Noms and Cons and Metal Alms

Stuff’s been piling up in the wings as a side-effect of my ongoing battle against ego creep— enough now, as it turns out, to warrant a whole catch-all catch-up post in its own right. And since some of the following travel plans might intersect with the occasional fan, I should probably outline where I’m going to be for the next few months. And why I’m not going to be here all that often.

Road Trips.

I already mentioned that I’m going to be at Pyrkon a couple weeks down the road. For those who will be in attendance, I’ve now got a preliminary listing of my panels in hand [update: actual times and schedules!]:

  • (Fri, 28 April, 18:30, Sala Ziemi): Peter Watts – Q&A
  • (Fri, 28 April, 19:30, Aula 2): [Panel] How to make one’s debut?
  • (Fri, 28 April, 21:00, Aula 2): [Panel] False morality
  • (Sat, 29 April, 13:00, Autografy): Autograph session
  • (Sat, 29 April, 17:30, Aula 2): [Panel] My life in my hands: does free will exist?
  • (Sat, 29 April, 19:00, Aula 2): Worst-case Neuroscenarios from the Peanut Gallery
  • (Sat, 29 April, 20:30, Aula 2): [Panel] The limits of humanity and playing God

All characteristically Polish in outlook, except for that second one (and even it would fit if they just swapped out “make one’s debut” for “meet one’s end”).

“Worst-case Neuroscenarios” is a solo talk. About 50 slides so far, although I can’t seem to get the gom jabbar clip from “Dune” to render properly in Irfanview. (Stupid Lenovo Thinkpad. This stuff always worked fine on the Asus, before I punched it.)

We’re sneaking into Poznan after a few days in Warsaw and sneaking out again via Berlin, where the BUG and I will be reading at the Otherland bookstore on May 3rd. Not yet sure what I’ll read, although it’ll be from either the Sunflowers novella I’m currently finishing or the David-Bowie-themed piece of military SF I recently finished for the latest installment of Jonathan Strahan’s Fill-in-the-Blank Infinity series. (It’s coming out this fall, by the way; not seeing any cover art yet. Cover art and contents over here.) Pretty much all the fiblets I’ve posted this year hail from one or the other, but there’s plenty of yet-unposted stuff to choose from.

Bulgaria in June. I’m giving a talk at the Ratio Symposium, which frighteningly is not SF but straight-up pop science— usually delivered by leading lights and actual experts in their fields, not half-assed pretenders who happened to make a lucky guess ten years ago. I keep telling this to the organizers, but they seem to want me anyway.  They’ve booked my tickets, so if this is all a cruel hoax it’s an elaborate one.

Still trying to figure out that talk. If I wanted to focus on my own area of current expertise, I’d give one on dealing with stained pants.

The Ukraine in September; I’ll be at the Lviv International Book Fair & Literature Festival from the 13-17th, which I’m told will coincide with the release of the Ukrainian edition of Blindsight. Also Lviv is evidently the birthplace of Stanislaw Lem, and has many fine drinking establishments. (This seems to be a recurring motif; people in Warsaw, Berlin, Sofia, and Lviv have all emphasized unto me the quality of their local drinking establishments. Go figure.)

Lviv appears to be the go-to place for various festivals, and much as I’m looking forward to the literary one I can’t help but cast a wistful eye over references to the annual “Coffee and Chocolate Feast” and the intriguing “Feast of Pampukh”, an event I would very much like to attend if for no other reason than to find out what a “pampukh” is.  I’m thinking, maybe a gaff used by eighteenth-century whalers to hook porpoises and heft them over the gunwales.

Fish. To Mars.

Note the cool spirally spine. Remind you of anything?

Note the cool spirally spine. Remind you of anything?

Those are the road trips, although there might also be a Skype appearance at the Bergen Aquarium on May 31 for, well…

I don’t know exactly how to describe this. It’s kind of a teaser for a currently-under-development post-apocalyptic Norwegian Black Metal Science Opera about sending Marbled Lungfish to Mars. I’m told the embargo’s lifted this week so I can talk about it, but I don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes just yet so it’s probably best to keep it vague. Suffice to say the project seems to be drawing in talent from a number of different institutions, scientific and musical.  We’ve got head-bangers. We’ve got classical librettists. We’ve got marine biologists (real ones, not Twentieth-century dropouts clinging to some shred of credibility by sticking technical references onto the end of their SF novels). I am apparently responsible for the basic storyline, and I’ve got the co-discoverer of Dark Energy checking my astrophysics. No pressure there at all. (I hope to meet the guy in person some day. I’ve got a bone to pick with him. That discovery of his is directly responsible for one of my stories going from cutting-edge when it was written, to completely obsolete when it was published.)

