This is the concept of establishing a baseline income for allcitizens that in theory will promote health, well-being and ultimately eliminate poverty and the detrimental effects it has on all levels of society. Opponents predict it will lead to a lazy humanity, proponents to a releasing of the shackles of wage-slavery. Either way, the game has begun...
- Canadian province to introduce pilot program – The Independent
- Finland to trial UBI – The New Daily, News.com.au
- India on the brink of UBI after interesting pilot program results – Business Insider
- Why we should all have a basic income – WeForum
“The most striking thing which we hadn’t actually anticipated is that the emancipatory effect was greater than the monetary effect. It enabled people to have a sense of control. They pooled some of the money to pay down their debts, they increased decisions on escaping from debt bondage. The women developed their own capacity to make their own decision about their own lives. The general tenor of all those communities has been remarkably positive,” Professor Guy Standing (Business Insider).
Keynes believed that 'a point may soon be reached, much sooner perhaps than we are all of us aware of, when these [economic] needs are satisfied in the sense that we prefer to devote our further energies to non-economic purposes.' — Zero Marginal Cost Society
How the Will was Won
The Will is a creation within the Pierre Jnr series that is the foundation for their united but ultra-democratic society. These ideas are not just the dreams of one author but have been inspired from the what is taking place in our times, (aka Now).
Since the books were finished, I am seeing more and more evidence for the beginning of what is often called 'liquid democracy' or 'delegative democracy'. This page is a collection of links about the rise of the Will as we watch it happen over the next hundred or so years.
Google creates liquid democracy voting system
a form of democratic control whereby an electorate vests voting power in delegates rather than in representatives
China 'social credit': Beijing sets up huge system [BBC]
The Chinese government is building an omnipotent "social credit" system that is meant to rate each citizen's trustworthiness.
Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens [Wired]
Linking real world action to social currency
Steps are being made to create currencies that tie to real-world value (as opposed to the faith-based currencies we have now). The exciting Factory 2050 is working on a blockchain to create an 'unfalsifiable ledger technology... It would track and certify the path of raw materials all the way to the finished product...' (New Scientist)
Criticality is a game inspired by the principles of self-organised crtitcality and the rise and fall of power structures during the Second Dark Ages. The aim of Criticality is to score as more points than the players. At the beginning of the game the players agree on a target, typically 1000-10000.
Deck: Ace to 10. Large or infinite decks preferable
Basic play: Each player begins with 10 cards
Players draw up to 10 cards from the infinite deck and cast off as many cards as they want.
Initial tabling: the first player to table must lay down three sets.
Each player takes turns drawing cards and adding to tabled sets until a collapse is triggered. After a collapse each player must choose 10 cards from their hand to go towards the winner’s pool.
Play continues until the predetermined amount is reached.
Sets: Sets must have a minimum of three cards and a can follow a number of different patterns: all of a kind, sequential, suit, prime numbers only, pi (3.141592653)
Sets “collapse” when they reach 10.
The height limit of the sets is dictated by how many sets are on the table. Ie if there are seven sets on the table then they can only go to seven cards high.
Thus an avalanche can be triggered by collapsing one set which causes a chain reaction of collapses amongst the smaller sets.
Eg, if there are 8 sets on the table, two with 8 cards in them, and a player adds two cards to one set to trigger its collapse, as there are now only 7 sets on the table, all the sets with more than 7 cards also collapse and the cards are added to the player’s winnings.
The strategy of Criticality involves luck, and a balanced strategy to manuevre the other players to table their cards so you can collapse the piles and collect the cards. Timing and confidence are key.
What I love about Marvel is how willing they are to tell and retell the same stories and change the details and characters that are involved; thus presenting new angles and depth over the course of time. The more you read and watch the more you will get from each instalment. Captain America, has always seemed boring on the outside as a character that represents the self-appointed 'land of the free', 'best country ever' United States, but is interesting exactly because of that. Just as the US in reality goes back and forth on the privacy versus safety thing the new Captain America movie takes this as its opening premise. Captain America must make the choice between these two states of being.
What is interesting is that the Hollywood version chooses the non-surveillance route as the side for Good; which I think says something nice about the US – ie that such a counter argument can be safely put forward against the prevailing philosophy.
