A Picture is Worth 20,000 Words

This one is, anyway.  This one shows the current state of a chunk of Dumbspeech:  individual passages, whole scenes, teensy philosophical inserts that take us from Low Earth Orbit all the way down to the center of the solar system.  Everything else more or less hangs together; this chunk here is why I haven’t been […]

Posted in: Dumbspeech, writing news by Peter Watts 54 Comments

An Episode that Siri Keeton’s Dad Would Just as Soon Forget

“Wait.” Brüks held up his hand. “Start over.  How did it — I mean,  if it wasn’t viral epilepsy, how—” “Viral something,” Li crowed. “Viral zombieism.” Ventilator sounds filled in the sudden silence. “Bullshit,” Brüks said softly. “Oh he didn’t do it deliberately the larva was just collateral. Some evildoer cooked up a basement bug […]

Posted in: Dumbspeech, fiblet by Peter Watts 48 Comments

Nuclear Proetry*

Remember this guy? The dude who’s reprogramming the Deinococcus genotype with a free-verse poem in nucleotides, which in turn code for a protein that decompiles into another poem that replies to the first? He and I, we’ve been in touch. And among the latest tidbits I am authorized to reveal is the fact that he’s […]

Posted in: Dumbspeech, ink on art by Peter Watts 44 Comments

The Xenotext Experiment

A few of you may remember a throwaway bit of ecogothic ambience near the start of State of Grace: “…pure tissue was so hard to come by these days. There was always something that didn’t belong. Viral DNA, engineered for the greater good but too indiscriminate to stay on target. Special marker genes, designed to […]

Posted in: biochem, biotech, Dumbspeech, ink on art by Peter Watts 38 Comments

It’s Official.

It took way longer than I was expecting. It was about as pleasant as a date with Andrew Beaudry. I wondered on more than one occasion if it was ever going to happen. But I have just signed a contract with Tor for State of Grace, and the terms are, well, better than they’ve been […]

Posted in: Dumbspeech, writing news by Peter Watts 117 Comments

Flowers for Hobbie-J

A single gene.   A single tweak.  Synapse speed boosted by perhaps a hundred milliseconds, tops. Transgenic Genius rats.  (PopSci story here.) Who’da thunk it would be so easy?  And how long before I can get these NR2B boosters in a nasal spray?

Posted in: Dumbspeech, neuro, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 14 Comments

PRISMs, Gom Jabbars, and Consciousness

It’s Saturday night. I could be drinking now. I should be drinking now; a friend of mine has been liberated from his wife and larva for the weekend— a greater cause for celebration than he’ll admit publicly— and I should be out there helping him kill brain cells. And yet I have chosen to stay […]

Consider Yourselves Lucky.

In this particular business, the standard components of a novel pitch are the first three chapters plus two, maybe three pages of synopsis for the rest of the story. The pitch I just sent to my agent— the latest iteration thereof, at least— contains 36 pages of prose; 27 pages of “synopsis”; a two-page bullet-pointed […]

Posted in: Dumbspeech, writing news by Peter Watts 64 Comments

Why Believers Kick Atheist Ass at Scrabble

Here’s a fascinating possibility: that people with religious beliefs are better at pattern-matching than those without. The empirical findings are out of the Netherlands (popsci summary here), and are phrased much more conservatively: when presented with visual stimuli containing two levels of resolution (for example, a big square consisting of a bunch of little rectangles) […]

Posted in: ass-hamsters, Dumbspeech, sociobiology by Peter Watts 14 Comments

Revenge of the Butterballs

A few years back — before he ascended into Heaven with the angels — Cory Doctorow submitted a nifty little story to the Gibralter Point writing workshop (an annual affair for which, come to think of it, I am about to depart this very weekend). I don’t remember the title, but one of the central […]

Posted in: biotech, Dumbspeech by Peter Watts 24 Comments