Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Fri 17 Aug 01 17:06
Well you certainly seem well-adjusted to me. And you sound like you handle all the provocation very well. Aside from the question of "what defines cyberpunk?", I have a personal interest in how virtual reality is already being born in the here and now. Particularly in the realm of massive multiplayer games, such as Ultima and Everquest, where you can don an avatar and play out your fantasies, at least in limited ways. I play EQ, as do a lot of people on the Well, and I wonder whether you've ever dipped into those virtual worlds yourself, or whether you'd like to. So far as I know, people aren't yet being murdered there in ways that make them actually dead, though there are certainly a lot of what we call "grief players" around. But the basic questions of identity we were talking about before are rampant already, as people try on different personas, and feel free of the constraints of ordinary society.
Pat Cadigan (patcadigan) Sun 19 Aug 01 15:43
Oh, I'm stark raving mad. I just don't have a problem with the success of people I know and/or admire.:) I don't do any online gaming; it seems to me that the time and energy I would put into such a thing is what I draw on for my writing. I used to participate in a regular conference on the Delphi network back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the net--it was like a weekly cocktail party, and I really enjoyed it a lot. I still miss doing that. When it comes to recreation, I turn to something heavily physical--race-walking, working out, lifting weights, dancing myself stupid in a club. Endorphins--yeeha! Interestingly enough, one of the other things I found out while I was in France is that I am considered a political writer. Issues of identity are political matters in Europe, a perspective that intrigues me, but also makes me very uneasy.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 19 Aug 01 18:43
Have you ever subscribed to the nettime email list? It's worthwhile for the many strange attractors bouncing around its postmodern, poststructural left-when-it's-not-right framework...
Pat Cadigan (patcadigan) Mon 20 Aug 01 01:04
Jon, I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never even heard of the nettime email list. Behold, the Information Age: more stuff to not know about!:)
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 20 Aug 01 04:34
Check out http://www.nettime.org/ ... !
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 21 Aug 01 15:41
Pat, among all the short fiction pieces you've done, do you have a favorite? And if so, why?
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 21 Aug 01 16:23
Pat1 I got the book! I'm reading as fast as I can and hope to join in before the interview is over.
Pat Cadigan (patcadigan) Tue 21 Aug 01 18:37
Hi, Cynthia--that's a bit like asking a mother which child is her favorite. I.e., it depends on when you ask me. I love them all fiercely, but the reasons are not what you might think at first. While I do eventually gain enough distance from my work so I can guage its relative quality to a certain extent, my affections are tied to a completely different experience. Each story is something that happened to me; there were specific reasons why I came to write each one. In some cases, it's something profoundly personal; in other cases, it's something that doesn't affect my life directly, but might be something I wondered about (perhaps still wonder about). A couple of stories came straight out of dreams; others are significant because of what was happening in my life at the time I wrote them. All of them contain small associational secrets that have meaning only to me. Linda: Good luck. I hear it's a pretty fast read, actually.:)
Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Tue 21 Aug 01 21:15
I'm not surprised to hear that you are considered a political writer. I have to agree that questions of identity have political overtones, at least. And in your vision of VR, you set up a version of VR that is entirely free of governmental oversight, with no censorship, but also with no particular moral boundaries. I'm curious whether that view of VR was determined by the storyline you were writing, or whether you have some political thought behind it, that somehow the virtual world should be more free than what we call "real life". I know this is a subject of much debate online :)
Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 22 Aug 01 00:44
I hope you don't mind if I jump in as I am reading instead of waiting until I've finished the book. I love the technology and the Virtual Reality world you've created, Pat. What I particularly appreciate about it is that it really fits so smoothly into the way cyberspace is right now that it makes so much of what you write so plausible - like the idea that you might have to log off to talk to somebody as yourself, as opposed to talking to them while you are online, in your online persona. I also love the idea of billable hours in which VR entities freeze - some in midair - when time is not billable, in the midst of non-VR folks who have to maneuver around them because for the non-VR folks, time continues whether it's billable or not. Is there a real life counterpart to W.J. Williams, whose First Law of Free Speech is "Assholes always advertise?" And I am very intrigued by what you've done with Key West, Florida! In the book, Key West is governed by different laws than the rest of the land. It all started with the idea of privacy - a concern that we have in real life both in real life and in cyberspace - which led to an invitation-only area which people are always trying to trespass into (or hack?). And I love the idea of an adjective shortage because any word you might use to describe somebody could be actionable and violate their privacy in the ensuing lawsuit. Why did you choose Key West for this particular fate?
