Discussion Board Archives: January-June, 2005

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FORGE OF GOD FILM?
Posted By: Simon Whitaker, Melbourne, Australia - 06/30/2005 12:53:23 AM

I just started reading The Forge of God, and was thrilled to learn of a movie in the works. Is there any news on that front or has it stalled? Will Speilberg's War of the Worlds restore intrest in a Forge of God movie? I hope so!

Simon
www.sf-books.com

Response: Forge of God Film?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/30/2005 11:26:09 AM

Still under way. Spielberg's WAR OF THE WORLDS is getting great reviews and I'm looking forward to seeing it. Sounds like a brilliantly creepy modern version of the Wells novel--with an open-ended invasion from who knows where. And if that sounds a bit like FORGE OF GOD... What goes around, comes around! The screenplay for THE FORGE OF GOD currently incorporates ANVIL OF STARS, which makes our movie very different. So here's wishing Spielberg and Co. a huge box office take!

MORE FOUNDATION NOVELS?
Posted By: Sean B, Madison Wisconsin - 06/27/2005 12:34:18 PM

I just finished the second Foundation trilogy and wanted to congratulate you on, in my opinion, your novel in the series being the best out of the three....my question is this: Do you know if Asimov's estate plans to get any authors to write the next few books in the Foundation series? It always seemed to me that in his story, at the end, once the galaxy spanning human organism is complete, he seemed to imply that there was a threat from other galaxies near ours that would have to be dealt with....would you consider writing another novel in the foundation series if the opportunity presented itself?

Response: More foundation novels?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/27/2005 02:44:36 PM

I'm not sure what the Asimov estate has in the works, but I'm too backed up writing my own novels to participate in a new series, unfortunately. It was a lot of fun and a privilege to do FOUNDATION AND CHAOS, and it wouldn't have happened without the other B's, of course.

Response: More foundation novels?
Posted By: patrick - 06/28/2005 02:59:52 PM

....okay....i love greg, i do....but, it was benford's foundation's fear that laid the 'foundation' for the second trilogy. and, really, it was the only decent one. part of it was the repeated flash-backing or whatever on previous events, including those in FF, that really gummed things up. but brin aint the man he used to be, and i dont think this series, as set by benford, was really your gig, greg.

sorry for the mud, but its honest mud.

Response: More foundation novels?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/28/2005 04:41:16 PM

Reader's opinions are all over the map on this series! Makes me think all three books (each somebody's favorite) showed the authors at the tops of their form... and Isaac, as well, of course.

Response: More foundation novels?
Posted By: Sean B, Madison Wisconsin - 06/28/2005 06:39:14 PM

I think that one thing that puts off some readers about this second foundation series is the inclusion of elements of science fact/speculation that just didn't exist in the 50's when Asimov was writing the first three books. Personally, I've very much enjoyed reading all of the Foundation novels and watching our own current science and social evolution mirrored back. I always smile when I think about how it seemed in the first books "Atomics" were the apex of modern tech. We've made a frighteningly huge amount of progress - in so many ways - over the last 60 years that I think it's sometimes quite enlightening to go back and read that evolution in the fiction of the day.

Response: More foundation novels?
Posted By: patrick - 06/29/2005 12:22:57 PM

>I think that one thing that puts off some readers about this second foundation series is the inclusion of elements of science fact/speculation that just didn't exist in the 50's when Asimov was writing the first three books.<

well, there does seem to be a certain fuddy-duddyness in circumstances like this. i'm always a little skeptical of such reconceptualisations, only because i'm wondering if theyll be able to make everything, including the small stuff, correlate.

what i prefer is stories that are after the original - vs in-between, etc - an example, i forgot initally, being donald kingsbury's psychohistorical crisis (originally a novellete, then expanded into a novel), which takes place quite a bit after foundation and earth, with a twist.

I'VE NEVER WRITTEN TO AN AUTHOR
Posted By: Mark Hermundson, Milwaukee, WIs - 06/27/2005 09:03:53 AM

Mr. Bear, I am in complete awe. Stunned might serve, really. My sister turned me on to Darwins' Radio and Children and I was very impressed. Then I read EON and adored it! But now....I just finished Blood Music and feel, well....infected. Until today, I thought Gene Wolfe had no rival as master of thought provoking Sci Fi (that being far removed from "feel good entertainment"), but you have surpassed him and I don't think he'd begrudge my leap to your bandwagon. Thank you so much, sir!!!!!! I pray that God shares your optimism and faith in us as a species and I sincerely hope this finds you and yours prospering.
BRAVO!!!

Mark Hermundson
Milwaukee, Wis
6-27-2005

Response: I've never written to an author
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/27/2005 11:18:37 AM

Many thanks, Mark! People aren't going to believe that I don't write these letters myself... But let me add that I'm in awe of Gene Wolfe. Not that we finger our six-guns as we stand in the same room together! Gene does some things well that I'll never be able to do, and that's as it should be.

OPINION SEEKING!
Posted By: Steven Calvert, UK - 06/25/2005 05:37:43 PM

Just trying to get some informed opinion on Mark McCutcheon's Final Theory - the expanding electron model of the universe. Loved the simplicity and boldness of the concept - surprised by the lack of any formal critiques online. Too many reputations at stake? Or a crank theory? Love your work - more of the same please!

Response: Opinion seeking!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/26/2005 01:58:04 PM

I haven't had time to dig into this yet. Any reader opinions?

Response: Opinion seeking!
Posted By: patrick - 06/27/2005 02:12:46 PM

i couldnt find a whole lot actually 'on' it. wikipedia has a page with something, but, interestingly, when i looked, it was down for software upgrade. you can check out this email discussion (http://homepage.mac.com/ruske/ruske/finaltheory.html)someone had with him....which, frankly, makes me wonder a bit about mccutcheon.

DEAD LINES
Posted By: Brett Clifton, Canberra, Australia - 06/21/2005 09:37:31 PM

Greg, Dead Lines was a great read and it will make a brilliant movie. I found it very easy to visualise the special effects you describe in the book. Add a spooky music score and you'll have the most talked-about horror story of the decade. Has anyone bought the rights yet?

Thank you for being blessed with an imagination that can transcend genres (as well as dimensions) and never ever disappoints!

Where will you take us next?

In anticipation...

...Brett

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/22/2005 10:13:26 AM

Thanks, Brett. DEAD LINES is still available... Are there any more fabulous southern hemisphere film makers with a taste for horror?

Response: Dead Lines movie
Posted By: Robbie, OlyWa - 06/23/2005 04:21:40 PM

Why do books always have to become movies? Why can't they stand on their own as brilliant works of literature?

A few of your novels, Mr. Bear, are among the most astonishing things I've ever read. Queen of Angels, Blood Music, Moving Mars, Hardfought...they're all amazing. But I never want to see them turned into movies. I wish there was some writer out there who could say no when producers want to adapt his work. What's the attraction, the thrill of seeing your characters on a screen speaking your dialogue, or the money you would get from it?

I'm a young wannabe writer myself, and I don't want to see my chosen career defunct before I get published!

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/23/2005 10:40:18 PM

Sentiments and concerns we all share, Robbie. But as Raymond Chandler said: the books remain. They aren't changed when a movie comes out, and a movie can attract ever so many more readers! Besides, I love films--they're a different critter from books. Adaptations aren't so much a necessary (or unnecessary evil) as a broader and briefer interpretation, painted in swift, bright colors for a huge audience. An art form in themselves--and of course, sometimes they fail!

DEAD LINES
Posted By: H. Clayton Gaskins, NC - 06/21/2005 06:19:54 PM

I've just finished your work entitled "Dead Lines."
As usual, you've done an expert job. I didn't find it too scary, although it put me in a dark mood for a while. I was suspensful and ominous with a rangible realism that only comes from you. Kudos!

Question; I've never seen any info on your educational background. I find that curious. What is it? or is it none of my business? I just want to know if a guy like me stands a chance in writing. May you continue to dazzle ua with your mental portraits of the fanciful.

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/21/2005 06:57:32 PM

Thanks! Not too scary, hm? You must have a solid titanium spook shield. My educational background is no secret--an AB degree in English with a science minor from San Diego State College. Anyone can write--just so long as you DO WRITE!

SCI-FI DISCUSSION ON PUBLIC RADIO
Posted By: Laura Fenster, Chicago, IL - 06/20/2005 12:56:15 PM

On June 3, Odyssey, a program on our local NPR station (WBEZ), had a discussion on Science Fiction and Literature (i.e. literature that's usually thought of as more respectable.) Your name (and your work - especially Darwin's Radio) figured prominently in the discussion, so both you and your fans might be interested in listening to it on the internet. The archived version is at

http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/audio_library/od_rajun05.asp#03

Response: sci-fi discussion on public radio
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/20/2005 01:07:55 PM

Thanks, Laura! Readers please note: this file is only available in RealAudio .RAM format.

SO MUCH FOR A SUBGENRE
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Sorrento (Enzyme) Valley, California - 06/20/2005 10:17:40 AM

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4097258.stm

No going back and messing with the time line. Not allowed. Kinda the 12 monkeys version of time travel...

Response: So much for a subgenre
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/20/2005 11:32:31 AM

I've skimmed the piece and find it a little iffy. Haven't read the actual paper quoted, however--which sounds like fun stuff for a science fiction story, but hardly definitive. We have so little info on what's really going on in space and time that a thousand years from now, our current efforts will seem brave and naive in the extreme! So keep those time machines humming...

Response: So much for a subgenre
Posted By: patrick - 06/21/2005 12:58:33 PM

given how things change, both in theory and experiment, in very short time, it seems quite likely there will be many new re-conceptualisations of time and such in the next few decades. i'm sure we'll all stay tuned as ever.

and as the technological apparatus seems far away from a 'classical' demonstration, it would seem prudent to further keep one's hat on.

GUNSHOTS
Posted By: Ron Nash - 06/18/2005 02:57:51 PM

There I was, disbelief happily suspended reading VITALS: Ben Bridger gets home from a nasty stay in the local jail to discover his house ransacked. To his amazement, he finds a Smith&Wesson thirty ought six sitting atop a pile of his favorite books.
I was amazed as well as there is no such critter. S&W makes handguns.
The "thirty ought six" cartridge is for a rifle. Not a big thing, perhaps. But it jerked me out of a fun read and plopped me back into my recliner with a sci-fi book in my lap.

The Devil is in the details.

Response: gunshots
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/20/2005 11:27:53 AM

Hello, Ron! You're obviously reading the hardback edition of VITALS. So many letters came in regarding this (you're number 1015.2) that I corrected it in the paperback and decided hereafter that I would check everything regarding guns against the copious materials available on the Web. (I DO own a Smith and Wesson thirty ought six handgun--bought it on the Alternate Histories Website...)

Now... did you catch the OTHER flubs?

PARASITIC HUNGER
Posted By: Brad Barnett, Ottawa, Ontario - 06/17/2005 08:18:17 PM

Dangerrrr: cats could alter your personality:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8122-826557_1,00.html

It's old news, but along the same lines as some of your books.

I'm just wondering if the recent upswing in obesity, could be as a result of a bacteria in our gut, that somehow triggers a hunger response.

After all, the more food that passes through your gut on a daily basis, the more food that may be available for critters to enjoy. Therefore, a bacterium that stimulates a hunger response, may become more prolific, spread farther, etc.

There may be more advantages as well, such as more frequent train rides exiting the body. ;)

Now sure, people will claim that a more sedentary lifestyle, advertising, larger portions in restaurants are the reasons behind the growing waistband. What if these are the symptoms, and not the cause though? What if our will could actually be stronger, except that a constant hunger response was pounding away at it?

Anyhow, "food" for thought. :D


Response: parasitic hunger
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/18/2005 11:23:21 AM

And well worth digesting at leisure! Thanks, Brad. I've heard from other sources that toxoplasmosis is more often transmitted from undercooked meat--say, pork--than cats. But this study seems intriguing!

SOMETHING I'VE BEEN MEANING TO ASK FOR ALMOST 2 DECADES
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Sorrento (Enzyme) Valley - 06/15/2005 02:44:12 PM

A copy of Brian Aldiss's GALAXIES LIKE GRAINS OF SAND recently surfaced in my Library, as part of a "review" of Stapledonian Mythos (Galactic Times scales of civilizations). Flipping thru this slim paper back I came to the story Gene-Hive, which I have not read since Carter was in the White House. It's deals with the accidental trigger of self-aware cells, but more thru "psychic" and linguistic methods (the common language of the galaxy at the time being a trigger for it).
So I was wondering, have been wondering how much influence, inspiration this had on Blood Music? Aldiss also here did a very Stapledonian thing: Came up with a neat Idea, tossed it off in a couple of pages...pages that other writers would have expanded into full novels..

Response: Something I've been meaning to ask for almost 2 decades
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/15/2005 03:15:26 PM

Haven't read this Aldiss collection in some time. I'll take a look and see if "Gene Hive" rings a bell. I'd be more prone to credit Taine's SEED OF LIFE, Sturgeon's "Macrocosmic God" and Blish's "Surface Tension," myself--and perhaps a wish to contradict a thesis promoted by Dr. Asimov in a TV GUIDE article, that an intelligent being could not be smaller than a mouse... Apropos of LAND OF THE GIANTS, as I recall.

DARWIN'S RADIO - CAT NAMES
Posted By: Nissan Cohen - 06/09/2005 12:18:18 PM

Greg,
I was pleasantly suprised by the cat names in Darwin's Radio. "Crickson" is an obvious homage to Francis Crick and James Watson. But I was surprised and elated by the second cat's name of "Temin". I studies genetics and agriculture at the University of Wisconsin in the late 60s and early 70's. Howard Temin was one of my professors, before he received his Nobel Prize. I was intrigued by your choice of honoring Howard. I doubt there are many people outside of the genetics research community familiar with Howard Temin's name or his work. I applaud your homage.

Response: Darwin's Radio - Cat Names
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/09/2005 12:34:40 PM

Good to hear from you, Nissan! Howard Temin is one of the truly visionary pioneers in retrovirology, of course. I've had a problem locating some of his earlier papers--can you make any recommendations?

GROUP-SCALE MINDS/ DARWIN'S RADIO
Posted By: Mark Earls, Milton Keynes, UK - 06/08/2005 05:41:30 AM

Greg,

First, the obligatory praise: I've been a fan for decades, and just started re-reading with the "Darwin's Radio" sequence. Amazing, simply amazing that the characterization is still the best thing in so high-concept a piece of science fiction. Thank you.

Now, the meat: I am currently awaiting the go ahead on my PhD proposal in the philosophy of mind. To my sheer joy, I find that the "Darwin's Radio" novels involve a good deal of the subject matter I have proposed writing on, namely consciousness as the interface between physical reality and social reality. The surprise, for me at least, is that the more I research the more I come to realise that consciousness is not necessarily instantiated solely within the brains of individual living creatures. Nor are our minds necessarily just supporting a single consciousness at any given time.

Imagine how it feels to read a novel which uses the group mind element of my own emerging concept- and improves on it! As ever, science fiction is the fiction best suited to the philosopher.

Frankly, I cannot thank you enough.

-Mark E.

Response: Group-scale minds/ Darwin's Radio
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/08/2005 11:33:46 AM

My consciousness is expanded just hearing about your proposal! Thanks, Mark. A number of us SF writers have been very impressed over the years by Julian Jaynes' ORIGIN OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE BREAKDOWN OF THE BICAMERAL MIND, which I'm sure you're familiar with. Even before reading this fine work, however, I was youthfully exploring similar ideas in writings that eventually coalesced to become QUEEN OF ANGELS and SLANT.

I look forward to learning more about your research!

WHAT'S NEXT?
Posted By: Richard, Glendale, CA - 06/05/2005 04:47:11 PM

Hey Greg, any works in progress that we can look forward to? I remember a while back you mentioned a far-future novel? I really enjoyed "Judgment Engine", (and of course "Hard Fought").

"Deadlines" was great fun,living in Cal. and being able to appreciate all the local references does add something. By the way, I have spent some time in Thailand, and a significant portion of the population there firmly believes in the existence of ghosts. (I could tell you a few interesting anecdotes about that, not that I actually ever saw any, myself!)

While we're waiting for your next, any recommendations? The last time I asked, you mentioned "Speed of Dark". What a treasure! Would be a great book for high school English classes to study, don't you think?

Response: What's next?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/05/2005 08:26:58 PM

Thanks, Richard! Glendale is a thoroughly haunted place too, no? I'm re-reading A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ now--a terrific book. If I were to start listing new books this season, I'd fill the pages here and take all evening! QUANTICO is undergoing revisions now and should be out early next year. The far-future novel is still in planning stages. It's great fun to think about.

Response: What's next?
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 09/30/2005 01:30:07 PM

Once more Greg,

Your response to this thread is where I mistakenly assumed that QUANTICO was the far-future novel. I knew that I had read it somewhere but, alas, my error was in not realizing that you are referring to two different projects. Now I have another wait to look forward to. (Not to put down QUANTICO in any way - it's just that anticipating a far-future work from you has me quite excited.)

"...ridiculously far future." Hmmm. Now that REALLY has me speculating...

Jimmy

Response: What's next?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/30/2005 02:26:43 PM

How does a hundred trillion years sound...?

Response: What's next?
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 09/30/2005 02:51:17 PM

:-0

J

I'M STILL NOT KISSING ANYONE WITH A COLD SORE
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Sorrento (Enzyme) Valley, California - 06/03/2005 11:54:54 AM

Interesting use of Herpes Virus in Pain Relief:

http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050531/full/050531-11.html

Deactived Virus though...?!??!

