Discussion Board Archives: July-December, 2005

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FEATURE MOVIE
Posted By: Terry, California - 12/31/2005 08:56:11 PM

Just got back from watching the Chronicles of Narnia movie and felt a bit jyped by the whole experience. My partner and I were wondering the whole way home: with all of the fantasy being successfully offered up onscreen these days (LotR, Harry Potter, Narnia), why on earth isn't Songs of Earth & Power being optioned for a two or three film release? When are you getting a film deal Mr. Bear!!? We're all so desperate for a great original story!

Terry

Response: Feature Movie
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/01/2006 03:15:29 PM

Fantasy is doing very well at the box office... No options on my fantasy novels yet, but if Narnia and the many other upcoming films do well, who knows?

DEAD LINES
Posted By: Greg Baer, 1280 S. Filbert Exeter,Ca - 12/30/2005 08:29:16 PM

Greg,
Just a quick note to say thanks. I just spent a couple of days relaxing and reading Dead Lines. It was just what I needed before returning to work. I look forward to getting your next book soon. Have a Happy New Year and Thanks again.

Greg Baer

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 12/31/2005 04:00:09 PM

Talk about spooky! Thanks, Greg--!

TWO MORE YEARS UNTIL CITY! ARRRGHHHH!!!!!
Posted By: Ricardo, Glendale, CA - 12/27/2005 10:31:07 PM

Hey, Greg, as I was about to get started on my Amazon/UK copy of Quantico (ha! - let's see Big Brother try and keep a new Greg Bear release from me), I had a few thoughts that I wanted to share with you. I know a lot of your fans, myself included, have clamored in the past for you to write more "hard-SF" space operas. We can't help it - we love those stories, and your the best there is at it. But I don't think creativity should be "forced", and when it is the product always seems to suffer. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think works of yours that to me are masterpieces, like EON/ETERNITY and FORGE/ANVIL, came about because fans, publishers, whoever held a gun to your head. It seems more likely to me that you were thinking about those ideas, and the creativity naturally followed. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, from this fan's perspective, write whatever you want! Write a western! Or a mystery! I know I'll buy it, and probably like it, because I enjoy your writing style, the way characters are developed and ideas presented. If that means CITY comes out in 2 years, or 5 years, so be it. I'm just glad that you're still writing and putting out new material!

Response: Two more years until CITY! Arrrghhhh!!!!!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 12/28/2005 11:14:57 AM

Thanks, Ricardo! By the way, did I tell you that CITY is a Western? I'm reading "Lonesome Dove" right now to inspire me...

Just kidding. But truth to tell, CITY AT THE END OF TIME is not going to be quite like any of my other books.


Response: Two more years until CITY! Arrrghhhh!!!!!
Posted By: Ricardo, Glendale, CA - 01/01/2006 05:43:15 PM

Hmmm, not like any of your other books, eh? Now that's something to look forward to! The first story of yours that I ever read, HARDFOUGHT, I stumbled upon in an old short story collection. In the editor's little intro before each story, I think he called HARDFOUGHT "vaultingly ambitious", among other superlatives....sounds like CITY might be in that category!

Response: Two more years until CITY! Arrrghhhh!!!!!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/01/2006 06:25:47 PM

Ah, but back then I was young and foolish... The main thing I'm noting about CITY so far is that it's great fun to write, and very difficult to know just how far it's going to stretch. QUANTICO was very tough to write, very disciplined, and very focused--which is part of the reason I'm so proud of it. Now, however, it's great to sprawl!

Response: Two more years until CITY! Arrrghhhh!!!!!
Posted By: Michael Pine, Melbourne, Australia - 01/04/2006 04:41:56 AM

See now this is what I wanted to hear!! Dont get me wrong Greg, I love all of your books, because of what you have opened up for me, but there are things I like more than others, Quantico, is 2nd in line on my reading queue, but I have the feeling if City came out right now, it would be immediately pushed to number 1..!! :)

looking forward to it.... in the mean time, hope you dont mind me mentioning I am enjoying an author called Jasper Fjorde at the moment..... but also looking forward to Quantico.... just is not enough time in the day.

thanks Greg!

Response: Two more years until CITY! Arrrghhhh!!!!!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 01/04/2006 09:45:22 AM

Indeed, the Far Future calls! Thanks, Michael.

QUANTICO
Posted By: Bill, Seattle - 12/26/2005 08:00:38 AM

I just finished reading Quantico. Having read it, I don't have any clearer idea why the US publisher would have backed out. I thought the book was very enjoyable; not my favorite GB, but a solid book that I will certainly keep and re-read with just as much enjoyment in the future.

A bit light on the science, as was the case with Dead Lines. I like both books very much, but I'm hoping to see a return to harder science in your future work.

Thanks for another great read!

Response: Quantico
Posted By: Greg Bear - 12/26/2005 11:56:04 AM

Thanks, Bill! I think DARWIN'S RADIO and DARWIN'S CHILDREN overloaded some readers with science...so I have to find a happy medium somewhere. (And then again--some readers classify "harder science" as physics and astronomy--which I will certainly be tackling, minus equations, in CITY AT THE END OF TIME.)

Response: Quantico
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, 1.3 ex 8 (target=Houston[NA]42c/G391-14[LG1e]/U578-64p, time= ~0.24135, 2007AD) - 12/27/2005 01:57:32 PM

Hello Greg!

Any notion when CITY will be ready?

Jimmy

Response: Quantico
Posted By: Greg Bear - 12/27/2005 04:26:59 PM

How about one and a half to two years?...before it gets published, that is. I hope to have it delivered by October.

QUANTICO HAS ARRIVED FROM UK
Posted By: David F. Dickinson, Southfield, Michigan - 12/19/2005 10:39:40 AM

Greg:

Well Last week I recieved "Quantico" from Amazon/UK, without a hitch.

It is in load position on my nightstand, and I will let you know my thoughts.

Keep on keeping on.

Dave D.

Response: Quantico has arrived from UK
Posted By: Greg Bear - 12/19/2005 11:09:53 AM

Good news! We're still negotiating for additional U.S. publication rights. I should be signing plates for the Easton Press edition soon.

DARWIN'S CHILDREN
Posted By: Jeff Yerger, Georgia - 12/08/2005 11:27:52 AM

Dear Mr.Bear,
I just finished reading your novel DARWIN'S CHILDREN and I must admit I haven't been entertained like that in years by a novel.It was so thought- provoking it was almost scary.It a GREAT read sir. Thank-you for writing it!

Response: DARWIN'S CHILDREN
Posted By: Greg Bear - 12/08/2005 11:53:12 AM

And thank you for the kind words, Jeff!

DEAD LINES
Posted By: Janine Bajnauth, Toronto, Ontario, Canada - 12/04/2005 01:10:22 PM

Hi Mr. Bear, my names Janine. I'm reading your book, DEAD LINES right now, and I'm loving it, it's a really well done book! I'm reading it as an english project, and I was wondering, was there anything that inspired you to write this book? Like your own experience with the paranormal or maybe someone that you know that had an experience?
Anyway, I just wanted to say I'm really enjoying it and I look foreward to reading your next book!

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 12/05/2005 10:05:05 AM

My experiences with the "paranormal" have been interesting, but fairly minimal. I've always enjoyed good ghost stories, however--and decided it was time to try my hand at one. Thanks for writing, Janine!

QUANTICO- US RELEASE DATE?
Posted By: Mike Casassa, Virginia Beach, Virginia - 11/22/2005 04:31:47 AM

I see where Mr. Bear's newest project, Quantico is to be released, or has been released by a UK publisher. Is this book going to be released in the US? I have been looking for it since I heard of it several months ago. (I contacted Mr. Bear, and he appeared suprised that I even knew of the upcoming release). I have been looking for this book, on Amazon, and in Book stores.
thank you,
Mike

Response: Quantico- US release date?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/22/2005 10:01:31 AM

We'll be releasing the book in a number of formats this spring. First up will be the Easton Press limited signed edition; thereafter, trade, POD, and e-text are being planned, and we'll announce availability and dates right here. The book can be ordered right now from Amazon.co.uk

This will be something of a grass-roots campaign, Mike!

DARWIN'S CHILDREN
Posted By: Zarko - 11/21/2005 01:21:29 AM

Mr. Bear
I just finished reading both Darwin?s Radio and Darwin?s Children and I am fascinated with both of your books. I have to admit it is brilliantly well written fiction. I love science and in near future I am hoping to continue my work in molecular and call biology and human biochemistry. This is where my question has its roots. I would like to know if I maybe misread or missed the point, but why are the SHEVA children born with actually more chromosomes? As I was reading I expected the children to minimize the number of chromosomes and actually become simpler in chromosomal structure. In other words nature tends to move from complexity to simplicity. I know SHEVA children are more complex in body physiology, but still I would have guessed that simple natural processes would reduce the number of chromosomes; trigger some type of activation of the massive amounts of junk DNA that is already present and by doing so improve genome function and increase the capacity of anatomical and physiological complexity! I am a big fan of yours and I am also wondering will there be a 3rd book. I hope so, because I would love to see what will happen to the coming generations of the children. Will they adapt or will this type of species fail becoming a part of forget history and a new puzzle to future anthropologists?

Sincerely,

Zarko

Response: Darwin's Children
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/21/2005 10:03:37 AM

Hello, Zarko! Thanks for your kind words. The extra chromosomes are meant to be provocative--but in fact, chromosome number is a poor indicator of complexity, and probably has more to do with internal genetic housekeeping, allocation of resources, etc. As to aneuploidy leading to a situation where subspecies cannot breed with their parent species, I'm taking an again over-the-edge position that in certain circumstances, they can--and remain fertile. (In the back of my mind, as I wrote the story, I was thinking that chromosome number would shift in early populations of the SHEVA children, and gradually settle down.)

Interesting thought, that evolution breeds simplicity. Compare us to the paramecium, and I wonder how true that is?

TRNW
Posted By: Darren McRoy, MA - 11/20/2005 09:45:30 PM

Greg,

I haven't read too much of your stuff, but I did run across your short story "Through Road No Wither" in that anthology of 20th-century alternate history. It took me about six re-reads to understand (and now I feel really, really dumb!) but when I finally realized what happened in the end, it was really, really poignant. Brilliant wordplay.

"Hungry bird. Time to feed."

I should pick up something else of yours sometime--I did love that story. Although I'm still not exactly what the phrase "through road no wither" is supposed to mean... ?

Ah well. Great story.

Response: TRNW
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/21/2005 09:58:36 AM

Thanks, Darren. I picked up the title from a phrase in a Cambridge history text, forget which one now--referring rather paradoxically, I assume, to a condition in which you have a highway to nowhere.

NEW REVIEW
Posted By: Joy Calderwood, Oregon - 11/19/2005 10:15:51 PM

Dear Greg Bear, Reviewers Choice has another new review of your work, this time for your collection THE WIND OF A BURNING WOMAN.
http://www.reviewers-choice.com/the_wind_from_a_burning_woman.htm
I went right on to read STRENGTH OF STONES, though I had trouble coexisting with all the death and decay in it. Now, where to start with your high tech books...?

Response: New Review
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/21/2005 09:50:30 AM

Thanks, Joy! Why not start with MOVING MARS?

CALIFORNIA SPIRITS
Posted By: Eli Bishop, San Francisco - 11/19/2005 05:56:52 PM

I just finished DEAD LINES. What a good book. I'm a huge fan of your larger-scale SF/fantasy (especially THE FORGE OF GOD and SONGS OF EARTH AND POWER) and I was a little skeptical at the turn toward a semi-conventional thriller form in VITALS, but your ideas and imagery are stronger and stranger than anything on the airport rack. I'm usually not crazy about the use of a few sprinkles of SF to lend flavor to an otherwise traditional horror setup, but DEAD LINES handled that very well, keeping the techie side simple and relevant. And I liked the echo of HEADS, which is my favorite shorter work of yours.

Anything with ghosts, phones, and Hollywood inevitably reminds me of Tim Powers's EXPIRATION DATE. Your depiction of the intersection of primal forces with the earthy, sad, and goofy aspects of private life and mass culture, and especially your characterization of the Russ Meyer-ish lead, struck me as particularly Powersesque - though he approaches that territory from the fantasy side of the aisle and is generally sillier.

best,
Eli

Response: California spirits
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/19/2005 06:10:12 PM

Thanks, Eli! Jumping back and forth between different subjects has definitely been hazardous--why, when I was young, I sampled nineteen genres a week, and loved 'em all! (Well, I exaggerate a little.) I'm a fan of Tim Powers and would not call him silly, however--surreal and funny, perhaps. My particular favorite is LAST CALL. This kind of humor--black as pitch--is very hard to do--harder than dying, so I've heard.

NATURE IS STRANGER THAN FICTION
Posted By: Mark Kirkland, Australia - 11/18/2005 04:41:13 AM

Having read (and now re-read) Darwin's Radio, I thought you might be interested to hear of a presentation at a recent stem cell conference in Singapore, by Prof. Fred H. Gage from the Salk Institute, La Jolla Cal. He has been looking at transposons in neural stem cells and has made the remarkable observation (unfortunately not yet published) that transposons are activated in neural stem cells and insert semi-randomly into active neural genes. The upshot of this is that every neuron is effectively genetically and phenotypically unique, such that the activity of a range of genes is being modulated by these insertions. In other words, there is an inbuilt system to generate diversity in neurons. These transposons are also active in the ovary and testis. What implications this has for neural function and development is not yet clear, but opens up some intruiging possibilities, particularly for someone with your imagination....
Yours sincerely
Assoc. Prof. Mark Kirkland
BioCell Australia P/L

Response: Nature is stranger than fiction
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/18/2005 10:15:07 AM

Wonderful discoveries! And this is just the tip of the iceberg, I think. Thanks, Mark. (If we get around to discovering that every germline cell has a subtly different genome--what will that imply for evolution?)

NEW TO YOUR BOOKS
Posted By: Jamie Miele, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida - 11/17/2005 04:07:13 AM

Dear Mr. Bear:

Hi, my name is Jamie Miele, and I just saw some of your books in my local library. I am a big Reader, have cerebral plasy since birth, so have alot of time on my hands.

My question is which one of your books should I start on?
I was thinking your volume of collected stories

Also I have not really read Sci-Fi since I was in grade school,so which author should I start on?

I was thinking of trying John Wyndham's "The Day of the Triffids" 1951 which I have to special request from my library.

Look forward to reading your novels.
And keep up the good novels

Sincerly Yours,

Jamie Miele

Response: New to your books
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/17/2005 10:02:06 AM

Hello, Jamie! DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS is a fine book--and you might like to try THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS, as well, by Wyndham. As for my books, the collection is a good place to start. Next you might try EON, BLOOD MUSIC, or MOVING MARS, and if you're more interested in contemporary settings, DARWIN'S RADIO.

LEAVING SCI-FI BEHIND?
Posted By: Bryan Jones, Dallas - 11/15/2005 04:13:11 PM

Hello Greg,

I was just noticing, as I read up on your new novel Quantico, it seems that your novels have been getting more and more mainstream, with less far future science fiction. Do you feel that you are beginning to write more mainstream novels?

I'm a huge fan of Anvil of Stars, and Eon, and I love the far future space related stuff, and it just seems like there isn't enough of it these days.

Please don't get me wrong though, I absolutely loved Vitals and Dead Lines, and I'm quite anxious to read Quantico, though I supposed I'm going to order it from Amazon UK. It just seems as though with each new novel your stories are taking place closer and closer to day.

Thanks for keeping me so entertained!

Bryan Jones
Dallas

Response: Leaving Sci-fi behind?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/15/2005 05:15:49 PM

Funny you should ask! QUANTICO pushes me so close to the present that it hurts, almost literally...so next time out, in CITY AT THE END OF TIME, I'm leaping into the past, the present, and the very far future...at least a hundred trillion years! Should be a wild ride.

Response: Leaving Sci-fi behind?
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 11/16/2005 06:46:32 PM

bryan, check out stephen baxter's Vacuum Diagrams; gregory benford's beyond The Fall of Night, and, Beyond Infinity. (hell, for that matter, check out benford's Galactic Centre series); and also iain m. banks culture series. also, dan simmons Hyperion series, and his recent Illium (and just emerging, Olympos).
even with regard to greg, there a short of his, called Judgment Engine, that is way killer, in the collection Far Futures. (and charles sheffield compliments this with At the Eschaton.)
its out there, man.

EPIGENETICS
Posted By: Mat Taylor, Wolverhampton, England - 11/15/2005 10:57:30 AM

Dear Greg,
I have admired your work since I read Blood Music. You have certainly influenced my views on the process of evolution.
It has always appeared obvious to me that the mechanisms of heredity and genetics are over-simplified by the majority of scientists in the field. Without additional levels of complexity and self-organisation our DNA does not provide enough information to tell our bodies how to eat an apple, let alone make a functional human.