Countdown To Philadelphia (patcadigan) Thu 23 Aug 01 08:10
This is an invitation to anyone who will be at the Philadelphia world science fiction convention over Labor Day weekend to look me up and say hello. I'll be doing a signing and an autographing as well as a couple of other program items. If I know you, don't be a stranger (or don't be any stranger than you are already, at least not on my account); if I don't know you, introduce yourself.:) Jennifer: I gave a lot of thought to how I was going to set up general use AR before I started the novella that eventually became part of Tea From An Empty Cup. With all the controversy that legal matters and privacy issues can generate, I knew I had two big flypaper traps to avoid: 1)getting bogged down in exposition about AR usage and 2)getting the focus of the legal/privacy issues wrong. The former would be excruciatingly boring; the latter would be so jarring that the reader would keep falling out of the narrative. In the end, I decided to have the whole thing run more or less as a cross between an amusement park and a movie. Which is to say, amusement parks promise thrills and nothing more. If you go to a movie and someone in the movie claims that, say, tossing glitter on your head and thinking happy thoughts will enable you to fly through the air, you can't sue or prosecute for fraud when it doesn't work. Consequently, it's all a matter of caveat emptor. This was all strictly for my own convenience--the story I wanted to tell involved people's experience in AR and how they are changed by it. I didn't want to write a story about how AR was regulated. Linda: indeed there is a real life WJWilliams who did formulate the First Law Of Free Speech: "Assholes Always Advertise"--he is Walter Jon Williams and he stated this explicitly in his novel Day of Atonement. I asked Walter if I could use it and he said yes.:) I'm glad you like the book. I wanted the AR network to seem like a natural (kind of) progression from the Web. It just felt right. While I haven't done a whole lot of online gaming, I've been chatting online for about 15 years. Back in the mid-80s, I was part of a regular Wednesday night group on the old Delphi network. It was a terrific group and the only reason I stopped was because I moved to England, and the time difference makes it impossible. Great group of people--I really enjoyed hanging out with them. At the time, I was raising a toddler and writing full-time, and I was so busy and/or exhausted all the time that it was just about all the social life I had. Those Wednesday nights saved my sanity. Key West was another matter of convenience; it's an island, so it's not perfectly accessible. It didn't seem preposterous that the extremely wealthy might take it over as a haven from the general public, and then make it into a virtual fortress. It's really just a big gated community. I suppose I could have posited an artificial island constructed for the purpose, but if there's anything I've learned about the future, it's that no matter what we're able to do, we will most likely take the path that costs less.:)
Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Thu 23 Aug 01 10:52
I know that my online friends and conversations really add immeasureably to my life, Pat, and I can imagine that you still sometimes miss your Delphi friends. Although you have London now, which I'm sure is some consolation :) One thing I really envy you is that you've written books on the "Making of" a couple of high-tech movies: "Lost in Space" and "The Mummy" series. I didn't like Lost in Space too much, but found the Mummy movies to be really campy and fun. For these books you got to go behind the scenes at Industrial Light and Magic and watch the movies be born. Was it as much fun as it seems it would be? Is there any one thing that really stands out in your memory?
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 24 Aug 01 10:48
oooh! Good question! I'd like to hear what Pat has to say about that, too.
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 24 Aug 01 12:45
As would I! While we are waiting, let me just say how much I have enjoyed this interview, and thank you to Pat for being such a great guest, and to Jennifer for being such a great interviewer. Our two weeks together are officially over, but you are welcome to stay and hang out for as long as you like.
Daniel Marcus (marcus) Sat 25 Aug 01 00:03
Not much fiction recently, Pat, ufortunately. Co-authored a tome called Professional XML that hit the shelves a couple of months ago. Currently CTO of a company called Aptegrity. We have a London office, so I will be out there from time to time ...
