Assorted Interrogatives.

Theseus under construction in LEO, six weeks  prior to launch.

Theseus under construction in LEO, six weeks prior to launch.

Coming up to breathe for a moment in between web site renovations (going well, thank you) and attempts to burrow through a tangled morass of Russian bureaucracy (not so much— in fact, that whole trip just might go tits-up over the next couple of days), I see a couple of interviews have gone live.  In one of them— the last of Clay Dugger’s epic 5-part series Watching the Skies: From “Who Goes There?” to THE THING — I basically jam with Mr. Dugger on the subject of “The Things”, and how it fits into the greater Campbellian canon. I also seem to remember having some unkind words for the 2011 prequel, and some thoughts on Lamarckian biology, and differences between the movie and the Alan Dean Foster novelization, and that time when Dog-Kennel-Thing split into two halves and one half punched its way up through the ceiling and nobody seemed to worry about where it went or what it might be doing up there. I’m not really sure. The episode goes on for almost two hours (I don’t think a single part of the five weighs in at less than one), and we recorded it a while ago— so while I dimly remember having a blast on Skype, I’m kinda fuzzy on the content. For all I know at this point, I could’ve spent half the time giggling and making farting noises with my armpit.

Still, if you have several hours to kill and you’re at all interested in a certain misunderstood shape-shifting alien, you could do worse than head over to the Chronic Rift Network and avail yourself of the wisdom of such folks as Dave Robison, Paul K. Bisson, Paul Elard Cooley, and, well, me.

The other interview is of more recent vintage— it just went live on Friday, courtesy of our friends over at Clarkesworld— and is more conventionally formatted in text instead of tones. It will take you significantly less than one hour forty five minutes to get through it all, and while a couple of the questions may have a familiar ring (Do you write from an outline? Does it scare you how fast reality catches up to your lame-ass predictions?), there are others that, perhaps surprisingly, no one has asked me before (How hard is it to imagine you’re Siri Keeton?) Also I change my long-held position about Scientists As Communicators. In fact, I turn 180° on the subject.

Which doesn’t mean that I’m any happier about it, of course.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Monday August 04 2014at 12:08 pm , filed under interviews . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

15 Responses to “Assorted Interrogatives.”

  1. Think babblegab is a new word to me. Must use.

  2. Peter, the Cooley link appears to be in placeholder mode.

  3. Darkhorse digital has the viking thing comic, no trace of the others

    IIRC it’s kinda dumb, especially how the viking loses his arm in the first place. I do have fond memories of the older 90s Thing comics, although really once the Thing hits south america it really should’ve been game over world, but for some reason it wasn’t interested in all the non-human biomass in the jungle…

  4. whoever: Peter, the Cooley link appears to be in placeholder mode.

    Thanks. Fixed.

  5. Sir

    You mention you aren’t part of SFWA. How come? What’s your opinion on the controversy that has been stirred up with it for the past few years? And what’s your take on the current Hugo nominations controversy, given that has its roots in the SFWA fights?


  6. Daniel: You mention you aren’t part of SFWA. How come? What’s your opinion on the controversy that has been stirred up with it for the past few years? And what’s your take on the current Hugo nominations controversy, given that has its roots in the SFWA fights?

    I actually was a member of SFWA, for one year back at the turn of the century. I joined up as soon as I qualified. I dived headlong into their online fora, and holy shit. You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

    I basically found myself in a sandbox full of children throwing tantrums. It had been years since Robert Sawyer had been hounded from the presidency, and still a good half of the posts seemed to be devoted to picking that particular sore (I’m no big fan of the man myself, but still; let it go, people). There seemed to be a certain sensitivity to the whole piracy issue (one author accused me of theft because, back during the eighties, I would make cassette tapes of my favorite albums in order to reduce wear on the vinyl). There was a lot of political maneuvering and infighting, and some lookit-me-I-sold-a-book! chest thumping, and relatively little in the way of reasoned insight into writing as a profession.

    So I let my membership lapse— and judging by the feces fights that have subsequently made it onto the public radar, I’m glad I did. The whole pixel-stained-technopeasant wretch thing just made me roll my eyes (as I recall, SFWA threatened legal action against those who’d had the temerity to distribute Cory Doctorow’s writings, apparently unaware that he’d released them under a creative commons license). Neither side comported itself especially well in the more recent armored-boobs-old-white-guys thing. Judging by the parts of the iceberg that poke above the surface, the current population seems to follow a bimodal distribution, neither of which I’d associate with in a HazMat suit. The two most substantive arguments I’ve seen in favor of membership are 1) the emergency medical coverage available for writers in distress (which isn’t especially relevant to anyone who lives in a country with socialized medical coverage), and 2) you’re not as likely to get a Nebula if you don’t belong to the club (which isn’t enough nearly of an incentive to overcome my empirical misgivings).