I'm interested to know if you feel that Epigenetics substantiates a weak Lamarckian veiwpoint, and whether HERV may play a part in the mechanism of Epigenetics.

Thanks for the inspiration, and for keeping real science fiction alive,

Mat Taylor.

Response: Epigenetics
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/15/2005 05:07:55 PM

Thanks, Mat. Epigenetics plays a huge role in variation--simply understanding genes and gene sequence is just the beginning. Rather than get all Lamarckian, however, with a lot of wrong-headed luggage attached, let's use less inflammatory wording: responsiveness to the environment. Clearly epigenetics can alter physical traits in a few (or one) generation in some species. Those traits can be passed on to offspring for many additional generations--and then reversed--without altering genes or gene sequence. The role that HERV and in particular mobile elements play could be important--as they could (and do) mobilize in response to stress, which is a suite of indicators as to fitness in the environment...

A CASE OF CONSCIENCE
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 11/10/2005 06:04:38 PM

"Other North American publishing plans are still shaping up. Contrary to previous announcements, Random House/Del Rey will not be publishing QUANTICO, due to substantial aesthetic disagreements. Del Rey is contracting to publish my next novel, however."

hmmm......you need not answer, but i wonder: perhaps they are concerned about any reference to government authority, at this time?

Response: a case of conscience
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/10/2005 06:55:34 PM

Such questions can be answered only on a need-to-know basis!

Suffice it to say that in QUANTICO, hardly anybody comes across unscathed--except those who risk their lives on behalf of our country. And so I dedicated the book to them.


QUANTICO ?
Posted By: Randy Fabro, Edmonds, WA - 11/09/2005 11:29:49 PM

Hi Greg,
Elsewhere on your web site there is a page about your new book Quantico, coming Nov. 21 ,2005. I checked several bookseller web sites and no one seems to know about it or when it would be available. My local library told me to look foward to it in Feb 2007 ! It sounds great, just wondering when we will see it.

Randy

Response: Quantico ?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/10/2005 11:06:32 AM

QUANTICO will be published with great enthusiasm (according to my editors) in the UK November 21. (I've received my advance copies, and they're lovely.) Plans for the U.S. edition were put on hold this summer when my publisher backed out of our agreement, for reasons still unclear to everyone but them. Current plans for a U.S. edition are in flux, but will probably include an electronic edition through e-Reads. Other publishers are being approached even as we speak. QUANTICO will be issued as an Easton Press signed and limited edition in March of 2006. For the time being, these difficulties will make QUANTICO in both the HarperCollins UK and the Easton Press editions my most collectible novel--ever!

SYNCHRONICITY: ACCURACY IN THE PERCEPTION OF REALITY
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 11/09/2005 07:23:28 PM

dan simmons recently wrote a message (he does this several times through the year), available at his site, addressing just the matter discussed below:


While optimism can be learned (as you're no doubt aware from Seligman's works), it utilizes cognitive-theraputic techniques that redefine reality in a way which is better for the individual's self-esteem, but which may not be more accurate....
A recent work on this topic is "Lincoln's Melancholy," a biography summarized in The Atlantic a few months ago....
Art Castagno


Response: write on the sound
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/07/2005 10:02:22 AM

Even depressed people (such as President Lincoln, who surely had good reason) can feel that their goals are achievable, with concerted effort. That is optimism. Pessimism has its place, as well, especially in those dark hours of the night when you re-evaluate your goals and re-think your plans to hone them to a sharper edge. But running on pessimism all the time breeds despair, inactivity--and failure. And that in turn breeds cynicism, which is taking joy in failure: the death of hope.

Response: synchronicity: accuracy in the perception of reality
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/09/2005 08:08:16 PM

Cock-eyed optimism and perpetual cheer--like that of Dr. Pangloss--are signs of a manic disconnect. But perpetual pessimism breeds inaction--why bother? Lincoln's melancholia may or may not have helped him in the long run--but depression can drag us down, cripple us, coerce us into simply ceasing to act.

There are a lot of currents behind these words--and they should not be used or dismissed simply, or assumed to mean one simple condition or philosophy. Lincoln, Churchill, and Twain, I think would have gladly dumped their darkest demons and gotten on with life.

They might have accomplished even more.

DOES THE TRUE SCI-FI FAN TRULY CRAVE SPACE OPERA AT HEART
Posted By: Thomas P. Doyle, Tucson, AZ - 11/09/2005 06:37:39 PM

Dear Greg:

I just finished your Anvil of Stars (Again), and a question came to mind. Is Space Opera What we in the Sci-Fi community truly crave in our hearts and souls. I love genre skirting authors like Gene Wolfe, Lucius Shepard, and Ray Bradbury, and loved your novels Queen of Angels and Slant. But I am salivating waing for David Brins new Uplift war triology, and love different takes on the framework like Frank Herberts Dune novels and Dan Simmons Hyperion series. Even the movie version of Robert Heinleins Starship Troopers (Which the critics completely didn't get) remains among my favorites. So does the true Sci-Fi fan (especially the child in us all) crave galactic empires at war? I Know I do.

Very sincerely yours, and keep dreaming of the stars,

Thomas P. Doyle

P.S. I only recently learned of the death of your father-in-law. He was truly one of the giants of the field and probably no author will ever be as prolific and competent at the same time. He dreamed of the stars and is now among them.

Response: Does the True Sci-Fi Fan Truly Crave Space Opera at Heart
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/09/2005 08:19:29 PM

There certainly is a current in the community of science fiction readers that craves wide open space and cosmic action--I know I've always enjoyed it. Doc Smith was one of my first loves, along with Heinlein's RED PLANET and "Forbidden Planet." When "Star Wars" came out, I was an instant fan. (Like you, I liked "Starship Troopers" as a film--but still wish they could have stuck closer to the novel.)

It's been a little frustrating, however, to explore other types of stories, more immediate and pressing, and then be jerked up short by someone asking, "Why don't you write more of --?" Whatever it might be. "Will, baby, more Tempest, less Hamlet!"

As Carl Denham once said, "The public... bless 'em--"

Poul's career is an excellent case in point. He wrote what he pleased--up to a point. He wrote wonderful space opera, wonderful fantasy, wonderful contemporary SF and hard SF and funny SF. And whenever someone asked him why he didn't write more of... He would politely smile, and his answer could have been, "Well, I'll probably get around to it eventually."

And he did. And so will I.


ANVIL OF STARS
Posted By: John Holtom, England - 11/08/2005 05:18:05 AM

Dear Greg Bear

Wonderful book (I haven't finished it yet so don't spill the beans please!).

Several quick thoughts: The Book of Job, Moby Dick and invasion by the Jarts.

The Book of Job - I doubt this was not in your mind (the story about the wind destroying the man's house, livelihood... is very Jobish). And, of course, the Job is what they are doing. Revenge - Job never took revenge - he simply asked WHY? The founding principles of Job was the benevolent universe - erhm?

Moby Dick - again the story of the following whale although really they are hunting the great white whale - is this pure evil or not? Not clear yet - I suspect not. That would be too simple. The world (and I suspect the Universe) is made up of shades of gray.

Invasion by Jarts - another species with a completely different explanation for their actions which is in conflict with the human world view. I know the Killers are not Jarts but I am thinking about your thinking! Similar immensely develeloped species - evidently purely malevolent - but are they? The Jarts clearly were not, despite the perception by most humans to the contrary.

Tremendously simple plot but then it is not!

I am working back to Forge of God when this is done - bad habit reading series in the wrong order.

Respecful regards

John Holtom

Response: Anvil of Stars
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/08/2005 09:50:29 AM

Punishment first, then crime? Should work either way, John. Interesting take on Moby Dick. Ahab is the anti-Job--Job suffers all sorts of injury and insult, yet never questions God. Ahab loses a single leg, and off he goes! Wonder how Job would have felt about losing his entire planet?

IN THE MIDDLE OF "SLANT [/]"
Posted By: Peter, Ryan - 11/07/2005 05:38:47 AM

Wow! I'm only halfway through this book and I just adore your character insights. It's one thing to "think big" scientifically/sociologically but it's the psychological details of your characters that make you such an interesting writer. How do you do it? It's so incisive.

I'm excited about commenting on it further when I finish. Hopefully that's an option.

thanks
Peter

Response: In the middle of "Slant [/]"
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/07/2005 10:03:32 AM

Thanks, Peter! Looking forward to your thoughts.

WRITE ON THE SOUND
Posted By: art castagno, edmonds wa - 11/06/2005 01:41:12 PM

Dear Sir,
You made a comment in your talk at the Edmonds theatre that has had me puzzling ever since. In an offhand remark in a question about optimism, you said somthing like "pessimism is just a failre of will."

I am curious as to why you think this is so.
All psychological research since 1979 has clearly shown that pessimism correlates precisely with accuracy in reality-testing; optimism correlates with poor reality-testing, overconfidence, and poor decision-making strategies. (A current example would be our President's decision to invade Iraq, in complete denial of the lessons of recent history such as vietnam and the soviet invasion of Afganistan.)

Reasearch shows that as optimists "mature" and their reality-testing ability improves, this is followed by a drop in their optimistic scores, and a move towards pessimism.

The current psychobabble for this is "Depressive Realism" or "Sadder but Wiser." But going back to Aristotle, it has been propounded that this is the case. In this view, optimism is a failure of vision and a form of self-delusion; since mental health can be defined as 'the ablity to see reality clearly', it has even been jokingly suggested that optimism be categorized as a mental disorder (Major Affective disorder, (pleasant type).

While optimism can be learned (as you're no doubt aware from Seligman's works), it utilizes cognitive-theraputic techniques that redefine reality in a way which is better for the individual's self-esteem, but which may not be more accurate. Seligman's techniques have been shown to be successful to insurance salemens'success, but that is hardly a recommendation for anyone who's interested in serious matters.

A recent work on this topic is "Lincoln's Melancholy," a biography summarized in The Atlantic a few months ago.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this issue.
Art Castagno

Response: write on the sound
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/07/2005 10:02:22 AM

Even depressed people (such as President Lincoln, who surely had good reason) can feel that their goals are achievable, with concerted effort. That is optimism. Pessimism has its place, as well, especially in those dark hours of the night when you re-evaluate your goals and re-think your plans to hone them to a sharper edge. But running on pessimism all the time breeds despair, inactivity--and failure. And that in turn breeds cynicism, which is taking joy in failure: the death of hope.

IMPRESSED WITH YOUR GOOD THINKING
Posted By: Dr Colin Leakey, Lincoln UK - 11/06/2005 08:59:42 AM

I am a geneticist/plant breeder who since 1973 have been busy keeping abreast or trying to with developments in genetics and evolutionary thinking. I now lecture sometimes to the Univeristy of the Third Age. Have done so on Man Food Diet and Health over a number of years and am shortly lecturing to a group on Ageing- Theory and Practice. So I have been brushing up on epigeneics as a cluster of factors regulating the information flow from the simple kinds of nuclei and their genomes oof stem cells through to nuclei and their transcribed and translated outcomes in actual cells in organisms. In relation to ageing, how these change develop in the individual over time. Your Tribe will be interested in how epigeneics is unfolding anew. It began with Conrad Waddington long ago
who wondered how the many different kinds of cell and tissue arose (were channelled through development landscapes in his terms) during ontogeny. His views were controversial and unpopular with the mainstream (to say the least). He is increasingly an important figure in retrospect Cytoplasmic inheritance came along starting with observations in fungi but it soon became recognised that "cytoplasm" of course including mitochondria and their DNA as we now recognise, influence maternal inheritance.( and that there may be nuclear cytoplasmic interations) This was the start of the 1913 concensus beginning to unravel. It is now widely rfecognised that what happens to DNAencoded information depends on two ( at least) processes. Transcription activation by proteins (proteonomics etc) and gene silencing by RNA's. It is also clear that the nuclear DNA is itself altered in the proccesses of repeated replication in cell divisions.(Functional genomics). In pareticular the ends of chromosomes can be as it were bitten off by the loss of telomeres and or these may be restored by telemerase. Repeats may be introduced and/or shunted around. One can go on, but enough on this geneti angle for starters.
Jonathon Kingdon's book Self Made Man, has not been nearly enough comprended. Of course Man's dommestication of other animals is by intelligence not rndom or even the animals choosing their own mates by natural sexual selection. We choose what to cross with what! Man since the emergence of his own intelligence has bred Man! Yes there is inntelligence in our own evolution but it is oowr oooown ( for better or worse) and not God's. We did not understand this so have had to invent God in our own image.
This may put a rather different spin on intelligent evolution. Darwinism is still useful but has been substantially outflanked. Not wrong, but deficient.Colin

Response: Impressed with your good thinking
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/07/2005 09:55:49 AM

Thanks for writing, Colin! Indeed, were I to point to key ideas in modern evolutionary theory OTHER than lateral DNA transfer, I'd say "Epigenetics!"

DOES THIS SERIES SOUND FAMILIAR?
Posted By: Mark, Hampshire, England - 11/06/2005 04:33:32 AM

Hi Greg,
It's been a while since my last post.
A new series just started on the Sci-Fi channel here in the UK called Odyssey 5. It has a very interesting plot that almost runs parallel to Forge of God/Anvil. I do hope you received some royalties ;)
I hope by the time Forge is finally released that people won't think it to be a ripoff of the series [shocked]

Mark

Response: Does this series sound familiar?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/07/2005 09:53:35 AM

Alien invasion stories of all sorts have been around for a very long time... Has anyone compiled a list of films and/or books written before THE FORGE OF GOD? It would be quite astonishing! There's no way to know whether people pick up on the buzz around the Warner Bros. development project, and decide to go forth on their own tack. Our film, at least, will be a unique combination of spectacular and moving events.

"PSYNTHE" VS. "TRANSFORM" IN SLANT
Posted By: Steve Jansen, Salt Lake City, UT - 11/03/2005 08:17:05 PM

Hello,

I'm reading "Slant" right now, and I'm having a little trouble distinguishing between the terms "psynthe" and "transform." (Yes, I have read "Queen of Angels"). Is a psynthe just a transform with especially freakish properties, or something else? Thanks for writing such an amazing book. I would, however, apppreciate someone writing a glossary of terms for the Mary Choy universe -- I thought William Gibson's future-lingo was dense...

Response: "Psynthe" vs. "Transform" in SLANT
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/04/2005 10:15:06 AM

I don't remember using the term "psynthe" anywhere in the novel, and can't find it in my e-file--unless you mean "synthetic," as in synthetic food. Any other clues? Page number in the book? (There might have been copyedit changes I don't recall...)

KONRAD KORZENOWSKI
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 11/02/2005 10:15:28 PM

Hello Greg,

I stumbled upon this recently and just have to ask: Did you name The Engineer after Joseph Conrad, born Jozef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski???

If you did, then the next question is...

Jimmy

Response: Konrad Korzenowski
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/03/2005 11:58:50 AM

Good catch! Joseph Conrad is one of my favorite writers.

Response: Konrad Korzenowski
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 11/03/2005 01:21:56 PM

...so the Engineer is probably a descendant of Conrad!

Response: Konrad Korzenowski
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/03/2005 05:42:39 PM

Could be!

SLANT
Posted By: Julian Ryan, Melbourne, Australia - 11/02/2005 10:13:57 PM

Hey Greg,

Just finished reading SLANT and what a fantastic book! Such an intertwining and plausible piece of writing that I am still thinking about its concepts constantly. I can't wait for the day when we have arbeiters in our lives!

Admittedly it took me a few attempts to get into this book but all i needed was some time off work, sitting by a pool on holidays and I crunched it in 3 days (much to the frustration of my girlfriend who now claims to be a "book widow"!)

On another note, I watched a documentary last night on advancements in robotics and the main story focussed on a new robot that remarkedly reminded me of the chords and braids from Anvil of Stars - many single units that have the ability to seek out other units and form a more intelligent robot and resembles a caterpillar. Amazing stuff - its a pity you can't put a patent on your advanced ideas as I feel we will encounter many more your concepts as technology evolves. Either way, your fans know where it all started!

Thanks so much for the entertainment! Cant wait for Quantico.

Cheers,

Julian


Response: SLANT
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/03/2005 11:57:51 AM

Thanks, Julian! I wish I could take credit for colonial organisms and interacting robots... I would, but then people would remind me of DEMON SEED, where Dean Koontz speculated about a modular robot (though I haven't read the book recently, the movie has a pretty interesting robot-slash-creature. Oops, I mean, slant creature!)

BRILLIANT SLANT
Posted By: GB Hajim, Hakalau Hawai?i - 11/01/2005 10:05:37 PM

Just finished reading SLANT. Loved it. Wished Border's stocked more of your books.

Being a speaker of Hawaiian I have one beef:
on page 273 you spell wahine "wahinis"

We struggle to keep alive this precious indigenous language and I am always excited to see those words appear in other literature, but when they are modified, they become frail and are more likely to disappear in what Angela Davis so aply called "the meltdown pot".

