Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Sci-Fi Books Media Privacy

Sneak Preview Of Vernor Vinge's Next Book 186

Posted by timothy
from the deep-thinkin' dept.
orac2 writes "The current issue of IEEE Spectrum Magazine is running a special report titled Sensor Nation, about the technology and social issues involved with the rising tide of ubiquitous surveillance and analysis. One of the articles is a short story by Vernor Vinge about what kind of future we could end up living in, titled Synthetic Serendipity. The story is actually adapted from the book Vinge is currently working on, called Rainbows End (and for the grammar nazis, that's right, there's no apostrophe at the end of 'Rainbows.') ObPlug: I'll be talking at The 5th HOPE in New York on Saturday at 4pm in Area B, and I'll bring along a few issues for any interested slashdotters."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sneak Preview Of Vernor Vinge's Next Book

Comments Filter:
  • Rainbows End (Score:3, Insightful)

    by matt4077 (581118) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:29PM (#9632995) Homepage
    Well, it's probably supposed to mean that even rainbows end.
    • Re:Rainbows End (Score:3, Informative)

      by fiannaFailMan (702447)
      The apotrophe wouldn't appear at the end even if it meant the other thing. If there were an apostrophe at the end, then the correct wording would be "Rainbows' Ends."
      • Re:Rainbows End (Score:2, Insightful)

        by skydude_20 (307538)
        "The interview Bush wouldn't like you to hear [indymedia.org]"

        Why not? seemed like pretty standard stuff to be, some of your usual boiler plate, no big deal.
      • Or maybe we'll let the nice author call his book whatever the hell he wants, without any pseudointellectual dicking about from you, eh?
  • Who Vernor Vinge is (Score:5, Informative)

    by porslap (472285) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:36PM (#9633064)
    Vinge is the author of two Hugo award winning novels: A Deepness in the Sky and A Fire Upon the Deep, as well as numerous short stories including True Names, which envisioned an avatar-based Internet in 1981, years before Gibson's cyberspace or more appropriately, Stephenson's Street of Snowcrash. He's also a former computer science professor at San Diego State, and someone who both knows the details of the technology he writes about, including pervasive sensors, search tools, game design, and wearable computers, and has the writing chops to make you care about his characters.
    • And he's a hell of a nice guy. Bright, but anassuming. Had dinner with him and some other sf writers last fall. He told an anecdote about he'd been at a party with Arthur C. Clarke just before 2001 hit theaters, and he decided to try to give Clarke a hard time, saying something to the effect of, "So, you took a ten page short story [The Sentinel] and stretched it out in an entire novel and movie script?" Clarke handled the accusatory question well, and replied, "Quite." For completeness, I'll add that
  • Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SiliconEntity (448450) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:37PM (#9633088)
    I've been fascinated by the concept of sensor networks ever since reading Vinge's earlier short story Fast Times at Fairmont High. From a review of that story:

    So what is life like in Vinge's 2020?

    The biggest technological change involves ubiquitous computing,
    wearables, and augmented reality (although none of those terms are used).
    Everyone wears contacts or glasses which mediate their view of the world.
    This allows computer graphics to be superimposed on what they see.
    The computers themselves are actually built into the clothing (apparently
    because that is the cheapest way to do it) and everything communicates
    wirelessly. Scientific American had an article about this in the April
    issue, http://www.sciam.com/techbiz/0402feiner.html.

    In Vinge's hands this is an astonishingly powerful technology.
    Remember the mediatrons from Diamond Age, where any surface could be
    turned into a display? You have the same thing here, except it's all in
    the eye of the beholder, so to speak. If you want a computer display,
    it can appear in thin air, or be attached to a wall or any other surface.
    If people want to watch TV together they can agree on where the screen
    should appear and what show they watch. When doing your work, you can
    have screens on all your walls, menus attached here and there, however
    you want to organize things. But none of it is "really" there.

    It goes beyond this. Does your house need a new coat of paint? Don't
    bother, just enter it into your public database and you have a nice
    new mint green paint job that everyone will see. Want to redecorate?
    Do it with computer graphics. You can have a birdbath in the front yard
    inhabited by Disneyesque animals who frolic and play. Even indoors,
    don't buy artwork, just download it from the net and have it appear
    where you want. You can change your decor theme instantly.

    These kids are teenagers. Got a zit? No need to cover up with Clearsil,
    just erase it from your public face and people will see the improved
    version. You can dress up your clothes and hairstyle as well.

    Of course, anyone can turn off their enhancements and see the plain old
    reality, but most people don't bother most of the time because things
    are ugly that way.

