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Not dead, just working

Galley proofs on HALTING STATE to process, while continuing to write SATURN'S CHILDREN. Nothing to see here, move along ...

(I'll be back when I have something to say and time to say it, in other words.)

38 Comments

1:

SATURN'S CHILDREN sounds good. how feasible is colonizing the upper atmosphere of saturn anyways?

2:

Finished Accelerando, reading Iron Sky. Good reads. ta, mate

3:

Ian, SATURN'S CHILDREN is nothing to do with the planet. Think Greek mythology ...

4:

thanks for a hint to the plot. wikipedia is my friend

5:

Won't that get confused with Niven, and Barnes?

6:

Adrian: question-mark?

7:

So, rumor has it SATURN'S CHILDREN is a Lazarus-Long/Juan-Rico/Mannie-Davis slash-fic that has taken on a life of its own and which you are frantically trying to drag beyond litigation range of the Heinlein estate. Can you confirm or deny?

8:

"How feasible is colonizing the upper atmosphere of saturn anyways"

Plenty of wiggle room for Science Fiction in recent data.

Unexpected cooling effect in Saturn's upper atmosphere

"... UK researchers from University College London, along with colleagues from Boston University, have found that the hotter than expected temperature of Saturn's upper atmosphere – and that of the other giant planets – is not due to the same mechanism that heats the atmosphere around the Earth's Northern Lights. Reporting in Nature (25th January [2007]) the researchers findings thus rule out a long held theory.
A simple calculation to give the expected temperature of a planet's upper atmosphere balances the amount of sunlight absorbed by the energy lost to the lower atmosphere. But the calculated values don't tally with the actual observations of the Gas Giants: they are consistently much hotter.... We need to re-examine our basic assumptions about planetary atmospheres..."

9:

Adrian: question-mark?

Charlie, I think he's thinking of "Saturn's Race" by Niven and Barnes. http://www.amazon.com/Saturns-Race-Larry-Niven/dp/0812580109

10:

it seems that saturn has a magnetosphere. so i guess you could set up a colony in the upper atmosphere without getting space cancer from cosmic radiation.

11:

Is Saturn's Children the next/final volume in the Singularity Sky/Iron Sunrise/Eschaton universe, or something completely different?

12:

David S: (rolls eyes). How many times do I have to say I'm not going back to the Eschaton universe ...? Yes, it's an entirely different stand-alone novel. With no singularity. And no FTL. And no (or very limited, depending on your definition) AI. And no aliens.

... In fact, you could call it my attempt to square the circle and write a Mundane SF space opera with Heinleinian overtones.

13:

If I had a dollar for every SF writer who's said they're "done" with a particular universe/series only to have a change of heart years, often decades, later... :-)

Anyway, "a Mundane SF space opera with Heinleinian overtones" sounds like fun.

14:

Well, the change of heart may often have more to do with a change of bank balance ...

But if you see me go back to that series it'll be more likely to be because I'm running short on ideas for other stuff. (I'm fairly sure nobody's going to offer me an advance that's a multiple of my normal rate for a novel, just to do a sequel to an old series.)

15:

If you're never going to write another sequel, can you at least tell us why the Eschaton lost contact with its future self, and what the implications are?

- a concerned UN citizen.

16:

Yeah, Iron Sunrise seemed to end with a bit of a cliff hanger...

17:

Nick: the back story to the universe of SS/IS involves: (a) a universe where FTL travel (causality violation; also time travel) is possible. (b) A Vingean hard-take-off singularity mediated by computing using time travel (hint: the algorithmic implications are significant), (c) Because FTL is permitted but causality is maintained, a maintenance mechanism is required; in this case, I opted for the very-strong anthropic principle (i.e. a strongly superhuman AI with a vested interest in maintaining the structure of its own historic light cone): see also Larry Niven, "Rotating Cylinders and the Possibility of Global Causality Violation", for an illustration of what this type of universe would be like without the Eschaton's meddling -- in a nutshell, a universe which permits causality violation is only stable when its timeline is in a configuration such that no causality violation device is ever switched on with consequences involving temporal paradoxes). Finally, (d) there are no aliens within the [easily observed] light cone -- doesn't mean there are none, merely that I'm taking the Fermi Paradox for granted.

What's actually happening is a crosstime duel between competing time-travel mediated transcendent intelligences. The only reason humanity is still around is as an insurance policy; the E wants us for a dispersed backup that will automatically re-create a hard take-off singularity in due course if it's ever wiped out (and no, it hasn't left that to chance -- the signs of tampering are present in our deep extended phenotype, and the memory caches are lurking out there, in the chilly depths, for Eschaton 2.0 to discover if it's ever needed).

When the E loses contact with its future self, that is a very bad sign for the future (and past) of the human species as a whole. As is the appearance of the ReMastered, with their Unborn God, who the E can't seem to see ...

(I had this all mapped out, then in a fit of sanity I decided to write something less contrived and slightly more happy-fun-optimistic. Because, taken to its logical conclusion, if I wrote book #3 I'd need to dump Rachel and Martin into a Peter Watts novel ...)

18:

It's going to be interesting to see how you reconcile Mundanity with space opera. After all, in a coherently mundane future, are we going to be in space enough for space opera?

19:

Alex: I'm permitting myself one bit of near-handwavium-grade tech: the conceit that if you build a computing device modeled slavishly on the structure of the human brain, right down to the synaptic level, and stick it in a robot body equipped with approximately human sensory inputs and effectors, you get something that's roughly equivalent to a human consciousness walking around and stubbing its toes on on reality.