BELL'S INEQUALITY AND THE BELL CONTINUUM IN "MOVING MARS"
Posted By: Chris Engel, Toronto - 06/01/2005 05:36:43 PM

Hello Greg - I was re-reading one of your books, "Moving Mars". I was (still am) intrigued by the concept of the Bell continium and looked up some info on the Internet. There was an article that I ran across on wikipedia, with this URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_inequality

Would this article be getting to the basics of the idea here with the use of the Bell continuum in Moving Mars?


Response: Bell's Inequality and the Bell continuum in "Moving Mars"
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/01/2005 05:49:12 PM

Thanks, Chris. There's still a small group exploring these possibilities--but until we get over this string theory and dark matter confusion, I doubt we'll see much progress! (I'm joking... I think.)

DEAD LINES
Posted By: MIke Rampling, Málaga, Spain - 06/01/2005 05:11:05 PM

Hi Greg,
I have been a fan of yours for some years, since I first read Blood Music and then Eon - both quite stupendous reads that I have revisited more than once. I was a huge SF fan in my youth - I once bunked off school to see "2001 - A Space Odyssey" when it was first released - and I grew up with the greats of the past - Heinlein, Clarke, Simak, Niven et al. Until Eon my favourite was Tiger, Tiger by Alfred Bester. I have read Poul Andersen and am delighted to see the family relationship - he must have inspired you, no? I had many years when I didn't read too much - in the 70s it seemed suddenly to all be about dragons, which left me a bit cold - and then family and work got in the way. But since Eon I have read 8 or 10 of your books, and today read Dead Lines in one sitting. Quite a change from before! A great ghost story from a great SF writer is something else!!
I read The Forge Of God a couple of months ago, and thought at first it was a bit like a few of the standard SF novels I'd read decades ago (aliens visit Earth with predictions of doom, etc etc), but I should have known better! What an ending! I don't think I've ever read a better "end of the world" story.
I hugely enjoyed the Darwin's books, not least because until then I'd not been too interested in biology or genetics, but something in Mitch connected, and the science is (to this uneducated mind) quite convincing - evolution has to work something like this, doesn't it? Blind biological "leaps in the dark" are all very well, but what prompts them? And what mechanism forces them to happen? It seems to me that you (and others, admittedly..) may be on the right lines to solving the riddle.
I've always been interested in science, and I used to follow SF avidly (but not the pulp fiction..). Thanks for re-awakening an interest in "speculative" fiction. I'm really looking forward to the next book, and to the upcoming movies.
Best regards - keep it up!!

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/01/2005 05:46:47 PM

Thanks, Mike! I was indeed inspired by Poul--both before and after becoming his son-in-law. Sounds to me like you should book a flight from Malaga to Seattle soon and come visit the Science Fiction Museum, www.sfhomeworld.org

It's been thirty years or so since I visited Malaga--lovely old city! How's the Semana Santa parade nowadays?

LONG TIME FAN
Posted By: Alnitak, FL, USA - 05/28/2005 09:10:07 PM

Dear Greg:

I have been a long time fan of yours and read several of your novels: "Eon, Forge of God, Eternity, Anvil of Stars, Legacy, Darwin's Radio, Darwin's Children, Vitals and Strength of Stones". Looks like I had missed a few. You are one of my favorite autors, and I want to thank you for the hours of entertainment, as well as the speculations that your awesome novels provided.
The Darwin series is especially thought provoking because we're living in an age where anything could happen with all the pollution, population explosion and rapidly advancing bio technology. Will there be another book?
I am also an aspiring writer with two finished novels, science fiction, of course. One of them was accepted by a publisher this month. Not one of the big ones. I am currently working on the second book in that series. Also on one other, which is unrelated. That one is a conspiracy theme and viruses are used as weapons. I have a website now with links to my writings. www.alnitak-z-orionis.com
I will seach out your other novels and read them.

Thanks again for all the wonderful stories.
Alnitak

Response: Long time fan
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/30/2005 11:55:35 AM

Congratulations on getting your first novel in print! And thanks for following me through all these peregrinations. At the moment, I don't have a third DARWIN novel under contract--but there is definitely one waiting to be written, at some point, after a few more ideas gel.

COVER ART WORK
Posted By: patrick, saint john , new brunswick ,, canada - 05/26/2005 08:43:21 PM

hello, iam Patrick Byers , a freelance artist.., please could you look at my work here and consider me for a future project ..

http://www.101industries.ca

please let me know what you think

thank you for your time..
Patrick Byers

Response: cover art work
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/27/2005 10:18:48 AM

Fascinating portfolio, Patrick! Looking forward to seeing more, and the books as well.

THE Y CHROMOSOME ISSUE
Posted By: E. Walter, Pennsylvania - 05/25/2005 10:36:47 PM

Hi Greg,
Our high-shcool groups just read Darwin's Radio. We have a question that you may have answered a million times already, so sorry if you did. The SHEVA virus causes a first pregnancy that is female. One of this female's eggs are taken to create the new, evolved species without a new sperm. So the question is, how are any new males produced as indicated in the end of the book? We had a grand time trying to think up plasible ways for the two-X egg to get turned into an XY. Some of the kids had the virus storing the male Y chromosome from the onset, but we think there must be a better explanation . Thanks.
E. Walter

Response: the Y chromosome issue
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/26/2005 10:18:49 AM

Excellent question! Best theory I can come up with, the interim daughter is not truly female. It is best thought of as a specialized organ that allows and encourages the genetic reshuffling caused by the SHEVA virus. Thus the virus does not affect all the mother's eggs.

The Y chromosome would be passed along if the original sex was male. The virus itself would be much too small to carry a Y chromosome.

Sounds like a great class! Now--set them the task of proving this theory wrong!

THE BIOLOGY OF VAMPIRES
Posted By: Patrick Hall, Maryland, USA - 05/24/2005 06:17:07 AM

Hi Greg,

I'm a big fan. I don't know if you happen to be a reader of boingboing.com, but there was a recent link there to something I think you might get a kick out of:

http://www.rifters.com/real/progress.htm

It's a satire of a big pharma Powerpoint-style presentation on the biology of vampires. Clearly a lot of work went into it, right down to some biology that seems straight out of Darwin's Radio. (Which happens to be my favorite book of yours!)

Thought I'd send the link your way.

Cheers,
Patrick Hall

Response: The Biology of Vampires
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/24/2005 10:42:35 AM

Thanks, Patrick. This is a brilliant and painfully funny piece--emphasis on painful! Highly recommended.

ANOTHER JART QUERY
Posted By: John Holtom, Luton, UK - 05/23/2005 06:34:28 AM

Dear Greg

I have just started Legacy. Olmy has arrived in Lamarckia through the gate created by the bad tempered babbling gate opener (whose name I can't remember at this moment - sorry the book is not with me at work!)which is within 30 minutes of Jart territory within the Way.

I remember from Eternity that the Jarts found a way into the Earth (the alternate Earth) that Patricia Vasquez had fallen into through a geometry stack. If I remember rightly they found the gate because it was opened from the earth side. Or was it?

As the Jarts have gate opening capability, could and would they not follow Olmy into Larmarckia through the accesses left by the gate opener?

Thank you for your tremendous inventiveness, as ever!!

Regards

John Holtom


Response: Another Jart query
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/23/2005 08:23:04 PM

Interesting thought! Since their gate openers may not be as precise as ours, however, it's possible they'd miss their mark by a million kilometers... or years. Or universes! As you say, gate openers have to have a touch of madness about them.

TRANSLATION
Posted By: Eleonora, Italy - 05/23/2005 04:20:02 AM

Hi,
I work for an Italian publisher (Fanucci editore) and I had the honour of translating your "Darwin's Children". I loved it! Really!
Just wanted to let you know that last May it has been published in Italy.
Best
Eleonora Lacorte

Response: translation
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/23/2005 08:21:14 PM

Thank you, Eleanora! It's a pleasure to hear from you. The Italian editions have been quite lovely. I hope it's doing well!

LITVIDS/EXISTENZ
Posted By: chris Danvers, Australia - 05/22/2005 11:35:06 PM

Just wondering if your've seen the movie "ExisTenZ" by David Cronenburg? ... its about a futristic game where people port into it, then exist matrix style inside the game but they move through a storyline, with the human characters playing roles... it reminded me of the litvid games from your future earth series in particular the litvids in moving mars... do you know whether you were an influence for this movie or had you seen these ideas before?...

Thanks for you time,
read you soon..
chris

Response: Litvids/ExisTenZ
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/23/2005 08:20:09 PM

I liked ExisTenZ, along with The Matrix and Thirteenth level--three films that came out very close together and pretty much ruled the VR (virtual reality) spectrum. I suspect William Gibson was more of an influence in all these films than I was, but I've greatly enjoyed Cronenberg's work. If he ever wants to take a crack at Blood Music, well...

STRENGTH OF STONES
Posted By: Collin Thompson, Florida - 05/22/2005 03:21:51 PM

Any possible sequels or spinoffs from SoS? I very much enjoyed the entire concept behind this book and the writing was of course masterful

Response: Strength of Stones
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/23/2005 08:16:06 PM

Thanks, Collin! SoS stand alone, I'm afraid--but still seems rather timely, all things considered.

NEW BOARD GAME FOR DNA
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Sorrento (Enzyme) Valley - 05/17/2005 02:58:46 PM

Just posted to news@nature.com:

http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050516/full/050516-3.html

If you ever do a second edition of BLOOD MUSIC Virgil should one of these in his La Jolla Apartment...while that was written in the '80s isn't it set in the mid '90s or mid 00s?

MG

ps: currenting doing a network gig at a firm that does medical robotics

Response: New Board Game for DNA
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/17/2005 04:39:39 PM

Do not pass initiation site, do not collect two hundred transcription factors... Go straight to heterochromatin!


Response: New Board Game for DNA
Posted By: patrick - 05/18/2005 11:21:42 AM

na. blood music seemed to me to be written current period, with respect to publication.

Response: New Board Game for DNA
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/18/2005 11:31:01 AM

Maybe ten years down the road, from the 1984-85 perspective. Almost current!

EON SERIES
Posted By: Halkat44, Vancouver BC Canada - 05/16/2005 01:55:20 PM

Hi Greg

Just wondering if Eon and Eternity are the only two books in this series?Someone told me there was a prequel written but she thought it was ashort story.....Thanks

Response: EON Series
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/16/2005 06:45:52 PM

Hello, Halkat44! Or may I call you 44? LEGACY is a prequel to EON, and there's a short novel called "The Way of All Ghosts" that follows on from LEGACY. These both follow the earlier adventures of Olmy, before EON.

Response: EON Series
Posted By: patrick - 05/18/2005 11:06:29 AM

yes, check out the Way Of All Ghosts....fabulously trippy.

TWEAKS MAY EXIST ALREADY
Posted By: Lewis Bannon, Western Australia - 05/04/2005 08:26:35 PM

[quote]Response: bad medicine
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/30/2005 01:25:19 PM

Agreed, for the most part--but being human, the New Kids are definitely going to discover new ways to screw up!
[/quote]

Hmm I smell a sequel in the works. Believe me I'm waiting with avid breath.

More to the point a friend emailed me a link to a very interesting little article: http://educate-yourself.org/dc/gwentowersbybyronweeks.shtml . If you dig your way through the conspiracy theory stuff (pretty dull in my opinion) the final little article on James Maxwell proved most interesting. It sounds rather amusingly familiar to the tweak theory that was explored most notably (at least in my opinion) in Moving Mars.

It looks like someone may very well have found the quantumn manipulation theory already. Now all we need to do cool some matter to 0 degrees Kelvin and start having some fun.Unfortunately it also seems that Hertz, Gibbs and Heaviside ruined the equations for us, so it may very well take us another two hundred years to produce another mathematical genius that "rediscovers" what we've lost. I'm not sure about the reliability of the site, but still an amusing read that I thought you might like.

Lewis Bannon

Response: Tweaks may exist already
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/05/2005 10:48:31 AM

Thanks, Lewis! I haven't looked at this site yet, but will let the readers decide... Conspiracies aside, of course.

Response: Tweaks may exist already
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 05/05/2005 02:27:56 PM

there is a curious multi-vectoral juxtaposition between power accumulation/regulation in human nature and history (from whichever source), scientific inquiry, the not-quite-substantiated claims of various conspiracy-ists and the claims of devices built, demonstrating the function of said claims*, and one's inherent intuition that things are not exactly as they seem.

basically, yeah, things seem kinda fishy - but how big is the catch?

*tesla is another example of this phenomenon, of which various literature claims he built his own devices, which supposedly functioned.

Response: Tweaks may exist already
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/05/2005 02:57:56 PM

Cold fusion and the Dean Drive also populate this list--along with an incredible number of perpetual motion machines. Even engineers can deceive themselves--or get caught up in statistics that are really little more than bumps in the noise level.

SONGS OF EARTH AND POWER IS THE EDITOR'S PICK FOR MAY @ WWW.SFF.TIGERHERON.COM
Posted By: Tony Freixas, Portland, OR, USA - 04/30/2005 10:59:15 PM

Greg,

I run a web site at www.sff.tigerheron.com which provides reading recommendations each month to science fiction and fantasy readers. I wanted to let you know that your book, Songs of Earth and Power (remember that one?) is one of the May Editor?s Picks for science fiction.

You can view my mini-review at http://www.sff.tigerheron.com/editors-fantasy-picks.php. Thanks for providing us with this wonderful book.

Response: Songs of Earth and Power is the Editor's Pick for May @ www.sff.tigerheron.com
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/01/2005 01:32:19 PM

Thanks for your review, Tony!

FROM VIROLOGIST TO A BIG WRITTER
Posted By: Juan Carlos Gallego-Gómez, Universitary Research Center, Medellín - Colombia - 04/30/2005 09:03:51 PM

Dear Greg

I´ve got a undergraduated in genetics and I´ve recently a PhD involving cell and molecular biology using viruses as a model for studying the intimate relationship between virus and host cells.

When I was starting my research career I have read your book Blood music... it was a great experience. I only writte you for give you the thanks for your excellent narrative. Actually, I haven't opportunity to read your books, but you can sure, in next years I will read all of your wonderful stories!

Now in my research (I am an almost prestigious scientist in my country), I am interested about the use of viral vectors for use in gene therapy. Really, I love genetic engeneering, but I know the existence of a lot of concerns about bioethic and social consequences of this works. Therefore your literature will be very important in this issue, because the normal people can understand better a good storie (like a Darwin's Childrens!) than a boring scientific report from scientist...

Bye, bye and I am wainting news of you


Juan Carlos Gallego-Gómez. B.Sc., Ph.D.

jgallego@virologia.udea.edu.co
Laboratory of Immunovirology.
Universitary Research Center
Calle 62 # 52-59, torre 2, Piso 5°, Laboratorio 532.
Tel: 57 4 + 210 64 85/80. Fax: 57 4 + 210 64 81/ 510 60 47
SIU

Response: From virologist to a big writter
Posted By: Greg Bear - 05/01/2005 01:37:14 PM

Thanks for your kind words, Juan! I've long suspected that viruses play a role in much more than just disease, and that's being demonstrated now in hundreds of papers. A recent visit to NCI/SAIC in Frederick, MD. (http://web.ncifcrf.gov/ThePoster/Mar05_POSTER.pdf, page 25) confirmed my suspicions of a decade or so ago that we would find many, many "silent" viruses and retroviruses in our environment and in our bodies. Now to discover what impact they have, and what roles they play... So please keep me informed of your own discoveries!

RE: DINOSAUR SUMMER RESPONSE
Posted By: Tony Ford, Phoenix, AZ, USA - 04/30/2005 02:33:12 PM

Hello again:

Thanks very much for your fast response to my note on your book. I will say that I'm going to re-read The Lost World after many years as a result! And I do appreciate the note on the upcoming biography of Merian Cooper.

We are about the same era (I was born in 1953) and it sounds as though we had a lot of the same interests. I'm very glad I stumbled upon your work, and will definitely investigate more of your writing. I do miss seeing any mention of Doyle's narrator, Ned Malone, in your story (he was the one I identified with as a boy), but, again, a fascinating "followup" to Challenger's exploits on the plateau!

Thanks again...
Tony

DINOSAUR SUMMER
Posted By: Tony Ford, Phoenix, AZ, USA - 04/30/2005 12:58:58 PM

I picked up your book out of interest as a teacher, and was intrigued at the premise of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story, The Lost World, being given non-fictional status in the story. I'm not done yet, but this is a pretty unique approach, and one that particularly was interesting to me, as I grew up with Doyle's work. In fact, my grandfather passed on copies of both The Lost World and the subsequent volume dealing with George Edward Challenger, The Poison Belt, and I was fascinated with these books as a boy.

Remarkable idea for a story; thanks! What made you come up with this approach?

Tony

Response: Dinosaur Summer
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/30/2005 01:24:05 PM

Thanks, Tony! I've been a fan of stop-motion animation and dinosaurs since I was a wee tad, and since Willis O'Brien animated both the dinosaurs in The Lost World in 1925 and King Kong in 1933--and since Ray Harryhausen scared the bejesus out of me when I was seven years old with the Ymir in 20,000,000 Miles to Earth--I just had to return the favor. And to subject them to real dinosaurs, Sir Arthur's world just had to be real. Plus, I greatly enjoy the Challenger novels.

I've just finished writing an introduction to the Modern Library edition of King Kong, due in October from Random House. And there's a fine new biography coming out soon by Mark Cotta Vaz, Living Dangerously: The Adventures of Merian C. Cooper, Creator of King Kong, from Villard Books at Random House.

THANKS FOR CURING BOREDOM
Posted By: Doug Morgan, Camp Casey, South Korea - 04/30/2005 04:46:11 AM

Hi Greg. I am in the Army and was just recently out on a field exercise. I had a few days of doing nothing so I stopped at the bookmobile and picked up "Songs of Earth and Power" and I just have to say it was amazing. It cured my boredom for about three days. Just one question though. Is there a sequel?
Thanks,
Spc. Morgan, Douglas A.