I do hope you'd lend your pen to our TV series (once our feature film "strange frame" is complete), but I will discuss those particulars in the future.

Thanks for your imagination and will to get it all onto paper.

GB Hajim
screaming wink productions
Hakalau Hawai?i

Response: Brilliant Slant
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/02/2005 09:58:42 AM

Good luck with the productions, GB! Thanks for the tip on Hawaiian spelling, as well.

STRENGTH OF STONES
Posted By: John Holtom, Luton, England - 10/25/2005 09:45:00 AM

Dear Greg Bear

I felt this was a little (unusually) unsatisfactory. It has elements of the Infinity Concerto and Serpent Mage (moving between worlds that are nearly identical but not quite - and creating new worlds) and elements of Moving Mars and the books of the Way.

If I remember rightly, God Does Battle was stretched over the old Earth - but then Khan (the second incarnation) ends up on the Earth having gone through the Bifrost (again I did not really understand what was happening to the body and soul - what was this fantastical machine and how was it that Matthew was able to destroy some of the Bifrosts which were surely immensely powerful (like the cities) and able to defend it(them)self (selves)?) - sorry about the tortuous grammar!

Maybe I just did not read it closely enough to understand the "cosmology" of the narrative.

What was really going on? Man creates machine machine destroys man then man (very Stapledonian) eventually (after a thousand years) regains the upperhand (no doubt to repeat the error?).

Anyway, I still enjoyed it (as ever) whilst suffering a degree of mesmerization and confusion.

Respectfully

John Holtom


Response: Strength of Stones
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/25/2005 09:55:24 AM

Thanks, John! S.O.S. was written beginning in the mid-1970s, and was first published in 1982. God-Does-Battle is on a planet far from Earth, though Earth-like. The cities don't so much destroy humans as reject them, rather like having your house kick you out because you don't meet the standards you programmed into it.

DAYDREAMS AND NIGHTMARES
Posted By: Cory Cudney, Buffalo NY - 10/23/2005 01:27:34 PM

Greg,
Hi there. I'm a big fan (to say the least) of your novels. I've been holding off on reading Forge Of God for a couple of years, since you have a limited number of books I could eventually read. I try not to do what did I with H.P.Lovecraft, which is to frantically soak up every story until I'm left hopelessly wanting more with no way to ever fulfill.
Anyway, I read it in three days. I can honestly say that I've never had a novel affect me the way this one has. Good job. I can't seem to shake the feeling. Not only did I strongly empathize with every character, but with the entire human race as well. Sounds corny, I know. I've had some unusually vivid dreams since, as well. Like I exist in that reality somehow, but am unable to take an active role in the story. Thanks for being so damn good. What I really would like to know is which of your books is your personal favorite? This is important to me. Thanks, Greg. Keep up the good work! -Cory Cudney

PS: I've only read one other author who uses the term "electric torch"...

Response: Daydreams and nightmares
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/24/2005 10:39:57 AM

Many thanks, Cory. FORGE is one of my personal favorites--and I'm also fond of DARWIN'S CHILDREN (and of course RADIO, but particularly CHILDREN) and DEAD LINES. Not that I can actually pick favorites among all these textual offspring...

QUANTICO
Posted By: Tim, Sydney - 10/22/2005 12:38:12 PM

Dear Greg

Its about bloody time you released a new book! I suspect our current fears about terrorism are about to get a whole lot worse in Quantico. Al Quada sponsored Von Nuemen probes eating Mt Rushmore perhaps? he he he

Tim

Response: QUANTICO
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/24/2005 10:34:49 AM

Let's not give them ideas! Of course, that was one concern with QUANTICO, and I took pains to walk that fine line between describing plausible scenarios and actually giving blueprints. But the scenarios described in QUANTICO are far more immediate and some (bioterror SIMADs--Singular Individual, Massively Destructive) are already attracting significant attention in security circles. Right now, QUANTICO is scheduled to be published (with great enthusiasm) by HarperCollins UK (November 21st--we'll soon post links as to where to find copies here and in the UK) as well as by Easton Press in a limited leatherbound edition in February or March. Other North American publishing plans are still shaping up. Contrary to previous announcements, Random House/Del Rey will not be publishing QUANTICO, due to substantial aesthetic disagreements. Del Rey is contracting to publish my next novel, however.

ARE DARWINS CHILDREN COALESCENT ?
Posted By: Kevan Tildesley, Ash, Somerset, UK - 10/19/2005 02:18:21 PM

I have just read "Darwin's Children", following on from "Darwins Radio" a few years ago. They are fantastic stories and I was impressed with the depth of science fact woven into the narrative. Your grasp of genetics lends a credence to the words that left me with a feeling of having glimpsed the future of human evolution.

Over the summer I read Steven Baxter's "Coalescent" and "Exultant" novels, an author whom I rank alongside yourself. "Coalescent", in particular, explores the development of a "hive" culture as an alternate form of human society. The hive members relied heavily on scent and touch to bond and communicate. These traits seem to be prevalent in Shevite communities in "Darwin's Children". You seem to have constructed a similar new culture, where the issues of sex and reproduction have been re-partitioned and where there are closer bondings between individuals in large social groups (privacy being an alien concept etc.).

Finally, to my question: do you feel that hive societies lie in the future of our species and do you intend to explore the idea any further?

Response: Are Darwins Children Coalescent ?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/19/2005 05:52:22 PM

What makes us think we aren't already a hive culture? The Shevites are no more and no less individuals than we are, but they have stronger bonds between each other, and more of an awareness of the ways in which the group can guide and even coerce the individual. Think of all the ways in which even present-day society both guides and coerces you and me! We are not bears, wandering lonely in the woods--we are social animals, through and through. I wonder--do the bees ever read the apiary equivalent of Ayn Rand, and buzz about free will? Thanks for your comments, Kevan!

ONE STEP CLOSER TO BIOCOMPUTERS
Posted By: Mike Glosson, Rainy San Diego - 10/17/2005 01:12:30 PM

This just pop'd up over on Nature this morning:

http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051017/full/051017-3.html

Cybor'd Bacteria! That even continue to function after they "Die".

Response: One step closer to BioComputers
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/17/2005 04:37:10 PM

Interesting, but I'm wondering how this is any different from attaching a sensor to a sponge? Sponges continue to function after they die, as well...

GENES INFLUENCING CULTURE
Posted By: C K Ray, Foster City CA - 10/15/2005 04:52:53 PM

re - Sickle Cell anemia

A paper by Dr. John Gartner mentioned sickle genes as a analogy for "hypomanic" genes. Having a single sickle-cell gene confers some resistance to malaria and little ill effect, having two sickle-cell genes confers sickle-cell anemia.

Gartner posits a "hypomanic" gene (or gene complex) that in the "double-dose" form causes manic-depression, but in the "single dose" form causes hypomania, a socially acceptable (if not desirable) set of behaviors that is characteristic of many entrepreneurs, and 10 times more common than manic-depression.

Hypomania is more common in the USA than elsewhere, because it is self-selected by voluntary immigrants looking to bring their ambitions to fruition.

So the USA's lack of vacation time (among other things) comes not so much from our Puritan ancestors, as it does from all those work-a-holic hypomanics who immigrated to the USA. And California is even more hypomanic than the rest of the USA.

Genes influencing culture.

I found John Gartner's paper on this subject to be very interesting... he expresses his ideas better than I can:

http://www.changethis.com/17.HypomanicAmerican


Check it out.

Response: genes influencing culture
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/15/2005 06:00:42 PM

Fascinating possibilities here. I've long thought that social animals genetically (and perhaps unavoidably) divided themselves into categories of proneness to certain statistically useful behaviors--which might be painful and on occasion debilitating to an individual so afflicted. One obvious goal would be a perpetual state of dissatisfaction--churning of the population and resistance to stasis. Other results might include resistance to diseases and/or variations in behaviors which might render a specific small group more likely to survive in an unlikely circumstance--simple natural selection, writ large. What becomes interesting here is the movement away from natural selection in individual organisms, toward "coerced" and even "protected" genetic variation that benefits the group as a whole, but not the individual--something obvious in social insects, less obvious in us!

PHYSICS OF EON
Posted By: gil artman, far rockaway, ny - 10/14/2005 05:38:46 PM

again, my thanks to you and patrick for your response to my question posted 10/11/05. i want to convey my admiration for the way (the Way!!) you've incorporated these absolutely fascinating physics concepts in your work. the "pi meter" employed to investigate properties of space/time in the stone was ingenious. when patricia exclaims, upon examining the flaw, that it's like "the square root of spacetime" it made my head spin. and when judith mentioned in passing that h-bar was the "quantum of (angular)momentum" it was the first time i received any inkling that quantization could apply to things other than electron orbitals. moreover, i could not get over your account of how the Way sprung into being as a consequence of the action of the Engineer's inertial damping machinery. strangely, this reminded me of psychlone where the cataclysmic, catastrophic and sudden death of japanese civilians had awesome psychic consequences (that novel led to more than a couple of sleepless nights for me!). the inertial damping machinery, fabricated to allow for acceleration of the stone while sparing damage to thistledown, had so upset the natural order, so to speak, that it had the unintended effect of wrenching the Way out of the fabric of spactime. i had the same feelings, in reading Eon as an adult, as i did as a child reading the wonderful superhero comics published by Marvel and DC in the early and mid-sixties. Greg, for all this i'll always be grateful! again, my best wishes and looking forward to Quantico! gil artman

Response: physics of Eon
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/14/2005 07:55:53 PM

I must pass along some of your flattery to the wonderful James Blish, whose way of handling both psychic and physics phenomenon (in his BLACK EASTER and JACK OF EAGLES) inspired me no end. Try them! I wrote an introduction for the Del Rey reissue of A CASE OF CONSCIENCE, thematically related to BLACK EASTER.

PERSPECTIVE
Posted By: Bill Panagoulias, Ambler, Alaska - 10/14/2005 01:08:10 AM

Hello Mr. Bear,

I recently reread The Forge of God, and I am sure I'll pick it up again in a few months. It's my favorite! I am an elementary school teacher in rural Alaska. I'd like to know if you've ever reread some of your own novels and wished you had presented a concept or character in a different way. Thank you for your time. I wish you all the best in your endeavors.

Regards,

Bill Panagoulias

Response: Perspective
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/14/2005 11:34:35 AM

Re-reading a book is often a matter of pleasure and pain--pain at an infelicitous phrase, collision of word sounds, typos, etc--pleasure on occasion at something that still seems to work well. Mostly, though, I don't re-read books all the way through, because I know how they turn out... and the book I'm working on is so different (whatever book it is) that I'd prefer getting inspiration from other, better authors!

SERENITY
Posted By: Rob Steen, Ireland - 10/13/2005 01:20:29 PM

Hello Mr. Bear,

Firstly I'd just like to say I've been a fan of your books since I first picked up Eon when I was 17 and then went on a whirlwind adventure through all your books from before and since - and that was 17 years ago!

I was just wondering if you had seen the recent movie 'Serenity'. I've really enjoyed it. It has a lot of potential topics from mind control, psychics and simple colonisation. Yet still managed to be a fun film. If you have seen it what did you think?

I'm hopeful that more character and story based science fiction can follow.

Also, any chances of you coming back to Ireland at all? I missed you the one time I knew you were here as you had gone to the pub! Or so I was told and I can't blame you for that!

Thanks again,
Rob.

Response: Serenity
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/13/2005 02:10:52 PM

Both "Serenity" and "Firefly" are delights. There's a lot of good old-fashioned adventure SF mixed in with some advanced elements--Chinese language inserted (and not always for swearing), and in "Serenity," the core idea behind the creation of the Reavers. Though I still have doubts about the ability of the Reavers to cooperate with each other and get stuff done--like run spaceships... But perhaps Mr. Whedon and his fellow creators will explain this in due course! Congrats to all involved.

I'd love to get back to Ireland, if only as a tourist, and I was in Scotland with my family for Worldcon recently--but no immediate plans for return, unfortunately!

HAJJ, INTER ALIA.
Posted By: Richard Blaber, Northamptonshire, England. - 10/12/2005 09:27:41 AM

I look forward to reading your new novel - it certainly sounds very topical! However, I must point out that the 'hajj' is the pilgrimage that practically every Muslim is supposed to make to Mecca during his/her lifetime, rather than the object of the pilgrimage, as the introductory 'blurb' on your website seems to suggest. This is, of course, the Great Mosque, at the centre of which is the Kaaba, or Black Stone, supposedly given to Abraham by the angel Gabriel. Many hajjis also visit Medina, where the prophet Mohammed is buried.
As to the bio-weapon aspect of the plot: I wondered if you had any comment to make on the fact that the CDC have just published (published!) the genetic code of H1N1 Spanish flu in the pages of Science, where anyone, be they first year biology major or Osama bin Laden, can read it. The thing killed 50 million people - more people, so we have been reminded repeatedly, than died in the First World War. So was it really a good idea to release this information, when there are so many bad guys out there who are only too willing to make ill-use of it?

Response: Hajj, inter alia.
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/12/2005 10:00:31 AM

Thanks, Richard. QUANTICO's conclusion takes place during the Hajj in Mecca. As for biohacking deadly germs--that's a major part of QUANTICO's plot!

THANKS FOR YOUR WONDERFUL NOVELS!
Posted By: gil artman, new york, ny - 10/11/2005 08:12:51 PM

i first read EON and ETERNITY over 10 years ago and have reread them several times, each time understanding them a little better. please let me ask you to clear up something i can't quite wrap my brain around. in EON, lanier (and all the other investigators from earth) access the stone from one end and encounter the seven chambers, the last of which extends forever. if an investigator had entered the stone by penetrating through the other end, which chamber would he/she have accessed? again, many, many thanks for your wonderful novels!! truly yours, gil artman

Response: thanks for your wonderful novels!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/12/2005 09:55:25 AM

Thanks, Gil! That's an excellent question. Reality Police patrol Thistledown and bust you if you even think about entering from that end...

Response: thanks for your wonderful novels!
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 10/12/2005 12:55:02 PM

gil, this is an old type of question, even in fantasy. if you were able to avoid reality police detection, making a small hole in the center, i think it'd be simply like this: from the outside, the chamber does occupy a certain space; if you make a small hole, looking in, you would see the bulk of the chamber to its beginning (its apparent size from the outside, perhaps a km...). if looking from the inside of the chamber, you'd see a small hole, about a km out, out into space.
now the tricky part: what would it be like, if you went up close to it, from inside? edge-wise, you might not see anything. from behind, you wouldnt see anything; in a sense you'd be behind, and in front of, whoever was coming through. if you stuck your hand through from the back, to someone on the other side, it'd look like an arm of some length, attached to nothing, was coming from the hole, but not through it. dig that? (you could even stick your hand through the hole, and BEHIND the beginning of the arm coming from the hole. crap - what would happen if you tried to bring your hand through the arm?....)
now, what if you made the hole the diameter of the chamber? either, you'd get a distortive effect, making the chamber appear to balloon radially outward around the hole....or, space-time fluxuations would destroy the whole thing. which might happen if even a small hole was created.

*disclaimer: i have no academic physics expertise, so i could be way off. but it was a fun thought-experiment; something ive thought of for years. maybe you should ask someone like kip thorne or john wheeler or sumpm....

Response: thanks for your wonderful novels!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/12/2005 02:19:46 PM

Very cool thinking, Patrick!

BLOOD MUSIC - A BUG
Posted By: David Miller, Titusville, FL - 10/11/2005 06:24:01 PM

I read your very interesting book, Blood Music. The version I have, I think the third printing in trade paperback, had the following error:

"By accident, Slotin and seven others had been accidentally exposed to a sudden burst of ionizing radiation."

should be?

"Slotin and seven others had been accidentally exposed to a sudden burst of ionizing radiation."

...just thought I'd let you know,
David Miller


Response: Blood Music - a bug
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/11/2005 07:46:59 PM

Good catch! I'll correct my e-file.

DINOSAUR SUMMER NEW REVIEW
Posted By: Joy Calderwood, Oregon - 10/10/2005 11:30:52 PM

Dear Greg Bear,

This is to let you know there is a new review of DINOSAUR SUMMER:
http://www.reviewers-choice.com/dinosaur_summer.htm .
Reviewers Choice welcomes authors to quote our reviews for marketing purposes. I hope this will be reissued in the not too distant future?

I first noticed your work in the STRANGE DREAMS collection: "The White Horse Child" was easy for me and several of my friends to relate to. Thanks for your storytelling. It looks like it's time to embark on your high tech novels. ;-)

Joy Calderwood
Reviewers Choice Reviews

Response: DINOSAUR SUMMER new review
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/11/2005 12:09:30 PM

Thanks, Joy! DINOSAUR SUMMER is still in print from Warner Books in paperback. They've been talking reissue in the light of KING KONG, but no definite news on that yet.

