Me or the Manuscripts

2012 ended pretty well: pursuant to last month’s little squee about Blindsight placing in the Top Ten of the Past Twelve poll over at Locus, turns out that I also showed up on the comparable lists for Best 21st Century Short Story (“The Things”, at #4), and barely squeaked into the top ten for Best Novelette (“The Island”, at #10). So that’s three of the four 21st Century lists, and I don’t think I’ve ever actually written anything in the fourth category (novella); so I’m pretty pleased about that.

Also, 2012 ended like crap: on December 30th— the day before the already-greatly-extended deadline for that story I’ve been fibleting lately — I discovered that my tale’s underlying physics made about as much sense as an episode of Space: 1999 (I thought 36 hours was a bit too brief a span for a planet to cross the orbit of Venus, even at 600kps). Turns out there was some kind of glitch in the freeware gravity simulator I was using. So I’ve been head down the past week, rewriting the whole damn thing based on updated numbers. Which has put all my other new-year’s tasks a week behind schedule right out of the gate.

But New Year’s Day? New Year’s day was awesome:

For all of December we’d only caught glimpses: a brown blur, a fuzzy tail, something scuttling into hiding under the porch whenever we approached the Magic Bungalow. We knew it was skittish; we knew it wouldn’t let any of us get close to close. But we also knew it was a cat, living out on the street in the middle of a cold and suddenly-snowy December, so we started leaving a bowl of kibble out on the porch each night. Sometimes it would be gone in the morning; sometimes it wouldn’t. Sometimes we’d catch Minion snarfing it down (she’s the only one of the Gang of Fur who regularly ventures outside in winter), and wonder if the Brown Blur was getting any at all. There was one three-day interval where the kibble just sat there, untouched, the saucer half-buried in a tiny drift of snow. We figured that whoever the little furball was, she’d probably moved on or been schmucked by a car.

New Year’s Eve the little fuzzbot was back; still skittish, still ready to bolt at the sight of us through the living room window. But this time, halfway down the steps, she turned back and met our eyes, and meowed on the way out.

By New Year’s Day, apparently, we had passed the interview process. After a brief dance number in which she skittered meowing up and down the steps while we opened and closed the front door, she basically gave up on the whole CT thing and started bonking hands and ankles, purring furiously. I scooped her up. She let me take her inside. We fed her (she was ravenous) and set up the office as a quarantine zone until we’d got a vet to check her out.

Fat chance. She spent the whole night snuggled up with us under the covers. She’s nosing at my hands right now, apparently quite put out that they aren’t being used for something useful like dispensing cat food or scritching ears or pouring half’n’half into a small ceramic bowl. Sometimes she sleeps and I can get some work done. Other times I have to distract her with crimson crack.

I call her “Pube”. We actually started out by naming her Swiffer (on account of the tail), but Mesopone absolutely hates that name;  says we might as well call her “Broom” or “Vacuum Cleaner”.  (Actually, now that I think of it, “Hoover” would be a good fit…) Anything but “Swiffer”, the Meez says, so okay: Pube it is.

Let’s just say I’ll have to get back to you on the naming front.

That’s pretty much all I’m going to get back to you on, though, for the next little while. You may remember that January was the month I’d set aside to clear Dumbspeech off the decks. That’s already one week off the rails (I should probably e-mail my editor about that…). Then there’s a book-length manuscript on human speciation I promised to read over the holidays; that’s still unread, thanks once again to Turducken1 Then there’s this short screenplay out of New Zealand based on “Vampire Domestication“; it may not go anywhere but it’s already made the finals and I’ve promised to go over that by the end of the month. And I’ve agreed to write a vampire story for a Cystic Fibrosis-charity antho and I’ve just got a request to teach a local workshop in February, oh and by the way my desktop computer’s been fucked for over a month now and and and…

So it’s down periscope for a while. The chances of crunchy science showing up here over the next month are remote at best; it can easily take me 6-8 hours to write one of those fuckers, and I just don’t have the time. Any posts I do make will be fresh fiblets from Dumbspeech (and maybe one or two from Turducken). I’m hauling out the ol’ autoresponder and putting all but vital e-mails on hold, too; if I already owe you one I’ll try to clear that backlog but fresh correspondence is gonna have to wait.

