“You never finish a book. You only abandon it.”

Done.

Done.

Done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done

DoneAcknowledgments, check.  Notes and References (137 of them), check. Official Tor edits— well, this puppy’s been through  three different editors, two of whom left the building for various reasons before doing any actual editing, and the third of whom made no edits at all until the last 30 pages of  a 400-page manuscript. Being somewhat less happy myself with the first 370, I went back and cut 2000 expository words from the draft inflicted on my beta readers, not to mention rejigging a couple of plot reveals for greater dramatic and thematic impact. So, call it largely self-edited; and call the editing done too.

You know what’s really weird? I don’t even hate it any more. In fact, I think the ending kind of rocks, even if (actually, because) said ending might leave the less-careful readers among us with a few unanswered questions.

Now I’m going to send this puppy off, and dig into the shitload of things I have to do before leaving for Nantes tomorrow (where I will be sitting with William Gibson on one side, and Orson Scott Card on the other. The nature of my anticipation/trepidation towards each of these encounters is left as an exercise for the reader).

So while I’m packing, answering e-mails, and trying to figure out what died and left its bones down in the furnace where the fan keeps whacking against them several times per second, you might as well head over to SF-Signal and check out their Beyond the Rift interview if you haven’t done that already. Or maybe go a page or two sideways for a Hallowe’en review of “The Things” that tries hard, but kinda misses the point.

Did I mention I was done?

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Monday October 28 2013at 07:10 am , filed under Uncategorized . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

77 Responses to ““You never finish a book. You only abandon it.””

  1. Oh, I am so many shades of happy right now. :)

  2. I have been waiting for this since 2008 when I picked up Blindsight. Huzzah and fuck-yeah, you magnificent bastard!

  3. Man, that’s a panel I’d love to watch. Alas, France is a bit out of my budget right now :/

  4. I’m so happy to hear you’re finished with the book. Congratulations! I’m excited as ever, even though it still will be months before I’ll be able to put my hands on it.

    Have a nice trip and a lot of fun at the con.

    And don’t bite the homophobe. They sue.

  5. Great to hear the new book is finished. Excited to read it when it’s finally released. I really appreciate the work you do, since I’m a longtime lover of science fiction and read alot of it. I don’t think enough people really understand how much time and energy is put into creating a complex story that works.

    I only wish the movies were as good as the books, but that seems to be a pipe dream most of the time.

  6. Congratulations on finishing! I look forward to buying and reading. :)

  7. Yay!

  8. Super excited, been eagerly awaiting since Blindsight.

    Let us know the day pre-orders can be placed! :D

  9. Congratulations! Can’t wait to read it.

  10. Congratulations! Now, let’s see it. Those reveals better be damn dramatic.

  11. I read the interview and I’m curious: what were you going to email Morgan about concerning Black Man? It was no Woken Furies (or Blindsight, for that matter), but it was quite good . . .

  12. Woohoo! Congrats man!

    Oh and thaks for reminding us about Beyond the Rift. I just placed my pre-order on Amazon.

  13. Unlike most sequels, yours is one from which I actually anticipate Great Things. Or at least, a major novel that isn’t just a re-tread of its predecessor.

    I do hopes there’s a video record of what goes down in Nantes.

    Also, is there a publication date yet set for the novel?

  14. ..Yay!
    \o/
    |
    / \

  15. I’m dying for this to come out! One problem with reading your books is that they make so many others look like rat shit.
    Thanks for that.

  16. Congratulations! And as for the editing – the author is often the best editor. Have fun in Nantes!

  17. Excellent News- can’t wait for Echopraxia

  18. Woohoo!

    Wait, August 2014? Ten more months?

    I don’t suppose you could put a copy here on your website? An ARC for the fans?

    Ah well.

  19. GE Squids and sentient lobsters does sound like the kind of thing Charlie Stross no longer writes anymore, so I for one am happy to read your take on them.

  20. Alexey:
    Congratulations! Now, let’s see it. Those reveals better be damn dramatic.

    There are no reveals. I learned a lesson from Lost, and BSG, and X-Files. Never reveal.

    On the other hand, you’re a coauthor of a paper cited in the References: Alexey Cheberda, Janna Randina, and J. Random, “Coincident Autapomorphies in the γ-PCDHX γ-PCDHY Gene Complexes, and Their Role in Vampire Hominovory.,” Vampire Genetics and Epigenetics 24, no. 1 (2072): 435–460.

    Some Guy:
    I read the interview and I’m curious: what were you going to email Morgan about concerning Black Man? It was no Woken Furies (or Blindsight, for that matter), but it was quite good . . .

    I really admire the way he handled Sevgi’s death (although I have questions about the specs on the slug that killed her). Also I wanted to argue about anthropology with him.

    I’ll be seeing him in Munich, though, so I can do that then.

    Hugh: I don’t suppose you could put a copy here on your website? An ARC for the fans?

    Dude, I didn’t even do that for Blindsight until Tor had left the ball on the ground for a solid month or two. We’ll see if things are better this time around. (I’m certainly happier with the cover, at least…)

  21. So you might say it’s “ender’s game” for the revisions.

    *Ducks*

  22. Peter Watts: On the other hand, you’re a coauthor of a paper cited in the References: Alexey Cheberda, Janna Randina, and J. Random, “Coincident Autapomorphies in the γ-PCDHX γ-PCDHY Gene Complexes, and Their Role in Vampire Hominovory.,” Vampire Genetics and Epigenetics 24, no. 1 (2072): 435–460.

