Paul Terry Walhus (terry) Tue 6 Jan 04 14:00
The high tailing it out of town reference wasn't about your leaving for Colorado. You came back at least. It was about a couple who hotfooted it to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Bruce, is Hot Springs the next Austin?
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 6 Jan 04 14:01
Austin has certainly got its financial problems these days, but it has just declared itself the "Clean Energy Capital of the World" and I'm pretty well determined to live in the Clean Energy Capital of the World. It certainly beats trying to breathe downwind of the Dirty Energy Capital of the World. Distributed power is a sexy idea and it's starting to get credibility with the big players. It used to be a blue-sky notion and now it's showing up at heavy-duty energy conferences. Austin's "Austin Energy" talks a lot about this. They hope they can invent or adapt some kind of fast, smart utility software that knits together solar panels, distant windmills, hydrogen fuel cells, biomass burning, methane from landfills, plus the inevitable legacy coal, oil, and gas and nuclear, and still can supply clean dependable voltage suitable for running Austin Internet routers and chip fabs. These industries are awful picky about brownouts. It's not the easy way to run a utility, but it might well be the future way. And if they can manage to do this, they figure they can make money by selling that fast-response model to people whose systems are backward, pre-digital and stuck-in-the-mud. Small isn't necessarily beautiful by itself. In India I used to see people powering themselves with cow-dung patties and the branches hacked off trees in city parks. That's small and distributed, but it was the opposite of beautiful, and they would have been a lot better off with some fume-free household wiring and and some nice, big, hefty, 5-megawatt giant offshore windmills. Windpower gets more efficient with the size of the blade. You'll never make a serious dent in coal or nuclear with a bunch of tiny little home-owner windmills. You pretty well need to truck in some of those grown-up Danish jobbies with a fuselage the size of a 707. Why kid around? No I did not watch "Battlestar Galactica." As is well known, I consume practically nothing these days but Bollywood movies.
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Tue 6 Jan 04 15:10
Any Bollywood recommendations?
Paul Terry Walhus (terry) Tue 6 Jan 04 15:41
Notice he sidestepped the question about dim theater projection bulbs?
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Tue 6 Jan 04 20:36
bruces watches at home stuff with Kajol
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 6 Jan 04 22:25
That software point is worth pursuing: computers and software are facilitating the move to clean energy by enabling so many of the technologies as well as monitoring. There are also systems of energy credits (the Texas version being a model for other states and countries) that can be brokered on computer-driven exchanges. I recall a piece of fiction that ran in Coevolution Quarterly years ago, the only fiction I recall seeing in CQ, that was written by J.G. Ballard, and was about a clean energy sustainable future, a little on the post-apocalytic side, but not the dystopian cyberpunk future. Could this be a suitable path for speculative fiction, envisioning futures that are shaped by new sources of energy?
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 7 Jan 04 06:57
Kajol is in semi-official retirement at the moment, but her husband Ajay Devgan sure has been a busy guy. Because I watch them for sociological, trend-spotting reasons, I tend to like Bollywood movies that are either really unpopular or sort of ludicrously popular. David Chute, who is my favorite Bollywood critic, actually watches this stuff from a cinematic perspective. I don't get excited by Bollywood cinema unless I see them doing something seriously alien that I am just barely beginning to understand. David Chute explains it all: http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Island/3102/resume.htm If you're into cyberpunk, this is your Bollywood movie. "Qayamat -- City Under Threat." A big hit in the Turkey City SF Writers Workshop. http://www.qayamatthefilm.com/ "The Hero: Love Story of a Spy" didn't do well in the box office, but it's a kind of X-ray of modernist Indian BJP patriotic jingoism. Features evil Pakistanis with WMD. Thanks to constant costume changes, Sunny Deol acts instead of mailing in his performance. http://www.bbc.co.uk/asianlife/film/reviews/the_hero.shtml Fans of Edward Said imperialist orientalism should forget modern Bollywood and check out the sob-worthy, sequin-spangled historical vehicle that made Rekha the dark star of Indian cinema. "Umrao Jaan." http://www.rediff.com/entertai/2003/may/17dinesh.htm http://www.uiowa.edu/~incinema/umraojaan.html This film is the "Citizen Kane" of the Bollywood feudal-family epic -- "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham." It made a mint. Top-notch tech skills by Karan Johar, a loyal modern scion of the old industry. http://www.rediff.com/search/k3g.htm And if you're still hungry, check out this Ram Gopal Varma epic of Mumbai gangster corruption, "Company." It may be Ajay Devgan's best role -- he is genuinely scary in this. http://www.planetbollywood.com/Film/Company/
Ted (nukem777) Wed 7 Jan 04 09:53
Bruce, nice interview in Reason,http://www.reason.com/0401/fe.mg.cybergreen.shtml, would you talk a bit about what you see re: our being on the verge of post-humanity?