Basically, I’m about to enter a kind of literary Thunderdome. Either Me or the Manuscripts will emerge in one piece. Wish me luck, and goodbye for now.

The View from my workspace.

 


1 Not its real name.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Monday January 07 2013at 01:01 pm , filed under Dumbspeech, writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

40 Responses to “Me or the Manuscripts”

  1. Happy New Year and congratulations on the new Pube. Hmm..

  2. Aw. She found her way through the deserts and over the mountains, braving many dangers to find her one true home at last. *sniff*

  3. I never thought I’d be so pleased to hear the phrase “down periscope”. Dive, dive, dive, sir!

    Winter is a great time for writing, especially if you’re in a place where you can be just finishing up when the first signs of impending spring become something you just can’t ignore any more than a new kitten demanding proper respect and fresh food. Then you and your latest brainchild can go out and play again.

    Best wishes,

  4. and nice to see the other kitty looking well fed.

  5. If I were a stray cat, I would want to find myself at your door. But I get the feeling that if I were a stray ex marine biologist with a propensity for plankton, I wouldn’t get the same reception. Unless, of course, I was paying for the beer.

    But I ran into something the other day that put me in my place. We were shopping for new windows and a salesman came you our house. It was obviouse that he didn’t have a “higher” education” but he saw our orange tabby and stated that he was male and that all orange tabbies are male. I wrote it off as the ramblings of an uneducated man. Much later, I looked this up. It turns out that most orange tabbies are male. If I didn’t have such a big ego, this could almost make me humble.

    Have fun with the new family member.

  6. Pube? You got away with calling a Cat Pube?
    I have no words except ‘Cool!’
    I once named a Daschund Bilbo, only to have everyone mistake it for Dildo and get a serous talking to. (Yeah, yeah, it was during my Tolkien Phase – Silmarillion cured me)
    Cute little guy that, he’s lucky to have you.

    Good luck on the manuscripts. We’ll be waiting with open arms (and wallets)

  7. Hey – I *liked* Space 1999………

  8. Anony mouse:
    If I were a stray cat, I would want to find myself at your door.

    Beware. Exactly this happened to B&B in my imagination …

  9. Good luck with the writing and congratulations on the new member of the household. Our primary cat (as opposed to his sister, the auxiliary backup cat) has Hoover as one of his handful of nicknames, this one due to his propensity to jump on the table and inhale any crumbs we humans might have missed.

  10. Thank you for caring about the physics of a deep space story, about getting it basically correct. Readers really do appreciate it.

    On the rest: God Speed, sailor Pete.

  11. Which “freeware gravity simulator” were you using?

  12. > FizerPharm
    > A better life for every stockholder.

    Splendid.

  13. Anony mouse: If I were a stray cat, I would want to find myself at your door.

    Well, that’s five now. Five cats, at least; also two rabbits (one with some kind of neuro-head-tilty disease), two pones, a tank full of tropical fish and a Russian hamster named “Orca”.

    All I can say is, when the societal infrastructure does collapse, it’ll be a while before we run out of fresh protein.

    Anony mouse: But I get the feeling that if I were a stray ex marine biologist with a propensity for plankton, I wouldn’t get the same reception. Unless, of course, I was paying for the beer.

    Wait, an ex marine biologist? You’ve retired?

    Then you’re definitely paying for the beer.

    OldMiser:
    Which “freeware gravity simulator” were you using?

    This one. I’d actually grown quite fond of it, and I know that too big a time-step screws up the predictions for any simulator, but that wasn’t the issue here. I’ve started using Universe Sandbox instead. Its predictions line up better with the back of the envelope. Also it’s very pretty.

  14. Yay for brown blurs. :)

    Sorry, I just don’t have anything to add today, haha.

  15. Peter Watts:
    This one.I’d actually grown quite fond of it, and I know that too big a time-step screws up the predictions for any simulator, but that wasn’t the issue here.

