The Apex of Tinseltown.

Turns out I have an IMDB page.

I’ll take it.

I didn’t realize that myself until recently. It is very short— as befitting someone with no real presence in the industry—and yet also padded. A guest appearance on a Guelph-based podcast doesn’t really strike me as a cinematic credit, for one thing. And while I did get a bit giddy seeing my (slightly misspelled) name listed in the credits of the latest Jurassic World behemoth, “Genetics Consultant” seems a bit grandiose for someone who a) just sat around drinking beer for a couple of hours in a hotel room, bitching about all the stuff that was wrong with Jurassic World, and b) doesn’t even know very much about genetics.

Padded along one axis, though, that page is a bit skinny along another; it doesn’t mention a couple of other ongoing projects in which I’m more legitimately involved. Not that I blame whoever’s keeping tabs on such things, mind you. I haven’t mentioned them myself. I keep assuming they’re under wraps, until someone else spills the beans.

The first time was a few months back, and— as many of you may know— the place was Joe Rogan’s podcast, where Neill Blomkamp spilled the beans about an origin-of-the-Wattsian-vampire project he’s working on1. (He’s going for a twenty-minutes-in-the-future Sicario vibe. I don’t know how far along he is. All I know is that every now and then he drops by my In Box to ask me about cults and taxonomy). And while from the sound of it Rogan’s views on certain subjects appear to diverge significantly from mine, I’m not gonna complain about the spike—actually, more of a mesa—in Amazon sales that occurred in the wake of that interview.

It was old news to me. Neill and I had been going back and forth ever since Richard Morgan put him on to me back in 2021. I’d been keeping a lid on it, though. Confidentiality, you understand. NDAs. I was as surprised as anyone when Neill couldn’t hold it in any longer.

That was one reveal. The other took place, albeit to a significantly smaller audience, in the south of France (where the BUG and I were hanging out in December, as you may have gathered from my previous post). The event was LUMA Arles‘s high-end academic SF conference “Realities of SF II“: an event focusing on “Afrofuturism, Indigenous futurisms, and science fiction as a mode of resistance.”

Clearly, my own Afrofuturist and Indigenous credentials pretty much demanded that I attend.

Of course, nobody invited me on the basis of those (nonexistent) qualifications. Rather, it was all about a dude named Arthur Jafa. He’s not a household name in SF circles but you may well know the name anyway. He’s worked with Spike Lee and Stanley Kubrick. His cinematography won an award at Sundance; his video essay “The White Album” won him a Best Artist nod over in Venice. He routinely gets profiled in outlets like The New Yorker and the NY Times, his installations run in galleries around the world. (He’s also done a video for Kanye—now just Ye, I guess— although for some reason that’s never come up during our conversations.) The man is, to put not too fine a point on it, accomplished.

Those were the credentials at play here. AJ was one of the stars at Realities II, and when the organizers asked him who he’d like to riff with onstage, he named me.

Turns out AJ is a huge SF fan. As a child, he imprinted on 2001: A Space Odyssey like a Lorenz duckling (an almost religious experience to which I can truly relate). He grew up devouring Harlan Ellison and Samuel Delany. Even if you didn’t know any of that stuff, the fact that he named one of his works “Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death” should tell you something about his literary influences.

This is the context in which, way back in 2020, his people reached out with an eye to collaboration. He’d built this short-form found-video collage that juxtaposed images of lynchings and Mickey Mouse and police brutality and Alien’s xenomorph and Nemo the clownfish—an eyeball-punching little number called “Apex”—and was interested in turning it into a full-length science fiction feature set during the collapse of civilization. Thematically it was intended as a reflection upon the Black Experience in America (which is, after all, the focus of the man’s career).

He wanted me to collaborate on the screenplay. Because once again, when it comes to insights into the American Black Experience, no one brings more to the table than this privileged old white dude right here.

(“Um, you do know that I’m not black, right?” I hazarded during our first Jitsi call. “I’m basically the Pillsbury Dough-Boy”. Didn’t matter to him. What he liked about my stuff, he said, was my ability to present concepts of the other. In particular he thought my vampires were cool.)

So we did the paperwork. We signed the contracts. And when I found myself sharing the stage with him in Arles I didn’t quite know what I’d have to say. AJ said he wanted to leave things “extemporaneous”, and the one time we talked about it beforehand he was stuck in LA traffic; the call lasted just long enough for him to tell me it was my job to come up with a title. He didn’t really care what it was. I ended up settling on “The Case for Dystopia: Evolution, Neurology, and Narrative in a World Gone to Shit”, which was at least a topic I figured I could be “extemporaneous” about. The only thing I knew for sure was that we weren’t gonna be talking about Apex, on account of the usual confidentiality thing.

