy in SF
Location: New Delhi, India

While this discussion is reaching end, I would like to point out something as Mr Arvind Ji has also agreed that here we must ' agree to disagree'.
Dear Greg,

I a Swapnil, the technology writer back to you. There is a very heated debate going on in India regarding relevance of mythology in SF. I am sure you would like to have a look on this one:

.......
The Debate:

Thank you so much Arvind ji Tiwari Ji, Deshpande ji, Zakir, Zeeshan and Rukhsana for widening the horizon of imagination, which helped me understand a things well. I am grateful to you all, I don't know much about other's but I have learned alot.

There emerged primarily "Two Schools Of Thoughts", and Mr Arvind ji attributes it to me, his generocity.

For Zeeshan,

I have a request to dear and old friend Zeeshan. I was not able to understand when references from Arabian Nights were brought into this discussion. Arabian Nights is not mythology! It is contemporary literature -- how come we bring that in reference? Middle east comprises civilizations such as Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) and has it's own mythology, if you want to refer to that, refer to the mythology and not the contemporary literature. That could and should be discussed under altogether different topic. Dear Zeeshan, lets draw a line somewhere.

Now, Indian mythology is very rich and is full or references of events, people and devices most of which S&T realized after years as well as many others which are still to become reality. Besides, the episodes in Mythology could give some writer's ideas to base their stories upon. I am not against mythology, but the kind of points I was expecting were missed out altogether.

I wanted to see the view of my experienced friends on the same. I wanted to see their view on a utopian society created in the times of Ram Rajya -- could not such a society be a bane instead of boon? Failure of any utopian society is destined -- HG Well's Time Machine is a vivid example of what happens when everything is good. Instead of celebrating Indian Mythology (every civilization has its own myths) is it possible we take lessons from it as well and base our SF on it, warning of the same?

I was also expecting to analyse the multi-dimensions of Indain Mythology --- Krishna shared the doctrin of Geeta with Arjuna in the war of Kurukshetra -- Geeta was so lengthy that it would have taken Krishna Weeks to tell it, would two armies - with Duryodhan on one side - wait that long standing because two guys are talking? Or, Krishna gave Geeta the way Neo was trained in Matrix -- information was fed directly into the mind of Arjuna?

We must also consider most of the thing in Indian mythology was exploration. In Indian mythology, people referred to nine planets (and Sun and Moon are not planets, as described in mythology -- but today's science has expelled Pluto off the planet's list), this is confusing. I trust my friends know we DON'T have nine planets anymore (click here to learn how we lost Pluto).But Indian mythology has no reference to Neptune, or moons of other planets. Indian mythology has no reference that actually there are three stars which make our pole star. Its not one. Dear friends doesn't this raise questions on authenticity or limit of mythological imagination? I wanted to explore that through this discussion.

With all due respect sir, I beg to differ with the belief that future generations will not laugh at us when they look back. They will. But by that time they will have their own newer superstitions; newer fantasies. Future generations will have their own fantasies and will be laughed at by their future generations. This is a non ending cycle of evolution.

Now, Tiwari Ji has very rightly put the point of short sight -- but I don't completely agree that we are ignorant. People in India are ignorant of global warming and our effort to address it is zilch. But same is not the case in more aware societies like the west. I guess my friends are aware that there may organizations working and lobbying to deploy policies like Koyoto Protocol for the same. This year Al Gore's documentary -- An Inconvenient Truth -- won the Oscar and the movie addresses the issue of global warming. But the debate is also on that is it man made or due to natural reasons?

Weather is one of the most complex phenomenons on our planet; we cannot predict it for more than few weeks. And we don't have enough data to analyze how the climate of the world changed in ages. This we do know that there have been several ice ages, and that was the reason of collapse of a race -- Neanderthal man. So it could be a natural phenomenon. And to address issues like global warming and comet impact as predicted by scientist in year 2110, NASA and other organizations are exploring possibilities of moving to inner planets like Mars. I guess my friends have enjoyed views of Mars at their home on Google Mars which gives you free trip to Mars and Moon. (Please click here to take a free ride to Mars)

The point that I want to drive home is Indian mythology does give some references but it is not ultimate truth. You can take references from it if what ever is available in mythology suits your needs. That is a rich source of ideas.

But, our Mythology doesn't talk about such celestial events like meteorite attack, comet impact or mass extinction. Indian mythology gives no solutions to upliftment of ordinary human's life. And as Zakir put, there is more to ordinary beings -- humans -- than gods and heroes.

Now, as dear Arvind ji pointed, there is more to learn from nature -- my story Rhythm Of Nature is based on such phenomena -- Arvind ji has read it. Many natural phenomena are still unexplained. Rukhsana referred to one -- Bermuda Triangle. I am sure my friends are aware that Earth is losing its magnetic field. Poles are shifting, in some years North Pole will becomes South Pole -- what will happen in between when we have no poles? We will be consummated by the solar winds? What will happen when the molten core of the Earth will solidify?

Any answers in Mythology?

Mythology offers some good ideas to those who have not explored them yet. So does nature and current S&T. A debate arose that mythology is SF of that time. It came out that it could not be SF, but fantasy. As some one on the panel added that our SF can be traced back to the hard science but same is not the case with mythology. However, to some extent same rule is applicable to contemporary SF as well. For example, there is no reference of Star Trek Enterprises' devices or Start War's gadgets in real world!

Also if we talk of society, in Mythology we do find examples of individual's capacity to do things  powers with gods like hanuman or devices like pushpak viman -- a plane with only executive class. But those facilities were not far masses -- ordinary people were kept deprived of all that. Whereas SF deals with ordinary life -- that, how science affects them -- Zakir's approach and something I have seen in Arvind ji's stories.

Respected Tiwari Ji and Dear Rukhsana, I would request you to please identify more such issues like global warming and death of sun, and see how mythology could give solutions to these. We are not living in past. We have new sets of problems -- serious ones. Mythology has nothing that could cure disease. Now please friends don't bring in Charak - he is not part of mythology!

For disease like AIDs, Cancer and eradication of racism -- which plagued our mythology as well -- discrimination against woman (a rich king can have 100 wives --no respect for woman at that time) and so-called lower cast. Mythology has a lot of dark chapters too, but we ignore them, why? Does mythology offers solutions to disease, Identity crises? Wars? Racism? Expansion of human civilization? Employment? Public entertainment? Mass source of information like the internet? And many more.

If it does, then we can refer to it. If it doesn't then we should not live in a dreamland and come out to address the grotesque reality of our times and try to make the world a better place.

We have to find a mid path; we live in today's world. We have to find how mythology can help. Onus is on us: we want to live in a Utopian world that doesn't exist anymore or we want to open our eyes and look at pain surrounding us and solve some problems.

We are free beings. We make choices, and there is nothing right and wrong. It's just what the need of the hour is.

Regards
Swapnil Bhartiya
Assistant Editor
EFYTimes.com
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/05/2007
From: Greg Bear

Fascinating discussion!

In the West, an erroneous (in my opinion) distinction is often made between what we teach as mythology and what many consider religion. The traditional stories and even the religions of others are considered by many Westerners to be "mythology," which they regard as lesser, or manifestly untrue.

But my perspective is that of Western mythologist and philosopher Joseph Campbell, who in his works pointed out that mythology is the rich background on which all our thoughts and lives are based--be it modern religion, ancient myths, fairy stories, or fantasy. (He did not consider science fiction to be any sort of mythology--one point on which we disagree.)

In Western science fiction fandom, there has often been a debate between "serious and constructive" stories--particularly so-called hard SF, scientifically rigorous--and more free-wheeling fiction, often labeled fantasy or science fantasy.

I think it is a mistake to expect any mythology--and most science fiction--to offer practical and immediate solutions to present-day problems. Their value lies in more personal enrichment. Like religion, however, they may offer ethical guidelines for real-world solutions--or warnings against destructive behaviors.

My apologies for loosely conflating formal Hindu religious beliefs with science fiction ideas, or perhaps the less enlightened usage of the term Myth. Joseph Campbell regarded all religions as coming under the umbrella of mythology--and never considered mythology to be "fanciful" or "a lie." He was extremely respectful of all cultural ideas, and worked to compare them in a larger human and historical context. That's what my discussion has attempted to do.
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/06/2007
From: Arvind mishra
Location: Varanasi

Thanks for sharing your views on mythology and sf.I find myself greatly benefitted.But i fail to understand why one should be apologetic for exploiting the mine of ideas ie mythology for betterment of a creative persuit like sf.You are modest in admitting that.Its amazing that you are aware of even very subtle things as tendencies or even the colour of a Hindu god ie Lord Krisna.As such do you have a longing to visit the land of those facsinating and eternal ideas ie India? If so Varanasi being most ancient city awaits your arrival and presently being posted here I extend a hearty invitation to you to have an unforgetable experience.
arvind mishra
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/06/2007
From: Greg Bear

One of my favorite professors, Elizabeth Chater, shared a deep love for Hindu stories with me, and my shelf of Indian religious and mythological texts is about a meter long!

I'd love to visit India. Gregory Benford is the Killer B who has made the most visits to India, and most recently to Sri Lanka. His photographs and essays certainly pique my interest.
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/06/2007
From: arvind mishra
Location: Varanasi

India awaits the Great Greg!.It would be a great moment for Indian SFfandom too.May be we we could organise an event this years end and reguest your goodself to chair a session.I shall let you know if things are finalized.Thre we would have a detailed discussions on the associations of sf and mythology especially the Indian mythology.
I can recall Issac Asimov also had a longing to visit India but his dread of air travels prevented that.I feel you dont have any such phobias.
thanks and regards
arvind mishra
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/07/2007
From: Swapnil Bhartiya
Location: New Delhi

Dear Greg,

Once aging the journalist is back(pun intended).The discussion with you is getting more and more interesting. But there is one more opinion building in the process. Just like TV was a killer of imagination, as it limits a viewers own imagination of events, similar is the case with mythology. As you have also mentioned that every civilization has its own mythology. Don't you think that limits the flight of imagination a SF writers could have had otherwise?

Your point puts it very clearly that we should look and learn from mythology, but when people try to prove that actually people of those times knew science behind things like -- Pushpak Viman (a plane) looks illogical to me.

What is your opinion Greg, that where should we draw that line of not going overboard and prove that people of those times were much more learned?

Writers who are obsessed with mythology tend to forget present day issues and live in a Utopian society, where as those who know where the line is -- Sir Clarke and yourself, they do justice.

Please share your views -- where to draw the line.

Regards

Swapnil Bhartiya
Assistant Editor
EFYTimes.com
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/09/2007
From: Greg Bear

This year is probably not do-able, but I'll let you know when the trip becomes feasible! Many thanks.
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/09/2007
From: Greg Bear

There used to be a lot of books about how we could find evidence of modern technology in the past--CHARIOTS OF THE GODS by von Daniken being a good example. I've never been convinced. But what we can prove is that our ancestors had imaginations as rich and developed as our own--and created fantastic stories in their own contexts. In a way, we live some of the things they could only dream about--but we have yet to live ALL the things they dreamed about! There's nothing wrong with being inspired by ancient imaginations! But as you say, let's not get carried away...
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/09/2007
From: arvind mishra
Location: Varanasi,India

Thanks for kind reply.We anxiously await your arrival to India .Indian sf could derive inpirations from your works and person.You have very well concluded[what I think!]the issue of myth and sf.There are many such examples which denote that many a dreams of our ancestors are still to be realized in want of suitable technology.
Thanks for sparing your valuable and bysy minutes to enlighted us on the topic of universal interest.
arvind
 

Re: Hi Greg
Date: 04/10/2007
From: Greg Bear

My pleasure, Arvind! Thanks for writing
 

Rivet, Rivet Machine, Rivet Nut Tool, Semi Tubular Rivet, Metal Rivet, Screw Rivet
Date: 10/29/2008
From: Windsor Exports
Location: gurgaon

Manufacturer and exporter of Rivet, Semi Tubular Rivet, Metal Rivet, Automotive rivets, Rivet Machine, Rivet Nut Tool, auto part, spare parts, truck part, Screw Rivet, Fasteners. We are supplier of wide range of rivet and other hardwares.
 

Rivet, Rivet Machine, Rivet Nut Tool, Semi Tubular Rivet, Metal Rivet, Screw Rivet
Date: 11/07/2008
From: Greg Bear

Hardware... SF with rivets! Always a desirable commodity.
 

Hello Greg ,
Date: 03/07/2009
From: Dr. Arvind Mishra
Location: Varanasi

Trust you are fine ! Sorry, a long time has passed since I talked to you ! Meanwhile we arranged a national disussion on Sf in India -since you were preoccupied we did not bother you but next time we do hope you shall grace a similar event in India -you have already assured us ! Did not you ?
Kindly spare some time from your busy schedule to have glance over the following -
http://indiascifiarvind.blogspot.com/2008/11/first-ever-national-discussion-on-sf.html
regards,
arvind
 

Hello Greg ,
Date: 03/17/2009
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Arvind! This conference looks like terrific fun.

i linked to your site

Date: 03/30/2007 From: Stephen L. Bargdill, Jr.
Location: St. Marys, Ohio

Hey!
Just wanted to let you know I linked to your site. You can find the link at www.todaysfantasyfiction.com/authorblogs.htm.
Also, TFF is running its first annual short story contest. Contest information is at www.todaysfantasyfiction.com/fiction.htm.

Kind Regards,
Stephen Lee Bargdill, Jr.
 