    Maybe it would make sense to write a bug report — but only if you could spare a little bit of your precious time.

  16. Peter Watts,
    Wait, an ex marine biologist? You’ve retired?

    If, by retired, you mean never having worked in the field, then I guess I am retired.

  17. Cute new addition, and I love the nickname you’ve christened her with.

    There’s something truly rewarding about winning the trust of a skittish animal.
    I’ve been experiencing this with a young turtle I adopted recently. Granted a reptilian response is a bit different than a feline, but still interesting nonetheless.

  18. Andrea_A,

    would be cool to get a bug report like that. :)

    I have a list of funny defects and also changelogs.

    headless zombies no longer zombies
    https://github.com/assaf/zombie/issues/221

    Laundryverse changelog
    https://admin.fedoraproject.org/updates/?_csrf_token=00ee05f45316c18b6cb36eb78c107297f4d6fb53

    500 mile email and laws of physics
    http://www.ibiblio.org/harris/500milemail.html

  19. Andrea_A,

    would be cool to get a bug report like that. :)

    I have a list of funny defects and also changelogs.

    headless zombies no longer zombies
    https://github.com/assaf/zombie/issues/221

    Laundryverse changelog
    https://admin.fedoraproject.org/updates/?_csrf_token=00ee05f45316c18b6cb36eb78c107297f4d6fb53

    500 mile email and laws of physics
    http://www.ibiblio.org/harris/500milemail.html

  20. You know, there are way too many jokes that could be made about calling a cat Pube. Suffice it to say, a Perl script just ran them all and dispensed with them. Congratulations on the new kitteh. As for putting a halt to a story because the physics did not make sense, I applaud your sense of detail. I would not have been that strong were I in your position.

    Good luck in the vasty deeps of authorship. We shall continue scanning the horizon in search of incoming text.

  21. Congrats on the new addition and good luck on the writing.

  22. @Peter Watts, who was evidently surfacing for a bit of fresh air, and wrote in-part:

    All I can say is, when the societal infrastructure does collapse, it’ll be a while before we run out of fresh protein.

    A fellow cynic! The neighbors and passers-by doubtless wonder why I’ve spent the time getting assorted migratory songbirds to stop migrating and hang out in the yard being fed saffronflower-seed and peanut-chips at predictable intervals. The sparrows aren’t hard to entice (and I hear that in English tradition, they make a pretty good pie if you stuff enough of them into it), and the nut-hatch population is about conditioned to show up when called. The Downy Woodpecker and the Flicker are skittish but still come around, and even the Cardinals (abject cowards of the local bird world) brave the presence of the human now and then. But I have my eyes on the blue-jays as they are fat and sassy, and the squirrels are at the point where you can’t get them off of the porch without using a broom.

    Truth be told, though, if I’m placid enough to be considered a fellow grazer by the local wildlife, if the societal infrastructure collapses, mostly what I’ll be doing is giving the neighbors (ideally) some hellish prionic disorders.

    Happy Apophis Watching Party, folks!

  23. ‘All I can say is, when the societal infrastructure does collapse, it’ll be a while before we run out of fresh protein.’

    You guys have me worried now. The elderly couple across the road has been plying us with cookies and treats for a while now. A while ago we were discussing home security and they suggested we swap spare keys. And the husband is a retired butcher…

  24. Sheila:
    Andrea_A,

    500 mile email and laws of physics
    http://www.ibiblio.org/harris/500milemail.html

    Reminds me to a story I got told by a former co-worker: LAN connection (from one building to another) occasionally broke down — but only with a truck parking in the courtyard. They finally figured out that the LAN cable (ancient BNC) laid under the parking lot had been set under pressure due to the weight.

  25. I’ve just read “Blindsight” for the first time, checked out from the public library. For the past few years I’ve been scrounging for good science fiction after ignoring the genre for decades. Mid-fifties in age here, too, so you can imagine how disappointing are the new science fiction offerings lining the library shelves, mostly steroid-muscled sword-wielding skull cleavers with a magic wand sparking in the bargain. Yuck. I grew up with Heinlein, Asimov, Sturgeon, A E Van Gogt, etc.