SPACE AGAIN?
Posted By: Carl Anfinson, Minnesota - 10/05/2005 06:33:30 PM

Not to complain, I've really enjoyed your recent novels, but I was wondering if any of your characters would be venturing out into space any time soon?

Response: Space again?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/06/2005 10:15:40 AM

Not space as we know it! My new novel may involve a bit of space travel, but the universe has become very strange...

DARWIN'S CHILDREN
Posted By: Shawn McKee, Austin Texas - 10/05/2005 11:29:57 AM

I enjoyed both books quite a bit but I nearly fell out of my chair when I read the line in Darwin's Children about the New York Times only creating an electronic edition. I assume you meant web site but you might find this interesting.

PC User
http://newsstand.com/?fuseaction=signup&promo_id=2424

Mac User
http://newsstand.com/?fuseaction=signup&promo_id=4531

This is a free trial to the real New York Times Electronic Edition.


Response: Darwin's Children
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/05/2005 12:33:00 PM

Thanks, Shawn! Unfortunately, corporate owners seeking higher rates of profit, the loss of young readers and the departure of many advertisers are squeezing so many newspapers hard that newer methods of delivering news are likely to supersede major dailies. However, let's put this in the Cassandra file and hope it doesn't quite work out that way...

PARENTHOOD
Posted By: Regina Belcher, Greensboro North Carolina, land of O Henry and Orson Scott Card - 10/03/2005 09:55:16 PM

Dear Mr. Bear,

I am knee-deep into Dead Lines, and have read the Darwin novels, and I just want to express my thanks for the expressions of the faces of parenthood in those novels. My husband and I lost a full-term baby girl to stillbirth in January of this year, and upon reading the first half of Dead Lines, I have experienced a sense of recognition with the protagonist and his grief. I won't quote you to yourself, but the scene in the bedroom when he begs his deceased daughter to give him another chance was particularly well written.

I just wanted to thank you for your ability to convey parental loss so eloquently and realistically.

Thank you,
Regina

Response: Parenthood
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/04/2005 09:57:35 AM

Thanks for your kind words, Regina. Our condolences for your loss.

NEW NANOTUBE CONSTRUCTION
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 10/03/2005 07:29:08 PM

and, somewhat on the heels of the protein posting, i thought ya all might be interested in this new information on nanotube construction:

http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/003330.html

POST-HUMAN
Posted By: Andrew Nicholson, Edmonds, WA - 10/03/2005 10:02:18 AM

Greg, Thanks for the swift reply.

I don't like catch phrases but "post-human" is a term that captures the idea of a human with enough augmentation, biological or electronic, that enable us to think faster, smarter, or be more resistant to newer diseases; it captures the idea of a new class of humans. If you have a better term I'd love to hear it.

If we haven't figured out how to avoid bigotry or genocide by then I fear what will happen.

As far as biotech creating new things; last month a group at UT Southwestern proved they could create a new protein, not found in nature, insert it into an RNA strand and have cells start producing this new man-designed protein.
http://www.news-medical.net/?id=13303

The biological clock is ticking.

regards, Andrew Nicholson

Response: post-human
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/03/2005 10:19:49 AM

Following Steve Allen's lead, maybe we should call it "post-dumbth" rather than post-human!

Response: post-human
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 10/03/2005 01:29:51 PM

Andrew,

I will not pretend to know enough about the science relating to this topic. But I do kinda know humans (current ones) fairly well, and I project that engineered humans will reject any lable as negative as "POST-human." Of course, that will not matter much, as the rest of society will probably find a name for them immediately - one that will stick. (Your thread has, however, reminded me of some lables [usually derogatory] given to certain groups by others in our recent past, and how at least three of these groups now use these lables as terms of endearment amongst themselves.) This is an interesting question to me...

Though perhaps not appropriate, BISHOP keeps popping into my head!

Jimmy

DINOSAUR SUMMER IS AN EDITOR'S PICK FOR OCTOBER AT WWW.SFF.TIGERHERON.COM
Posted By: Tony Freixas, Portland, OR, USA - 10/02/2005 11:18:26 PM

Dear Greg,

I run a web site at www.sff.tigerheron.com which provides reading recommendations each month to science fiction and fantasy readers. Your book Dinosaur Summer is an October editor?s SF pick. I'd like to thank you for providing all of us with this wonderful book. This is a courtesy notice that you will get each time I recommend one of your books.

NOTE: Most of my visitors are either too shy or too passive to send me recommendations. I locate most recommendations on my own, but I've got some excellent recommendations from authors, who tend to understand the value of promoting good works. If you have any recommendations, I would be pleased to receive them. You will be credited with the recommendation unless you specify otherwise. Forum readers are also welcome to send in recommendations.

Read on if you want more detail:

* A stable link to my recommendation of this book will always be at http://www.sff.tigerheron.com/editors-sf-picks-0510.php.

* I don't require it and it doesn't influence who I pick, but you are welcome to link to this page if you wish. The authors who have included a link to my site have really increased my traffic and I appreciate their help.

* I try to provide a reading list each month which includes recent books appealing to a variety of tastes. To see the company in which you've been placed, check out http://www.sff.tigerheron.com/previous-recommendations.php.

* I present a reading list, not a set of reviews. My site is a fan site and I use the list to select my own reading. My tastes are pretty broad but I deliberately include excellent books that might not personally appeal to me. There's no way I can read all these books, and I don't have access to advance copies.

* Famous authors do get listed, but they don't really need my help. I try to promote good books by first-time authors and good books that have not had good press.

* I figure that if I can promote good books, there will be more good books for me to read. And the quality of my reading has gone up since I started the list!

* I have read Dinosaur Summer.

Tony Freixas
tony@tigerheron.com
www.tigerheron.com

Response: Dinosaur Summer is an Editor's Pick for October at www.sff.tigerheron.com
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/03/2005 09:40:46 AM

Thanks, Tony! And here's to Kong and all his offspring!

GREAT TALK ON SATURDAY
Posted By: Andrew Nicholson, Edmonds, WA - 10/02/2005 02:13:58 PM

Greg,

Thanks again for the talk on Saturday (1st). It was great to listen to someone who believes that writers still have the ability to effect society's behaviour and maturity. You may have pushed my wife Lorraine over the edge into writing again. She has been so disillusioned with the apathy shown by the general population toward bettering the human condition.

I asked you "Did you have a problem trying to write beyond the singularity (Vinge)" to which you replied "there is no singularity, we haven't reached the 21st century."

I have always worked as a programmer pushing technology forward and as a result you have 3D graphics, multimedia and DVD today. Recently I've been switching to Biotech - in particular decoding proteins, how they fold and their interactions using multiple genomes sequences. If you thought computing technology evolved quickly .. it's a snails pace compared to this type of microbiology and its applications.

The technology of the 21st century is marching forward regardless of whether society keeps up, or regresses.

Do you believe we will stumble into the "post-human" era or past a "greater than human inteligence" before we understand what we are doing?

It was a pleasure meeting you finally,
regards, Andrew Nicholson

Response: Great talk on Saturday
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/03/2005 09:37:22 AM

Thanks for attending the talk, and for writing, Andrew. I'm not much for catch-phrases like post-human... Biotech indeed is advancing at an incredible pace, but it has not yet so much created new things as discovered and measured an encouraging amount of the very old. When biotech starts CREATING new biology, then we can ask ourselves how long we have until we hit Vernor's singularity!

ANY UPDATES ON "FORGE OF GOD"?
Posted By: Teresa, Houston - 10/01/2005 06:41:50 PM

Like many other readers, I am anxiously awaiting any updates on the upcoming film treatment of "The Forge of God". Any casting decisions yet? Is it true that Trevor Hicks was eliminated from the screenplay? (too bad if it is true. John Hurt would have been *perfect* for the role...). Please don't let this film go the way of Clarke's
"Childhood's End" or "Rendezvous with Rama".

How about "Eon"? I think ILM has gotten good enough to do justice to Thistledown and The Way, as well as many Geshel neomorphs. (And Ewan MacGregor would make a great Olmy....)

Oh well I will always have the books to enjoy. Thank you so much for the stories! They pique one's imagination in a wonderful way.

Response: Any updates on "Forge of God"?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 10/03/2005 09:34:56 AM

Still waiting for screenplay. I assume no more Trevor Hicks--since we're compressing both FORGE and ANVIL OF STARS into one movie!

Response: Any updates on "Forge of God"?
Posted By: John Holtom, England - 11/28/2005 07:50:11 AM

Dear Greg Bear

Any news on the screenplay or production?

The more I read (and enjoy) your books, the more I worry!!

In Eon you blew up the Earth (some survivors)with nukes, in the Forge of God you blow up the entire planet (with black holes - or at least that is my understanding so far - book not finished), in the Songs of Earth and Power, the Earth is invaded by the Sidhe following the destruction of their world, in Strength of Stones, the Cities have already destroyed civilization (perhaps with hope that it will be rebuilt), in Dead Lines the undead are mounting a takeover of the world, in Blood Music, all functioning illigences are reformed into ethereal non-corporeal data, in Moving Mars, Earth has decided to and tried to destroy Mars, and THEN(!) in Anvil of Stars (great book - sorry I repeat myself), whole planetary systems are blasted to dust.... Great CGI I would think but...?

Okay in Queen of Angels I can't remember any worlds being invaded, destroyed by quantum data messages or otherwise nuked, but even in that splendid book the two protagonists have their perception of the country of the mind unpinned, apparently never to be the same again.

Obviously I have not read your whole oevre but, as I mentioned some time ago, you do seem to enjoy shredding the reassuring simplicity of ordinary daily life on Earth!

Anyway, it is time for a good film to be made from your stories!! The trouble is that you probably need a Stanley Kubrick to apply extreme discipline and a degree of mania to be faithful to your writing.

Respectful good wishes

John Holtom


Response: Any updates on "Forge of God"?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 11/28/2005 10:29:46 AM

Hello, John! I only blew up the Earth once. Sheesh. Everything else was just rearranging a few things. FORGE is still on at Warner Bros.--more news when it arrives!

KILLER "V"
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 09/28/2005 05:00:58 PM

Hello Greg,

Recently I took somewhat of a risk, moved out of the "B" section of my favorite bookseller, and purchased A FIRE UPON THE DEEP by Vernor Vinge. (Yes, my friends will agree with you that I am often slow to catch on.) My brain is still pinging through data webs from that experience. His writing is so satisfying that I sensed that you two might be friends. Are you? Do you discuss ideas? I have heard you confide that QUANTICO is a far future novel. Was there a behind-the-scenes communication going on there? I love his work. Can you recommend another letter of the alphabet that I might try?!!

I am really Jonesing for DARWINS CHILDREN on SciFi. I admit that I am a little nervous about it. I know this is rather codependent of me, but I want to see justice done!

Jimmy

Response: Killer "V"
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/29/2005 10:16:17 AM

Vernor has been one of my favorite writers and a friend since the 1960s. We do get together every now and then (we're both San Diego natives, and Vernor still lives down there) and swap ideas and bits of data.

QUANTICO is not the far future novel--it's the VERY NEAR future! The next piece in the pipeline is, however, ridiculously far future...

BLOOD MUSIC THE MOVIE?
Posted By: Matthew Rawls, Keller, Texas - 09/26/2005 10:25:47 PM

Greg, just wanted to inform you that "Blood Music" is one of my favorite novels of all time. I can't help but thinking what a great film this could make, though. Has anyone ever shown any interest in writing a script for it and turning it into a movie (without dumbing it down to just a silly horror flick)?

I am positive with today's CGI capabilities that the film could be horrorific, interesting, and beautiful where it would need to be.

Is part of the reason it has not been made into a movie because the movie technology may not have been sufficiently advanced enough to adequately portray the microscopic cellular scenes? I hope it is not due to a lack of interest.... :(

Thank you so much.

Response: Blood Music the movie?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/27/2005 10:28:07 AM

We're still scheming on this one. Nothing solid yet, but lots of communication over the years--and of course several options. We'll see...

RELATED TO BLOOD MUSIC
Posted By: Mike Burke, Arvada, Colorado - 09/26/2005 10:03:47 PM

Greg, you may or may not want to post this - makes no difference to me. But I thought you may be interested.

I posted a response on the blog to Sir Arthur Clarke's Law (actually his 3rd Law) posting by another reader. In that log I mentioned Carbon Nanotubes. The next morning my wife told me about an NPR Morning Edition segment about nanotubes as communication between immune cells. I listened to the segment on the web and was immediately thinking of "Blood Music" and the communicating T-cells.

It seems that a major means of immune cell communication is to generate a "nanotube highway" (sometimes called tunneling nanotubes) from lymph nodes to areas of injury so that the T-cells can know where to go and what to do. They appear to be made up of biological molecules (not pure carbon nanotubes of the currently-sexy type) some of which are class I MHC proteins. This way they can traffic cell surface proteins between immune cells over many tens of microns. This is a truly remarkable mechanism and will be the subject of a lot of work in the field of cellular immunology.

So maybe your T-cells in Blood Music were using these connections as a sort of internal telephony network - or more likely a type of neural net - for their communication.

Very clever of you. But then science fiction is often a bit ahead of science itself because the range of possibilities is effectively limitless.

I cannot attach docs to your system so the reference is: Onfelt et. al. The Journal of Immunology, 2004, 173: 1511-1513. You can get it online.

My interest in carbon nanotubes goes back many years but recently I have partnered with a nanotube scientist and an engineering professor at the Colorado School of Mines to start a company to exploit a unique and low-cost approach to growing both single-walled and multi-walled carbon nanotubes of, theoretically, any length from cm to km. There may be some kinetic reasons to think that from a practical and commercial viewpoint the length may be limited to somewhere in the 10 to 100 meter range but that's not too bad. Someone cleverer may be able to capitalize on our work and make them thousands of km in length.

We are raisimg money now to get this going so keep your fingers crossed - we may be holding one of the keys to a space elevator yet. Not to mention cheap and efficient air and water filters, etc., etc., etc.

That's when science fiction becomes current science.

Mike

Response: Related to Blood Music
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/27/2005 10:26:57 AM

Fascinating stuff, Mike. Of course, cells are the original inspiration for nanotech...

THANK YOU!
Posted By: Healey Lockett, Seattle, Washington - 09/26/2005 06:03:51 PM

Mr. Bear,

Thank you for writing smart science fiction. I grew up on Heinlein and Clarke, and while I love a good fantasy yarn (Burroughs is also one of my favorites) I've been disappointed in recent years that so many writers of science fiction are turning out fluff; no substance and very little regard for science. Your novels challenge the intellect and stimulate thought. I loved Blood Music and recently picked up Darwin's Radio. The story and ideas are fabulous, the details riveting. And, as a former animal trainer at the San Diego Zoo, now living in Seattle your accurate descriptions added an extra air of reality.

Thanks for writing and thanks for reading my comments.

Healey Lockett

Response: Thank you!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/26/2005 06:57:33 PM

Ah, the San Diego Zoo! I actually worked at Sea World myself--for a year or so, not training dolphins, but letting people in and out of shows, selling fish, and picking up trash...

Thanks for the kind words, Healey!

PLEASE RECOMMEND GOOD SCIENCE MAGAZINE
Posted By: Jeff, Carmichael Ca - 09/25/2005 07:42:18 PM

Greg,

I've read all of your stuff, many thanks for some great reads over the years. As a writer who is up on your science, what magazines do you read or recommend? New Scientist, Science News, American Scientific... or websites, any help would be much appreciated.

Kind regards,

Jeff

Response: Please recommend good science magazine
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/26/2005 09:56:14 AM

All of those magazines, of course (Scientific American, actually), along with the direct journals--NATURE, SCIENCE, and wherever scientists in your particular field of interest will publish their work. I've found Googling on a subject to be particularly rewarding, as long as you have a good filter for Web sites that may not be strictly accurate! And many of these magazines have excellent Web sites, as well, with wonderful search functions--all part of your subscription.

Response: Please recommend good science magazine
Posted By: Jeff, Carmichael Ca - 09/26/2005 08:33:15 PM

Greg,

Many thanks for your response. I'm looking for general science news, do you have a preference, New Scientist, or Science News? Just curious.

Recently finished Dead Lines. Very good and creepy indeed. Pacing was quite good, as the booked zipped right along. Good characters. Looking forward to your next book.

Kind Regards,
Jeff

Response: Please recommend good science magazine
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/27/2005 10:46:26 AM

I subscribe to both magazines. Piles of magazines, in fact... I despair of ever keeping up with them!