Re: i linked to your site
Date: 04/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for the link, Stephen!

Quantico

Date: 03/29/2007 From: Arthur
Location: Parkison

This is the first book of yours that I have read and I assure you it won't be the last. Once I started to read this story I couldn't put it down. Since i am disabled my work around the house suffered because of this novel. I have read many authors and I rate you up among the best. I am going to the library to see if I can find anymore of your books. Thank you for sharing such a God given talent with us, the public. Sincerely, Art Parkison
 

Re: Quantico
Date: 04/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Arthur! QUANTICO will hit the U.S hardback shelves (prominently featured, we hope) very shortly. The QUANTICO website will soon be up and running--look for the hotlink on this site...
 

Re: Quantico
Date: 04/07/2007
From: arvind mishra
Location: Varanasi

Congrats on the release of hard bound edition of QUANTICO.Let me find out if it is available at Indian stalls.
arvind
 

Re: Quantico
Date: 04/09/2007
From: Greg Bear

There's a UK paperback edition. That should be available in India!

You're the greatest!!

Date: 03/27/2007 From: Linda Hopkins
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

I love your writing and have read most of it, my favourite being Moving Mars and Eon though your short stories are some real gems. You seem to be a kind and sensitive man given your insights of people seen in your writings and your imagination is to me the best I have yet to experience short of my own. I look forward to your next book especially if it has a space theme and not so much a medical one. I am a middle aged female and you make me forget my problems when I read your stories and as you seem to have such a good view of women I feel better being one as there are some who tend to not see that no matter the sex great minds, will, experience and creativity may be present. I especially enjoyed your comments in your collection of short stories on your own writing process...you have blessed us with your mind and ability.
 

Re: You're the greatest!!
Date: 03/28/2007
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Linda. I'm not sure CITY AT THE END OF TIME can be considered a space travel novel--though there is a pretty spectacular voyage buried in it--but there's little in the way of heavy-duty biological theory. Crackpot physics and weird philosophy, definitely!

The psychology behind Queen of Angels

Date: 03/27/2007 From: Steve P
Location: UK

Hi Greg - I love this book and was wondering about your influences in developing the psychological theory that underpins Martin Burke's Country of the Mind and of emergent consciousness (i.e. the self-other modelling system and subsystems). I can see elements of Jung, Object relations, Klein, and Multiple Intelligence theory in there (maybe Wertsch as well) but I would love to see some references and I think the way you have put it all together is daring and makes a lot of sense. I think the concept of primary and sub personality elements, agents, talents etc is very powerful and relates well to some of my own musings (I'm a psychologist and therapist with an interest in evolutionary biology and the origins of self - esp Stephen Mithen's work which I think fits well with some of these ideas - do you know it?).

regards

Steve
 

Re: The psychology behind Queen of Angels
Date: 03/28/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing Steve! These ideas began filtering into my brain quite a while ago--back in the early seventies. A combination of Jung and general myth plus some unquantifiable insights led to my early vision of the country of the mind, and the role of self-awareness--already established by the time I read the highly influential bicameral mind theories of Julian Jaynes. I found myself in thorough agreement also with Marvin Minsky's SOCIETY OF MIND--but mostly, the origins were dreams, fairy tales, and introspective exploration. If you could cite more writers and thinkers, I'd like to look them up!
 

Re: The psychology behind Queen of Angels
Date: 03/30/2007
From: Steve P
Location:

Thanks for the information Greg. I read Jaynes many years ago and found his book fascinating. It may interest you to know that many of his ideas were anticipated by a (former) Soviet Psychologist called FT Mikhailov in a very interesting book called "The Riddle of the Self". Hard to get hold of these days. I have heard of Minsky but haven't read any of his book - must correct that. His "society of Mind" hypothesis looks very close to Burke's theories - reminds me a bit of some of Stephen Wolfram's theories on complexity and emergence (and also Koestler of course).

I can see other antecedents of this sort of thinking about the mind as an emergent phenomenon built up from simpler structures in Object Relations theory and the work of people like Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott. For example when AXIS realises it's need for an "other" in order for it to be a full individual (and it's eventual "splitting" - a very Kleinian response) is very close to the view of the self as developing through the assimilation and "dialogue" between internalised and externalised "objects" (for simplicity I could quote the Wiki entry "Object relations theory is the idea that the ego-self exists only in relation to other objects, which may be external or internal. The internal objects are internalized versions of external objects, primarily formed from early interactions with the parents. There are three fundamental "affects" that can exist between the self and the other - attachment, frustration, and rejection. These affects are universal emotional states that are major building blocks of the personality. Object relations theory was pioneered in the 1940s and 50's by British psychologists Ronald Fairbairn, D.W. Winnicott, Harry Guntrip, and others") Some of these ideas have been taken further in the modern Cognitive Analytical Therapy (Ryle, Leimman). At the same time there have been developments in evolutionary psychology and cognitive archeology that also see the mind and intelligence as distributed and non unified phenomena composed of numerous specialised "modules", systems and subsystems - a good example (which also relkates well to Jaynes) is Stephen Mithen's great book "The Prehistory of the mind" (and his later "After the Ice" and "The Singing Neanderthals") You would love those! This alsorelates to the work on consciousness as self-other modelling which is developed in the work of psychologists like Gardenfors ("How Homo became Sapiens") and to an extent, Dennett.

Finally you would probably also like Wetsch's "Mind as Action" which is in turn based on the work of Kenneth Burke (I thought you might have named Martin after him?), Vygotsky and Bahktin. He develops a concept of "mediated action" and the role of "agents", "agencies" etc.
 

Re: The psychology behind Queen of Angels
Date: 04/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for the sources, Steve! These sound fascinating--and productive.
 

Re: The psychology behind Queen of Angels
Date: 04/11/2007
From: kurt
Location: Oregon

I have read Marvin Minsky's "Society of Mind" and think it is analogous to an earlier work by Eric Berne called "Transactional Analyis" (his later book "Games People Play" is not as good).

Transactional Analysis (TM), which was published in 1962, is also based on the premise that human consciousness is not a single unified entity, but is separated into cognitive identities he calls ego states. There are usually three ego states in a competitant adult: child, adult, and parent; and these ego states can exists as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd order complexity. TA is rather hard to find in used book stores, but can probably be found through Amazon

I have read "Transactional Analysis" several times and found it much more understandable than "Society of Mind".
 

Re: The psychology behind Queen of Angels
Date: 04/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

I believe Berne's ideas are more similar to Freud and Jung's, with a fixed set of states within or beneath the conscious personality. I postulate many more divisions, fluctuating with circumstance, age, and individual--indeed, personality may be explained in part by how our "software" is set up within a custom-built (but fairly standardized) nervous system and body.
 

Re: The psychology behind Queen of Angels
Date: 04/12/2007
From: Kurt9
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

Bern uses the same language as Freud and Jung (ego, etc.) but his ideas are actually quite different (and more empirical) than theirs. His concept of ego states (first, second, and third order) is more analogous with your descriptions of talents, agents, and what not in your novel than is Minsky's "Society of Mind". And, yes, the first, second, and third order decribes the development of these ego states based on age and experience. I'm sure that you are correct that there are more divisions than the basic three that Berne postulates. The proof will come with further developments in neuro-biology and neuro-chemistry.

In any case, I think Berne's work is more insightful and relevant than Minsky's, which is the reason for my first comment. I am not as impressed with Marvin Minsky as many others are.

Blood Music.

Date: 03/26/2007 From: ChrisC
Location: Durban, South Africa

Just finished this. What a book. It was a real page turner. I read it when I was 11 so I don't remember much about it. I enjoyed it better this time round. Although you can overlook the outdated cold war feel to it. It central message is very well put. A kind of evolution. I'm looking forward to reading Eon. According to amazon it's probably his best book.
 

Re: Blood Music.
Date: 03/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Chris. His best book is the one he's currently writing (but don't quote him on that!)

Eon graphic competition

Date: 03/22/2007 From: David Markwick
Location: UK

Hi Greg. I hear that the final decisions on the Eon illustration/3D scene/trailer competition have been made and winners notified. I haven't checked it out yet (it will take a long time to go through all the works) but I wondered if you might make some comments here on what you encountered as far as expectations and surprises etc you had.

Unfortunately I had to quit my own trailer project due to other work, I still got some local greenscreened drama students on hard disk waiting for me to process it :D but I did post up a final shot & logo for the asteroid internal which I was very proud of.

Myself I liked the efforts of an Italian group who called themselves The_Shift, I wonder if they won... :)
 

Re: Eon graphic competition
Date: 03/22/2007
From: Greg Bear

The_Shift did indeed take first place--a magnificent effort. The competition was a roaring success--wonderful work, including those who did not win! I strongly encourage all to visit the CGSociety site and check out the artists and their folios.
 

Re: Eon graphic competition
Date: 03/24/2007
From: Rouald Laurenson
Location: Switzerland

Yes, very good work. Here it is night and time just to view the three winners in video, and top in 3d with runnerup - the net is slow.

A lot of youthful energy in these, and a lot of potential.

I do agree that The_Shift group had their own level of depth in story-telling.

It's very interesting for all participants, to see the shapes of imagination, clearly beyond your descriptive words, Greg - that language of adept writers coming through ;)

Interesting how strong a force Mirsky becomes.

Kind regards,
Rouald
 

Re: Eon graphic competition
Date: 03/25/2007
From: Greg Bear

Mirsky does acquire a strong presence, doesn't he? A great many participants from Eastern Europe, perhaps. My web page visits from Ukraine have exceeded visitors from the UK!
 

Re: Eon graphic competition
Date: 03/28/2007
From: Rouald Laurenson
Location: Switzerland

Just to add clarity, so you get your kudos, Greg --

When mentioning what the contestants had imagined 'beyond your words', I meant that these things felt as if they had been within your words, those shapes that are something different than what's on the surface in what a fine writer says.

Well, is that clear ;). But it seems important. Something like what Ursula Le Guin mentions about 'saying with words what can't be said with words'...

Cheers, Greg.

;)

Rouald
 

Re: Eon graphic competition
Date: 04/08/2007
From: Teresa Tutt
Location: Houston, TX

Wow. I liked all three.

The first was the most visually stunning (Olmy and the Frant look wicked cool!!!)

I liked the characters in the second trailer the best, however.

The third place entry actually seemed to best capture the spirit of the novel. Could have done with live actors though.

Now that you've seen how good it could look, is there any talk of making EON into a film??
 

Re: Eon graphic competition
Date: 04/09/2007
From: Greg Bear

No serious action on a film so far. But if these talents ever want to move over into full-length production, I'd be willing to talk!
 

"no movie action"
Date: 05/03/2007
From: Barry Costello
Location: Onboard ship off Brazil

Eon is one of my favourite books and each time I read it I am up there with them. I have been following Gregᄡs blog pages for a long time now and after reading this one Iᄡm dissapointed yet again to see the words "no serious action on a film so far"!! Surely there must be a movie producer that can see the blockbusting potential of this story? I bought my book in 1986 and still take it away to sea with me!
 


Date: 05/03/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Barry! Alas, there are about as many great books waiting to be filmed as there are terrific pets waiting to be adopted. I have my own long list...

I have been enjoying your work.

Date: 03/22/2007 From: Oliver Anderson
Location: Vermont

I have read the Darwin Series, Moving Mars, Deadlines, and I am currently reading Vitals. I have "The Collected Stories of Greg Bear" and will be reading it soon. I am working my way through your collection and enjoying every word. Thank you for all the entertainment.
 

Re: I have been enjoying your work.
Date: 03/22/2007
From: Greg Bear

Good to hear from you, Oliver. And thanks for the support!

GSA, incest and bacterial minds

Date: 03/14/2007 From: Prakash
Location: India

Hi,

First of all, I'm a fan of yours. I read blood music the short story, slant, vitals, darwin's radio and children and enjoyed them all.

I just was reading a post on incest and genetic sexual attraction on a blog when this idea struck me.

YOu've written a lot about bacteria, viruses and cells communicating via the means of transmissions of air and fluid. The hypthoses being presented in vitals, and the darwins radio is that evolution is not blind. The entire planet's evolution is being guided by an emergent mind constituted by neural networks created by bacteria, correct me if I am wrong.

Now look at GSA and incest from this angle.

Scientists in fields where experimentation is not allowed for ethical reasons, (eg. sociology) search high and low for natural experiments and control groups.Groups in which some things are similar while others are not.

If you look at the emergent evolutionary mind as a scientist, then for creating new information, a brother or a sister who has grown up with different germs around him/her, is an awesome new source of information. You have an automatic control that adjusts for 99.999% of your genes. ( All humans share about 99.99% of their genes) Hence there is a great attraction and affinity, because the mind is interested in the results of the copulation, infection or anything. But during growing up together, the bacteria within and around you form emergent structures with those of your brothers/sisters, which prevent you from looking at them sexually. This is because there is very little new information that can be gained here.

So, one may propose a hypothesis that all of us would feel the highest attraction for siblings who haven't grown up with us, followed by half siblings and only later, total strangers. siblings who have grown up with us have everything in common and hence are not interesting at all, information-wise to the bacterial mind, and hence we don't feel for them. However, if an elder brother and a younger sister grow up in the same family, but in radically different overall environments, for eg. a village hovel and a city flat, there may be some chance of the forbidden spark coming up.