AJ started off: “We’re going to work on doing a feature film version of my video Apex…”

Check it out. The whole hour’s on video here. The dude spilled the beans before the first minute was up. On the plus side, it did give me something to talk about: I got to fill a few minutes complaining about how I didn’t think we’d be talking about Apex.

Apparently the hour went pretty well for all my butt-clenching terror. I heard good things, at least, from several sources who would have had no reason to lie. The BUG described it as “jazz”, which might be good (in the sense of Art emerging from free-form improvisation) or bad (in the sense that neither the BUG nor I are especially fond of jazz). At least I came out of it feeling that I hadn’t embarrassed myself, or I did until I’d had a chance to look back at the recording and cringe at my inability to remember words like “de-extinction” and “apocryphal”.

Fucking eight-year-olds.

It’s worth noting that our conversation was but one slot in a conference spanning a wide range of subjects and perspectives. Neuroscientist Adam Horowitz—out of Harvard and MIT, no less—gave a free-form talk on sleep and dream analysis; the bit about Coors using dream-seeding tech to boost sales during the Super Bowl was, by itself, worth the price of admission. (The dude is basically a character out of Buckaroo Banzai; a few years back he was involved in an interactive art project which bypassed the use of so-called art to implant aesthetic and emotional states directly into the brain, using everything from smile-enforcement appliances to bone conduction. Even as I type this he’s off communing with albino black bears off the coast of British Columbia. You can be damn sure I’ll be picking his mind for my own stuff, going forward.) Trans poet and SF writer Sabrina Calvo delivered what I think was a 37-minute stream of consciousness about her creative process (it was tough to know for sure; she spoke in French and I get the sense the translator was having a rough time keeping up). Nuclear engineer Nitendra Singh gave a layperson-friendly introduction to the ITER tokamak fusion project, stapled a bit gratuitously to the portrayal of fusion tech in contemporary cinematic SF. And that’s not even mentioning the stuff on, you know, Indigenous- and Afro-futurism that comprised the bulk of the weekend. Or the fact that the whole thing was held in this very cool piece of crystalline architecture designed by Frank Gehry, which contained an awesome habitrail-tube slide a few stories high which I really wanted to try out but it was always being hogged by a bunch of idiot eight-year-olds.

Of course there was more to attend to than the mere conference. This was the south of France, after all. The BUG dragged me to a myriad things I would never have experienced otherwise: a necropolis and a medieval town nestled amongst the very topography that inspired Dante to write his Inferno. Freezing winds so strong that posted signs warned We are not responsible if you insist on climbing these steep and uneven stone stairs and your kid blows away. We walked along magical waterways, and squeezed into a crowded pub just in time to watch France lose the World Cup (our ears popped, the air went out of the room so fast). And, of course, the BUG was the one who discovered the magical limestone quarry that I showed you last post: an event that we just happened to be in the neighborhood for, even though it ran only twice in December. Here are some pictures; perhaps you’ll enjoy them, if you’re not one of the many folks who grew up scarred by the interminable slide shows your parents’ friends’ forced you to watch when they came back from their vacations in the so-called Holy Land.

For the rest of you, today’s take-home is simple: Neill Blomkamp vampires. Black Experience in America, filtered through the whitest lens you can imagine.

The next few months might be a complete fiasco. But I’m pretty sure they won’t be boring.

1 It took some luck and some dancing to carve those rights away from the extant option for Blindsight, lemme tell you. But that’s another story.



This entry was posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2023 at 10:45 am and is filed under art on ink, ink on art, interviews, On the Road, public interface. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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Jan S
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Jan S
1 year ago

Your life just gets more and more interesting. But I do wish to read more work published by you. I like having my brain run through a food processor now and then. <very big grin> That sounds horrible, I expect, but it really isn’t; it’s the kind of food processor that scrambles instead of slices, rearranging things. Time to catch up on what’s hit “print” lately from your badass self. 🙂

Jan S
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Jan S
1 year ago

Just watched the discussion/panel, and found it more interesting than most of the panels I’ve heard at cons. I think you held up your end well. 🙂

Misantropolitan
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Misantropolitan
1 year ago

Hm. The mere idea of “black” or “white” perspective looks hypocritical and racist as fuck to me. There must be quite a few white people in the world who have much less privilege than black people who live in Canada or the US.

gregm
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gregm
1 year ago

Putin’s Russia comes to mind.

yak
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yak
1 year ago

I mean, many black people in america have similar experiences. Although it must be said that growing up black in Alabama is pretty different from growing up black in LA. Same could be said of being white in america.