DINOSAUR SUMMER INTO A MOTION PICTURE
Posted By: Armand Gagnon, Springfield, Oregon - 09/23/2005 11:42:07 PM

Hello Mr. Bear,
I am your age and, I am abashed to admit,I finally got around to reading your books for the first time. I just finished reading "Dinosaur Summer" and truly loved its scope, characterization, and ending. Being a bit of a dinosaur buff since 1957 ( I still have my old dinosaur books from that time), I love "Jurassic Park", "Journey to the Center of the Earth", and many more cinéma dinosaurus yarns. So, here is my question: Have you ever considered having "Dinosaur Summer" put onto the silver screen? I imagine it would be a box-office blow-out. The book feels so cinématic to me with the lush descriptions and the ferocious creatures you've painted with your words. Thank you for your time reading this.
Most Appreciatively, Armand Gagnon

Response: Dinosaur Summer into a motion picture
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/24/2005 10:39:21 AM

Good to hear from you, Armand! DINOSAUR SUMMER has attracted precisely zero interest as a film. KING KONG is about to come to brilliant life again, however, so there's no way of knowing how producers will react... Dinosaurs and Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen may yet return to Hollywood favor! (And take a look at that piano in THE CORPSE BRIDE...)

Response: Dinosaur Summer into a motion picture
Posted By: Jeff, Carmichael Ca - 09/26/2005 08:36:19 PM

Have to agree here, this would make an excellent movie, or mini-series. I had such a great time reading this book!

Kind regards,
Jeff

DEAD LINES
Posted By: Kerry M. Cook, Lindenwold, NJ - 09/22/2005 01:24:47 AM

I just picked up "Dead Lines" & read the whole book in 6 hours, because I simply could not stop reading it! I absolutely had to see what was to happen to "Peter" & the people in the story. This book was pure brilliance in it's concept & wonderfully well written. Greg Bear was a treat of an author & "Dead Lines" was a true "diamond in the rough" to find among the endless dreck that is currently being published & marketed. I have never taken the time to write to any other author & I am not one to blurt out praise, unless it is well deserved. This book was just so damned good, that I felt the need to express my gratitude for being able to read it. Greg Bear is definitely going to be an author I will look forward to following. I'll actually be glad to lay out money that is scarce to me to read whatever horror stories he publishes.
I am an avid reader of all sorts of literature, but I am, & will always be, a hard-core fan of the horror fiction genre, as well as a "true crime" junkie. So many novels & collections of the horror class that have been released in the past 5 years have been of poor entertainment value, where I have found it to be a chore to read another blithering paragraph from writers who just seemed to have lost or just plain lack the knack of writing, yet managed to churn out the 300 or so pages of crap that they must've been forced to write at gunpoint, just to make their quota, as per their agreement with their publishers. Some of the books I had the misfortune of reading were truly that bad.
I recently read a novel that was about man eating zombies & it took me, a well known speed reader, over a week to finish it. It was painful at times to try to follow the story as it was so hither, tither, & yon, then would come back to basically the same old "blah blah blah" & as I got towards the end, I found myself almost praying to go blind, rather than having to read another word of it. The ending, after all the pomp & circumstance of blackened, putrefied, eyeballs a poppin' out zombie mayhem, with gratuitous sex thrown in, just left me pissed off & wanting a refund for the time I'd wasted. There have been all too many of these novels released, basically carbon copies of the same story, but with a different monster, & let's not forget the constant orgy of sex, whether it be consensual or rape, thrown into the mix. What ever happened to authors thumbing their noses at the "formulas" ala bad editing, & just getting downright gory, or bone chillingly scary? Sometimes the "gratuitous sex" or death of a major character can lead to the story's death knell of boredom. I can't even add up how many times I would simply scan a few pages, rather than read & commit to memory the weak plots, (&) or disjointed story lines to finally finish the story, so I could find relief in another book. Thankfully, I believe I found a sort of hero in Greg Bear, as "Dead Lines" was well written & didn't seem to follow the cookie cutter style of today's fiction writers. He went deep into the human fear & repulsion of death, & comfortably acknowledged the hope for life after death. This combination is something that almost everyone has. We all know the heartbreak of loss. We want to believe that we do not just wink out like a burned down candle. But then there's the anxiety we carry that surrounds the connection with those in the spirit world. "Dead Lines" is a story that blends these emotions together was just an awesome plot & flow. I am thankful for the efforts of Greg Bear to give me a story that fed my head & left me wanting for more. Three thumbs up to this author. I'm looking forward to reading all of his books & spreading the word to fellow horror fans.

Response: Dead Lines
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/22/2005 10:06:37 AM

Thanks, Kerry! Sometimes it's hard to get readers of one type of story to cross over to another, so if you'd like to spread the word among confirmed horror readers of your acquaintance, that would be terrific. (Posting your thoughts on Amazon and/or B&N certainly won't hurt, either.) "Blood Music" has often been described as a science fiction horror novel--though I like to think of it as merely biologically transcendent.

As for zombies--I do enjoy a good zombie movie now and then, especially "Sean of the Dead." But it takes real dedication to pursue a bad book to the bitter end!

FOUNDATION AND CHAOS
Posted By: Ernesto Almanza, Santa Ana, CA - 09/20/2005 11:12:12 PM

Hi, my name's ernie and am just writing to let you know how great your book is. Is has blown every other book i have ever read away! the only other book that i have enjoyed as much as i did yours is the original foundation series. could you, if its not too much trouble, sent me a list of ur top 5 books, i'd really like to read more of your work. thanks and keep em coming.

Response: Foundation and Chaos
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/21/2005 09:55:04 AM

Thanks, Ernesto! After F&C, you might enjoy MOVING MARS, EON, THE FORGE OF GOD, and ANVIL OF STARS. If you enjoy extreme biological themes, you might also enjoy BLOOD MUSIC, DARWIN'S RADIO, DARWIN'S CHILDREN, and VITALS. And of course you might also enjoy QUANTICO, coming up from HarperCollins UK in November! (Wait, that's nine...)

Response: Foundation and Chaos
Posted By: Jimmy Kinchloe, Houston - 09/30/2005 10:55:26 AM

Hello Ernie!

I agree totally with you about FOUNDATION AND CHAOS. Greg mentioned MOVING MARS which is an excellent choice, and if you read that book then you will also want to read HEADS, QUEEN OF ANGELS and SLANT. These three books occur in the same "universe" as MOVING MARS.

I have been waiting for QUANTICO for what seems like EONs.

Jimmy

Response: Foundation and Chaos
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/30/2005 11:45:33 AM

QUANTICO is coming from the UK in November. Cover art to be posted shortly!

OCCLUSION OF CREATIVITY
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 09/20/2005 04:29:34 PM

>Olaf Stapledon's imagination was perhaps the greatest of his time--but he did have some lapses. Space travel didn't seem to appeal to him, but humanity was eventually forced to move out to the outer planets... <


this is a tangent i feel has two, related, elements:

the inability to conceive of something from general principles cause: it contradicts the known physics of the time; or, it doesnt have some kind of hard-ware based structure (or current-culture familiar incarnation) to draw from.
basically, if ideas cant be substantiated by some physical explanation or manifestation, then they often wont come (or, perhaps, arent expressed).

for example, in foundation, a method of conveying information to others was through a message disc - with tape, i think. cause thats what was around in asimov's time, and was thought to be secure, if no one molested it.

interestingly, 'doc' smith didnt have this problem in his skylark series, where, eventually, all systems were thought-interactive/regulated.
he didnt say how, just that it did happen, and it opened up new conceptualisms into ways of being and experiencing.

i love 'hard' SF; but those (such as you, greg) who realise where the boundaries need to be a little indistinct, enable this opening - the difference between a good (or bad) story, and an insighful one.

Response: occlusion of creativity
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/20/2005 04:49:43 PM

One of the hardest things to convey about the scientific process is that it is never complete--there is never a final theory that explains all, no matter how much we might wish one. We discover facts--such as gravity, or evolution--and make observations, but it is our explanations that themselves change and evolve as we acquire more evidence and make more observations.

Hard science fiction inevitably must account for the discovery of hitherto unknown facts. And if those facts seem magical in their implications--well, so much the more challenging science becomes!

CREATING NEW UNIVERSES - AND INTENT
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 09/20/2005 01:07:38 PM

>Interesting that you should find a connection between THE INFINITY CONCERTO and MOVING MARS. I was definitely thinking of information-based physics way back in the early eighties, when I wrote my fantasy novels (and was also working on EON). The interim discussion occured in ANVIL OF STARS.

Perhaps we should add that any sufficiently advanced science fiction is indistinguishable from magic?<

besides blood music, in my reference to consciousness affecting (creating?) reality, songs of earth and power did come to mind, belatedly, in a corollarial fashion with regard to magic: that is, michael's self-actualisation informed/invoked his magical abilities. (many cross-threads, here.)

Response: creating new universes - and intent
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/20/2005 01:26:00 PM

True--I left out BLOOD MUSIC because its physics is more of an over-the-top version of the Copenhagen interpretation. Which irritated my friend, anti-Copenhagen University of Washington physicist John Cramer, whose own Transactional Interpretation of physics is getting some pretty good play at CERN and elsewhere these days. Check up on John's work at

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

EON
Posted By: Roger Pedersen, Sandnessjøen - 09/19/2005 12:00:22 PM

I am wondering if you have ever entertained
the thought of adapting Eon into a movie
or mini-series?

I am fully aware that such an adaption would
be a monumental piece of work, not only
when it came to pure manuscript, but
casting, SFX's, production and sets..

But Eon is a book I Would love to
see adapted into a movie or mini-series

Response: Eon
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/19/2005 12:27:53 PM

It's been given some thought over the years, but we're still working out plot and theme details! Thanks, Roger.

CREATING NEW UNIVERSES IN MOVING MARS
Posted By: John Holtom, Luton, England - 09/19/2005 07:30:34 AM

Dear Greg Bear

When the move of Phobos goes slightly wrong (when the QL thinking tries to re-write the rules of the present universe) Charles Franklin answers a question by saying there are no alternate universes but that with his (then) understanding of descriptors it may be possible to create a new universe altogether with new rules. This seems terribly close the capability of Michael from The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage who really does create new universes (or are they just new worlds?). It almost seems to make your fantasy fiction blend into your science fiction - there was a discussion recently on magic and science - well it looks pretty much to me like magic and science become one in Moving Mars (not being a physicist I don't have the faintest idea whether the science adds up so it all looks like magic to me!).

I also saw resemblances with the Olaf Stapledon's First and Last of Men both with the moving of a planet but also with the source of power so terrible that it destroys one of the incarnations of mankind and threatens to destroy all mankind.

What surprised me most about Stapledon (whose imagination seems to have almost no bounds) was the fact that he appeared to have no real conception of space travel beyond our solar system (there was a two year mission that found nothing, I remember, but surely he must have conceived of more than this).

Anyway, Greg Bear, again the pleasure of reading your books continues for me!!

Respectful regards

John Holtom

Response: Creating new universes in Moving Mars
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/19/2005 09:59:48 AM

Olaf Stapledon's imagination was perhaps the greatest of his time--but he did have some lapses. Space travel didn't seem to appeal to him, but humanity was eventually forced to move out to the outer planets...

Interesting that you should find a connection between THE INFINITY CONCERTO and MOVING MARS. I was definitely thinking of information-based physics way back in the early eighties, when I wrote my fantasy novels (and was also working on EON). The interim discussion occured in ANVIL OF STARS.

Perhaps we should add that any sufficiently advanced science fiction is indistinguishable from magic?

BASE 12?
Posted By: Allen Hainer, Germany - 09/15/2005 01:35:39 AM

I thoroughly enjoyed "Dead Lines". I thought that using base-12 for trans dialling was a nice touch. It seems typical for new technologies to have quirks in their usage that seem strange at first. Take, for example, the rotary telephone. Its quirks have become so embedded in our culture that we still "dial" telephones long after the dial has gone.

My first though when I read this passage was, "Why base-12?" I would have expected a power of 2 such as 16. Then I realized there are 12 buttons that generate tones on a typical touch-tone phone. Telephones are already base 12*! Maybe that wasn't quite as strange a quirk after all.

Now for my question. I expect I am the 1249.2 person to ask this. I notice that the trans described in "Dead Lines" is actually base-13. Both of the digits 0 and 12 are used. Did you do that on purpose?

Regards,

Allen

* Okay, DTMF is actually base 16. It is just that most phones do not contain the 1633hz column.

Response: Base 12?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/15/2005 09:49:29 AM

Thanks for writing, Allen! As you note, phone pads are kind of grandfathered in--so the base-12 is adjusted to make it more accessible to old-fashioned phone users. The phone's inner workings do the adjusting as you punch the buttons. I have a patent on this, by the way... ;)

CERTAIN PHYSICS IN ANVIL OF STARS...
Posted By: Mike Clark, Olympia, WA - 09/15/2005 12:14:05 AM

Greg,

I had an email exchange with you a few years back in which I asked about the notion of "privileged bands" in matter (the basis for being able to change matter to anti-matter and other transformations in Anvil of Stars), and you gave the name of a physicist who had postulated something resembling this. Due to a hard drive crash I no longer have the email (aaarrrggghhh!), and I was hoping that you might be able to answer the question again for my benefit (and possibly for others who might be interested).

Love the Darwin books! Looking forward to the Forge/Anvil movie!

Mike

Response: Certain Physics in Anvil of Stars...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/15/2005 10:14:41 AM

To get caught up on the notion of information-based physics, take a look at the works of Ed Fredkin, Frederick Kantor, David Deutsch, John A. Wheeler, and most recently--following a similar approach--Stephen Wolfram.

DARWIN'S CHILDREN (CONTINUED)
Posted By: Sean Trowbridge, East Coast - 09/14/2005 10:01:46 PM

Greg
Thanks, good response. I must point out another mutation, as a response. Sickle cell anemia also shortens one's life span and produces numerous health issues, but appears to give resistance to "sleeping sickness". (A friend of my eldest daughter has this blood disorder.) As you pointed out, environment also plays a role. The definition of "fittest" seems to be outside human control. Yet, we attempt to regulate it though eugenics laws. Doesn't this interfere with the process? I look forward to your reply.

Sean

Response: Darwin's Children (continued)
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/15/2005 10:17:25 AM

Actually, there are no eugenics laws on the books in the U.S. today--unless you consider laws against marrying first cousins or siblings to be such--and past attempts have been roundly criticized, with good reason. We all have mistakes in our code--that's the way life is! And as you point out, "fitness" may be based on criteria we're not immediately aware of.

Response: Darwin's Children (continued)
Posted By: Kingsley Yin, Burlington, NJ - 09/16/2005 10:54:08 AM

Just a small note that Sickle Cell anemia confers resistance to malaria not sleeping sickness. The latter is transmitted by a different protozoal vector namely - the testse fly. Nevertheless, I think that your example is an excellent one in that it is an example of environmental stress/pressure causing a genetic mutation that creates a new phenotype who is resistant to the stressor. This appears to be similar to the example in Darwin's Radio where pressure/stress induced activation of an endogenous retrovirus which then caused the creation of a different phenotype. In the latter case the creation of the new phenotype was dramatic. Whose to say that the Sickle Cell anemia phenotypical change was also not dramatic?? There are many examples of this in nature (insects, bacteria and viruses) but I cannot think of another example in humans. This of course doesn't mean there isn't another - it just means I can't think of another, which is as analogous as the sickle cell anemia example.

kingsley

PS I loved Darwin's radio, Mr. Bear.

Response: Darwin's Children (continued)
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/16/2005 11:12:34 AM

Good catch, Kingsley--should have noted that myself.

DARWIN'S CHILDREN
Posted By: Sean Trowbridge, East Coast - 09/13/2005 08:40:14 PM

Greg
I read and enjoyed the book, but I have a few observations. We always assume that the evolutionary concept of "fittest" will be "better" or "superior" to humans in a way we agree with. What if the "next" stage really doesn't meet with our approval? I am referring to such mutations as mongoliodism. It is a dominant mutation with a very defined phenotype. The individuals are physically stronger than other human phenotypes, but intellectually considered inferior. Eugenics laws require sterilization for said individuals. Yet, from every sub-type of Homo Sapiens, these individuals appear to be spontaneously appearing. What are your thoughts?

Response: Darwin's Children
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/14/2005 09:58:48 AM

Downs syndrome leads to some traits both charming and wonderful, but overall, folks with trisomy 21 (three copies of chromosome 21) have reduced life spans and numerous health problems. This doesn't seem to be a viable mutation. Evolution long-term is about both mistakes, which are rarely useful, and adaptation to a changing environment, which in my experience requires some sort of plan of action and constraints on the results.

Response: Darwin's Children
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 09/15/2005 12:30:42 AM

this is a tangent, surely: the seemingly oblique reference to eugenics, above, piqued my attention....and immediately triggered the questioning response: what various
'ailments' will be considered unfit in future? (we're already seeing related social instances in some companies not hiring smokers, health insurance rising for obese people, and incentives given by companies to adjust one's lifestyle toward something more 'healthy')

and, more intricately, how will the therapy of such maladies countrepoint this?

Response: Darwin's Children
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/15/2005 10:11:58 AM

Sounds like it could be a close race between malady discrimination and new technologies--genetic and otherwise--to treat those conditions!

INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM MAGIC
Posted By: tritium3, Arizona - 09/13/2005 03:58:03 PM

I am an avid "hard" science fiction reader. While the adjective "hard" in this context is, as far as I can tell with the miniscule amount of research I've done on it, pretty subjectively defined, I rank Greg Bear, Stephen Baxter, David Brin, Gregory Benford, and Arthur C. Clarke among my favorite hard science fiction authors.

It occurred to me recently that I would like to see a fun and lively discussion "thread" occur regarding a sentence which Mr. Clarke has made his characters speak in at least two of his novels which I have read. It is a fun sentence, and has caused me considerable thought.

Here it is, and to be safe, I will say that I am paraphrasing it, in case I don't get it quite exactly:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

I think I understand what I will call the "spirit" of the sentence, and I love it for its spirit.

However, it got me to thinking about science, reality, and the definition of the word "magic".

http://dictionary.reference.com/ provides a definition of the word "magic" which uses words including "art", "supernatural", "charms", "spells", "rituals", "sleight of hand", and "for entertainment". None of these words seem to me to be related to technology, one of whose definitions is, "the application of science".

It seems to me that a "sufficiently advanced technology" (relative to the observer), in Mr. Clarke's context, would be one which exploits either laws of physics about which the observer does not currently have sufficient DEPTH of knowledge, or laws of physics entirely unknown to the observer at the present time.

To summarize, I'll say that science and technology deal with reality and the exploitation of reality, and that, by contrast, magic deals with *faking* reality.

I would love to hear thoughts from others on this subject.

Response: Indistinguishable from magic
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/13/2005 08:12:03 PM

Excellent idea for a thread. I'll put it out before the readers here. I'm definitely a fan of Sir Arthur's "law."

Response: Indistinguishable from magic
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 09/14/2005 07:40:51 PM

umm......i would say, especially in light of writings by those such as fred alan wolf, that the definitions of any of the terms above are out-dated, and, hence, non-functional.

that said, and in line with the {perhaps esoteric} extrapolation that belief alters the nature of reality, a conjecture could be made that magic is the capacity to deftly invoke belief toward some particular end.

but, greg posits this in exploring the 'conclusion' of blood music.

Response: Indistinguishable from magic
Posted By: Mike Burke, Arvada, Colorado - 09/16/2005 06:19:12 PM

Sometimes you ahve to be careful about dictionaries. Words are often used in a context not apparent from definition.

"Magic" is a convenient label often used to describe something that seems impossible or, to put it another way, to violate the "known rules of the universe." It may be tempting to limit that label to the uneducated or otherewise ignorant, but it applies to many who think that they already have all the knowledge that can be gleaned in a particular field. I believe it was Lord Rutherford, no scientific slouch in his time, who opined that heavier-than-air flight was impossible. Seeing it, he could probably have figured out why he was wrong but many others would not. It seemed magical and perhaps no different to them than a flying carpet.

Think of the bushman and the coke bottle in "The Gods Must Be Crazy."

All technology exploits laws of physics (which also govern chemistry, biology, geology etc.) and when we discover a phenomenon that doesn't fit the known physics it often comes from an observation made while trying to explore some technological idea that arose from considering the practical aspect of some or another theory or hypothesis.

The photoelectric effect, for example. Entanglement. Lots of examples.

One that has some recent activity in both the science and science fiction communities is the space elevator. It may have been first proposed by Tesla in the early 1900s (but the full records are lost) and was certainly spectulated upon by Tsiolkovsky but considered impossible. Then Artsetanov wrote a very convincing piece in 1964 and then Clarke and (Sheffield?) both wrote novels about building one. But the proper materials were not available until, maybe, recently, with the development of carbon nanotubes. [CNTs are not ready for prime time yet for the elevator - no one knows how to make them of sufficient length.] Now NASA is giving grants and there is a company, Liftport, with building one as its entire purpose. There is also a competition, Elevator 2010, to develop the components.

That was magical thinking about a century ago but now is considered more of an engineering problem than one of basic science.

Response: Indistinguishable from magic
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/17/2005 12:17:46 PM

Excellent thoughts, Mike. Now take matter transmission--

It was indeed the late and much-missed Charles Sheffield who tied Sir Arthur in writing a novel about space elevators. Charles's novel was The Web Between the Worlds; Sir Arthur's, The Fountains of Paradise. And Robert Forward, in his last few years, was researching a way of making space tether weaves that could withstand micrometeoroid impact and erosion, a technology that could also help with space elevator design.

DARWIN'S CHILDREN SEQUEL
Posted By: Kenneth S. Krempasky, Pittsburgh, Pa. - 09/12/2005 06:50:08 PM

Greg,

Couldn't find a similar question so here goes. When can we expect the sequel to Darwin's Children? I'm in the middle of Mr. Card's Ender series, while waiting for Mr. King's Dark Tower in trade paperback. I don't want to start another book if your sequel is imminent. At my age it's best to not have too many different story lines intertwine. LOL!!

Thanks and keep up the great writing! Eon, Eternity, and so on!

Ken

Response: Darwin's Children Sequel
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/12/2005 07:16:49 PM

Looks like a sequel to DARWIN'S CHILDREN is not in the cards. Perhaps in the future--but for now, DARWIN'S CHILDREN will conclude the series!

LEGACY
Posted By: Robert Sachristan, San Diego, CA - 09/10/2005 02:03:36 PM

I have read and re-read Legacy a bunch of times, its like a universe you can almost step into. I have to say that it has to be my all time favorite book and I love your writings. I keep it in my palm pilot and read at least a few pages everyday. Everytime i get to the end, I feel like ive been cut off from a drug and go back to the beginning for more. The images your stories inspire are quite addicting.

Response: Legacy
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/10/2005 03:16:31 PM

Many thanks for writing, Robert. I've always wanted to write a sea story, and LEGACY was about as close as I've gotten. Now that I'm reading Patrick O'Brian (my wife is quite a fan) I realize that I still have a lot more research to do... Amazing details and depth of historical understanding in those novels!

RWOLFERT@COMCAST.NET
Posted By: Richard Wolfert, East Brunswick, NJ - 09/08/2005 04:28:52 PM

Hi Greg,

Well, Darwin's Children kept me from doing normal things like sleeping and the necessary things that keep our home running. For that, I thank you. Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov used to do that to me, too. You're in very good company.

Just came across this internet article and thought you'd like to see it. Keeps somewhat in line with your thinking.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050908/ap_on_sc/brain_evolution

Thanks again,
Rich

Response: rwolfert@comcast.net
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/08/2005 07:00:22 PM

I've always maintained that science fiction makes our brains bigger--I wonder when we'll find the gene for SF?

Thanks, Rich!

THE MAN WHO WASN'T KING
Posted By: Bryan Wigmore, England - 09/05/2005 07:06:19 AM

Hi Greg

Since reading Songs of Earth and Power umpteen years ago, I've been intrigued as to why you referred to The Man Who Would Be King as though Huston had actually made a version with Bogart and Gable. It confused me at first as I thought there must be another version I'd never seen. Then in another article you write about altering reality so that the 50s version was actually made. Clearly it's something you feel strongly about. Is there a particular reason you feel so disappointed that the original concept didn't get made? As a big fan of the 70s movie (which I can't see could be bettered, to be honest), I'd be interested to know.

Sorry if this seems like an odd question!

Cheers

Bryan

Response: The man who wasn't king
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/05/2005 01:52:41 PM

I enjoy having fun with alternate film histories, and my deep fondness for the story and the 70's movie couldn't stop me from wondering what would have happened had Huston been able to get his project going in the 1950s. It wouldn't have any any better, I think, but something closer to TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE would be quite an experience, no? As well, there's a lot of other "alternate" movie lore in SONGS, including the list of movies scored by Arno Waltiri... Who is, of course, an amalgam of both Steiner and Korngold. Jerry Goldsmith, who unfortunately for us all died recently, provides another character model.

DARWIN'S CHILDREN MINI-SERIES!
Posted By: Joel Seguin, Simi Valley, CA - 09/03/2005 04:19:09 PM

I just wolfed down Darwin's Children in less than 2 days! A very well written sequal to your original. I was so happy with it that I wanted to see if you had a website. After just finding it I see on the front that Sci-Fi is working on a mini-series! What a coincidence and treat after just finishing the book! Can't wait to see that come to the market, congrats!

Response: Darwin's Children Mini-Series!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/04/2005 01:36:48 PM

Thanks, Joel. We're eagerly awaiting a screenplay. More news as things progress!

YOU ARE MY OLYMPOS!
Posted By: Ashok K. Banker, Mumbai, India - 09/02/2005 11:55:41 AM

Hi Greg,

I'm a novelist from India trying to build a nascent career. One of my works in progress is an ambitous hard SF novel, which is frankly inspired by your own hard SF body of work, among other things of course (including Indian mythology). I've read and liked almost everything you've written--twice! My all-time favourites are Eon and Eternity, Moving Mars, and Slant. I'm currently rereading Moving Mars and am impressed by how fresh and immediate it seems even today, even the 'groundlaying' first 100-odd pages. You were way ahead of your time in your use of multicultural characters--and you used them accurately and as people, not just types. I was so pleased to read about your induction to the SF Hall of Fame. Long due, and richly deserved.

I've acknowledged your influence on my work in my in-progress novel, and someday, if it ever sees the light of day, I hope to present you with a copy. It's tentatively titled Palimpsest and is prospectively the first of a sextet titled The Ganesa Palindrome. I hope you continue writing more Hard SF, even though I know the market is not as welcoming of that sub-genre as it once was, and continue to inspire generations of aspiring authors like myself.

Warmest wishes to and your family.

Response: You are my Olympos!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/02/2005 01:57:10 PM

A lovely title, Ashok! Many thanks for your kind words, and best of luck with your sextet. As for ethnic characters--people are people, right? Some cosmetic and philosophical differences, but many, many similarities. In QUANTICO, one of my main characters is a Muslim FBI agent who has lived in both the east and the west, with divided psychology and loyalties...

It's a surprise to me to learn that I've been inducted into the SF Hall of Fame, however--I was down at the Science Fiction Museum yesterday and couldn't find my plaque anywhere! So maybe they're going to throw a surprise party for me... ;) Seriously, we're currently assembling the next roster of inductees, which should be very exciting, even though I am not yet among them. Sigh.

HEADS!
Posted By: Aaron Lawrence, New Zealand - 09/02/2005 09:55:58 AM

Hey Greg, I guess you don't get a lot of comments about Heads. I love that story! It's really compact and filled with ideas and events, and so spooky towards the end. Reminds me of Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea novels in the "density of ideas". (Slightly different otherwise, perhaps :)

But, I agree with others. We need to see Forge of God and Anvil of Stars in the movies. Who wouldn't want to see the Earth, a sun and a few more planets blown up properly... expensive to film all that floating around in zero G though ... you really should have had the foresight to include artificial gravity from a budgetary perspective.

Finally, I have to say a word about Vitals. That book is like a nasty sore: it's itchy, and unhealthy, and irritating, but kind of fascinating as well. I just wish you had a few more ideas and revelations to fill out the second and third acts. And that I could read some more about Maxim Golokhov. You know I looked him up on Wikipedia...

I hope you succeed in your continuing quest to cross genres, even if I don't like all the results.

Regards

Aaron

Response: Heads!
Posted By: Greg Bear - 09/02/2005 10:56:02 AM

Thanks, Aaron! There might be dueling planet-blowing-up scenes if all of the projects currently under way get greenlit. As for VITALS--well, having bacteria rule the Earth does have its unpleasant aspects...

POUL ANDERSON
Posted By: Sean M. Brooks, Massachusetts - 08/31/2005 03:48:49 PM

Dear Mr. Bear. I trust you are well.

I'm a fan of the works of your late father in law, Poul Anderson. I hope you don't mind me asking if there are any
plans to republish the stories Mr. Anderson wrote for PLANET STORIES.

Furthermore, is there any chance a collection of the letters Mr. Anderson wrote which have historical or a science fictional interest will be published?

I myself used to correspond with Mr. Anderson off and on from 1978-1995. And I still have the letters I wrote and his very patient replies to me.

Sincerely. Sean M. Brooks

Response: Poul Anderson
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/31/2005 04:20:57 PM

Thanks for writing, Sean! Nearly all the stories Poul wanted to collect have been collected, I believe--but I don't recall the specific titles published in PLANET STORIES. Poul's attitude toward letters was fairly gentlemanly--he destroyed correspondence unless it had editorial or business significance, believing the letters were the private communications of those who wrote them. He kept no carbons of his own letters, to my knowledge--but there are still boxes of papers to go through.

We do have a few letters from John W. Campbell to Poul, which are on loan to the Science Fiction Museum--along with Poul's idea notebook, on display there now.

I, too have kept all of the letters Poul sent to us, and a collection of extant correspondence is a fine idea.

CROSS WORDS
Posted By: S. Chase, El Paso - 08/27/2005 09:05:56 PM

I first came across your name while doing a crossword puzzle. Believe the clue was "Hugo Winner." My interest piqued, I picked up Darwin's Radio, was hooked, and have read everything I could get my hands on. Great stuff! Currently reading your collection of short stories. Any idea when SciFi Channel will do their miniseries treatment of Darwin?

Response: Cross Words
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/28/2005 12:17:26 PM

Cool! Which crossword puzzle? And there are so many Hugo winners. But perhaps none eight across... SciFi is preparing the script for DARWIN'S RADIO/CHILDREN now. Should be delivered in a few months, and more news then!

FORGE OF GOD AT WARNER BROTHERS
Posted By: Per Nielsen, Copenhagen, Denamrk - 08/27/2005 02:07:55 PM

Hi Greg

I was very happy to learn about the projekt to make Forge of God and Anvil of stars into motion pictures... it has been a dream of mine since first reading them.

I've been monitoring this site ever since - only to learn nothing. Is the projekt still alive and kicking?

I like most books from your hand, but these are my absolute favorites, and they deserve to become cinema titles... Thus, if you have any info or course for optimism would you let me know?

Per Nielsen

Response: Forge of God at Warner Brothers
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/27/2005 04:08:12 PM

Still alive! We're expecting a new draft of a screenplay in October.

MEETING IN GLASGOW WORLDCON
Posted By: Asim Qureshi, Birmingham - 08/25/2005 03:11:43 PM

Dear Greg,
I was honoured to meet you at the World Convention of Science Fiction in Glasgow in Scotland in Great Britain where you was the member of the panel on many programmes at the convention. I was absolutely thrilled to meet you. I will be very grateful to you to tell me which sequence of your books that I shall start reading to find out the way Greg Bear should be read and not miss anything. I have already read your book Phycolone which I truly enjoyed and in my opinion the book is not fully finnished but you asked me to read another book to pick up the story from where the book finnished. I am now at your court to ask you to direct me to your books to be read in the right sequence. I look forward to your reply.
Yours sincerely, Asim Qureshi, (25.08.05)

Response: Meeting in Glasgow Worldcon
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/25/2005 05:14:44 PM

Thanks or writing, Asim! I think you can pick up on my ghost story ideas with DEAD LINES, and if you want to try my more science-fictional pieces, perhaps you should begin with EON or MOVING MARS. If biology is your cup of strong tea, then BLOOD MUSIC, DARWIN'S RADIO, and DARWIN'S CHILDREN...and if politics and biology and human responsibility continue to interest you, then VITALS and the forthcoming QUANTICO are for you!

TECH WONDERS INCOMING......
Posted By: patrick, tucson - 08/24/2005 01:33:50 PM

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2005-08-23-cellphones-wifi_x.htm

its neat to see things like that reported on in the article link above (wi-fi), but its kinda amusing for us folk whove been around with you and others in the field for years.
not a new statement that SF is an insight into future possibilities, and it'd be nice if, and downright helpful for, the common person to take note and start readin.....but i'm sayin it again.

Response: tech wonders incoming......
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/24/2005 07:18:32 PM

Can't say it too often!

THANKS FOR VOICING YOUR IDEAS.
Posted By: Shima, Pacific Northeast - 08/18/2005 01:00:27 PM

I believe we are all designed by the greater human organism to play certain parts. We have a basic template to work from and none of us do things that are contrary to the plan. The template is made up of genetics, conditions of the womb and conditions of our environment that change us throughout our lives. I am comforted to know that I live for the greater good, but I am disturbed that I must go through this life believing a falsehood: that I have free will. It is obviously neccessary that we believe this falsehood in order that we may reason without wondering why we do things we did not intend to do. Accidents, mental illness and sex are all things that don't need to be explained in a society of free-willed beings. It is just chance, or coincidence. It would be a horrible thing if all these 'individuals' had to know that someday they might be sacrificed for the plan. Yet we must have the semblance of conscious thought in order to dream and create and advance the species in ways that animals without egos could never accomplish. Our reward for living the lie is that we create lives that seem better for ourselves, and we must have that motivation to push the capabilities of flesh beyond its current boundaries. Only greed can advance our species. I suppose my consolation for having to ignore the truth is that, no matter what I choose to do with my life, it will be the right thing. How far is this philosophy from yours?