In the meantime, I’m told it’s okay to share this protoype promotional art by Kim Holm.

Nom.

Finally this, just over the transom: Bélial’s edition of Beyond the Rift (Au-delà du gouffre) has made the finals for France’s Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire under the “Foreign Short Fiction” category. I’m up against some heavy hitters so I’m not getting my hopes up— but hey, any excuse to trot out Manchu‘s awesome cover art one more time, am I right?

Especially since this is also up for a Prix in the art category...

Especially since this is also up for a Prix in the art category…

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday April 12 2017at 10:04 am , filed under On the Road, public interface, writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

23 Responses to “Noms and Cons and Metal Alms”

  1. Sounds like an exciting schedule! But no Worldcon in Helsinki, I presume? Any chances of visiting the Eurocon in Dortmund in June en route to/from Bulgaria, or Prague during any of these trips?

  2. Sorry to disappoint, but pampukh appears to be a Ukrainian pastry, vaguely like a (filled?) doughnut. See http://lviv-online.com/ua/articles/najkrasche-u-lvovi-za-2012-rik/, scroll a little way down.

  3. Berlin on the 3rd? Sweet. See you there. :-)

  4. Congratulations! Have a great trip!

  5. Julie,
    EuroCon would be absolutely perfect; they will have Charles Stross this year. I’d love you have you two discuss vampires. :-)

  6. “This stuff always worked fine on the Asus, before I punched it.”
    There’s a story I’d like to hear…

    “either the Sunflowers novella I’m currently finishing or the David-Bowie-themed piece of military SF I recently finished”
    I’d be interested to know which you go with – a preview of an eagerly awaited novella, or a nod to major tom in his (briefly, but productively) adopted home…

  7. Good to see that they are giving you so much love. In Poland, in particular, they do like their SF and their fantasy, as you surely know. The dedicated sections in libraries tend to be huge in comparison with those of other (non Anglo-Saxon) countries. With large sub-sections for Polish writers, which tells you even more about the pulse and liveliness of this fondness of them for literature that speaks of alternative worlds. They have educated palates. Making it there really means something.

    The Norwegian project looks interesting! A little sweat and pain will not hurt. You know what they say, if if does not kill you, it will make you… sweatier.

    Enjoy the company & the perks. Have fun!

  8. So, besides Pyrkon in Poznan, you will be also spending some time in Warsaw, great! Is there some kind of venue where we can see you or is it just a private, ‘incognito’ visit?

  9. For how many days will you be in Bulgaria? Do you think you could also accomodate an impromptu meeting with local fans?

  10. Grzegorz Orwinski: Is there some kind of venue where we can see you or is it just a private, ‘incognito’ visit?

    That second thing.

    V:
    For how many days will you be in Bulgaria? Do you think you could also accomodate an impromptu meeting with local fans?

    My talk’s on the 10th and I arrive on the 6th. There will be some decompression and sightseeing in between, but if there actually are any local fans I suppose I could impromptise with them.

  11. All characteristically Polish in outlook, except for that last one (and even it would fit if they just swapped out “make one’s debut” for “meet one’s end”).

    Nice.

    I’d like to see that panel.

    By the way, some of the finest drinking establishments in Warsaw are the Vistula riversides. Drinking there is legal or illegal (the local laws are complicated and full of loopholes) and the scenery is nice. You might need to bring your own beverages, though, as the neighboring seasonal bars aren’t open yet. The west bank is easily accessible by subway and has some fancy boulevards (well, the fancy part starts a kilometer north of the subway station, the rest is just worn-out concrete) while the east is more natural with beaches and wilderness.

    A little warning: do not approach any bridges in Warsaw with open flame.

    See you at Pyrkon!

  12. Will you post more about the post-apocalyptic Norwegian Black Metal Science Opera? I really really really want to hear and see it.

  13. Yeah, Ross Presser, you got that right. We also call it pampushka – however, in this way it sounds similar to Tsar pushka, and so appears even more terrifying to foreigners than Pampukh-the-whaling-tool :)
    … But the pastry is delicious, one of the best filling is candied rose petals. I’m so happy that you will be there to taste it! See you in Lviv, Peter!

  14. Why no Worldcon, though? This Finnish fan is disappoint.

  15. Me too. Loved Finland when we were there. (Also impressed to see that it ranks 3rd this year— after Norway and Sweden— in press freedoms, in a year when Canada has dropped to 22nd and the US remains surprisingly ahead of North Korea at 43rd). And I haven’t ruled Worldcon out definitively. But when I travel internationally it’s generally on someone else’s dime; I usually can’t afford to gallivant across time zones on my own midlist dime.