    With scientific knowlege now exploding, where have the hard science writers been?

    I was so pleased to discover one of them had written a novel such as “Blindsight.” I buy books if I truly like them, and yours I ordered the very same evening after finishing it. A sequel not until 2014? Ah, well, something to look forward to…

    What a fascinating adventure into neurobiology and a hold-on-tight fictional ride into the very nature of intelligence. I’m an average working stiff, and although at the end of the book you helpfully cite others who have expounded the same idea before you, your novel was my first real exposure to the idea that high functional intelligence and self-awareness can be mutually exclusive. That, in fact, self-awareness may be an incidental evolutionary artifact that can result in REDUCED evolutionary fitness. What a concept!

    Here I was floating on this half-realized butterfly thought that if there were some sort of overriding intelligence behind the universe (which I seriously doubt, agnostic here, close to atheism), human-like self-awareness was the means by which it knew itself. How pretty to think so, as Hemingway said. Perhaps brute computational force in a hive mind is the only way to evolve a sustainable intelligence. Thanks for scaring the piss out of me.

    Thanks for making me think at the same time, and making it a fun ride in the process.

    Pube looks like the stray we adopted two years ago, but Odysseus was more wiley. He had been hanging out in front of the local Go Mart a mile and half away, begging for Butterfinger and microwave sandwich scrapes, the cat paddy wagon scheduled to stop for him. For some reason he followed my daughter and her friend all the way home to our house.

    We already had five cats, strays and the three kittens of strays. You can set out a food bowl on the porch, but keep it outside, I insisted to daughter. Yet he was a beautiful cat, looking a lot like Pube, with tabby fur and a charming face. Still, he was skinny and scratching fleas. I really couldn’t afford the vet bills for another cat, for all that he latched affectionately onto any human passing on the front porch and purred.

    Eldest Daughter and I went to the beach, while my husband and Youngest Daughter stayed behind. When I left, Espoused One was adamant that the new cat would not come in. I called from the beach. Cat was in, established. Espoused One gruffly challenged, “So?”

    Odysseus behaved affectionately while trying to gain entrance into the household. Once he was well-fed, defleaed, injected against rabies, etc., he hated being held or put on laps. He bit and clawed, but was very playful. He’d jump on my hand if he could see it on an arm rest and gnaw. Gradually, gradually, he learned to appreciated being stroked on the head, overt gestures of affection.

    He continues to fatten and mellow. Sorry, dude, the surgery thing was inevitable. He’s quite intelligent, bangs with his paw against the window by My Chair in the living room when he’s ready to come back in.

    Home is where they have to take you in. He has a home.

    Of course, after reading “Blindsight,” I had to find what else was available by you in the library. I checked out “Starfish” and “Maelstrom.” Something to look forward to on a winter evening!

    Thanks for your work.

  26. @pG who wrote in-part: You guys have me worried now. The elderly couple across the road has been plying us with cookies and treats for a while now. A while ago we were discussing home security and they suggested we swap spare keys. And the husband is a retired butcher…

    Well, let me not go on record as suggesting that you go watch “Arsenic and Old Lace”. That being not said, look at it this way. If you accept their key-swap offer, as much as they might sneak in and spy on you (they’re old folks, take it for granted), you can sneak in and spy on them. However, unlike yourself, they can always plead Alzheimer’s if they catch you spying and stock their freezer with a bit of “long pig” and somehow manage to get caught despite years and years of practice. In court, they’ll be saying, “what do you mean we swapped keys with him? I don’t remember that. That’s why we came after him with the taser and chain-saw. Didn’t find a key to his house in your search of our place, did you?” My advice? Whatever you told them about your security system needs to be changed… by changing your security system to something that has none of the features you discussed. Otherwise they’ll be discussing the state of your security with all of their elderly friends and who knows to how many of their friends they might swap your key. Young people, I swear. Easy marks who for some reason think that wrinkles equals trustworthy. Winnie, you’ve got the freezer, Fred, lemme borrow the chainsaw.

