There’s a bird I hear in the mornings that I think of as a wind-down bird, because it sounds like a mechanical wind-up toy at the end of its stored-up torque, the sound getting lower as its slows to a stop. Two notes, maybe a musical third apart, sliding from low to high, that pairing […]Read more "For Real, Though"
For that one descending eye-lash curve of bridge where the Beaverton-Hillsdale drops down onto Barbur, you can get some serious speed on a bike, coasting down into that first view of Portland, the lane leaning left, but your mind can keep going out over the river, into the sunrise. You have all of this momentum, […]Read more "Shamanic Moon and Spoken Coasts"
Let me give away the punchline to a joke from The Hydrogen Sonata (2012), by Ian M. Banks: The Mistake Not…, a culture ship, embattled with a rogue Gzilt colonel hours before the entire civilization “sublimes” into a multi-dimensional (ineffable, but verifiable) beyond, taps for an instant the potentialities of hyperspace in order to teleport […]Read more "Sun Gate Serials: Yes, And…"
AGENTS OF INSTINCT The Defiant Agents, by Andre Norton (pen name of Alice Mary Norton), is in the public domain. You can download the text version here or the audiobook from this librivox page. In Norton’s novel, written in the 60s, the Russians and Americans are in a war to colonize planets, after Earth was […]Read more "Mongol Empires, Mongrel Swarms [2 of 3]"
The Mongoliad, a trilogy set when the heirs of Genghis Khan are marching down the steppes to Europe, was written by a group of authors. One of them was Neal Stephenson. I heard him mention the project at a book signing in Iowa City: he wanted to write better fight scenes than had been featured […]Read more "Mongol Empires and Mongrel Swarms [1 of 3]"
I nonetheless liked the idea of visible electronics, and I remember dreaming of a world where everything was built to be radically transparent, where you could see through the cosmetic and superficial, all technology giving up its secrets, spilling its source code—cars, washing machines, computers, governments…Read more "closed phones, open philosophy"
In late February I was on the back of a motorbike in the Dominican Republic, at three or so in the morning. A different part of the road, days before, had been washed out by a mudslide. It was an island of motorcycles, the gas for which would be sold at the side of the […]Read more "Shibumi/Uyuni"
Here is my rule, when balancing rocks: once you pick up a stone, try to use it. Otherwise you will waste your time looking for the perfect piedra, rather than understanding the weight and shape of those you hold. A decade ago, mas o menos, my brother and I crested the back of some (I’m […]Read more "Ollantay, Balancia"
In William Gibson’s newest novel, The Peripheral (2014), wealthy elites from a distant future are able to contact their past via a quantum server. By doing so, they transform the contacted reality into a “stub”: a dimension whose future is no longer convergent with their own. The inhabitants of this now diverted time-line can then […]Read more "The Peripheral Also Rises"
“There is only one God! He is omnipotent. But he only exists on Wednesdays.” That is one of the examples Pascal Boyer gives in Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought (2001) for a presumably unmemorable or unsuccessful religious idea (72). Another is “the gods are watching us and they notice everything we do! […]Read more "Religion Explained Explained"