I know these are just arrows in the dark, and we aren't even close to having any experiments done on this, but just thought it might be interesting to speculate. ( I ahve posted a similar comment on the blog which i was readin)Are you aware of anyone who is trying to seriously work on similar ideas? Could you send me links?
 

Re: GSA, incest and bacterial minds
Date: 03/14/2007
From: Greg Bear

Interesting notions, Prakash. We do know that bacteria on our skin (and probably elsewhere) contribute in interesting ways to our odor profiles, especially at puberty. Similar scents from similar households (and similar bacterial populations) might suppress sexual attraction. We know that children who are not related but raised in the same environment ("Kibbutz kids") tend not to pair up when mature. There are of course also social, psychological, and probably other genetic/evolutionary components that block incest, as well. Still--scent might be the start!

from a french reader ...

Date: 02/28/2007 From: Adricube
Location: Paris, France

Dear Greg,

I'm reading for this third time "Darwin's Children" (in french "les enfants de Darwin", traduction is better than "l'←chelle de Darwin" for "Darwin's radio"), and like other readers I just want to say to yo : we need a third book !

You can't stop there, it's really impossible, I (and lost of other people) want to know what will the second generation will become, how "old humans" will accept the new ones, and so on !

So please, Mr Bear, just write it ;)
And don't forget that in France we need 2 ou 3 years more to read you !!!!

I apologize for my mistakes !

AC
 

Re: from a french reader ...
Date: 03/06/2007
From: Greg Bear

Je vous remerci, Adricube! (I need to get to France and polish my very rusty French...)
 

Re:
Date: 03/09/2007
From: Enzooo Sellers
Location: Umbra

Hi Greg,

Your books are well documented and very interesting.
They helped me understand the situation.

Thank you very much,

Enzooo Sellers
 

Re:
Date: 03/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Glad to be of help, Enzooo.

ETERNITY and fundamental psycho-social issues

Date: 02/21/2007 From: patrick
Location:


Re-read EON, recently, and am into ETERNITY. Very definitely the Axis folk aren't really more psychologically advanced - as they have created very complicated, though still very aggressive, systems of arbitration within their society; given their compulsions for, and related to, Talsit; not to mention that they haven't curbed the primal urge to procreate, particularly in the midst of a shortage (though, given their abilities, what I think should be a reservoir) of resources. Even Olmy, introverted and analytic that he is, is not immune to these; particularly his sense of duty is centred on maintaining, rather than refashioning, his society. (Actually, he reminds me of my grandpa - who never really relaxed.) There is no fundamental balance in their psychology. One reason I tell you these things (as well as a large reason I read such fiction) is to relate these insights embedded in the literature.
 

Re: ETERNITY and fundamental psycho-social issues
Date: 02/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Trying to imagine a future being without these primal drives is difficult. We end up with Sir Arthur's Starchild--pretty, but pretty mysterious! Or angels...
 

Re: ETERNITY and fundamental psycho-social issues
Date: 02/26/2007
From: patrick
Location:

I'm thinking you mean the child from 2001. (Curiously, I've not read the first two, only starting the books with 2061...though I couldn't stay with 3001.) The only other I can guess would be CHILDHOOD'S END, which I haven't read, either.

I think you've done well in various cases (JUDGEMENT ENGINE, and BLOOD MUSIC, for example). I'm still trying to sort out the possibility that perhaps there is little that would happen in such an 'advanced' circumstance, little reason to tell a story without the drama inherent in the human psyche...and, yet, there could possibly be a realm of story where curiosity and experience, without that drama, is revealed. (Similar to things such as McDevitt's or Silverberg's fiction, where the universe is the main 'opponent' - although beyond this anthromorphism, even.) But would there be a market for it?!...outside of the New Age category?
 

Re: ETERNITY and fundamental psycho-social issues
Date: 02/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

All fundamental problems for "beyond the singularity" fiction. Stories are still written for relatively advanced human beings. The Greeks tended to make even their greatest gods quite human-like. Taking it beyond the human is one thing--beyond the biological, beyond the physical, elevates it to a much more difficult plane!
 

Re: ETERNITY and fundamental psycho-social issues
Date: 09/04/2008
From: kurt wiley
Location: portland or

ETERNITY made a huge impression on me (the book I have is very dog eared at this point). It's influence is such that I can't help think that the intense focus Gen Z has on instantaneous, continuous communication (via current cellphones, PS3, second life gamespaces, and other devices) will lead to a true electronic alternate reality via implant and link to a vast distributed computational network.
Is that a realistic assumption? Right now there are major religious and humanistic barriers to the concept of an alternate "person". But I wonder: Will the call of alternate existances will become strong enough to change that?
 

Re: ETERNITY and fundamental psycho-social issues
Date: 09/05/2008
From: Greg Bear

Difficult to know at this point. Ever since the 1980s, I've grown away from believing in silicon- or number-based computer worlds being able to simulate reality sufficiently to seduce people into living there full time. But if we can happily contemplate living in a large tin can on Mars, and if Vivendi can rake in a billion dollars a year on World of Warcraft, it's possible some people will poke in a feeding tube, hire a team of nurses, and live their entire lives in Second Life... Where at least you won't need to wear glasses! As for having a dupe carry out your chores: take a look at David Brin's excellent KILN PEOPLE.
 

Re: ETERNITY and fundamental psycho-social issues
Date: 09/05/2008
From: patrick
Location:

Jesus Christ, this is an old thread. Good thing you now have a search function, else I might not've found it. It might be helpful to somehow denote the thread being answered, or even better include a link to it when sending out copies of responses. Most blog/forums/etc do this. As well, you might need to turn this into a forum.

First off, I don't see such invasive life supports devices - especially decades or more from now. (re: kurt: The Matrix is just ridiculous.) I mean, come on, I'm surprised there's still stuff like catheters; surely in the near future there'll be some sort of psuedo-organic, or organic, kind of 'soft' interface more like a suction cup. Particularly with regard to neural connection, if not by remote, then surely something far more akin to Peter F. Hamilton's nanonics.

Second, as also postulated in Hamilton's Confederation universe, there'll be a slew of degrees of immersion. I bet most will likely be physically mobile with lots of extra 'layers of perception'.

Lastly, sure they will, Greg. Especially with the computing power required for such interface, it'll be easy to create such realms. Besides, right now, most don't want it to be real - they want it to be hyper-real, dream-like, but to their liking and regulated.

An ancient retrovirus is resurrected

Date: 02/21/2007 From: Joe Smith
Location: Buffalo NY

Greg did you see this bit of news? When I saw it I immediately thought of your novel "Darwin's Radio". Keep up the good work!!

An ancient retrovirus is resurrected

Human cells expressing structural proteins from the resurrected retrovirus, HERV-KCON, build retrovirus-like particles and release them from the cell membrane, just as cells infected with a true retrovirus do.


Retroviruses have been around longer than humanity itself. In fact, the best-known family member, HIV, is a relative youngster, with its first known human infections occurring sometime in the mid-20th century.

But although many retroviruses went extinct hundreds of thousands or millions of years ago, researchers studying the pathogens dont use the traditional tools of paleontologists: They need look only as far as our own DNA.

Retroviruses infect cells and replicate by inserting their DNA into their host cells genome. If that cell happens to be a germ cell, such as a sperm, an egg or their precursors, then the retroviral DNA is inherited by offspring just like a normal gene. Humans have many defunct retroviruses deposited in our DNA, remnants of ancient retroviruses that replicated in our ancestors millions of years ago. Now, researchers have brought one of those retroviruses back to life.

In our DNA, theres a fossil record of retroviruses that used to infect us, says Paul Bieniasz, associate professor and head of the Laboratory of Retrovirology at Rockefeller University and the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center.

In fact, about eight percent of human DNA is made up of retroviral sequences. Bieniasz and Youngnam Lee, a graduate student in the Bieniasz lab, have excavated some of that DNA and  in an attempt to better understand how humans and retroviruses co-evolved  they have resurrected an ancient retrovirus, one that can create new viral particles and infect human cells. They describe their work in a paper published by PLoS Pathogens last month.

The extinct retroviruses embedded in our DNA cant reproduce because of mutations in one or more of their genes. The younger of these human endogenous retroviruses (or HERVs) have fewer changes, and judging by the paucity of genetic alterations, at least one subfamily  HERV-K  was likely still active less than a few hundred thousand years ago. Different members of this subfamily have slightly different mutations. But as of a few months ago, Bieniasz says, there was no replication-competent form of this virus.



To eliminate those mutations that kept HERV-K from replicating, the two researchers deduced a genetic sequence that was a consensus of 10 different HERV-K proviruses and synthesized the whole viral genome from scratch. Then, they took that sequence (which they dubbed HERV-KCON) and inserted it into cultured human cells to see if it would result in the creation of HERV-K structural proteins. Their consensus sequence resulted in not only functional proteins, but in a retrovirus that was capable of creating new viral particles and integrating itself into a host cells genome. This is the first time this has been done with a viral genome that was effectively dead, and now is alive  or at least has all the functions that suggest it should replicate, Bieniasz says.

The project began, Lee says, because certain human and non-human primate cells produce proteins that appear to block HIV from replicating. And the question is where did the proteins come from? she asks. By studying these extremely old viruses, we can tap into what happened in our ancestors millions and millions of years ago.

Citation: Public Library of Science Pathogens 3(1): e10 (January 26, 2007)
 

Re: An ancient retrovirus is resurrected
Date: 02/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Joe! Fascinating research. Maybe we could call this a Frankenvirus? Plucked from the old viral "graveyard" and sewn together, brought back to life! Though these and other anvient provirus sequences get expressed with surprising regularity.

Thank you Greg Bear

Date: 02/19/2007 From: David Pendery
Location: Taipei, Taiwan

Mr. Bear,
I don't have much to say except thank you for your excellent work. You are an outstanding writer, and your exploration of issues and ideas is inspiring. I just finished Queen of Angels--I guess I am a little behind the times--and the analysis and fictional probing of crime, guilt, punishment and consciousness was another home run. Amazing how much you can handle at one time.

Thanks again, all the best, I'm going to start catching up on your more recent novels.

David Pendery
Taipei, Taiwan
 

Re: Thank you Greg Bear
Date: 02/20/2007
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks for your kind words, David!
 

Re: Thank you Greg Bear
Date: 02/21/2007
From: David Pendery
Location: Taipei, Taiwan

Oh and I should note--the description of the Goldstein's inner world (his "country") was great, wonderfully cinematic, and truly frigtening!

David Pendery

Underground pipes channelled water on Mars

Date: 02/15/2007 From: Jim Rayfield
Location: CT, USA

Thinking of you!

http://space.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn11192&feedId=online-news_rss20
 

Re: Underground pipes channelled water on Mars
Date: 02/15/2007
From: Greg Bear

Wonderful! Thanks, Jim.

"Tesla was right....all the science books in the US are wrong."

Date: 02/14/2007 From: patrick
Location:

This is the most definitive source I've ever come across on Tesla. This guy is either correct - that energy can be drawn electromagnetically from the vacuum, and Tesla did this...long before Hal Puthoff (mentioned here) came out with his quantum-confirming research - or Beardon is so far out of his mind...well, I don't know. But it sounds right to me. Check it out:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6044955461813547423&hl=en
 

Re:
Date: 02/15/2007
From: Greg Bear

Ah, Mr. Tesla strikes again! This sort of claim has been going on since the 1930s at least. No comment from this end. I do know that our cat can draw static energy from the vacuum--that's why she stays in a corner when we clean house.
 

Re: Tesla
Date: 02/27/2007
From: Mike
Location: UK

I sometimes think its a shame that Tesla is not properly remembered for what it can be proven he did.

Try wikipedia for a reasonable resume

Saying that, anyone who invents the wireless transmition of electrical energy with one of the worlds largest copper producers as his sponsor would seem likely to be in a spot of bother, eh?
 

Re:
Date: 03/06/2007
From: patrick
Location:

The Privilege....heheheheh, that's The Prestige, right? That was David Bowie? Later...I didn't notice at ALL. Of course that was an artistic license around the teleportation gig Tesla was interested in, although, the whole 'nother you' thing is definitely golden age sci-fi at its best. Retro, but still stimulating for the common folk.

In any case, I think reasons such as the obfuscation of scalar field theory have kept me from studying seriously any of the physical sciences. Just a little prescient hint.
 

Re:
Date: 03/07/2007
From: Greg Bear

Why, I don't know what you're referring to, Patrick--

Ex post facto magic in the editing room!

Blood Music!

Date: 02/13/2007 From: falconium
Location: austin

I just read Blood Music, the original short story version. Holy Crap! Instant fan! I'm going to look for the novel tomorrow!!!!!!
 

Re: Blood Music!
Date: 02/14/2007
From: Greg Bear

Good to hear! Thanks for writing.

Biospace 21

Date: 02/13/2007 From: patrick
Location:

Been reading your article of the above title and wanted to express something on the following:

"Proposed robotic micro-scavengers and cleaning units, while feasible, will be expensive, difficult to maintain, and likely to be far less efficient at many tasks than their natural counterparts--but also more predictable. Until they become practical, however, the issue is moot."

It seems science in general is very concerned with artificial resolutions to many issues, in this case biological....whereas our bodies are naturally very capable...and there is evidence, of varying types and degress, that supports the notion each of us is latently capable of directly interacting with our bodies to ensure health - let alone balance within our environment.

You make a difference...

Date: 02/12/2007 From: Craig Arno
Location: Bothell, WA

Greg,

I'm glad I heard about and attended your thought provoking presentation to the students at Cascadia Community College.

