Discussion Board

Topic: Judgment Engine

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

Dear Greg,

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Re: Judgment Engine

From: Greg Bear
Date: 10/30/2006

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

Re: Judgment Engine

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

Hi Greg

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

Re: Judgment Engine

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

Dear Greg,

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

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

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


Best wishes for the new book,

Re: Judgment Engine

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

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!


Re: Judgment Engine

From: Greg Bear
Date: 10/24/2007

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

Re: Judgment Engine

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

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

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

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

Fred M.

ps. Awesome Quantum Mythology Dude!

Some sources:

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

Pg. 128

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

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

Pg. 35

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

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

Pg. 83

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

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

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

Pg. 63

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

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

Re: Judgment Engine

From: Greg Bear
Date: 10/27/2014

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

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