Response: Thanks for curing boredom
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/30/2005 01:18:14 PM

You've made my day, Doug! Good news indeed that I was able to entertain you at Camp Casey. No sequel has yet been written--not sure where I would go, considering the conclusion... Look how tough it was to add something to THE MATRIX! But I never say never.

BAD MEDICINE
Posted By: john ellis hartford, bradford NH - 04/25/2005 11:35:51 AM

Dear Greg,
found and read Darwin's Radio. A fun read .. but not a keeper. I'm afraid that if I had been your instructor in embryology 101 I would have flunked you; not because of any lack of facts, but because you seem to have missed one the key facts of embriology itself: it's pathetic conservatism. It's hard to get a feel for this in the research lab literachure, but you might want to catch Homer Smith (try From Fish to Phylosopher) to get the drift.
But it's just fantasy.
Except that Stella is not Homo sapies novus ! At best she is homo novis bearus ... and at worst not homo at all. For when you decided to change her chromosome count (a number which has little to do with total genetic information) you locked in who she could cross breed with. Not us!
And while I can forgive you the "cry" of 'no anesthetic' (even if it sounds pre-victorian to me) ... I must remind you that ethanol is a potent (and dangerous) general anesthetic. To allow mama to drink booze is to kill your overly delicate children.
While I'm on this kick ... you seem to have been searching for reason to have darwins radio (or, better yet, alarm clock) go off and you circled around "stress". Maybe of over-population. Try the massive increase in toxins within our bodies: the ones that are causing respiratory failure in children, misscarages in women, and sterility in men. Rather than going for "better" comunication in your imaginary proginy you should have gone for better immunity in some way. After all, that's what will select for our actual decendents. Unless something magic happens.
Forgive me, John
(BEE, MD, FACA, DABA)

Response: bad medicine
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/25/2005 01:10:36 PM

Thanks, John! These books were meant to provoke. The new chromosome count--and interfertility of the new children with homo sapiens sapiens--were meant to challenge and be provocative--and in fact one of my characters comments ruefully on this "impossibility."

One of the major points in DARWIN'S RADIO was that we've never seen a major speciation event. My supposition was that the karyotypes in these interim subspecies--and there are several varieties of new children--might contain chromosomes of a transient nature, used for "record keeping" or some other regulatory function, and possibly vanishing after a certain number of generations. (In early editions of DARWIN'S CHILDREN, I misused the term "polyploidy"--should be aneuploidy.)

Kaye Lang shuns wine during her pregnancy. She drinks wine after Stella is born. And in the bulletins on new children pediatrics, anesthetics during labor are not recommended. These kids can't even tolerate aspirin.

Response: bad medicine
Posted By: Ryan, ohio - 04/30/2005 01:39:48 AM

Asthma, miscarriages, and low-fertility rates are not population stressors per-say in that they have obviously not impeded the explosion of the human population and are all rather recent developments.

but..for thousands of years of humanity's existence as very social, communicative, and reasoning organisms, the greatest threat to our continued existence and general well-being has been ourselves. Verbal and non-verbal communication is used by some individuals to exploit other individuals. Witness the rise of lawyers, the state of politicians, advertisers, bullies, cult leaders, pimps, etc. Darwin's Children's Children seem cognitively and psychologically immune to doing that kind of stuff to each other.

Response: bad medicine
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/30/2005 01:25:19 PM

Agreed, for the most part--but being human, the New Kids are definitely going to discover new ways to screw up!

SCIENCE BLOGS
Posted By: Bora Zivkovic, Chapel Hill, NC - 04/21/2005 10:10:31 AM

Hi,

I believe that the readers of the Greg Bear blog would be interested in learning about various blogs that more or less regularly write about science. The Tangled Bank is a blog carnival (a bi-weekly link round-up) dedicated to the best blog writing about science, nature, medicine, environment and the interface between science and society.

I wrote about the importance of Blog Carnivals in getting to know like-minded bloggers, about the way blogging (and particularly carnivals) may alter the future of science and politics, and I try to, about once a month, collect all the existing carnivals in one place. In short - I am a real Carnie!


The Tangled Bank was first announced on April 13th 2004 and the first issue was posted on April 21st 2004. If you check the archives of the Tangled Bank (and newbies should read the year-worth of posts - it's that much fun!) you'll see that the quality of individual posts was always very high, but that the carnival as a whole has grown in size, quality and scope.

The Tangled Bank First Anniversary Edition is now online and it is brimming with great science blogging. I believe that many of your blog readers would enjoy this, particularly as one of the posts (mine) discusses the science of "Darwin's Radio/Children".

Thanks,
Bora Zivkovic

Response: Science blogs
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/21/2005 10:44:08 AM

Looks very interesting, Bora! Thanks.

FACTORS OF DENSITY: I WASNT THINKING CLEARLY.
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 04/20/2005 02:34:57 PM

actually, blood music is just such an example, yes?

Response: factors of density: i wasnt thinking clearly.
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/20/2005 02:54:21 PM

OF course! So, disregarding BLOOD MUSIC...

FACTORS OF DENSITY
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 04/20/2005 02:28:43 PM

(excerpt from interview with john smart - accerleration watch, the tech singularity.)


>I call this the developmental singularity hypothesis, and it is admittedly quite speculative. It is also known as the transcension scenario, as opposed to the expansion scenario, for the future of local intelligence. The expansion scenario, the expectation that our human descendants will one day colonize the stars is, today, an almost universal de facto assumption of the typical futurist. I consider that model to be 180 degrees incorrect.<

to me, this makes a certain sense; its been at least somewhat explored in fiction. what is your take, on this and personally in general?

Response: factors of density
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/20/2005 02:53:49 PM

I think we'll get there, but we may not look the way we do now--and we almost certainly won't think the way we do now.

PARDON THE OBSESSION...
Posted By: vinnie, Earth - 04/18/2005 11:09:37 AM

you skirted Sean's (from Madison, Wi) question a bit, so I'll give it an oblique try: ;-)

WB green-lighted the Forge of God trilogy this very moment. But they'd like to know how the third installment is going to tie-up things...How soon can you have it ready? can you find your drafts in that dusty desk drawer?

Response: Pardon the obsession...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/18/2005 11:46:06 AM

No drafts yet, and no dreaming at this point!

ARKADI AND BORIS STRUGATZKI
Posted By: Erik Maronde, Hannover, Germany - 04/18/2005 08:59:11 AM

Hi Greg,
I just finished your fatastic novel "Darwin`s Radio" (I have to confess that I read in German) and I think it bases on a fascinating and very reasonable idea (I am a biochemist), provides a wonderful story and greatly written.
Congratulations !
Twenty years ago I was a big fan of the polish writer and philosopher Stanislav Lem and an interview with him drew my attention to a russian author duo (brothers and both astronomists), Arkadi and Boris Strugatzki. They wrote a novel in 1972 called "gadkie lebedi" with in English would read something like "The ugly swans" which is featuring a similar story to Darwin`s Radio (of cause without the HERV-story and all the wonderful genetic details). Strange kids with "bad" skin, extremely high intelligence and new communications skills are born and beside their loving parents everyone wants to get rid of them whereas they get together and start living in their own sphere leaving Homo sapiens sapiens on top of the row to extinction.
It`s a pity that both Lem and the Strugatzkis are more or less unknown to the english reading audience. They are among the forgotten victims of the cold war.
Anyway, I am looking forward now to read Darwin`s children,
all the best for you,
Erik

Response: Arkadi and Boris Strugatzki
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/18/2005 10:20:04 AM

Hello, Erik! I once dined with the Strugatskis and Doris and Peter Lessing in Brighton, England, at the invitation of publisher Anthony Cheatham... a major highlight of our visit to England. The Strugatskis are major talents, hardly forgotten here--though perhaps their books need to be reprinted more often. Stanislaw Lem is quite popular in the U.S., and recently an American remake of the Russian film of his novel SOLARIS was released, a somber, respectful treatment which still managed to avoid some of his more spectacular visual elements.

SONGS OF EARTH AND POWER
Posted By: Daniel Palmer, bournemouth, England - 04/14/2005 06:39:09 PM

Hi Greg,
I have just read a book that has completely blown my mind. Found in the mind, body, and spirit section of the bookstore it is part physics, part psychology, occultism and personal experience. Whether it could be described as factual is open to some debate.
Prepare for some matrix flashbacks. Basicaly it stated that reality is subjective rather than objective. That what we percieve to be the real world is simply a projected hologram created by the combined signals recieved by each of our five sensory receptors and interpreted by our central nervous system.
In short that nothing is real.
I believe that part. Atoms being (around) 70 percent empty space, einsteins universal field theory, string theory.
The book further stated that reality was actualy made up of vibrational energy.
This is turning into a very weird week. The things the book talked about tied into a number of other books as well as answering some question that have been messing with my head for a while. (point to note; i never even intended to order the book in the first place. Coincidence?)
One of those books was Songs of Earth and power. Both Eleuth and Tonn said 'all is waves with nothing waving across no distance all'.
What i am wondering is whether or not you knew of the above when you wrote this book. If so do you believe it? If not have often thought that creative people might be more intuitively in touch with the true nature of reality than some of the professionals out there.
Apparently the above has been known for thousands of years in the east.

Response: Songs of Earth and Power
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/15/2005 06:44:51 PM

SONGS contained an early take on my crackpot theory of information-based physics, later expanded upon in ANVIL OF STARS, MOVING MARS, and HEADS. Still perks up some interest now and then. String theory is a tad too complicated for my poor brain!

RE: [GREGBEAR.COM] SAYING HI
Posted By: David Williamson, Rochester, New York - 04/10/2005 05:05:04 PM

Thanks. I really enjoyed Stapledon's vision too. The Starmaker took much less time than The Last And First Men because of its spectacular vistas. I'm hoping to get around to Sirius, Odd John, and The Light And The Darkness but I'm hesitant since the previous were so difficult. I really wish I could read faster, I've only ever read 3 books in one day, and two of those were Star Trek. My mom can breeze through a book and I can get discouraged sometimes when I get bogged down and I'll put it aside to try another. About two years ago, I bought my mom a bunch of Star Trek novels, she likes them too, for Christmas, and I ended up reading 20 of them from then till june. Afterward I couldn't seem to finish a book, which quickly grew very annoying.
I actually have almost all of Poul Anderson's books, I even stumbled on a old Ace double with, I think the title was something about Ganymede, but it's almost falling apart. I feel a little sad that I never got to thank him for all the enjoyment I got from reading his works. I hope some agreement can be reached since his writing was so great and it should be seen by all the reading community.
Oh, I think I saw someone mention this but I also think Astrid is a beautiful name. It makes me think of stars.
I'm right now trying to practice writing, myself, and I've written 2 fanfics about comic book characters, with a third almost done. I used to not like typing because I would think so fast, I'd have to backtrack, but I'm beginning to enjoy it. Can't see myself writing a full length novel yet, but I did have a idea for a Star Trek story which could be that long. Have to wait and see.
Best of luck to you and your family.

Response: Re: [GREGBEAR.COM] Saying Hi
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/11/2005 12:38:55 PM

Slow reader, huh! I somehow don't think so--anyone who can get through three books in one day is way beyond me! Keep up the writing--fanfic is a terrific start.

DARWIN'S CHILDREN-A QUESTION ABOUT THE READING LIST
Posted By: Graham Stokes, Lisbon, Portugal - 04/10/2005 12:47:11 PM

Dear Greg,

Of all of your books to date, I have found Darwin's Children the most deeply rewarding (sorry, Legacy withstanding), not just because it was a splendid read and made me very uneasy (much the same experience I felt when I read "The Midwich Cuckoos" as a schoolboy some 30 years ago, although for different reasons), but also because of the excellent reading list that you thoughtfully included.

Biology is not a subject that I instinctively warm to, and my knowledge of the subject - at least in a strict academic sense - finished at the time I left secondary school. My tutors would probably suggest that it was rather earlier than that, but I can readily understand with hindsight the difficulty of conveying the wonder of genetics and evolution to a 14-year old, especially within a very conservative institution. In short, it never even began to get
interesting.

So here I am, working through the list of books you suggested (books moreover that I would almost certainly never have stumbled upon without a guiding hand), and whilst reading Steven Jay Gould's "Wonderful Life", I find I have a question for you. It relates to the way you introduce it in your own book; specifically you describe it as "flawed".

If it's not too much trouble, could you please elaborate a bit on that ? Gould's book dwells extensively, though with great kindness and understanding, on the flaws of others. As an armchair scientist I have to try to do my own "winnowing" and I would be delighted if you could help by telling me why you regard the book in that light. Has some further understanding come into play of which he was not aware ? Or was he just, so to speak, barking up the wrong tree ? Or alternatively, have I simply not read enough of the books on
your list to have turned up the answer myself ?

Best Regards,
Graham Stokes

Response: Darwin's Children-a question about the reading list
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/10/2005 01:14:21 PM

Gould's provocative thesis was that each eco-system evolves through a kind of throw of the dice--and that no two eco-systems, evolving over hundreds of millions of years, would, even in large details, duplicate the species and designs produced in another separate but similar system. I think this disregards the factors in the "equation" that lead organisms to find the most efficient forms to access the greatest quantity of resources. So-called "parallel evolution" provides many examples of different organisms of very different lineages evolving similar forms under similar pressures. Other than that large quibble, "Wonderful Life" is indeed a wonderful volume! Though superseded now in its discussion of aspects of the Cambrian explosion by new discoveries in China, and new thinking about relationships and lineages of the Cambrian fossils. (I'm going to have to turn the Jarts back into worms, I'm afraid--worms with spiky backs!)

Response: Darwin's Children-a question about the reading list
Posted By: Graham Stokes, Lisbon, Portugal - 04/19/2005 04:31:40 PM

Greg,

Just a courtesy note to thank you for your swift and informative reply. I now see "Wonderful Life" in a slightly different light, but as you said it is no less wonderful a book for any failings it may have. It is always a delight to read a work so full of passion, and so well written (Dawkins rings my bell for similar reasons).

As for your closing quip about the Jarts, I would have thought that with all the potential you created with Eon, there would be more than enough room to accommodate the new creatures without redesigning them. Perhaps there is a story there just in that concept alone. After all, Legacy took us on a very entertaining Larmarckian journey, and if I remember correctly, "The Way" is actually quite long.

Regards,
Graham Stokes

Response: Darwin's Children-a question about the reading list
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/19/2005 04:35:27 PM

No plans to change the Jarts. I actually miss the old Hallucigenia sparsa! Something that weird has to exist somewhere in the universe, right?

SAYING HI
Posted By: David Williamson, Rochester, New York - 04/09/2005 09:46:45 PM

I started reading some of your books a few years ago and I've really enjoyed them. I have Attention Deficit Disorder and my mom got me into reading with comic books, and when they got too expensive I moved to Star Trek novels, then to more mainstream sci-fi. I'm not the fastest reader, because I can get easily distracted, but I've read over 600 books so far. All of your books were amazing, Blood Music was so spectacular. Eon was really scintillating, I couldn't put it down and I read it very quickly. I'd like to thank you for such enjoyable works.
I also wanted to ask, since you're his son-in-law, if their is any talk about collecting some of Poul Andersons uncollected works. I really like his stuff, too, and I would love to see some of the stories without spending a fortune to get the magazines they were in.
I'm sorry to say that my top ten list doesn't contain any of your novels, but I haven't read all of them yet. I have tons of stuff I've yet to get to, and I have read around three fourth's of your books.
Based on your comments and Arthur C Clarke's, I tried reading Olaf Stapledons books, The Last and First Men and The Starmaker. It was a lot of hard work but I stuck at it, reading a few pages at a time. After repeatedly picking it up and reading a chapter or two, and then taking a break for a few weeks, I finally finished it after three years. It reads like a textbook, but I was very glad I kept at it.

Response: Saying Hi
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/10/2005 01:06:27 PM

Hello, David! Most pleased you stuck with Olaf Stapledon--his imaginative reach is astonishing, no? Poul's short works are nearly all collected in various volumes, but many are OP--despite a vigorous effort by publishers such as Tor, Baen, and iBooks. We're trying to keep most of them available, but I suspect many, for the time being, are either going to be found through used booksellers or print on demand or--possibly!--e-books.

TECHNOLOGY VS. CHARACTER
Posted By: Bob Vogt, Redmond - 04/09/2005 10:12:02 AM

If I might ask, what comes to your mind first when creating a story: the technology or the characters? The reason I ask this is because your characters are as strong as your technical premises. Many authors who delve into hard technology tend to sacrifice the characters for the technology. Their characters feel like those in the B movies produced by the Sci-Fi channel (which are admittedly one of my guilty pleasures). The convincing science in stories such as "Darwin's Radio" and "Vitals" is scary (in the fun sense) but the characters and their story are are what keep me reading. Whatever the answer, thanks for many great hours of reading.

Bob Vogt

Response: technology vs. character
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/09/2005 11:50:33 AM

Thanks, Bob! Characters and ideas go hand in hand--after all, characters are the ones who have the ideas, and/or have to face their consequences.

THE SCIENCE FICTION MUSEUM
Posted By: Vicki Bickford, Vancouver, WA - 04/09/2005 12:19:40 AM

Hi Greg - read Eon AGAIN - still good the second time around and a decade or so later.

Met a guy reading Heinlein in a Cartoon shop, suggested Darwin's Radio. I think I impressed him with my wit, charm, and fervor enough that he might check it out. Which will naturally improve his wit and charm as much as it did mine.