This isn't Cap's first offense. This is very similar to the time Cap went against the superhero registration act and became a fugitive against his own government (in the Civil War series by Marvel comics).
So while Captain America could be accused of simplifying complex issues (i09 I'm looking at you) let's not forget that this is a film for kids and the young and violent at heart. For a more complex depiction of the surveillance state, please investigate the Ghost in the Shell (first and second gig) as well, of course, as 1984 and We.
Captain America is great for kids and adults who need help determining the righteous path: Ask yourself, 'What would the Nazis have done?' And then do the opposite. (Clearly his decision-making is heavily influenced by early life experiences, but aren't we all?). I believe the same ph test is used by many.
Hello all, I’ve got some events coming up soon at the Sydney Writers’ Festival and the details are below. I look forward to meeting new writers and doing a lot of talking about science fiction.
May 20th: Big World Plotting — Writing Masterclass
You've got your world. You've got your characters. What comes next? How do you weave all your ideas together and find your plot?
In this session we will step through how to let your characters find your plot for you, how your world affects your characters, and how to tie it all together and create a story structure.
Duration: three hours Capacity: 16 $85/$75 Bookings 9250 1988, tickets.sydneytheatre.org.au
May 22nd: Forest for the Trees: Hunting & Gathering
"How do publishing houses find new authors and what are they looking for? Are competitions and development programs the new pathways to publication? Join David Henley (Author & Creative Director, Seizure) with Robert Watkins (Commissioning Editor, Hachette), David Winter (Editor, Text Publishing), Rose Michael (Commissioning Editor, Hardie Grant), and author Inga Simpson, recipient of QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program."
On this one I get to chair a discussion with these very fine experts that has been arranged by NSWWC. But you should look at the whole day of Forest for the Trees, because it is hosted by Michael Robotham and looks like their best program ever.
Presented with the NSW Writers’ Centre. Duration: six hours $55/$45 Bookings 9555 9757, nswwc.org.au
May 24: The Science of Science Fiction
"Science is the foundation for science fiction, but how much has fiction influenced science? How does literary and popular culture use the foundation of scientific study as a leaping off point, and when does science fact become science fiction? Join scientist Jim Al-Khalili, action-thriller author Scott Baker and future-fiction author David M Henley as they explore the interplay between imagination and possibility, faux-science and science education, and when and how to break the laws of physics.”
Translation: I get to talk about sci-fi and science with some other big nerds! This one is going to be fun and I look forward to Dr Karl and Jim Al-Kahlili telling me and Scott Baker where our imaginations may have deviated from reality.
$14 Bookings 9250 1988, tickets.sydneytheatre.org.au
A big thank you to SWF for including me, I am really looking forward to the whole program: check it out here for the full details.
When I visited Paris last year, for the first time in a long time, I made sure to go to Rue de Rivoli where an important scene takes place in The Hunt for Pierre Jnr. For fun I then photoshopped in an artist's impression of the manifestation. 20cm image, © Creative Commons, but try to point back my way if you can.
I've been thinking for a while of creating my own sci-fi calendar to mark some of the important people and developments that have shaped the sci-fi canon. Sometimes choosing a specific person or date is difficult as many of the greatest works in sci-fi have been the result of many people and sometimes multiple generations. Star Trek, love it or hate it, was originally conceived by Gene Roddenberry, but since it first aired on September 8, 1966 there have been many scriptwriters, designers, actors and, yes, executives, who have made the world of Star Trek what it is today.
Another example I find troublesome is that of Marvel. I feel that Marvel has done much to shape the public imagination when it comes to sci-fi, and continues to do so as it reiterates its own world and continually updates its storylines. Stan Lee is credited without hesitation as the founder of many of these ideas, but the great man himself would give props to the hundreds of individuals have given their time and energy to expanding the Marvel universe.
Even if I dare choose an individual to honour, do I choose their birthday to mark the achievement, even though one's birthday has no relevance to the creation of the particular work? Should I instead choose first airing or publication date? For older works some of these specific dates may not be known, and around the world these dates will vary.
In some ways it doesn't matter. As the date itself is only an arbitrary excuse to acknowledge and muse on the work and its authors. As such, while I will do my best to find a reason to choose a particular date, and seek out existing days of note, there may be no consistent pattern.