Hi, I'm Not Dead Yet Again-- (patcadigan) Sun 26 Aug 01 16:17
Getting ready to leave home for a week is tremendously complicated and time-consuming.:) Now, where was I? Jennifer: The making-of books were two very interesting, and very different, experiences. It's a lot of hard work, but I'd do it again in a minute...provided I could lay down some ground rules.:) Lost In Space was something I just happened to luck into. Most making-of books are done by someone involved with the production. For some reason, New Line Cinema, who did LIS, didn't have anyone. I happened to be in the right place at the right time--an American of the right age to be acquainted with the TV series, who happened to live near enough to where the movie was being filmed, at Shepperton Studios. I got the assignment very near the end of the production, which meant I had to work hard and fast and learn on the fly. Luckily for me, the LIS cast and crew couldn't have been more helpful. The publicist provided me with tapes of interviews with the director, the screenwriter, and the adult cast members whom I wasn't able to interview (I got to see William Hurt, Mimi Rogers, Matt LeBlanc, Heather Graham, and Gary Oldman at a distance). I did interview "Penny" and "Will"--they were great kids. I also interviewed the robots--which is to say, the head of the four-person robot crew. It turned out that he and I had several mutual friends. I spent several days with the miniature crew after principle filming wrapped, while they explained sfx stuff to me. Thanks to the head of the cgi effects, I was given permission to sit in on the filming of Gary Oldman playing the Spider Smith monster--provided I didn't attempt to interview or talk to him. That sounds like temperamental movie-star stuff, but it is not. Watching him work, I could understand why. If filming a special effects sequence is incredibly difficult, doing the acting is even harder--you have to react to nothing, say your lines to nothing, but still match the context. If anyone breaks your concentration, you can't do it--but you have to achieve this intense concentration in the middle of a room full of people who are operating computers and cameras and lighting, and you have to do it with your face covered with little white balls for the motion-capture. I watched Gary Oldman do this for several hours with only an occasional break for coffee. He's the consummate professional. Everyone involved with the production was great, and I was really hoping for success for all of them. I got the assignment for The Mummy because of what I'd done with LIS, but in this case, I was working directly for Universal rather than the publisher of the book. Parts of The Mummy were filmed at Shepperton, but there had also been a lot of location work in Morroco that I had missed. Universal didn't get me to Shepperton until the absolute last day of principle filming, and then scheduled back-to-back interviews with all the principle crew--costume designer, set designer, props. This was less successful, as most of these people had left the production already, many of them several weeks before, and they were already working on new projects. So I got a lot of "I don't remember" answers in response to a lot of my questions. I asked, but Universal wouldn't give me any extra material, or allow me to return to the set for additional interviews after that one day. The only actor I interviewed was the Mummy himself, Arnold Vosloo, while he was completing his motion-capture scenes. This was amazingly nice of him, considering he could have spent the time between takes resting rather than talking to me. It was just dumb luck that I was going to be in San Francisco when they'd be working on the cgi effects for The Mummy, but it was like pulling teeth getting permission to visit. But I did manage to get to Skywalker Studios for a day and got a look at the visual effects as they were being created. Management was extremely nervous, however--they were working on The Phantom Menace at the same time and they were worried about security. It made it even harder to get the job done. When it came time to put The Mummy book together, I didn't have half the information I'd had for Lost In Space and both the publisher and Universal were unhappy about it, but not as unhappy as I was. It's a hell of a thing when someone tells you to write a book about a movie and then won't give you a lot of the information that has to go into the book--and then wants to know why it isn't in there. And then, when you tell them why, and ask them to give you the information...they *still* won't. Frustration? Don't get me started.:) Still, I'd do it again. It's all fascinating, and I really enjoyed figuring out a structure for each book and how I would approach each area of the productions. The most intriguing thing, however, was watching things I'd envisioned in my work--not as part of the movies, but as part of how they were made. That was, as the kids still say, cool. Not to mention gratifying.
Pat Cadigan (patcadigan) Sun 26 Aug 01 16:21
Linda-- Many thanks to you and Jennifer in return, for helping me get it all figured out. I don't know how much longer I get to run around in here; I know I'd like to stay on The Well, so I should look into formalizing my membership.:) Daniel--it's been too long since you've been here. Marusek's gone back to Alaska, fer krissakes.
Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Sun 26 Aug 01 22:37
Thanks for that wonderful response, Pat. What an interesting and odd experience. I appreciate your description. When you get back, if you want to hang around, you can check in here and we can talk to helpdesk about keeping you around :) In the meantime, have a great trip.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 26 Aug 01 22:48
You are welcome to stick around as long as you like, Pat. And I just have to comment on this: "...I didn't have half the information I'd had for Lost In Space and both the publisher and Universal were unhappy about it, but not as unhappy as I was. It's a hell of a thing when someone tells you to write a book about a movie and then won't give you a lot of the information that has to go into the book--and then wants to know why it isn't in there. And then, when you tell them why, and ask them to give you the information...they *still* won't. Frustration? Don't get me started.:)" Substitute "a movie" with "the software" and you will know exactly what it's like to be a technical writer!
Pat Cadigan (patcadigan) Mon 27 Aug 01 01:22
Jennifer: many thanks. I've been browsing around the rest of The Well and I'd definitely like to continue as a member. And I've enjoyed the interview, of course! Linda: This explains a great deal. I am now more sympathetic to the manual writers, while my sympathy for their bosses has hit an all-time low.:)
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 27 Aug 01 16:47
Pat, a belated thanks... I've been traveling the last couple days and couldn't log in. Great to have you back on the WELL!
Miguel Marcos (miguel) Wed 31 Oct 01 17:04
Man, I'm here late. Regarding post 53, indeed nettime is a wonderful mailing list but I have had a lot of trouble keeping up with it in the last few months which confirms Pat's comment, another thing not to keep track of. You gotta pick and choose.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 31 Oct 01 17:33
Amen to that!
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