Went to Seattle today with the kidlets, went by the Museum, and was seriously disappointed to find out that after paying for parking we couldn't afford to go into the museum. The subject matter is wonderful, and I was spellbound just looking at the titles and authors plastered to the window by the door, so I'm not saying it isn't worth a pretty penny to get in. I'm just saying I can't afford to. Any plans to reduce the fees or maybe have a special rate one day a week?

Just a thought.

Cheers!
VLB

Response: The Science Fiction Museum
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/09/2005 11:57:00 AM

Sorry you missed out on SFM! Really, a family membership is quite a bargain, especially if you get one combining EMP and SFM membership. You can also bring friends in on passes and get access to special events. (Better if you're a local, of course!) We'd like the museum to be free, but that isn't possible. And SFM's entry fee compares well with other museums in the area. (Wouldn't want our museum curators to be out on the highways with cardboard signs--"Will read SF for food!")

FELICITATIONS...
Posted By: corse, Marseille (France) - 04/05/2005 10:36:26 AM

Hello (I'm french so sorry for my english..)
I had just terminated your Darwin radio and i'll go to buy darwin's children, but before i take a few minutes to whrite you a little mail to give you my felitations about your originality.I have some questions(it's very exciting to whrite to an autor oh fabulous internet)
First Did you think to bring the Darwin children's with the Gaia children's of the Fondation cycle?
I had read that your are not ok with the idea of Dawkins,no selfish genes for you?What do you think about sociobiologie?
And i have just only one remark just a little:When i read your book i have the impression that the americans are the only who can control the situation(but maybe i m paranoid)


Response: Felicitations...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/05/2005 12:25:32 PM

Thanks for writing, Emmanuel! DARWIN'S RADIO was in planning before I started work on FOUNDATION AND CHAOS, so no direct connection. Dawkins is a marvelous writer, but there's a lot more to genetics and evolution than selfish competition--and many so-called selfish genes have to cooperate with the activities of dozens if not hundreds of other genes to get their work done. Even retroviral genes and transposable elements--once thought to exhibit the height of selfishness and reckless reproduction, contribute to the mix. I prefer to think of genes as social, not selfish--although "social" carries a broad range of meanings, right? Including selfishness! (At any rate, the definition of a gene has itself evolved since Dawkins wrote his classic--and for some researchers, genes per se seem less and less to be the center of attention today!)

DARWIN'S RADIO is a North American novel, written by a North American. Its emphasis on American locales and characters reflects my experience, not any particular prejudices.

FAN BLAH, BLAH
Posted By: David Nelson, Victoria, Australia - 04/04/2005 06:14:33 AM

G'day Greg, I not long ago finished 'Darwin's Children', and have decided that it's probably your most thoughtful and important work to date. I wasn't getting into it at first, the biology was throwing me a bit. I put it down and decided to finish (finally) 'The Serpant Mage' and I read 'Vitals' which put me the mode for finishing'Darwin's Children'. Now that was a scary bit of reading!!!
The story (Darwin's Children')was constructed well, as per normal, but I meshed with the character's more than anything else, they resonated. I actually cared about all of them, and that doesn't happen for me in a lot of books. I think there could be room for one more in the sequence if you feeling up to it. No I'm not kidding!!
Anyway, best wishes and keep scribbling.
Kindest Regards David Nelson

Response: Fan Blah, Blah
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/04/2005 10:23:06 AM

Thanks, David! A day gets blah without this kind of blah, believe me.

BLACK HOLES DO NOT EXIST?!?!?
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Windy San Diego, California - 03/31/2005 12:04:53 PM

File under "What the @#%&*!!!!

http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050328/full/050328-8.html

This is the most Outre thing I've seen since the "BIG RIP" theory of two years ago

Response: Black Holes DO NOT Exist?!?!?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/31/2005 01:35:54 PM

Interesting. We've never observed dark matter, and black holes are only implied by the math and some observed phenomenon... This leaves us with plenty of wriggle room for an entirely new theory of cosmology, one that can be tested and possibly disproven! The alternative is dueling matheticians, forever and ever... not a pretty sight.

FOUNTAINHEAD
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston, Texas - 03/30/2005 11:43:34 PM

Hello Greg,

Some years ago I worked with a man who loved SF (the GOOD stuff) as I do and we often traded paperbacks. One day he shoved a book into my hands by an author that I had not read before. The book was "Eon" by Greg Bear, and I have been totally hooked since then. (I remember reading through much of that night. I just could not put it down.)

"Queen of Angles" is simply a masterpiece, and one of the great SF novels of all time, in my judgement. However, "Moving Mars" has to be my personal favorite because it makes me feel so good every time I read it.

I have several of your signed, first editions in my collection, and feel an added satisfaction by actually READING them.

And you live in the Seattle area - the icing on the cake - since it is easily the most beautiful city in the States. Gary Larson even lives there! (Or so I heard once.)

I am a visual artist, and you have been a great inspiration. I do not usually use SF as a theme - what I mean is that I strive to paint and draw as well as you write. I just want to let you know how much I admire you and your work. I feel that I KNOW you. Know what I mean?

Warm, best regards,

Jimmy

P.S.

BTW - I love the name "Astrid" Tell her I said so. OK?

J

Response: Fountainhead
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/31/2005 10:55:23 AM

Thanks, Jimmy! Now if we can only get Gary to resume his cartooning career... Seattle would be even better!

DEMONS IN THE COUNTRY OF THE MIND
Posted By: John Holtom, Luton, England - 03/30/2005 07:08:08 AM

Dear Greg Bear

I have just finished Queen of Angels - yet another tremendous read. Martin Burke is like another hero (or not quite hero) Olme who trusts implicitly that he has the capability to manage any unforeseen complications in the Country but again like Olme is consumed by the demon within him.

In the Songs of Earth and Power Michael becomes a benevolent God who appears to defeat the malign and self-serving Sidhe (and other mages) but in Queen of Angels, Eon and Infinity, the heroes (and heroines) are themselves never quite capable of exercising power over evil or self-doubt(Jill's final analysis that she does not expect herself to remain without sin seems a deeply ominous insight - perhaps in anticipation of a Hal-like psychotic episode - after all if her thinking is so much more all-embracing than any human surely there will be only one ultimate conclusion which is that she will act on her perception of the benefit to humanity which may not accord with the human perception of that benefit).

Have you perhaps become a little more pessimistic since originally writing the Inifinity Concerto and the Serpent Mage both of which end with a benevolent view of the changed world?

More more more fantastic imaginings please!!!

I shall move onto the sequel to Queen of Angels in time.

I am slightly surprised that Hollywood has not made a film of (at the very least) the Mary Choy story. The future police officer uncovering (or failing to uncover) the truth is the staple diet of much good (and no doubt much bad) movie material. Is it optioned? Has it gone beyond this but just not yet got to production?

Yours respectfully

John Holtom


Response: Demons in the Country of the Mind
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/30/2005 10:54:41 AM

Thanks, John! Every story has its shape and conclusion--I'm no more pessimistic, but given the premises in QUEEN OF ANGELS, a completely happy ending just isn't in the cards, right? No options on books in this series yet.

WONDERING WHAT YOU'RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
Posted By: Sean B, Madison Wisconsin - 03/28/2005 10:10:35 PM

I read in one of the other messages that your at work on a new novel, I was just wondering what's in the pipeline? I have my fingers and toes crossed for a third in the Forge of God series....or at least a return to the Macro!

Response: Wondering what you're currently working on?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/29/2005 10:21:23 AM

Just finishing a novel called QUANTICO. Sample chapters will be included in the paperback edition of DEAD LINES, due in a couple of months!

NO POTATOES
Posted By: Johannes, Have moved quite a bit, currently Singapore - 03/27/2005 08:20:08 PM

Hi Greg,

I'm a big fan, have been since I was young. Recently I had these urges to pick up Eon again, and what a blast it was, the whole timeline of the book is *now*. It must have been at least 10 years since I last read it and I kept thinking about how the world has changed since you wrote the book.

Anyway, no potatoes in the sky in 2005, but your book is free of dust again!

Thanks for the good time!


Response: No potatoes
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/28/2005 10:09:06 AM

Thanks for the dusting, Johannes. We simply live in an alternate universe accessed somewhere along the Way--a more fortunate place, as it turns out!

THISTLEDOWN SCEMATIC
Posted By: dominick scioli, newtork - 03/27/2005 04:38:13 PM

dear greg bear, i have been a fan for some 15 years now i admirer your vision and scope . yet i have read eon 5 times now and i still have trouble with the scale and layout of the stone. if it would be possible to somehow publish or email me a hypethetical scematic of the stone it would be greatly appreciated. thanks for your great imagination. keep up the great work.

Response: thistledown scematic
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/28/2005 10:07:26 AM

Hello, Dominick! I don't have a schematic, but other readers may. Think of the stone as a potato with a skewer running lengthwise. Someone has cleverly scooped out seven cylinders inside the potato, along the length of the skewer. The last cylinder opens onto a vast pipe-shaped universe filled with sour cream and chives--oops! Metaphor ran away with me here. Many thanks for your support!

INSPIRATION
Posted By: Jacqueline Chritton, Ann Arbor, Michigan - 03/25/2005 01:11:47 PM

Hello All,

I was just thinking to myself late last night, things have been going really well for me lately. I am graduating from college here in April with a degree in cellular and molecular biology (summa cum laude), and I've been accepted to five different phd. graduate school programs at 21, all of which are in the top 20 programs in the nation, some in the top 5. I have to say though, the only reason I ever thought I could do any of this was because about 3 or 4 years ago I read the book Darwin's Radio. Not only does it do an excellent job of describing reasonably believeable mechanisms of genome interactions. There is still so much out there that we don't know about ourselves (and life in general for that matter) on a molecular level, I find. After reading Darwin's Radio and seeing a strong intelligent female protagonist, I figured, well, it seemed a perfectly reasonable scenario.
So 3 years ago I set out telling everyone I would become a "geneticist." And now here I am accepted to some of the best genetics programs in the country. I just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration. That book was truly the reason I ever became interested in genetics, so I owe a lot to you. More than this little message-board post could ever provide, but at least it just lets you know that things like science fiction books can really have a profound effect on people.

With love and thanks,
Jacqueline

Response: Inspiration
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/27/2005 03:00:27 PM

This is great news, Jacqueline! And a terrific boost to my ego. The main difference here is, you're doing the real work--the heavy lifting, as I've said before. For that, my hat is off to you--you're about to investigate intellectual territories I can only visit by way of an armchair. So please, report back to us!

Every week brings amazing discoveries. I am in awe of what biological scientists have learned in the past five years. And I eagerly anticipate the next five.

Happy hunting!

SCIENCE NEWS: INFECTIOUS EVOLUTION
Posted By: paul putkowski, eatonton ga - 03/24/2005 08:20:21 PM



this is so incredibly close to the radio (without speciation) that I have to solcit a response. pardon me if I don't browse first...

the following quote is copyright the science news service:

A vicious virus infected ancestral chimpanzees and gorillas in Africa between 4 million and 3 million years ago. Not only did it kill a great many of these primates, but it also infiltrated the surviving animals' genomes, altering the course of evolution. That's the picture emerging from a new analysis of modem-primate DNA.
Around 1.5 million years ago, this virus of the class called retroviruses also infected ancestors of modern baboons and macaques, two African monkeys, reports geneticist Evan E. Eichler of the University of Washington in Seattle and his colleagues. However, no molecular remnants of this ancient infection appear in the DNA of people, whose ancestors also inhabited Africa, or in the genes of apes, such as orangutans, from Asia.
Retroviral infection "was almost a cata
clysmic event for ancestral chimps and gorillas," Eichler says. "It's a mystery to us why the ancestors of people and orangutans were excluded from it."
While analyzing data from an ongoing project determining the chimpanzee genome, Eichler's team noticed sequences that dramatically differed from corresponding regions of human DNA. The team identified the sequences as the remains of a retrovirus.
Using chemical probes, the researchers then found more than 100 copies of the retrovirus throughout the chimp genome. These retroviral sequences disturb the workings of at least six genes, including ones found in the brain and testes.
Gorillas, baboons, and macaques also possessed about 100 retroviral copies. The researchers used available estimates of how quickly the retrovirus mutates to calculate when the infections occurred.
Several scenarios could explain the selective infection of ancient chimps and gorillas. African apes might have evolved a susceptibility to the infection, for example, or ancestors of people and Asian apes might have developed a resistance.
The new results, which the researchers report in the April PloS Biology, fit with a surprising conclusion floated in a 2002 analysis of chimp DNA That study found a dearth of mutations in chimp genes known to be crucial for repelling infections. Pascal Gagneux of the University of California, San Diego and his colleagues then proposed that this genomic feature was a reflection of an HIV-like retroviral epidemic among ancestral chimps nearly 3 million years ago that left only a few to pass on rare resistance genes. Today's chimps are thus the offspring of unusually virus-resistant animals.
"Retroviruses are not just diabolical [killers]," says Gagneux. "Under the right conditions, such viruses contribute to the evolution of their hosts."
Eichler's group provides "compelling evidence" of separate, comparably ancient retroviral infections in ancestral chimps and gorillas, remarks Harvard University's Maryellen Ruvolo. Chimps probably came in contact with the virus when they hunted infected monkeys, Ruvolo suggests. It's not clear how the infection reached gorillas.
The new evidence that closely related primates can contract different retroviral infections is surprising, says Dixie Mager of the University of British Columbia in Vancou
ver. "Most people in the field would not have predicted this finding," she adds.
Scientists have estimated that 8 percent of human DNA consists ofretroviral sequences that were deposited during infections of our African-ape ancestors
between 35 million and 25 million years «
ago. -B. BOWER !:J

Response: science news: infectious evolution
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/25/2005 10:31:12 AM

There have been a few very exciting science stories in the last two weeks. This one is terrific--though they are still working with a disease model, which may be correct. However, I'd like to see further evidence of mass disease following on almost universal infection.

Reports of Arabidopsis correcting defective genes from a reservoir or guidebook if you will of experience-acquired genes is even more intriguing. This is remarkably close to Kaye Lang's genetic toolbox--the Wizard in the Genome! And something similar could explain the re-occurrence of wings in stick insects over long periods of time. They're in the bauplan--the assortment of traits that are grammatically allowed in stick insects!

JUST TO SAY THANKS
Posted By: Julian Ryan, Melbourne, Australia - 03/23/2005 09:51:39 PM

G'day Greg,

I don't have any insightful questions or commentary on the characters or storylines of your works, I just want to say thanks.

Having just re-read Eon, Eternity and Legacy as well as Forge of God and Anvil of Stars I am working my way through the rest of your books for a second time. The first read of these was mind-blowing for me and my first (and only) entree into the sci-fi genre. The second read has been just enthralling and fantastic so thank you very much for the adventure, entertainment and ability to take me to places and meet people I never imagined.

Cheers and all the best,

Julian

PS. I recently recommended Eon to a mate of mine. After completeing it he went to the local bookstore and in response to the clerks question; "May I help you" he said: "Point me to your section with Greg Bear material and get me a trolley". He too is thoroughly enthralled by your work.

Response: Just to say thanks
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/24/2005 11:00:51 AM

Thanks, Julian! With a few more readers like you, my cunning plan for world domination may yet bear fruit... or fruit bears...

Seriously, these letters keep me going as I head to the finish line on a loooong new novel!

MOVIE WHAT MOVIE?
Posted By: Brian McKinley, Silverton, Oregon - 03/22/2005 02:03:32 AM

I have been waiting for years now, when is The Forge of God and The Anvil of Stars going to be a movie? Things seemed to be going along then Wham!, nothing......

Brian

Response: Movie what movie?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/22/2005 01:35:13 PM

Still in the works. It's only been two and a half years... Sigh... but that's a short development period for science fiction films, actually.

THANKYOU FOR YOUR REPLY
Posted By: Anthony L Hopkins, Auckland New Zealand. - 03/17/2005 10:59:56 PM

Thank you Greg for you replying to my first letter.
I have today just finished "Anvil of Stars" and you have once again blown me away.
Some authors have the ability to capture the attention and create an almost transcendent state of mind and its these authors i enjoy the most. Sometimes the effect of a good story will linger for a few days. It is the same as hearing talented live musicians.
Being new to your site I don't know what has come before but do you have a personal insight/conviction about the direction of humanity? Can we go on like this without there being a radical change in the internal programing.
As humans we espouse high ethical behavior as a standard that is most survival but we seem to lack the will to put it into practice, especially when in the seat of power (there's my way or the highway!).
As a writer with a great imagination and insight what do you think is going to happen? Will george w ride off into the sunset with both six guns blazing and right wing capitalistic democractic multinationism save the human race? Or not?
A dear friend of mine who I used to teach drums to and now lives in Canada, saw my letter on your site and wrote to me. I haven't seen him for about thirty eight years and it was a thrill to reestablish contact with him.
cheers and blessings,
Tony Hopkins. NZ.

Response: Thankyou for your reply
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/18/2005 11:20:33 AM

Actually, humanity is not doing too badly, overall. Eastern religions have pretty much got it right--the off-center wheel of existence, bumping along the rutted road, is an inevitable feature of life in this plane of existence. Evolution--conflict and competition, balanced by moments of cooperation and appreciation--is the principle by which we exist, and while we can imagine otherwise--and achieve moments of peace and prosperity and quiet--that's the way the living world operates. To what extent we can alter these rules and improve our lives is one of the great thought-problems of science fiction story-telling! And the attempt to change these "rules" is the driving force behind western science and technology in general.

Can we create heaven on Earth? East says no. West says yes. Which shall it be?

Response: Thankyou for your reply
Posted By: patrick - 03/18/2005 02:03:53 PM

youve outlined a duality, here, each constrained by its outlook: east is passive; west is aggressive. hence, there are limitations, complications. i favour a more-than-unified approach, where one realises the most 'funxional' process/set of processes and endeavours to allow them to emerge, thereby infusing intent into a possible natural path of {physical} behaviour. invocation.

of course, this is an idealisation. the potential in the greater population seems more instilled/embedded within what you outlined.

