Ad Astra: Imbibum etum Vomitum

Ad Astra starts tomorrow. I suppose I should list my schedule, for any of you who might be in attendance:


  • 9pm, Crowne Room: Reading (with my buddy Dave Nickle). I’d been thinking of reading a bit of in-progress stuff from State of Grace, but then the Hugo nom happened so I think I’ll sample from “The Island” instead. (It would have been tough to fit any previously-unreleased stuff from SoG into the allotted time anyway, since it’s a shared slot.)


  • 6pm, Salon 243: Putting the Science into Science Fiction (Chris Jackson, Derek Kunsken, Karl Schroeder, and me). Pretty self-explanatory.
  • 7pm, Salon 243: Body and Person in SF (J. Keeping, Karl Schroeder, and me). “How SF has treated the connection between the body and the personality, from completely disconnected to very integrated.” Not sure how much I’ll be able to contribute to this one — I pretty obviously tilt to the integrated end of the scale.


  • 1pm, Salon 241: Publicity — The Good, the Bad, and the Bonkers (Kelly Armstrong, Carolyn Clink, Matt Moore, and me). “What are the best and worst ways to promote your work?” Hoo boy. I’m thinking I might have a few things to say on this subject, at least.

Everything else seems pretty much open, although there are definitely a few panels I wouldn’t mind checking out from the cheap seats (Characterization in SF, Copenhagen-Gone-Bust to name but two). Maybe I’ll see you there.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Thursday April 08 2010at 09:04 am , filed under public interface . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

15 Responses to “Ad Astra: Imbibum etum Vomitum

  1. > Copenhagen-Gone-Bust

    my first thought was “Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics”

    Clicking through I see that it’s only about the Copenhagen climate summit.

    the AGW debate — its no big thing.
    Bringing down instrumentalism, now that’s revolution

    Sounds like fun, whatever the day or the angle. Wish I could be there

  2. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it (Live in Florida until I finish my degree), but perhaps I’ll be able to find tidbits online.

  3. I also assumed this was about the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, although I’m not in complete agreement with you about which is more important…

  4. The stuff you listed is of interest to me…

    Also catching my eye:
    ~Ghosts in Popular Culture
    Ghosts are a part of some Polynesian and East Asian Cultures. We grow up with that stuff in Hawaii. Myths, legends, local ghost stories. As kids, we could go to the old run down theaters and see Japanese Obake movies…

    ~The Future of Human Space Flight

    ~A.I. in SF

    And, curious and funny, I find this:

    ~Romance or Porn? At what point does “romantic fiction” become porn?
    I bet it will be mostly paneled and peopled by females.

    I wonder why this is even an issue? First off, the in between is missing. Such as “sensual”, “steamy” and “erotic”. It can’t be an either or. Does it not really depend upon the targeted audience, the readers?

    Romance Fiction at Ad Astra, so in addition to Science Fiction and Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, the category of Romance is also addressed? 🙂

    From what I see, females are the driving force for the uptick in books in the romance genre. The romance genre in and of itself includes fantasy and science fiction.

    The books themselves are rated according to sex depicted, and it is not about the number of sex scenes. It is about the “description” along a scale of graphicness, ranging from “chaste” to “extremely explicit”.

    Flames or chili peppers are often used as an “intensity rating” guide.

    Are we not talking about books filled with “words” and not pictorials, manga and graphic novels? The later forms being more so aimed at males. Of course it also depends on the gender of the writer and the point of view.

  5. Copenhagen vs Copenhagen

    It’s an interesting dilemma.

    A planetary-scale phenomenon that threatens cataclysmic changes


    a conceptual framework that underlies the very nature of reality

    How to prioritize?
    What goes first on the todo list?

