Sci-News… Sci-Fi News… and Brin-news!

I will be in Pasadena again this Thursday for a fun event before a live audience — broadcast over NPR by KPCC FM:  NEXT: Our Inevitable Future | Science and Technology as Global Game Changers.

“Science and technology are converging to change the global game; and nowhere is that change more clear than in the words of scientist and futurist David Brin, one of our best science fiction writers, and the work of Paul Rosenbloom, a lead researcher on artificial intelligence. From Isaac Asimov to Brin’s new novel, “Existence,” science fiction has often looked at whether AI will outpace the human brain and lead us into a brave new world, or has it already? In this premiere edition of our series, “NEXT: People | Science | Tomorrow,“ Brin and Rosenbloom join host Mat Kaplan in the Crawford Family Forum to talk about our cyber future. Will humanity survive and even thrive when the Singularity arrives?”

Or else watch an interview with Terry Tazoli on Tacoma’s PBS station, in an episode of “Well Read” about books and writing and such. The YouTube version is available worldwide!

== Special Editions of novels you’ll want! ==

Have a look at the terrific new covers that Orbit is giving nine of my books… including EARTH and THE POSTMAN…plus two new omnibus volumes.  The collection UPLIFT will combine within one cover the entire original trilogy consistingof SUNDIVER, STARTIDE RISING and THE UPLIFT WAR …

…while the new omnibus entitled EXILES will gather into a single volume BRIGHTNESS REEF, INFINITY’S SHORE and HEAVEN’S REACH, constituting what they always were… one terrific (though large) freestanding novel. filled with ideas and adventure.

All these re-issues (have a look at the cool covers) will accompany the imminent release of Orbit’s new printing of EXISTENCE.

Like your version of a novel on audio?  The new edition of Existence by Audible uses three narrators to excellent effect, making this complex and tightly interleaved tale come alive with real drama.  Let me know what (some of you) think of it!

== Other News — and Interviews ==

On Haystack Broadcasting’s show Cover to Cover: Book Beat, Rodger Nichols speaks with Author David Brin about his new book, Existence.  See also the podcast of my interview with GeekWired on WIRED Online: Why David Brin Hates Yoda, and Loves Radical Transparency. (This is the one where I infamously challenge Yoda-lovers to name ONE time when the horrid little toad ever was helpful to anyone or did or said one thing that was un-ambiguously “wise.”)

Then there’s a separate, more sober interview with Frank Catalano for Geekwire.  Here’s a tantalyzing excerpt. “It may surprise you that I, the Hard-SF Guy, believe there’s magic. But let’s define it as the use of incantations to create vivid subjective realities in other people’s heads. That’s what most magic has always been. The shaman might not really be able to make it rain. But if his shtick was good, he would get fed! By that light, we authors, especially in science fiction, are the greatest and most consistent magicians. We concoct long incantations — chains of spaces and black squiggles (a million of them in Existence) — and skilled recipients of the spell (well-educated readers) proceed to scan those squiggles with their eyes, decrypting them swiftly into clever dialogue, deep emotions and insight, or star-spanning explosions. This partnership of spell-weaver and incantation-user is stunning, and remains far more effective for the full-rich texture of invented worlds than any competing medium.” 

A stunning artwork by Manny Lorenzo based on my Earthclan omnibus of the Uplift Series — both striking and inspiring. Have a look at the original. 

== Heart of the Comet … and Glory Season ==

You’ve heard that Gregory Benford and I updated and re-released Heart of the Comet — named one of the great Hard SF novels of the 1980s. But have you seen the remarkably beautiful  preview -trailer?

And while we’re at it… take a look at the preview-trailer for Glory Season!

Here’s your chance for a virtual visit to the world’s largest, publicly-accessible science fiction and fantasy collection, the Eaton Collection at UC Riverside. The new YouTube series “It Came from Riverside,”  explores some of the treasures inside this virtual temple of science fiction, and explores the growing acceptance of SF as a field of academic study. Well… it gets you started down that road.  Consider seeing the collection in person as part of the Eaton Conference on SF at literature, April 11-14 2013 at UC Riverside.

=== More Science and Fiction Connections! ===

Universal Kilns, anyone? Imagine a futuristic simulation system that can morph nearly any object imagined into another object with different size, shape, color and function.  The building units that make this amazing system possible include tiny micro robots called claytronic atoms, or ‘catoms’, which interact with each other. They behave like atoms in the sense that they become the basic building blocks of the objects they are programmed to form.

Okay… this sounded familiar… and not just because of the “claytronics” in my novel Kiln People.  Between the lines I realized… then saw in the article… that this is a new term for “programmable matter”… the innovation of my friend and engineer-Scifi author Wil McCarthy.  Ah but the overlaps get better.

“However, the biggest advantage in claytronics may lie in communications. People on both ends of a phone call could be copied; and these copies would mimic the exact looks and movements of the person being replicated. At each end of the line, a real person is interacting with a replica. Think Skype; but instead of viewing each other on a screen, you can touch, kiss, or hug, as if you are physically together. When can we expect these futuristic systems to begin enriching our lives?

Wil McCarthy believes that with Moore’s Law accelerating progress, these claytronic wonders could be intriguing us by decade’s end.”  Hmph and they call ME a sci fi writer?  😉

=== Personhood Rights for Animals? ===

As an author who has portrayed (very positively) the descendants of animals joining our civilization as equal citizens, you might expect me to be fully behind the nascent Animal Rights Movement.  But life is filled with ironies and complications and – as I portray in Existence, the path to full citizenship for neo-dolphins and neo-chimps and others may not pass through the Nonhuman Rights Project elucidated in a recent legal argument by Steven M. Wise. Indeed, while I agree with many of the things that he says, I find his overall plan to be rather shortsighted and too focused on the near term.  An example of how the left can take our worthy modern inclusionary trends and push them too simplistically, too fetishistically. (While the right considers inclusionary progress to be suspect or delusional; both extremes are foolish.)

People who believe they are taking a larger perspective and Big Picture sometimes fool themselves.  All too often… they aren’t.

== And finally…

Yes, I’ve been talking about sci fi a fair amount.  Maybe to recharge my batteries for a month or two in which that dread term … politics… will feature more prominently here, for a while.  Sigh and alack!  But it’s important.

As demonstrated by the recent Mars landing, America still matters.  It will be better for the world and all its people if we can put an end to the insane Third Phase of the American Civil War.  And it won’t be decided by normal politics, folks.  Not by the usual squeaker-slim majority.

It will have to be a rout.

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