    Dammit, I need to get offline and do some writing myself. That there was a story struggling towards birth. Though actually Our Gracious Host might occasionally touch on that theme in the “Turducken” threads…

  27. Mr Non-Entity,

    Well. Mr Non-Entity. I’m from Johannesburg, South Africa. The three most discussed topics among neighbors is home security, the electricity tariffs and what the other neighbors daughter had done on BBM. Then we hit sports, food and politics. (Lots of blue skies, so no weather)

    Andrea A. True Story. University of Johannesburg – Wits Campus. The IT dept suddenly started getting bad connectivity between two buildings. Did the usual fault checking, then someone pointed out the problem started soon after some workers fixed a faulty water line between the buildings. A few undergrads with shovels later the fault was found. A worker had severed the underground fiberoptic cable with a shovel, but before anyone noticed – cleaned the break with water and taped it together with electricians tape…

  28. kim w,

    If you have a good ebook reading platform check the backlog on this website. He’s got his earlier novels and short stories available. This place was one of the first places I visited after getting a kindle! I had heard about these rifter stories.

  29. pG,

    I love crazy incidents like that and what Andrea described. Crazy bugs as well. There is something different from normal annoying bugs and crazy ones. With crazy ones I don’t want to kick myself as much and they make me laugh.

  30. @Sheila: I was an overnight NOC (the closest thing to an actual engineer for that shift at the network-ops center) at a firm which had the unenviable task, among other things, of redistributing all of UseNet globally via satellite. That way, small universities out at the edge could get immense feeds via broadcast UDP while only having to maintain a very slim-band TCP/IP connection for their 2-way traffic such as e-mail.

    Two incidents stand out. First, we even had a CISCO guy up there to help us migrate our routers and re-provision from our legacy system to the new system. When they rolled it over, at first everything seemed to be working just fine… then things went wonky. Nobody could log in, not to get e-mail, not to get to shell, nothing other than the routers themselves and the core traffic shunted from the NNTP aggregators to the outbound ground-station dish. Our business was still running on its own, but we could not run it. Myself and one other guy at the other NOC building were the only ones still logged in, and nobody else would have been able to get on once they got in to work in a few hours… because our workstations were all NetBSD SPARC boxes with kerberized X logins. Kerberos has three heads, and none of them were talking to us… which I couldn’t explain because the krb server was running smoothly about 5 feet from me, and when I put a console onto the serial port and logged in that way, everything was as it should be.

    Eventually we got it sorted; for reasons never satisfactorily explained, the legacy network had a leg going across the street to the owner’s old house, and the krb server only wanted DNS via that particular route, which had been left out of the router migration planning because it seemed superfluous. Meanwhile, I’m used to being the only person in the whole building on the overnight, and suddenly I have all of the in-town management and their out-of-town consultants camped on my desk because I’ve got the only active krb session tickets in the company and only about an hour left before they expire. Only a little bit of pressure there.

    Second weirdness: Coming towards dawn on what promised to be a lovely early-spring morning, I start getting mail and even some calls from some of our clients in eastern Europe, regarding stuttering in the feed (at that time we were feeding about 10Gbit of UseNet per day), including actual blank spots. I was doing troubleshooting via remote, and everything seemed to be working everyplace I looked, which was everything between several remote ground-station receivers and our customer-premises equipment converting the sat feed to NNTP (etc). And indeed, UseNet was coming and going in fits and starts. I got a few of the remote engineers (assorted universities etc in places like Poland and Estonia) onto IRC chat and they were able to do what I couldn’t, check some of the LEDs on the CPE receiver boxes. None of this made any sense… until you looked at a map of the globe. Then it became apparent that the satellite downlink footprint edges were where we were seeing the problem… and it wasn’t just attenuation or sunspots or other space weather. Watching the map for about a half hour and moving pins around made it pretty clear that the satellite footprint was drifting.

    I woke up our “bird man”, the satellite specialist, and he got ahold of the satellite service provider. Evidently their bird had come up through the plane of the ecliptic on this, the dawn of the first day of spring, lost lock on its signposts (so to speak), and had a bit of a brain fart and bombed its station-keeping and orientation systems. The satellite outfit had to reboot their bird, which must have been pretty um interesting for their engineers.