I think only when the messaging becomes about ranking privilege and using that to weigh the validity of somebody’s points is when it gets really hypocritical.

Misantropolitan
Guest
Misantropolitan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

“Most” is the keyword here. “Experience of most lottery players” is a correct statement, “experience of lottery players” is not. You used it, they didn’t.
“Black experience” of a rich black guy is completely different from “black experience” of a poor black guy, what makes the phrase “black experience” pretty much meaningless. And judging people by their race rather than their personal circumstances is racist.

Last edited 1 year ago by Misantropolitan
Misantropolitan
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Misantropolitan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

> nobody (except you, apparently) thinks the term denies the existence of outliers.

That’s a very strong statement that’s pretty much impossible to prove.

> together with the fact that you’ve posted for no other reason than to take issue with a single ubiquitous phrase

The fact that it’s ubiquitous doesn’t mean that it should be used. Climate change denialism is ubiquitous, too.

But that’s not my main point. They set up an event, supposedly, about discrimination. And that event is racially segregated. Does nobody else see that something is very fucking wrong with this?

And yes, I do have a personal relation to this particular question. I’ve been called “privileged” on much more than one occasion – only because I’m white. And the fact that I grew up in fucking poverty and have a disability? Nobody gives a shit.

Last edited 1 year ago by Misantropolitan
Misantropolitan
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Misantropolitan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

It’s right there, in the name of the event.
If having separate rooms labeled “for blacks” or “for whites” means racial segregation, then holding events labeled “for blacks” or “for whites” means racial segregation too. I really don’t see how these cases are different.

> Perhaps this disability to which you refer has something to do with English comprehension.

Seriously, can we stick to facts and logic rather than emotions and insults?

Misantropolitan
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Misantropolitan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

You don’t want to answer my arguments? I’m really interested in your opinion.
Answer to my email if you’re afraid to discuss it in the public, I can understand that.

Misantropolitan
Guest
Misantropolitan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

Let’s do it step by step, then.

> nobody (except you, apparently) thinks the term denies the existence of outliers.

This statement is too general and basically impossible to prove – you’d have to ask every single person in the world about their opinion, and I know for sure that you didn’t do that.
Do you disagree?

Gummitch_uk
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Gummitch_uk
11 months ago

>Let’s do it step by step, then.
You’re not a troll, you’re a sealion.

has
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has
11 months ago
Reply to  Gummitch_uk

> You’re not a troll, you’re a sealion.

Indeed. Just one more narcissistic gaslighter huffing his own farts for attention. Sad!

> You’ll get no more from me.

The winning move.

Last edited 11 months ago by has
Clem
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Clem
1 year ago

Blomkamp and Jafa. Not bad! Pretty soon you’ll be moving to Hollywood and Vine…if you can get past security.

Andrei
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Andrei
1 year ago

@Peter Watts an offtopic question, not sure if there is any better place to ask. Have you ever read any Stanislaw Lem’s writings? He explored many questions that you did, for instance intelligence without self-awareness.

Andrei
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Andrei
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

Cool. I’d recommend The Invincible, too.
He also wrote an essay on intelligence without self-awareness (Sztuczna nieinteligencja), using eusocial insects as an example. But I’m afraid that it never was translated to English.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrei
Andy
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Andy
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

Fuck you, Stanislaw Lem.

The cry of aspiring Polish s-f writers down the decades, I imagine. The second one being “Lem did it first.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Andy
PhilRM
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PhilRM
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

His Master’s Voice is brilliant; one of the best first contact novels of the 20th century.

Suneater
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Suneater
1 year ago

I think it’s very funny that you keep being invited to various minority talks despite being, as you say, a privileged old white guy. Perhaps they just know you better than you do, spiritually :V. As one of those holy not-whites, gotta say that I agree with them.

Also glad to hear work on the blindsight complex continues. Also hope to see more on the sunflowers cycle someday. I guess my great hope is that you live long enough to finish it. How far are you along you lifecycle, again? 😛

has
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has
11 months ago
Reply to  Suneater

> I think it’s very funny that you keep being invited to various minority talks despite being, as you say, a privileged old white guy.

I suspect Peter fits into a white male skin suit no better than any other.

(Has anyone checked for a green spectral trail?)

Last edited 11 months ago by has
Raihan Kibria
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Raihan Kibria
11 months ago

Unrelated, but was wondering if you saw this:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/physicists-use-quantum-mechanics-to-pull-energy-out-of-nothing-20230222/

Made me think of the Icarus array “beaming fuel” to the Theseus!

