Hand Jobs for Hugo

And so it came to pass that a certain editor suggested we push “The Island” a little more front-and-center, for the benefit of any who might wish to read it before voting. And since I haven’t updated my Backlist page in longer than I can remember, I figured sure, why not. So you’ll find it over in Backlist, both as illustrated html and as a downloadable pdf. (And now that I think of it, there’s actually a couple of other stories I should also stick up there over the next few days…)

Also, remember that time I complained about not being able to get a date with Annalee Newitz? Well, it’s about to happen; we’re supposed to have some kind of telechat for the weekend edition of bloggingheads.tv. I’m actually a little bit scared of these bloggingheads guys. At first I assumed they were just your typical low-budget op run out of some enthusiast’s basement, but it turns out they’re in bed with the New York Times, and have had such heavy hitters as Craig Venter on their show. Last week they showcased a former marine biologist who morphed into a bleeding-edge neuroscientist over the course of his career.

I cannot think of a harder act for me, personally, to follow. But I shall do my best. Worst-case scenario, I just haul Banana1 in front of the lens and tell everyone how his ears got so bent out of shape.

—————

1For those who don’t know, Banana is one of my cats. Not that other thing you might expect me to haul out in front of the lens on the internet.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday April 07 2010at 09:04 am , filed under public interface, writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

31 Responses to “Hand Jobs for Hugo”

  1. Is this about the Hugo thing or the border thing? Or did they give you a clue?

  2. Gratz!

  3. Just noticed the Harper’s and the PDF don’t begin quite the same. What up widdat?

  4. Last week they showcased a former marine biologist who morphed into a bleeding-edge neuroscientist over the course of his career, and now they’ll showcase a former marine biologist who morphed into a bleeding-edge neurofictionist over the course of his career? (Per my spell-checker, “neuroscientist” is no more of a word than “neurofictionist”, and it’s always right, so nyeah!) What’s next, a former marine biologist who morphed into a bleeding-edge neuro-mass over the course of his career? (Which would be a head cheese, I suppose.)

    By the way, I bet one way to get some votes would be to point out that anyone can gain voting rights for $50.
    http://www.aussiecon4.org.au/index.php?page=27
    Hint, hint.

  5. @Kanys,

    What is this “Harper’s” of which you speak? Is that another word for html edition? Because they should both be pretty much the same– both versions feed off the same source document.

  6. @Peter Watts

    Remember that Harper’s Collins Browse Inside you linked to long ago? Where you could read The Island without actually buying the book?
    http://browseinside.harpercollins.com/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061562358
    That edition starts “You sent us out here.”

  7. Holy shit, you’re right. I never noticed that before. I wonder how that happened.

    I notice the reprint in the Year’s Best I’ve seen starts with the Cave Men line, though.

  8. Yeah, at least the first two sentences are different between http://www.rifters.com/real/shorts/PeterWatts_TheIsland.pdf and http://browseinside.harpercollins.com/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061562358.

    For the record, which do you prefer? Just curious.

    You should *so* have a cat with you for the interview. And ditto about how you should mention how easy it is to vote for the Hugo. Make sure to mention what folks pay the $50 for, besides the ability to vote — they also get the convention publications, last I checked, and for the past several years John Scalzi has helped the Voter Packet come together, which means a lot of reading material for the money, certainly more than you could often buy with $50.

  9. I will definitely keep an eye out for it. I think you’ll be an interesting guest, following a tough act or not.

  10. Mats said: “That edition starts ‘You sent us out here’”

    Yeah, I noticed that right away since I have that book by Gardner Dozois
    and Jonathan Strahan ~ The New Space Opera…

    Peter confessed: “I’m actually a little bit scared of these bloggingheads
    guys.”

    That’s ok Peter. But there is nothing to be scared of. Really. Just be
    yourself, relaxed and talk about the stuff you love and are interested in.
    What you are writing about. No matter what they ask, just be yourself.

    The way I see it just go forth and be yourself. As an example, years ago I
    was at a really bad point in my life, feeling that loser stigma, and I just
    happened to see a newspaper blurb about some foreign government
    program and an invitation for any college age, Hawaii resident, to apply for it. I was interested in it of course, but didn’t think I would have a chance, but I just applied anyway. I did my best on the application but remained true to myself. Thousands had applied.

