"david marusek"

What do reverse cyborgs want? A review of David Marusek's Glassing the Orgachine

In First Contact, Book 1 of David Marusek’s (previously) science fiction series Upon This Rock, an alien being crash lands in a remote corner of Alaska, not far from a family-cult of preppers for the end times, and the alien exploits the beliefs of the family patriarch by posing as an angel sent to earth to initiate the final conflict. Rooted deeply in contemporary Alaskan landscape and culture, the novel is funny and painful, part satire and part serious exploration of a particularly unfortunate instance of first contact. The novel ends on a cliffhanger, leaving many questions unanswered. Read the rest

Free science fiction story ebooks from David Marusek

The wonderful science fiction writer David Marusek sez,

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Boing Boing Gift Guide 2009: fiction! (part 5/6)

Mark and I have rounded up some of our favorite items from our 2009 Boing Boing reviews for the second-annual Boing Boing gift guide. We'll do one a day for the next six days, covering media (music/games/DVDs), gadgets and stuff, kids' books, novels, nonfiction, and comics/graphic novels/art books. Today, it's novels!

Makers (Cory Doctorow): Technology lets low-cost providers take market share away from established companies, as Detroit auto makers and Paris fashion house designers have seen. Even high-tech companies have a hard time building sustainable businesses now that good ideas are copied so quickly that they become commodities.

In a time of great change, fiction can sometimes provide better understanding than facts alone. "As the pace of technological change accelerates, the job of the science fiction writer becomes not harder, but easier--and more necessary," he writes. "After all, the more confused we are by our contemporary technology, the more opportunities there are to tell stories that lessen that confusion." L. Gordon Crovitz, Wall Street Journal Full review | Purchase

The Strain: Book One of The Strain Trilogy Someone said The Strain is a combination of The Stand, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and I am Legend, which I'd say is a pretty fair way of describing it. The first chapter is about an airplane that lands at JFK from Germany and goes completely dark on the runway. It's so creepy that when I told my wife and daughter about it *they* got creeped out just from my description. Read the rest

Mind Over Ship: David Marusek's hyperfuturistic, hyperimaginative soap-opera

David Marusek's Mind Over Ship is the long-awaited sequel to his groundbreaking 2005 debut novel Counting Heads, and it was worth the wait.

Mind Over Ship returns to the awesomely weird and exciting Marusek future, where humanity trembles on the verge of transcendence, splintering into people, clones, avatars, AIs, temporary and permanent models (some made without the model-ee's consent) and a thousand other fragments. Each of these factions battles for the best deal it can get -- even as the individual members of each clade fight for their own personal best interests.

Mind Over Ship is so complex, with so many storylines and so many incredibly inventive premises, that it trembles on the verge of breakdown, acrobatically walking on a tightrope over the pit of too-weird. It's a book that demands and rewards attention, as it explores a hundred important philosophical questions about free will, destiny, bioethics, intelligence, and duty.

For example, there's the story of the betrayal of the cold-sleep deep-space ships, which are meant to be launching by the dozens to distant, unexplored stars (but which have been co-opted for use as space-condos in a hostile corporate takeover). This leaves their erstwhile owners -- semi-sovereign collectives of Jesus freaks, defective spare-organ clones of VIPs, fatalistic Ukrainian Chernorbyl survivors, and other disaffected groups yearning to breath the air of distant worlds -- out in the cold.

Then there's the biowar flu, "the 24-hour nonspecific grief flu," which causes its victims to feel, well, nonspecific grief for 24 hours, before their immune systems fight the bugs off. Read the rest

Counting Heads: exciting, major new sf novel

David Marusek is one of the best-kept secrets of science fiction, a wild talent with a Gibson-grade imagination and marvelous prose, and a keen sense of human drama that makes it all go. Science fiction editors nurture short story writers -- many sf insiders keep track of the short fiction markets and watch with keen interest the writers who are doing good work there, but until those writers manage to get a novel out, it's rare for the field at large to take note of them. Writers like Ben Rosenbaum and Ted Chiang do incredible, brilliant work in short lengths, and the field does yeoman duty recognizing them with awards and approbation, but ultimately, the audience for short fiction is regrettably small.

Marusek's amazing story "The Wedding Album" floored me when I read it in 1999, was a finalist on the Nebula ballot, won the Sturgeon and Asimov's Reader's Choice Awards, placed in the Locus, Seiun and HOMer awards, and left all who read it gob-smacked. It was the story of the AI avatars cast as a sort of wedding photo of a couple on their big day; the story traces the avatars' lives through thousands of years of technical evolution, through the Singularity, and out the other side. The story reels from heartbreaking to mind-bending like a poet on a magnificent drunk bouncing from lamp-post to lamp-post.