    Awesome! I’m very interested in epigenetics!

  23. Please tell Card he’s a feckin’ eejit for me.

  24. Awesome news! Really looking forward to it.

  25. Yes! Very exciting news.
    Now then, to wait.

    “After [Echopraxia] there are three or four possibilities— ranging from art projects to video games—circling around just out of reach.”

    Oooh…

  26. Congrats!

    Looking forward to it.

  27. While on the one hand I am very happy you are done, on the other hand I’m not sure how to purchase your latest offer. Give a brother an amazon link? or Hypoallergenic, all natural, non bleached, free range distributor of choice.

  28. Alexey: Awesome! I’m very interested in epigenetics!

    If mentioned at all, I probably get mentioned as the guy asleep on the job at the vampire education institution, snoozing in the video surveillance office, right through the breakout. mostly notable for wearing a Red Shirt. ;)

  29. I like the part in the interview where you finally get to read fiction for fun for a while.

  30. Also, more often than not I’m listening to some science podcast or other in a desperate rearguard attempt to stay current, so that really counts as research more than free time.

    Oh, which ones do you listen to? How about the other commenters? I follow the obvious Nature and Science Magazine podcasts.

  31. card dwells far, far past the eejit frontier

    http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2013-05-09-1.html

    Seriously, congrats on finishing the book. Looking forward to the read.

  32. This is spectacular news. Waiting for the next 10 months is going to be a killer. Add my name to the list of those who would love to see an ARC.

    On a different note, when the dead-tree edition is actually published, what’s the best way to get a signed copy? I doubt you’ll be trekking down to the good ol’ USA on a book tour to sign my copy in person.

    Would we have to request a signed copy through TOR, or can we appeal directly to the author himself?

  33. Congrats Peter and best of luck at the panels.

  34. seruko:
    Give a brother an amazon link? or Hypoallergenic, all natural, non bleached, free range distributor of choice.

    We’re +/-9.75 months from publication. Anyone but Amazon?

  35. Beyond the Rift, here:

    http://www.tachyonpublications.com/book/Beyond_the_Rift.html?Session_ID=new

  36. Crossing the Carpenter and BtR essay streams:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-w-whitehead/john-carpenters-prophetic_b_4170316.html

    I never got that from much of his work, really.

  37. Q: So, why is it coming out next year if it’s already edited?

    Gibson, Watts and Card. Someone ought to take a video.

    I imagine might go down a bit like this..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tbo8SNTNsQQ


  38. Also I wanted to argue about anthropology with him.

    What’s the point? The guy he cited is right – the evidence for human self-domestication is evident. Compare violence and social norms compliance between Bantu and Han people.

    Believing ~125 generations under imperial rule and some semblance of law and order has not domesticated the Chinese is somewhat laughable.

  39. Fantastic news! Nice going with the whole self-editing thing. Definitely fired up to read this in 2014.

  40. Peter W:
    for a Hallowe’en review of “The Things” that tries hard, but kinda misses the point.

    I just got around to reading Carl V. Anderson’s review of The Things. A quick and decent review, until the very last lines:

    “What was a very strong story was derailed for this reader by the last line of the story, one that references an all-too-common topic that is often mishandled in science fiction. It is a line that makes an impact, and certainly a shocking one, but left this reader with a bad taste in his mouth.”

    Derailed? Seriously? And then, even worse for me, was his arrogant attitude towards a very accurate comment about his review:

    “Thanks Maddog, but I really don’t need your help in understanding the word, its usage here, or in forming my own opinions.”

    I don’t know the man, and I havn’t read any of his other reviews, but this really sets him up to be very self-centered and off-putting in my mind

  41. I guess I’m working against my own self-interest here, but I just noticed that, for those of us on Goodreads, “Beyond the Rift” is listed as one of their giveaways, 1 ARC will be given to one of the (currently) 145 people requesting it.

  42. Nantes, canard, canard, gęś:

    http://pays-de-la-loire.france3.fr/2013/10/30/utopiales-2013-le-festival-international-de-science-fiction-de-nantes-explore-les-autres-mondes-341473.html

    http://www.univ-nantes.fr/1381737831307/0/fiche___actualite/&RH=INSTITUTIONNEL_FR

    http://ksiazki.polter.pl/Nowa-Fantastyka-102013-c26097

  43. Wow, that’s awesome, Peter!
    And the interview totally rocks!

    ——-

    Re: the rape and Anderson review thing… I kind of see where he’s coming from.

    Rape is a real thing, while alien bio-horrors are not.
    And Anderson would rather not have his enjoyment of a narrative about horrors that do not exist (and are likely not even possible) “spoiled” by a reference to an IRL horror that Anderson appears to be somewhat emotionally sensitive towards.