DEAD LINES
Posted By: susan clark, Northern Illinois - 03/14/2005 11:36:09 PM

What a complete change from your previous gendres. I couldn't put it down, not just due to the surprise at this not being raw science fiction, but because it was good! It read fluently and was enormousely frightening, but smooth and satisfying.

Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Peter Straub will need to move over now a little bit, just to make room for you.

This was a very unexpected and enjoyable read. Thank you!

Sue Clark

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/16/2005 06:44:35 PM

Thanks, Sue! Looks as if we may have a delightful quote from Mr. King on our paperback edition...

ALMOST HEAVEN..
Posted By: J. Pollack - 03/14/2005 09:53:25 PM

As a West Virginia University alum who recently read, and enjoyed, Darwin's Radio, I was pleasantly surprised to see Morgantown,WV featured in some detail as well as Clarksburg, WV. Do you have some connection with the area? Not a terribly cerebral question, but curious nontheless.

Response: Almost heaven..
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/16/2005 06:42:37 PM

Alas, no--I tracked the journey of Mitch and Kaye in an atlas, then looked up Morgantown on the Internet and found a wealth of detail...including a towercam Web site! I then called up a nice woman working in the Municipal Building and asked some questions.

ANVIL OF STARS: NERDY QUIBBLE OF THE DAY!
Posted By: Randy Merkel, Paso Robles, CA - 03/14/2005 07:26:35 PM

Well I finally got around to reading Anvil of Stars this past weekend and enjoyed it very much. But I do have one quibble/question: Why launch an attack, such as was done on Wormwood, with piloted spacecraft? 'Just seems to invite human casualties and the weapons could just as well be deployed by robot spacecraft that won't have to carry the extra mass to keep the soft little human blobs alive. If you lose some, you find some more materials and just build more.

BTW: I'm looking forward to the Forge of God movie... just as long as Spielberg doesn't direct ;)

Response: Anvil of Stars: Nerdy Quibble of the Day!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/14/2005 07:30:57 PM

I'd love for Spielberg to direct it, personally!

As for your quibble--it's a good question, but answered within the text. Biological beings from the Earth must execute the Law. Robots aren't allowed to. (That's what the Planet-Killers did--unleashed swarms of murderous machines.)

SEQUEL
Posted By: Larry Kolbicka, Orlando,Fl. - 03/14/2005 07:50:45 AM

Anything in the works with a sequel to "Songs of Earth and Power"? Wonderfull read!

Response: Sequel
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/14/2005 10:56:36 AM

Thanks, Larry! No sequels planned for now.

Response: Sequel
Posted By: patrick - 03/15/2005 01:26:11 PM

there are instances where sequels can, or beg to, exist. not to dis you, but this isnt one of either; songs was nicely complete.

QUEEN OF ANGELS AND SOCIETY OF MIND
Posted By: Kurt, Washington State - 03/12/2005 02:25:10 PM

I noticed that many of the psychology ideas in "Queen of Angels" comes from Marvin Minsky's "Society of Mind" which was published in 1987. Minsky's ideas are very similar to those found in Eric Bern's book "Transactional Analysis", which was published in the early 60's. Minsky's "agents" are Eric Bern's "ego-states".

Are you familiar with Transactional Analysis?

Response: Queen of Angels and Society of Mind
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/14/2005 10:55:45 AM

Not so familiar with Bern as with Minsky. Marvin Minsky's brilliant book was published some time after I worked up my own theories, which were touched on in QUEEN OF ANGELS. Good to know that great minds think alike! But Marvin's ideas have been extremely influential. His book is still topical and useful today.

DARWIN'S CHILDREN IS TERRIFIC!
Posted By: Jill Elaine Hughes, Chicago, Illinois - 03/10/2005 08:30:03 PM

Hi Greg--

I posted here about a year ago to rave about your short stories and DARWIN'S RADIO. I came back to your work after a brief break with DARWIN'S CHILDREN. I've gotta say, you are one of my Top 10 favorite contemporary writers. Not only are your books well-written and fast-paced, I always learn so much about science along the way. I have worked as a science/technology/healthcare writer for years, and one of the reasons I read your work is because it keeps my noggin sharp.

I've been plugging away at my own SF writing too---no sales yet, but we're getting there. Keep up the good work!

Response: Darwin's Children is terrific!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/11/2005 10:05:42 AM

Many thanks, Jill. Keep plugging at the writing! Took me years to even begin to get it right--and I'm still just a beginner...

BIG THANKS + WHAT IF A QUANTUM COMPUTER GREW SELF-AWARE...
Posted By: Ronja Addams-Moring, Helsinki, Finland, EU - 03/10/2005 01:45:06 PM

Hello, Mr. Bear!

I was lucky to have forgotten to pack a book for a trip to
Brussels in May 2004, as I found "Darwin's Children" at the
airport there. Since, my husband and I have shared also
"Darwin's Radio", "Eon" and I have already been through
"Queen of Angels", too. Plus we gave "W^3" as a Christmas present, and are keeping a lookout for more. You have indeed enriched our life - a big thank you for that.

My husband is a researcher within radiation physics, I teach
basic research and writing skills within computer networks and telecommunications. One recent evening, after sharing
an article in Scientific American (Jan/2005), he posed this
(rhetorical - or so he claims...) question:

"If the quantum computer turns self-aware, what kind of
moral will it have?"

I sure don't have an answer - would you or one of your
guests here dare a guess?

Best wishes

Ronja

Response: Big thanks + What if a quantum computer grew self-aware...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/10/2005 04:33:28 PM

Thanks, Ronja! Quantum computers... self-awareness... Hm, that sounds an awful lot like what I was tackling in QUEEN OF ANGELS and SLANT. In those novels, and later books, Jill and her quantum logic counterparts have to work within a human world, and so Jill begins to develop a system of morals--and questions about those morals--based on necessity, as do we all. My version of quantum logic thinkers somewhat precludes a clear-cut, rational analysis of their moral foundations, however.

Any additional thoughts, readers?

Response: Big thanks + What if a quantum computer grew self-aware...
Posted By: patrick - 03/11/2005 11:53:40 AM

yeah, what he said. further, i think it would depend - as it seems to with humans - on what possible thought architecture(s) each would have the potential for. this is an implicit element in what greg said about the environment jill, et al, realise they must/decide to work within. (incidentally, these kinds of scenarios and corresponding identities have been richly explored in others' works, such as benford, banks, and p.f. hamilton.)

yet, what would determine/enable these/the potential for these possible architectures? and, how would/could these evolve?

(many layers, and sub-layers, etc. off-topic, even pict symbols would enable a greater simultaneity in the presentation of all this, let alone some direct-thought method. check out hamilton's 'affinity' for an example of this - and the remarkability of how this can be conveyed in written language....sorry, the connections seem inexhaustible.)

Response: Big thanks + What if a quantum computer grew self-aware...
Posted By: Brian Moran, Chicago, IL - 03/20/2005 04:30:45 PM


It is my belief that the term "morality" is skewed toward our specific human biology. Morality is simply the social protocol that optimises the needs of the individuals against the needs of the collective. Different species optimize this differently based on that species strategy for survival. This can be most vividly seen during elaborate mating competition rituals among usually solitary species.

Termite colonies are hypersocialized. The "concept" of murder probably does not exist because the option of harming a fellow member of their hive is not available. There is no questioning authority within the hive. There is no lying within the hive(a form of social mimicry).

At the opposite extreme, completely solitary and self-sustaining species, like asexual microbes, eat whatever they are able to eat. There is no moral compunction against murder at all.

Mammals have a hybrid form of socialization with both a great deal of individual autonomy and biological instincts that promote socialization. It's OK to kill sometimes but if ones propensity to kill seems to threaten the cohesion of the social group, then the individual will be sanctioned and made an example of. Social protocols are necessary to maintain the balance. Morality is determined by what individual behaviors destroy the sustainability of the social network.



Response: Big thanks + What if a quantum computer grew self-aware...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/21/2005 03:00:05 PM

Even microbes have a pecking order and in the case of bacteria, they can create a real social structure! Society may be the rule in nature, top to bottom, rather than the extraordinary exception...

"FORGE OF GOD" MOVIE
Posted By: John P. "Jack" Brown, San Diego, California - 03/09/2005 08:58:29 PM

Any new info concerning the status of the movie version of "The Forge Of God"? I hope many of the characters portrayed in the book will be in the movie (such as Edward Shaw, Brad Minelli, and friends), and I also hope that many of the occurances in the book will be shown in the movie, such as the destruction of Seattle. Another thing: the English journalist who ends up in Seattle when it is destroyed should be left in the movie (Sir Richard Attenborough would be great for this role).

Response: "Forge Of God" movie
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/10/2005 10:18:27 AM

Good morning, Jack! No news beyond the delivery of a new screenplay Real Soon Now! I'll post hot news as soon as it happens.

AFERLIFE
Posted By: Robert Thompson, Harrison Hot Springs, B.C. Canada - 03/08/2005 12:58:43 AM

Hello Greg.
Thanks for continuing to put out hard sci fi, in this age of hobbits, and dragons. I grew up on Clarke, Silverberg, Asimov and Heinlein, and still need that mind expanding sci-fi fix every now and then.
I was wondering about your views on the afterlife. My own view is open minded, but skeptical about the soul. I read a book basically suggesting artificial intelligence will never equal the human mind, called "the emperor's new clothes" by Roger Penrose, a colleage of Stephen Hawking. In it, he suggests that there are quantum effects going on within the dendrites, and axions in our brains, which may, ( and I'm possibly misreading him here!) suggest something more than the purely physical is going on in there. I ask this because of a story you wrote a while ago, (sorry, can't recall the name right now) about human souls being destroyed in nuclear blasts. Very entertaining, and now I see your upcoming novel dealing, I surmise, with the same issues.
Anyway, long winded question,
Looking forward to Darwin's Children on the sci-fi channel!!
Robert.

Response: Aferlife
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/08/2005 10:37:01 AM

I've long been a fan of Penrose's books and ideas, though I remain skeptical of quantum effects within neurons helping to explain mind and reason. I think the complexity within neurons--and the capabilities of biological networks in general--are more than sufficient to account for observed phenomenon. As for the soul--I suspect that if it exists, it is not entirely part of the game plan of this particular sphere. In other words, it may not be a part of--or subject to!--Claude Shannon's rules of information exchange... much less the accepted rules of physics.

Under those circumstances, we would have a hard time describing its qualities, no?

In DEAD LINES, my ghosts ARE subject to the rules of information exchange, though they are not necessarily restrained by known physics. But within them lurks something else, not a ghost, that can be set free.

All of this in good speculative fun. I have no idea what the reality may actually be.

Response: Aferlife
Posted By: patrick - 03/08/2005 01:03:43 PM

its the emperor's new {mind}. 'clothes' is a fable or something. also, penrose's book is more than ten years old, so theres lots of new stuff, by at least not-so-well-known physicists.

i agree with greg on the possible 'metaphysics' of soul and all that. for that matter, it may not be that its awaiting a new cosmological model, but something transcending even that....i think we've touched on some of this in discourse about DEADLINES, before.

Response: Aferlife
Posted By: Robert Thompson, Harrison Hot Springs, B.C. Canada - 03/09/2005 05:56:26 PM

Well, after reading up on Information theory, ( I am not a scientist by the way!) I can understand that you are trying to ascribe some kind of quality to a soul, but what I guess my original question was trying to get at, is,....why? Is there something you have experienced that would lead to these conjectures? I have several odd life exeriences myself, which, not evidence themselves, lead to a questioning about reality. There are some interesting studies going on right now regarding quantum effects, and the human mind, http://noosphere.princeton.edu/
as well as a popular science type book on quantum physics regarding the nature of free will. Sorry, can't put my hands on it right now, but the gist of all this, is, I was just wondering why the subject matter in the first place?
Not that I don't enjoy it!
Thanks,
Robert.

Response: Aferlife
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/09/2005 06:47:06 PM

People ask, I answer--to the best of my ability! Which in this area of experience is probably no better than anyone else's.

Response: Aferlife
Posted By: patrick - 03/10/2005 12:43:43 PM

>Sorry, can't put my hands on it right now, but the gist of all this, is, I was just wondering why the subject matter in the first place?<

i dont understand your question, here. looking back on your original posting, i think both me an greg forgot your first question - which i think we both addressed well. as for some more personal data on the topic:
i'm not saying there's any such thing as a soul....i mean, i have a certain 'psychic' sense of things, and have had lots of esorteric(?) such experiences, but i dont know if there's any actual physical (or, as i say, energistic) identity of any of us, outside of ....as for free will, i'm a bit conservative, there, so i'll leave that one be.

Response: Aferlife
Posted By: john ellis hartford, bradford NH - 04/25/2005 11:02:58 AM

Penrose's book was great, informitive, and fun ... until he decided to dabble in biology. All his data is good, but his conclusions are flawed (not uncommon in the medical field); possibly because he refuses to admit that what we call conciousness does not live in the present but somewhere in the past. Maybe a few tens of seconds, but perhaps more.
The interesting question is not why aren't we able to "believe" this (just as we don't "bevieve" that there's a blind spot right in middle (almost) of our visual field), but what's the mechinism and how/why has it evolved.
Might be a good research paper for somebody.
Enjoy, John

Response: Aferlife
Posted By: Greg Bear - 04/25/2005 11:18:58 AM

Reading Penrose's latest volume now, THE ROAD TO REALITY. Fascinating and complicated--spurring lots of thought as I plan my next novel.

FUTURE HISTORY
Posted By: Kurt, Washington State - 03/07/2005 01:37:45 PM

I have enjoyed reading many of your novels. Especially your "near" future history series (Queen of Angels, Heads, and Moving Mars). These seem to portray a near future where society is general more prosperous and functional than it is now, but definitely not any kind of utopia.

What I especially like is that these societies have issues, but these issues are DIFFERENT than the issues we have today which, in turn, are different than the issues that people concerned themselves with in 1900. This is what makes your "Moving Mars" story much better than Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy.

I think the future will be like that.

I thought I would let you know this.

Response: Future History
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/07/2005 01:58:45 PM

Thanks, Kurt! Stan Robinson did a fine job of carrying our issues into the future, however--and the issues he's dealing with are likely to be long-term.

THE SONGS OF EARTH AND POWER
Posted By: Rachel, sydney - 03/07/2005 07:11:41 AM

Hi there,

Me again! - after a few years of no contact! Busy life!

I would just like to say that I love all of your books, but the one that really stands out for me is The Songs of Earth and Power". I read it about 5 years ago but often find myself thinking of the concepts and the characters. It is truely brilliant. Quite magical, in fact, I think I might read it again!

Thanks for 13 years and counting (for me personally - my dad bought Blood Music for me) of gripping, mind stretching, reading. When I read your novels it is as if they are written for me!

Rachel
:)


Response: The Songs of Earth and Power
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/07/2005 11:54:29 AM

Thanks, Rachel!

(OKAY, HERE IT IS) COMMUNICATION
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 03/06/2005 12:45:18 AM

in eon, the inhabitants of axis city largely use pictors to communicate. i'm assuming, by the way its portrayed, these devices are thought-regulated; despite the increased bandwidth of this system over speech, one might ask why a more direct method of thought-relay wasnt used. your thoughts/literary intentions regarding this?

Response: (okay, here it is) communication
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/07/2005 11:40:43 AM

Interesting notion, patrick--why not just convey thoughts directly from "pictor to pictor." Probably because communicators need an interface to prevent communication that's too candid and too direct! Wouldn't want to "blurt out" all our secrets in a microburst.

Response: communication
Posted By: patrick - 03/07/2005 01:23:05 PM

well, ive thought of this....and, basically it comes down to two factors: 1. protocols - to enable organised, articulate transmission/presentation; 2. {a certain measure of} discipline/expertise - which is inherent in the use of any language, yes?

Response: (okay, here it is) communication
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/07/2005 01:57:03 PM

Indeed.

SEQUELSI
Posted By: arkreb2003, salt lake city - 03/03/2005 01:58:37 PM

Is anvil of stars the last book in this series or do you plan more

Response: sequelsi
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/03/2005 02:27:47 PM

There could be another, depending on time and circumstances. I never say never!

RECIPROCITY
Posted By: Luke Stockwin, Frederick - 03/01/2005 11:25:30 AM

Greg, your seminar at NCI-Frederick was most entertaining! We often forget that scientists and SciFi writers exist in a reciprocal relationship, without great science fiction i wouldn't be in this profession! It's only correct that we keep feeding you guys new ideas, you have a whole generation of young scientists to enthuse.
It's also good to have someone like yourself remind us that we have the greatest job in the world, "the only way one can be bored by science is by not asking the right questions!" Thanks again! Luke.

Response: Reciprocity
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/01/2005 01:09:11 PM

Hello, Luke! Making it out to NCI and speaking with all of you was a real highlight. I'm still collecting papers and comments... you've all given me a mountain of ideas and facts to get through. Many thanks!

Keep me updated!

Best--

Greg

LEMARCKIA
Posted By: Joel L., New Hampshire - 02/27/2005 06:36:50 PM

Are you writing a book about Lemarckia, a subchapter in your series which includes Eon, Legacy, and Eternity? I would be very interested to know.

Response: Lemarckia
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/28/2005 10:30:33 AM

Hello, Joel! "Lamarckia" was an early title for LEGACY, and some catalogs in the UK listed it as such.

QUEEN OF ANGELS
Posted By: Sheema Karp, New York City - 02/25/2005 06:53:30 PM

Dear Greg, I'm afraid that my last email shot off prematurely: sorry!

