Friday 30 December 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:46 Caves of Steel

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fYSH7K

Life is cheap on Earth. Overpopulation and fear of attack have forced the population down into subterranean megacities. Elijah Baile and R. Daneel Olivaw (R for Robot) are dispatched to solve the murder of a 'Spacer', a person not from Earth, but one the pampered, Elite, K-Selected humans who moved beyond the Solar System with their legions of Robot man servants. Like Monty Python's British officers, Spacers shouldn't die. It is simply politically unacceptable.
Continuing the run of Asimov, this is another of his Science Fiction classics, ostensibly a story of robots and spaceships, but with a payload of prejudice and privilege tucked inside.  


Thursday 22 December 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:47 The Naked Sun

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2gZ5pEC

Social commentary masquerading as a Sci-Fi detective story. A planet of people avoiding human contact can only interact with each other via screens and their robots - uncanny and this was first published in 1956

Note: I realise now that the cover looks like a giant porn-star-bot having sex with a spaceship. I had this on my bookshelf for years as a child and it never occurred to me... 


Sunday 11 December 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:48 The Robots of Dawn

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2gYlBGa

Spoiled by reliance on robots, lacking a spirit of adventure the human colonisation of the galaxy has ground to a halt. I tend to think the Fermi Paradox is all about apathy in the end, this book might have been the seed that planted the idea.

Asimov begins tying his worlds together here with the first mention of psychohistory...


Sunday 4 December 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:49 Robots and Empire

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fW12ch

Another Asimov classic. This one ties the Robots series and the Empire series together. One of my favourites. Daneel and Giskard wrestling with the laws of Robotics, basically the ethics of AI. 
Lots of philosophy, but not too heavy, and plenty of Space Opera to liven things up. 


Saturday 3 December 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:50 The Stars Like Dust

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fWakF9

Space Opera Thriller Mystery. An innocent and nieve fairy tale set amongst the stars. Chronologically this is one of the Empire books, it takes place early on, before Trantor, the fall and the Foundation...

Another blast from the past, but good stuff. Enjoy!


Brain Interfaces - Fiction becoming fact.

A brain implant which restores vision by stimulating the cortex directly, entirely bypassing lens, retina and optic nerve!


This is basically the tech used by Spex in my Singularity's Children books.


Friday 28 October 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:51 The Fountains of Paradise

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2dNTadc

An elevator to space - a crazy idea at the time, made so plausible and obvious that today we assume it's only a matter of time. Clark carving the possible with imagination. Direct and straightforward prose. Probably the last of his best. 


Tuesday 25 October 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:52 Footfall

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2e64X9V

The reality of interstellar warfare is that the attackers inevitably have the high ground.  
Here, our cute and somewhat bumbling alien invaders, take a very can-do attitude to aggressive population reduction...

Underrated classic Science Fiction


Monday 24 October 2016

Remove inhibitions with magnetic stimulation of the brain

This is a crude and clumsy way of influencing thinking, but it is pretty clear that sending signals directly into (and out of) the brain will be the ultimate user interface paradigm.

I try to keep up with this type of non invasive brain interface for my SciFi and it's amazing how quickly this technology is moving forward!


Friday 21 October 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:53 Battlefield Earth

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cyTLRe

OK, the guy was a bit of a mountebank and the book might be verging on the childish and superficial -- not really selling this am I -- but it's another good old fashioned Sci-Fi action adventure.

Clearly from a simpler time when it was OK for authors to sail around with their private navies -- who just happened to personed exclusively by female seapersons.


Friday 14 October 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:54 World of Tiers

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ct7lan

This is Wilbur Smith in space; but another guilty teenage pleasure of mine.
A ripping yarn of space adventure; oiled bodies and quaintly antiquated gender stereotypes.


Friday 7 October 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:55 The integral Trees

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2dpg8Ku

The Smoke Ring is a free-fall environment. A Jupiter-sized planet which once orbited the systems neutron star, ripped apart by hideous gravities, now exists as a hoop of habitable gas.  

Tribes of humans, separated from technology have gone native. 

What a backstory!


Thursday 6 October 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:56 The Smoke Ring

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2dmW4pz

An infinite universe will be full of surprises. The Smoke Ring is such a wonder. Like the Ring World, it's another solar system scale torus, but even further from familiar terra firma - there is no ground in this free fall ring of gas.

It's also a great story with believable characters doing what humans do best, against all the odds.


Sunday 25 September 2016

Forget Software—Hackers Are Exploiting Physics

Dumb humans are discovering these exquisite exploits in the machines we have made.
I wonder how long it will take for our machines to find the exploits in their makers...


The Wikipedia has more:

(And by the way, Row Hammer would be an awesome name for a rock band!!)


Friday 23 September 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:57 Atlas Shrugged

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cCwqOE 

Calling this Science Fiction is perhaps provocative. However, there is ample fictional science -- which should be enough. More significant is its expression of the genre's philosophical inclinations in the examination of Mankind and her societies -- and this is where the book gets interesting...


Tiny Killer Drones

This is somewhat chilling:

Thank goodness for shitty batteries!