    However, I think that attitude towards rape is kind of reactionary and, more importantly, counterproductive (rapist psychology is funny that way, on one hand, they are really prone to construct complicated justifications for their acts, but on the other hand, many rapist types are very much in love with the power aspect of their crime and sheer degree of damage they perceive being inflicted upon the victim)

    It could be argued that this whole “rape is way too serious a thing for most kinds of fictional use” schtick might plausibly reinforce the criminal motivations of multiple rapist types. (might, because, you know, there are no good studies of this particular type of interaction, not to mention that the quality of research in the field has considerable room for improvement)

  44. 03: It could be argued that this whole “rape is way too serious a thing for most kinds of fictional use” schtick might plausibly reinforce the criminal motivations of multiple rapist types. (might, because, you know, there are no good studies of this particular type of interaction, not to mention that the quality of research in the field has considerable room for improvement)

    What are the bad studies? (I don’t follow the field, so I don’t know which bad research to look for).

    I remember reading a news article in passing last year or so that discussed the influence of lad magazines with respect to consent. can’t seem to find the one I remember, but google scholar turned up

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224499.2012.727914#.UnaEtkPTjck

    which somewhat jogs my memory. it’s survey based.

    […] A survey of 313 college students indicated that exposure to men’s magazines was significantly associated with lower intentions to seek sexual consent and lower intentions to adhere to decisions about sexual consent. In contrast, exposure to women’s magazines was significantly associated with greater intentions to refuse unwanted sexual activity. Overall, the findings of this study further reinforce the critical need for responsible and realistic portrayals of sex in entertainment media, specifically magazines.

    Seems they found that the writing that influenced people to ignore consent was on the negative side rather than on the serious side, with respect to magazines.

    (I am not motivated to go pick that article apart. maybe if you want to, if it is in your field).

  45. Congrats Peter! I’m almost done too :)


  46. Aren’t Wattsian vampires just convenient proxies for neanderthals*?

    These guys lived in small groups, were big game hunters and ate a heavily carnivorous diet. Consider that they had survived several ice ages in Europe with just stone tools.

    They were also way physically stronger, cold adapted. Possibly capable of hibernation. They also likely had excellent night vision, why else would they have such huge eyeballs and extra vision centre neurons? It is thought that human thought depends on language acquisition- feral children are not known for their smarts. So….

    Small group size, predatory -these traits don’t suggest a tractable nature. No one knows why they had such huge brains, but perhaps there was a reason for that.

    Human civilization was invented, several times, independently only by people who share this neanderthal admixture. Sub-saharan Africa – is there any record of writing there?
    There were some states, sure, abd some impressive fortifications but without literacy, the tower of knowledge cannot be built and heaven(or hell) cannot be reached.

    And right now a crazy scientist at Harvard is looking for a woman who would be willing to carry a cloned neanderthal to term. You all are damned lucky I have no womb.

    *so the author wouldn’t have to do so much research?

  47. Y.: And right now a crazy scientist at Harvard is looking for a woman who would be willing to carry a cloned neanderthal to term. You all are damned lucky I have no womb.

    “Harvard University geneticist George M. Church, the scientist at the center of the viral vortex, says it was: Way too outlandish, and entirely untrue.” Boston Herald

  48. Believing ~125 generations under imperial rule and some semblance of law and order has
    not domesticated the Chinese is somewhat laughable.

    i guess there are some guys on the wrong end of mao’s bayonets who might disagree.

    look at it this way, if you’re a violent thug in some savannah hellhole, chances are your gang of mifits might annoy the wrong guys, with negative effects on your reproduction. put the same guy into the imperial army, and the gang is somewhat more difficult to topple. pitbulls and rottweilers are products of domestication, too…

    even if chinese history didn’t have quite a few famines where “rule of law” sounds aomewhat farcical…

  49. Hi Peter,

    it was great to meet you in Nantes, thanks for the friendly chats! I hope you got to see the Giant Elephant and the other Machines, the castle with its suicidal tree, the small old-school video game tile mosaics infesting the old town,…

    Ivo

  50. Alexey: “Harvard University geneticist George M. Church, the scientist at the center of the viral vortex, says it was: Way too outlandish, and entirely untrue.” Boston Herald

    a) human cloning is a federal felony
    b) talking to a volunteer about possibly doing it outside of the US would be conspiracy
    c) the guy who hacked Valve was hours away from boarding a plane to the US. German police chief told him: You have no idea how lucky you are we got you before the Americans did.
    d) You know how fluid US jurisdiction is – they routinely get hackers from abroad.
    Human cloning is seen as an abomination by roughly 70% of Earth’s population.

  51. Trottelreiner,

    with negative effects on your reproduction. put the same guy into the imperial army, and the gang is somewhat more difficult to topple. pitbulls and rottweilers are products of domestication, too…

    You do know that % of deaths due to warfare and murder is way lower now than during pre-civilized times. If 20th century had pre-civilization levels of violence there’d have been something like 1.5 billion bodies in war graves.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Before_Civilization

  52. This is the interview which caused the browhaha.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/george-church-explains-how-dna-will-be-construction-material-of-the-future-a-877634.html

    Of course, he says he’d only do it if it were legal… and believes it is highly desirable because it would increase human diversity.

    By re-introducing almost obligate carnivore species with huge muscle size who probably were fairly ornery bastards and can see in the dark.

    Here’s also a nice article on the purported Caucasian relic hominids..
    http://www.bigfootencounters.com/biology/mjkoffman.htm

    I’m not saying I want to believe, but nearly human intelligence, shy, nocturnal creatures would be pretty hard to find, especially if they buried their scat.