Herewith is a link to my sci-fi calendar. It is a living thing that I will continue to add to, please twitter or facebook me for changes or updates. As the year goes past I'll follow this calendar and try to say something interesting about each.
Dearest fans of the big-headed boy, I'm sorry I have been lax on my updating. It's been a big year and the running around hasn't stopped.
But some great things have been happening in the world of Pierre since he was unleashed in June
- The Hunt for Pierre Jnr is now available in the US and the UK as an ebook. iBookstore, Bookworld, Google Play and Amazon
And there have been some great reviews from the media and readers,
The Hunt for Pierre Jnr is 'a science fiction novel full of fascinating concepts and ideas.' — The Australian
And an 8 out of 10 from Fantasy Book Review 'A fantastic look at the idea of human prejudice and fear... He [David M Henley] has the potential to be another Peter F Hamilton or Daniel Suarez...'
There is one thing I should make clear, as I'm seeing some people aren't sure if this is a series or not, and I can imagine how annoying that might be. So, YES, The Hunt for Pierre Jnr is part of a trilogy, so there are two more books to come, Manifestations (June 2014) and Convergence (June 2015).
After that...we shall see. The world is large and the future is coming.
By 2159, one's 'queue' is merely a nickname for the prioritized intake of content and connections for an individual's stream. What many people don't realize is that this term comes from a relatively anachronistic device that appeared in the late 21st century.
A typical Queue consisted of a, usually, circular window that acted as magnifying glass, display and sensor plate, attached to a handhold, and sometimes encapsulated in shock-proof casing. The interface was built of at least three layers: the target layer, where it's sensors were focused; the command, or glass, layer where overlays of preset operations and tasks were accessed; and the floating layer for user associations, running programs and data compilation. Interaction was tracking based.
In terms of development the Queue was a necessary stepping stone that was obsolete within two decades. The Queue was almost entirely replaced by software routines as early symbiots replicated its core functions of information ordering, tasking, basic calculations and multi-sensors. Ubiquity and sentimentality, as well as cybernetic phobias, extended the natural lifespan of the Queue despite the more efficient, higher-powered processing of symbiots.
The Queue, as a device, has precursors that range as far back as the 20th century, but only gained precedence during the so-called 'second dark ages' when there was a priority on component-based replaceable technology. Queues are still used by many archaeologists and other field scientists.
The Queue's mark can still be felt in the ultra simplified function prioritisation that people of the 22nd century take for granted and indeed now refer to as their 'queue'.
These photos come courtesy of Matthew Venables, www.mvenables.com
At SWF this year, a young man in the audience of a speculative fiction panel asked, 'How do you keep ahead of the science?' or something to that effect. I presume that in his own writings, he is concerned that he may create something, a technology presumably, that then, later in his life, would look silly and naive. This is a pretty common sentiment, and most writers attempting science fiction will have to think about it. I am taking this moment to compose a more thorough answer than the one I had time for on the day.
1. Science schmience. The most common answer for this conundrum is that this isn't the most important aspect of writing a sci-fi book. If science fiction is the literature of ideas, then the gadgetry is sometimes just be set dressing. Furthermore, I would argue, the techonology itself is not the key. It is what the technology represents. Is it a new faster more efficient form of communication? Is it a new brain-to-machine interface? Does it make humans different than before? What is the result of this development? What questions does the new technology pose for society? What possibilities? What dangers?
The purpose is not to invent technology that will come to pass, IRL, but to incorporate ideas for technology which resonate in the world you've created.
2. Avoid specifics. Don't say how big someone's hard drive is. Ever. Even if you apply Moore's Law, the size of the number will sound made up and silly. If the size of the hard drive is important to the story, consider looking for a bigger story.
3. Endeavour to keep up with what is currently happening. I can't claim to be succeeding at "keeping up" with the science – who could? I am so far behind on my New Scientist pile, it's nearly old science. But there are many websites that explore what you like to explore. All the big institutions such as museums and universities have an RSS you can patch into your queue. I particularly like the MIT Tech blog because it covers all scales of science, from the ground-breaking developments of graphene to the wide-angle ramifications of industrial processes. Also Ars Technica and i09 have broadly defined boundaries and good curation. I too do a bit of reporting on my Facebook page if I come across something that tickles me.