Your ideas, thoughts, and business experiences resonated with me in a way that helped me remember why I decided to throw my energy into design of life saving (with occasional forays into other knowledge areas) electronics and software as my life objective.

I am glad I had the opportunity to meet you.

Sincerely,
Craig
http://www.arno.com/fun.html (see the "soda" toys)
 

Re: You make a difference...
Date: 02/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Craig. It was a good class, and a great opportunity to share ideas. Your site is fun--I love the bee-swarm clock following the cursor!

Good luck!

Short Fiction Podcasts

Date: 02/11/2007 From: Brian G
Location: Boynton Beach, FL

Hi Greg:

I've read and enjoyed many of your novels and have a stack of your novels waiting to be read when I finally complete my Masters. I looked through many of the topics you've responded to in the last few months, but didn't spot the topic I'm interested in asking you about.

Have you had a chance to listen to any of the amazingly good short fiction stories (i.e. Escape Pod, Variant Frequencies, etc...) or longer novel-length stories (such as Scott Sigler's Earthcore or J.C. Hutchinson's Seventh Son) that have surfaced with the rise of podcasting in resent years? If so, what are your thoughts on how the genera has adapted to this new medium and would you ever be interested in podcasting a short story of your own?

Thanks,
Brian
 

Re: Short Fiction Podcasts
Date: 02/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

I'm a little behind on podcasting, but there's tremendous potential. My wife is listening to Syne Mitchell's podcasts now--but not on science fiction... Syne produces podcasts on fiber arts--and they're quite popular.
 

Re: Short Fiction Podcasts
Date: 02/14/2007
From: Brian G
Location: Boynton Beach, FL

Well, if you ever get a chance check out J.C. Hutchins's 7th Son trilogy (he's nearly complete with book two). I think you'd really enjoy it. These authors are carving out a whole new niche in the genera and I believe people such as J.C., Scott Sigler (author of Earthcore and Ancestor), and Steven Eley (who runs a short fiction podcast called Escape Pod) will one day (way down the road) have a place in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame way up there in Seattle. I'm not affiliated with these guys in any way...just a huge fan.

Take Care,
Brian
 

Re: Short Fiction Podcasts
Date: 02/14/2007
From: Greg Bear

Publishing and story-telling definitely need more innovators and pioneers--and this is a perfect market niche to get a toehold in.

dangerous ideas for NOACH weapons

Date: 02/11/2007 From: Steven L. Guy
Location: Croydon Park, South Australia

Dear Greg Bear,

I love The Anvil of Stars and The Forge of God and I've read both several times. The Anvil of Stars is a real favourite of mine. I really felt for the Lost Boys and Wendies facing unimaginably advanced technologies in the stars and their feelings of remoteness and isolation from what was left of humanity. I wondered about the NOACH weapons and how they might be used. It struck me that Hans might have decided to turn a few hundred kilograms of the interior Killers' system's parent star into anti-matter. Would this not have caused the entire system to be destroyed - by creating an artificial nova? I wonder!?
Jennifer intrigued me - brainy, a little strange and rather attractive (in my imagination).

I can't wait for any films of these two books (I couldn't care less about a third - as long as these two books are treated properly)

I have just been re-reading Eon. I go back to that book from time to time. For some reason, it is like an old friend to me.

Cheers,
Steven

PS: Nice to see Quantico available locally in Borders at last!
 

Re: dangerous ideas for NOACH weapons
Date: 02/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Steven! It would probably take more than a few hundred kilograms of anti-em to blow up a star. How about a few hundred trillion kg? I haven't done the math, however! We're about to launch QUANTICO here in the U.S.--watch for more details soon.

Quantum computer

Date: 02/08/2007 From: David Wright
Location: Texas

A recent article about the first 16 qubit quantum computer.

http://www.techworld.com/opsys/news/index.cfm?newsID=7972&pagtype=all

In "Heads", Huang-Yi Hsu invents post-Boolean three state logic sometime before 2010. Wonder if they'll need that to run this computer?

I think the computers in Heads and Moving Mars were not necessarily this kind of "quantum computer". Still, interesting timing.
 

Re: Quantum computer
Date: 02/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, David! My QL computers were a little bit spookier than what's being developed now. I posited a formalism of unpredictable results, leading to answers to questions not yet asked--still pretty advanced. I do not know if that math yet exists!
 

Re: Quantum computer
Date: 02/13/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Heavy, dude. I still haven't picked up Heads. I think I gotta. (Not sure if this went; it said server error, so I 'backed' and resent.)
 

Re: Quantum computer
Date: 02/14/2007
From: Greg Bear

Ah, so you own a QL computer yourself? ;)
 

Re: Quantum computer
Date: 03/09/2007
From: olracUK
Location: devon, UK

my own , personal QL can predict in both time and space. His name is Harvey and he's a cat. He can predict exactly when and where the next packet of Ham will be opened, within a 5 house radius.
.
The draw back is the hair on my keyboard and work clotghes. A small price to pay to see future predictions at work
 

Re: Quantum computer
Date: 03/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Also helps explain spooky entanglements and action at a distance...! I highly recommend the Fritz Leiber stories about Gummitch the space kitten, notably, "Space-time for Springers." Utterly delightful.

Thankfully

Date: 02/06/2007 From: Kari Ramas
Location: Finland Helsinki

Dear mr Greg Bear
I like to thank you very much about your books, I read them in finnish. The best science fiction I ever read, real good mind wrapping... Kari

have a nice day
By the way, I change my name after Clarkes Rendervous of Rama
 

Re: Thankfully
Date: 02/06/2007
From: Greg Bear

Cool name! RAMA is one of my favorites from Sir Arthur. Thanks for the kind words.

End of Time and some Southern Love??

Date: 02/05/2007 From: Bryan Jones
Location: Dallas, Tx

Hello Grseg,

I was shopping on Amazon.com yesterday and was happy and surprised to see that City at the End of Time is already available for pre-order. I was only slightly less excited when I saw the release date was 4/29/2008. I'm more excited about this novel than any others in recent years, so I'll probably jump on the pre-order bandwagon soon.

I was curious if you have any plans with the release of either Quantico or City at the End of Time to make any book signings in Texas or any other southern states nearby? I've watched for some time in hopes that you might venture south. Please? We need some love down here, Greg!

Thanks for helping me remain forever lost in otherworlds...

Bryan

 

Re: End of Time and some Southern Love??
Date: 02/05/2007
From: Greg Bear

I'd love to come through Texas, but I don't know what the itinerary is for QUANTICO this spring--and of course, I have to finish CITY first! But I'll post all schedules for signings on the web site.
 

Re: End of Time and some Southern Love??
Date: 02/05/2007
From: Bryan Jones
Location: Dallas, Tx

Great to hear, I'll keep my eyes open and hope for the best! There's a great Barnes and Noble down the street from my house that would be most convenient for me. ;)


Bryan

Darwin's Children

Date: 01/29/2007 From: Brian Gregory
Location: Shreline, wa

Just finished Darwin's Childern tonight, or this morning it's almost 1am. I loved it!

I have also read:
Eon
Blood Music
Darwin's Radio
and loved them all. Looking forward to reading more!
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 02/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

Always good to hear, Brian! Thanks.
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 02/05/2007
From: woody search
Location: thomas university, thomasville, ga

I finished this book some time ago and have had some of my evolution students read it as well. The question keeps on comming up "will there be another in the series?". I and my students hope so. Woody.
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 02/05/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Woody! No way of knowing for now whether there will be a third in the series--or what form it will take. But the biology is getting richer and more interesting every day...
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 02/07/2007
From: James
Location: UK

I have been reading Darwins Radio as part of my astrobiology studies, I thought it was grate and genuinely am looking forward to reading Darwins Children. I was just wondering what you think the most important message the book has to offer is?
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 02/07/2007
From: Greg Bear

Keep an open mind about scientific discovery--and about what it means to be human. Think outside your class, your guild, your species! As much as possible, of course.
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 06/09/2007
From: Alan Mintaka
Location: NH, USA

Hello Greg,
I've just finished Darwin's Children. I certainly can't contribute much to the conversation here when it comes to biology. I'm far out of my depth in that area. I did know that the role of viruses in evolution was being re-examined, but my thinking about genetics was mired in the DNA-RNA-Protein sequence mentioned here and elsewhere.

Fortunately I have a reactionary attitude towards parochial idiots. When I smell one, I automatically assume that there's a better smell somewhere else. I refer to this as an "unintentionally good upbringing".

In the Darwin's series I was convinced long before the Jackson character came along

First, though, some business:

*** SPOILER ALERT. CONTAINS SPOILERS ****

(forum habit - sorry)

Anyway, I wanted to address the experiences that Kaye sometimes referred to as "epiphanies" - I guess for the same lack of words that many of us have in those circumstances. However, your descriptions of those experiences didn't lack words at all. In fact, those passages were the best I've read when it comes to attempts to convey meaning to the sensations.

I've been reading a lot of what a layman can access and understand about such things. They come in many flavors, as you know. Suffice it to say that even the Dalai Lama seems to fall short when he tries to tackle explanations of the arguable existence of the self, perceptions felt during meditation, and so on. Personally I have trouble with his use of metaphors and analogies; I can't map them to what he's trying to explain, maybe because he goes a little overboard in keeping the analogies simple.

I'm sure a lot of this has to do with translation. This is no doubt the problem with many of the other writings on this subject. For me to know what is going on there, I'd have to become an expert in the source languages. There's not much chance of that happening.

I've tried local special interest groups dealing with Buddhism, meditation, misc spiritual topics, etc. Those things seem to have become deluged with new age-pop jargon and nonsense that makes me shut down at the first sign of terms like "life energy". This is one area where I can freely admit to having a parochial attitude myself - and I like it.

All of this is why your portrayals of Kaye's experiences turned me right around. She used words like "epiphany" and "god" in the context of not knowing what else to think. This was precisely because there was nothing to think about. When she tried to look for things such as reasons, justifications, or punishment/reward, there was no response. Just depth. Just emotion. Just acceptance.

But not in those words. In your words.

I've spent a lot of time here talking about words that should and should not be used, and the ones I like and don't like. This is because I don't really have any way to express my reaction to how you wrote about Kaye's.

You made an important point. I didn't read that point though. I realized it while I was reading. For me those were not the same events. That's why I focused on it the way I did, and that's really all I can say about it directly.

See that? I had to clear out a lot of crap just to get to the point where I could tell you that I couldn't tell you.

That's the best I can do with that.

What came next was in your afterward. I don't know if it was in the printed version. I listened to the unabridged audiobook. Whatever: one of the sources you said provided some background for Kaye's (?) perceptions was "personal experience."

I have not had that personal experience. I got the point in a profound way, yes. But I have never experienced it. I don't know what it is. I don't know how.


*** SPOILER WARNING. HERE IT COMES! ***


The circumstances in Darwin's Children seemed frustratingly random to Kaye, right up until her last moments of physical consciousness. Previous to then she had been trying to force the events, and lamenting them when they did not occur. Obviously that approach did not work.

I assume that you have not had your last moments of physical consciousness yet. If so, then your "personal experience" means that's it's already happened to you and that you understand some important things about it. Not how or why, and certainly not "what". But you know it at least well enough to convincingly convey things about it.

I need this. I need this because of the things done in preparation for it. They include learning the art of quieting the mind. This is specifically what I cannot do and what I must do. I can't shut down. It's all chaotic garbage with no content worth thinking about. It's bad enough to cause real problems. Here I CAN speak with authority. Many, many internal and external remedies have been attempted. Here I am. Here is this message.

If the "experience" happens during or after I'm learning how to quiet things down, that would be fantastic. But whether or not it does, I'll at least be a little more at peace.

How did you come by this experience? Did you study, read, listen, practice things that helped? Did you learn to quiet your mind first? Or did it happen as it did with Kaye, unsolicited (apparently) regardless of your state of mind?

I would love to know these things!

Thanks for taking the time to endure this long message. Thanks for the Darwin series.

Alan Mintaka
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 06/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Alan! Your message is very moving. The experience we're talking about came to me out of the blue--lasted off and on for a month with some intensity, but not 24-hrs a day--and then tailed off. I've had a few brief, much less intense moments since--reminders, as it were. What I learned from these experiences is that they are difficult to induce--impossible for me to induce, though others claim they reach similar states through meditation. Calming the mind, even achieving some sort of samadhi, may or may not replicate what I experienced, since it seemed to point toward a personal connection with a supremely loving, approving, non-judgmental being. The being--to me--seemed in some deep sense masculine. The experiences did not reduce my long-term exposure to confusion and mental gyrations, but they do provide a baseline from which certain personal and philosophical questions are now resolved. I still haven't learned to completely quiet my mind at will--though I can do the early stage breathing exercises, mantra, and achieve some good effects. In a sense, enlightenment, relief, and isolation from the whirl of the off-center wheel of existence may not be what this type of epiphany is about--and there are many different types, no surprise, perhaps as many as there are experiencers! And it is no tragedy if one does not experience these states, because implicit in the message is that by doing so, one is not rendered "special," nor does one lack in any way by not being so involved. There are other messages, other means, other expressions. The only constant I know of in these experiences is the sense of love and acceptance--a far cry from the strident, rage-filled imprecations of political and commercial religions.

Another key point: the "personality" I encountered never acknowledged being a supreme being. Perhaps we are asking all the wrong questions! Above all, humility--the toughest directive of all.