    Then a few weeks later I got an invitation for an interview. The next level
    of weeding the applicants out. So that was a surprise, but of course I
    was sure that even with this chance to be interviewed, that would be the
    end. Hundreds of people interviewed. I was happy enough to have even
    gotten that far. So I just relaxed and was my usual self at the interview.
    Some of the other interviewees awaiting their turn were ultra-competitive
    and a couple had an attitude that they were better than others amongst
    us. I spoke to the appointed committee as I do most anyone. I didn’t
    even think about whether I would be picked or not. I was just enthused
    and stoked with the opportunity to even try for it.

    Then about a month later I get the official letter informing what is what. So I just opened the letter expecting a sorry or regret to inform you, and
    that was quite alright with me. But instead it was a you were selected
    letter, amongst five total picked. So then I actually panicked that I was
    going to go on some foreign government ship trip. It was a Japanese
    Government Program that include youth from several countries and ports
    of call across three and half months. When I, along with the four others
    from Hawaii, who were part of the U.S. contingency (10 others from the
    U.S. Mainland – but not from the same States), flew to Japan, within a
    day I was told I had to rep the U.S. because I was the top U.S. pick. Wow,
    that was a bit scary. I was not exactly the most confident person at that
    point. But I did what I needed to do.

    So what is my point after that blathering-on? Even if you are not so
    confident, or life is not so great at the moment, or you feel a bit like a
    loser or compare yourself to others, you just got to go forward and take
    chances, risks and seek opportunities to propel yourself forward,
    because you really never know what may happen.

    Peter said: “Last week they showcased a former marine biologist who
    morphed into a bleeding-edge neuroscientist over the course of his
    career.”

    That must have been interesting in and of itself, but that isn’t you and
    don’t compare yourself to another. Thusly you are a former marine
    biologist interested in and still studying neuroscience. And? Does this
    bleeding-edge neuroscientist write hard science fiction and speculative
    writings? Did this person win awards or was nominated for his/her
    writing? Did this person live the exact same life as you?

    Most humans compare themselves to others, to another, as if they were
    some weak or bad facsimile of someone else. But each and every
    single person is a unique combo of all sorts of stuff that makes them
    particularly interesting, different and of worth. It’s only human to have
    doubts, and being humble to not feel so confident, but just take that risk,
    being open to this opportunity.

    And then: “I cannot think of a harder act for me, personally, to follow. But I shall do my best.”

    Nothing wrong with feeling this way, certainly, but again, don’t go into the
    interview already rating yourself as lesser or feeling as if you are being
    compared.

    Life is just way too short to sweat the small stuff. It just does not matter
    whether anyone is indeed comparing anyone to anyone.

    Peter said: “Worst-case scenario, I just haul Banana in front of the lens
    and tell everyone how his ears got so bent out shape.”

    Regardless of any sort of scenario being better or worse, it might actually
    be fun to show your kitty some public love just because. Besides, I don’t
    remember seeing you ever speak of Banana’s cute unique ears
    anywhere else. Are you gonna also therefore haul Chip (Chipwalla?) in
    front too, then?

    Informative footnote by Peter: “For those who don’t know, Banana is one
    of my cats. Not that other thing you might expect me to haul out in front of
    the lens on the internet.”

    Yeah, that’s right. Banana the cat who is on the author’s page, whom
    Peter implies is interchangeable with him. Besides, perhaps those not
    in the know, but also on that author page, is something about a “one-eyed purple trousers eel”. So the nomenclature is quite different anyway, so as not to cause any confusion and panic amongst anyone thinking that censorship is potentially necessary.

    But what really caught my eye, were the words “thing you might expect
    me to haul out in front of the lens”.

    Ok Peter, time to fess up on that one. Apparently, you have done something of this nature before then; therefore some would expect this to occur? Hmmm? Oh, ok, you are talking about that alien thing, then?

  11. Well, that’s what I get for typing off blog ~ a spaced out blathering. Sorry about that. I am so full of sorrys that I have some to spare. See above.

    Peter said: “And so it came to pass that a certain editor suggested we push “The Island” a little more front-and-center, for the benefit of any who might wish to read it before voting.”

    Can you do a bit of that at the upcoming Ad Astra? Some plugging of your book to go with the chugging of some beer?

    Also, are you going to post a link on here to your bloggingheads.tv interview? :) I hope you do haul out that cute Banana.

    I saw somewhere in a reader review of The New Space Opera Two, possibly on Amazon.com, where someone had stated the Peter Watts’ story was one of the best in that anthology…

  12. Alright, I found the reader review (date, reviewer and website deleted), here is part of the specific story plug after reading “The New Space Opera Two” anthology:

    “I liked this collection a lot. There is nothing mind-blowing here, but all of it is readable and some is pretty good. The story that came closest to greatness, in my opinion, was Peter Watts’ The Island. It had truly epic scale and a believeable sense of… (words deleted so those who have not read it won’t have their reading pleasure spoiled). Read it and see.”