    Augmented reality automatically produces sight-and-sound virtual reality.
    Some of the kids attending Fairmont Junior High do so remotely. They
    appear as "ghosts" indistinguishable from the other kids except that
    you can walk through them. They go to classes and raise their hands to
    ask questions just like everyone else. They see the school and everyone
    at the school sees them. Instead of visiting friends the kids can all
    instantly appear at one another's locations.

    They even have tactile VR systems but you have to buy special clothes with
    "gaming stripes", whatever those are.

    A related technology is the localizer network. These are small,
    inexpensive network relay nodes that are scattered about, solar and
    battery powered. Each one sets up connections to the local nodes and
    provides for network access. They also have some sensors, sight and
    sound apparently, which can enhance the augmented reality system.

    The computer synthesizing visual imagery is able to call on the localizer
    network for views beyond what the person is seeing. In this way you can
    have 360 degree vision, or even see through walls. This is a transparent
    society with a vengeance!

    The cumulative effect of all this technology was absolutely amazing and
    completely believable. It's as far beyond our current communications
    media as the net is beyond the telephone. It's very exciting to imagine
    this technology coming into existence.

    I'm very much looking forward to the new novel.

    And by the way for those interested in security issues in sensor networks, see the work by Adrian Perrig [cmu.edu], he's got a book and a number of papers on the topic.
    • Re:Amazing (Score:2, Informative)

      by porslap (472285)
      "Synthetic Serendipity" is set at Fairmont High--I believe Rainbows End is the sequel to Fast Times.
    • And now we know... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mr. Neutron (3115) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:50PM (#9633211) Homepage Journal
      ...the origins of the Borg.

      Step one: Everything described in parent.

      Step two: Neural interfaces, getting around all of those pesky "physical" operations (finger waving, eyeball cues, etc). One can participate in society completely as a "ghost," without lifting a single finger.

      Step three: Network the neural interfaces. "Shared brainstorming" will be considered the fast-track method of advancing science and technology.

      Step four: Reassign the "physical substrate" to menial tasks. If I can participate fully in society WITH MY MIND, why not rent out my body to work in the factories or operate the machinery? It's not like I actually need my body for anything else - might as well let it be a "drone."

      Step five: Shared neural experience of human society slowly breaks down the boundaries between one human and another; a "hive mind" emerges.

      Resistance is futile.
      • Ah, the Borg. The greatest disappointment in the Star Trek universe -- and that's saying a lot.

        When they first appeared, the Borg were kick-ass. They were the first genuinely alien race encountered by Our Heroes: Not just non-human but with truly unfathomable methods and motivations. And remember that, early on, there was none of this cliche "hive mind" and "alien queen" junk. It was "a collective", yes. But not the dumb 1950s sci fi kind.

        Indeed, if you simply assume that the Borg had a very rapid c
        • remember that, early on, there was none of this cliche "hive mind" and "alien queen" junk.

          IIRC, when Q first introduced the Enterprise to the Borg, Troi sensed the presence of only one mind, and they made it clear that the whole cube was acting with a singular will.

          The "queen borg" thing was a disgrace, I'll grant you that.

      • The origins of the Borg, like every other Star Trek invention, and SF generally, are in our existing social behaviors. Groupthink, for good or ill, ins a stong influence on our minds already, with only our unaugmented mutual presence to carry it. As we improve communications to complexities suitable for subliminal presentation, and interfaces disappear, the Borg is one model we'll race towards. But if we retain our individual choice to participate in the group model, it doesn't have to be as bleak. Unconstr
    • by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:04PM (#9633349) Homepage Journal

      Of course, anyone can turn off their enhancements and see the plain old reality, but most people don't bother most of the time because things are ugly that way.

      There's less need for optical sensor feeds to change reality than you might think.

      In my experience, most people have moved the alteration of perception part back deeper into their brains.

      They already live in a mediated reality here and now in 2004.

    • In Jack Vance's "Eyes of the overworld", 'orbs' are used to change the users perception of reality into on of eternal paradise. Without the orbs one percieves the world as it really is, with the orbs everything seems to be pure bliss. In the story, some social adoptations are described to circumvent some of the physical problems associated with such an altered reality.

      Basically you can see shades of "The Matrix" and of this new Vinge story. What struck me most about it was that the inhabittants of this vir

  • by Exmet Paff Daxx (535601) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:37PM (#9633091) Homepage Journal
    Mod me down as troll, but I'm about to speak the truth. Ubiquitous surveillance? There are cameras covering every inch of the city I walk in. Massive government analysis? A huge database called MATRIX contains all my financial and medical records, searchable by federal agents. I have to give my SSN, despite the law, to every two-bit huckster who asks for it, to buy a house, a car, a plane ticket, you name it.