Response: Thanks for voicing your ideas.
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/18/2005 04:12:30 PM

Interesting thoughts and perspective, Shima! Let's not forget however that nature--and human nature--is a balance of incentive from below and "persuasion" from above--both free will and directed response. There's no need to throw out the ability to make decisions just because there are times when we're not sure WE are actually making the decisions--those instances simply reveal that there are deeper currents. Thanks for writing!

THE AQUATIC APE HYPOTHESIS LINKED TO DAWINS RADIO
Posted By: mark, wallman - 08/18/2005 07:53:29 AM

Hi Greg,

After reading your book Dawins Radio I found a non-fiction/sf book in my local bookshop called The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis (somethimes called theory). It is by Elain Morgan ISBN 0285 635182. It talks about how in our distant past maybe we became semi aquatic which would explain the amount of fat we have on our bodies, our larynx (most other animals have a pipe for food and a second one for air). The amount of fat on our body. Elain sugests that our brains only increased in size after our diet became more fish dominated. Im only half way through but I can already see how this could be a spring board for loads of SF stories.!

Mark

Response: the aquatic ape hypothesis linked to dawins radio
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/18/2005 12:25:07 PM

Interesting theory--perhaps more applicable to the coastlines of Siberia and North America than the plains of Africa! But given such huge expanses of time, development of significant populations of various types of humans could be extremely varied. Maybe this is how we acquired that somewhat mysterious taste for oysters!

QUESTIONS ABOUT VITALS
Posted By: David Goldberg, Fairfax, VA - 08/17/2005 12:56:45 PM

Greg,

I loved Vitals, as I have all of your books which I have read (and will continue to read). The ending of Vitals left me with questions (the same ones Hal had). What was Rudy Banning doing, and who is he really? What was Rob doing? Who was behind all of the tagging? What really happened to Hal at the end? There are other questions too (but I'm trying not to include "spoilers" in case you post this on the website).

My question for you is this: If I were smart enough and read carefully enough, can I (or should I be able to) discern the answers to these questions directly from the text? Or did you intentionally leave these questions (and part of the mystery) unanswered? If the former, any idea as to where I can go to solve the mystery (a web page, perhaps, for the few dim readers among your otherwise intelligent audience)?

No matter what, I loved the book, and I am happy to ponder an unresolved mystery, if that is what it is.

David

Response: Questions about Vitals
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/17/2005 04:22:24 PM

I happen to enjoy a little mystery when I read, but am not so fond of hanging ends. There's really only one fact in VITALS that I leave unexplained and unresolved--the Polaroid photo--and otherwise, with a little dilligence, all the truth will out. Just don't pay too much attention to the POV characters while they're being jerked about and misled...
And thanks for the kind comments!

DARWIN'S RADIO
Posted By: Richard Wolfert, East Brunswick, NJ - 08/16/2005 12:11:37 PM

Hi Greg,

I read Darwin's Radio while on vacation on Cape Cod. Thanks so much for making it difficult to actually get to the beach, do birding and photography. Very hard to put the book down to get out.

I find your unique interpretation of a possible human evolutionary jump extraordinary. What marvelously innovative and subtle changes you envision for Stella Nova and her generation, in the book.

Just came across this on the wired.com website (I usually get to this site daily).

http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,68468,00.html?tw=wn_1techhead

How right you were in predicting that related sciences would be jumping within just a few years (from your 1999 baseline).

Just starting Darwin's Children. I'll suppose I'll have to thank you again, later, for not getting enough sleep, won't I?

Keep those great books coming.

Thanks,
Rich Wolfert

Response: Darwin's Radio
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 12:31:14 PM

Thanks for the kind words and the reference, Richard! Epigenetics--the study of activated and shutdown genes--has indeed become major since I wrote DARWIN'S RADIO, and it's another piece of a very complicated puzzle that includes RNA interference and micro RNAs and many other "tricks of the gene trade." This sort of work makes "DNA as destiny" seem both wrong-headed and antiquated in the extreme.

THANK YOU
Posted By: Gayle Alexander, Northampton, Ma - 08/15/2005 04:22:56 PM

Dear Mr Bear,
I just finished reading three of your books; Vitals, Darwin's Radio, and Darwin's Children. The latter was quite a surprise when you described Kaye's experiences of 'God'. I've been encountering these experiences most of my life- sometimes frequently and sometimes years pass between the episodes. I've tried to find some way to understand them, investigating everything from Christian Mysticism to Zen Buddhism to Aliens to the DSM IV. I still don't know what to make of it other than to be incredibly grateful. What is your thinking on this? Do you know others who are experiencing this? Any information you have is of interest to me. Thanks for writing such great books and again, what a surprise!
Sincerely, Gayle Alexander

Response: Thank you
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 07:50:35 AM

Quite a few of us experience similar moments--very wonderful, very puzzling! There's a substantial literature out there, and I recommend a book of mystical pieces called THE COMMON EXPERIENCE, from some years back. Best to do a search on ABEBooks for used copies, or check in a library. As well, William James's THE VARIETY OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE remains a classic.


Posted By: Spider, Ireland - 08/15/2005 01:42:50 PM

Do you think that future scientists will devise a way of bringing themselves into existence, and is what we see the future scientists way of doing this?

Do you think future scientists will devise a way of transferring the consciousness of every being that has ever existed a nanosecond before their death, to man-made eternal bodies in a man-made heaven for eternity?

Hope you write a book on these ideas!

Spider

Response:
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 07:47:22 AM

I did, actually--sort of. The resurrection scenario was part of the far-future scheme in ETERNITY!

PUBLISHING 2015 OR WHERE HAS MY LITERATURE GONE?
Posted By: Melissa D., San Diego, Ca. - 08/13/2005 06:02:28 PM


Grear Bear:

I read your opinion on the future of publishing and have to disagree with you on what you think the outcome may be.
There will always be some form of softcover novel to purchase. I personally do not want to read everything on a computer monitor. Using a computer in my work everyday is fun but still work so there are times when I just want to pick up a novel, magazine or graphic novel, sit and read without staring into a computer monitor. There just is something to holding, feeling, and smelling the freshness of print in a new work of art.
This brings me to the show biz part, film. Movies and publishing have more in common then you think. There are plenty of novels and short fiction that cry out film. The publishing world laggs behind hollywood in advertizing and marketing. The world of print does not put much stock in advertizing their ware. That is a really a shame.
Maybe someday that will happen and maybe a hybrid novel that combines the best elements of film and graphic novels without the stupid panels and word ballons.
Soemething that would combine wonderful, exciting, and visual text with terrific graphic art.
I will leave you with this last thought Greg. Hollywood spends way too much money on science fiction movie projects- not much in the way of characters and story and too much CGI. That recipe spells an empty canvas stuffed with baloney. It doesn't take a lot of money to make a very good flick. Just a real good creative talent. Melissa







Response: Publishing 2015 or Where has my literature gone?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 07:43:25 AM

Perhaps, Melissa--but fiction publishing took a huge hit in 2000, about a thirty percent drop in sales across the board. My guess? The popularity of DVDs and the fact they can now be played on airplanes. Free movies in the seat backs of SAS international flights! There's only so much time and money the average person can spend on entertainment...

Response: Publishing 2015 or Where has my literature gone?
Posted By: patrick - 08/16/2005 01:11:30 PM

melissa.....going as far back as gibson's neuromancer, though there are many examples in-between, a host of different concepts and technologies have been speculated that will supercede the 'book'. soft screens, head-mounted LCDs, av pillars, implants (both organic and non), affinity. (even the real-world develomental work on digital books.)

i suggest you pine the wealth of other authors, or even consider the implications of the thought-interactive capacities those such as olmy enjoy.

Response: Publishing 2015 or Where has my literature gone?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 02:47:19 PM

Yes, but the basic must-have e-replacement for the book is yet to arrive--and I thought it would be here by now. Not to complain--DARWIN'S RADIO has sold several thousand copies in e-book format, but the market is still nascent. Paperbacks still more convenient for most readers... But DVDs eating our lunch!

Response: Publishing 2015 or Where has my literature gone?
Posted By: Ryan Costa, Ohio - 08/23/2005 10:29:21 PM

I can see the future of printed media being in second hand copies. So many good books have been published, we'll never have time to read them all. A rise in the popularity of DVDs will excaberate the energy crunch. Fortunately hundreds of millions of old books are laying around.

Response: Publishing 2015 or Where has my literature gone?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/24/2005 09:09:48 AM

Indeed--and for some writers, those used copies suck up a substantial part of their income stream! But since I frequent used book stores, I can't complain... too much. As for DVDs causing energy problems--does a movie that stinks contribute to global warming?

SLANT
Posted By: Kingsley Yin, Burlington, NJ - 08/13/2005 10:39:57 AM

Dear Mr. Bear,

Just finished Slant which you wrote a few years ago. I enjoyed it thoroughly. My question is purely literary. In the final pages, Alice tells Mary Choy that she will doing a vid called "Alexandria Quartet" written of course by the verbose, bombastic, intellectual snob - Larry Durrell. Interestingly, Larry Durrell's brother Gerald Durell - was a naturalist/biologist who spent all his life looking at ants, bees and other insects. Gerald authored the hugely humorous book "My Family and Other Animals". So I am wondering if your referral to the Alexandria Quartet was pure coincidence or intentional.
I myself am a Medical Scientist working on ways to treat sepsis. On a purely pragmatic basis, I am scared of biological nano as it/they has/have the possibility of being absorbed and intercalate into host DNA. So although I had some opportunity I was too chicken. After reading your book, I am not sure if I am more scared or if I am willing to dive in! By the way should "nano" have the singular or plural pronoun? As you see I had trouble above.
Thanks for a great book.

Kingsley

Response: Slant
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 07:40:24 AM

Good to hear from you, Kingsley! You should take a look at my earlier novel, BLOOD MUSIC, for a more gray-goo scenario. Nano, I presume, is plural... like data! But I'll continue to sloppily refer to it as if singular. And the quartet reference was deliberate. Love Gerald Durrell as well, of course--what a pair!

INTERESTED OBSERVER
Posted By: Irish Slacker, Ireland - 08/12/2005 10:18:31 PM

Greetings Mr. Bear,

How are you sir? I have just finished Blood Work and enjoyed it immensly. Somehow, although an avid sci-fi fan, I have only recently discovered your writing. But I am hooked. Thanks for writing for us.

I do have a question, one you've heard before. Whats your own personal favourite? Keep up the good work!!

An Slacking buachaill.

Response: Interested observer
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 07:35:26 AM

Too many years of hard work to pick a favorite! Thanks!

AN IDEA
Posted By: Steen Thomas Millinder, Denmark - 08/12/2005 05:21:52 PM

hi Greg...

i hope you actualy reed this in person...

to the core:

the 'univers' you have throug heads, queen of ange.. slant, and moving mars, sisters. which is hmm... 80 - 180 years ahead of the the state the pople of earth are after forge of god and (if we ignore a certain jew) Martin in anvil of stars is also a bit ahead of the poeple of Mars and Venus... to combine these two we could have the guys from Eon, Olmy... the weakness in this idea would according to me be a reason for Olmy or some one else, to observe exactly these two (of an infinity of polsible universes to an infinity of points of time) universes... unless we kind'o use an ala anthropic excuse and say that we follow the ones that do watch these worlds and use the univers witch contains axis city, instead of a 'known' person in it such as Olmy...

Steen millinder...

Response: an idea
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 07:32:35 AM

Thanks, Steen! Just back from Denmark yesterday, actually. lovely country. This mixing of all my world lines sounds intriguing, but it would just be too much hard work... And I'm getting too old to keep track of that many world-lines!

DEADLINES BOOK REVIEW LINK...
Posted By: Shawn P. Madison, Cary, North Carolina - 08/06/2005 02:10:26 PM

Hello Mr. Bear,

Just a quick note to say THANK YOU for writing such amazing fiction throughout the years! I've been an avid reader for more than two decades and your BLOOD MUSIC still stands out as one of my favorite books. Now that I've finished your DEAD LINES, a tale falling within a genre that you don't usually dabble in, I can only say--Very Good Job!

That book had me thinking, had me feeling, had me tense and a little bit spooked--all the hallmarks of a successful horror story. As soon as I put it down, I chose this book for my Monthly review at the British e-zine THE ETERNAL NIGHT. Here is a link to the review if you are interested:

http://www.eternalnight.co.uk/books/b/beargreg/deadlines.html

Keep those books coming, sir, and we'll keep buying them! You sure know how to hook a reader and keep them emersed in the story until all sense of time and place is lost! As a fan of speculative fiction, that talent is greatly appreciated.

Shawn P. Madison

Response: Deadlines Book Review link...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 06:59:44 AM

Lovely review. Many thanks, Shawn!

OH NO... NO, NO, SURELY NO...
Posted By: Brendan Smith, Sydney, Australia - 08/05/2005 10:42:12 AM

G'day Greg,

To put it short and sweet Greg, I need another hit!

It's been so long since your last book (well, it feels so long!), and now Amazon have a publication date of February 2007 for Quantico? Add another month or two for delivery to our 'little' island down here in Oz, that totals a lot of waiting!

I'm gunna cry!

In case I've failed to convince you to bring forward your publication dates - where might we all pick up some other recent content of yours?

Thanks mate - I well hearted ribbing never hurt anyone!

Brendan

Response: Oh no... no, no, surely no...
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 06:53:53 AM

Hmm... go away for two weeks, and everything goes haywire! I'll check into this. My publishers are trying to coordinate between U.S. and U.K. pub dates--of which more news as things develop.

THE INTERCONNECTEDNESS OF ALL THINGS
Posted By: Christopher Charles Ernst, Tacoma - 08/04/2005 08:49:01 PM

Your books have been a real pleasure, not just because I'm a science fiction buff, but because I'm from the northwest and furthermore because my relatives are all scientists. One a retired vp from the former Immunex, and another a PI at Dartmouth, both working in the biotech industry. Because of this I'm sure I got more out of your writing than most. I have only had the chance to read Vitals, and now I'm on Darwin's Radio. It was only by chance that I picked up one of your novels in the first place. I was looking for inspiration for my own writing, a ghost story of sorts, but more or less a story from the point of view of a person developing mental powers. The main character believes he is going insane, but in actuality is tapping the collective unconsious(In a nut shell).
Thank you for the inspiration, and some rather uncanny coincidences. Christopher.

Response: The interconnectedness of all things
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 06:51:43 AM

Thanks, Christopher! High-powered relatives indeed--I'd have picked their brains for my novels, if I had that sort of access! And now for another coincidence--DEAD LINES is a ghost story...

X-LINKED GENES -- PROBLEM FOR THE NEW KIDS?
Posted By: Mudpaddle, York, UK - 08/03/2005 03:33:25 PM

Have recently read about the problems in mice when all the chromosomes come from the mom or the dad -- basically the mice fail to develop properly. This is leading to a whole set of interesting research on X- or Y- linkage. Given that the 'new children' of the Darwin series are entirely formed from their mothers egg, this must be a problem? Wondered if you had a way out of this one!

Response: X-linked genes -- problem for the new kids?
Posted By: Greg Bear - 08/16/2005 06:47:49 AM

The Virus Children have input from two parents--it just goes through an additional stage. The development could be said to be parthenogenetic after the "interim daughter" phase, but by then, there's already an XY.

CREDITS QUESTION.
Posted By: Greg "Sparky" O'Connor, West Lafayette, Indiana home of Purdue :) - 07/31/2005 09:37:56 AM

Hi Greg,

I was reading "Songs of Earth & POwer" When it hit me on page 598. Well Mostly when I read the word Aliens.

The TV show 4400, had to be based on this book. You have 5000 people appearing in a flash of light, They were taken from earth. They haven't aged. (Mostly)They are gifted with powers. (Some)They will change the earth forever. They are a couple of more things. I tried looking through your credits. But I didn't see any remarks about it. The only real difference is they were taken by elves and on the 4400 they were taken by aliens. But you even use the word aliens and that was what triggered it for me.

I love the book, please tell you me you got some kind of nod from the shows' producers, to me the show was clearly taken from your book.

Take care,
Sparky




Response: Credits Question.
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/31/2005 11:36:50 AM

Thanks, Sparky! This sort of thing has been around for a long, long time, however--think of "Rip Van Winkle" or "A Night in Elf's Hill." More directly, a few years before I wrote THE INFINITY CONCERTO, Steven Spielberg had brought back UFO snatchees in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. (He also produced TAKEN.) And I don't know how many snatchees and returnees have coursed through THE X-FILES. Thus, while I do feel egregiously ripped off every now and then, I can't take credit for this one.