I have a gigantic backlog of reading that I've promised to do, but when the galleys for Marusek's first novel, Counting Heads, came to my mailbox, it went into my shoulder-bag and has stayed there ever since, while I read it in sips and draughts, stealing every possible moment to read more of it, wanting to see what happens next and not wanting it to end. Read the rest

Breast cancer linked to artificial light

When I was working on Eastern Standard Tribe, my editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden told me that he thought that the electric light was a kind of drug, the kind of thing it takes a civilization a century to absorb, a hundred-year-long interregnum like the industrial century that Russian staggered through under the influence of vodka, or the lowlanders' gin-soaked hallucinogenic century. The ability to work when the sun was down, to ignore the seasons' rhythm that we'd been guided by since we were photosynthesizing single-celled organisms -- it's the kind of thing that can and does drive us all mad. (David Marusek, a brilliant sf writer who lives in Alaska, once described whole towns of people from away that would crop up during the summer season -- hoteliers and waiters and loggers and gas-station attendants -- none of whom had ever seen the midnight sun, staying awake for days on end, brawling and hallucinating and screwing their brains out, like a Bosch illustration).

Now there's a theory that breast cancer is related to hormone imbalances caused by artificial lighting. Our ability to best our meat and bend it to our will is overstated, I think -- the meat always gets its own back.

Their theory that artificial light can cause breast cancer is simple. Prolonged periods of exposure to artificial light disrupt the body's circadian rhythms - the inner biological clocks honed over thousands of years of evolution to regulate behaviors such as sleep and wakefulness. The disruption affects levels of hormones such as melatonin and the workings of cellular machinery, which can trigger the onset of cancer, Stevens theorizes.

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Dave Winer's proposing adding a <ttl> element to RSS as a means of making it easier to insert RSS items into Gnutellanet. I love the idea of people working hard to augment the noninfringing uses of Gnutella -- earlier today in one of the comments, someone mentioned that "98 percent of Kazaa users are engaged in infringement," and my houseguest, David Marusek, mentioned to me last night that he was under the impression that P2P networks were only used to infringe. This is not the case, of course -- no more than the idea that chat-rooms are only used for cybersex or that personal websites are only used to post pictures of people's pets. RSS-over-Gnutella would be a nifty and substantial new use for Gnutellanet, IMO.



(Thanks, Dave!) Read the rest

Science fiction without the future

Science fiction author Judith Berman looks at a year's worth of issues of Asimov's and ponders the dearth of new, young sf readers. She raises the point that very few of the stories being published today are a celebration of the future (or indeed, the present), but rather they look backwards to the "Golden Age" of sf when writers were exuberant about tomorrow. She calls me on this -- rightly so -- for a couple of future-shocky stories I sold to Asimov's, and goes on critique the genre for being almost exclusively focused on its fear of the present and the future. Good, thought-provoking stuff!

With so many writers apparently uneasy about the state of the world, I would expect plenty of mordant commentary on our entanglement in the wheels of the runaway technological locomotive. But almost none of the stories in these 13 Asimov’s issues--not even those set in a "real future"--offer a genuine critique of technology, of its use by and its impact upon humanity. David Marusek’s biting "VTV," about new extremes of media manipulation, is a standout exception (3/00). Critique requires that its author gaze unflinchingly at present and future, ugly and perverse as those might appear. What we have instead here is a pervasive techno-anxiety that for the most part looks away from the source of its fears.



(Thanks, Stefan!) Read the rest

Fabulous vignette by the magnificent

Fabulous vignette by the magnificent new sf writer, Benjamin Rosenbaum. If you can find a copy of the July issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, scarf it up and devour his brilliant, comical, touching debut short story, "The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale." Not since Bradley Denton's "The Calvin Coolidge Home for Dead Comedians" and David Marusek's "The Wedding Party" have I been so gobsmacked by a short story in a magazine.

A light bulb salesman fell in love with a duck.

He followed the duck to Canada in his little red van, the light bulbs rattling and clicking in their cases.

Past trout, moose, and grizzly bears, and into the tundra, he drove the van, calling to his duck beloved, "Sarah, my darling, will you come to me, will you lay your small head against my knees?"

Driving, sleeping, he dreamt of the duck, of kissing her webbed feet, of laughing together by the lakeside, of holding a can of beer for her to drink from in the summer night.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Pat!) Read the rest