    And you know what? I don't care. Because I've made a choice to deal with this stuff. If you don't want to live with modern society's "privacy invasion", then don't bitch that you can't take part in all the luxuries and services it provides for you. Don't own a house. Don't own a car. Don't have a credit card. You know there are millions of people living in America who are completely in the Black, off the radar, invisible. I know people who call them "illegals" but they're just good people, most of them Mexican, making a decent living. If privacy is important to you, get off your god damned yuppie ass, stop bitching, and go get a real education from someone who actually knows something about privacy: the "illegals" who mop your shit off the linoleum floor. You want to know what their "social security number" is? 123-Fuck-You-Charlie-Bravo.

    You can give it all up, check out of the system, dissapear. If you have balls. On the other hand, if you're a coward and you want your cake: the house, the car, the job, the credit rating, the phone number and static IP address - but you don't want to accept the "privacy invasion" that comes part and parcel with modern society - do us all a favor and drink up a nice cup of Shut The Fuck Up.

    /pre-emptive rant against every knee-jerk EPIC-spouting idiot who will soapbox this thread.
    • There are cameras covering every inch of the city I walk in.


      They saw that? *covers privates*

    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:02PM (#9633327) Journal
      And you know what? I don't care. Because I've made a choice to deal with this stuff. If you don't want to live with modern society's "privacy invasion", then don't bitch that you can't take part in all the luxuries and services it provides for you. . Don't own a house. Don't own a car. Don't have a credit card.
      Excuse me for saying so, but what a cop-out! You're just accepting the way the world works, and walk away from the system. But guess what: you can have reasonable privacy and a car, a house and the other luxuries. It's not an either-or deal: the recent intrusion upon our privacy in the name of fighting terrorism or whatnot, is not a requirement to provide us with luxuries. Don't accept the system and live in it, nor accept the system and opt out. Try and make a change, instead.

      I don't mind a credit card company to keep track of my purchases, or my car ownership being registered in some government database. What I do mind is for corporations and governments to do god knows what with that data, and use it for purposes other than the ones it was collected for. One way to ensure this is to accept the system and cop out, hide, disappear like you suggest. Another way is to try and change the system, making sure that there are proper laws to govern what can be done with your data, and to make sure that the government collects only the data it needs to do its job. Our country (the Netherlands) has very strict rules about this: you can ask any company to disclose what data they have stored about you, and the data is not allowed to be used for anything other than its stated purpose. Sure... it's misused sometimes, but at least you'll have a nice legal stick to beat them with if you catch them. Not foolproof, but good enough if you want the nice house, car and other luxuries of our modern society.

      People 'bitch and moan', as you call it because they want the system changed, rather than just give up.
    • "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

      As long as this is being adhered to, I'm cool with it.

    • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:23PM (#9633530) Homepage
      You know there are millions of people living in America who are completely in the Black, off the radar, invisible. I know people who call them "illegals" but they're just good people, most of them Mexican, making a decent living.

      If only they were "illegals" where I live. Unfortunatly, here, they are red-neck nuts. Check it out: Freedom County [exordia.net]. These people are the tin-foil hat and automatic weapon crowd.

    • by gilroy (155262) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:28PM (#9633583) Homepage Journal
      I refuse to believe that the only options are to "drop off the grid" or to surrender my privacy absolutely. I have seen nothing that says that modern life has place the sort of demands that have in fact been placed upon our personal data and life habits. Just because this is the way it is, does not mean this is the way it should be.

      And I for one am grateful for the people who are trying to deflect the steam engine before it runs right off the rails.
    • Watched Fight Club Lately?

      (I guess I wasn't supposed to talk about it...)

    • by greg_barton (5551) * <.moc.oohay. .ta. .notrab_gerg.> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @02:17PM (#9634048) Homepage Journal
      You can give it all up, check out of the system, dissapear. If you have balls.

      Right. Let's say that happens. Everyone who dislikes the system drops out. Then the only people left in the system are those who either A) want to spy on and/or control others, B) don't mind being spyed on or controlled, or C) are unaware.

      So what happens? The system becomes stronger, better able to control it's populace. But now there's this annoying group of "off the grid" people. What does the system do? What it's made to do, of course, it tries to control them! But now, having been left to perfect it's methods of control (remember, all of the rebels left) it's developed some rather effective ways to control and track a populace. There's not much those poor lotechs can do to stop it. Welcome to the new low cost labor force, boys!

