From: Darren Parsons
Last night I read your short story Judgment Engine, one of a collection in The Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction. I haven't read many books, sci-fi or otherwise, since my late teen years, and this was the first story of yours that I have read.
I spend a lot of time wondering what the future holds for us, with a touch of melancholy that I won't get to see the wonders to come. So I decided to investigate the "hard sci-fi" genre by buying this compilation. Your story "Judgment Engine" was considered the ultimate by the editor of the anthology, and I couldn't help but read it first.
Thank you Greg for re-awakening my imagination after so many years! I have a keen interest in technology & spirituality, and this story is probably the ultimate conclusion for both topics. Wow, I'm still so excited about it now, and probably will be for days to come!
Thanks again, Greg. I can't wait to read more of your work.
From: Greg Bear
Great to hear from you, Darren! You've got a lot of great material to catch up on. I'd recommend the far-future works of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert (and his successors, Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson), Poul Anderson, Ben Bova, Frederik Pohl, Paul McAuley, Joan Vinge, Stephen Baxter, Gregory Benford, David Brin, Vernor Vinge, and our modern model and master, Olaf Stapledon... just to get you started! And I'll also point out that my current project, CITY AT THE END OF TIME, is set in large part a hundred trillion years in the future.
From: Adam Crowl
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Wow! And I thought Stapledon was far-sighted, but he only covered 100 billion years. Have you seen the work of Fred Adams, Peter Bodenheimer and Greg Laughlin on the long term future of the Universe, particularly red-dwarf stars in the 10^13-10^14 year range? They posit stars being made from brown dwarf collisions long after the ISM is exhausted of hydrogen to make regular stars. Brown dwarfs should collide once every 100 billion years until the Galaxy relaxes in ~ 10 million trillion years or so. There's a good chance of a supersymmetric phase transition to exact SUSY conditions in that time according to some research I've read - that'll really make the Universe an interesting place!
From: Darren Parsons
Location: Guernsey, Channel Islands
Thanks for the recommendations. I can't wait for City at the End of Time. The 'far future' concept is very new and exciting to me, a far cry from the sci-fi of my childhood like Star Trek, which, although brilliant at the time, is quite mundane compared to the possibilities of life a hundred trillion years in the future. Looking that far ahead it is hard to imagine that we will be able to relate to any of the concepts of that time. Maybe the only constant will be human nature.
This may seem a bit random, but here is a link to the website of a Polish artist called Zdzislaw Beksinski. I mentioned my excitement and sense of wonder after finishing Judgment Engine. Well, the last time I had that feeling was after stumbling upon this artist's website earlier on in the year.
The website is very atmospheric, with mesmerising music. Best viewed in a darkened room! Have a look at Original WorksPaintingsGalleries 1, 2 & 3.
Best wishes for the new book,
From: Carl Rosenberg
Location: Vancouver, B, Canada
Dear Mr. Bear,
I also liked your story "Judgement Engine" and other stories along these lines, like the ones in the above-mentioned anthology, and Gregory Benford's anthology Far Futures.
In addition to the various works you recommended (Clarke, Stapledon, etc.) another interesting "far future" story is one by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, "Utopia of a Tired Man," in his collection The Book of Sand. Borges' stories are not exactly science fiction, certainly not hard SF, but there is a certain SF affinity in some of his stories, especially in this one, but also in stories such as "The Library of Babel," "The Lottery in Babylon," "There Are More Things" (the latter a tribute to Lovecraft). Borges was a strong admirer of H.G. Wells' early science fiction, and was probably influenced by it to some extent.
Best wishes--keep up the good work!
From: Greg Bear
Borges has had a great influence on me, and I give him a less-than-cryptic reference in CITY AT THE END OF TIME. I was privileged to meet him in San Diego around 1970. He's definitely one of the finest fabulists of the last century. He was very knowledgeable about science fiction and fantasy, and talked about many such writers in his essays.