    Don’t look for any review if you have not read “The Island”, yet. You may learn more than you would want before you read it thereby spoiling your untainted mind discovery.

  13. I heartily endorse the plan to haul up Banana-cat if you have an awkward moment. Cute cat faces are very distracting….similar to the way people react to catching glimpses of bright shiny things. We are such silly monkeys

  14. Looking forward to it, with or without cat. I’m sure you have nothing to worry about in the measuring up department, so to speak. *cough*

    (Aside: I gave up on BHTV a while ago, but I see now that they seem to have more variety than last time I looked. Got some catching up to do.)

  15. Thanks for posting the story, I read it last night. I think you did a great job establishing the kind of distances involved in space travel and also showing how a high tech scientific mission could slide into a kind of slave labor work crew. Very enjoyable, thought provoking and disquieting.

  16. Life is about freedom of choice. What to do, what to do. Which way at the crossroads? Harder to live life with a bunch of shoulda, woulda, coulda…I wonder if I had…if only…why didn’t I?

    “Then if you got it you don’t want it
    seems to be the rule of thumb
    don’t be tricked by what you see
    you got two ways to go…”

  17. For the record, Peter is an awesome date. But I did have to pepper spray him after he tried to obstruct me from examining the contents of his pockets.

  18. Peter’s a great date even when he uses pepper spray to try to win an argument.

    Solid entertainment…worth the 4000 km trip every time…

  19. Mr. Watts, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
    As far as yours truly can judge, those bloggingheads people are awesome lot.

    I have nothing more to say, since you already made the internet-banana joke :)

  20. Cool story though I’m not exactly sure what happened at the end. Someone got killed but who killed who wasn’t exactly clear. Or rather I know who killed who but then… uhh. Someone else conspired to kill someone who I thought was the same someone who got killed but wasn’t.

    Anyway! I liked the reversal of the usual trope of humans trying to outsmart the super intelligent computer.

  21. @Annalee ~ cool website! ~ http://io9.com/

    Re: Pepper Spray ~
    Peter and pepper spray, that was at a restaurant, right?

  22. Bloggingheads link: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/27336

  23. Excellent, thanks for the link, Ori! A very interesting interview with Peter. It sucks that there aren’t more!

    I’m curious, is there going to be Scramblers in Dumbspeech?

  24. I too enjoyed the interview, A LOT!

    Dr. Watts, you should do more public appearances; the stage presence is definitely there

    And then there are the titillating hints of contracts and announcements (I felt naughty just typing that word[1]). One hopes that the ongoing legal naughtiness[2] will not unduly delay the more-gratifying-and-socially-acceptable-literary-sort-of naughtiness [3]. Up with naughty words and ideas; down with naughty laws, with a parting huzza for obsessive fandom.

    References

    [1] Are You Embarrassed Easily?, the institute of going a bid red in Toromilton, link: http://www.phespirit.info/montypython/are_you_embarrassed_easily.htm, 1972

    [2] Sci-fi community reacts to author Peter Watts’ guilty verdict, Quill and Quire link:http://www.quillandquire.com/google/article.cfm?article_id=11205, 2010

    [3] “State of Grace” aka “Dumbspeech”, Peter Watts, in progress (or is that in Press), see “Wywiad z Peterem Wattsem” link:
    http://fileserv.polter.pl/Wywiad_z_Peterem_Wattsem_wersja_angielska.pdf

  25. I know people are going to think I have been replaced by a pod-person when I say this, because I’m aggressive, grumpy, caustic, didactic, school-marmish, pessimistic, afraid to look silly, and unable to say a nice thing about anything, yet I am about to gush. You are warned.

    If you haven’t already, go to bloggingheads.tv and catch the hour-long Annalee Newitz/Peter Watts interview. It’s worth it even if you never heard of either party. You will feel unreasonably good for two hours afterward, I promise.

    Annalee comes off intelligent, pretty, and clearly thinks Peter is wunnerful, and her pink-cheeked delight as he is speaking ought to have a subtitle like, “OMGOMGtalkingtopeterwattsSQUEEEE!” It’s l fresh and personable on her. Her unconscious ruffling of her hair is cute, too. I now want someone to wear that expression while I’m talking.

