Thursday, September 29, 2005

Plug-and-Play Humanity

Yesterday, at long last, the last (but hopefully not final) Takeshi Kovacs book fell into my grubby little hands.

The Good

- Morgan's prose is incredible as always. The man can describe new places like no one else since Neal Stephenson's - oops - I mean, Bruce Sterling's travelogues (See: Heavy Weather and Holy Fire). Except with bloodier metaphors.

- This one was denser than the previous two, numberofplots-wise and prose-wise. The latter was good, the former marginally less so.

- Morgan and Charlie Stross are the two writers in scifi with the firmest grasp on how history actually moves - like evolution, it is relentless and unkind to its instruments. Yet good things emerge from it still.

- if you thought he had explored every possible ramification of the cortical stack, you're in for a treat. Stacks implanted in animal bodies is just one of them.

- mimints were a very cool idea. DeCom was just as cool if not more.

- with Ascertainment, Morgan finally explains how people can identify each other in a world where bodies are as interchangable as clothing - hell, they're literally referred to as sleeves!

The Bad

- mimints have more potential than he used.

- The climax ... wasn't. The denouement on the other hand, filled me with glee. But it would ...

- not enough young Kovacs. On the other hand, Morgan did something really freakin' clever with him and an oooold friend towards the end.

- Richard. K. Morgan really doesn't like transhumanists - and by god if he has to set up a strawman to knock 'em, so be it! (See: Renouncers)

- a certain figure from Kovacs' past doesn't live up to the hype. I shall reread and see if that was precisely the point.

- hoped to see more of the Martians (or whatever they are). Ah well.

The Interesting

- the Eishundo sleeve is such a clever little thing, I wish I'd come up with it.

- Aww, I miss the Nemex pistol. Company went out of business?

- the first two books had sex with two women each. This one, about ... four if you count VR and the ghost. Could the editors be to blame?

- Kovacs has two problems. 1) He's a Quellist who doesn't can't believe in Quellism because he understands the human animal too well. 2) He has a deeprooted hatred for the male human and thus himself.

- I can't believe it took me this long to figure out: Quellcrist Falconer is Che Guevera with tits.

- HA! I knew it! Morgan may not have made it easy, he didn't make it shiny and it took him three books to get around to it but by god, he did it, just as I said he would.


All in all, I recommend this book without reservation. Unless of course you have a problem with tomato spray. In any case, Mr. Morgan has done it again. Many people will consider this their favorite of the three (not me though; Broken Angels rocks beyond all else).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

ESA selects targets for asteroid-deflecting mission Don Quijote

ESA PR 41-2005. Based on the recommendations of asteroid experts, ESA has selected two target asteroids for its Near-Earth Object deflecting mission, Don Quijote.

Don Quijote is an asteroid-deflecting mission currently under study by ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team (ACT). Earlier this year the NEO Mission Advisory Panel (NEOMAP), consisting of well-known experts in the field, delivered to ESA a target selection report for Europe’s future asteroid mitigation missions, identifying the relevant criteria for selecting a target and picking up two objects that meet most of those criteria. The asteroids’ temporary designations are 2002 AT4 and 1989 ML

In other words, hit 'em before they hit us. Well, in the event that they try to hit us. Um, I mean, so we'll be ready if they do try to hit us.

Armageddon, this ain't - and won't be.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cassini Spots Huge "Spear" on Saturn Moon

As seen from 18,700 km up? Big spear.

From New

Monday, September 26, 2005

Olden but Golden.

Bruce Jay Friedman's Black Angels.

This slim 158-page volume contains sixteen stories - ranging from the too-good-to-be-true gardeners (who turned out to be exactly that) to the man who (somehow!) gets guilt-tripped into becoming a wife-beater. Mr. Friedman really knows how to lure you into his sharp-witted world - one darkly amusing hook after another. At the same time, he knows how to bring the weird. For instance, The Investor features a hospital patient whose body temperature perpetually matches the exact status of his favorite stocks. Much absurdity follows both as a result of and independent of the prime gimmick.

At its heart, the book is about stupid no, self-involved - no, stupid - people. The Operator in particular is a stunningly meanspirited and brutally accurate portrayal of the so-called "player" that plagues today's hip-hop culture - despite being written in the early sixties. The more things change ...


Apparently, Mr. Friedman has been around for ages and I'm only just discovering him. Funny how that is - we walk around, proud of our knowledge, thinking ourselves well-versed in the way of things when really, we're this close to being overrun by the deluge of things we don't know. Shelter in your pathetic niches mortals, only polymathy will satisfy.