4. Think ahead. Sure, pay attention to the science that is happening now, but think about how old our cutting edge will be where your story is set. Let's not forget that some of our parents didn't have televisions, and our children won't. Technology comes and goes. Have fun in fictioning your science. Also, read science histories. It can take lifetimes for some ideas to come to pass, even if it all seems so fast now. Read about the lives of the scientists who made famous breakthroughs. Science doesn't happen overnight and I often find reading old sci-fi and old science writing inspirational.
5. Don't worry too much because science gets it wrong too. That is the nature of science. And therefore it's the nature of sci-fi too.
If none of that helps, you can do what I did: lay waste to the world as we know it so you can start over. Kill billions, dissolve governments, nations and value systems. Enter into a period that fifty years afterwards, the people refer to it the "second dark ages". Then unleash an all powerful telepathic boy and see what happens.
The Hunt for Pierre Jnr
June 2013 | HarperCollins Voyager
It happened again. At a social function, I met people who said something like, 'I used to read science fiction, but stopped.' A little inquiry reveals them to be one of those lost souls who didn't know what to read after Phillip K Dick. We sci-fi writers live in the shadow of Dick. There is no point denying it. PKD wrote 44 books, 121 short stories and has had many films based on his work. He is a giant. Few works have entered the canon since his death in 1982.
I too stopped reading sci-fi post Dick, so I understand the dilemma. In my teens I read everything in reach and then I got bored. The genre became repetitive. I wasn't getting from the other authors what I got from PKD. For over a decade I was lost in the desert, subsisting on a diet of Bellow and Vonnegut. Yes I still tried to read sci-fi but it was like testing berries in the wilderness, to see if they were edible; and mostly they weren't. Nothing gave me the brain spark I had learnt to love.
Then one book brought me back. A thin volume I found on the low shelves of Kinokuniya, His Master’s Voice by Stanislaw Lem. I had never before heard someone else sound so much like the my internal monologue. Lem was clear and erudite and his ideas had me reaching for dictionaries and Wikipedia.
His Master's Voice is about a signal from outer space and the think tank set up to study what is was, who sent it and what it could mean. Lem's central character reports on all the different departments and the disparate conclusions they draw from the same information. And like that I was back. My brain was on fire. Now I find it hard to read works that aren't sci-fi.
Even though I'd suggest that Lem is a bit dry for many readers, as I ploughed through his other books (which in Australia often means an order from Amazon) I learnt to recognise the deeper themes of sci-fi. It was like Luke discovering the force, suddenly the themes were everywhere, in works of fiction and in the real world.
Even in the most basic and childlike sci-fi I could get some pleasure from each new take on different ideas. The ideas that challenge us as human beings, that reveal the limits of our knowledge and understanding. Anthropomorphism, panspermia, the super organism, time-dilation and more.
I've read all the Lem I can get my hands on, some twice, which is something I never do with other writers. if there was a crowd-funding campaign to translate more of his works into English, I would contribute. But if you struggle with Asimov and Clarke, you might want to try something a little more visceral, like the Strugatsky brothers.
The Strugatskys wrote sci-fi in Communist Russia. It has a different tone entirely, but they are the closest I've come to finding PKD-like writing. Start with Roadside Picnic and go from there. The Strugatskys are great at placing normal people in bizarre worlds, and they are just trying to get on with their lives and take advantage of the situation.
So there’s two to start with. I suggest learning to read by themes rather than authors, and I'm building up my reading lists here.
I will also start a list on Amazon and Goodreads, and add in any books i come across for people who enjoy the brain spark of PKD then I will expand on each of my other favourite writers in future posts.
My top sci-fi authors: The Brothers Strugatsky Alfred Bester Peter F Hamilton Stanislaw Lem Theodore Sturgeon Joe Haldeman
At eighteen hundred hours, on Thursday June the 6th, we shall have a special drinks to celebrate the long-time-coming launch of the Pierre Jnr trilogy and the birth of a new sci-fi world. Check out the Kinokuniya event page on Facebook
This year I'll be appearing at two things, one is a workshop on writing sci-fi in this crazy mixed-up world. In this class we will explore sci-fi past, sci-present and hypothesise on sci-fi future. Sci-fi and Escaping the Known World | May 18, 2013 | 9.30 am – 12.30 pm
And I'll also be appearing on a panel with Lauren Beukes, Scott Westerfield and James Bradley to discuss the modern challenge of sci-fi and the impact of rapid technological change on the genre.
