Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This. Is. The. Real. Peter. Watts. Speaking. This. Is. Not. An. Android. Imposter. No. Way.

Okay, the comments were touching enough, but I'm starting to get emails now. Even a phone message. Time to put these ugly rumours to rest.

First of all, I didn't know you cared. I am touched.

Second of all, I am still alive and reasonably healthy. There have just been a number of deadlines keeping me busy lately, the most imminent now of which is this damn story I promised Solaris I'd have ready by Aug 6. It is not going well. The words are coming readily enough, and the prose is even pretty smooth considering my writing muscles have been rusting out for the better part of two years now — but it's currently lying around in pieces all over the floor, and it's bloated and ugly and all character-driven, and while the sf elements seemed shiny enough for a 1000-word short-short (this was originally intended for Nature), the current 7,000-word version reads like a half-assed porridge of Total Recall and Glasshouse and Neuropath and a third-season episode of Red Dwarf without Arnold J. Rimmer or Arnold Schwarzenneger. I have five days to add the final bits, stitch it all together, and hammer it into shape. So bottom line, if you're hoping for another posting from me this week, dream on.

I have been able to squeeze a couple of other things in around the margins, though. Got interviewed for two hours by TVO (kind of a provincial PBS, for those of you stateside) on the subject of Ray Bradbury in general and Fahrenheit 451 (both movie and book) in particular. (Speaking of which, has anyone else out there heard Bradbury admit that he just made up 451 as the temperature at which paper burns, after the guys at the local Fire Hall weren't able to tell him?). I've just signed a contract for a Polish edition of Blindsight, and have contacts for Spanish and Russian editions sitting on my desk as well. (Counting everything from "done deals" to "enthusiastic butt-sniffings", we're talking somewhere around a half-dozen languages so far).

Oh, and there's this: I'm going to be participating in a live online chat with Charlie Stross and Vernor Vinge on August 13th, hosted by XFire (which, I'm led to understand, is MTV's online gaming subdivision). They're going to be giving away multiple signed copies of our Hugo-nominated novels during the chat, and I'm pleased to note that not only are more copies of my book going to be given away (15) than of Charlie's (12) or Prof. Vinge's (10), but judging by the author photos, I also have more hair.

Oh, and I saw "Sunshine", which I'd really been looking forward to since I hold "Shallow Grave" and "Trainspotting" in high esteem. My God, what a silly, vacuous, inconsistent, scientifically absurd, and derivative movie. I am honestly mystified at the number of good reviews it has received. The Internet itself is not big enough to hold a complete list of the narrative inconsistencies. Suffice to say that when you're shown a ship containing twice the airspace of the Skydome, any claim that four people are in imminent danger of asphyxiation is bound to be met with some skepticism. And when one of the crew discovers that a homicidal, batshit-crazy Freddy Krueger knock-off has stowed away in the Observation lounge, and doesn't inform anyone else on board before rushing to confront himand who, when finding himself blinded by bright sunlight in said lounge, chooses to remain blinded during Freddy's minutes-long crazy-man rant about Sun Gods and Human Sacrifice instead of oh, I don't know, telling the ship's AI to dial down the brightness like every other crew member has done onscreen up to this point, just so he can see clearly when Freddy stops ranting and comes at him with a knife — well, let's just say that you end up wishing that imminent asphyxiation of the whole cast was not so far-fetched.

I'm going to go back to work now. You may speak amongst yourselves.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Scott C. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 1, 2007 at 3:06 AM  
Anonymous Ken said...

I have a somewhat off-topic suggestion for you, Peter.

I really enjoy your blog but reading alot of white text on a black background is difficult - there's just too much vibrating contrast. I'm usually left with strange afterimages burned into my retinas when I look away, especially after reading deliciously long posts like todays.

Any chance you might might make a switch to dark text on a light background? It doesn't have to be black on white; shades of grey are sometimes fun to experiment with.

Ok, I'm going to go back and hide in the corner now.

August 1, 2007 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

I saw "Sunshine", which I'd really been looking forward to since I hold "Shallow Grave" and "Trainspotting" in high esteem. My God, what a silly, vacuous, inconsistent, scientifically absurd, and derivative movie.

Bah! I enjoyed Sunshine a lot. I thought the last forty or so minutes could've been cleaved off without too much trouble, but much of the direction is how I'd like to see Blindsight look, albeit significantly darker and less familiar technologically. Granted, the chances of a Q-ball intersecting the sun is extremely thin, but they're a legitimate scientific theory. As for the Sun causing stuff to be "blown back," the "oxygen farm," and forgetting to 'reset the mirrors' (you'd think the ship's supercomputer would compensate for that...), oh, and diving into the coolant...well...it's a movie. However, when you're trying to create an allegory, it's excusable--I would've thought PW would've liked it considering what it's got to say about faith--especially considering how thinly veiled it was (gee, what could a dimming star possibly represent?). And furthermore, considering the movies we've gotten recently in the Sci-Fi genre...be thankful for it, dammit!