THANKS GREG FOR GETTING ME READING AGAIN.
Posted By: Craig Brown, Staffordshire, UK - 07/30/2005 03:46:46 PM

Hi Greg,

Its been a long time since I read one of your books... far too long, in fact I got into Eon and Blood music about 15 years ago and havent really had much time for reading any fiction since.

I decided to change that recently and bought Dead Lines (remembered loving Eon and Blood Music) and for some strange reason thought I might work backwards... (now I realise some of your books are "sequels" so I am going to can that idea!)

I noticed quite a few people were annoyed with this book on Amazon.co.uk but I have to say I loved it, and felt inspired to write to you and tell you that they are talking out their backsides!! The main character reminded me of a guy I used to work with, strange fellow, although he was in IT he was more into modern art and porn and a scary mixure of them both!

Great piece of Horror Fiction, interesting concept of technology for profit and "to hell with the consequences"... I think also being a cellphone hater probably helped, although one question springs to mind... how many annoying cell phone ring tunes did you listen to before deciding to try and convince mankind that the mobile phone will destroy the world?

Seriously thanks for a great read, and thanks for getting me back into reading, Greg.

Regards

Craig Brown

Response: Thanks Greg for getting me reading again.
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/30/2005 07:34:46 PM

My pleasure, Craig! And I hope you've posted your views on Amazon.co.uk!

SOCIAL GUIDANCE BY ODOR IN DARWINS KIDS
Posted By: Erik Maronde, Hannover, Germany - 07/21/2005 08:00:30 AM

Dear Greg,
first of all I am really envyous on your meeting with the Strugatzkis ! I would have loved to talk to them. I often failed to meet my heroes. Zappa, P.K.Dick, Julius Axelrod. Its good that guestbooks exist these days !
Anyway after thinking it over for a while I thought on a line of action that may appear in the following issue (?) of your Darwins radio and Darwins children books. A friend of mine used to work on some aspects (circadian rhythms) of "blind mole rats". These earth dwelling animals live under the surface of mostly dry habitats in Africa and Arabia and their life is organized by a "queen" who gives birth to all offspring and all others females reproduction is supressed by (presumably) olfactory mechanisms. A mammalian species that lives a social live like a honey bee. This may be one line of the further development of the Darwin kids. They may control overreproduction by such means. A avoid autoaggression. I am quite sure you already thought about this but I had to tell somebody before the third book appears...
All the best,
Erik

Response: Social guidance by odor in Darwins Kids
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/21/2005 12:13:05 PM

Thanks, Erik! Very good comparison here. The New Kids are not really hive mind types--they just expand on aspects of our social structure which we tend to ignore. Smell is VERY important to humans, but science has yet to generally accept the true level of importance. The ways in which human society can control and "pound down" errant or different individuals are varied and pretty powerful.

Wonder if the Borg are descended from Mole Rats?

Response: Social guidance by odor in Darwins Kids II
Posted By: Erik, Hannover, Germany - 07/22/2005 06:46:23 AM

Thanks Greg,
you are right, having some "human" intelligence would keep the New Kids away from being organized like the blind mole rats. But, as you wrote the aspect of odor for human social and sexual behaviour starts being unearthed. The olfactory area that serves the recognition of such smells, the vomeronasal organ brings information from the nose directly into the brain. Some people think this can serve a a way to get pharmaceuticals into the brain. And recently somebody published a paper in Nature that spraying oxytocin into the nose of people makes tend to trust the person they are talking to. A in my mother tongue, german, not liking somebody can be expressed by "not smell somebody" ("jemanden nicht riechen können").
Regarding the Borg: if they developed from they biotas version of the blind mole rats that would at least explain why they are so ugly.

Response: Social guidance by odor in Darwins Kids
Posted By: patrick - 07/22/2005 10:21:47 AM

quite....far from being hive mind, i'd guess the kids'd be even more socially 'conscious' of their development and propogation.

however, and not to push baxter again, but his coalescent has just this kind of thing in it - in spades. and scent is a very strong feature, at least insofar as illuminating parts of behaviour.

DARWIN'S DILEMMA
Posted By: Ted Goldsmith, Annapolis, MD - 07/16/2005 01:49:50 PM

Hello Greg:

I am enjoying Darwin's Radio and plan to read Dead Lines next. Excellent work.

You might be interested in my short on-line book on evolution theory:

http://www.azinet.com/aging/Aging_Book.html

Analysis of the communications aspects of the genetic "inter-generational communications system" suggests that the "individual benefit clause" in Darwinian evolution theory may be incorrect and therefore provides support for group selection and evolvability theory. This would explain a number of observed discrepancies and has some potentially significant consequences especially for anti-aging research.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Response: Darwin's Dilemma
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/16/2005 02:11:41 PM

Thanks, Ted! A very thorough review (I haven't read it all, of course--but am enjoying it as I go). Don't yet know whether you take into account the real benefits of aging--for the group or organisms as a whole. My take on natural selection adds a factor that the group can COERCE the individual into behaviors beneficial to the group and destructive of chances of spreading personal genes. These behaviors include warfare (beneficial to the spread of smaller groups, not humans as a whole), suicide, and aging leading to death. Aging, reduction of sexual reproduction and sexual activity, and death are efficient ways of "shedding" genes made defective or worn out by time and use. (Aging may also tailor the individual to perform functions unlikely to be performed in youth--such as focused wisdom, altruistic raising of grandchildren, etc.)

However, we humans are now pretty much out of the loop of standard evolution and natural selection. Our selection more and more occurs socially--and that makes "rejuvenation therapy" a true target for all the ills that society can bring, in coming to either accept or reject a new approach!

Response: Darwin's Dilemma
Posted By: Ted Goldsmith, Annapolis, MD - 07/18/2005 12:49:28 PM

Greg:

Orthodox Darwinism has mechanics (survival of the fittest) that require evolved characteristics to benefit individual organisms. There have always been discrepancies with this "individual benefit clause" including aging, some human behaviors, and some animal behaviors. Attempts during the last 145 years to explain aging without violating the individual benefit clause have been generally unsuccessful. There are still multiple theories and the theories have major holes.

Meanwhile, for maybe 80 years, group selectionists have been proposing that we ignore the individual benefit clause and simply assume that evolved characteristics can benefit groups even if adverse to individuals. This solves the behavior issues and, as you point out, there are many plausible group benefits of aging. However, the group selectionists have been unable to provide a plausible mechanism to explain how individually adverse traits could evolve, propagate, and be retained. If not survival of the fittest, then what? As a result it is my impression that the vast majority of biologists believe in orthodox Darwinism. As you say, human behaviors are not considered germane to evolution theory and few care about animal behaviors. Regarding aging, biology is hung on the horns of Darwin's dilemma. Aging remains an "unsolved problem of biology".

My take on all this is that there are aspects of genetics that appear to me to conflict with the individual benefit clause. There are also genetics issues that appear to require mechanics beyond survival of the fittest (such as evolvability). I think this is leading to a fairly rigorous proof that the individual benefit clause is incorrect and that aging is in fact an evolved adaptation counter to most biology and medical opinion. This has potentially large medical implications. The book describes this in much more detail.

Response: Darwin's Dilemma
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/18/2005 02:32:16 PM

Excellent. Evolution solely for individual benefit is clearly challenged in the study of social and group organisms, such as social insects... and even bacteria. Biology marches on!

RESEARCH
Posted By: Kevin McPherson, Nova Scotia, Canada - 07/13/2005 08:00:52 PM

Hi Greg!

This is truly an honour, I've been a fan for a long time, loved TFoG, EON, both DARWINs...hell, all your stuff! Thanks for all the great escapes! I'm halfway through DEAD LINES (fantastic!) and, as a father of twins, a little too creepy-close to home.

What I wanted to ask is how you approach doing research for a novel. Is it a set thing where you have a circle of friends (university profs, frex) to turn to, or is it more haphazard, trolling reference rooms and such? Any advice for beginning writers, how to make connections, or tips on how to effectively research material without marrying the local librarian?

Response: Research
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/13/2005 08:17:27 PM

A little bit of everything, beginning with lots of reading...and in the last eight or nine years, lots of web research. The people you know--you know--know a lot of stuff! So listen and take notes and someday they'll come back, two and three at a time, as a character or a clump of undigested fact, just to haunt you. Libraries are great, of course, but people should check up on your books at the final stage. I usually find a few friends willing to catch me in my errors.

GENE THERAPY AND ITS CONNECTION TO EVOLUTION
Posted By: Ivan M. Nanev, St. Petersburg,FL - 07/13/2005 04:27:45 PM

Dear Greg,
I been doing a paper which I haven?t finish yet, but when I posted it to some friends of mine - one of them advised me to read Darwin's Radio. Now I've just started the book, but I'm convinced that there is something in common, so I'll be very happy if you could give me some comments or anybody else. You could read the paper on my site:

http://www.cyber-indian.com/theory/index.html

Thanks,
Ivan

Response: Gene therapy and its connection to evolution
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/13/2005 04:52:46 PM

Thanks, Ivan! This covers a lot of territory--and even, like Darwin's Radio, has an appendix. Let me know what you think when you finish your paper and my book.

GRAVITY DONUTS ANYONE? OR YOUR TIME MACHINE WORKS AGAIN
Posted By: Mike Glosson, San Diego, California - 07/13/2005 12:05:07 PM

Greg et al:

This just in from Nature:

http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050711/full/050711-4.html

Spooked me a little this morning when I saw this post, as I just finished reading Asimov's THE END OF ETERNITY for the third time in my life. Some aspects of ETERNITY came to mind when I was reading EON and ETERNITY years later in the nature of "The Way"

On a completely different subject: Are you coming down for ComicCon again this year? Looks like I am only hitting it on Saturday and maybe Sunday this year..

Mike

Response: Gravity Donuts anyone? Or your time machine works again
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/13/2005 01:50:18 PM

Hmmm... Wonder what Rudy Rucker has to say about this?

Won't be at ComicCon this year, unfortunately. We are planning to attend WorldCon in Glasgow and CascadiaCon here in Seattle.

Response: Gravity Donuts anyone? Or your time machine works again
Posted By: patrick - 07/13/2005 05:12:34 PM

neat stuff. lotsa 'closed time-like' scenarios in stephen baxter, too.

ELIZABETH BEAR
Posted By: Michael Pine, Melbourne, Australia - 07/06/2005 06:25:34 PM

Ok Greg,

Elizabeth Bear, Science Fiction writing, I know its a large world, but still.

is there a relationship here, or this is just pure co-incidence ??

I have started reading her works, for better or for worse, based on her last name, *fingers crossed*

cheers
Michael

Response: Elizabeth Bear
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/06/2005 08:23:56 PM

We can always use more Bears. Welcome to Elizabeth! David Bear is also out there, somewhere...

Response: Elizabeth Bear
Posted By: Elizabeth Bear, Las Vegas, NV - 07/18/2005 04:44:31 AM

I am in fact no relation to the esteemed Greg Bear (Hello, Greg). And worse, Bear is my middle name. Worse even than that, although I'm a fan of (Mr.) Bear's work, when the time came to choose a professional appelation, I decided that my own oft-mispronounced Ukrainian last name was perhaps too much of a challenge to inflict on innocent readers and bobbed my name... except, in a moment of supreme cognitive dissonance, I forgot there was already one Ursus in the field.

Which has occasioned some unintentional confusion.

(And I hope you don't mind my delurking to field questions on your blog, Greg.)

--eBear

Response: Elizabeth Bear
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/18/2005 11:30:15 AM

Good to hear from you, Elizabeth! Confusion to our readers is a good thing. I hope your success rubs off on me!

LINE IN THE SAND.....
Posted By: Mike McCaa, Huntington Beach Ca - 07/05/2005 12:12:29 PM

lol...Hi Greg!

Just wanted to let you know that Dan Simmons will be just a few miles down the road later tonight signing copies of his new "Olympos"....

..and next Tuesday Uncle Orson will be even closer signing for his "Magic Street".

You know....Huntington Beach is not all that far from San Diego and lots of good old memories. Why not stop by some time in the not too distant future and say hello to a few hundred of your friends?

Hope all is well in all that's going on.

mike mccaa

Response: Line in the sand.....
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/05/2005 12:22:33 PM

Thanks, Mike! Say hello to Dan and Scott for me. When I do show up for signings, likely you'll catch me at Mysterious Galaxy and other fine venues... At least once a year! (Though this latest book has taken a little longer to complete...)


Posted By: John Simonich, Western MA - 07/01/2005 02:46:51 AM

I just got back from taking the Wife to see Spielberg?s adaptation of H.G. Well's "The War of the Worlds".

I also noted the kind words and best wishes you had for this movie's success in one of your previous responses to this subject.

Well...all I can say is you are very charitable. Too bad Spielberg didn't make your novels into movies. At least then, we would have had a truly chilling, and disturbingly PLAUSIBLE portrayal of the motivations behind, and methods employed by a hostile high-tech civilization bent on our destruction. Your depiction of this catastrophe was especially disturbing in how the "Killers" used deception and mis-direction to "test and study" our reactions while they were simultaneously bringing about the destruction of Earth and all terrestrial life.

In the current "War of the Worlds" movie, the Aliens already had their machines of destruction planted on Earth thousands (or millions) of years before Human Civilization formed. Why ??? Why wait for a potentially competitive, high tech, intelligent species to evolve and become establish before they decided to destroy us ? Just so they could use our blood to fertilize their crops??? PLEASE !!

Unfortunately, Well's denouement to the original story no longer holds up in our Modern age. Heck, just look at the exhaustive steps NASA goes through in ensuring our interplanetary probes are completely STERILE...just so we do not risk the chance of introducing Terrestrial micro-organisms to the planet we are studying. Any advanced technical civilization (especially one that is significantly more advanced than our own) would have no problem in protecting themselves against possible disease caused by Earth's micro-organisms and/or viruses. In fact, that would be a rather plausible way for them to "do us in" without us even knowing they are here. All they have to do is bio-engineer a killer virus, or prion (or something even more advanced ---> nano-scale self-replicating mechanical pathogens) and let them loose. They could even fine tune it so it only kills us Humans, but leaves the rest of the flora and fauna intact!

Mr. Bear, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to save us from Hollywood's incompetence, naiveté, LACK OF IMAGINATION, and downright lazy story telling...especially when it involves anything remotely to do with real science and physics. Get The Forge of God and Anvil of Stars into production!

Oh...and please take a page from Peter Jackson ----> Make them into separate feature films, as they truly deserve, rather than trying to jam both novels into one 2-hour film.

Response:
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/01/2005 01:15:33 PM

Have yet to see Spielberg's film, so I'll reserve judgment here. Sounds like something of a combination of Wells's WAR OF THE WORLDS and 2001, however--with our "awakening" being greeted with destruction... Weed control, as it were.

Response:
Posted By: patrick - 07/02/2005 12:38:32 PM

john, its the movies. even solaris was lacking some technical elements, though to me made up for it in acting, romance, and trippiness. second, who knows what devices (other than money) allow a screenplay adequate consideration? third, the methods of destruction you mention, regardless of technical innovation, all have the ability to run away - its just a matter of complexity - and who knows where it could end up - right in the face of those who made it.

to you greg: actually, the 'booby trap' thing immediately made me think of the first 3rd of benford's galactic centre series

Response:
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/02/2005 08:33:39 PM

Indeed. Gregory's the master when it comes to machine intelligence across the galaxy. And of course Fred Saberhagen, whom we're all indebted to. Oh... and did I mention Mr. Wells?

EBOOKS
Posted By: Jim Reid, Nashville, TN - 06/30/2005 10:21:38 PM

Mr. Bear,
Let me first say that your works have been a longtime pleasure to me. I think I first read a copy of EON that i purchased in a used book store when I was a teenager. After that I was hopelessly entranced by your hard science approach to SciFi and read BLOOD LINES, "Heads", PSYCHLONE, THE FORGE OF GOD, and ANVIL OF STARS, then MOVING MARS.

Now, through the wonder of technology I had your titles in my recommended list on eReader.com and was reminded of the wonderful universes you took me to a decade or more ago. I have read DARWINS RADIO/CHILDREN, DEAD LINES(which I did find spooky), and EON this past couple weeks and was wondering if you had any plans to release an eBook version of ETERNITY. I noticed that LEGACY was available but not the second book in the series. I will probably just pick it up tomorrow in a book store, I just love the instant accessability that eBooks provide; an ancestor of the data streams you describe in EON.

I would also love to re-read THE FORGE OF GOD/ANVIL OF STARS now that I hear there is a movie in the works; do you have plans to release either of those in electronic format.

Thanks,
Jim Reid
Nashville, TN

Response: eBooks
Posted By: Greg Bear - 07/01/2005 01:10:30 PM

Thanks, Jim! All these books have e-rights controlled by their respective publishers, and they haven't sub-licensed them, which has irritated me. How long it will take to get them out as e-texts is currently unknown. But we're still working on it. Both DARWIN'S books are in the top ten list of e-text sales.