from DAVID DAVISSON (tnf) Wed 7 Jan 04 16:02
David Davisson writes: Bruce - Like Keith Richards wondering who the musicians he likes listen to, I've wondered what websites you visit regularly. Magazines regularly read? Authors you read? Thanks! dave David Davisson
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 7 Jan 04 16:39
Bruce, nice interview in Reason,http://www.reason.com/0401/fe.mg.cybergreen.shtml, would you talk a bit about what you see re: our being on the verge of post-humanity? *I'm kinda inclined to think we'll ooze over the verge without quite admitting it to ourselves. But there's a lust for posthumanity in contemporary society that's been blatantly obvious for many years. We want it real bad, it's just not quite technically there yet. *In peacetime it's in stuff like cosmetic surgery, recreational neurochemistry and athletic performance enhancement. Nowadays it's in harder stuff like this: http://www.darpa.mil/dso/thrust/matdev/ehpa.htm *Neurally-controlled military exoskeletons. "To develop devices and machines that will increase the speed, strength, and endurance of soldiers in combat environments." *Okay, fine, but "combat environments" last only a few hours. Consider the more general implications here. What happens when Skeleton-boy there has been Robocopping along in superhuman conditions every day for a two-year or four-year tour of duty? Will he want to go back to civvy street and have sand kicked in his face? You might start seeing civilian spinoffs of this for the medical market, for quadriplegics, the aged, and all of a sudden you're right in the middle of William Gibson's "The Winter Market" (1986). I've wondered what websites you visit regularly. *http://www.boingboing.net http://www.worldchanging.org http://del.icio.us/ Feedster, Technorati, Daypop, Blogdex. Lots of others. Magazines regularly read? *I take about 50 these days, but I especially like I.D., Metropolis, "Homeland Security Professional," and "Special Operations Technology." *Plus F&SF, Asimov's and Interzone, of course. Everyone should subscribe to those for the good of the human race. *Plus, I not only work for WIRED, I read it. Authors you read? *I try to read foreign ones nobody's ever heard of. Like, say, Dubravka Ugresic's THE MUSEUM OF UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER. It's not the sort of thing I would ever force on anybody, but it kept me turning pages.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 7 Jan 04 19:28
I'm staring at the recent photos from Mars, and wondering if we'll ever get the the Star Trek vision of space colonization. Those of us who've read megatons of science fiction are conditioned to expect interplanetary travel, pacts with aliens, hops across the galaxy via space warps. Given the state of things, you have to wonder if we'll do more than burn out, as a species. I know you wrote a few stories set in space - does your head still go there?
Paul Terry Walhus (terry) Wed 7 Jan 04 20:00
He missed Battlestar Galactica, Jon. That must be a clue.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 8 Jan 04 07:57
Well, if you don't know space opera, you just don't know science fiction very well. On the other hand, I'm about to go hang out with RAND corporation this morning. Even in their longest-range forecasts, I doubt that they foresee Starship Enterprise TV set-ups where spacecraft mysteriously have artificial gravity and aliens are only as alien as human actors can get without suffocating in the rubber mask. I'll believe in people settling Mars at about the same time I see people setting the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert is about a thousand times as hospitable as Mars and five hundred times cheaper and easier to reach. Nobody ever writes "Gobi Desert Opera" because, well, it's just kind of plonkingly obvious that there's no good reason to go there and live. It's ugly, it's inhospitable and there's no way to make it pay. Mars is just the same, really. We just romanticize it because it's so hard to reach. On the other hand, there might really be some way to make living in the Gobi Desert pay. And if that were the case, and you really had communities making a nice cheerful go of daily life on arid, freezing, barren rock and sand, then a cultural transfer to Mars might make a certain sense. If there were a society with enough technical power to terraform Mars, they would certainly do it. On the other hand. by the time they got around to messing with Mars, they would have been using all that power to transform *themselves.* So by the time they got there and started rebuilding the Martian atmosphere wholesale, they wouldn't look or act a whole lot like Hollywood extras.
Life in the big (doctorow) Thu 8 Jan 04 08:03
Blogged that. Nice.
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 8 Jan 04 09:35
Great explanation. The bumpersticker would be "Terraform Earth First." (Of course, seems to me that some of our attempts to do that historically by moving species around have created environmental chaos.)
Coleman K. Ridge (ckridge) Thu 8 Jan 04 09:54
It would follow that a plausible story about living on even a terraformed Mars would be about people living there for the same reasons and in the same ways that people live in the harsher deserts on Earth. They would be small tribes chased off of the good land, hermits, prospectors, mystics, and bandits.
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 8 Jan 04 09:56
Except that in the deep Mojave you meet those folks and they drifted there with no money. You don't drift to Mars with no money in any kind of economy I can imagine. I suppose you could be banished there in the Austrailian prisoner settler model, but the economies are still not very plausible.