Nature essay

Date: 01/26/2007 From: Alex Tolley
Location: Los Gatos, CA

Greg,
Below is an essay from the current issue of nature, suggestion a potential revolution in how we think of organisms and evolution. I think it goes further than the consequences of horizontal gene transmission. As you have alluded to in Darwins Radi/Children, Margulies in Aquiring Genomes, we can see that the potential effects of genes on organism evolution via non-genealogical means may be more common than previously thought. I personally see it as more of a continuum:

1. Standard, direct inheritance of genes.
2. Horizontal transmission in microbes, retroviruses etc.
3. Eucaryotes as permanent collections of genomes. (rare event in life's hsitory - but if Margulies is correct, not so rare).
4. "Diseases" as impactors on host phenotype and behavior(genome interactions but not permanent)
5. Co-evolution of symbiotes, commensals and organisms in ecological niches. (system interaction of separate genomes).


========================================================
Essay

Nature 445, 369 (25 January 2007) | doi:10.1038/445369a; Published online 24 January 2007
ConnectionsBiology's next revolution

Nigel Goldenfeld1 and Carl Woese2

1. Nigel Goldenfeld is in the Department of Physics and Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.
2. Carl Woese is in the Department of Microbiology and Institute for Genomic Biology, 601 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.

Top of page
Abstract

The emerging picture of microbes as gene-swapping collectives demands a revision of such concepts as organism, species and evolution itself.

One of the most fundamental patterns of scientific discovery is the revolution in thought that accompanies a new body of data. Satellite-based astronomy has, during the past decade, overthrown our most cherished ideas of cosmology, especially those relating to the size, dynamics and composition of the Universe.
Biology's next revolution

KAPUSTA

Similarly, the convergence of fresh theoretical ideas in evolution and the coming avalanche of genomic data will profoundly alter our understanding of the biosphere  and is likely to lead to revision of concepts such as species, organism and evolution. Here we explain why we foresee such a dramatic transformation, and why we believe the molecular reductionism that dominated twentieth-century biology will be superseded by an interdisciplinary approach that embraces collective phenomena.

The place to start is horizontal gene transfer (HGT), the non-genealogical transfer of genetic material from one organism to another  such as from one bacterium to another or from viruses to bacteria. Among microbes, HGT is pervasive and powerful  for example, in accelerating the spread of antibiotic resistance. Owing to HGT, it is not a good approximation to regard microbes as organisms dominated by individual characteristics. In fact, their communications by genetic or quorum-sensing channels indicate that microbial behaviour must be understood as predominantly cooperative.

In the wild, microbes form communities, invade biochemical niches and partake in biogeochemical cycles. The available studies strongly indicate that microbes absorb and discard genes as needed, in response to their environment. Rather than discrete genomes, we see a continuum of genomic possibilities, which casts doubt on the validity of the concept of a 'species' when extended into the microbial realm. The uselessness of the species concept is inherent in the recent forays into metagenomics  the study of genomes recovered from natural samples as opposed to clonal cultures. For example, studies of the spatial distribution of rhodopsin genes in marine microbes suggest such genes are 'cosmopolitan', wandering among bacteria (or archaea) as environmental pressures dictate.

Equally exciting is the realization that viruses have a fundamental role in the biosphere, in both immediate and long-term evolutionary senses. Recent work suggests that viruses are an important repository and memory of a community's genetic information, contributing to the system's evolutionary dynamics and stability. This is hinted at, for example, by prophage induction, in which viruses latent in cells can become activated by environmental influences. The ensuing destruction of the cell and viral replication is a potent mechanism for the dispersal of host and viral genes.

It is becoming clear that microorganisms have a remarkable ability to reconstruct their genomes in the face of dire environmental stresses, and that in some cases their collective interactions with viruses may be crucial to this. In such a situation, how valid is the very concept of an organism in isolation? It seems that there is a continuity of energy flux and informational transfer from the genome up through cells, community, virosphere and environment. We would go so far as to suggest that a defining characteristic of life is the strong dependency on flux from the environment  be it of energy, chemicals, metabolites or genes.

Nowhere are the implications of collective phenomena, mediated by HGT, so pervasive and important as in evolution. A computer scientist might term the cell's translational apparatus (used to convert genetic information to proteins) an 'operating system', by which all innovation is communicated and realized. The fundamental role of translation, represented in particular by the genetic code, is shown by the clearly documented optimization of the code. Its special role in any form of life leads to the striking prediction that early life evolved in a lamarckian way, with vertical descent marginalized by the more powerful early forms of HGT.

Refinement through the horizontal sharing of genetic innovations would have triggered an explosion of genetic novelty, until the level of complexity required a transition to the current era of vertical evolution. Thus, we regard as regrettable the conventional concatenation of Darwin's name with evolution, because other modalities must also be considered.

This is an extraordinary time for biology, because the perspective we have indicated places biology within a context that must necessarily engage other disciplines more strongly aware of the importance of collective phenomena. Questions suggested by the generic energy, information and gene flows to which we have alluded will probably require resolution in the spirit of statistical mechanics and dynamical systems theory. In time, the current approach of post-hoc modelling will be replaced by interplay between quantitative prediction and experimental test, nowadays more characteristic of the physical sciences.

Sometimes, language expresses ignorance rather than knowledge, as in the case of the word 'prokaryote', now superseded by the terms archaea and bacteria. We foresee that in biology, new concepts will require a new language, grounded in mathematics and the discoveries emerging from the data we have highlighted. During an earlier revolution, Antoine Lavoisier observed that scientific progress, like evolution, must overcome a challenge of communication: "We cannot improve the language of any science without at the same time improving the science itself; neither can we, on the other hand, improve a science without improving the language or nomenclature which belongs to it." Biology is about to meet this challenge.

Further reading

Frigaard, N., Martinez, A., Mincer, T. & DeLong, E. Nature 439, 847850 (2006).

Sullivan, M. et al. PLoS Biol. 4, e234 (2006).

Pedulla, M. et al. Cell 113, 171182 (2003).

Vetsigian, K., Woese, C. & Goldenfeld, N. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 103, 1069610701 (2006).
 

Re: Nature essay
Date: 01/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Wow! This certainly lays down the gauntlet. These gentlemen have the track record to justify making such strong assertions--and the stamina to fight until they are widely accepted. Bravo to them.

What's astonishing to me is how far biology has come since I wrote DARWIN'S RADIO. I should also point out the big contributions made by others to our thinking: Eshel Ben Jacob's ground-breaking work on bacterial colonies under stress, Lynn Caporale's prescient seminar on evolution... Bravo to all!

And now for the next big step--when we realize what Barbara McClintock actually meant when she described the genome as an ecosystem.

The same patterns that govern neural activity in the brain may actually guide and describe the interactive and reactive nature of living things from top to bottom.
 

Re: Nature essay
Date: 01/26/2007
From: Alex Tolley
Location: Los Gatos, CA

I think it is more than McClintock's ecosystem concept: I think you have touched on it with your analogy to neural processing. Evolution by natural selection (IMO the only robust theory in biology) ultimately requires physical replicators - genes. We have tended to focus on the details of those genes: structure, generated phenotypes, etc., but biologists have tended not to see genomes as an abstraction for processing (although see Kauffman, The Origins of Order). We shouldn't be so surprised when we see different patterns of interaction and processing that generates the necessary order for signal processing. Your neural analogy is helpful here - some possible, but loose, analogies in information processing patterns in brains and genomes:

1. Spreading activation waves : transcription cascade
2. Hebbian weight pattern : pattern of transcription enhancer sites
3. Minsky's Society of Mind : gene interaction
4. Meme acquisition/learning by instruction : horizontal gene transmission
5. Cultural evolution : genome ecosystem (?)

Now here is where I think it gets interesting. There are a number of different software algorithms to optimize systems, some modeled on living systems (genetic algorithms) some not (linear programming). Some are similar-ish (metropolis/simulated annealing ~: sex (?)). What is relevant is that these algorithms all have performance vs cost envelopes. Genetic algorithms are very powerful, but very expensive, whereas linear programming is limited but fast. Given that evolution by natural selection favors approaches that maximize this trade off in different scenarios, it would not surprise me to learn that living systems use these different algorithmic strategies in their different information processing manifestations - genomes, brains; algorithms that at their core are the same in both systems, but manifested differently depending on the actual substrate.

To be really speculative, one could start to think about how living systems could interact with incompatible systems, much like we design interactions between different software languages. The simplest is the equivalent of a System.exec function - genes -> genes, or mitochondrial, chloroplast and nucleosome genome interactions. More interesting is the use of APIs of different types - ribosomes, protein transcription factors (?). Current thinking is that terrestrial and exo-biologies are probably completely incompatible and thus almost like separate, non-interacting systems, except at the macro level. But is this true? Could living systems use any of the novel genome interacting strategies to enhance fitness? The staple of much scfi/horror I know, but maybe not so impossible...?

 

Re: Nature essay
Date: 02/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

Ah--can the Thing really be so Thingy? Good question, my guess is, probably not. (In my view, an ecosystem also functions as an interacting network--and can solve problems on its own level by, for example, recruiting and adapting or causing species to adapt.)
 

Re: Nature essay
Date: 02/07/2007
From: Alex Tolley
Location: Los Gatos

"can the Thing really be so Thingy?" - did I get the Clarke "You really squiggled my squiggle" response :-

I hadn't quite thought about ecosystems as being so dynamic and therefore an algorithmic substrate. Food for thought.
I suppose if we think of the node as a species and a connection as the impact on another species, that would map quite well to a Hebbian network in the static case, and the node/connection replacement as a GA or similar in the dynamic case.
 

Re: Nature essay
Date: 02/07/2007
From: Greg Bear

As you say, Alex... I'm not even past Bayesian, myself!
 

Re: Nature essay
Date: 01/16/2008
From: Chris
Location: Huntington Beach

I'm new to the site, and absoultely love the speculation in these books. I'm not sure if it's been posited before, but I'm curious as to whether anyone sees DNA and RNA as a base-four computer assembly language? A, C, G, and T vs. 0 and 1. If this is the case it adds significantly to the complexity of trying to figure out what genes code for.
 

Re: Nature essay
Date: 01/18/2008
From: Greg Bear

There's been speculation about DNA "grammar," and even linguistic analysis of DNA sequences, and some sort of computational analysis is probably part of the big picture, but that picture grows increasingly complicated. Pure computational analysis is likely inadequate, but the grammatical part still seems to have some power. The genes are like keys on a piano, or spices in a spice rack (as my wife compares them). Whether you play the keys, how many times you play them, and how long you sustain the note... All that seems to play a very major role. So--is DNA essentially a musical score, and life the composition?
 

Re: Nature essay
Date: 01/18/2008
From: Alex Tolley
Location: Los Gatos

GB: "is DNA essentially a musical score, and life the composition?"

Nice metaphor, but I don't think so, simply because music is a linear sequence, whist the chords represented by DNA transcription and translation are interacting.

I think the computer code metaphor is better, although probably not accurate either. I am fascinated by the recent work showing that many "genes" are not translated to proteins but the rna transcripts are functional, much as they must have been in the early "rna world".

There is also the intriguing, but unproven idea, based on recent work that shows some DNA/RNA sequences do not exist. The suggestion is that they may be "lethal" sequences. Nice idea for a story, but I have no idea if it is real or not, although one should be able to test it readily enough by inserting the sequences and seeing what happens.
 

Re: Nature essay
Date: 01/20/2008
From: Greg Bear

True enough--so imagine a million pianos playing a million different tunes together, yet they all add up to something that works... Software is certainly a workable metaphor, one that I've used for years (going back to asserting that DNA was computational, back in the 1980s).

Darwin's Children

Date: 01/25/2007 From: Liam Johnson
Location: http://liam-humor.blogspot.com

I'm really enjoying Darwin's Children, but I have to ask whether the parallels to the current Presidential Administration are entirely coincidental, or whether their actions and some of their policies colored those of your fictional President, et al.

Either way, it's a lot of fun to read!

Liam.
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 01/26/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Liam. I began planning the DARWIN novels back in 1995-96, and wrote DARWIN'S RADIO in 1997-98. As I plotted and wrote DARWIN'S CHILDREN 2000-2002, it seemed to me that the world was doing my research for me. A nation trending more and more conservative, facing an unparalleled crisis that threatens it on a deeply emotional level... Major screw-ups caused by ideology and blunt stupidity. I've intercepted some flak over the years for this take, but it seems to me to parallel what actually happened, and is still happening. Prophetic? No. The trends were clear back in the mid-1990s. QUANTICO, dealing with terrorism more directly, tracks the next phase in those trends--and again, the parallels are interesting.
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 01/29/2007
From: Tom J.
Location: Hamilton Square, NJ

Greg - I am sure you get this question a lot, but is there room for another Darwin book in the world? I loved how the stories grew in scope from one family in the first book to a larger communinity in the second. I would love to see how the whole world is effected by the children and then beign to sunset humanity. REgardless - great work that I read time and again.
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 02/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Tom. No definite plans for now, but still not impossible!
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 02/19/2007
From: Michael Dixon
Location: St Louis, MO

Hi. I just finished reading the two "Darwin" novels, and appreciated them deeply. I'm a Protestant minister (mainline--not the type to push the Intelligent Design pseudoscience) who enjoys sci fi. Normally I don't read sci fi for theology, but I found Kaye's epiphany scenes marvelous. They were sensitive, deeply moving, and evocative, and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for them.
 

