Any advanced mythology is indistinguishable from science fiction.
— ((( 1/ えफ ))) (@fadesingh) September 29, 2016
From the notes to Watts’ Blindsight:
The undead state in which Theseus carries her crew is, of course, another iteration of the venerable suspended animation riff (although I’d like to think I’ve broken new ground by invoking vampire physiology as the mechanism).
From Laird Barron’s Nemesis:
“Let me be clear, there is no Machine,” Director Mallory said to close his remarks at the Star Chamber deposition. This emergency hearing was in response to an international crisis that appeared to be rapidly mutating into a global apocalypse. Blame had to be apportioned and attributed. Heads were going to roll, and how. The Director snapped his briefcase shut and strode out a side exit. He skipped lunch at the grill that day, became quite scarce indeed.
The Machine activated again six hours later and its effects were irreversible.
But by that time, when shit hit the fan for real, the Director was already aboard an emergency capsule speeding toward the moon. He and ninety-seven other bureaucrats, technicians, scientists, and prostitutes survived on a base hidden in a crater on the dark side for nineteen months. Eventually, they all perished of starvation, or mayhem induced by a cabin fever type syndrome. He went last—blew the station to smithereens with mining explosives and then unzipped his environmental suit to vacuum and watched his life boil away. He was lonely, not sorry. No one back on Earth cared. He’d been long forgotten.
From Peter Watts’ Blindsight (p.261), on dark interspecies cryptographic game-theory:
It may take a while to figure out how. Some may shrink from fire, others from fire, others from toxic gas or liquid. Some creatures may be invulnerable to blowtorches and grenades, but shriek in terror at the threat of ultrasonic sound. You have to experiment; and when you discover just the right stimulus, the optimum balance between pain and injury, you must inflict it without the remorse.
You leave them an escape hatch, of course. That’s the very point of the exercise: give one of your subjects the means to end the pain, but give the other the information required to use it. To one you might present a single shape, while showing the other a whole selection. The pain will stop when the being with the menu chooses the item its partner has seen. So let the games begin. Watch your subjects squirm. If — when — they trip the off switch, you’ll know at least some of the information they exchanged; and if you record everything that passed between the, you’ll start to get some idea of how they exchanged it.
Whe they solve one puzzle, give them a new one. Mix things up. Switch their roles. See how they do at circles versus squares. Try them out on factorials and Fibonnacis. Continue until Rosetta Stone results.
This is how you communicate wuith a fellow intelligence: You hurt it, and keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the speech from the screams.
This is too intelligent for its own good. Early snippet:
… I opened the door and caused a stunningly beautiful girl to fall off a stepladder. “Euphemism!” she said. I swear to God she said “Euphemism.”
“Are you okay?” I asked. She was. She was holding two big yellow letters. I looked up at our sign. It was missing two big yellow letters.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked. I am bad at sounding threatening, but she was like 5’4, maybe 5’5, and also lying on the ground looking very ashamed, and so putting menace into my voice was easier than usual.
“Kabbalah,” she said.
I looked up at the sign again. It read CASH OR GOD
“It’s a kabbalistic protest,” she said faintly. “Against a society that thinks…”
“You’re not a kabbalist. If you were a kabbalist, you’d have more respect! You can’t just go removing letters from signs like that! Matthew 5:18: ‘Verily I say unto you, not a single letter, nor even a stroke of a letter, shall be removed until all is fulfilled.’”
“Oh, you want to go there?” She caught her breath and stood back up. “Matthew 16:4: ‘This evil and adulterous generation wants a sign, but no sign shall be given to it.’”
I blinked. Maybe she was a kabbalist.
“But,” I said, “By removing the letter L, you make “God” out of “gold”. But the warning against idolatry in Exodus 20:23 says ‘You shall not make a god out of gold.’”
“But,” said the girl, “Exodus 25 says that you shall take gold and turn it unto the Lord.”
Now I was annoyed.
“You have taken an L and an F,” I said. “But if you map the Latin alphabet to Hebrew gematria, L and F sum to twenty-six. The Tetragrammaton also has a gematria value of twenty six. So taking an L and an F is mystically equivalent to taking the Name of God. But the Third Commandment is ‘You shall not take the Name of God in vain.’”
“But the sound of L and F together,” she said, “is ‘aleph’, and aleph is silent and represents nothingness. So I have taken nothing.”
I heard the whine of a siren.
“Tell it to the cops,” I said. …
It wanders into more science fictional territory.
Stanislaw Lem discussed (by David Auerbach) in the LARB:
[Lem’s] subjects, among others, include:
Nanotechnology and biotechnology
Evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology
Entropy and thermodynamics
Complexity theory, probability, and chaos
Population and ecological catastrophe
The “singularity” and “transhumanism”
Lem was one of the very few thinkers at the time to examine these burgeoning subjects in the context of both the humanities and the social sciences. Yet despite the far-ranging explorations, Lem tempers his speculations with a de-romanticized and often grim view of humanity. Indeed, part of Lem’s genius was his keen awareness that the possibilities of science and the possibilities of humanity do no more than scarcely overlap, and so our investigations must be conducted with our limited vantage point in mind.
(Craig Hickman has been on Lem with some consistency — plug ‘Lem’ into his search widget and a torrent flows out.)