    Peter comes off self-effacing with a sense of humor, making him palatable as an object of her blushing fanly admiration. The main impression is that he’s analytical, focussed on the abstract, and terribly bright. Someone who primarily lives in the realm of mind. You see him looking upward, picturing what Annalee is saying, processing, considering her thoughts as she is speaking.

    It’s admirable to be smart and to listen thoughtfully while being spoken to, but what makes him delightful in this interview is actually this: the enthusiastic 10 year old boy he once was peeps through every so often; you see him exclaiming about “COOL! SPACE VAMPIRES!” and you think, now suddenly 10 yourself, “Yeah! Space vampires, ooooo, keeeewl!”

    (Peter, dude, you did good in this interview. It’s easy to come off like a tool in these things. I was impressed.)

    The interpersonal interaction makes this interview super. I felt good watching two people have such a warm exchange, especially knowing they could not see each other’s face. When the other person can’t see you, your expression is less guarded. I watched bits of other bloggingheads interviews and you can tell often that one party is bored, tuned out, waiting for his or her conversation partner to stop yammering on so he/she can have a turn, or showing minute traces of impatience or disgust. Not here. Annalee and Peter are having a good time, and it’s very human and genuine to watch.

    Go watch it! You won’t be sorry. It’ll make you feel good.

  26. Regarding what rm3154 ~ I agree :)

    @Hljóðlegur ~ So right. You expressed exactly what it is.

    You are gonna find this goofy perhaps, but I do not have high speed internet, at home, for reasons of money saving at the moment, so you can imagine how the download of the blogginheads interview went. :) For a one hour interview it took hours to load, then it would stall, and I would have to start over again, and it did not load per se so I could view the interview in its entirety, flowing freely, but I actually got images moving, then static, and then talking voices seemingly dismembodied, like an old fashioned kung fu movie.

    I figured I would have to wait until Monday where at work I could view it normally because I have highspeed internet usage there. But I must say, it was good enough at home on the dinosaurous cyberlinkage, enough to hear the interview, then read a science magazine at the same time waiting patiently for the next movement of image or words. Suffice to say that I saw more smiles out of Peter and even laughing than he pretends is not usually evident in his self identifying grump persona. :)

    I even got to try to figure out what the next words might be when the voices cut-off. I tried to guess what was coming next. At least I had to work my brain a bit in exchange for being very patient with fossilized, petrifying internet service.

    Still, I will have to wait until Monday to hear and view it in its freeflowing entirety. However even with the slow-mo stilted viewing I had across hours, I could see Annalee and Peter having a great time in the interview. (I did see bits of video in normal time mode separated by stills, then disembodied voices and then some images with linked voices. So overall I did “see” the interview in its entirety in a way.)

    Hljóðlegur said: “Peter comes off self-effacing with a sense of humor, making him palatable as an object of her blushing fanly admiration. The main impression is that he’s analytical, focussed on the abstract, and terribly bright. Someone who primarily lives in the realm of mind. You see him looking upward, picturing what Annalee is saying, processing, considering her thoughts as she is speaking.”

    Yes indeed. Annalee was smiling often, and she has a lovely smile on her pretty face. Genuine warmth and interest. Yeah Peter, we could see you smiling big and real too. :)

    As for looking upward and picturing, I tend to do that a lot when I speak to others and need to think without the distraction of what is in front of me. I thought most people did that, needing a somewhat blank space to envision stuff in order to answer. That’s sometimes how I think with my eyes open, looking up over to the leftside space because I am “seeing” images to prompt memories and thoughts.

  27. keanani says: I thought most people did that, needing a somewhat blank space to envision stuff in order to answer.

    Oh, for sure, people do tend to look away from front-n-center when imagining and processing, to limit distracting input. And I have no idea if he was picturing what Annalee is saying …

    (Ha ha ha ha ha- after I took people to task for thinking they can imagine what a duck is thinking, here I am imagining what Mr. Watts was thinking. heh heh heh. That’s funny.)

    ….I was making what they call a Wild Assed Guess, utterly free-styling there. Peter talks and writes using lots of metaphor that is visio-spacial – he expresses one thing in terms of how another looks, moves or takes up space – so I defaulted to the dangerous assumption that he processes alot in images, and that was what he was doing there. Of course, I have no frickin’ clue. Not a clue. XD

    Miss keanani – you’re an artist by trade?

  28. @Hljóðlegur who said: “Oh, for sure, people do tend to look away from front-n-center when imagining and processing, to limit distracting input..”