I feel a bit silly asking this question because it sounds so "school-marmy", but I guess that isn't so bad since I actually am a school marm. I read Queen of Angels a long while ago and returned to it after recently reading Vitals. I am thoroughly enjoying it and, indeed, understand it better the second time around (this is not uncommon with me, and it is interesting in the light of this Board's discussion of learning styles -- I will often plough through a book, barely understanding it, then, upon a second reading, understand it fully as a gestalt).

Ok -- I've taken a long time to get to my question: aside from the very futuristic tempo it sets up, why do your so many of your sentences in Q of A lack COMMAS??? It seems mainly the series comma that is lacking, so I have been able to plug it in, but gee whiz, Greg! I'm going to take a red pen to you unless you give me a really good reason not to. . .

Having said that, may I thank you fondly and sincerely for many hours of reading pleasure and intellectual stimulation. I am looking forward to your new books and to re-reading all your past ones.

Best, Sheema

Response: Queen of Angels
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/25/2005 07:19:16 PM

Thanks, Sheema! Serial commas and such come and go in Q of A with the age of the characters, mostly. The younger, the fewer commas--as future writing style and syntax change. I wanted to give the feeling that you were reading a novel written at the time--assuming, of course, that novels are still being written forty-two years from now! (I was inspired in equal parts by James Joyce, John Dos Passos, and John Brunner. Not that I equal their achievements.)

Response: Queen of Angels
Posted By: Robbie Sundquist, Olympia, Wa - 03/16/2005 04:54:04 PM

I always thought that was one of the best aspects of "Queen of Angels" and its sequel, "Slant." Mr. Bear did an incredible job at setting not only the books but their written style in the future. Their style was difficult to grasp at first, but ultimately added to the experience in a positive way.

Response: Queen of Angels
Posted By: Greg Bear - 03/16/2005 06:34:54 PM

Thanks, Robbie. QOA remains one of my favorites--though I still have to pick up all those pesky commas that slipped out of the manuscript just before it went to press..

FAVORITE SF/FANTASY NOVELS?
Posted By: Jonathan, Portland, OR - 02/24/2005 02:11:21 AM

Hi Greg,
Could you possibly share with us what your five or ten favorite SF/fantasy novels of all time are and/or at the very least name a few books you've really enjoyed reading recently?

Thanks!

Regards,
Jonathan

Response: Favorite SF/fantasy novels?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/25/2005 02:43:45 PM

Far too many to list! My reading lately has been mostly non-fiction, as well, but I hope to get back to a few novels Very Soon Now...

DARWIN MINI SERIES
Posted By: Ian Budd, Manchester, England - 02/22/2005 10:17:22 AM

Dear Greg

I've been a big fan of your work for ages and have just finished re-reading Darwin's Children and second time around it's even better than Moving Mars.

Praise indeed....

Are they casting for Darwin's radio yet? I'd make a really good young (english?) Mitch. Ha. I could do a Californian accent and be a strung out Morgan at least. I'll get onto the sci-fi channel now.

Best wishes

Ian

Response: Darwin mini series
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/22/2005 12:35:15 PM

Hello, Ian! Thanks for the high praise. You'll have to move to LA and get into the casting lines... Fortunately, they give us writers no say whatsoever in that regard! I'd probably go raid the cast of LOST, and they've already got work...

WHY SO MISERABLE?
Posted By: David Bailey, UK - 02/20/2005 02:57:29 PM

Greg,

I am just reading Vitals, and as always, there is a great SF story in there - so close to leading edge science it is uncanny. However, why, oh why are all the characters so ****ing miserable? The angst in the book seems to distract from the SF story! The characters in the Forge of God were much happier on the whole, even though the whole earth was about to be destroyed! Two of them even managed to make love in Yellowstone the night before it was going to happen. At the point I have reached in Vitals, Hal is going round with the beautiful Lisa, but her beauty just makes him feel guilty because she used to be his brother's wife!

David Bailey

Response: Why so miserable?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/21/2005 12:10:50 PM

Every character is different, and Hal has issues, no doubt about it! But Lisa is both beautiful and guilt-inducing AND dangerous...

So what's not to like?

Response: Why so miserable?
Posted By: David Bailey, UK - 02/22/2005 03:49:30 AM

Greg,

Thanks for your response! I was only really using Hal and Lisa as examples - I mean, name me one well-adjusted character in Vitals - all the characters seem 'over ripe'. As a result, it can be hard to know whether they are just being their usual selves, or responding to mind altering bacteria. I once read a book by Bob Shaw about writing SF, and his theory was that there was a danger in making the characters in an SF book too strange because when you combine that with the strangeness of SF the result can be, well, too strange! I mean, the SF idea here is fascinating, and to me it is a shame that it gets a bit buried under 'mere' human angst!

As an aside, it occurs to me that if someone could just make some E-coli that synthesise THC (LSD might be a bit too much) the police would need new powers to arrest people for not washing their hands in the toilet!

Regards,

David Bailey

Response: Why so miserable?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/22/2005 12:29:00 PM

Bacteria can make (or degrade) almost any organic chemical you can imagine! As for weird and puzzling characters--science fiction has had its share, no? Shaw was a fine writer, but I don't go along with this premise. We should not forget Mr. Spock, Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Ming the Merciless, Victor Frankenstein, his Monster, and so on... I think my characters are positively well-adjusted by comparison! (Did I leave out Godzilla?)

Response: Why so miserable?
Posted By: Robbie Sundquist, Oly, Wa - 03/16/2005 05:02:18 PM

Your characters are "strange" but in a very scienc-fictiony way. A great example is Mary Choy, from "Queen of Angels" - the fact that she's a transform is an important part of the story, and even moreso in the "Slant."

I've often heard TV or movie sf writers say that writing good sf is the same as writing a good (regular fiction) story, with human drama and so on. But "The Catcher in the Rye" set on Mars is still "The Catcher in the Rye," only on Mars. The characters in your stories have human problems that create emotional conflict and ethical dilemmas, but they're problems that people of the future will face.

FORGE OF GOD
Posted By: Bonnie McFarland, Riverside, CA - 02/19/2005 09:39:27 PM

Dear Greg;
I just finished reading The Forge of God, and was wondering what is happening to the deal with Warner Brothers to make a movie of it. This work is so profound, interesting, and much better than the disaster stories Hollywood usually produces.

I have often wondered why your books haven't seen the big screen. With recent advances in graphics, they could do justice to many of your stories.

Many thanks for the work you do.

Response: Forge of God
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/21/2005 12:08:33 PM

Thanks, Bonnie! FORGE OF GOD is still going through screenplay development. Looks as if they're very interested in getting it write, and doing it well--so I'm willing to be patient.

THANKS
Posted By: Stephen Cole, Britain (Wales) - 02/19/2005 06:52:50 PM

Hi Greg

I've been reading Sci-Fi since I first read EON when I was 22, and I've gone through a lot of books since. From all kinds of authors. But I still rate yours as the best. I am not saying that because I am writing to you now, but because I genuinely think so. Good imaginative twists. Good research in all of them. Sometimes the detail is too much for me but it still gives me a buzz. Your SF seems to express, entertainingly, where the edge of real science is. I am thinking "Darwins Radio/Children" here.

And I have been following your books. And ever since I read "Heads" and "Strength of Stones" I have had the nagging feeling that you are trying to trigger an awareness in your audience of the future/science and the responsibility we should (must) feel. Although its hard to hold onto the idea of a future and being "human" when everything science develops seems to want to dissolve that concept into....something else! (Blood Music).

But we are here and we are now. And we have a future some of us need to accept is coming and connect with. I have just finished Psychlone and I like the ending. The attempt by Jacob to express his fear is what I feel regularly when I look at the world/future. I managed to get my old mother to take a look at it who is a good religious person (as opposed to an extremist) but still blames science for all the over-population problems.

But I do think, that if YOU want to influence those who are (right now anyway) influencing society a bit too much, you have to bridge that gap between Spiritualism and Materialism in an attempt to latch onto whatever whisps of imagination they have (God, Jesus, Crosses and all the other iconic nonsense they swear their LIVES by) and try and draw it into real-world morality. But not into a "this is the mess we are in" sort of conclusion, but into something that lets people see that if they stopped playing stoned follow-my-leader and thought DEEPLY about things more, they can be happier and achieve a happy future. Slow decisions vs fast peer pressured ones? Giving people confidence to say "I don't agree" ?

The book which expressed the problem the world is in at the moment is "The Player of Games" by Ian Banks. I like the Culture civilization very much. It is hopeful. A bit like your EON Axis civilisation I think. And I know he is a British writer and is Left politically, but it expressed so brilliantly what Britains history has created for a problem for my (and probably the next) generation. And (sadly) what I can see the USA drifting towards too.

Another good one is "The Jesus Incident" by ..... I can't remember. But god that was a tough but good read. For some reason it touched me deeply, especially its conclusion as to what The Ship (that knows it is God!) was trying to get humans to understand. Very compelling. I don't think you've got to that level yet. Your novels are too Rational and Sequential (simple?) and don't dip into the truely horrific side of humans enough (cloning, feotal experimentation, grown slaves, etc). I don't think I've really read anything of yours that connects with Evil for the sake of it. True Chaos. Not rationalised chaos. I think thats why I found "The Jesus Incident" book tough. It was all over the place. If you want I'll dig the book out. It turned up from somewhere and I never found another by that author.

So anyway, I'll wind this ramble up.

I wish you would branch out towards Spiritualism a bit more. Psychlone was good and gripped me as all your novels do. But it had a simple ending. There is a REAL need in the world for a CONNECTION between materialism and spiritualism (pragmatism vs moralism). I think its a tough divide to cross, explore, and come back into the real world from, rationally unmolested.

Psychlone almost did that but not quite. It was close but you could feel it was anchored on the materialist side. In contrast I read "The Tommy Knockers" by Stephen King, and that came close too but fell down on the Spirtualist side.

Have you ever thought of teaming up with someone like Stephen King to develop a novel? You could rip into each others material until bare bones truth is revealed? Who knows what you could come up with!

But then, maybe it is just me and I have outgrown the rational SciFi side of things and need the truely fantastic?! Time to try out some of your more fantastic books maybe.

Thanks for all the good stuff. I really appreciate your writing. It keeps me alive.

Regards

Stephen Cole




Response: Thanks
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/21/2005 12:16:56 PM

Thanks, Stephen! Take a look at VITALS and DEAD LINES for pure evil, worldly and spiritual, respectively. And Kaye Lang's experience in DARWIN'S CHILDREN is pretty wonderful and inexplicable. I'll be exploring a much longer view of metaphysics, good and evil, and mysticism soon, if everything works out.

THE JESUS INCIDENT was written by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom, both fine northwest authors.

Now why would Stephen King WANT to collaborate with me? He'd have to take a cut in his advance!

EBOOK AVAILABILITY
Posted By: Julian, London, UK - 02/19/2005 08:37:00 AM

I just read Eon and thoroughly enjoyed it, thank you. Unfortunately though, I only read ebooks nowadays; Eon and Legacy are available as ebooks on www.ereader.com but Eternity isn't.

Do you have any influence on this? Is there any way to get Eternity released in Palm ereader format, maybe by pressure on the appropriate publisher? I would most definitely buy Eternity if it was made available via ereader.com. (I'm not sure how all this works and if you you have different publishers for your hardcopy books, but the publisher listed on eReader.com for Eon is "e-Reads" and for Legacy is "Richard Curtis Associates".)

- Julian

P.S. As a science fiction writer I am hoping that you have a lot of sympathy for ebooks, personally I find the convenience so overwhelming that for fiction I only read this format. There are enough good ebooks out there that, if I can't find a particular title as an ebook, then I just move onto one of the 10 or more other ebooks that I have unread on my Palm device at any given point in time (plus another 10 or 15 in my ereader.com wishlist still waiting to be purchased).

Response: Ebook Availability
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/21/2005 12:01:05 PM

Not all publishers have been on the mark with their eBooks. We're still working on getting some titles available. Del Rey, fortunately, has put me on the eBook bestseller list (twice!) with DARWIN'S RADIO and DARWIN'S CHILDREN. I discussed the potential eBook market with a number of folks--lectures, papers, etc--beginning nineteen or twenty years ago. We still have a lot of work to do!

DEAD LINES A GREAT READ
Posted By: Jim Davis, Modesto - 02/18/2005 04:32:22 PM

Hi Greg,
I just finished ?Dead Lines? and thoroughly enjoyed it! There was one interchange between Peter and Michelle that I wasn?t able to follow (pg 158). Peter is recounting how he learned Daniella was missing, etc. and Michelle says, ?Dark world?? Michelle repeated, incredulous. ?Devils and demons? She was murdered, Peter.?
?It?s a metaphor. Kipling, ? Peter said.
What did Peter say that was a metaphor from Kipling?
I particularly liked the concept of TRANS? and putting them in the prison was a fine touch!
Jim Davis

Response: Dead Lines a Great Read
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/18/2005 05:29:24 PM

Thanks, Jim. Kipling wrote in "The Phantom Rickshaw": "...my theory that there was a crack in Pansay?s head and a little bit of the Dark World came through..." That's what Peter was referring to. Michelle is obviously playing the skeptic here...

Response: Dead Lines a Great Read
Posted By: Jim Davis, Modesto - 02/18/2005 10:07:08 PM

But what prompted Michelle to say "Dark world"? What is the metaphor that initiated that comment?
That's what I didn't follow in the text...
Jim

Response: Dead Lines a Great Read
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/21/2005 11:54:02 AM

Actually, it's Mitch who uses the phrase, echoing the intro paragraphs. Dark world for both Kipling and Mitch signifies the world of evil and the unknown. Something unknown and terrible came and took his daughter. Michelle isn't buying this and plays the skeptic.

OTHER MECHANISMS FOR ACHIEVING PHENOTYPIC VARIATION
Posted By: Sandeep Dayal, NIDDK, NIH - 02/18/2005 04:24:21 PM

Dear Mr. Bear,

I attended your recent seminar/discussion at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland on Feb 15th. First let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughtful and creative book Darwin's Radio. At the seminar, I asked whether you are considering mechanisms other than retroviruses for achieving phenotypic diversity, and I thought I would suggest a couple of fascinating journal articles published in Nature from Susan Lindquist's group. Her studies show that a heat shock chaperone protein called Hsp90 actually buffers or masks genetic and phenotypic variation, in both Arabidopsis and Drosophila. It seems to me that these findings have strong implications regarding the possibility of 'evolutionary capacitors' that can reveal hidden variation under certain conditions (stress, environmental, etc.), allowing a broader sampling of phenospace in short periods of time. This seems also to provide some fuel for the continued debate on punctuated equilibrium. Here are the references, but I would be happy to send you pdf files if you'd like:

Hsp90 as a capacitor of phenotypic variation.
Queitsch C, Sangster TA, Lindquist S.
Nature. 2002 Jun 6;417(6889):618-24. Epub 2002 May 12.

Hsp90 as a capacitor for morphological evolution.
Rutherford SL, Lindquist S.
Nature. 1998 Nov 26;396(6709):336-42.

And also a review:

Under cover: causes, effects and implications of Hsp90-mediated genetic capacitance.
Sangster TA, Lindquist S, Queitsch C.
Bioessays. 2004 Apr;26(4):348-62.

Thank you, and keep up the great work!

Sandeep Dayal

Response: Other mechanisms for achieving phenotypic variation
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/18/2005 05:23:27 PM

Excellent references and ideas. Many thanks, Sandeep. The NCI meeting was very stimulating, and my brain is now quite full!

SMALL POINT
Posted By: Kyle Locke, northern NY - 02/13/2005 01:10:23 PM

In "Dead Lines" you refer to your main character as having attended Army boot camp in Camp Lejeune, NC. Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps installation, home of the 2nd Marine Division and supporting elements. This may seem a small point in a book filled with so much research but Marines and Soldiers alike take pride in their heritage. The easy way to differentiat is that the Army has "Forts", and the USMC has "Camps".
Beautiful book, thanks!

Kyle Locke

Response: Small Point
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/13/2005 05:06:05 PM

Indeed, Kyle--a blunder, to be corrected in the paperback edition. Thanks!

WILL THERE BE A DARWIN DVD?
Posted By: Kristen Orenstein, Orlando, FL - 02/10/2005 04:27:12 PM

As an lifelong reading addict (with the resulting tons of heavy boxes to lug around forever), I finally convinced my husband to cut the umbilical cord called cable TV and have been happily reading away in the resulting quiet. And now I'm going to have to resubscribe to cable TV so I can watch the DARWIN'S RADIO and DARWIN'S CHILDREN miniseries! Aaaagh! I'll never get it turned off again!

So...I know it's early, but any plans to release a DVD of the miniseries? I tremendously excited to see how these novels looked to someone else's imagination. Congrats to you on landing the series.

Thanks for so many years of incredible writing. You sure get the ol' mind-juices flowing!

Response: Will there be a Darwin DVD?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/10/2005 04:34:12 PM

Ah, the glories of print! They're still in the early stages of scripting DARWIN'S RADIO and DARWIN'S CHILDREN, but the Sci Fi channel has a number of DVDs out there from their past shows, so I suspect it will be available. But we shouldn't count our Easter eggs before they pop up on the screen!

Response: Will there be a Darwin DVD?
Posted By: Gold, Christchurch, New Zealand - 06/30/2005 12:02:18 AM

I, for one, refuse to tune in the TV again. :)

I'm also really keen to see the mini series. Here's hoping it hits DVD sooner rather than later.

Maybe Greg could arrange for something similar to what happened to Global Frequency? But planned this time.