Speculative Fiction (panel) | May 25, 2013 | 11.30 am – 12.30 pm
The title of this post is appropriated, as other have before me. I was introduced to it by Sunil Badami who was inspired by Murikami, who was paying homage to Raymond Carver. Thus is the begetting of ideas. It's a conceit to exploit so I can write about the genre and how it now seems to be blending in with my own life. When I'm talking about sci-fi doesn't always seem to match what other people are talking about when they use the term 'sci-fi'. One quickly gets used to the bias most people have against the genre of science fiction. It is the blessing and the curse of any genre; that those who don't partake see it from the outside as if it were just one thing. For those on the inside, the genre is full of different worlds, each succeeding, to differing degrees, in presenting their vision of the future. I prefer the term science fiction to speculative fiction. I understand the reasons for trying to broaden the genre, but it also seemed to come in as the quality of what was getting published declined. So I associate the term with the darker period of my life when I had given up on the genre (thanks be to Lem for bringing me back).
Hard-line science fiction fans would say that we have strayed from the key term 'science', but that seems to imply that only scientists and technicians would have the requisite knowledge to judge the verisimilitude of the work. To me, that's not the essence of science. Science isn't about what we know. It is about what we don't know. As such, science fiction, the kind I enjoy, is about exploring the limits of our knowledge. If science is about finding patterns in chaos, science fiction is at its best when it creates these patterns to generate a moment of elucidation. Just as science continually tests and challenges the validity of these patterns and our understanding grows and changes, so science fiction should continue to evolve, retelling and reimagining the future and impossible realities.
Science is humankind investigating the unknown. Science fiction is man staring into the void and seeing spaceships.
Of course, I haven't read everything in the genre but I have tapped out the main authors and now have to hunt for new works that give me that same fix. The more I search, the more I have to define for myself what it is I am looking for. Why do some books not excite my imagination? Why does so much of the genre bore me? What is good sci-fi?
At the same time I will be building lists in my re:scifi area [link] which group notable works into themes and patterns, as I find it easier to track the development of ideas just as science is developed.
Some aliens have so much unexplained anger. The very sight of another intelligent species sets them off and all the humans can do is fight.
It possibly began with The War of the Worlds, the classic HG Wells that depicts the invasion of Earth by martians. Written in 1898? it still conveys the paranoia of the period, where other countries were as mysterious as beings from another planet. (free ebook)
Joe Haldeman's Forever War.
Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers.
Star Trek, of course, has built a long and detailed futurology with much to be admired. I will save discussing Star Trek for a more focused posting. This list will fill with all the well-defined and imaginative futures with scarily believable parallels that spring to mind. Please twitter or facebook me suggestions.
Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. This is a whole series which has a prequel but I'd start where the author started and read until you get bored.
Cowboy Bebop. Not only the slickest animation of its time, the Cowboy Bebop universe is a primary example of sustained character and story arcs while exploring a universe of possibilities. I recommend the series, the film and the music if you can get it.
The Futurological Congress (From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy), by Stanislaw Lem.
“Helmets” shows twelve different space helmets through the ages. File for creative commons use. Also available framed and on nice paper from Imagekind“Pistols” shows ten different pistols through the ages. File for own use under Creative Commons terms. Also available framed and on nice paper from Imagekind
People often ask how writers write. Do I write straight to computer, do I write out long hand and then transcribe latter? Actually I do it all ways. I find that by varying my location and tools I can stave off fatigue. So in a café I will take notes in a paper-based journal, or I'll sit in the park with my ipad. If I'm caught out I can just use my phone. Having all these places where my scribblings are kept can get confusing, but I use the inbuilt Notes application on my ipad and phone which automagically syncs to my laptop so I can cut and paste into the Scrivener file where I build, edit and rearrange my writings.
The truth is, it doesn't matter how you write. Find what works for you, with the life you lead that manages to get the words out of your head.