    That’s what I thought, although some people like “Judge Judy” states that you are lying if you do stuff like that. Well, in her court anyway. That made me wonder if that is what some people think when I do that. I think that is bald poppycock. Everyone’s brain is different such that we have our own ways to deal with speaking and thinking. :) Some people actually take a little longer to process and think.

    “And I have no idea if he was picturing what Annalee is saying … ”
    Only Peter knows this. But I would have guessed some stuff being pictured, perhaps.

    “(Ha ha ha ha ha- after I took people to task for thinking they can imagine what a duck is thinking, here I am imagining what Mr. Watts was thinking. heh heh heh. That’s funny.)’

    Ha ha ha, hey, I do that too. Always, the family pets I would guess what they were thinking. Dogs, cats, mice, rabbits, rats, fish, lizards, turtles…they all must have had their thoughts. For a short period of time my family had some ducklings that stayed in a backyard kiddie pool until they flew away. They were orphaned when their mom was mongoosed for dinner. They remained wild so we just fed them and did not interact much.

    Speaking of ducks I must tell you a goofy interspecies love story. Years ago, my aging pet Rabbit, a male, had a thing for our female duck, and well, as those things go he actually mated her. The motions as far as I could see. They were penned together in the same big hutch, and who knew that they would get physical. Anyway, what was so funny was she laid eggs. So, I am not at all sure what the heck was going on there, but of course they were not viable in hatching a duckbit or ruck.

    “….I was making what they call a Wild Assed Guess, utterly free-styling there. Peter talks and writes using lots of metaphor that is visio-spacial – he expresses one thing in terms of how another looks, moves or takes up space – ”

    Wild assed? Nah, I thought you did great in your guessing. Only Peter knows the truth. But he’s not talking.

    Miss keanani – you’re an artist by trade?
    :) I wish, but as such things go life gets in the way. No, it’s a sob story not worthy of any award whatsoever. A so-called natural born gift of drawing and painting that never made lift-off into actual life supporting realization. But hey, when I won the Earth Science Award in 7th grade beating out all of the 7th & 8th graders, I pretty much stuck with science and academics. However, I did switch from so-called premedical major, specifically Biology to Fine Arts in College, cause, what the heck, making a living as a struggling artist was what I wanted to do.

    After struggling with not getting my drawings, paintings and photos shown and sold enough to make anything of my life, I went to school again to get a “real job”. I sold some artwork, gave some away, won some awards, but that window of opportunity and potentiality really was happening when I was a kid.

    I still create artistically though. :)

  29. Ah HA. I knew you were an artist, by the way you write. Artist is a way of thinking, so you don’t have to make a living selling your art to be an artist. IMHO.

    In re rabbits. I have known several male rabbits over the years, and randomly humping things is like a hobby for them. It’s all very jolly and casual – hey, you’re laying on the floor, your head is about the right height, it’s covered with appealing hair, how about it, baby? Hump your head? They’re like little bonoboes.

    In re ducks. So what I hear you telling me is that ducks will lay without fertilization, as hens will. I didn’t know that.

  30. Hljóðlegur said: “Hump your head? They’re like little bonoboes.”

    I laughed really hard. They may very well be, but is it just the fella rabbitys doing all the hump around? Bonobos, aren’t both males and females sexing all over the place? Seems that Bonobos are sexing it up not for reproduction too, just like humans!

    Also, regarding rabbits, well, I did not know that they had to eat their food twice. Eat the good stuff you give them and it came out the other end, and then they ate that. Corprophagic little buggers were they. The males were incestuous too!

    I got some good visual examples of how genetics and recessive genes were expressed phenotypically. Start with a white rabbit and a black and white dutch rabbit, and you get all baby rabbits who are either of the parents color. But then that darn daddy rabbit messed with his girls, and then there was a butterscotch rabbit or two as well as black and whites with some brown patches. They did not play any banjos to the strains of “Deliverance” though.

    After that boo boo, we made sure to separate the sexes.

    Hljóðlegur said: “In re ducks. So what I hear you telling me is that ducks will lay without fertilization, as hens will. I didn’t know that.”

    Apparently so! We did not eat those eggs, but I did crack one to see what it looked like, being an unfertilized egg and all. It was the funniest thing, when the duck was quacking up a storm we figured that darn old randy rabbit was at it again.

  31. Just wanted to post up my praise for The Island; thoroughly enjoyable. Thank You , Dr Watts for more superb sci-fi. I’ll be watching your interview when it’s cached a bit more on my PC :)

    Cheers!