  31. I love the Tech industry. We don’t laugh at Dilbert, we live it, and we see and experience things that our esteemed host cannot even imagine :)

    Best wtf ever. I still shake my head at this.

    I was contracted to a Mining Software Company last year when this happened. Quite interesting work, its fun when you don’t work in intangibles, but 500 ton behemoths driving around big holes. And that is where this started. Those Haultrucks may nowadays be magnificent hybrid montsters, wired with enough telemetry to fit a Dragon capsule. But the human factor still causes a problem.

    People get tired, make mistakes, don’t see what is less than 10 m in front of them. Next thing you have a SUV crushed like a beer can and a geologist minus a entire left leg. I have the photos to prove it.
    So the mines have been investing in automated safety systems. Collision avoidance, navigation assist, fatigue management. Quite cool systems – state of the art.

    The one system – wires the cab for audio and video, and monitors the operators eye movements, etc for signs of fatigue. Heck. It even looks if he is texting. Extremely complicated, high bandwidth, expensive – ie. American. The British one monitors minute steering adjustments and is a breeze to use. But I digress.

    A mine in the Congo had fitted the first one to their haultrucks. I wasn’t on site when this happened, but I heard the entire story later on from our Russian trainer. I think everyone working in the Congo heard this one.

    A driver had arrived at his designated shovel ahead of schedule and had to wait for his load. Quite a normal event. Except that this guy had forgotten about the camera fitted in the cab. And unlucky for him – the feed was playing in the control room. He proceeded to light up a cigarette, then whipped out mr happy. And this is where it gets weird – have a conversation with it in French. Congratulating it on a job well done the previous night and promising it more fun the next. No double meaning here – he was talking to it.

    The staff in the control room did what every person in the situation would do. Broadcast the audio out over the radio net while laughing like chimps on Nitrous. The next shift change was pretty entertaining. Rumour is that the video clip is still around, but I don’t think I’ll try to find it, ever.

  32. kim w:
    … so you can imagine how disappointing are the new science fiction offerings lining the library shelves, mostly steroid-muscled sword-wielding skull cleavers with a magic wand sparking in the bargain.

    The only Sword&Sorcery I ever took serious was Moorcock’s Elric. Your description of the library also applies to the local bookstores.

    With scientific knowlege now exploding, where have the hard science writers been?

    I was so pleased to discover one of them had written a novel such as “Blindsight.”

    There are still some of them in business. Before discovering Watts I had been (and still I am) fan of Greg Egan, Stephen Baxter, Gregory Benford, and Jack McDevitt (I could meet him at the Elstercon in Leipzig last summer). There are also some Germans (my first language) writing hard SF, with some books even translated to English. Andreas Eschbach’s “Die Haarteppichknüpfer” (“The Carpet Makers”) is a classic Space Opera. Frank Schätzing wrote with “Der Schwarm” (“The Swarm”) an apocalyptic science fiction thriller starting with zombified whales and strange things happening in the deep sea.

    But Watts beats them all. I discovered his work exactly 3 years ago on behalf of an Usenet posting:

    Peter Watts, Starfish (Rifters #1)
    Einige völlig kaputte Typen landen als umweltangepasste Arbeiter an einem Geothermieprojekt 3000 Meter unter dem Meeresspiegel und finden Gefallen daran.

    (A couple of totally insane guys come as environmentally adapted workers to a geothermic projects 3000 m under the sea level and start liking it.)

    Ordered Starfish and read it overnight. Then the other Rifters books. As I ordered Blindsight (in the small local bookstore I’m supporting) I got told that I had to wait about 14 days for it. Luckily I discovered Peter’s backlist, downloaded the e-book, and started reading in English (quite challenging, but at the time the book arrived in the bookstore I’d been done with reading).

    Pube looks like the stray we adopted two years ago, but Odysseus was more wiley.