      The moral of the story? You can never hide from the world. It will always intrude on you. And if you ignore a problem it will only become worse.
    • And this got modded insightful? 30, 50, 70 years ago, you could still own a house or a car, and there weren't nearly as many records on you. I don't use credit cards anymore, but have debit cards instead, yet the fact that I'm the one with the money, and I'm loaning it to them instead of vice-versa doesn't stop "them" from keeping records on me.
      Calling people cowards is easy. Realizing that the current system can no more last than an America half slave and half free could have lasted 150 years ago is mu
  • by TS020 (793513) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:37PM (#9633093) Homepage Journal
    This article at least suggests that we'll be getting something back for it. The privacy and secrecy afforded to our government (US) is so ubiquitous that I would be able to accept my loss of privacy in order to get more information out of them.

    The article suggests that this information will be available in the future and that we all will be willing to absolutely forgo anonymity to have information about anything at any given time. I do have to admit that I forsee one small problem here: if the government, your boss, your neighbor, know what you are reading through, then you will be more selective about what you study, and thus, it really isn't free access to information.

    It's like the government knowing what you are checking out of the library. It makes you think again about trying to get a copy of the Anarchists Cookbook, you know, even if you feel that you have the right to read it. Even so, as I said, we no longer have privacy, so if we can end our governments' monopoly on privacy, then I believe that we will be better off for it.

    • you will be more selective about what you study

      Not exactly. The society will have to change, to adapt to the spread of surveillance and sousveillance technologies. In the future world without anonymity we will have to become much more tolerant, we will have to accept that fact that people read about weird shit, talk about weird shit, think about weird shit and sometimes do weird shit. Currently, even when we open our eyes to this, we tell it's not our business. In the future we will have to realise that i
      • In the future we will have to realise that it can be our business if we care, but no matter how weird it is, it's all right and if we don't like it, we don't have to watch.

        Four words: Not Going To Happen.

        There has always been and will always be people who think that "my way is the only right way", "what I don't think is right is sinful" or "anyone who does not believe/behave/talk the same way as me is Evil and Should Be Re-educated Or Killed". Intolerance is part of how human societies operate, it isn't
        • There has always been and will always be people who think that "my way is the only right way", "what I don't think is right is sinful" or "anyone who does not believe/behave/talk the same way as me is Evil and Should Be Re-educated Or Killed". Intolerance is part of how human societies operate, it isn't going anywhere.

          Those who preach tolerance must themselves be tolerant of intolerance.

          If you don't tolerate any intolerance, you'll vanish in an flash of contradiction.
        • If you were talking about the history, I would agree. Things like witch-burnings worked exactly that way. She studies something suspicious, we must kill her. But I have a firm belief that this won't work in the future. As more and more things become possible, the more and more tolerant we must become. I would argue that any society today becomes more tolerant over time, the bursts of intolerance are just anomalies. Most people will not forget their personal kinks simply because someone may be watching. Of c
          • What planet are you referring to? It can't be the same Earth I grew up on.

            Jay: Why the big secret? People are smart, they can handle it.

            Kay: A *person* is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.
            -- Men In Black (1997)

            Those dumb, panicky, dangerous animals are your friends and neighbors, and they will never be as tolerant as you wish. American society oscillates between tolerance and puritanism, but while the amplitude of the oscillation has grown, the centerline hasn't s

            • Young people today are tolerant and open-minded by their nature. There is simply no going back - those 90% of functionally retarded people in the world will not matter, the progress will run them over. :) And the modern technology doesn't help the puritans, unless they manage to control all of it and that is impossible.

              I may be overoptimistic, it's hard to tell right now how everything will turn out in the end, but I have hope.
              • Young people today are tolerant and open-minded by their nature. There is simply no going back - those 90% of functionally retarded people in the world will not matter, the progress will run them over. :) And the modern technology doesn't help the puritans, unless they manage to control all of it and that is impossible.

                I can tell from your comments that you think you're one of the young and tolerant. Too bad your tolerance doesn't extend to the 'functionally retarded people'. Just remember, old age and

                • Why is it bad? Tolerance is not the end in itself, it's just a simple strategy that proved to be effective in certain circumstances. In particular, tolerance only works when it is mutual. Read something like "Selfish Gene" by Dawkins, he describes the process of behaviour evolutionary development quite well. Tolerance does not work with intolerant people, period. The same goes for "functionally retarded". If a person is too stupid to understand anything, his opinion becomes irrelevant. That's just logical,
    • It's like the government knowing what you are checking out of the library. It makes you think again about trying to get a copy of the Anarchists Cookbook, you know, even if you feel that you have the right to read it...

      The point of the anarchist cookbook was that it collated material from a number of "dangerous books." No longer would Americans subject themselves to FBI surveillance if they wanted to learn a bit about demolitions, recreational pharmaceuticals, or lock-picking from their local library. The
    • This article at least suggests that we'll be getting something back for it.

