Lest anyone is worried that I’m slacking off, the reason for the (comparative) silence is that I’ve been toiling on three almost simultaneous articles.
— An expanded version of You Only Find What You’re Looking For appeared in Science in My Fiction. Opening paragraph:
“Extraterrestrial life is a staple of SF and the focus of astrobiology and SETI. Yet whereas SF has populated countless worlds with varying success, from Tiptree’s haunting Flenni (Your Haploid Heart) to Lucas’ annoying Ewoks, real ETs remain stubbornly elusive: nobody has received a transmission demanding more Chuck Berry, and the planetary probe data are maddeningly inconclusive. Equally controversial are the shadowy forms on Martian asteroid ALH84001, though the pendulum has swung toward wary favoring of the biological possibility after scientists discovered nanobacteria on earth and water on Mars.”
— I was invited to be part of a Mind Meld at SF Signal. The question was “What are some of the coolest robots in science fiction? Why?” I won’t put excerpts of this here, to avoid spoilers! Here’s a hint, though: my answer partly aligns with what I said in The Souls in Our Machines.
— My article Miranda Wrongs: Reading too Much into the Genome, which discusses naive views of genetic engineering, appeared on H+ Magazine. Opening paragraph:
“When the sequence of the human genome was declared essentially complete in 2003, all biologists (except perhaps Craig Venter) heaved a sigh of gladness that the data were all on one website, publicly available, well-annotated and carefully cross-linked. Some may have hoisted a glass of champagne. Then they went back to their benches. They knew, if nobody else did, that the work was just beginning. Having the sequence was the equivalent of sounding out the text of an alphabet whose meaning was still undeciphered. For the linguistically inclined, think of Etruscan.”
Revel in the bounty while it lasts! May will be grant-writing time again. After that, I’ll concentrate on fewer, larger writing chunks. In particular, my stories are banging urgently within my head.
Images: top, T’uupieh of Titan, assassin, singer (Joan Vinge, Eyes of Amber); bottom, cartoon by Polyp.