Saturday, August 2, 2008

Loving the Alien

We sleep. The chimp makes grudging corrections to a myriad small trajectories. I set the alarm to wake me every few weeks, burn a little more of my candle in case the AI tries to pull another fast one; but for now, it seems to be behaving itself. 428 jumps towards us in the stop-motion increments of a life's moments, strung like beads along an infinite string. The factory floor slews to starboard in our sights: refineries, reservoirs, and nanofab plants, swarms of von Neumans breeding and cannibalising and recycling each other into shielding and circuitry, tugboats and spare parts. The very finest Cro Magnon technology mutates and metastasises across the universe like armor-plated cancer.

And hanging like a curtain between it and us shimmers an iridescent life form, fragile and immortal and unthinkably alien, that reduces everything my species ever accomplished to mud and shit by the simple transcendent fact of mere existence. I have never believed in gods, never believed in universal good or absolute evil. I have only ever believed that there is what works, and what doesn't. All the rest is smoke and mirrors, trickery to manipulate grunts like me.

But I believe in The Island, because I don't have to. It does not need to be taken on faith: it looms ahead of us, its existence an empirical fact. I will never know its mind, I will never know the details of its origin and evolution. But I can see it: massive, mindboggling, so utterly inHuman that it can't help but be better than us, better than anything we ever could have become.

I believe in The Island. I gambled my own son to save its life. I would have killed him to avenge its death.

I may yet.

In all these millions of wasted years, I have finally done something worthwhile.

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15 Comments:

OpenID chang3002 said...

OUTSTANDING!!!

Only further adds to the mystery and leaves me hungry for more.

Please, sir? Can I have some... more?

August 2, 2008 at 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice one. This is really evocative

August 2, 2008 at 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Arthur said...

===Peter---
I'm loving the Necker Cube. I was the
first to find the audio version of
BLINDSIGHT at the Tempe (Phoenix, Arizona) Library. Rare to read, then
listen to the same work in less than
a year. Wonderful with my eyes closed. Cheers------Arthur

August 4, 2008 at 4:09 AM  
OpenID denni-schnapp said...

Beautiful!

August 4, 2008 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Keippernicus said...

God damn you Peter Watts.

How am I supposed to feel good about my own writing compared that!?!?!

August 4, 2008 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger The Lake Fever said...

But it would be better if there were a pony.

August 4, 2008 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

Arthur said...

I was the first to find the audio version of BLINDSIGHT at the Tempe (Phoenix, Arizona) Library.

Say,how does that sound? My contract stipulated I'd get input on the actual reader, but they never gave me any— and I haven't received any kind of author's copies, so I have no fucking clue how it all turned out.

Also, the contract explicitly states that the work will be completely unabridged— which means that someone, somewhere, had to recite over a hundred technical references at the end of the story. Did they actually do that?

August 4, 2008 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

Keippernicus said...

How am I supposed to feel good about my own writing compared that!?!?!

You're not. You never feel good about your writing. If you go back and look at the excerpt I just posted — which you evidently found so moving — you may notice that it's changed about three times since I first posted it. I keep seeing clunky phrases and ambiguous pronouns all over the place. I'm never entirely happy with this stuff. I don't think we're supposed to be.

Who was it that said "Writers never finish their projects. They only abandon them."?

August 4, 2008 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger D said...

I like this one, all ambiguous pronouns aside.

Who was it that said "Writers never finish their projects. They only abandon them."?

I think it was Paul Valery, on poetry (and actually, he's cooler than I remembered - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Val%C3%A9ry ) Also his:

"Man is only man at the surface. Remove the skin, dissect, and immediately you come to machinery."

Painters are especially bad for notorious tinkering until something's more overworked than a Faberge egg.

August 5, 2008 at 3:32 AM  
Blogger SpeakerToManagers said...

Please don't tinker with this bit; it's lovely the way it is.

August 5, 2008 at 11:42 AM  
OpenID shake42040 said...

WOW!
Now that i'm slack jawed and dumbfounded... i guess i should clean the drool off the keyboard.
Amazing writing!!

August 5, 2008 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger eileen said...

Painters are especially bad for notorious tinkering until something's more overworked than a Faberge egg

That's why there's a saying that it takes two people to complete a painting -
the artist and then someone to shoot the artist when they're finished.

I love reading these installments.
Each one is so beautiful and evocative.

August 5, 2008 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

D quoted someone who said...

"Man is only man at the surface. Remove the skin, dissect, and immediately you come to machinery."

Actually, the skin's machinery too. But I embrace the point.

Does "D" = Danielle?


eileen said...

That's why there's a saying that it takes two people to complete a painting -
the artist and then someone to shoot the artist when they're finished.


Well, that does at least resolve the whole saving-for-retirement-on-an-artist's-income issue...

August 6, 2008 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Arthur said...

===Peter---
About the BLINDSIGHT audio.
Mainly, hearing the story has me
gripped for an hour+ each night.
If I could only read "BEING NO ONE"
clearly...or just Some of it.
---The reading is a bit choppy. You
can tell where the reader stops and
starts. Reader T. Ryder Smith does a
great job of mild vocal inflections
for each character.
I'll call myself a "Librarian" on
the LACK of acknowledgments,notes
and ref. Its NOT read, they skipped
the real end of the book. So, no
they did not read out all the
supposed "unabridged" version.
---Find yourself beached in the
desert, we'll buy you some beers.
------Arthur

August 8, 2008 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger razorsmile said...

Cool -- and clear too.

August 9, 2008 at 12:39 AM  

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