R.B.
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R.B.
11 months ago

He’d built this short-form found-video collage that juxtaposed images of lynchings and Mickey Mouse and police brutality and Alien’s xenomorph and Nemo the clownfish—an eyeball-punching little number called “Apex”—and was interested in turning it into a full-length science fiction feature set during the collapse of civilization. Thematically it was intended as a reflection upon the Black Experience in America (which is, after all, the focus of the man’s career).

Now, lynchings weren’t all black – roughly 30% of those lynched weren’t blacks.

Coincidentally, in the present day United States, blacks are something like 50-60% of all known homicide offenders (depends on year) and other serious crime e.g. ~30% of rapists, despite black women being less likely to report crime.

So, to us eastern Europeans, black talk of ‘oppression’ looks a bit ‘sus’ as the doomed zoomers say.

Why is it that lynching victim demographics looks suspiciously similar to demographics of serious crime offenders ?

Don’t get me started on police brutality either – after adjusting for police encounter rates, American policemen shoot more whites than blacks.

Maybe, just maybe, this is more of a sacred cow situation. Maybe, just maybe, as Greg Egan speculated in his short story ‘Silver Fire’, there’s conservation of belief – our monkey brains require some sort of metaphysical belief system, and the decline of christianity and marxism led inexorably to the rise of a new cult – one of anti-racism, white guilt and black bodies

Egan wasn’t *that* prescient – although he’s probably right about the conservation of belief, he thought decline of xtianity would lead to a revival of paganism.
Writing was on the wall back then. Perhaps had he been born in Alabama..

No shade on Arthur though: a man’s gotta eat, and making religious art is a perfectly normal thing for an artist to do.

Last edited 11 months ago by R.B.
Patera Quetzal
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Patera Quetzal
11 months ago
Reply to  R.B.

God forbid a science fiction conference hosts a discussion on the black experience in America; a wantonly prejudicial act which in one fell swoop discards the centuries of brutal oppression, subjugation, and hatred perpetuated to this day on minority peoples (and particularly BIPOC) in the West.

May god help us that you traveled by airplane with your partner to attend such a conference. The US military, as well as a handful of celebrities and billionaires, with their hyper-disproportionate contribution to climate change, are but farts in a hurricane compared to our beloved working class scientist-turned-sci-fi-authors carbon footprint (a concept which, by the way, is a convenient PR scheme cooked up by British Petroleum to shift blame for climate change to individuals, and away from the systemic and purposeful wholesale for-profit destruction of life on our planet that it is).

How hypocritical of you to speak out against unjust systems while simultaneously participating in them, despite having no materially different options? If only you traveled by the high speed solar powered train which doesn’t exist because it’s not profitable, we would not be in this situation.

I am reminded of Wilhoit’s law: “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition …There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” In this context, the maddeningly circular and psychopathic logic attains closure.

Is your comment section always so full of not-so-crypto fascists, Dr Watts? While I appreciate your fervor in refuting this filth, might I suggest that you employ Karl Popper’s paradox of intolerance in the moderation of your blog? Of course, it is your platform and your decision as to how you wish to waste your time.

In any case, I’ll conclude by saying I love your work, particularly Blindsight, which I’m glad I read twice because I apparently am too thick-headed to have even begun to appreciate it the first time around.

With love and respect,
A fan

Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago
Reply to  Patera Quetzal

> Is your comment section always so full of not-so-crypto fascists, Dr Watts?

There are lots of militant idiots from both sides of the political spectrum.

vodkaferret
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vodkaferret
11 months ago

Neill Blomkamp presents “The Origins of Valerie”. That’s some fun shit right there.

Let’s hope it becomes huge, millions of people buy blindsight and you get rich.

I’m willing to bet the vast majority wouldn’t finish it and you’d end up being name-checked by someone like marjorie taylor-greene as an example of all that is wrong in the world 😉

has
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has
11 months ago
Reply to  vodkaferret

For the Kmart Rouge to call OGH out as a degenerate artist, they would first have to know what “art” means.

Say what you like about Adolph Hitler, but at least he could tell one end of a paintbrush from the other. These current glue eaters are just useful idiots too. True Fourth Reich artists all work in puppetry.

B. Traven
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B. Traven
11 months ago

Do as I say, not as I do, eh, Doctor? Flying is a BIG carbon contributor.
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/06/travel/travel-climate-no-fly-pledge.html
But I’m sure you’ll come up with some cognitive dissonance. Keep enjoying those overseas jaunts!

B. Traven
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B. Traven
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

You’re not wrong, Doctor. And you’re doing at least 2 of the 4 things recommended for individuals who seek positive impacts on climate change (divest car ownership, veganesque diet, the other 2 being clean sourced energy use and, of course, avoiding air travel)((nyt source if needed…I am a librarian IRL)).

Still, somewhat ex post facto, no?