    As for the recent Hugo spat, I don’t know this Vox Day character and I’ve never read his stuff, so I’m not qualified to pass judgment on the legitimacy of the nom. The consensus seems to be that he’s kind of an asshole— but then again, people have said that about me too on occasion, and even if true I don’t see how it bears on the quality of the literary work. You don’t have to be a Nazi sympathizer to recognize that Leni Riefenstahl had a way with the camera. Far as I’m concerned, the only Hugo-relevant question should be: is the story any good?

    Of course, it may not be a SFWA-only problem. I let my membership in the Canadian equivalent of that organization lapse for pretty much the same reason as I left SFWA behind. Or maybe it’s me. Maybe both those other organizations are actually pretty cool, and I’m just a curmudgeonly old asshole. Maybe it’s all of the above.

    Hey. You asked.

  7. Re: SFWA.

    Reminds me of when I took chess lessons in late 90s. Mind you, just chess lessons from a coach and we met once at a Manhattan chess club space. Just once. Had not joined the club, just visiting.

    There was discussion as to whether chess should get funding in NYC public schools. A member dressed about as close to steampunk as one can get and still quite not invoke “Is it Halloween?” who was opposed to this, demanded to know my opinion on the matter. Suspect High School Chess Clubs behave more maturely.

  8. Re: ‘Giants’ and ‘Hotshot’

    When I have time I will probably do the Thing stuff, thanks for the link. But I was intrigued by the other interview and the two other stories I didn’t know about from ‘The Island’ universe, and for whatever reason (copyright?) you didn’t include in ‘Beyond The Rift.’ I would like to read these stories, as well as potential future project ‘Sunflowers,’ but while I am sure the two anthologies mentioned are full of other great stuff, I am not sure I want to buy that much content on spec. So my question is, why can’t I buy those two stories from you direct? You can’t publish them under the Creative Commons thing?

    Perhaps I am being a bit Shawshank-style obtuse here, but can you tell me how to read this stuff – if it is to buy the books say so, that’s fine.

    I also note that so far I have paid for all my Watts content, bar, I think, ‘The Things’ in original publication, though I did buy BTR so I am helping the Niblet Memorial Fund. Give me more ways to do so, happy to give you more £ (or CAN$, as it were)?

  9. Hey Gary,

    You’re in luck on the “Giants” front: Clarkesworld has agreed to reprint it online in the near future. “Hotshot” is still inside the exclusivity window, though, so for the time being you’ll have to bum someone’s copy of Reach for Infinity.

    If it’s any consolation, I think “Giants” is the better story.

  10. Thank you, I’ll keep a look out for that and I think the ‘Infinity’ is worth a buy anyway. The bigger issue this brings up is author payments, I’d be interested in your general views on all that – Scalzi is saying some interesting things re the whole Amazon-Hachette thing. I think I will make a token but heartfelt Niblet donation anyway as your shambling busking performance (equivalent) of ‘Lady In Red’ here on the virtual London Underground surely worthy of a few coppers.

  11. Peter Watts: Hey. You asked.

    I did 🙂 I have no stake in the fight, I just wanted to hear your take on it and found it insightful. One point I would make though is that people aren’t objecting to what Vox Dei writes in his books and has his characters do or the viewpoints they espouse. Its the stuff he personally argues for in his words on his blog as his viewpoint, like supporting the action of throwing acid on women’s faces as punishment and naked white supremacy where he calls black people uncivilized subhumans.

    But hey, death of the author and all that, you can consume the art without agreeing with the creator.

  12. Hugo controversy is a largely imaginary thing, since there’s nothing controversial about a borderline-insane person (and Theo Beale, also known as Vox, being a person who almost literally inhabits the Lovecraft County and sincerely believes unseen, supernatural forces are actively at work in the world, definitely qualifies as “borderline” insane, if not as something more clinical) being a tolerable writer, and there’s nothing controversial about a racist, obnoxious prick being a tolerable writer (there are examples of insufferable pricks even being great writers)

    So why should a case when borderline insane insufferable racist prick gets nominated be controversial?

    Besides, the story isn’t very bad.
    Worse things have been nominated for Hugo

  13. Because he hijacked SFWA resources to be an insane insufferable racist prick to other SFWA members and then a bunch of other insane insufferable racist pricks got upset that he was punished for it.

    Basically because people wouldn’t tolerate his intolerance when he was taking from them to spread his intolerance

  14. Well, that definitely warrants SFWA expulsion (also a lawsuit would be in order, I suspect) but is hardly a reason to deny a Hugo nomination.

    I mean, what he did was unethical and might be even illegal, but Hugo does not have (to the best of my knowledge) provisions against people involved in unethical and criminal acts.

    Basically, if Hitler were to be brought back from beyond the grave as a terrifying magical Nazi lich, and decided to publish a sci-fi book, he could get a Hugo nomination.

  15. The Hugo nomination issue is that the essentially paid a bunch of people to nominate him.

    Which is a far lesser thing than his generally shittiness, but there you are