Re: Darwin's Children
Date: 02/19/2007
From: Greg Bear

And thank you for your kind words, Michael. There's actually a decent theological argument for why God does not micromanage evolution, nor make it predetermined from the start...

Perhaps nature requires freedom of will as much as you and I.

Just Finished the Eon Trilogy

Date: 01/25/2007 From: Andrew
Location: Indiana

Mr. Bear,

I just finished reading Eternity this evening, and I was moved to tears by the end of the book as beloved characters made their peace with the destruction of the Way. I first discovered Eon years ago at a secondhand book sale and it quickly became my favorite science fiction book. Later I discovered the prequel and sequel. You did an excellent job of bringing everything together at the end of Eternity and truly giving a sense of finality and ending. Thanks for writing such a wonderful and engaging piece of science fiction, and keep up the great work!
 

Re: Just Finished the Eon Trilogy
Date: 01/25/2007
From: Greg Bear

Many thanks, Andrew!
 

Re: Just Finished the Eon Trilogy
Date: 02/04/2007
From: Ben
Location: Singapore

Just finished Eon myself, and am keen on reading Eternity just to see how it all ties up. What a bloody wonderful book it is, and satisfying too. Some of the best sci-fi I feel has that epic, to-the-end-of-time arc (e.g. Babylon 5, Foundation, Robotech's End of the Circle) - Eon has this in spades: its basic premise, as it were!

This was actually the second time reading it. The first was 10 years ago and as I have a memory like a sieve I had forgotten most of it in the interim (I had retained the vague sense of how enjoyable it was) which made the rereading a delight.

Apparently Eternity closes the story arc on the series, but I was kinda wondering if there were any plans at all to reopen the arc? (Not having read Eternity I am kinda hoping that it wasn't tied up too neatly and with finality - i.e. cauterized such that no re-entry was possible, to borrow a metaphor from Eon.) Such is my enjoyment of this particular universe.

Many thanks for a great read.

Best,
B
 

Re: Just Finished the Eon Trilogy
Date: 02/05/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Ben! LEGACY adds an earlier chapter to the trilogy, and an even earlier chapter can be found in the short piece, "The Wind From a Burning Woman." No plans at the moment to re-open the Way, but take a look at the wonderful works posted from around the world for the EON
Challenge at the CGSociety! (Link on the opening page of my site.)

Thanks for Slant

Date: 01/24/2007 From: Michael Mauldin
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Just finished reading it. Amazing work...so many new ideas in one place. My head hurts just thinking about how far this whole internet thing may go.

--Michael "Fuzzy" Mauldin
Adjunct RCS, Carnegie Mellon
Founder of the Lycos Search Engine
 

Re: Thanks for Slant
Date: 01/24/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Michael! My head hurts with how far behind I am on Internet affairs...

Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature

Date: 01/17/2007 From: kingsley yin
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Dear Mr. bear,

Been a while since I emailed. I have read in the last few years 3 books - The Time-Travelers wife, The Stolen Child and Jonathan Strange and Mister Norell. These three books appear to have insinuated themselves rather well into mainstream, serious Literature. I enjoyed all 3 of them. I have never been a huge Science Fantasy reader so I cannot comment that much on the latter 2 books, but with The Time Traveler's Wife I enjoyed the book immensely despite the ridiculous notion that laws of physics (in this case time travel) were closely dependent on biological genes. So my question is - do you think this integration (if you will) of Science Fiction/Fantasy into serious mainstream Literature is detrimental to hard science fiction authors like yourself? Especially as you take great pains in coming up with believable and possible scenarios/hypotheses. I know from reading your blogs (and being a scientist myself) that it is often a painstaking and careful process of reading and thinking. One last point, is that although certainly mainstream, I do not consider the books of Michael Crighton - serious literature. Actually I consider them good door jams for my lab doors.
Have enjoyed all your books especially Slan, Darwin series and Moving Mars. Absolutely loved Blood music, the short story.

Kingsley
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/17/2007
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Kingsley! The "integration" is nothing new--it's been going on for many decades now, and seems just fine by me--all are welcome, and as you say, the results can often be excellent.
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/18/2007
From: John Holtom
Location: Luton, England, UK, Earth, Milky Way etc etc

Dear Greg Bear

At least in the UK there is a radical divide between SF/Fantasy and so called serious fiction. I think that most serious fiction writers and critics sneer at SF as low brow. Indeed, when I mention to friends that I read both SF and serious fiction there is usually a silence before a comment follows. The best SF is simply a genre of the best writing - just as the best crime writing is. On my bedside table at this moment is Vanity Fair and William Gibson's most recent works. Is William Gibson mainstream? I think not! But I defy anyone not to acknowledge both the sharpness of his language and the ingenuity and seriousness of his thought. I would love to debate this at length but work calls!!

I look forward to the next serious SF from Mr G Bear having exhausted most of your output to date!! And where is that film of Anvil and Forge? Again with so much SF dross on the big screen surely there is a director who can turn them into a new 2001 or Alien?!

Regards

John Holtom
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/18/2007
From: Greg Bear

Hello, John! Actually, back in the 1950s, UK writers like Kingsley Amis, Robert Conquest, Brian Aldiss, and Anthony Burgess regularly moved back and forth between sf/fantasy and more mainstream literature. Iain Banks does so now. For critics at newspapers and in literary journals in the UK, there might still exist a divide--but look at how much they're being paid! They have reason to be mean and grumpy. I fondly remember in 1987 being wined and dined by Anthony Cheatham, one of the big, bad boys of British publishing--sitting at table in Brighton with the likes of Orson Scott Card and Doris Lessing.

In the U.S., the publishing industry is still pretty fusty and hardline about this divide, and rarely do SF writers get invited to the "serious" party. William Gibson is one exception, Neal Stephenson is becoming another. Philip K. Dick would have been astonished at how mainstream he's become! The sf community and sf publishing was the only haven for Dick, the only community that would support his wonderful, painful, peculiar mix.

I've quoted John Barth before, perhaps not precisely--"Science fiction writers, they are not like you and I. They have more fun." And maybe we care just a bit more, not about being cool or fashionable, but about doing interesting things.
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/18/2007
From: David Markwick
Location: United Kingdom

I've noticed that any literature that makes it into the mainstream eye that has any kind of fantasy/SF setting is usually only concerned with more fanciful than sensible notions. There still seems to be a resistance for any well thought out and logically consistent SF content.

I guess there's a snobbery going on, that if SF is to make it into mainstream markets then it had better be of an artistically vague nature, that somehow good literature cannot come from a more "hard core" approach. (Hard core is not perhaps the term I wanted but I already used the term logically consistent in the previous paragraph ;))

As an aside, do you have any intentions of ever trying to break the mainstream, either by softening the SF element or writing non SF fiction? (Yes I know - two "fictions" there :))
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/18/2007
From: Greg Bear

Part of the "Two Cultures" separation that C.P. Snow noted more than fifty years ago... And which I discuss in my intro to H.G. Wells's THE LAST WAR, a University of Nebraska reprint of THE WORLD SET FREE, from several years back. Might have to post that article on this site soon... I think it explains a lot.



 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/19/2007
From: John Holtom
Location: Luton, England

Dear Greg and other bloggers

So it is not the writers of SF and other forms of fiction, including so called "serious" fiction, who are making the divide, but the readers and the critics! I have to say that does make sense.

I have to say I don't think that good SF is in any way fanciful any more than any other good literature is. It is all about creating a coherent alternate world to act as a mirror for our own. Clockwork Orange is not fanciful it is a metaphor. As is much of the greatest literature across the world. Rubbish SF is vague and fanciful!

I fully accept the HG Wells point (Kipps and Invisible Man seem worlds apart from the same author). Likewise Philip K Dick - now printed in Penguin Modern Classics (or some similar imprint) and thus readable by the mainstream without embarrassment that he is indeed pure SF (genius).

Anthony Burgess is interesting. Clockwork Orange - where does this fit in literary genres? My feeling is that he was always thought of as a wild genius not really a writer of literature. A bit of the pop music classical music divide. A bit too capable of accessing the current consciousness to be regarded as a writer of literature.

Ian Banks erhm! Sorry only read one, can't remember the title but I thought it was laboured and dull - frankly I could not believe it was the same person who wrote the Wasp Factory.

I wish I could spend more time on this but again the demands of the toad work (as Philip Larkin calls it) are tapping me on the shoulder.

We are in an era when I suspect genres will become blended together as with everything else in our world - indeed, as you predict in Queen of Angels and Slant - the old differentiation between literature/writing and other forms of art is being challenged as the world of IT is encroaching into our heads.

And what about the film stuff - there must be a top Greg Bear film someone will make.

Good wishes

John Holtom
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/19/2007
From: Greg Bear

Anthony Burgess is one of my favorites, and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is a modern classic--a cacotopia, as Burgess liked to refer to this variety of SF, a noisy or unpleasant place--like 1984, to which he wrote a thematic sequel, 1985. And THE WANTING SEED also qualifies. Burgess was very fond of the GORMENGHAST trilogy by Mervyn Peake, a social fantasy distinctly different from Tolkien's work. His appreciation for James Joyce is no doubt reflected in Nadsat--the Russian-Brit Creole (if that's the proper term) he created for A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

Right now, a number of very good folks are working on a possible film project based on one of my novels. More news as it develops.
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/19/2007
From: John Holtom
Location: Luton, England

Dear Greg Bear and others

Interesting about Burgess and Gormenghast. As you say this is fantasy but in truth very had to categorize. There was a TV attempt at Gormenghast a few years ago that was feeble.

Strangely Mervyn Peake is pure mainstream despite being fantasy. Published in the UK as Penguin Modern Classics. He did his own illustrations too.

Glad to hear there is work on film projects. May it mature soon.

Regards
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/19/2007
From: Greg Bear

Actually, I quite enjoyed the GORMENGHAST tv production. Impressive acting, and caught much of the mood and feel of the novels.
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/20/2007
From: Andrew Johnston
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Dear Mr Bear,

Your mentioning of Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest reminded me of some of the first science fiction I ever read back in the late sixties, early seventies. Amis and Conquest edited a series of anthologies called Spectrum (1 - 5) and discussed in a number of their introductions the perceived differences between mainstream and science fiction. They also included, in one volume, the transcript of a discussion on this subject between Conquest, Brian Aldiss and C. S. Lewis.

Best wishes,

Andrew Johnston
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/21/2007
From: John Holtom
Location: Luton, England

Dear Greg Bear and others

Still on this topic I read a review in The Guardian yesterday - broadsheet for the UK liberterian intelligensia (so it thinks) which started: "How frustrating to be a writer who happens to work in sci-fi". The same review ends: "Be Brave. Step into the sci-fi section. You can wear a floppy hat".

The review is about a new book by Tricia Sullivan (never heard of her but sounds interesting). A quick bit of web research shows that he is an academic and regular reviewer for The Guardian.

I wonder whether it is his view that you need a floppy hat or whether he thinks it is the view of the world that he needs a floppy hat. Either way I think that the divide remains depressingly real.

On Gormenghast TV - it is the divide between good acting and capturing the sense/mood of the text. The difference between Polanski's Macbeth and the RSC being respectful to the text. Gormenghast is a dark dense tale - I imagine filming your Songs of Earth and Power would be equally hard to capture and require a Kubrick-like attention to detail to build the world in which the stories happen. Like LA Confidential was a good film but couldn't begin to capture the depth, intensity, dialogue of the book.

Regards

John Holtom
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/22/2007
From: Greg Bear

Spectrum was a classic series of anthologies. Amis wrote one of the earliest and best examinations of sf as lit, "New Maps of Hell." Conquest wrote a science fiction novel, "A World of Difference," but is best known today for his extremely accurate evaluations of cruelty under Stalin in the former Soviet Union. Strangely, even in the 90's, (and I say this as a liberal), some leftist-socialist types were still denying the extreme nature of Stalin's purges and starvations. Conquest got it right, and was even cited by Russians when other sources were much less reliable.
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/22/2007
From: Greg Bear

In SONGS I alluded to a fictional film adaptation by David Lynch of James Blish's BLACK EASTER. Never happened, unfortunately--wonder how it would have been?
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 01/22/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Curious that this is being discussed here, right now. Over at Dan Simmons' forum, this has been a topic on an off, with it's latest incarnation stemming from this current post (and a matter of some import in the interview linked within):

http://forum.dansimmons.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=0&Board=General&Number=14419&Searchpage=1&Main=14419&Words=&topic=1&Search=true#Post14419
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 02/06/2007
From: Roy
Location: Japan

The UK may have a sharp divide between SF/Fantasy and mainstream fiction, but the market seems to be a lot more receptive to SF/Fantasy than back home in the US! When I visited England a few years ago I think I filled half a suitcase with at least a couple of dozen newly printed paperbacks of novels that are long out of print and almost impossible to find across the Atlantic.
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 02/27/2007
From: Mishra Arvind,Dr.
Location: Varanasi,India

In India,science fiction is struggling hard to attract the attention of mainstream literati.Its often looked down with contempt and ridicule.But in all humility I must submit that a good sf is infact a mainstrem literature in itself having potential and capacity to allure large readership.So the demarcation/devide in sf and mainstrem literature is nothing but a kind of snobbery exhibited by so called literary gaints and alike.The devide is fast vanishing world over.The trend may be followed in India too.
arvind Mishra,India
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 03/06/2007
From: Greg Bear

I quite agree, Dr. Mishra. The more technically and scientifically trained people there are in India--and there are already a great many!--the more accepted science fiction will become.
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 06/04/2007
From: John Holtom
Location: Luton, England

Dear Greg Bear

War of The Worlds, the HG Wells original, first published according to my paperback, in 1898! Major flaws it may have but what superb writing and tremendous visualisation of the drama. If this isn't literature, I really don't know what is! But equally it is the mother of a whole genre of SF invasion stories, not to mention, I suspect, your excellent Forge and Anvil novels.