  16. Any chance to get streaming or video from Pyrkon or the Norwegian project?

  17. Martin Schröder: EuroCon would be absolutely perfect; they will have Charles Stross this year. I’d love you have you two discuss vampires.

    That’d be entertaining. Stross is a good fine writer but a heck of a progressive, timid wuss.

    Some (envious?) writer once compared Stross to an puppy eager to please for some reason, that’s not right. But he seems like an old nerd who, after getting popular, became obsessed with maintaining his reputation, to the detriment of all else. He’d have never engaged with that insane Thai rich girl, for example.

    Whereas, writing something like Blindsight or Echopraxia marks a person who doesn’t want to give people what they want. More like chasing disturbing ideas to their logical conclusions and wanting to share one’s misery.

    After the lunatic philosopher Nick Land, I don’t know anyone who delights in being cruel and pitiless in his writing than our gracious host. In Stross’s books, vampires supposedly kill themselves because they get disgusted with having to kill horribly in order to live.

    He has a very favorable view of human nature :)

    after Norway and Sweden— in press freedoms,

    The interesting thing about Sweden is that the press is free there from government interference, but that’s about it. Swedish journalism has been described as so obsessed with correct thinking that it’s almost cultish, and certain insufficiently enthusiastic journalists have even moved to Denmark.

    http://www.newenglishreview.org/Norman_Berdichevsky/Swedish_Conditions,_Or,_Something_is_Rotten_in_the_State_of_Sweden/

    Small countries have a great advantage. Whatever their journalists writes doesn’t matter at all. Though, what is really the point of ‘free’ journalism if all the viewpoints in newspapers are the same? For example, in Czech Republic, journalists whose anti-immigration articles from 2005 are still online are now all saying the same thing as German ones. If you don’t want Muslims and/or Africans in your country, you are a racist.
    The comment sections are mostly who can be more sarcastic. Advertisers don’t care if you hate-read those articles or like them..

    Probably, Watts goes so often to the east because even though he’s from the New World, Americans are too optimistic. They think every problem has a solution, that people are basically decent..

    Whereas eastern Europeans know history and the human condition is a meat grinder. Have seen the graves, feel it in their bones, hence all the invitations from places like Poland, Finland or Ukraine.

  18. Y.: Small countries have a great advantage. Whatever their journalists writes doesn’t matter at all.

    I dunno. Canada’s pretty small population-wise, and we kind of suck at freedom of the press. What our journalists say may not matter, but they still get their asses surveilled by cops with judges standing behind them. And these are the Golden Years, compared to the previous administration.

    Y.: Probably, Watts goes so often to the east because even though he’s from the New World, Americans are too optimistic.

    I go often to the east because no one from the west invites me anywhere. Maybe that’s because they know I’m banned from entering the US anyway so why bother. Maybe it’s because a prophet is without honor in his own land.

    Maybe it’s just because they know me.

  19. Peter Watts: I dunno. Canada’s pretty small population-wise, and we kind of suck at freedom of the press. What our journalists say may not matter, but they still get their asses surveilled by cops with judges standing behind them. And these are the Golden Years, compared to the previous administration.

    That’s because you’re America’s hat. Same language, officials probably cooperate a lot. Also, not that small a country (40+ million). Bigger than Poland I think.

    Peter Watts: Maybe it’s just because they know me.

    Straight white male. Son of a church official. Doesn’t write anything remotely interesting to people obsessed with class/race/gender themes. You don’t even make sure to check all the diversity boxes in your novels..
    His books are relentlessly pessimistic in their overall tone.

  20. Peter Watts: Maybe it’s because a prophet is without honor in his own land.

    That’s probably the case, because I think that you are highly intelligent and genuinely funny; I bet Pyrkonites who attended your panels would agree.

    Y.: Also, not that small a country (40+ million). Bigger than Poland I think.

    Both Canada and Poland are just under 40 million; Poland has even slightly bigger population.

  21. Peter Watts:

    I go often to the east because no one from the west invites me anywhere.Maybe that’s because they know I’m banned from entering the US anyway so why bother. Maybe it’s because a prophet is without honor in his own land.

    Aw, well let me correct that. If you ever do decide to get your travel “situation” looked at (probably not the best time for that in all honesty), you have an open invitation to any of my family’s many summertime poolside BBQs. I make a mean potato salad, and we only play the finest in aging Gen X-er comfort music.

    Probably not what you were looking for in terms of professional self-promotion or panel op, but we have beer and I did get my sister to watch Westworld.

  22. berlin – sunflowers or ziggy?

  23. A little of both, actually.