  53. Here’s a also a decent write-up on gene work done on the purported Human-Almasty hybrids (story of Zana). Which was that in 1860s in the Caucasus a female Almasty was captured and eventually domesticated and had four children by local men whose bones have been studied – and their skulls did show interesting features..

    http://www.channel4.com/info/press/news/was-russian-bigfoot-actually-an-african-slave

    No neanderthal admixture he claims.

    But that theory would not explain her extraordinary features, described by reliable eyewitnesses. There is an even more intriguing alternative theory. Having carefully studied the skull of Zana’s son, Khwit, Professor Sykes believes there are some unusual morphological skull features – such as very wide eye sockets, an elevated brow ridge and what appears to be an additional bone at the back of the skull – that could suggest ancient, as opposed to modern, human origins.

    And Sykes has raised the bold theoretical possibility that Zana could be a remnant of an earlier human migration out of Africa, perhaps tens of thousands, of years ago. If correct, Zana could be evidence of a hitherto unknown human ‘tribe’, dating from a distant time when the human species was still evolving and whose ancestors were forced into remote regions, like the Caucasus mountains, by later waves of modern humans coming out of Africa.

  54. Even better, Nikolai Valuev (see picture )
    http://02varvara.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/nikolai-valuev2-e1269183588319.jpg
    the retired (2.13m, 141 kgs) boxer and now Russian Federation MP is fascinated by Almas, thus if there are any in Siberia or Caucasus, Russians might try to find them using stuff like you know, drones with thermal cameras?

    Would be a good exercise for drone operators – to comb millions of square kilometers and record thermal images of animals there and compare them to known species..

  55. Here’s the story of Zana..
    http://www.bigfootencounters.com/articles/zana2.htm
    -also, what Russian cryptozoologists describe is not Bigfoot but way smaller, like really tall modern men but more robust, furred and said of being capable of hibernating in early spring for a couple of months.

    (interesting reading really). And there’s the Georgian cemetery where she’s supposed to be buried, but no one found her skull so far.

    Locals don’t want people to disturb 120 year old graves.

    Her son’s skull looks similar that of the Rhodesian man – google “Khwit skull” and you can get the picture ..

  56. @Y, who wrote in part:

    a) human cloning is a federal felony

    Not so, if I recall correctly (I used to track the issue as a UseNet newsgroup charterer) the ultimate result of lots of discussion in a lot of places, was that in the States no Federal funding can be used for research involving cloning of human beings. That this was tied into — and eventually was subsumed within — the later (Bush II Administration era) debate on stem-cell research, is no suprise, but in the same way that there were exceptions in the public policy regarding stem-cell research provided that certain guidelines were followed, cloning of human genetic material and development of it could be not merely permitted, but permitted under oversight of Federally funded research agencies.

    This is not to say that it’s legal to clone, say, Cindy Crawford, though evidence suggests she might be giving the notion more consideration than you’d expect[1]. And there are serious moral and ethical implications of even cloning an acerebral “pithed” copy of any living individual, but less so by far than launching the human life of a time-delayed identical twin into chattel slavery or worse. Yet there seem to be very few legal obstacles standing between Ms Crawford and a clone of her liver, just her liver, intended for transplant only to Ms Crawford.

    I should note here that in the same way nobody seems to fully understand the entirety of the health care reform legislation that also gives rise to “obamacare”, nobody seems to fully understand whether or not Federal funding can be used in Human Experimentation (challenge studies and the like) without informed consent of the subjects, or even what controls on such HumEx may exist (or not).

    For all I know, there’s a billion dollars earmarked there so that cloning research can inflict us with another hundred years of Nancy Pelosi and resurrect the late Thomas P “Tip” O’Niell, but only after afflicting a few hundred more unsuspecting civilians with “challenge studies” that reduce them to psychotic “alien intrusion Experiencers”.

    Human cloning is seen as an abomination by roughly 70% of Earth’s population.

    I’m not sure about your percentages. You may want to see the 1996 (or so) report “Cloning Human Beings”, from the US National Bioethics Technology Commission, helpfully archived here.

    Ref: 1. A fine and hopeful alternative ending to a Treatment I once wrote…

  57. You do know that % of deaths due to warfare and murder is way lower now than during pre-civilized times.

    Yes, but that could be for a variety of reasons, both cultural and genetic.
    BTW, as already hinted at, China is a bad example, for a variety of reasons, first of, quite a lot of the early history in question is only backed by Chinese annals written somewhere between 300 and 1000 AD, which is somewhat akin to using Vergil’s Aeneas for Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean history. I somewhat doubt their history is longer than the European/Near Eastern one. And if we talk about China and Sub-Saharan Africa, quite a lot of the early 20th century in China was quite similar to what we today connect with today’s Sub-Saharan Africa. Guess where the term “Warlordism” was coined?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warlord

    And anecdotal evidence suggest whatever degree of self-domestication a few centuries of “civilization” impart, it can be lost quite fast, e.g. in a civil war situation, or it can be gained in a few generations, it’s only about 400 years since the last trial by battle in Scotland. It might be that after a long history of civilization civil wars are somewhat more civil, but anecdotal evidence doesn’t support that one; there are hardly areas with a longer history of civilization in Europe than the Balkans, you know.

