Like many others, I am still absorbing the shock of Trump’s victory in the presidential election. For the last month I had been on a holding pattern on the blog in the remote chance the pundits and pollsters had gotten this election terribly wrong. They have. Rather than having elected Hillary Clinton who would have preserved the status quo with all its flaws, but also its protections, a large portion of the electorate has chosen to blow up the system and take a dangerous, potentially dystopian turn.
An apropos moment for a SF’nal posting, as I report to you all from the World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City, MO. Many fascinating people saying an doing interesting things. Lots of discussion of “da future.” And congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Hugo Award! But that will wait a bit. For now…
Apex is the third and final book of the Nexus Trilogy. Those books have now collectively won the Prometheus Award, the Endeavor Award, been listed on NPR’s list of Best Books of the Year, and been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Kitchies Golden Tentacle Award. They also earned me a nomination for the Campbell Award for Best New Author in 2014.
Growing old, and having lost hope of finding love again, I read about
the Lifemates Co-op and was intrigued. “Mr or Ms Right doesn’t exist
in nature. If you want someone that was made for you, come to us.” I
made an appointment to visit their office and talk with a salesperson…
“Scorned by over 500 publishers and literary agents around the world,” says The Transhumanist Wager’s back page blurb, “[Zoltan Istvan’s] philosophical thriller has been called ‘revolutionary’ and ‘socially dangerous’ by readers, scholars, and religious authorities.” Well, surely that ought to whet your appetite!
-A discussion on Zoltan Istvan’s The Transhumanist Wager
Transhumanism is a rising international intellectual movement that seeks to greatly enhance human capacities through emerging science and technologies, with life extension as one of its main goals. However, for many decades, the movement has remained outside of the political mainstream and a large part of it has only been active on the internet.
Fans of Game of Thrones were treated to a big piece of news last week. As audiences know, the fan-favorite character Jon Snow was left to die at the hands of his Night’s Watch Brothers at the end of the previous season. Yesterday, a poster was revealed showing a bloodied image of the character.
They used to send a legal ultimatum before it happened. Now you just wake up one day and everything green is dead, because the plants are biotech and counter-hacking is a legal response to intellectual property theft, even if the genes in question are older than the country that granted the patent.
Brave New World used to be one of the most terrifying stories about a false utopia. It gave us the concept of “test tube babies,” and its name became synonymous with technological progress run wild. But many of the things Aldous Huxley predicted are coming true, and it turns out they’re not so scary.
Is interstellar travel by bio-humanity even possible? Not according to my dear bro and esteemed colleague Kim Stanley Robinson. Whose new novel AURORA follows one of the first… and possibly last… efforts to send a generation starship to a neighboring star. Naturally, any KSR book is worth rushing out to purchase… though like many of his other works, there is a very strong sense that the author has a point to make.
The girl is crossing a frontier that exists only in databases. Her phone whispers frantically on her ear: crossing such a frontier triggers no low-priority notification, but the digital panic merited by a lethal navigational mishap. Cross a line between two indistinguishable plots of land and you become the legitimate target of automated guns, or an illegal person to be sent to a private working prison, or any number of other fates perhaps but not certainly worse than what you were leaving behind.
The city remembers you even better than I do. I have fragments of you in my memory, things I’ll only forget when I die: your smell, your voice, your eyes locked on my own. But the city knows more, and I have the power to ask for those memories.
We might call the opening the Kasparov Gambit, with the (human) World Champion playing against the (AI) World Champion, the only match capable of drawing big audiences, large sponsorships, and, in the case of this quaintly dominant player in a decade that had resigned itself to a flawlessly trained phalanx of geniuses, the rare thrill of being the underdog.
An essay in Wired: Is Dystopian Sci Fi Making us Fear Technology? ponders the pandemic plague of cheap dystopias and apocalypses and feudal fantasties that have metastacized and infected science fiction. Michael Solana muses that a certain amount of dire warnings can be a tonic, but it becomes poisonous in the kind of excess that we are now seeing, in which the fundamental rule seems to be “never show any possibility of a better world.”
Are we on the verge of the new Golden Age of science fiction cinema, in which it becomes about matters more interesting than explosions? Let’s start as Ray Kurzweil and company give us a sneak peak at the forthcoming movie Autómata: “Starring Antonio Banderas, here we have a believable future (2044, thirty years from now) in which desertification is threatening society, and a single company is leading the way in intelligent robotics.” says one George Mason university blogger. Indeed, it appears to be part of the new crop of films that treat AI with some attempts at subtlety.
Robert Frost’s famous imagery—fire or ice, take your pick—pretty much sums it up. But lately, largely unnoticed, a revolution has unwound in the thinking about such matters, in the hands of that most rarefied of tribes, the theoretical physicists. Maybe, just maybe, ice isn’t going to be the whole story. Of course, linking the human prospect to cosmology itself is not at all new. The endings of stories are important, because we believe that how things turn out implies what they ultimately mean. This comes from being pointed toward the future, as any ambitious species must be.
In breaking news an international conglomerate of scientists is to release their stem cell therapy rejuvenation injections next month. They have stated that for everyone injection paid for they will provide two free versions to designated countries and welfare recipients in non-designated countries.
Martin flicked away the news Vid. “They’re not giving me The Treatment, and that’s all there is to it.”
“So how you gonna stop them?” Shirley examined her nails as if they held the secrets to the universe.
He flung himself from the white couch and paced the living room, picking at his gray hair. “They don’t have the right.”
“Law says they do.” She rolled her hands out, palms up, and leaned back in the lounger. “Besides, it’s not so bad.”
In Khannea SunTzu remarkable new novel she’ll never write - The NeoProgressive’s New Deal - the leader character, Cassandra Assange (Daughter of Julian Assange, born in 2003), is the target of literal micro drone assassination attempts, a vicious media campaign and endless incapacitating litigation. She became a political activist like her father in the mid 2020s, and exemplified the new counter-cultural ideal. Militantly lesbian and technoprogressive she gave birth of a clone of her wife, and her wife gave birth to a clone of Cassandra in the late 2020s.
Growing old, and having lost hope of finding love again, I read about the Lifemates Co-op and was intrigued. “Mr or Ms Right doesn’t exist in nature. If you want someone that was made for you, come to us.” I made an appointment to visit their office and talk with a salesperson…
Pages 9-18 of chapter 1 of the riveting science fiction book Nexus by Ramez Naam brought to you by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. This is the last installment of Chapter 1 to be published on the IEET. You can order Nexus via Amazon by clicking Here
First nine pages of chapter 1 of the riveting science fiction book Nexus by Ramez Naam brought to you by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Check back here tomorrow for another nine pages of this fascinating book!