By contrast, having read Neuromancer by William Gibson just now, I completely understand why SF may seem a closed genre, because, frankly, it was hard work, unclear what it was really about (good narrative though it may have), so tied up into its own linguistic cleverness that I would suggest it was both not good SF nor good literature (by contrast to Pattern Recognition, which was literate, articulate and compellingly interesting).

The moral is: good writing is both good literature and good SF (if that is the genre).

By the way, Mr Greg Bear, any plans with the third part of the Forge, Anvil series?

Regards

John Holtom
 

Re: Insinuation of Science Fiction/Fantasy into mainstream Literature
Date: 06/05/2007
From: Greg Bear

WAR OF THE WORLDS was one of the books I read while writing THE FORGE OF GOD--and I've re-read it often since. Wells certainly qualifies as lit--but there are so many other authors of sf that also qualify, the list could go on for pages and pages! It's not really a serious dispute any more. Lovecraft and P.K. Dick have their own Library of America volumes. I suspect William Gibson will get his own volume in that collection soon enough!

The internet, avatars, and Eon and Eternity

Date: 01/16/2007 From: Patrick Pierce
Location: albuquerque, New Mexico

Dear Mr. Bear,

The internet is evolving in a way remarkably similar to the way you forsee it in the boooks Eon and Eternity.

The use of Avatars is becoming increasingly popular. Software like Lotus Sametime allows you to make any type of avatar you want and use it in chat, while I believe MySpace pages are rudimentary avatars, expressing whatever aspect of personality that person wants to portray, or multiple aspects, just like the Hindu avatars of old.

I believe the internet is in fact another dimension. Time is different online, emotions are stronger. We are the pioneers of our race, forging this new frontier with out Pentium-covered wagons. Is the 7th chamber somehow symbolic of the dimensionality of the internet?

Thank you so much for your work. I believe time will show how prescient you are.

Regards,

Patrick Pierce

 

Re: The internet, avatars, and Eon and Eternity
Date: 01/16/2007
From: Greg Bear

Some years ago, Linda Stone brought me into Microsoft to show me some of their research on future chat room avatars, etc., and David Brin lectured at the MS Campus on HIS views of how that would evolve. Still don't see much sign of picting between Blackberries and such, but there were a lot of predecessors in this arena before me--and let's not forget Bill Gibson and Bruce Sterling! (And in the 1970s, the REALLY visionary work of Vernor Vinge and John Varley.)

Soviet Rank

Date: 01/15/2007 From: patrick
Location:

Just wanted to poke at you, slightly. Major General Sosnitski (chief commander of the Russian insurgents into the Stone) was the equivalent of an American Brigadier General. Hence, only one star (at least, one for each lapel) he could give to Mirski.

For some reason, the Soviet ranks go Major, Lieutenant, Colonel, and General generals - whereas for American forces, it's Be My Little General.
 

Re: Soviet Rank
Date: 01/16/2007
From: Greg Bear

Good to know! Thanks, Patrick.

Eon - 3 : causality

Date: 01/14/2007 From: patrick
Location:

For years, when reading about temporal and inter-universal travel, I wondered if this would violate the conservation of energy. In the former, since the event exists within the same universe, it would suggest no. However, in the latter.....well, a black hole is effecitively its own universe. Yet, according to the theory of Hawking radiation, it isn't completely closed. It eventually bleeds itself back into its parent. Only just now, this to me would suggest that parent universes - across branes, that is - may be no different. In which, case, energy is conserved. There is no such thing as paradox, as the Cosmos is the superset, each universe sharing (or allowed to share) with another.

In thinking about the timeline, particularly of the Stone, in EON, it would seem much more likely that the invocation of the Way whipped it back in a loop along its own timeline. The Death was inevitable in either case (Stone - no Stone), only delayed slightly as the Stone had been around for a few years - distracting, but ultimately confirming destiny.
 

Re: Eon - 3 : causality
Date: 01/15/2007
From: Greg Bear

I've wondered about time travel myself--mostly because there's an awful lot of energy involved in, say, writing a book, and if that book--a condensed form of evolution, some might opine--ends up in the past, does that violate conservation of energy? As for the Stone--the physics of that whipping across alternate universes is way beyond me. Patricia's tried to explain it, but I zone out when she gets to the nested Mersauvin functions and fractal Eigenvalues.
 

Re: Eon - 3 : causality
Date: 01/16/2007
From: Rouald Laurenson
Location: Switzerland

Just struck me delightful, Greg - your energy in the book-writing condensed [matter?] evolution metaphor ;).

Also your Patrikian answer to Sophe-more-ism, with its kindly hand on offer...

I have just been appreciating my way through Eon once more (you said compliments could come at any time).

It's very good to see how many facets are actually on offer, how the glimpse method with these characters carrys so much richness in their moments, and their explorations.

Apologies for too much condensation here ;)

Rouald
 

Re: Eon - 3 : causality
Date: 01/16/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Rouald! And thanks also that there's no math in your response...

Signings

Date: 01/14/2007 From: Greg Tidwell
Location: Sacramento, CA

Hello,

I have a few first editions and one special edition of your books. I was wondering if you do appearances where you sign books. Thanks!

GTT
 

Re: Signings
Date: 01/15/2007
From: Greg Bear

Hello, Greg! It hasn't been that long since I was in Sacramento--sorry to have missed you. But there will likely be some more signing events this spring as we roll out the U.S. trade hardcover of QUANTICO. I'll post the events and locations on this site.
 

Re: Signings
Date: 01/16/2007
From: Greg Tidwell
Location: Sacramento, CA

Wonderful! Ill keep my eye on your web site for dates. I do have another question, though. I just finished a re-read of one of my favorite books, Blood Music. I realized you made a big, big mistake, sir. Glenlivet is not an Irish Whisky. And its not spelled "whiskey." I just shook my head for you when I read that near the end! ;)
 

Re: Signings
Date: 01/16/2007
From: Greg Bear

Absolutely, Greg! You're reading an earlier edition, I guess. I wasn't a whuskey drinker at the time, and the newer editions (I think) correct this. Now--find the other major mistake! (Actually, there are several. Plus one very unfortunate typo/misspell of a character's name, if you're reading the old Ace paperback.)
 

Re: Signings
Date: 01/20/2007
From: Greg Tidwell
Location: Sacramento, CA

Actually, I read the Easton Press printing. The only typo I noticed was on page 120. The word "instincts" is spelled "nstincts," and the justification on the line before that is off by one character's width. After that I read closely for other typos, but noticed none.
 

Re: Signings
Date: 01/22/2007
From: Greg Bear

Well, among other first-edition errors duplicated in the Easton press printing, the cell replication sequence in the section titles is out of whack--there's a glass spinner tube instead of acrylic (under a few hundred thousand g's of acceleration, glass would actually sink down into a little pellet, being a slow liquid) and a number of other difficulties that I think have been resolved in later editions. The additional paperback errors are a hoot. I'm reminded of the paperback of MOVING MARS, where a typographer decided to correct my obvious misspelling of causal, changing every instance to "casual". Classic. It is to sigh.
 

Re: Signings
Date: 02/21/2007
From: Greg Tidwell
Location: Sacramento, CA

You sure dont have to post this on your web site, but I posted two amateur reviews of your books on line at a website owned by the Herbert Family Trust. Blood Music, one of my all time favorite books, and Anvil of Stars. The formats are different, as I am kind of working out how to do these kinds of things. I want to review every book I own, just as a hobby. I am going to do Heads next.

If youre interested, they are here, for Blood Music, near the bottom of the page:

http://www.dunenovels.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1131

And here for Anvil of Stars, second posting:

http://www.dunenovels.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1131&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15

Im still looking forward to your next appearance in Sacto!
 

Re: Signings
Date: 02/21/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Greg!
 

Re: Signings
Date: 03/15/2007
From: Gregory Tidwell
Location: Sacramento, CA

Hello again, Mr. Bear. I was wondering if you could tell me if there are any other stories in the Heads/Moving Mars sequence? I was reading my copy of Heads the other day, and I noticed a reference to a story involving Rho about tulips, and I cant for the life of me remember what that was. Did you write another story that tells this tale? Thanks!
 

Re: Signings
Date: 03/15/2007
From: Greg Bear

Probably an elliptical reference, Gregory... No more stories about Rho and tulips! But other books in the historical sequence include QUEEN OF ANGELS and SLANT.
 

Re: Signings
Date: 03/15/2007
From: Gregory Tidwell
Location: Sacramento, CA

Thanks for your quick response! What do you mean by "elliptical response?"

I recall a reference twice to a problem that Rho created that wound up costing Sandoval BM lots and lots of money that centered around tulips. I know its been 18 or so years since you read it. But I dont understand your response.

Thanks again!

GTT

PS. Ive always meant to pick those others up, though. Now I will for sure.
 

Re: Signings
Date: 03/16/2007
From: Greg Bear

Unexplained within the story--a family joke, as it were--and no additional story to cover it.
 

Re: Signings
Date: 04/15/2007
From: Gregory Tidwell
Location: Sacramento, CA

I cannot wait to read your new book. It sounds great! But I can't help but wonder which of the marketing people at your publishers thought it would be a good idea to call the threat, on the cover of the book no less, "silent but deadly." Around here that refers to something entirely different, and a bit more scatalogical!
 

Re: Signings
Date: 04/16/2007
From: Greg Bear

Hmmm... Too right. Perhaps we should have put that lead on VITALS? (Or passed it along to Mr. King for a reissue of DREAMCATCHER.) Someone in marketing thought it over, and the final cover does not have that description.
 

Re: Signings
Date: 04/16/2007
From: Greg Tidwell
Location: Sacramento, CA

I have taken the liberty of sending the blurb to the publisher of my son's favorite books, "Everybody Poops," and "The Gas We Pass." I hope that they can put it to better use.
 

Re: Signings
Date: 09/08/2007
From: Greg Tidwell
Location: Sacramento

Hello again,

I think I missed you again. My wife told me that you were coming to Sacramento, and I blew it by forgetting. Next time, I guess.

Anyway, I have a new amateur review of one of your books up. I actually like this book better than Blood Music. Moving Mars is one of my favorite books of all time. Just FYI.

Here is the link to the review.

http://z10.invisionfree.com/Dune_Forum/index.php?showtopic=1717
 

Re: Signings
Date: 09/18/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Greg!

Eon - 2: power(s) and social imperatives

Date: 01/13/2007 From: Patrick
Location:

About a third or so of the way through EON, and it occured to me that:

1) given the imminent (or inevitable, depending on if you've read the book) outcome of things, I can't see it could've been any worse by having an 'open forum' of research and communication at all levels regarding the Stone.

2) though they had essentially limitless power and capability, the Stoners still had use for social power structures, etc.
 

Re: Eon - 2: power(s) and social imperatives
Date: 01/13/2007
From: Greg Bear

Quite true. EON was in part a commentary on Cold War politics--and could probably be compared with many another Cold War thriller, such as ICE STATION ZEBRA. If I were re-working it today, however, and had the current Russian regime and China trying to cooperate with the U.S. in exploring the Stone--I probably would only revise a few passages and settings! Stubborn self-destruction for the sake of one's tribe is a human constant, I'm afraid.

Movies

Date: 01/12/2007 From: Earle McNeil
Location: Olympia WA

Hi Greg - As I was recently looking through my Greg Bear books to reread (especially Slant)and remembered our conversation a couple years ago about a movie trilagy you and Ron Howard talked about making from Eon, Eternity and Legacy. Anything still in the works? You also had hopes for a one season series on TV. Still working on that? Hope all is well with you. I just got Vitals and am enjoying that. Betty (Kutter) and I still have lunch together every so often and share and talk about your books. Earle McNeil
 

Re: Movies
Date: 01/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Earle! Good to hear from you again. Actually, I never met Ron Howard--but he was for a couple of months involved in the early stages of developing Ken Nolan's screenplay for THE FORGE OF GOD--which included bits from ANVIL OF STARS as well. He hasn't been associated with the project for some time now. Warner Brothers still has an option on the novels, but there's no news at this time. Say hello to Betty for me!
 

Re: Movies
Date: 03/12/2007
From: Sean
Location: South Africa

Hi there

I have just read Eon and may I say it is a wonderful book. I could not put it down till I finished the last word. I then hopped online and obtain more information on your books and was astounded to find out how many you have written. I will not rest until I have read every one of them. As for the Movie and the Eon CG Challenge, I can only hope that this book is turned into a screenplay. I know that it will be a movie of epic proportions and I will be first in line to buy a ticket when it opens here in South Africa.

A great fan

Sean
 

Re: Movies
Date: 03/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for your kind words, Sean! The EON CG Challenge (www.CGSociety.org) is coming to a stunning conclusion. The works posted for the contest are beautiful!
 