Of course, it goes through about 18 years of crying and sucking its thumb (or equivalent behaviour) as you teach it to talk and do useful things, but who said that robots would be cheap and easy to build? (And once you've got that monstrous neural network trained you can copy it into identical hardware and sell them as clones of the original template -- but thereafter, swapping upgrade patches is going to be a bit of a headache.)

(In other words: no singularity, no vastly superhuman AI, just robots running a half-assed copy of Human 1.0.)

You may question why that was a necessary precondition to writing plausible space opera. My answer is simple: anyone who thinks human beings are suited to space travel has a really odd idea of the human condition: best to clear the table and start again with protagonists who don't die if you expose them to a little vacuum for a couple of minutes.

Everything else follows on from that simple premise, with a certain demented logic of its own ...

20:

Coool, and genuinely deserving of the extra "o".

Upshot - robots with interesting cognitive biases, social conflicts, opinions..robosex? Robofreud? Are you going to have someone trying to decide whether to debug or psychoanalyse the robot?

21:

Alex, I'm ahead of you. (If you want to know more, drop me an email.)

22:

Charlie,
I'd have sworn I saw you were working on a third Eschaton book somewhere. Guess I was wrong. However, thank you for the high level outline there. It makes me think that the ReMastered are quite a bit more than super-advanced Draka/Nazis. The Unborn God though is a big looming, evil question mark to put it mildly. A moment of doubt by the Big E? Or a corrupted memory cache?
Trey

23:

IIRC there was an (incorrect) listing for 'Eschaton 3' at Amazon a while back.

Perhaps in a different universe...

24:

Yeah, I thought there was a third Eschaton novel. Is this a case of the author having writ and moved on, while the slow machinations of the publishing industry add their time-lag to the process?

25:

Uh, jet-lagged, let me try that again: Charlie's written the third book -- and won't be writing any more -- but it's just not published yet? I seem to recall it takes about a year to get from finished manuscript to book. Obviously, editing and proof-reading don't count as actual writing.

26:

Charlie, I looked up Peter Watts, and your description of _Blindsight_. Fortunately, I wasn't drinking anything at the time.

27:

NelC: no, I haven't written a third book in that series. I was considering doing so until a year or two ago, but no longer.

28:

C.S. It sounds like in post #17 that the big E is like Leto in Herbert's God Emperor. He can not see those with the Siona gene, and they are the future. I do hope that after a while you re-visit that place because you use those characters so well. And as I see it, you are in no danger (yet) of beating that Universe to death. I can only imagine what it would be like to have fans of my writing telling me how much they want another story becasue they love the characters and the setting. If you don't write it, can I? I'm thinking that a war with this new God and the E is required. Not just a war, but a war that can result in the absolute destruction of this universe! Don't worry, it'll have a happy ending. Kind of.

(just kidding about using your work as if it were open source code. Unless you want to start posting fan fic on your site.)

Jeff

29:

The field is wide open for Eschaton fan-fic!

30:

So can I do ReMastered/New Republic slash even though they're a non-canon pairing?

31:

Ask the Master. Personally, if someone wanted to take my Universe and use it to write their own fan fic I'd like them to at least give me and my original story credit. "Based on a story by..." and if they sold it to a real publisher (that pays real money, not Tricky Dick fun bucks) I would want my cut. 25% seems fair.

Jeff

32:

You can write anything you want ... but if you want to reuse my universes or characters to make works of fanfic, I'd ask that you (a) put in a disclaimer to make it clear that it's your work of fiction, not mine, and I haven't heard of it, read it, or otherwise endorsed it; and (b) you must not attempt to use my settings or characters to make money or for any commercial purpose whatsoever without my written permission.

(The reason for rule (b) is not that I'm not fanfic-phobic, but because I can't afford to give blanket prior permission for commercial derivatives of my work; if I did, I'd effectively be kissing goodbye to any hope of selling the movie or TV or gaming rights to my work.)

Exception: if I ever release anything under a Creative Commons license that permits commercial reuse, then of course clause (b) doesn't apply any more. But I haven't done it yet, and it may be a long time before I ever do.

33:

Shame, I was looking forward to Rachel & Martin running into space-pirates!

-- Andrew

34:

SATURN'S CHILDREN? Oh, that title will have to change at some point to avoid confusion. Or maybe not.

35:

C.S.,
I'm not actually interested in fanfic, except in theory perhaps (I could write a Dune story I think). But would you make room on your site for fanfic? It would take space to do so, and you might want to avoid reading it, but it might be an interesting experiment in helping the idea of post-singularity humanity thrive. I guess you could see yourself as a meme generator and your memes are out there and want to grow, like some sort of Von Neuman virus. I'd be interested in what sort of thematic issues would pop up.

Jeff

36:

Oh, damn. Eschaton 2 leaves such a loose end flapping I thought the third book was inevitable. I mean, the villains are still loose in the universe. It's like wrapping up the Lensman series after Galactic Patrol without finishing off Gharlane of Eddore. While leaving Boskone intact, even.

37:

Re: #36,

Indeed, the potential for more stories in the Eschation Universe seems ripe. Super-vilans are fun, but the "grand" philosophical issues of AI and our relationship to it seems like a good sub-plot, albeit with the action-adventure as the main line.

Jeff

38:

Anonymous Gadfly: I'd be quite interested in seeing what happens when Dominic Hobson's audience pick up my book of that name. Should be quite amusing ...!

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on May 25, 2007 7:30 PM.

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