Dr. Watts, you’re a bellwether for climate activism in the internetz. People look to you. I am a nobody, so I get to burn styrofoam in the backyard before impregnating my wife again.

A B
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A B
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

The well-intentioned individuals on here are saying that there’s value in your work and thoughts. I certainly don’t agree with everything you write, and you have a knack for writing some opinions (and some fictional plot points; looking at you, Rifters series) in an abrasive and unpalatable way for the general public, but you have great talent, and are able to express and participate in diverse topics of popular interest. You don’t get nominated for and win popular literary awards, consult on major projects, and inspire others to success without great potential.

You’re already aware you’re holding yourself back. Again, if you’re happy, you need no further justification for the status quo. But if you wish to have a greater voice to advocate for those issues you find important, I think it’s within your ability to do so, and you’re on a promising trajectory. I just think the skill-set for managing popular engagement doesn’t overlap with your own skill-set, which is true of most people, even most public figures; they have professional help to do so. They have someone that manages their social media and public engagement (as publishers have, no doubt, temporarily done for you in the past). Take advantage of some of the opportunities coming your way after so many years of hard work. In advance of your next published work, or Blomkamp movie, or whatever thing, get someone to help you manage a Twitter profile, selectively attend talks, get more movie credits, etc.

Full Disclosure: I’m writing to you because I selfishly wish to see you motivated to write more. I’m not saying you need to get rid of The Crawl or prevent people from posting opinions you don’t agree with. But I believe it’s a better use of your time, you can best advocate for those issues you care about, and achieve greater success, by not engaging with random internet racists (or even engaging with random people trying to get you to believe in yourself!). There’s no reason you can’t achieve the same success as a Leckie, Vandermeer, or any other modern pop sci-fi writer. I wish you all the best!

Jack
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Jack
11 months ago
Reply to  A B

Can’t wait to read the new version of Behemoth.

Have a sensitivity reader give A. Desjadins the Mr. Rogers treatment and turn him into a nice guy.

Lars
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Lars
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

Jesus. DEI spreads its wings further.
This is why I’ve given up trying to find a job in academia. The first thing that they look at these days is your DEI statement. If they don’t like that, none of your other qualifications matter.

Andrei F
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Andrei F
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

The worst part of all this is that all their “diversity” is a privileged-access only club. Don’t you dare to say something what LGBTQ or feminists don’t like, but it’s perfectly fine to say any offensive shit about people with depression or schizophrenia for instance.

has
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has
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

> Breeding.

Truth. It’s like a sudden sock orgy in here. I think the smelly little bleeders are replicating. Our poor biosphere.

Jack
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Jack
11 months ago
Reply to  has

Is a sock orgy like a key party where all of the men put their socks into a bowl and at the end of the party, the women blindly select a sock to determine who she’s going to have sex with? It would be easy to id Jeff Vandermeer’s socks. He has a bunch of custom printed ones with a repeating motif of his cat Neo.

Fatman
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Fatman
10 months ago
Reply to  Jack

It guess it could be, if all the socks belong to only one man who no woman will have sex with, at the end of the party, or ever. Which is partly the reason why said man is putting all those different socks in a bowl in the first place.

Jack
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Jack
10 months ago
Reply to  Fatman

I can see you put a lot of thought into that answer. Perhaps too much. I myself go barefoot. My feet are hairy, leathery and quite large. Good for mud stompin.

Fatman
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Fatman
10 months ago
Reply to  Jack

I must admit I had to look up “mud stomping”, and now wish I hadn’t. But you go on with your bad self.

Jack
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Jack
10 months ago
Reply to  Fatman

I thought fat men were supposed to be jolly?

A B
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A B
11 months ago

Dr. Watts,

I’ve been a fan of your work since first reading a virtual copy of Blindsight over a decade ago; I’ve since bought (when possible) and read through your other works, having just finished Crysis: Legion this week while waiting for any hint that Omniscience is on the way. Thank you sincerely for the entertainment and thought-material over the years and across the world.

I am happy that you are living a fulfilling life, and your expanding engagement with popular culture and the zeitgeist is interesting to hear about. I look forward to learning more about, and eventually experiencing, your upcoming projects. I believe you have a great amount of potential, and can progress as far as you can imagine (although “progress” is not always linear, and is often ill-defined, as reflected in the themes of your works).

If you do wish to grow your role as a public figure, or be involved in more public projects (and I think you should on the grounds that you have much to offer), I would only like to humbly express concern about the statements from some of the individuals on this blog, and the possible negative effect engagement with them (even if rebuffing them) could have on your image; a personal blog containing such statements is more likely to be placed in an unpopular context than something like Twitter. If the blog brings you joy as is, you need no other justification. But, if you continue to grow publicly, and, as you have less time than previously to manage your image while enjoying new opportunities available to you, I might suggest you seek paid assistance in managing your public engagement. I think it is an investment that would pay dividends financially and personally in the coming years.

