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"
“I had heard people say that when they looked at the stars too long they grew terrified by the sensation of being drawn away” -Gene Wolf, Sword and Citadel 1: Distant Stars The narrative device at the beginning of Olaf Stapledon’s The Starmaker is refreshingly unadorned. The first-person protagonist looks up at the stars from […]Read more "Far Futures, Distant Suns"