    So I don’t see that much of an argument for civilization having really diminuished our biological potential for aggression that much. It’s somewhat plausible, yes, but I don’t see that much of case for it when looking at history. We know that agriculture and like haven’t abolished natural selection, in fact, they have accelerated it, still, Yugoslavia indicates that people with a written history going back longer than the Chinese one can act just as savage as a New Guinean highlander. It’s just that usually we have not that much reason to act it out as a New Guinean highlander. So, first of, I don’t see that much data in favour of a long history of civilization having selected strongly against violence.

    As for reasons, it might be that in creating other ways of settle things, civilizations diminuished violence to such an degree that there was little selection against it. Or as already hinted at it might be that, on a genetic level, civilization might select against violent behaviour in some cases, it might select in favour of said behaviour in others. Even if said history was not littered with famines and civil wars like the partly legendary (you only get at over 100 generations of Imperial rule when you include the questionable Shang dynasty) Chinese one, thus selecting into one direction and the other at different periods. Oh, and don’t start me on raping invaders, Mongols, anyone? So, second of, I don’t see that strong a reason why a long history of civilization should have selected against violence or self-domesticated us. The risk might be higher, but so are the stakes. A corrupt tribal leader in Africa might have more chances of getting away with it than a corrupt village clerk in China, but a corrupt tribal leader has about a dozen wives, while some emperors had harems in the hundreds.

    And if a long history of civilization might predispose towards functional states, thus explaining the undeniable differences between current China and the Democratic Republic of Congo, we should see similar with other areas with a long history of civilization. If you want another area with a long history of imperial rule and some semblance of “rule of law”, there is the Near East, starting with Egyptians and Sumerians, going through a collapse at the end of the Bronze Age and after that always dominated by one superpower or the other. Longer than Western Europe, BTW. And with a somewhat longer written history than China. Doesn’t show that much when comparing China to Iraq or Syria, right?

    Actually, we might even argue if “a long history of civilization” is a difference between stable somewhat hellholes like rural China and not so stable ones like in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another problem is that quite a few of those we think of as pre-civilized hunter-gatherers or agriculturalists might either be a case of some people with a high degree of organization adopting a lesser degree thanks to changed circumstances, or those primitive agriculturalists not being that primitive after all, e.g. some Northern American Indigenes like the Iroquis etc. Which means that there might be ethnic groups we think of as examples of “un-self-domesticated” that in reality were somewhat civilized till quite recently, but reverted to a organization with small warring groupos quite recently. Which might be the case with some South American Indians. Or that have a history of high level organization that goes a long way back. Which might be the case with some Sub-Saharan Africans. Not so much with the Bantus, but with some other Niger-Congo people, like e.g. the Akan:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akan_people#History

    As for alternative explanations for different incidences of violence, aggressive behaviour might be somewhat innate, but there is quite some learned component, with successful aggressions priming for future aggressions. And it seems like changes in the incidence of violence can happen quite fast, on a scale of a few generations; since the Morioris came to the Chathams from New Zealand (e.g. after 1250) but settled them before 1500, and the invasion happened 1835, this leaves us with between about 300 and 600 years to develop certain differences, or 15 to 30 generations. With said differences much bigger than the differences between a Chinese and a Bantu.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moriori_people#Invasion_by_Taranaki_M.C4.81ori

    BTW, there are not that many studies about the genetics of sociopathy; going through pubmed, there was one study that found no strong effects, but a linkage to genes implicated in mental retardation

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23077488

    Some other studies indicate some abnormalities in monoaminergic genes,

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22985017

    which somewhat mimic the effects of various antidepressants, e.g. SSRIs and MAOA inhibitors. While I somewhat doubt a few years on Prozac have made me more sociopathic, at least in the usual way, the somewhat blunting of negative emotions seen to some degree in antidepressant users might indicate a shared etiology. In the study above, childhood abuse was no factor, but in some others, there was a connection; my personal ideas are that mixing a normal or even heightened response to the positive effects of aggression, e.g. heightened arousal, with a dimnuished response to the negative ones, e.g. stress and depression, might be bad news…

  58. Lots of US states ban it though..

    http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/human-cloning-laws.aspx

    UK bans it completely, as does Germany based on the Spiegel interview.
    People are such fucking morons though – what’d be wrong about having identical copies of gifted people?

    It’s not like string theory could not use a dozen clones of the likes of Luboš Motl :D, or particle physics a dozen Feynmans..

  59. I got the impression it was banned as well. Recall the strangest story about a Congressman personally funding a lab to clone a lost child. Whole story disappeared after whichever Federal apparatus got wind of it and raided it.

    Thought Shrub banned it as well.

  60. Sorry to double post, but just ran across this.

    http://www.kurzweilai.net/man-will-become-like-god-say-mormons-and-transhumanists-in-salt-lake-city

  61. @Y, who wrote regarding banning of human cloning, People are such fucking morons though – what’d be wrong about having identical copies of gifted people?

    Well, let’s take the inevitable example of Cindy Crawford, who is probably about to tell her lawyer to sue anyone mentioning her and cloning in the same phrase.