Best Regards,
A Fan

Lamia
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Lamia
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

A B does appear to be suggesting – in honeyed tones – that you shut up and install gatekeepers to make yourself less accessible.

I think that was probably not their conscious goal.

Yet also, you do project an air of having both the courage of your convictions and wits to back it up; which should classify you as a potential threat to almost any meta-organism living in the fabric of power and vested interest. Or at least, to any sufficiently cunning yet stupid such entity.

This blog is clearly your home turf, and beneath the notice of the real griefers. Whereas the likes of Twitter and Tiktok would invite you to choose between becoming a “managed brand” (in all the soaring shades of corporate beige that you can imagine), or jumping into a pit of hungry lions while wearing a steak tutu. Somebody like yourself doesn’t need an engagement-amplification algorithm in order to be an influencer; all you have to do is write another book.

Fatman
Guest
Fatman
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

“I express strong opinions here that a lot of people might find offensive; it would be a bit cowardly (not to say misleading) to express those opinions and then bury any comment that didn’t toady up to my side of an issue.”

This is one of the big draws to the Rifters blog, at least for me.

Nothing like seeing a Dunning-Kruger-emboldened chud pop up in the comments, poised to drop a truth bomb in the form of a genius rhetorical bravura. Only for OGH to calmly and patiently unpick their unassailable argument, exposing it for what it really is – the intellectual equivalent of chimpanzees slinging excrement through the bars of a cage.

When the chuds inevitably take the L and slink back into internet anonymity, you’re left with a case study in how to obliterate specious nonsense, with step-by-step instructions.

I enjoy it, OGH (presumably) enjoys it – heck, even the chuds enjoy it, because at least a few of them keep coming back for more punishment (yes, you). A win all round.

has
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has
11 months ago
Reply to  Fatman

> heck, even the chuds enjoy it, because at least a few of them keep coming back for more punishment

While narcissists adore the taste of ass-kissing adulation the best, your firey loathing is for all practical purposes just as nourishing. They need your attention, positive or negative—crave it as a crack addict and never have enough to be satisfied. Responding to their baiting in any form is simply training them which of your buttons to push to extract it most effectively.

Stop that. It’s disgusting.

Honestly, I think it is more than sufficient for our gracious host to leave a couple of old, respectably hunted game hides staked outdoors just to show that, yes, he is perfectly capable of taking life when he so chooses to do so. He just has better things to be doing in his own than feeding this dull influx of nullos.

For the narcissistic-type abuser, it is the sound of deafening silence that kills them stone dead: the universe reminding them it gives zero shits for their existence and, honestly, didn’t even notice them there. Expect the summary extinction burst and take satisfaction in giving them nothing.

For the rest, there is ponies.

Last edited 11 months ago by has
Cassidy
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Cassidy
11 months ago

Great to see you rising the ranks in film! Hopefully the vampire project gets us closer to a movie based on entirely on your work, (maybe rifters or blindsight). I know Joe Rogan has been a bit infected with conspiracies when it comes to vaccines but he definitely has a lot of interesting people on, (and seems relatively benign next to the average American anti-institutional lunatics among some factions of the country).

Maybe next you can pitch the military zombies idea to them and we can get a movie about a Jim Moore character (although I’m probably just daydreaming at this point). I feel like his backstory is prime material for a story about a soldier accountant/mathematician with a dysfunctional home life… (I’m biased though because he’s a favorite of mine).

Of course I would take the release of omniscience over all of that… lol

Oge Nnadi
Guest
11 months ago
Reply to  Cassidy

Also love the military zombies. Reminds me of the song, Zombie by Fela (around the 6-minute mark):

Go and kill! (Joro, jaro, joro)
Go and die! (Joro, jaro, joro)
Go and quench! (Joro, jaro, joro)
Put am for reverse! (Joro, jaro, joro)

https://youtu.be/Qj5x6pbJMyU?t=349

BTW
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BTW
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

First Odtrutka, now this
A lot of poles seem to think they are the chosen people (in the biblical sense), and why – thanks to you I seem to be feeling that way too!

Andy
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Andy
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

You fit in well with what I’d consider “mainstream” Polish science-fiction; when you follow in the footsteps of someone like Stanislaw Lem, writing soft, action-focused space operas doesn’t quite cut it (and indeed, for a long time it was altogether frowned upon; this has only been changing in recent years and still gets funny looks in some circles).