      You're giving something back for it right now! I have a card that allows the supermarket to track my purchases. What I do I get back for giving up this tiny bit of my privacy? Significant discounts! Thus I use my card to buy milk and bread, but keep it in my wallet when I buy Preparation H and Lowrider magazine.

      If we did not value what we get in exchange for our privacy, then we would not given it up. It's as simple as that. The p
  • by bravehamster (44836) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:40PM (#9633105) Homepage Journal
    It's the spelling nazi that will get you in the rear. SNEAK, not SNEEK.

    We trust you have learned your lesson this time, no? Just be grateful that the "Lose, not Loose" guy is out of town.

  • hey... (Score:2, Funny)

    by kirun (658684)
    ... its spelled "grammer nazi's"
  • by ILL Clinton (734169) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:44PM (#9633146) Homepage Journal
    It's about time Vinge has a new novel coming out. I have had a lot of trouble (and believe me I've tried) finding a science fiction writer that comes close. "A Fire upon the deep" remains my favorite sci-fi novel, and I have been toying with the idea of reading it again.

    I've read a lot of good sci-fi writers, but so few are as good at character development AND hard core science fiction writing.

    If Vinge didn't spend so much time teaching, he'd probably have time to write more novels.

    Anyone have some suggestions of writers who come close to Vinge for great sci-fi? (I've already read most of Gibson, Stephenson, Simmons, Bear, Sagan, Haldeman)

    ILL Clinton
    The ILL Clan - Machinima Pioneers [illclan.com]

    • Tried Walter Jon Williams? He's not as good, but he's good.
      • Williams is vastly underrated. Try his book "Aristoi" and you'll flip--it's a great far future tale that deserves a lot more attention than it got. "Voice of the Whirlwind" and "Hardwired" are good cyberpunk novels too, while "Metropolitan" and "City on Fire" (his take on urban fantasy) are also worth your while. However, I'd stay away from his current Praxis series--they're not his best books
    • by strange_harlequin (633866) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:57PM (#9633268) Homepage

      Alastair Reynolds.

      Revelation Space, Chasm City, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap.

      All of them good, hard sci-fi. Reynolds is an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency, and so you get some reasonable science behind the ideas a lot of the time. (Although some of it is extremely hypothetical stuff.)

      He's my absolute favourite science fiction author and I can't recommend him enough. I read "A Fire Upon the Deep" for the first time about a week ago and liked it, but Alastair Reynolds completely amazed me.

      Read them. Trust me.

      • I've read his entire Revelation Space series. His stories have an incredible problem with pacing and his characters are about as believable as cardboard puppets and have similar personalities. Most of the personalities of his characters can be interchanged with one another without any problem.

        His vision of technology is what is interesting in his books but that's it.
        • by CaptainAvatar (113689) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @08:51PM (#9637807)
          My opinion of Reynolds is in between the parent and the grandparent. I agree he has problems with his characters - often they seem to do things which make no sense, except that they propel the plot forward. He also has big editing problems ... he will sometimes build up some plot thread, only to resolve it in a completely underwhelming way, as if he decided he had to cut 100 pages somewhere.

          And yet ... his technology/science is first rate, as already mentioned. But more than that, I find his vision of future history and culture to be quite compelling. And I would disagree that he has pacing problems, I find them to be very tightly plotted and exciting to read. And, as John Clute said [scifi.com] about Revelation Space, he is good at evoking "the thrilled melancholy of the abyss" which I would agree is part of the appeal of space opera.

          All in all though, having just read Absolution Gap I am disappointed that Reynolds hasn't overcome these sorts of problems after four novels. Perhaps he is just better at the short forms of fiction (Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days was excellent). His next novel is not tied to his previous ones, and he has also taken the plunge into writing full-time, so maybe he will take this opportunity to became the great writer that he easily could be.

          Oh, and my other suggestions for where to go after Vinge: Greg Egan, Iain M. Banks, Ken MacLeod, Gregory Benford (especially the Galactic Center books), David Brin (Uplift).

          • Hi, if you google around, you'll find two free short AR stories on the web, "Spirey and the Queen" and "A spy in Europa". Both of them are excellent, short, to the point have none of the Problems his longer books have. That, I think is AR's problem. He loses sight of where he's going and where he's coming from and where he wants to be in his longer books.
    • Anyone have some suggestions of writers who come close to Vinge for great sci-fi? (I've already read most of Gibson, Stephenson, Simmons, Bear, Sagan, Haldeman)

      Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man and Tiger, Tiger (aka The Stars My Destination). Classic sci-fi from a genuine writer.

      Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow. Deep, interesting and beatufully written. Not what you expect from a book whose plot summary (a Jesuit mission to the first alien civilization discovered via SETI) sounds, um, odd. The best desc
    • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:08PM (#9633393) Homepage

      Greg Egan [netspace.net.au] is one of my absolute favourites (and I have read and like all the authors you list).

      Character development is perhaps not his best side, but he cannot be beaten ideas-wise. If you're into SF that focuses on the logical implications of AI and VR technologies taken to the extreme, this guy is the best. I particularly recommend _Permutation City_ and _Diaspora_.

      • I completely agree about Egan; Permutation City blew my mind ... and he only got more impressive after that. (I think his handling of characters has even improved.)

        But I am disturbed that he doesn't have any upcoming works listed on his website (which he still updates regularly). He had been bringing out a new book every year or 18 months, and he would have the title of the next one listed on the front page. But his last fiction (both novel and short) was published a bit over 2 years ago, and there is not

        • A bit gauche to reply to myself, but according to this [frogworth.com], Egan has been devoting his energies to the plight of refugees, oh sorry, "asylum seekers" (ie those dangerous people the Australian government protects us from by locking up in detention centres in the middle of nowhere for years on end). Well, good on him! But I do hope he gets back to SF soon.
    • Ian M. Banks is pretty good if you don't mind some socialists axe-grinding. I'd recommend from "Culture series" _Consider Phlebas_ _Player of Games_ (best IMHO) _Inversion_ _Looking to Winward_ also _Aganst Dark Background_
    • Have you tried the british writer Iain M. Banks? He's written some really good stuff, especially "Consider Phlebas", "Excession", and "The Player of Games." He does hard far-future science fiction set in a persistent universe centering around the "Culture", a human-AI-alien hybrid civilization. If you look for his stuff note that he writes straight fiction under the name Iain Banks, but saves his middle initial for his science fiction work.

    • A.E. van Vogt, Computerworld, 1983 (... the story of our world under the cold and emotionless eye of the almighty computers ...(not brilliant, but rather anticipatory and fits in here))

      Ursula K leGuin; The Dispossessed, 1974 (In The Dispossessed the values of an anarchist world, Anarres, are contrasted with those of primarily capitalist. Anarres is a barren, small moon, from which the hero, an Anarresti physicist Shevek, starts his journey to Urras, the mother planet. Shevek's tries to develop a general
    • Anyone have some suggestions of writers who come close to Vinge for great sci-fi?

      Stephen Baxter [amazon.com]. Try the Manifold series, especially the first one, "Manifold: Space"
    • "If Vinge didn't spend so much time teaching, he'd probably have time to write more novels."

      I have a different take on that. If Vinge didn't take so long to write his novels, there wouldn't be time for so many interesting ideas to percolate, and his novels wouldn't be as brilliant as they are.
    • Alistair Reynolds
      David Brin
      Stephen Baxter
      Richard Morgan

      of my recent readings anyway.

      • Brin is a particularly appropriate suggestion here, as his recent work has been influenced by precisely this issue, which he calls the Transparent Society [davidbrin.com]. Several of his short stories (sorry, names have slipped my mind), Kiln People, and even Earth (in which one of the subplots involves elderly people who have become busybodies, spending all their time doing surveillance on anybody whom they suspect of being up to no good).
    • Have a look for "The Peace War" and "Marooned in Real Time" by Vinge as well - I believe they've recently been republished.

      Considering that my wife and I chose the name for our daughter based on one of the characters in these books, I guess you could say we liked them ;)
    • I'll bet you haven't read any Alexis Gilliland.

      His work can be hard to find, these days. "Revolution from Rosinante", "Long Shot for Rosinante", and "Pirates of Rosinante" were truly remarkable. Mostly what you'll find, though, if you look for Gilliland, are volumes from his Wizenbeak fantasy-political series, which are also remarkable in their way, but not what you asked for.
  • by kelzer (83087) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:55PM (#9633246) Homepage

    . . . called Rainbows End (and for the grammar nazis, that's right, there's no apostrophe at the end of 'Rainbows.')

    That should be "Nazi", not "nazi".

    Sincerely,

    A capitalization Nazi.

    • by gilroy (155262) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:32PM (#9633617) Homepage Journal
      Blockquoth the poster:

      That should be "Nazi", not "nazi".

      Sincerely,

      A capitalization Nazi.


      Nah, the term went generic and they lost that trademark. It's like "kleenex" and "xerox". :)

      (More sadly, perhaps this isn't so far from the truth.)
      • Actually, one of the big gaming businesses claimed to have registered Nazi as a trademark in their Raiders of the Lost Ark board game. So Hitler lost the trademark for not defending it sufficiently in a joint action suit (3rd armor, Big red 1 and a whole bunch of soviet tank divisions v. Hitler), but it's currently owned by Hasbro.
    • That should be "That should be 'Nazi,' not 'nazi.'" not "That should be 'Nazi', not 'nazi'."