Not sure what happened to Global Frequency? Check here http://tinyurl.com/9krdf

Response: Will there be a Darwin DVD?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 06/30/2005 11:20:57 AM

Very interesting groundswell. My family's watching the briefly aired series FIREFLY now on DVD--a lot of fun, mismanaged by Fox Network, but with enough groundswell support to get a feature film produced, SERENITY.

HAPPINESS IS
Posted By: Norma, Capetown,South Africa - 02/09/2005 02:43:55 AM

Well guess what...i have discovered a new author.As a young woman when i first came to this country from England reading was one of the few things one can do across continents.It kept me company many a lonely hour.As i became obsessed with other forms of enjoment my reading slowly came to a halt.But now once again i have turned to reading to escape from life as it is and have found many hours of enjoyment from your writings.Clutching book in hand , on taxis,buses and even the office toilet...addicted i have become and thats only after the first of your books i have read...."Forge of God" Now i have "Vitals " as my next read.Thank you so much.

Response: happiness is
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/09/2005 10:23:44 AM

Thank you, Norma! Book addiction has no known undesirable side effects...except maybe having to lug boxes full of books around for the rest of your life!

GENETRONICS
Posted By: Neil Farbstein - 02/08/2005 02:03:03 PM

Did you know there is comapny Genetronics in California. Did you give them permission to name themselves that?

Response: Genetronics
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/08/2005 02:40:35 PM

I have one of their pens! At the time I wrote BLOOD MUSIC, I don't believe they existed under that name--but I will stand corrected, if somebody knows! I do tend to invent biotech company names, and now I check on Google to see if they actually exist. Back in the early eighties, there was no Google, of course...

THE STONE IN EON
Posted By: Jonathan, Portland, OR - 02/08/2005 02:26:25 AM

Dear Greg,
I just began reading Eon (my first book of yours) earlier this morning and am enjoying it immensely. However, I am having a difficult time visualizing the layout of the Stone: how the chambers are related to eachother, the corridor, what exactly the bore holes are, where the plasma tube cuts through the chambers, etc. Do you know of any map or diagram of the Stone that you or a fan has made that would help as an "Atlas of the Stone" as I navigate through this richly imaginative book?

Thank you and regards,
Jonathan

p.s. Any film plans for Eon?

Response: The Stone in Eon
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/08/2005 10:58:07 AM

Hello, Jonathan! Think of the Stone as a potato skewered lengthwise. A clever chef has hollowed out seven cylindrical plugs, connected by the much thinner bore hole--where the skewer goes through. The seventh chamber has been hooked up to an infinitely long pipeline--and the Jarts are trying to pump in the sour cream and chives!

Hope that helps. (Sorry about the chives. Jarts actually use scallions.)

THANKYOU GREG
Posted By: Anthony Hopkins, Auckland, New Zealand - 02/07/2005 02:42:03 PM

Greetings Greg,
I have, just a few minutes ago, finished reading "Darwin's Radio" and saw your web site address.
I am a 64 year old jazz drummer still playing and making a living in New Zealand.
I have read quite a few of your books mostly from our local library and this book has really moved me...could not put it down!
Thank God for your ability in the creative energy. Marvelous. Do you get blessed when you are writing in the same way as musicians do when playing and we do when reading gifted authors?
Right now I am just buzzing with your inspiation.
Thankyou.
Tony Hopkins.
Auckland, New Zealand

Response: Thankyou Greg
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/08/2005 10:45:31 AM

Many thanks, Tony. Writing a book does not quite put me in the zone a musician enters on a good night at the club--it's more drawn-out, kind of like listening to a symphony nine months long on a skipping CD! But the results are well worth it--when readers such as you respond!

THANK YOU FOR BLOOD MUSIC .
Posted By: Ivy Medina, Brooklyn,New York - 02/02/2005 02:46:23 PM

Dear Greg Bear,

Our names are Jose and Ivy Medina,and we are avid readers of yours. We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this excellent work of science fiction. I had recently finished this book,and you had opened my mind up to many new experiences through this work of art. My husband had introduced me to your writing,and I have been reading your books ever since.

Our daughter is thirteen years of age,and she wants to read "Blood Music". She loves science fiction,(as we do).
My husband has said "Greg Bear's writing is pure poetry,I love the way this man writes." I will echo his sentiment.
Your work is poetry,and for this reason we are so grateful to read your work.

Thank you for this story. Keep up the great stories,and we will keep reading them.

Sincerely,


Jose and Ivy Medina
ivymedina43@yahoo.com

Response: Thank You For Blood Music .
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/02/2005 03:35:23 PM

Thank you very much, Jose and Ivy! I appreciate your kind words of support. The new novel is moving rapidly to a rough draft finish line! And news about the DARWIN'S RADIO/ DARWIN'S CHILDREN miniseries may be forthcoming soon.

ATTN: HARD SF WRITERS: THE RULES ARE CHANGED AGAIN
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Sunny San Diego, California - 02/02/2005 01:15:42 PM

I just heard this breaking on NPR:

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/missing_matter_050202.html

It will be published in Nature tomorrow. Baryonic Matter has no increased from 2% to 5% of the universe. Not sure yet how this affects cosmology, if it's enough to slow things down...if Dark Energy/Antigravity is an artifact of observations.

Even with Hubble schedulded to fall out of the sky, this is still the most exciting time for Astronomy/Astrophysics.

MG

Response: Attn: Hard SF Writers: The rules are changed again
Posted By: Neil Farbstein - 02/08/2005 02:08:35 PM

How did it get to five percent? Runaway epansion of the Universe?

HAMMER OF TIME
Posted By: vince simanca, earth - 01/31/2005 08:17:58 AM

I must first -of course- pay homage to the writer. Thank you for all (tho' I have only read a few) your works. Would love to be in a group discussion which looks at concept/thematic similarities of "Eons" and the "RAMA" series. They are both some of my favorite sci-fi works of the last 20 yrs. In fact, I have had to re-read them in the last few years since I was melding both in my mind. I hope you don't mind that I'm comparing you with the great Sir Arthur. ;)

Secondly, I just want to express my sadness that "The Forge" project seems to be somewhat dormant, at present. I hope it is not moribund and it is simply a matter of WB putting the right pieces together (someone get them a set of Legos, please!). Ahh, if only Spielberg wasn't wasting time remaking Well's "WOTW", and Cameron didn't have his head so deep -in the ocean.

Take care Mr. Bear. Gotta go buy the Darwin's series, now...

Response: Hammer of Time
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/31/2005 10:40:19 AM

Thanks, Vince! FORGE is far from dormant--a new screenplay is still in the works.

Sir Arthur is one of my favorite people, and I was delighted to learn, twenty years ago, that he enjoyed EON, because it was indeed inspired in part by RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA.

BLAST FROM THE PAST...
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Rainy San Diego, California - 01/29/2005 11:45:54 AM

Saw this on APOD yesterday:

http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap050128.html

And I was reminded of a Novella of yours that ran in Galaxy back in the late 1970s...set in the same Future History as BEYOND HEAVEN'S RIVER and featuring the Window of the Rip-Van-Winkle Kamakazi People protagonist. The image that sticks most in my mind was that it was a "rift" full of black holes and naked singularities that a rival interstellar species considered "Sacred Space".

Unforunately all my back issues of Galaxy were lost in a move in the 1980s.

Response: Blast from the Past...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/31/2005 10:22:33 AM

Cool photo.

That would be "The Venging." A somewhat revised version is in my big short story collection from Tor. Wow--back in the days when black holes were simply the coolest things around! Though about that time Hawking was heating them up a little.

I'm still waiting for that enclopedia to pop out of my little desktop black hole. Instead, all I get is Google results...

FOLLOW UP ON REPUBLICAN/ DEMOCRATS
Posted By: Ivo Veldhuis, Southampton - 01/26/2005 03:40:46 PM

Hi Greg,

The tv documentary titled "The power of Nightmares" was rerun on the BBC this month and the BBC have set up a website for it. The website gives some feedback from the producer and writer of the series Adam Curtis. I thought you might be interested. It looks there is some interest from overseas, but not from the major networks. Happy reading.

Website address is: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/4202741.stm

Kind regards,

Ivo Veldhuis

Response: Follow up on Republican/ Democrats
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/26/2005 04:07:34 PM

Very interesting discussion, quite relevant to the book I'm finishing now, QUANTICO. Thanks, Ivo.

Response: Follow up on Republican/ Democrats
Posted By: Adrian Jones, Sheffield, England - 01/27/2005 03:18:39 AM

Dear Ivo and Greg,

'The Power of Nightmares' was indeed a good series - I videoed it the first time round. If you're interested in the field, I would recommend strongly you read Lutz Kleveman's book 'The New Great Game', and visit the accompanying website, http://www.newgreatgame.com/

Frightening stuff.

Yours faithfully,

Adrian Jones

WHAT'S AN ELOI
Posted By: Kurt, Washington State - 01/25/2005 10:34:18 AM

Hello,

In "Queen of Angels" and "Moving Mars", you describe the people who are into life extension as "eloi". What's an eloi? Is this related to the Eloi in the story with the Eloi and Morlocks?

Response: What's an Eloi
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/25/2005 12:32:44 PM

Exactly! They lived a life of ease and luxury on the surface world--until they were harvested by the Morlocks. Wells having a little fun with the concept of class, quite literally "Upstairs, Downstairs"!

Lower classes, low people... hmm!

Response: What's an Eloi
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Rainy San Diego, California - 01/29/2005 11:54:25 AM

Ah...maybe this is where I picked up the concept again, those being the last two of Greg's books I read a couple of years back.

Down here I've have started to use the term to describe 20-30 something Rich-Kids who spend most of their time clubbing and doing XTC on an almost daily basis. There are also many people in the Burning Man Community who fit this discription...Bliss Ninnies with Swiss Cheese for brains. Nice enough folks (in contrast to Alcohalics, Junkies, and Crack heads)but with the attention span of gnats and no real focus in their lives other than the next round of pleasure.

Something of their humanity get's lost in the process.

Greg, and anyone else who reads this blog, feel free to expand on this usage of Eloi that I've been playing with...love to see this become yet another Meme my friends and I have released into the wild.

MG

Response: What's an Eloi
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/31/2005 10:23:39 AM

I like Bliss Ninnies, too...

THANK YOU FOR THE DARWIN BILOGY.
Posted By: Adrian Jones, Sheffield, England - 01/25/2005 07:20:23 AM

Dear Mr Bear,

May I personally thank you for the Darwin Bilogy which I have thoroughly enjoyed reading. I am looking forward, with fingers crossed, for a third book and hope that the Sci_fi channel mini-series does it justice for you.

I notice that you wrote the Star Trek novel, Corona. My, were they lucky to get you to write for them! I have rather large website on said science fiction genre, and one of the races I have been writing about is the Deltan race - portrayed in Star Trek: The Motion Picture by the bald Persis Khambatta. I note that your virus children are everything they could have developed the Deltan race into for the cancelled Star Trek: Phase Two series. You have thus been an inspiration to my writing and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

your humble fan,

Adrian Jones

http://www.uss-sheffield.co.uk

Response: Thank you for the darwin bilogy.
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/25/2005 12:29:35 PM

Many thanks, Adrian! The Deltans never did seem to get used again, did they--at least in the films. I haven't read all of the books.

Response: Thank you for the darwin bilogy.
Posted By: Adrian Jones, Sheffield, England - 01/26/2005 06:09:43 AM

Deltans have only been shown in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and a quick background person on the Excelsior in Star Trek III. As your novels have more than shown, this was a missed opportunity.

However, I suspect the Deltans being stereotyped as the 'swingers of the universe' may have had a role in this. Hopefully I've managed to steer it away from this. Thanks again for your inspiration!

Adrian Jones

http://www.uss-sheffield.co.uk/characters.html
where Ilani and the Deltans reside...

SLANT DATES?
Posted By: David Wright, Texas - 01/24/2005 11:46:20 AM

I just finished reading "Slant" a little while ago. It was a great sequel to "Queen of Angels", and I really loved both books.

To try and understand them better, I decided to write down a list of characters (boy there are a lot), and a timeline as I understood it. QoA took place about a week before Christmas, 2047. Slant occurs about 5 years latter (2052?), over the course of three or four days. Chapter 15 in Part 1 indicates that it is February, since that's what Chao says to open the Stoics meeting Jonathan and Marcus attend. However, near the end of the book, when Alice and Mary are talking, they talk about Christmas and New Years as if they just recently occurred. In fact, that conversation threw me off a little, because it didn't seem to jibe with the rest of what had happened (why, in February, are they talking about Christmas, especially since no real mention of holidays was made in the rest of the story that I recall).

So my question is this: What are the dates for Slant? My original guess was February, 2052.

Hate to sound like a fan-boy, but any plans to revisit this future? I have been thinking of all sorts of prequel-type stories (the rise of nanotech, who invented the arbeiter and why, the change from police to PD, why prostitution became legal, etc.).

I loved the stories. I've read "Heads" and "Moving Mars", and plan to eventually create a timeline for those as well. Thanks for the great stories.

Response: Slant dates?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/24/2005 04:29:30 PM

Thanks, David! As I recall, the last scene reflects a passage of some months, with Mary in recovery, so your dates seem about right. For the moment, this cycle is closed--no firm plans for new works--but who knows? All things are possible! Love to see your timeline when it's finished. Might jog my own memory.

Response: Slant dates follow-up
Posted By: David Wright, Texas - 02/09/2005 12:20:20 PM

Well, I've more or less finished my "Time-line" of QoA and Slant. It's not a big deal, but you can find it at www.honestmonkey.com, under "Greg Bear" - Timeline for Slant. I also have the chapter summary I came up with in my "research" (link near top of Timeline page).

It wasn't easy trying to date slant because there are competing indicators.

After reading through the book again, there are some clues in the story that leads me to believe that it is December, 2051, probably the first or second week. Here's why:

After reading the epilog, it is clear that the epilog takes place "a few weeks" after the events of the rest of the book. However, Epilog 0/1 is a "January morning". Mary and Alice mention that Christmas was bad for retailers, and say "Happy New Year". So it's not too long after Jan. 1. That would mean that this book sort of parallels QoA, and occurs about four years later. Why four years? Martin recalls in Part 2, chapter 11 that he hasn?t gone into "the country of someone's mind" in four years (that would be Goldsmith from QoA). And if the year was 2051/2, Giffey and Crest would have been born around 2001, someone esthetically pleasing.

Therefore, I think that Part 1, chapter 15 has a 'typo' when Chao Luke says it's the February meeting of the Stoics. More likely, it's the December meeting. Another typo is when Mary's age is given as 35 (Part 1, chapter 5). She is either 33, or was born in 2017 (thus, a typo in QoA).

Overall, I think that dates in the book are a little confusing. Obviously, not all dates are meant to be exact ("four years" is an approximate term). For esthetic reasons, I think that I'll conclude that this book started in the first or second week of December, 2051, and the epilog occurs in the first week of January, 2052, although it could fairly easily be concluded that it's December, 2052/January 2053 as well. No year really fits all the indicators.

And for the record I'd like to say that I'm really not usually this anal. :)

Response: Slant dates?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 02/09/2005 01:24:55 PM

Terrific scholarly work here! I'll go back over these texts the next time I get an opportunity to correct them, and see if I can fit in your discoveries. Thanks!

A SERIOUS GLITCH IN STEM CELL RESEARCH
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Sunny San Diego, California - 01/24/2005 10:51:18 AM

http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050124/full/050124-1.html

And discovered down here in San Diego, on the Mesa tops over which you once called Enzyme Valley.

As I typed this up the story was also echoed on California Public Radio's CALIFORNIA REPORT.

Well, I think this goes a long way toward "proving" January 24 to be the worst day of the year.

Response: A Serious Glitch in Stem Cell Research
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/24/2005 11:16:55 AM

Contamination with mouse cells and such has been rumored for some time now. Sialic acid contamination is new to me... I was more concerned about mouse and other viruses crossing over.

On another medical front: Looks like using pig tissue transplants is turning out to be a very bad idea... they cross-contaminate human cells with Porcine Endogenous Retroviruses, or PERV. (Repost with permission checked if you'd like this posted, Mike.)

WORRIED ABOUT SULI RAM K
Posted By: John Holtom, England - 01/24/2005 03:45:57 AM

Dear Greg

Having finished the ingenious Eternity, I am still worried about the narrative justification for Suli Ram K being placed under house arrest.

I realize the President became something of a dictator in the interests of compelling the res publica (if I remember the Latin correctly) into effect but as the Hexamon is all about respect and careful evaluation of intelligent communication, what I cannot understand is why she could not continue to be permitted to articulate the objections, flaws, misperceptions and oversights quite lawfully.

I would understand that she could be out voted, out maneourved, shunned etc etc but totally silenced seems contrary to centuries of thought of the Hexamon.

I can't see how the narrative would be harmed by her continuing as a thorn in the side of those in power. Clearly she could not succeed. But then?

I see your writing as deeply considered with exceptional narrative coherence. As I have previously said, I think that the evolution of The Infinity Concerto and the Serpent Mage are tremendously successful narrative creations. Indeed, I think that Eon is one of the most well realized pieces of complex writing I have read since completing White Jazz by James Ellroy some years ago!

Any way - enough! I have moved onto the next epic Queen of Angels - the first part of the narrative - the boy poet (sorry I don't have the book with so and I can't remember his name) speaking makes me think very much of The Sound and the Fury.... another great American piece of writing by one of my all time greats!

Respectful regards

John Holtom

Response: Worried about Suli Ram K
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/24/2005 11:09:17 AM

John, being compared to Ellroy and Faulkner in the same letter makes me feel a little dizzy... I'm going to have to go lie down!

THE BEST WAY TO START THE NEW YEAR!
Posted By: Johnny, Fort Richardson, Alaska - 01/20/2005 04:19:27 PM

Greetings and profound thanks to you, Mr. Bear!