(image: HamzaLippisch)


Tuesday 13 September 2016

So Long and Thanks for All The Fish

Dolphins talk to each other in complete sentences.


One of the key 'Science Fiction' themes in my Singularity's Children series, is that animals are much smarter than we generally assume. 

Teach a parrot to talk and it has surprisingly clever things to say. 

It seems unfair that an animal has to first learn our language before sitting its IQ test.
I am convinced that animals will sound smarter in their own languages, just as my kids tell me I come across as a dimwit when I speak in German.


Friday 2 September 2016

Culture Glanding a'la Iain M Banks

This is an incredible combination of technologies and techniques.
Conscious control of adrenaline, MDMA or Ritalin make for some very SciFi scenarios.



Wednesday 31 August 2016

Dogs Understand Tone And Meaning Of Words

Dogs understand not just the tone, but also the meaning of words.

"Dogs process both what we say and how we say it in a way which is amazingly similar to how human brains do."

This is a key theme in the Singularity's Children series - forget aliens for the time being (its OK, calm down, they are coming!) we are already not alone - animals are much smarter than we give them credit for.





Sunday 28 August 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:58 Ring World

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2b7KsK3

BIG scale, Space Opera.
A quest to a remote artefact, full of mystery. The Ringworld - millions of times the surface area of Earth, built and abandoned in antiquity by strange godlike beings... 


Thursday 25 August 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:59 Mote in Gods Eye

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bEbl43

Real unabashed, deep space, Science Fiction with Spaceships and Aliens.
A very believable detailed alien world. 
Underrated in my opinion. Great stuff.


Sunday 21 August 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:60 Neuromancer

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bEa6Sg

Pioneering prophecy. Cyber Punk's Inception.
Slightly dated now, but only because it has been riffed off and copied by everything since.


Friday 12 August 2016

Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness

Key scientists, including Stephen Hawking, agree that consciousness is not reserved exclusively for humans.

(This was in 2012, so I am clearly very late to the party with this one but I wanted to blog it down on paper as it is such a key theme in Singularity's Children)



Friday 5 August 2016

The Mesh

The 'Mesh', a sort of utopian, grass-roots, P2P, Internet Version 2.0, is one of key technologies in my new book. This looks like the first step.



Thursday 28 July 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:61 2001

Amazon: http://amzn.to/24C4B9Z

Hard Science Fiction meets Deep Space Mysticism.
Ancient Aliens. Uplift. The numinous and unknowable end of the Sky Road.


Saturday 23 July 2016

Ontology of Ethics

This one is not a light read (listen) but worth it.


Thursday 21 July 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:62 The Songs of Distant Earth

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1WG4hYA

Wistful utopia must accommodate living hordes of desperate, grimey refugees... familiar?


Friday 15 July 2016

Glam - Sea Steading


SABRE - Space Plane Engine - Funded

SABRE engine funded! I can't quite believe this will ever work, but I so hope it does.
Dropping metal tubes like an incontinent mechanoid is so clumsy.
Single Stage to Orbit is the stylish way to travel.



Thursday 14 July 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:63 Rendezvous with Rama

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Ybf3oR

Hard Science Fiction.
Realistic, plausible and gripping.
Classic Clarke. 


Thursday 7 July 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:64 Starship Troopers

Amazon: http://amzn.to/22U5lrM

Don't discount this book as pure chaotic, battle-suit, mayhem -- although those bits are awesome.

It is also wise:
"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than any other factor, and contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst."


Wednesday 6 July 2016

An army of powerful psychopaths

"Assholes: A Theory. Formally stated, “The asshole (1) allows himself to enjoy special advantages and does so systematically; (2) does this out of an entrenched sense of entitlement; and (3) is immunized by his sense of entitlement against the complaints of other people."

"Offices and corporate environments are crazy-making. The air is weird. You’re working within a structure that has no moral compass and can only measure things like money, and not things like proportion of staff who can still feel happiness or percentage wanting to kill yourself in a staff meeting. There’s that girl who’s on a diet but insists on bringing everyone cupcakes and watching them eat the cupcakes no really I insist ha ha ha ha ha. There’s the guy who runs in to work and leaves his sweaty bike shorts under his desk where their moist funk exudes a mist that occludes his office windows. Everyone’s mad" 

The environment is disturbingly familiar...

"According to psychologist Robert Hare, about one in 100 members of the general population meet the criteria for psychopathy. A lot of those are working in corporate firms."

...and the conclusions ring worryingly true.

"But if you are a socio/psychopath, you’re in luck! The numbers don’t lie! You’re more likely to do well in a corporate environment! Which is the kind of doing well that sociopaths LOVE THE MOST! Being a sociopath or a psychopath is not quite as good a roll of the dice in terms of statistical likelihood of corporate success as being born white in an upper middle-class family, but it’s a decent boost. And remember you can be both!"




Saturday 2 July 2016

Culture and language in whales


The End of the Nation State. Brexit could be the harbinger of a post-national world.