    I wrote a silly Treatment in which various countries banned the practice of human cloning and other nations did not or simply didn’t have effective preventions or remedies to the practice… and of course I had to set the Treatment across the US-Mexican border venue. Rich and jaded persons use their immunity from corrupt law-enforcement to build harems of clones — male and female — of various celebrities both living and dead. Of course, the CindyClone(tm) is a popular model. And of course they are all delivered as newborn infants shortly after these jaded billionaires start throwing millions at the process development. Nature-versus-nurture must of course be thematically explored.

    The set-up of the Treatment? Economic collapse and revolutionary chaos destroy their owners and free the clones, and in Mexico and most of the world, they have no right to live and are destroyed as encountered. Only in the US and Canada and a very few other enlightened places are they considered to be individuals in their own right and also as free human beings. Our sad clones, many of them raised under the most depraved and perverted of conditions and circumstances, must find their way north across the border if they are to live as human beings, or to live at all… and on the northern side of the border, even more exploitation and depravity may await.

    This was in 1996 or so that I wrote this to UseNet, and if it actually happened somewhere somehow in that timeframe, that someone cloned a hundred Cindys, there might be 15-year-old identical horde of tall slim brunettes headed for points north, now in 2013. The thing is: regardless of whether they’re supermodel material, they are probably pretty good students. Ms Crawford barely missed heading into a career in chemistry, IIRC was class valedictorian etc etc.. So what are you going to do with the 90 out of 100 CindyClones(tm) that can’t walk right in high heels? What do you do with the 90 out of 100 Feynmans who can play awesome drums (with incredibly complex rhythms no doubt) but who aren’t the least interested in Heavy Math?

    @Trottelreiner: I was often asked about someone I know if they were a sociopath, I usually replied that they were just on Prozac and it was the drugs making them that way. I’m less certain about that nowadays. Could be a co-morbidity.

    As for the supposed relationship between civilization and lowered violence, “define violence” and does violence include Mutual Assured Destruction or the mere threat of it, and/or megadeaths and/or the threat of that. Maybe people are as aggressive as ever, but just a lot more informed and realistic as to the notions of “consequences”. Maybe related and maybe not, on the one hand we have the general widespread decline in most types of crime in most US cities, and the apparent upward trend in random people cracking for some reason and launching into spree killings, Jared Laughner and the Aurora Colorado movie-theater spree killings for example. There might even be statistical associations between the prevalence of central water-supply systems and “decreased aggression”. It could also arguably be compared, in the highly populated regions, with the period of near immobility observed in Calhoun’s rat-population studies from the 1960s/1970s, which generally preceded a collapse into utter chaos.

    Apologies for meandering…

  62. Houston, we’ve got a problem. Tea Party Meets Transhumanism

    http://www.kurzweilai.net/book-review-the-transhumanist-wager

    This is why I call Pete an optimist.

  63. Whoooooooooooooooohoooooooooooooooooooooo !!!!
    :-D

    Well done, you – congratulations! You sound positively chuffed :oP

    The best part about this post is not even the news it contains… it’s your stab at graphic design… sooooo endearing, lol! Loving the minimalist palette… and the wonderful use of space :-)

    Hope you’re kicking your heels up and having beers and stroking cats or whatever else. Super curious about the edits near the beginning!


  64. Houston, we’ve got a problem. Tea Party Meets Transhumanism

    Personally, I consider Tea Party movement to be ignorant and insufficiently right-wing.
    They have some good points though.

    Concentrated government power creates a haven for social parasites. Just look at all the lobbyists in Washington D.C.

    Abolishing the Federal Gov’t and most of it’s budget would starve such parasites and force them to move elsewhere.


  65. We know that agriculture and like haven’t abolished natural selection, in fact, they have accelerated it, still, Yugoslavia indicates that people with a written history going back longer than the Chinese one can act just as savage as a New Guinean highlander

    FYI, Highlanders in New Guinea are the most civilized ones – they have agriculture and planned forestry among other things..

    Yugoslavia – I personally also blame failed multiculturalist policies exacerbated by ethnic tensions and absence of higher authority. It’s not just biology, biology just provides the ‘boundaries’ of the atrocities.

    Also, weren’t Germans like in WWII shipping weapons to Croatians? Croatians Ustasa did stuff that disgusted SS officers, the same guys who ran Auschwittz.

    Of course, all of that shit in former Yugoslavia was made possible by the way we’re wired – the sensitivity to prejudice from ‘other’ groups and so on..

    Also overall losses as % of the population were way lower than what you can expect among the Yanomamo, for example.

  66. 1 V v happy with the news. I genuinely can’t wait to read this
    2 I am less happy with some of the impolite comments about other writers. None, I note, unless I missed something, promulgated by Peter, who said nothing ungentlemanly in the OP. I personally am an atheist humanist friendly to the idea of gay marriage, who also loved ‘Ender’s Game’ and ‘Speaker For The Dead.’ Peter may have his own opinion about the politics of gay marriage or homophobia; he undoubtedly does, as he is an intelligent, active member of society; but I doubt he’s going to indulge in ad hominem rudeness, at least here, and I think we should follow suit. What anyone writes is separate from the person; even great art can come from people whose opinions you disagree with. And surely the best way to deal with people who hold unpleasant opinions is to rationally debate with them, yes?