And on waking this morning I thought "Zeugma!" but it was too late. (tinymonster) Thu 8 Jan 04 09:58
Hmmm... so that leaves rich eccentrics.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 8 Jan 04 09:59
I guess it's a relief to see that Mars isn't filled with cooters planning invasion (see http://www.sfsite.com/~silverag/anderson.html). Can you give us a preview of your new novel, _The Zenith Angle_?
from FINN SMITH (tnf) Thu 8 Jan 04 10:16
Finn Smith writes: > "If there were a society with enough technical power to terraform Mars, > they would certainly do it. On the other hand. by the time they got > around to messing with Mars, they would have been using all that power to > transform *themselves.* So by the time they got there and started rebuild- > ing the Martian atmosphere wholesale, they wouldn't look or act a whole lot > like Hollywood extras." Need I point out that this is the premise of Bruce's novel Schismatrix and the associated stories? -F
Rob from off-Well writes (bumbaugh) Thu 8 Jan 04 12:10
Rob writes to say > The high tailing it out of town reference wasn't about your leaving for > Colorado. You came back at least. It was about a couple who hotfooted it > to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Bruce, is Hot Springs the next Austin? Hot Springs isn't the new Austin. Well, I don't think so anyway, and neither do my friends who have lived there recently. But if you're looking for a hotspot, the energy zone, the growth region, and the place where the wierdos accrete, try NW Arkansas. Fayetteville/Springdale/Rogers/Bentonville. We've got Wal Mart and Tyson up here (and an overall strange concentration of millionaires). Maybe we're not totally proud of them, but we know a potential patron when we see one. ;) It's a wierd mix of big business rubbing elbows with artsy earth hippies and renegade hitech redneck artists. Mmm, speaking of which, I was talking over a story with one of the renegade artists in the area last night and got invited to a non-verbal communication party. Apparently, from 10-12, anyone speaking, writing, or mouthing/miming a word will be booted. Then a brief period to blow off steam and discuss, followed by who knows how much more of the same. Bruce: There's a million little reasons why Schismatrix is a wonder to me. Holy Fire in paperback I tell ya. I've always wondered a couple of small things though: 1, How did it feel when you were writing it? Did you know it was Fire? Did you feel that it would be recieved better/worse? 2, Do you feel the same about writing now as you did then? Or has it morphed on you over the years into something new? Which of your novels did you enjoy writing the most? (not asking you to pick what's better, old/young, now/then, etc, just wondering how the craft of writing has changed you and changed FOR you over the years since Schismatrix)
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 8 Jan 04 19:56
Great explanation. The bumpersticker would be "Terraform Earth First." *In point of fact, through global warming we're busily Venusifying the Earth. On Venus, it snows vaporized lead on the mountaintops. Or so they say. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3236018.stm inkwell.vue 204: The 2004 Bruce Sterling State of the World Address #66 of 71: Coleman K. Ridge (ckridge) Thu 08 Jan 2004 (09:54 AM) It would follow that a plausible story about living on even a terraformed Mars would be about people living there for the same reasons and in the same ways that people live in the harsher deserts on Earth. They would be small tribes chased off of the good land, hermits, prospectors, mystics, and bandits. *Something like the hardy Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock, then? Half of them starved to death. I wonder if people nowadays would consider a Martian colony a real success if half of them were dead of hunger in six months. *Small tribes of mystics don't seem to be real good at planning ahead. They'd better have either Squanto. or manna from heaven. Otherwise there's hell to pay. http://www.mayflowerfamilies.com/colonial_life/pilgrims.htm Can you give us a preview of your new novel, _The Zenith Angle_? *It's about a computer security expert who goes to work for the Bush Administration after 9/11. Complications ensue. Bruce: There's a million little reasons why Schismatrix is a wonder to me. Holy Fire in paperback I tell ya. I've always wondered a couple of small things though: 1, How did it feel when you were writing it? *I felt 29 years old. Did you know it was Fire? Did you feel that it would be recieved better/worse? *I've learned not to try to outguess these things. The book was very obscure when it came out, then it got an underground reputation, and now it's considered widely influential, but, well, that's not the end of its story. Every passing epoch puts a different gloss on the past. *Lookah this thing. These guys are web-streaming amazingly bad 1960s psychedelic music, and they couldn't be more excited if they were disinterring Assyrian bas-reliefs. http://clavicenter.challenge.nl/klemtoon/eerste.html 2, Do you feel the same about writing now as you did then? *No. Or has it morphed on you over the years into something new? *There's a major arc in a writing career. You start with a burning need to speak and embarrassing verbal clumsiness, and you end with perfect technical facility and nothing left to say. Which of your novels did you enjoy writing the most? *I was in a pretty good mood when I wrote HOLY FIRE.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 9 Jan 04 05:27
Vincent Omniaveritas once wrote: "As American SF lies in a reptilian torpor, its small, squishy cousin, Fantasy, creeps gecko-like across the bookstands. Dreaming of dragon-hood, Fantasy has puffed itself up with air like a Mojave chuckwalla. SF's collapse had formed a vacuum that forces Fantasy into a painful and explosive bloat." What's the state of hard science fiction today?
Paul Terry Walhus (terry) Fri 9 Jan 04 08:32
What's wrong with our Space Program? What's right? What would you do if you were head of NASA?
Paul Terry Walhus (terry) Fri 9 Jan 04 11:02
What kinds of "complications ensue" in the Zenith Angle? Where'd you dig up that name "Zenith Angle"?
Members: Enter the conference to participate