      Sincerely,

      A punctuation Nazi.

      -
      • Heh. I beg to differ, on the basis that the usage you propose is illogical. The word being quoted is "Nazi". The comma is not part of what was being quoted (it's not the "Nazi, Party"), therefore it should not be inside the quotes. I know most style guides would agree with you, but they are wrong! Fowler [bartleby.com] agrees with me, although he notes that it was not then (1908) the generally accepted style. (I believe the "new" Fowler goes the other way.) Also, I'm a history student, so I am concerned with accurate quot
        • the usage you propose is illogical. The word being quoted is "Nazi". The comma is not part of what was being quoted

          Oh I agree with you that it's illogical. Hell, I'm a programmer and I agree it's absolutely obscene to currupt a quoted litteral by shoving a punctionation mark inside the qutes. All that just makes it all the funnier because it *is* punctation Nazi correct to place both the comma and the period inside the respective quotes. Though that rule is currently breaking down exactly because programm
  • "If Everybody..." (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Merovign (557032) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:58PM (#9633281)
    If everyone was really out to see that everyone does well, if everyone was really basically
    decent, then it could work.

    But if only 90% of people are like that, then "total information" could make your life annoying
    as heck, one of the reasons why "total sharing" (communism) always fails so abysmally.

    Which means that such a system has to find and harshly punish (reform, exile, or kill) anyone who
    doesn't cooperate (assuming the enforcers are not corrupt), with near 100% effectiveness (i.e,
    become totalitarian).

    Even if you do that, natural inclinations are for the corrupt to seek power, and become the enforcers.

    Any large-scale society needs significant privacy (even if not officially protected) simply so that
    people can live near each other without constantly fighting. Small, relatively isolated communities
    can do without much privacy because then can effectively exile or control the 10% or whatever
    that don't fit in.

    Ultimately we'll probably settle in at some level of surveillance that is survivable (I hope), with
    more or less in various communities and individual or community measures to have some control (like
    "community associations" that don't allow surveillance (or limit it), or EMP grenades for
    that matter).

    Unless of course someone develops really effective subliminal or broadcast mind control, in which
    case it's pretty much over (for practical purposes). The advantage to that being that you
    won't care if you have privacy (or anything else). :)
  • by S3D (745318) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:03PM (#9633337)
    Vinge is an auther of the technological singularity [caltech.edu] concept. Technological singularity is a situation then pace of technological change increasing to such a degree that our ability to predict its consequences will diminish virtually to zero and a person who doesn't keep pace with it will rapidly find civilization to have become completely incomprehensible. For example transfer to usage of languadge instead of basic system of signal could be considered as a technological singularity for proto-human, though drawn in time.
    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:36PM (#9633659) Homepage Journal
      >Technological singularity is a situation then pace of technological change increasing to such a degree that our ability to predict its consequences will diminish virtually to zero and a person who doesn't keep pace with it will rapidly find civilization to have become completely incomprehensible.

      Just for fun I've been known to argue that this has already happened.

      We're still adapting to the effects of a good information network. Remember what happened when Gorbachev legalized information flow in the old Soviet Union? The largest empire in human history evaporated like a bad dream. Nobody(*) predicted that. Now we have Google. What's coming next?

      (*) Almost nobody. Poul Anderson had a story in 1953 called "The Last Deliverer" in which a far-future character asked whatever happened to the Communists. The answer was something like "They didn't understand the implications of the new technology. They weren't so much overthrown as everyone started ignoring them".
      • > Remember what happened when Gorbachev legalized information flow in the old Soviet Union? The largest empire in human history evaporated like a bad dream.

        Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

        > Now we have Google. What's coming next?

        To remember is to never let it happen again.

      • Just for fun I've been known to argue that this has already happened.

        No, we haven't quite reached the tipping point [wikipedia.org] yet.

        Even though we are now on the steepening knee of the billions-of-years-old exponential curve to Singularity [wikipedia.org], almost nobody(*) is aware of just how damn fast the rate of change will be accelerating to get us there (in about 25 years). As the pace of progress continually speeds up over the next few decades, though, the Singularity meme will spread as quickly as our inability to understan

      • Now we have Google. What's coming next?
        Lots and lots and lots of websites hawking prescription drugs w/out the prescriptions.
  • Read "Synthetic Stupidity" for a split second. Which, in hindsight, actually seems like a good title for a book...