  67. @Gary Flood:

    Yes.

    Had a prof put it this way: “Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t have one.”

    You have however also ruined my intention of calling it “Bender’s Game” with your calm, polite reasonableness. The need to rename Buggers also made me wonder if there aren’t “issues.”

    Read a review that said if you hate child actors, you may enjoy seeing so many so miserable in one film.

  68. @Trottelreiner
    You’ve got a pretty clever username. Does it mean something like idiocy-free in German? I had to google it, but it’s from a clever story by Lem..

  69. @Y and anyone else still interested:

    Looking at Yugoslavia (a.k.a “the rump Jugoslavia” as they were calling it back then) we see a fine example of how bad can be the results of a misguided policy of multiculturalism. The US reaction to the whole situation with the wars of separation and then ethnic cleansing of the Kosovars created precedent (in my humble opinion) which has hamstrung US policy for nearly two decades and seems likely to re-create the conditions that led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

    We see even as far back as the Romans that there are a few courses of action best not undertaken by the State. Specifically speaking of the Visigoths, it’s just unwise to admit a body of refugees so large as to constitute a nation, and then so badly forego social integration that you leave them their own language, grant them new restricted territory, and allow to remain in place their own same internal politics that got them into refugee status in the first place. Now that last isn’t entirely applicable to the Goths as they wound up in flight as a nation due to the incursions of the Hun, the Sarmatians, etc., but I suppose it’s arguable that if they had replaced their leadership with a cadre less determined to preserve ethnic identity and political self-determination (against the Romans at the height of their Empire, not bloody likely), they might not have wound up as a Tributary Nation effectively penned up like cattle and reduced to selling their children as slaves (and according to some, as dinner) to the surrounding provincial Romans.

    Having digressed, let’s notice the failures of the Soviets to actually break down the ethnic groups and “Russianize” them. Truthfully, they probably couldn’t have been successful at that unless they’d forcibly resettled everyone in the region. As it was, they made a huge mistake in allowing recently-pre-Soviet incursions to not merely remain, but to become empowered under the new regime. Imagine being thrown out of your house and when the police finally arrive, they tell you that the people who took over your family estate are now the legal owners and you will just have to get used to it. That sort of sentiment festers, and if the Soviets had any actual future vision they likely might have forcibly integrated half or so of the Serbs back into Kosovo territory and left the Serbs and Kosovar Albanians to “work it out” (or die trying) at the level of neighbors in neighborhoods rather than letting it degenerate after imperial collapse into ethnic warfare of masses between lines of military conflict.

    I think that if the Romans had done more to romanize and integrate the Goths, the Empire in the West might have lasted quite a lot longer or at least the City of Rome might not have been sacked as soon or as badly. Likewise, if the Soviets had forced actual integration rather than imposing a top-down cease-fire and putting on hold a conflict dating back hundreds of years, the world might not have had to watch and try to deal with the refugee crisis of the expulsion of the Kosovars.

    We still haven’t seen the end of the States’ own folly; at the same time the fateful decision was made to intervene to allow the Kosovars to exit to refuge, the Mexican Bolsa (stock exchange) had been crushed and in the economic trainwreck following, we saw the start of a mass migration of impoverished Mexicans which effectively emptied out entire provinces (Zacatecas is one shining example) and flooded the US borders with an overrunning in the millions per year for the period of about 1996-2001. Some States force towards the orderly integration process of “becoming American” and others are effectively taking the track of the Roman provinces where the Visigoths were settled as a sort of captive foreign state with their own language, customs, leadership, and laws that all were quite at odds with both Roman and local traditions. Where is there the least aggression? Where the forces of integration and adoption are strongest, in my humble opinion. Where is aggression most likely to start to move along the lines seen post-Soviets in the rump Yugoslavia? Where separatism of both language and leadership is most pronounced.

    The 1990s may go down in history as interesting more for the vast population movements and ethnic conflicts than for anything else. This discussion hasn’t even touched on the sub-saharan African genocides and ethnicity-driven warfare there.

    Nor have we much discussed aggression carried out in the economic spheres, and for now tolerated without much violence in such self-domesticated places as rural/semi-rural US. The vast majority of the population here are pretty content to take in stride whatever comes their way, but that may change as very notably non-risk-averse and wealthy players in the economic arenas continue to rapidly degrade the quality-of-life of the rapidly-swelling lower economic class.

    Did we yet discuss innate aggression versus habits and traditions of pacifism?

  70. @Mr Non-Entity re aggression and pacifism.

    Old Kung Fu TV show:

    “Don’t want any trouble. Oh, you do and refuse to leave things peacefully? I am now honorbound to destroy your home/business/abandoned warehouse with my bare hands.”

  71. @Mr Non-Entity
    Oops. You sometimes confused Serbs and Soviets some times. Not the same thing.


    The vast majority of the population here are pretty content to take in stride whatever comes their way, but that may change as very notably non-risk-averse and wealthy players in the economic arenas continue to rapidly degrade the quality-of-life of the rapidly-swelling lower economic class.

    Here’s an essay on that from a (now dead) redneck communist..
    http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2005/03/a_republic_of_p.html

    Rural class warfare in the US would get very messy, considering that rural people are mostly gun-owners well-stocked with deer rifles. Which let’s face it is nearly the same thing as a sniper rifle..