Anatoly
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Anatoly
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

This is strange phenomena. Well out of the curve. Why Russians (I am one) and Polish (can’t say for them) so much interested in your work? Do you thought about it too? There so much praise for your in russian-led discussion groups. People make movies, people write fanfiction. People make arts. Many arts, more than average. (I should have presented graphical arguments with statistics, researched analysis and things, but maybe in another time) How is that? Is we make our own religion out of Blindsight and Echropaxia bible?

(By the way you the best author for me, thank you for your works)

singingwhalebone
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singingwhalebone
11 months ago
Reply to  Anatoly

Hey, Uncle Pete! Anatoly here is right (hello, my Russian brother). We Slavs really like your books. I think your prose reminds us of that inevitability of a Tragic Demise That Is Waiting For Us All. Can’t say anything about poles or anyone else, but we Russians are generally well accustomed to not believing in the Brighter Future, ’cause, eh. History. Current state of affairs. All that jazz. And then there comes Blindopraxia. (I remember you saying something about being ‘not doomy enough’ under one of the funsies in the Gallery – well, you are. That’s why we joke.)
The point is: in Russia we (those who know about your books, that is) love you. I sincerely hope you’ll renew your contract with AST publishing after the war.
Stay safe,
SW.

Andrei F
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Andrei F
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

It’s not just Putin. The majority of people in Russia really liked it when Crimea was annexed. The only thing that they’re unhappy about right now is that it’s not a small victorious war that they expected.

Andrei F
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Andrei F
10 months ago

> not doomy enough

Nothing beats “Forge of God” by Greg Bear, especially if you connect some dots.

Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago

There is one thing that doesn’t make any sense to me in the events of Echopraxia. The aliens were perfectly able to send spacecraft directly to Earth, proven by the Fireflies. Why didn’t they use one of their mini-spacecrafts to send whatever they wanted to send to Earth, rather than employ all this incredibly complex and unreliable plan involving Icarus, Portia, etc?

has
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has
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrei F

Burn the witch! Burn the w…oh wait, yeah, bosmang, the annoying one kinda has a point. Rorschach coulda easily Portia’d the Earth from a light year away, presumably without too much exertion.

In book 1 its alien intelligence was obviously toying with us, testing us out, having been caught a little by surprise by our unexpected visit and rechecking its assumptions. Like a cat on your mantlepiece: yep, gravity still works. But by the time our unfortunate book 2 protagonist was counting his own cancers, surely it would’ve already fired off its encore? I appreciate launching significant mass from the Oort Cloud is a somewhat slower process so perhaps this explains the mid-way delay to book 3: it was all coming together swimmingly, until…

Nuking from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Unless, that is, we succeeded in nuking it first? Ah, Icarus, not so wounded as we were led to believe.

I wonder what the vampires will make of our new neighbors…

Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago
Reply to  has

> Nuking from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

I think that Greg Bear would like to argue about that.

has
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has
11 months ago
Reply to  has

Ah, Theseus, goddamn it. Well that’s my Watts cred at an end. OGH may now yeet me into the event horizon of a black hole there to be torn apart for eternity.

Broom Jockey
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Broom Jockey
11 months ago
Reply to  has

I want to do love with you. Please leave your car for me. Portia spiders cute pets make. We can explore the gravity well together and experience hawking radiance. I think it would be enchanting.

has
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has
11 months ago
Reply to  Broom Jockey

Certainly the best offer I’ve had all week.

Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

Hm. I still believe that sending some small size surveillance spacecrafts to watch from the orbit (and interfere, if necessary) would be the easiest and most reliable thing to do. There is so much space garbage there that nobody would notice, anyway.

Last edited 11 months ago by Andrei F
Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

Nope, I see what you said – Portia going to Earth was just a fluke. But I still don’t see why the aliens didn’t do something else, in addition to the Fireflies, Rorschach and Portia. It looks like some parts of the picture are missing.

Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

I see. Looking forward to reading what else these sneaky bastards were up to.

has
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has
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrei F

Perhaps; perhaps not. As an animal wired to think in millennia, Rorschach is probably not in a human-level hurry. Its game is the long one: implacably ruthless mass-and-energy conservation, core survival trait for interstellar travel. Broad strokes, straight lines. None of these daft little fripperies, wracked with indecision and second-guessing, which us monkeys like to play and think ourselves awfully Important.

Honestly, friend, you can sleep soundly on this. The vampires will get to you first.

Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago
Reply to  has

This explanation doesn’t make any sense. If you’re doing things slowly, going stealth is a must.

No vampires scare me. And even psychopaths, not too much. Willful idiots, that’s the destructive power that scares shit out of me. And they already are everywhere.