"... there is a growing feeling among economists, political scientists and even national governments that the nation-state is not necessarily the best scale on which to run our affairs. We must manage vital matters like food supply and climate on a global scale, yet national agendas repeatedly trump the global good. At a smaller scale, city and regional administrations often seem to serve people better than national governments."

I live in Switzerland. Here there is a smooth transition from local to national governance. The research seems to support the idea that a fractal, hierarchical, system allows people close to the issues to make the best choices.

"...Switzerland’s 26 cantons, for example, which have different languages and religions, meet Bar-Yam’s spatial stability test – except one. A French-speaking enclave in German-speaking Berne experienced the only major unrest in recent Swiss history. It was resolved by making it a separate canton, Jura, which meets the criteria."

"... in any hierarchy, the person at the top has to be able to get their head around the whole system. When systems are too complex for one human mind to grasp... they must evolve from hierarchies into networks where no one person is in charge."
Unwieldy central government, restrictive and bureaucratic, is old hat. Technology must deliver agile, Peer 2 Peer, network alternatives.


Thursday 30 June 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:65 The Puppet Masters

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1U8zFeV

Our world crawling with nasty little alien parasites. 
These are the Futurama Brain Slugs... but less cuddly.


Thursday 23 June 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:66 Childhoods End

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1rehque

Independence Day minus the Emmerich cheese.
Thought provoking, awe inspiring classic SciFi. 


Friday 17 June 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:67 To Sail Beyond the Sunset

Amazon: http://amzn.to/24qwLow

Continuing this run of Heinlein.  In this one we feel the full force of Heinlein's orthogonal views. Lots of sex and taboo breaking. More than a little uncomfortable at times. 
Vulnerable to interpretation as the ramblings of a dirty old man.

Question: 'Does author mean that today's amoral is future's normal?'
Answer: Yes.


Monday 13 June 2016

Absolutely FABulous - Teething Troubles for the Fully Autonomous Business

The FAB (Fully Autonomous Business), or DAC (Distributed Autonomous Corporation), is the self organising cloud platform of the future.

Based on Block Chain technology the FAB will implement a set of algorithms. Running, the algorithms will provide a service which creates value. The FAB uses this value to compensate those that provide its compute and network infrastructure.

As customers leverage its services it will grow.

It will incentivise the market to expand its infrastructure; concretely this will be people downloading and running its client.

It will scale and expand while demand grows.

A service like AirBnB is a good candidate for FABification. The company owns non of the objects it manages (properties), it only owns (or leases) the data centres it runs on. Re-implemented as a FAB the crowd, rather than the cloud, could provide the infrastructure.

It will be a huge challenge to build this right, but also another opportunity to build back in some of the fairness and friendliness, of the early internet; before it got all filled up with SpamBots and Shills.

Teething Troubles:

Gartner calls them Autonomous Business, and has a good article too:

Image: PAVEL KOLOMEYETS -  https://www.artstation.com/artwork/Ql08


Sunday 12 June 2016

AI Authors and Poets = Computational Propaganda

This is one of the key plot devices for my book.
AI driven Computational Propaganda creating tailored content.
Once the AIs start writing our media, its only a matter of time before the Spin Doctors warp the torrent to their whims.



Friday 10 June 2016

My #top100 #scifi Num:68 The Number of the Beast

Amazon: http://amzn.to/25H6V5z

Magic and technology get mashed up, linking many of his worlds in one improbable multiverse. 
I like it. 
I haven't read this book for a few decades, so excuse me if you find it little more than indulgent teenage fun. 

This quote pretty much sums it up:
'a transdimensional gizmo that means all his characters can meet up with each other and characters from other books, and, as often as not, end up having sex' 


Thursday 9 June 2016

Substrate for Blood Music - Advanced Computation within Cells

"...a team of researchers at MIT has developed a technique to integrate both analogue and digital computation in living cells, allowing them to form gene circuits capable of carrying out complex processing operations."

We tend to make a distinction between wet organic brains and dry silicon brains. People readily accept that psychological states can exist in animals with their sloppy wet-ware, but not in huge humming data centres running simulations of the same neural circuits.

By running algorithms on different substrates, e.g. neural, silicon or on the protein machinery within cells, we will blur the distinction between organic and artificial.

It is very Blood Music. With the correct programming blooms of bacteria may be coaxed to self organize into distributed swarm intelligences... 



Sunday 5 June 2016

Denial (Singularity's Children Part 1)

Part 1 of Singularity's Children.
available for pre-order and scheduled for publication: July 28, 2016
Available at Amazon.

An oblique but familiar future. Biotech and neural interfaces have given voice to locked-in intelligences, mosquitos are subsidised and the internet is dying. It is a world desiccated by soulless algorithms, pacified beneath the battle-suit's boot and numbed by the bewitching voice of computational propaganda. 

Struggling for dignity and against irrelevance, rebellious minds must seek meaning beyond the cultural desert:

Stella Sagong struggles with poverty and exploitation, while living above a brothel on a huge floating tuna farm.

Niato Musiani, rejecting privilege allows himself to be recruited into a life of eco-insurgency.

Keith Wilson attempts to cling onto his archaic sense of ethics while grinding against suffocation by corporate morality.