Although I don't expect this to convince anyone considering that even PW had to appeal to God to express how bad he thought the movie was...

Oh. And it's good he's alive too I suppose.

August 1, 2007 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

Although, I believe the crazed zombie lunatic (it's Danny Boyle, what did you expect?) wasn't a stow-away but rather sort of boarded the ship inexplicably when they were visiting the other sun-saving ship.

I know it has allegorical meaning, but why bother having an observation lounge at all? What were the ship engineers thinking? Why not just use a camera trained on the sun? Why even allow the filter to go about the safety level period? What concievable reason would the ship designers have to put these things in? And the oxygen farm, why use giant plants? Why not much smaller more efficient plants that could be spread about the ship? Why not hydrolyze water? Why send people at all, all the thing has to do is crash into the damn sun. So yeah, there were problems. But I stand by my original sentiment.

August 1, 2007 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger T said...

You have more hair on your HEAD, but to blindly state that you have more hair overall is reaching, unless you know something that we don't...

Do you?

August 1, 2007 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

Scott C. said...

Are you done yet?

No. I don't even have time to write this.


Then Ken said...

Any chance you might might make a switch to dark text on a light background?

Every chance. A couple of other people have suggested this, and I've called out to the wilderness asking for more feedback but never got enough to warrant action. I see now, though, that Blogger's Poll app is out of beta, so if you're patient for a week or two I'll set up a little poll in the sidebar and everyone can weigh in. And if white on black burns everyone's eyeballs, I guess I can mild down the contrast.

Pussies.


And Nicholas (inexplicably) said...

Bah! I enjoyed Sunshine a lot. I thought the last forty or so minutes could've been cleaved off without too much trouble, but much of the direction is how I'd like to see Blindsight look, albeit significantly darker and less familiar technologically.

Style is not substance, my man. And have a care that you do not compare the substance of Blindsight with that of this "Sunshine", for then I would have to call you out. And I have it on reasonable authority that I have the reach of an orangutan and the energy of a mongoose.

St Granted, the chances of a Q-ball intersecting the sun is extremely thin, but they're a legitimate scientific theory.

Yeah. Too bad they never actually mentioned that theory anywhere in the film itself.

As for (listing of a teensy, teensy fragment of all the scientific mistakes in this movie snipped) well...it's a movie.

Yeah, but so was 2001. So was the Director's Cut of Blade Runner. Since when did mere moviehood automatically get you a pass to the Special Olympics of Visual Art?

However, when you're trying to create an allegory, it's excusable--

Well, if it was an allegory about really incompetent film-making, I guess I could agree...

Oh. And it's good he's alive too I suppose.


I look around. This is living?


And finally, T just had to weigh in with

You have more hair on your HEAD, but to blindly state that you have more hair overall is reaching, unless you know something that we don't...

Of course I'm reaching. But the thing that I'm usually reaching for is pretty damn hairy too, so I feel safe in my assertion.

August 2, 2007 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Scott C. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 2, 2007 at 5:25 PM  
Anonymous cjp said...

"Sunshine" lost my vote when the oxygen farm went up in flames. What does the crew do to put out the fire? Do they cut off the oxygen to that part of the ship, thereby efficiently extinguishing the fire while at the same time conserving a now-scarce resource? Nooooooo. Instead, they flood the arboretum with precious oxygen so that the blaze can "burn itself out."

Or maybe the film lost me when the ship's navigator makes a crucial error in his calculations, resulting in damage to the ship. Um, shouldn't he have used the ship's kick-ass computer to make those calculations for him, or at least to doublecheck his work?

The complication in the movie's final stretch, in which a religiously deluded nutcase tries to sabotage the mission, was a creaky plot device that goes at least as far back as the 1961 "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" movie.

Nice visuals, though.

August 3, 2007 at 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance of a chat transcript from Xfire for those of us poor peons who aren't gamers? This sounds like a very interesting discussion group (and that's a huge understatement).

Janbo

August 5, 2007 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger HannuB said...

Yes, chat transcript would be more than nice. I'll try to participate, but am not 100% sure if I can make it.

-Hannu

August 6, 2007 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

Scott C. said...

OoH...tangent! Did you guys see that they're (you know...they) releasing a "Final Version" of Blade Runner?

I did see that. I'm there.

August 7, 2007 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

Janbo said...

Any chance of a chat transcript from Xfire for those of us poor peons who aren't gamers? This sounds like a very interesting discussion group (and that's a huge understatement).

It should probably just be a matter of cutting and pasting the text window, although I haven't used the client yet (we're doing a teleconferenced dry run later today, so I'll know then). If I can, I'll post it in one form or another. If it doesn't suck too hard. Or maybe I'll just post any bits that make me look good, and leave the rest to your imagination.

August 7, 2007 at 8:46 AM  

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