*insert obligatory transhumanist wanking here, outboard brain this, DNI that*

Listen. I have given the matter much thought and I've come to a conclusion - the movement we I should be following is Vitruvianism.

Simonides and Raymond Lull after him had their Memory Palace; St. Augusine's "... inner place which is not a place", which was basically the memory palace plus lucid dreaming; the Tibetan monks have their thermoregulation and biofeedback and then of course there's the assorted martial arts.

While we wait for technology to catch up to our fantasies, shouldn't we be seeking optimal configurations of the existing human?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Full Stop.

I'm not a huge Star Wars fan. I've seen maybe ten episodes of the original Star Trek. I've never even seen Babylon 5. A great deal of scifi fandom really has no special significance for me.

I am, among other things, a hard sf fan. This means I give sf writers a lot of leeway in how little characterization they can get away with. That quality never proved necessary throughout the course of Simon of Space because, you see, Cheesburger's a goddamn genius. He's written deep, meaningful scifi here that's all about the people: interesting characters, entertaining motivations and incisive sociological insights. Not to mention the Secret Math. Or the Pegasi evolutionary path. Or ... no, I won't spoil it for you.

In case you haven't been following, Simon of Space is done & I'm about as close to tears as one can get.

How do you thank a future master for creating his first classic before your very eyes? Cheeseburger Brown (you may have heard of Darth Side, perhaps) has done just that. Simon of Space is not his masterwork - after all, he wrote it on the fly - not the best he can do but, if this is any indication, we're looking at the birth of a phoenix here.

As I go now to read the final chapter, I can only say this: if you've read it already, buy the dead-tree version. The whole thing's been self-published here. If you haven't, go to the blog, fall in love with it and then buy the dead-tree version. Why? Because Cheeseburger deserves fame and money goddamit. Because I deserve to see more of his work. Because anyone who likes good fiction deserves it.

And most important of all, because I said so.

That is all.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

As Simon of Space draws to his end, like Darth Vader before him, I find myself bereft of a serial fiction fix.

Enter Dingo, a new novel by Michael Alan Nelson. On the assumption that the rest of it will be as interesting as the first two chapters, it has been medusaheaded.

Monday, September 19, 2005

More on the tongue-eating parasite ...

... apparently, sometimes there's even two of them in the same damn fish. Poor bastard.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think Neal Asher came up with this, man. Yeesh.

*adds to list of possible sf aliens*
Tongue-eating parasite found in fish mouth


From Boing Boing


here endeth the triptych of one-word posts. it was fun while it lasted

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Friday, September 16, 2005

But that still leaves Eight Billion, Nine hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and etc.etc.

365 Tomorrows: a bunch of sf writers come together and write a short short every day for a year. Awesome.

This particular one "The Nine Billion Names of God" clearly agrees with me on the coming Age of Google.


Little quote from Fables #41, for my pleasure and amusement:

"Did you imagine any weapon could harm me, boy? Every imaginable protective spell has been layered on me for a thousand years. I'm astonished your blade survived. No other weapon has."

The Adversary was clearly doing his very best impression of Hannibal Tabu. On the other hand, he may just have been commenting on a failed assassination attempt.


Also, my Googlism: Being Poor link thing is back up.

don't even know why i'm linking this; it's down the same bloody page

Brains, said the zombie (also Popular Science)

Dark age of innovation, my ass: these, among others, are the people keeping the light burning strong for the rest of us. Iron-oxidizing bacteria? Cells that be sensing? I'm sold.


I’m surprised that no one has thought to do an SF anthology called Futuresports. Or have they?


Simon of Space

"Any sufficiently advanced math is indistinguishable from reality" - chalk another one up to my Clarkisms.

Aside from the Secret Math, there are just too goddamn many good things going on this episodic stream of genius. It's not too late to join the cult. jOiN uS!!! TERRON VOLMASH COMMANDS IT!!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Distant solar system body may be cigar-shaped

One of the three large new bodies discovered recently in the outer solar system is spinning so quickly it has stretched into a cigar shape, according to new observations. If confirmed, the strange shape is sure to fuel the controversy over what constitutes a planet.

No Rama jokes, please. Do as I say, not as I do.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Self-repairing spacecraft skin

The team at CSIRO, Australia's national research organisation, is working with NASA on the project and has so far created a model skin made up of 192 separate cells. Behind each cell is an impact sensor and a processor equipped with algorithms that allow it to communicate only with its immediate neighbours. Just as ants secrete pheromones to help guide other ants to food, the CSIRO algorithms leave digital messages in cells around the system, indicating for instance the position of the boundary around a damaged region. The cell's processor can use this information to route data around the affected area.