Last edited 11 months ago by Andrei F
has
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has
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrei F

> This explanation doesn’t make any sense.

Rorschach certainly appears capable of blindingly fast processing. tTe scramblers’ phenomenally dense neural wiring and sudden bursts into action are evidence of that. But anything that plods across light years between stars plots its overall strategies in centuries.

> If you’re doing things slowly, going stealth is a must.

Stealth? I think you underestimate just how vast and dark space really is. It sneaked up a ballistic legion of fireflies, dropped them right on our doorstep, by simple tactic of going slowly and not drawing lots of attention to itself. Smart choice: not a lot of human beings would anticipate that.

It’s the poncey idiots with their rad light-up drive cones that announce their comings and goings to all and sundry. Rorschach though? Punts cold iron across a light with only Sir Isaac Newton to guide them. Very hard to spot, even knowing of their existence and from where they are hailing.

> Willful idiots

Back to the real world? There’s nothing idiotic about ’em. They know exactly what they’re doing and exactly why they’re doing it. Their goal is not to hurt you; that’s just the means to an end. The end is to break your resolve to fight back, by helping you see for yourself that resistance is futile: there is nothing you can do to make them stop.

This is how fascism works. Abusers don’t win by abusing you. They win by having you apologize for it.

As Madeleine Albright observed: “Fascism is narcissism writ large.”

And narcissists? Those are the vampires that pass among us, in their millions, feeding upon us while we don’t even notice. Because we choose not to. Their exceptional behavior confounds—upsets—our established theory of mind. And rather than accept what the disruptive evidence is telling us—that our theory is fucked—we excuse it, force it; make it fit.

So when we look at a vampire we see a human, because a human is what we expect to see. Successfully matched—Again! We’re so good at this!—the pattern pleases us.

Honestly, Rorschach could sling frigging Big Ben at us and most of humanity would not see it coming. Again, not because we can’t but because we don’t want to.

Humanity, duh. Still just one good space rock away from oblivion. Which I’m sure Rorschach can trivially lob at us when it grows “bored”, and there’s not a damn thing we can do that will stop it. So it goes.

Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago
Reply to  has

> But anything that plods across light years between stars plots its overall strategies in centuries.

That’s why waiting for response from so far away is a stupid idea, and anyone smarter than a Starbucks socialist wouldn’t do that.

> how vast and dark space really is.

This is what I wrote only a couple messages before. Are you unable to track what’s being discussed for so long?

> It sneaked up a ballistic legion of fireflies, dropped them right on our doorstep, by simple tactic of going slowly and not drawing lots of attention to itself. Smart choice: not a lot of human beings would anticipate that.

And then, it ended up in a dead giveaway.

> Back to the real world? There’s nothing idiotic about ’em. They know exactly what they’re doing and exactly why they’re doing it. Their goal is not to hurt you; that’s just the means to an end. The end is to break your resolve to fight back, by helping you see for yourself that resistance is futile: there is nothing you can do to make them stop.

But after all they end up shooting their own asses off. So, nothing idiotic?

> Again, not because we can’t but because we don’t want to.

Exactly.

Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

PS I don’t say that it was impossible to do it that way. I just say that I see no reasons to not use a simpler and more reliable plan.

Labrata
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Labrata
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrei F

Really? That’s the only thing that you didn’t understand? In a story where our host went out of his way to have the plot driven by creatures that he can’t understand?

I wonder what your takes are on various other parts of the story that are left cryptic or ambiguous in the text. The undead snake, why the bicams take Valerie along, the incredible coincidence of Rakshi and Bruks winding up on the same ship, Valerie’s arm-breaking scene, why Valerie provokes Rakshi to attack her, how exactly Bruks is infected with “god” (but the other 3 survivors aren’t), why Valerie’s ‘team’ attacks the bicams… just for a starter list.

Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago
Reply to  Labrata

It’s not a thing that I didn’t understand, it’s a thing that looked simply wrong.

Lars
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Lars
11 months ago

Completely off topic, and I think that you dealt with Dishbrain a few postings back (too near my official blue light sundown to check), but if you haven’t seen this,it might be of some interest – https://www.vice.com/en/article/qjkgap/scientists-now-want-to-create-ai-using-real-human-brain-cells

has
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has
11 months ago
Reply to  Lars

No good comes of it, mark my words.

has
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has
11 months ago

Marginally OT, Peter, but I saw this and immediately thought of you.

Screenshot 2023-03-04 at 22.29.15.png
Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago

@Peter Watts I wonder if you ever read “The Elephant in the Brain”? It seems to be in line with your interests, and the scientific basis behind it looks quite solid to me.

Andrei F
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Andrei F
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Watts

Can you suggest anything for more in-depth reading?