  72. Alexey: Oh, which ones do you listen to? How about the other commenters? I follow the obvious Nature and Science Magazine podcasts.

    Yeah, those two. And Quirks and Quarks. And occasionally Radiolab, which I should follow more closely.

    I should follow them all more closely. Seriously, it must be six months since I’ve tuned in any of ‘em.

    ken: On a different note, when the dead-tree edition is actually published, what’s the best way to get a signed copy? I doubt you’ll be trekking down to the good ol’ USA on a book tour to sign my copy in person.

    Would we have to request a signed copy through TOR, or can we appeal directly to the author himself?

    Either. But go through Tor first. Given how badly they screwed the pooch last time around, I’m interested in whether they can be bothered to lift a finger this time.

    Y.: What’s the point? The guy he cited is right – the evidence for human self-domestication is evident. Compare violence and social norms compliance between Bantu and Han people.

    And what makes you think that that was the anthropology I wanted to argue, hmmm?

    Jeremy: Derailed? Seriously? And then, even worse for me, was his arrogant attitude towards a very accurate comment about his review:

    His argument doesn’t even hold up internally: he admits that the last line was set up in service of the story, and then in the same line dismisses it as serving no purpose but shock value. There’s a certain type of mentality that shuts off their higher brain functions whenever they encounter a flagged word. You can generally spot them by the internal inconsistency of their arguments.

  73. 03: Re: the rape and Anderson review thing… I kind of see where he’s coming from.

    I can’t. Or rather, I can, but I have no respect at all for that place.

    The thing in the story is a rapist, literally and metaphorically. The physical violation of self happens right down at the cellular level, it’s more intimate even than the violence we inflict upon each other. Furthermore, the thing is a missionary — the sentiments it expresses at the end are classic. Poor heathen savages. They are different from us. We must save them. We must force our ways down their throats for their own good. Cultural rape is the very essence of the missionary impulse.

    So the use of the word is, in terms of story thematics, doubly justified; in fact, it would be a copout not to invoke it. The knee-jerk objection to its use here — and the correlated assumption that it must have only been used for gratuitous shock value — is shallow and inane. Might as well claim that Steven Spielberg hates shark-attack survivors because he made Jaws.

    Y.:

    Aren’t Wattsian vampires just convenient proxies for neanderthals*?

    *so the author wouldn’t have to do so much research?

    You kidding? I’d have had to research Neanderthals if I was gonna do that. Much easier to just make shit up.

    Ivo: it was great to meet you in Nantes, thanks for the friendly chats! I hope you got to see the Giant Elephant and the other Machines, the castle with its suicidal tree, the small old-school video game tile mosaics infesting the old town,…

    I did! All except that last thing. See latest post…

    Gary Flood: And surely the best way to deal with people who hold unpleasant opinions is to rationally debate with them, yes?

    While I agree with most of this comment (especially the parts about me being intelligent), I disagree with this profoundly. There’s a whole shopping list of cognitive biases that entrench people even more strongly in particular views after those views have been “rationally” challenged and found wanting. You got your backfire effect, your confirmation bias and cherry picking — you got the fact that incompetent people tend to be unshakeably assured of their own competence. Bottom line, a lot of us don’t don’t use logic to derive our positions; our positions come to us from the gut, and then we use logic to rationalize them. Which is why creationists don’t generally change their views once you’ve demolished them using reason and fact; since they didn’t use reason and fact to arrive at those beliefs in the first place, the beliefs remain unshaken.

  74. Re: researching neanderthals, did a little for a metaphorical short story about stupidity and found that they likely, like Wattsian vampires, were a lot smarter than we are. (Maybe that’s what I should have done with the piece. Scrapped it).

    Their problem was energy requirements in ice age environment. Being dumber than them had its advantages.

  75. @Whoever…

    Likely a lot smarter?
    Why then did they have a smaller group size?

    There is the kooky but interesting neanderthal-autism theory that postulates that neanderthals were ‘visual thinkers’ with savant-like memory abilities and that present-day autists are in fact people with nervous systems close to that of neanderthals.

    Neanderthals had huge eyes and bigger visual centres, but that was just to cope with the low-light conditions.

    It’ s also interesting to note that only civilizations comprised of people with neanderthal admixture ever invented writing, geometry, mathematics and so on.


  76. We must force our ways down their throats for their own good. Cultural rape is the very essence of the missionary impulse.

    Is that always a bad thing? There are some cultures so repugnant that forcibly converting said heathens would be actually a good thing.

    Condemning all missionary work is tantamount to claiming all cultures are equally worthy.

    Consider the luxury-obsessed(refined), misogynistic and pederastic assholes. Ancient Greek elites, for example – virtually every Greek city state saw women as property and accorded them no rights.
    Cultures where women are treated as ‘property and segregated.
    In such conditions pederasty thrives. There’s probably a paper on that, but I can’t find it.

    One could perhaps argue, from a utilitarian viewpoint, that conquering and/or culturally raping such societies (by converting them to a different religion ) would be ultimately beneficial, in that women and probably boys too would be happier in a society without gender segregation and widespread pederasty..

  77. http://kindofnormal.com/wumo/2013/11/14