Please allow me to convey both my sympathy and empathy upon the loss of your sister and teacher. The tragic experience of loosing someone close is never easy or pleasant; it takes what we value the most in life - family. I too have experienced that kind of loss. Please remember the good times you shared with them and always keep them in alive in your heart and soul. Then they will always be alive in the most important of places.

In the last two weeks I've re-read "Blood Music" and "Forge of God"; each one for the umpteenth time. Guess "Eon" will be next...

I never tire of your incredible writing and the awesome stories told in those particular three books.

I've honestly lost track of how many times I've enjoyed those books. And knowing that they are there on the shelf, always ready to take me to a place of total reader bliss, is a blessing.

You are by far and away my favorite author and all of your stories add something very special to my life. They simutaneously humble and inspire.

Thank you, Sir, for such a sublime experience and for the thought provoking ideas contained in those well-worn and well-loved pages.

Please note that I addressed you as Mr. Bear. Black opals are not common in Alaska, unlike salmon. And everyone knows that bears love to eat salmon.

Best wishes to you and your family.

Sincerely yours, Johnny


Response: The Best Way to Start the New Year!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/20/2005 04:53:00 PM

Many thanks, Johnny! I will always settle for black hematite. (Bears and smoked salmon also get along well...)

Jesting here. Your words mean a lot to me.

Response: The Best Way to Start the New Year!
Posted By: Kev, http://thebayerfamily.blogspot.com - 02/06/2005 04:26:58 PM

Yeah, I've re-read Eon and Eternity several times myself!

IS IT ALIVE, OR A MACHINE
Posted By: Mike Glosson, San Diego - 01/18/2005 08:37:18 AM

Fun new biomechanical development in LA:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4181197.stm

>DESENDANT COMMAND<
Posted By: Chris Danvers, Australia - 01/15/2005 09:06:29 AM

Hello Again... seeing your in the US and I'm downunder I'm going to call you Greg. What are you going to do, beat me up?
I have a friend who thinks that nothing is made up, people just write about real events in their life...Therefore i guess if the Da vinci code is real, the chinese discovered the world and scientology is real... Where can i get some Talsit? I'm in dire need, got to straight myself out and all this other stuff is just pseudo-talsit, for some reason the most important thing to me is coca cola... That not right!
ok, seriously, when you thought up talsit, did you have any idea as to what order things would be put in? ... I mean the concept is great but for instance would talsit have put the piorities of Mirsky/Final mind/desendant command at No. 1 on Farren Siliom's checklist? ... Love the whole concept of Final mind>desendant command<... Also I find it strange that no one in Eternity (especially Olmy) really struggles with Final Mind/desendant command as Mirsky says its a combination of all intelligent thought and it fits better into that Jart ideology rather then Human... sounds like a Jart plot to control a Way of their own... but they don't want to be alone, they want everything? ... These are things I probably think to much about...
I should ask you something worthy of a response from you so I was wondering what order you start with when you write a novel... Just put these in order ... cause i need it spelt out for me

Concept, Science (general science topic/concept) , character/s, setting, storyline, story arrangement (you know, several stories interwoven etc) ... feel free to add your own

Thats a big e-mail... I thank you in advance. One more thing, could you tell me some non-scifi authors that you dig, not just now but lets say all-time... I only know idiots who recommend trashy pop stuff... same as the music, same as the film, same as the..... but thats another E-mail

Thanks
Chris D

Response: >desendant command<
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/17/2005 12:19:52 PM

Thanks, Chris! You've plumbed the uncomfortable truth about ETERNITY--that the Jarts might have the right idea after all. Kind of scary, huh?

Great novels I've loved that make me want to write: LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry, THE SAND PEBBLES by Richard McKenna, ULYSSES by James Joyce, THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald, GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Charles Dickens, THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY by Irving Stone, KING JESUS by Robert Graves, TERRA NOSTRA by Carlos Fuentes, and... well, that list could go on for quite a while! I'm sure you won't like them all, but somewhere in there is a gem for everybody!

Speaking of gems, people from Down Under who call me Greg have to send me opals. Big black ones.

Response: >desendant command<
Posted By: John Holtom, England - 01/20/2005 07:49:18 AM

Dear Greg

This is really a response to your respone to the Australian gentleman (I assume Chris is a male?).

The more I read Eternity the more the Jarts become like the grey nano minds of Blood Music that sneek under the skin and enslave from the inside out. It is a deeply terrifying concept.

In Blood Music I had the strong impression that you were siding with the new organism that turned all organic life into a collective mind.

In Eternity I think that maybe despite your comment to Chis D you are siding with the fraility of humanity. You enjoy too much the story-telling about the ordinary people like Lanier and Rhita (only ordinary in that they are not implanted or City Memory enhanced) who articulate their horror with too much sympathetic emotion for it to be dismissed. I realize now why the story of Gaia is fundamental to the narrative.

I don't quite understand how the Hexamon can permit itself to fall into double-think and justify the imprisonment of Ram K, the advocate.

If, as you describe, there was an all embracing debate in City Memory about the re-opening of the Way, I cannot quite see the rationale that enables the enhanced thinking of the advanced humans to suddenly fall into the trap of self-deceit when they all have access to and actively engage in that debate. You explain it as what I think you describe as an obsession - or rather Olmy sees it (before the Jart switches him) - and Olmy is perhaps the lynch-pin of the whole narrative. He comments (if I remember rightly) that even these advanced humans are really just as self-serving as humans have always been (and the leadership is indeed even worse that he feared). That is a narrative trick I feel that gives a gloss on what has happened - but what actually happened still lacks narrative explanation - it does not emerge from the circumstances and characters - it seems to be an external framework on which they hang........(perhaps a little like the ticking clock in a film when the seconds take longer than seconds because in films you can do that!). You may dismiss my thoughts outright, of course. I have not yet finished the fantastic story anyway.

How eclectic your favourites are!!

With such immensely complex plotting, characterisation, conceptual thought and narrative clarity and control, how can it be that science fiction remains sniffed at by the literary establishment?

I feel there must also be comment that you are prepared to engage with your readership. This is, of course, a phenomenon of our age but nevertheless it is something for which I thank you and hold you in great respect (few writers bother).

Thank you for your time.

Good wishes John Holtom UK

Response: >desendant command<
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/20/2005 10:24:46 AM

Thanks, John! I've always felt that no matter how advanced the "mind" or "minds," the nature of thought demands point/counterpoint. Argument leads to solution. In any reasonably healthy and functional group of intelligences, there will be a broad diversity of opinion--often if not always seen as "irrational" by the opposition. The passion of the debate highlights the importance of the decision.

Literary establishment sniffs at a lot of things, including itself. That's the nature of lit'ry writers. As long as I can talk knowledgably about what they claim to know, and they can't talk about what I know, I have the advantage. And when they can teach me, I listen.

ABROAD- WRITERS SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS
Posted By: nancy gerbault, california - 01/15/2005 02:59:36 AM

Dear Greg,
As an Archaeologist I'm a true lover of your books. I'm the founder and director of ABROAD-crwf, we have writers seminars and workshops in various countries in the world. I would love to have you participate in one of our seminars. Check out the site and get back to me.
http://www.abroad-crwf.com

Cheers,
Nancy Gerbault

Response: ABROAD- writers seminars and workshops
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/17/2005 12:25:02 PM

Hello, Nancy! What a terrific program and list of writers. This year is pretty packed for me, but perhaps we can talk about 2006? Allow me to pass along my direct email address and mail address:

506 Lakeview Rd.
Lynnwood, WA 98037
ursus@earthlink.net

Thanks!

Greg

JUST SOME BLABBER
Posted By: Zobie Nasery, Calgary, Alberta, Canada - 01/11/2005 04:45:14 PM

Hi Greg,
I have a few questions as well as much praise. I was wondering firstly if there is any news on Warner Bro. and 'The Forge of God'. Any new info would be much appreciated.( even confirming no new news is appreciated =) ) I have been looking forward to having the book become a motion picture even before i began reading it! I sent you an email a few years back when i first read 'Songs of Earth and Power' where i asked whether Songs had the potential to become a movie. In the reply you said Warner was looking into buying the rights for 'The Forge of God'. As soon as i recieved that email i began looking for a copy of 'TFOG'.
It was brilliant. I'm positivly sure you recieve many emails like mine claiming your books are brilliant, but honestly speaking your novels aren't just brilliant, they have change the way i view the world. From 'Songs', to 'Blood Music' to 'Heads' and 'TFOG'. I'm currently reading 'Anvil of Stars'. In closing, your books give me a reason to think for myself and ponder things i don't usually ponder.

You have made me a better person.
Thank you for your time
=)

A VERY big fan from Canada.

Response: Just some blabber
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/11/2005 06:33:34 PM

Thanks, Zobie. Your words touch me deeply. You'd better believe as soon as there's solid news about FORGE OF GOD, you'll see it here! I'm pretty eager to learn more, too.

THE MAGE PATRICIA VASQUEZ
Posted By: John Holtom, Luton, England - 01/10/2005 07:24:49 AM

Dear Greg Bear

Eternity seems to have much in common with the Infinity Concerto and particularly the Serpent Mage. Far more so than Eon.

Patricia Vasquez (+ grand daughter Rhita)and Olme (+ perhaps Mirsky + Korzenowski)are in their way (no pun intended) creators of worlds, individuals whose intelligence and perception has a touch of the divine, just like Michael. Multiple different worlds colliding, sliding together and apart.

Maybe there is too much of the world of Gaia? I wonder if it is not as central to the evolution of the story as perhaps the volume it occupies would suggest?

Olme is a tremendous character. The Jart is also a splendidly sinister evil genius.

Though I have not read it for decades, Zarathusta comes to mind, as does the Mephistopholes from Marlow's Dr Faustus. But you seem to have a more beneficent view of the aspiration to deity than Marlow, perhaps?

This is all insufficiently analysed comment but nevertheless all hail to you master narrator and imaginator of the fantastical!

John Holtom (not yet finished Eternity so please don't spoil the plot!)

Response: The Mage Patricia Vasquez
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/10/2005 12:27:10 PM

Thanks, John! Themes and archetypes do tend to pop up in the works of a single writer. I call it deep structure. Heinlein had it: so does Sir Arthur Clarke, but of course in different ways. I noted this way back in the eighties when I realized that "Scattershot" and "Hardfought," two of my shorter works, were very similar in their deep structure.

SIGNINGS
Posted By: Jon Schultz - 01/10/2005 04:28:20 AM

Mr. Bear,

Are you planning any signing tour in the Detroit, Michigan area in the near future? If not, is there any way that you could sign some of your novels that I have if I ship them to you. I would, of course, arrange for all return packing, postage, etc.

Thank you for your time,

Jon Schultz
jschultz@beverlyhillspolice.com

Response: signings
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/10/2005 12:32:12 PM

Thanks for writing, John. I can't sign books sent to me by mail--post office regulations require personal delivery of packages over a pound--but I do sign book plates. Some dealers, such as the University Book Store in Seattle, do handle signed new books (check out their web page for instructions and phone numbers). No plans to come through Detroit anytime soon, unfortunately!

ELIZABETH
Posted By: David Barber, Tucson, AZ - 01/09/2005 09:43:06 PM

Greg,

I'm very sorry to have heard of Elizabeth Chater's passing. Jeannie Graham pointed me to your tribute on your web-page. I knew this day would come, and always hoped it wouldn't.

Without a doubt, Bette will live on inside those of us who knew her and loved her so well. I am without-a-doubt certain that she is with Mel in Heaven right now, happy again, and smiling down upon us.

Thanks for sharing her with the rest of the world!

*David Barber*

Response: Elizabeth
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/10/2005 12:46:12 PM

Hello, David! I would have alerted you directly, but did not have a recent email address. There're also tributes to Bette in Locus this month from myself and Richard Curtis. Bette touched so many! She was and is a lovely woman.

SATISFIED ONCE AGAIN. DARWINS SAGA...
Posted By: Michael Pine, Melbourne, Australia - 01/09/2005 04:31:27 PM

Greg,

I have finally finished reading Darwins Children/Voyage and even though I must admit I struggled
with them at first I just fell in love with the characters and the great story
line, I really am looking forward to seeing this TV mini series, I just hope they do it justice, I know how
sometimes these things can turn out to bite you on the preverbeal.

I have actually read a couple of Linda Nagata novels and the physical features that the children used for
scenting reminded me of Vast (which I read first and am in the process of reading the preceeding novels)
and the way the characters had the tear ducts and could express feelings and communicate them through these
physical parts of their bodies.

I was just wondering if this is coincidental in the writing of the books or is there something shared ?

Even though the writing is different I dont know what it is I just find something eerily similar having
read all of your novels and then reading Lindas' works.

thanks!
Michael

When are you coming to Australia again ?

Response: Satisfied once again. Darwins saga...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/10/2005 02:06:17 PM

Thanks to you, Michael! Linda Nagata is a fine writer--VAST is a fine book, as well. Don't know about the connections, since I was writing DARWIN'S RADIO and planning the children's traits before VAST was published--but great minds do tend to think alike. I'd love to come back to Australia, but may have to pay my own way and make it a serious visit this time. (They wouldn't let me travel to Red Center to sign books...)

AWAITING QUANTICO
Posted By: Dr. Derek Corcoran, London, England - 01/09/2005 04:27:40 PM

Hi Greg!
I'm a fuel cell engineer with a company called CeresPower (www.cerespower.com) in the UK. I've written to you before a while back, and having recently finished Dead Lines, I can tell you that it was a great read, the suspense and images in conjured were truly shudder-inducing!

Can't wait for Quantico, just read the synopsis on Amazon...is this the new bio-tech nightmare future novel that you were alluding to in another message saying that you were working on a new novel like the Darwin-series world? it sounds fascinating! Conspiracy, paranoia and fear, great!! Can't wait until November 2005!

Dr. Derek Corcoran.

Response: Awaiting Quantico
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/10/2005 02:14:38 PM

Hello, Derek! I could use those fuel cells now, actually... Good luck with the development! You may be thinking about VITALS, published in 2001. QUANTICO is a near-future FBI/suspense novel, involving both a solution to old mysteries and a very plausible new threat, and I hope to finish it within a month or two.

GREAT BOOKS
Posted By: Alex, Canada - 01/08/2005 09:11:56 AM

Hi Mr. Bear,

I just finished reading "Vitals" and I have also read your "Darwin's Children" and I am very captivated by your books. I plan on reading "Dead Lines" soon and really look forward to it. I really like how your stories develop and your scientific content is simply amazing. It is good to read science fiction books based on real science.

I hope you keep writing because I know I will keep reading.

Cheers

Response: Great Books
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/10/2005 02:19:29 PM

With a letter like yours, Alex, I certainly have no reason to quit! Many thanks.

DARK SKY
Posted By: Howard E. Miller, Augusta, GA - 01/07/2005 03:01:08 PM

I've been pondering the current thinking on the evolution of the universe. If it never comes to an end, then in the distant future it will become a vast, dark, cold, empty place. Neutrons will decay, protons will decay. Eventually all that will be left will be electrons and a few weak microwaves.

Imagine a group of travelers inadvertently finding themselves in the universe about 10 to the 100th power years from now. They would be stranded with no hope of renewing whatever supplies they had with them. And to look out at the dark universe would be a very horrifying experience.

Then, it occurred to me that given enough time, everything that could possibly happen would, and maybe the universe wouldn't be forever empty.

Response: Dark Sky
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/07/2005 07:02:06 PM

Huge questions here, Howard! I'm starting to contemplate such questions now, planning for what will probably be my next novel.

I'm both enthused and disheartened by the truth that we just don't know nearly enough to do more than guess at this point. Math does nothing for us without sufficient data--it just makes our errors more precise.

Response: Dark Sky
Posted By: patrick - 01/08/2005 12:53:57 PM

ah, sounds as if you mayve come across THE FIVE AGES OF THE UNIVERSE, or something like it. cause thats exactly what this book does - it looks at the universe up to 10 to the 100 times.

regardless of an expanding universe, infinities seem irrelevant, with regard to spacetime in this fashion. however, the infinities which occur before
"normalisation" - it may actually be necessary to reconsider these, in reconciling quantum dilemmas, and in cosmological conundrums.

just some lay speculation.

Response: Dark Sky
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/10/2005 02:15:54 PM

Quite agree. There's many a slip twixt the hot cup of coffee and the heat death of everything.

Response: Velcro Universe
Posted By: Howard E. Miller, Augusta, GA - 01/11/2005 12:06:27 AM

Recently, I watched Brian Greene's excellent "Elegant Universe" on PBS. At one point it depicts strings as loops of energy with both ends anchored in space time. The graphic reminded me of something. Then I realized what it was, and wondered if somewhere close by there might be a universe in which strings only have one end anchored, with the other end curling into a hook.

What would happen if these two universes came into contact? And would it ever be possible to pry them apart?

Response: Dark Sky
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/11/2005 11:00:41 AM

Ah, the stuff that holds universes together! We are but God's shoe fasteners. Very good, Howard. (Wait, do you hear that terrible ripping sound? *Whew*... it isn't the fabric of space-time, just the zipper...)

Response: RE: Dark Sky
Posted By: Johnny, Fort Richardson, Alaska - 01/20/2005 06:44:01 PM

Phillip Jose Farmer published a novel in the 1970's based upon that very premise; a colorful adventure at the end of the time. Unfortunately I've forgotten the name of that novel, which I read in autumn 1980. I remember the date so well because at that time the economy was pretty flat. I was unemployed and subsisting on a literary diet of used paperbacks. They must be somewhat nourishing because I'm still alive and prowling the musty stacks of any used book store that I encounter. But definitely an interesting subject to ponder.