Based, apparently, on ant swarm behavior. How can anyone not love this stuff?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Exosingularities, pancyberspermia and SETI@home

If the advent of a technological Singularity on Earth is inevitable and if more than one technological civilization exists in the universe, it follows that there must be more than one Singularity. If some of these plural Singularities involve the uploading of sentience, then sentience may be broadcast as a "file" on light. Earth may be bathed in this modulated light which passes by with no effect until such time as the Cybereon we are building develops sufficiently to act as a substrate for the sentience encoded in the light. A file of sentience, able to recognize the sufficiency of an emergent cybersubstrate, inserts itself into it as if an interstellar computer virus.

Oh. Oh that's clever. And noble in a panstellar sort of way.

They Fight Cylons!

Medusaheaded: They Fight Crime! and Terminally Incoherent

The latter waxes theoretical on Singularity in the Battlestar Galactica universe like so. It's a post I'm ashamed I didn't already make. Pfft.

They Fight Crime!, on the other hand, is just plain funny.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Death to all who live ... long.

"We are the fury the shell has for the hatchling, the wrath the acorn holds against the mighty oak. We are your rage; Mortality against perpetuity, sufficient unto itself.

Since you have chosen to be deaf, we shall be your ears.

Since you chosen not to strike, we shall be your blade.

Since you are not enraged for yourselves, we shall be enraged for you.

We are The End - and we are angry

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

BEING Being being POOR Poor poor ...

For the ten people on the internet who haven't read John Scalzi's Being Poor yet, here it is. Get back here when you're done.

In the interest of not getting into a "my poor is bigger than your poor" contest, my contribution is as follows:

Googlism: Being Poor

There. Comprehensive, permanent and lazy. It's perfect!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I'm not buried, I'm underwater (Or something very like that)

... went to Borders today and verily verily, I stumbled unto a reading of 72 Hour Hold by its author, Bebe Moore Campbell.

Damn, she's good. Not only are her metaphors liquid sublime perfection, the woman is poured certainty in a tall glass, neither shaken nor stirred.

If I were a woman, I'd want to be her.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"A Boot Stamping on a Human Face ... Forever".

Google Purge

And they thought I was mad! MAD, I tell you!!


Friday, September 02, 2005

On the ground ...

... this guy is somehow maintaining a livejournal live and direct from New Orleans. Check this s#&t out:

The people are so desperate that they're doing anything they can think of to impress the authorities enough to bring some buses. These things include standing in single file lines with the eldery in front, women and children next; sweeping up the area and cleaning the windows and anything else that would show the people are not barbarians.

The buses never stop.

Not on TV.

He says it's the slowest mandatory evacuation ever, and he wants to know why they were told to go to the Convention Center area in the first place; furthermore, he reports that many of them with cell phones have contacts willing to come rescue them, but people are not being allowed through to pick them up.

Not on TVgoddamit.

I'm angry and yet I can feel it ringing false. If the government was screwing up last week when nothing dramatic was wrong, why should this week be any different?

Garbage in, garbage out as the saying goes.


Also, is it wrong that I find all the comments boring and pointless? It's either "teh govt. suxx0rs!!11" or "this is the real story right here". I mean, so? What we need to be doing is levees fixed, food/medicine in and people out. Everything else is just hot air.


Speaking of hot air, I shall now spew some:

New Orleans is essentially a feral city now.

Just a little puff. Sorry.

subpost made at 12:31 AM Sep 3 2005

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Medusaheaded for Mnemonic Purposes.

When Femtotech just doesn't cut it any more, it becomes time for Ontotech. Forget telling quarks what to do and hack the laws of freaking physics.

Image from


In other news ...

Regenerating Mice

SCIENTISTS have created "miracle mice" that can regenerate amputated limbs or damaged vital organs, making them able to recover from injuries that would kill or permanently disable normal animals.

The experimental animals are unique among mammals in their ability to regrow their heart, toes, joints and tail.

And when cells from the test mouse are injected into ordinary mice, they too acquire the ability to regenerate, the US-based researchers say.

And the countdown to all my Wolverine fantasies coming true starts ... now.

Watch this space.

this post made at 7:46 PM Sep 2 2005

New Orleans.

I have been remiss. Here's someone who hasn't.

It occurs to me that there must be a role-reversal going on down there right now. Those who were non-existent a week ago suddenly find themselves in the same boat as everyone else. In the land of the post-apocalyptic, the pre-existing homeless are king.