    There’s a Czech SF movie for children with a cat named Odysseus playing a major role. (Odysseus a hvezdy — Odysseus and the Stars — oldie but goodie)

  33. So its Saturday night and I start thinking about my fav authors and whether any of them have anything exiting coming out this year… Decide to start googling Watts and while reading your Wikipedia page the back of my mind is going back over Blindsight. Then I start cursing the fact that authors never seem to write what you want them to, an how I wish Peter would write a book in the same universe/realm as Blindsight.

    Then I find this blog, and how did I miss this thing all these years? The I find something called a fiblet, or Dumbspeech or whatever. A new project… ‘lets keep reading this’ my still doubtful brain says. And then it hits me! Hey, hes doing what I was almost 100% sure he wouldnt be doing! A book with some relation to Blindsight, I am overjoyed.

  34. @Jeremy

    You will have to search or dig a bit back, but I think there are two, one focusing on each of the other two ships that left when Theseus did. Dumbspeech, State of Grace, Echophraxia (the working title changes from time to time–latest estimated publishing date was I think 04/14) is one and I think Sunflower might be the other (or an entirely different project), but it’s been a while since we got those kinds of details and Peter has to be somewhat tight-lipped about some of it anyway. There are a lot of fiblets to go through if you dig back via the tags.

  35. kim w: Of course, after reading “Blindsight,” I had to find what else was available by you in the library. I checked out “Starfish” and “Maelstrom.” Something to look forward to on a winter evening!

    Thanks for your work.

    And thanks for the praise. Also for being a friend to cats. As a token of appreciation for your good works, I should probably warn that once you finish “Maelstrom” the trilogy concludes with “Behemoth”, and a lot of people thought that book really blew chunks. So you may want to cut your losses.

    Jeremy: A book with some relation to Blindsight, I am overjoyed.

    My writing, and “joy”. Concepts too-rarely found together.

  36. Peter Watts,

    Mr. Watts, I’ve finished “Starfish” and am halfway through “Maelstorm.” How prescient! Currently exobiologists are eagerly scouring the earth, finding yet more extremophiles, as they hope we might find on earth a still existing form of life that evolved either prior to or separate from our RNA as we know it/DNA.

    An alien form of life in that it is very old. Alien in time, but not in place, still maintaining in the most hostile, inaccessible terran environments. Even a different chirarility! I’m a government employee stooge long-ago English major who reads astrobio.net for fun. The universe has turned out to be damned interesting. You saw back in the 90’s this search for a different form of life on earth before it had any press at all. How did you do it?

    And it makes sense that this different form of terran life could compete with current RNA/DNA forms. It goes beyond making sense to becoming a worst nightmare. Scarier now then it was when you wrote it. Now researchers are exploring and sampling places the with which the current biosphere hasn’t had contact for many millions of years.

    Of course, only certain mindsets coud withstand living on a regular basis in the extreme environments inimicable to humans. Interesting theory that only those who learned to use hormones to survive extremely stressful environments since childhold could survive down there. For the sake of a desperate energy-starved future earth on the brink of more-complete automation.

    Thanks once again for scaring the hell out of me in a completely logical fashion. The idea of the Behemoth early earth separate form of life up against life as we know it is way too close for comfort. Lenie as the carrier is way too believable, for all that I did not have a terrible childhood.

  37. @ Peter Watts, who wrote My writing, and “joy”. Concepts too-rarely found together.

    Heh, check the dictionary under “perversity”. I seem to recall that Poe incorporated a pretty good essay on it in one of his stories. As the French say, <<à chacun son goût>>. I have to say that when you get on a roll and start bringing it all together, it might be seriously dismal fun, but fun nonetheless. Here’s to dismal!
    /me drains a shot glass

  38. Based on the first pic with it’s mug cupped in your paws, it seems to have look that says “love me!”. So I think you might consider calling the kitty Love Me.

  39. kimw, if the Rifters trilogy is prescient, I want to live on a different planet. Actually, make that a different universe.

  40. Not quite vampires… (Nor the right thread, but older ones get closed periodically).

    George Church interviewed regarding his new book and on bringing back Neanderthals:

    http://www.kurzweilai.net/can-neanderthals-be-brought-back-from-the-dead

    Of course my question is, are they actually extinct?