    All bullshit aside, to my best knowledge there is nothing dramatic to report from the fundamental physics side of the aisle

    In the climate change section of the supermarket, there are interesting goings on. The “sceptics” are riding a political high; the cries of “fraud” are shriller than ever. On the academic front, I am not aware of major revisions to the dominant paradigm. There is the recent

    “Influence of winter and summer surface wind anomalies on summer Arctic sea ice extent” in GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS,

    but it’s well within the usual climate change paradigm. The claim is that anomalies in prevalent wind patterns account for a large chunk of the variability in the arctic sea ice extent.

    “it is shown that the combined effect of winter and summer
    wind forcing accounts for 50% of the variance of the
    change in September Arctic sea ice extent from one year
    to the next (DSIE) and it also explains roughly 1/3 of the
    downward linear trend of SIE over the past 31 years.”

    So the prediction seems to be that over longer scales, the sea ice will continue to shrink, but at a more moderate rate than exhibited over the last 30 years.

    More interesting is the reaction of the “sceptics” to this particular publication. It’s pure politics. Supporting evidence, no matter how slight, is given maximum exposure. Everything else is ignored or impugned as “fraud”.

    Good topic for the con

  6. The “Body and Person” panel, I’d attend. (The reading, too, naturally, though I guarantee I’d be too shy to introduce myself.)

    Academic, in any case. I’m on the wrong side of the border and late with the rent.

  7. sorry for the OT post, but Big Ben is getting closer

    P.S. just revisited the blindsight pages on rifters is pretty cool IMO

    P.P.S. whose mugs were used for the Theseus crew in Peter Watts is clearly filling in as Siri Keeton. Who be the others (sorry if this was asked many years back)

    P.P.P.S Toromilton?

  8. In science news ~

    “Why Machines Do Not Understand Human Speech”

    “Over the years researchers have been making in-roads into improving voice recognition and speech-to-text software. But being able to recognize words is still a long way from machines actually understanding what people are saying.”

    “Now the American Palo Alto Research Centre (Parc) is working on an ambitious project with the aim to take computers’ language skills to the next level.”

    Well, we are still a ways from a space odyssey…

  9. keanani: the moment I read the first two sentences of the article you quoted, I smelled disgustingly bad science journalism, and Language Log being next on my blog-reading routine, I expected it to be mentioned there. And sure enough, it was. I mean, jyst by these two sentences I kew it would be one of the worst science articles ever. It was vacuous and pointless, to name the least bad things about it.

  10. Sorry to double-post, but: I am not suprised but I still feel good about the fact that a linguist noticed that the content of this article about quantum effects amplified to be noticeable by human perception has nothing to do with the actual experiment, which I thought was awesome when I heard about it a few months ago.

  11. @krum ~ 🙂 I thought the picture of the she-dude was the dead give away as to it being, perhaps farcical…

    Certainly, hence my words ~ “Well, we are still a ways from a space odyssey…” Pointless perhaps, vacuous, maybe, but the reason that the BBC had that for all to see…was it a humour piece or a serious piece? Is PARC for real? Still, it seemed appropriate for this particular newscrawl having to do with Ad Astra since things not serious are a part of that too.

  12. @krum ~ 🙂 Certainly. I thought that the picture of the “she-dude” was a giveaway that the article was perhaps farcical. Although, I was not sure if the people within the article, PARC etc. were quite serious…

    Hence the ways from a space odyssey…

  13. keanani: Apparently they put that picture because that character’s catchphrase is “Computer says no”. It’s form Little Britain, where most characters are played by two male actors.

  14. A question for the Collective. Assuming humanity evolves and survives long enough to spread to other planets, what form will we be in when there’s just one big black hole remaining? Has any author tried to tackle this to your knowledge? (Seems like Clarke might have, but ZOOM over my head) What’s the “perfect” form?

    (I’m assuming the far future priveleged get beamed to another Universe, BTW. 🙂 )

  15. As is typical, I have to answer my own question: whatever form is necessary at any given time based on environment and perhaps, when that is not the overriding factor, desire. The perfect life form can adapt to anything.

    So, I’m betting, can the perfect scifi author/teacher.