  • Transparent Society (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I would refer you to The Transparent Society by David Brin

    "Official Summary"
    David Brin takes some of our worst notions about threats to privacy and sets them on their ears. According to Brin, there is no turning back the growth of public observation and inevitable loss of privacy--at least outside of our own homes. Too many of our transactions are already monitored: Brin asserts that cameras used to observe and reduce crime in public areas have been successful and are on the rise. There's even talk of brin
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:45PM (#9633747) Homepage Journal
    People are already freaking out about cameraphones in dressingrooms/lockerrooms [bbc.co.uk]. And Net-accessible smartphones inside corporate offices [slashdot.org]. Then there's the gargoyle who's been barred from surveilled stores for looking the cyclops back in the eye [wearcam.org].

    This seems very consistent with current politics, where Presidents (and their VPs) testify before committees unable to take notes, and public documents are supressed, then released only for in-person public review, barring recording. Has amnesia become the required state for modern people? Is Anderson/Enron record shredding the default in the info age? Who's looking at you, kid? And will you ever remember that night on Bourbon Street until the video appears on BitTorrent during your Congressional campaign?
  • grammar nazis? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nizo (81281) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @01:51PM (#9633809) Homepage Journal
    Called Rainbows End (and for the grammar nazis, that's right, there's no apostrophe at the end of 'Rainbows.')

    I assume this would be correct if the "end" in question pertained to the termination of multiple rainbows (i.e. they went away) and in fact seems to imply that all rainbows are ending. More likely it is a play on the phrase "end of the rainbow", a mythical place where a pot of gold can be located. Using the plural of rainbow would imply that this single place is in fact common to all rainbows everywhere, in which case there must be one huge pot of gold there. How seemingly disconnected rainbows all terminate at a single place is left as an excercise for the reader. Perhaps they have more than 3 dimensions?

    • I assume this would be correct if the "end" in question pertained to the termination of multiple rainbows (i.e. they went away) and in fact seems to imply that all rainbows are ending. More likely it is a play on the phrase "end of the rainbow", a mythical place where a pot of gold can be located.

      It's probably a brief sentence in the indicative mood. Subject = "rainbows", verb = "end", third person plural present tense of "to end".

      The title therefore makes an affirmative statement that all rainbows do i
  • "They insist that we have nothing to fear about revealing our quirks, pathologies, and personal data, so long as absolutely everybody is doing it--including our commercial and federal overseers. Our own loss of privacy will be a small price to pay for what we'll get in return, these advocates say."

    This is a ridiculous statement. If they feel so comfortable, why don't they place webcams in their bedroom and toilets? After all, everyone is doing it...

    And a small price? Has it ever accured to those people that the abuse is gigantic, and that there is a good reason to regard privacy as a right? If they really think no1 has anything to fear if our personal data is for grabs, they are idiotic ninkenpoops. Just imagine what would happen, say, if a medical insurance-compagny would know you have some diseaese or gentic make-up that makes you sensitive and have a high risk for cancer or something? How do you think they will react? "We know you're a high-risk case, but that doesn't matter for us and we'll grant you the same as everyone else, because everyone is doing it?"

    Apart from the obvious economic issues for an individual, there are also the sociological ones. Has it ever occured to them that people don't WANT that others know about something, whether they do it or not? Does a woman want it to be known that she had an abortion? Does a person automatically wants his sex-life (or lack thereof)to be known to all, even if he knows others are doing it? Do they honestly believe that I (and I'm guessing Im' not the only one) would want my personal feelings and emotions be known, because everyone is sharing them?

    Well, I have seen Springer and Opera a few times, and it NEVER made me want to do the same, on the contrary.

    No, it does not follow that, because 'all do it', you should be happy with 'life as an eternal peepshow'. And what's more, anyone with a grasp of human nature would realise that will never come. It's like saying 'if everyone were peacefull (or rational, or whatever), the world would be a better place'. Even if true, it's a nonsensical statement in any practical sense. Human nature involves good and evil, as well as the drive for meddling in someone elses' business and wanting to keep things private.

    While they maybe right in the development of future privacy-invading technologies, they make the same error many 'futurologists' do; they extrapolate from the current conditions, and think they can predict what is going to happen. What folly.

    If history teaches us anything, it's that it's comprised of forces and counter-forces: if at one time it swings to much in one direction, you can be sure there will be a counter-reaction. If privacy is being abused en masse, it will not lead to a broad acceptance of that abuse, but rather to a counter-reaction.

    And I also do not think there is some sort of causal relationship between 'having unrestricted acces to the internet' and privacy abuse. You can have acces to data, yet remain anonymous, as is proven even today on the internet, let alone with systems as Freenet. As long as you are and remain anonymous (or at least pseudonymous), one can not deduce your rl where-abouts and make your private dealings public.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

Working...