Re: Movies
Date: 04/20/2007
From: James Woody
Location: San Francisco, CA

Hello Greg,
I have read The Forge of God twice now. It was just as riveting the 2nd time as it was the 1st. I'm sure I will end up reading it again, after it's finished being passed around to my friends. I just want to stress that - IF/WHEN this movie is made, you have to have a top notch director for it. Names that come to mind are people like George Miller, Sidney Lumet (remember FailSafe?), Clint Eastwood, even(!), Robert Zemekis, well, maybe Zemekis...Fincher, Chris Nolan, well - I could go on - there are so many others. I just hope and pray that it falls into the right hands if Warner Brothers would get off their ass and greenlight it. I don't believe Ron Howard would do it justice. I am also wary about the idea of combining it with Anvil of Stars. Please, no!
On it's own, The Forge of God is a major film, lots of characters, incredible suspense... I imagined it as a film in my head while reading it and I kept having the image of Bill Peterson playing someone out of it. (I really believe Bill is a credible film actor). Just the image of the eastern seaboard rising up in the air was so awe-inspiring (and you know the effects could be handled quite well these days). It could easily make a fine 2 and a half hour movie. I'm sure you receive lots of messages like this, but I feel so strongly that it needs to have a magnificent director at the helm. I also think you should keep to just the novel, and to not include anything from "Anvil." It's so incredible on it's own!! It has "blockbuster" written all over it! Just what in the hell is the problem with Warners? Bug 'em!!!
Ok - that's my rant and my $.02! I can't wait to pick up Quantico. Keep it up! Thanks!
James
 

Re: Movies
Date: 04/20/2007
From: Greg Bear

Remember, it took more than a decade (and a long list of directors and screenwriters involved) to get CONTACT onto the screen, and that film turned out very well.

Getting Stoned

Date: 01/09/2007 From: patrick
Location:

A little ways into Eon, now, where Patricia is just getting into the Stone, and is resistant to and indignant about the information presented her. I didn't get that kind of thing then (late 80s), and I more so don't get it, now. [spoiler] Like, okay, it was built by humans centuries ago...why would that be affrontive? Basically, what I'm wondering is: were people like this then, but not now?...are people just like this?...is it that they've grown up? I'm 35, and I just don't identify with that, nor with being overwhelmed. I'd be, like, ecstatic, regardless of what I found.
 

Re: Getting Stoned
Date: 01/09/2007
From: Greg Bear

Patricia is gradually facing some amazing possibilities--and she will be experiencing something that could justify life's work and theories--and at the very least, goes beyond anything she's experienced in her life so far. For her, it's growing into a kind of religious moment. And it's real--not like watching a movie--not special effects! The impact would be huge on anybody, I suspect, which is why the exploration teams have a name for it--when everything you know is turned inside out and upside down, you experience getting Stoned.
 

Re: Getting Stoned
Date: 01/10/2007
From: David Markwick
Location: UK

I think that it's impossible to predict how you would react to something like Thistledown *in reality*, it's easy to say "I'd be totally ecstatic", and it may be that initially you would be, but I think the heavy reality of so much apparent mass looming would (sorry for the pun) weigh heavily on your psych.

For a ground based ape to be so far removed from planet Earth with it's entirely comfortable gravity to being "under" so much rock and architecture with all the discomfort of a changed gravitational environment will generate such a low-level sense of danger and urgency in the primordial part of the brain.

I can't quite remember, but I think it was Douglas Adams who postulated an otherwise imperceptible emotion of being very very far far away from where you're supposed to be, one that only becomes apparent when you're at astronomical distances from home. Obviously he's (was) a humorous writer but I think it's a nice notion.
 

Re: Getting Stoned
Date: 01/10/2007
From: Greg Bear

Very nice notion. Adams was a fine science fiction writer--even better because he made his excellent ideas funny.
 

Re: Getting Stoned
Date: 01/16/2007
From: Patrick Pierce
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Maybe there are some physiological changes that occur when you come onto the stone, that intensify as you get to the seventh chamber. Lets face it, as Patricia says, they aren't even dealing with matter in the 7th chamber corridor. (Hm. A chamber that goes on forever, that sounds like a very sophisticated version of the internet in a way.)

Perhaps coming into contact with a new dimensionality, as well as your paradigms on what "reality" is would get anyone stoned I believe, especially someone as brilliant as Vasquez. Quelastima!

Eon, and 'when did this century begin'?

Date: 01/08/2007 From: patrick
Location:

Hey, I just decided to re-read Eon (my first, actually, since the initial read back in the late 80s/early 90s), and in the first Prolog, Gary Lanier and Judith Hoffman quite briefly skirt the issue of when the millenium starts.

I remember this being an issue, but isn't it solved? I mean, it doesn't matter which convention (0 or 1) the ancients used, cos the one we use (1900s = the 20th century) is 0. Hence, the 21st century started in the year 2000. Yes?
 

Re: Eon, and 'when did this century begin'?
Date: 01/08/2007
From: Greg Bear

I guess the experts have decided it's not like a milometer, which starts at zero. There was no year zero, these experts say (but they weren't there, so how do they know?), and so, the twentieth century began in 1901. Of course, it was all backdated anyway, many centuries after the fact. Someone named Gregory was involved at one point...

My authority on this has got to be Sir Arthur Clarke, and one of my favorite films of all time.
 

Re: Eon, and 'when did this century begin'?
Date: 01/08/2007
From: patrick
Location:

Nice response. However, it doesn't matter what convention one uses, cos the first year is 0 until it's over. Notice if you count to one, until you've gone that step, it's not 1. But it is the first in succession, hence, the first century. (Or, the first year in the first century, with the completion of You can celebrate it whenever you want, but numerically, it is this way.
 

Re: Eon, and 'when did this century begin'?
Date: 01/08/2007
From: Greg Bear

As I recall, Ray Milland did have to deal with PANIC IN THE YEAR ZERO...

Gut bacteria selection and effects on human physiology

Date: 01/05/2007 From: Alex Tolley
Location: Los Gatos, CA

Greg,
This item is one of many that seem to indicate that our gut microflora have more of an impact on our physiology than previously believed. In this case, they shape how we get obese from our diets. Some of the implications have been covered in stories like your "Vitals", but I also think we are going to have to seriously consider the issue for space colonization. We may need to bring along considerable reserves of these bugs to ensure that our colonization efforts don't fail, not simply for the old ecological reasons, but because they may have very important contributions to our health. What happens if small genetic pools mutate? Can a newly colonized sterile world support the maintenance of these bugs, or will humans have to retreat periodically to earth-like habitats to re-stabilize them? Whilst we have had no end of stories about alien bugs, almost none have addressed issues concerning our home-world bugs and their relationship to us on new worlds.

BTW - Happy to see that Quantico is finally going to be released in the US. Looking forward to reading it.


(http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fgordonlab.wustl.edu%2FPublicationPDFs%2F356_LeyCell06.pdf&ei=4ZWeRbuxHYHAggO52KTYCw&usg=__pJIvW1eOsNlBjQa_LOZzeudnvKY=&sig2=tDjUl6jZW35xob_4YsK0dA)
 

Re: Gut bacteria selection and effects on human physiology
Date: 01/05/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks, Alex! There's also an excellent overview of gut microflora in the 25 Mar 2005 issue of SCIENCE--"Inner Tube of Life." The importance of commensal and symbiotic microorganisms to space health is already being recognized, and new research on the space travel implications could also jump-start medical research on Earth. Probiotic therapy is already on the supermarket shelves! But it's not very sophisticated, not yet.(And take a look at my older essay on this site, "Biospace 21," if you haven't already...)

Eternity: alternate evolutionary branch?

Date: 01/02/2007 From: David Markwick
Location: United Kingdom

Greg, while re-reading Eternity at the moment I'm reminded of something I thought when I first read the book, that the physical description of the Jart was not a million miles away from an illustration I saw once of a branch of evolution that never made it to present times. It too had several pairs of straight legs with a head and an upturned tail (as I remember it), and I guess with a couple of millions of years of evolution could eventually grow into something similar to your description.

Did you resurrect this lost evolutionary branch or was the Jart conceived as totally alien? Or, as I might suspect ;) does it not really make too much difference? :)
 

Re: Eternity: alternate evolutionary branch?
Date: 01/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

I did indeed borrow the Jart's anatomy from the first Conway interpretation of a Cambrian explosion denizen called Hallucigenia sparsa. Since that time, many more specimens have been found, and Conway and others have re-shaped their interpretation, turning it upside down, making it a spiky worm rather than a strange creature marching around on spikes! So the Jarts are now COMPLETELY alien, unlike anything of this Earth.
 

Re: Eternity: alternate evolutionary branch?
Date: 01/03/2007
From: David Markwick
Location: United Kingdom

Ah, OK cool :)

Googling "Hallucigenia sparsa" brings up 2 pages of sites, probably the most informative (for a non-scientist) is the Wikipaedia (sp) site. It tells me that although the worm is now as you say generally regarded as having protective spikes rather than pointed legs, as the tentacle-like legs are not paired there is some argument still.

So, did you originally envision the Jarts as being from an alternate Earth? One quite far removed from our own? It'd be quite fascinating thinking about how totally separate branches of evolutionary probability could face off against each other, perhaps even affecting each other quite substantially. Boggling.
 

Re: Eternity: alternate evolutionary branch?
Date: 01/03/2007
From: Greg Bear

Jart design was made as a kind of coded reference to the Burgess shale--and an expression of outlandish evolution, as then conceived. They probably never had any real connection with Earth. But finding something like them out there--as Stephen Jay Gould might point out--is no more unlikely than finding something like us!
 

Re: Eternity: alternate evolutionary branch?
Date: 01/04/2007
From: Greg Bear

I did indeed borrow the Jart's anatomy from the first Conway Morris interpretation of a Cambrian explosion denizen called Hallucigenia sparsa. Since that time, many more specimens have been found, and Conway and others have re-shaped their interpretation, turning it upside down, making it a spiky worm rather than a strange creature marching around on spikes! So the Jarts are now COMPLETELY alien, unlike anything of this Earth.

 

Re: Eternity: alternate evolutionary branch?
Date: 06/09/2007
From: Wayne Quernemoen
Location: Minnesota

I am looking for a list of all books in the EON series. I have read EON (some time ago) and have both "Legacy", which is listed on the cover as a prequel to EON, and "Eternity", which I saw listed somewhere as a sequel to EON. Can anyone give me the total list of books written by Greg Bear in the EON series?

I am in the process of reading "Parallel Worlds" by Michio Kaku, and am intrigued by the links between Greg Bear's work in EON and Michio Kaku's discussion of M-theory. I wonder if Greg plans to add to the EON story line?
 

Re: Eternity: alternate evolutionary branch?
Date: 06/12/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Wayne! The historical sequence would be: "The Wind From a Burning Woman," published in my story collection from Tor Books, then LEGACY, then "The Way of All Ghosts"--also in the story collection, and also in my collection SLEEPSIDE--and then EON, and finally, ETERNITY. No other books in the sequence for the time being! Though I will be dipping more into parallel worlds of a sort in CITY AT THE END OF TIME.

Deadlines, Tesla, HAARP

Date: 01/02/2007 From: patrick
Location:

And on that note of DEADLINES, and slightly on the behavioural side of VITALS, I saw this video, today, on HAARP - an electro-magnetic transceiving device in operation for some years, now - that one authority in the video says , in its range of harmonic function, is potentially capable of influencing emotional content in humans.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8480695893132260230&sourceid=docidfeed&hl=en

QUANTICO - a little disappointed

Date: 01/01/2007 From: andy Carlo
Location: Devon, UK

HI Mr Bear,

I've been a great fan of your work since "Songs of Power", and have loved the threads of hard bleeding-edge bio-tech from Blood Music etc. and the epic worlds in EON. But, having just started QUANTICO (upto the first hundred pages so far), I'm a little disappointed. I seem to have wondered into a Tom Clancy NetForce book, which I enjoy as a diversion but not what I expected from you.

The grander vision seems, to me, to be turned down a notch. And the basic science core has been covered before.

With the promise (hint?) of a return to EON I am sure you will continue to amaze and gather a huge audience. But now you have covered some basic Best Seller list material in DEAD LINES and QUANTICO, please stick to your own path.
 

Re: QUANTICO - a little disappointed
Date: 01/01/2007
From: Greg Bear

Thanks for writing, Andy! It's a common request from many readers--what we want to read is like what you've written well before. I definitely understand. But after the success of DARWIN'S RADIO, it's apparent not everyone feels that way--and no good writer does the same thing over and over. None of my favorite writers do. We'd get awfully stale.

So stick with me, let me know what you think when you finish QUANTICO--there's plenty of fresh food for serious thought therein, enough to scare, concern (and entertain) a few scientists and government employees I know--and be mindful that I'm now living a few hours each day a hundred trillion years in the future--working on a novel that, nevertheless, promises to bear little resemblance to anything I've written before...
 

Re: QUANTICO - a little disappointed
Date: 01/02/2007
From: patrick
Location:

I don't read 'horror' or 'fantasy'. Into DEADLINES, I was a little skeptical. Yet, that it could, at least vaguely, be construed in a quantum physical context assauged me. But this is my own gig - not at all a reflection of the quality of a book. As has been discussed at Dan Simmons' forum a bit: a story boils down to the craft in the writing. It appears many, if they know of, forget this.
 

Re: QUANTICO - a little disappointed
Date: 01/02/2007
From: Greg Bear

Like Dan, I enjoy the freedom of switching topics now and then--keeps us both limber!