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Articles tagged with: Robert Sawyer

Written By: Gary on June 3, 2005 2 Comments

So I’ve been tagged with the book meme (list current books and favorite books and tag a few more people) from Dave over at Blogography.

How Many Books Do You Own? At least five-hundred. A complaint from the last time I moved was “who the hell taught you to read?”. The answer is probably my grandfather, who didn’t teach me to read but taught me to want to read.

What is the Last Book You Bought? Mindscan by Robert Sawyer. I have yet to read this one, so here’s some background on the author. He’s the canadian Michael Crichton, what does that mean? It means he’s awesome (I hope he likes MC) and he makes complicated science fun. He generally does more with connecting everything (science and religion and the mind and the universe) in a holistic way and making it all tie together. He’s entertaining, humorous and very knowledgeable.

What is the Last Book You Read? Time’s Eye by Arthur C. Clark and Stephen Baxter. Imagine To Your Scattered Bodies Go (a classic series from way before it’s time where everyone who ever died resurrected all at once) and the Secret Wars comic (pieces of planets carved up and reassembled into one new planet) combined into one new story. The Earth has been cut up into pieces throughout time and a mishmash of the planet has been reassembled, one step to a new piece of the puzzle may take to the ice age or the future. Plus these silver orbs that defy physics and appear to be watching. Throw in Alexander the Great and Ghengis Khan and you’re ready to go.

Name five books that mean a lot to you. Let’s see if I can keep it to five…

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. This and the rest of the Narnia Series will take you to another world. Don’t let the recent chronological renumbering of the books confuse you, this is the one to start with. Four children who find a passage into another world. A world where they are destined to sit and rule and fight to save the world where “every day is winter, but never Christmas”. This will be a movie this December and I get chills when I see the preview.

Calculating God by Robert Sawyer. Imagine aliens land on earth (Canada of course) and only want to meet with a paleontologist. Imagine they have record of several disasters in the past of their planet the coincide with ours (such as the dinosaurs being wiped out 65 million years ago). What can the cause of this? Why God of course! Isn’t that the reason for science? To prove the existence of God? He’s got some great humor and science and philosophy that’ll make you want to read all his recent books. I’ve given several of this book away as gifts.

Lightning by Dean Koontz. This is a book that I cannot believe hasn’t been adapted into a movie. A non-typical Dean Koontz book with a hero (that I can’t reveal too much about) and the woman he loves and has fallen in love with over and over. And in typical Dean Koontz fashion they are being chased by the bad guys. Hmm… i don’t know what else to say without giving away the story. But it’s my favorite book by him.

So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane. Forget Harry Potter, if you want wizardary this is the series to read. There are rules to spells, you calculate them, they take time, they have a price and in the long run they slow down the death of the universe. Join Kit and Nita as they learn about wizardry and save the world (several times). Diane Duane has written seven of these books and several other fantasy series, Star Trek books and some SpiderMan books. Another book I’ve given away multiple copies of…

Alas Babylon by Pat Frank. The 1959 classic end of the world novel on how a small courageous Florida town survives after the bombs drop. This is probably the only required fiction I ever had in high school that ever made an impact on me. It’s about people and the basic needs they have after an attack. I can’t imagine how the pampered world of today would be impacted if the same thing happened now.

I’ll mention The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but won’t use it since Dave did. And an Honorable Mention to The Watchmen (which to me) was the backstory to The Incredibles (yes, this dark comic is the reason those cartoon characters retired) and resposible for the resurgence of Batman (The Dark Knight Returns) in the mid-1980’s.

Now “tag” five individuals to provide their own lists. Okay lets see. Heather, who got me into blogging. Allison who actually has a Douglas Adams quote at the top of her blog right now. Dave at A Product of the 80’s who comments often but I can’t think of him ever mentioning any books. Diane at Arcadian Expressions who’s another Michiganian. Alfie at Noiblata who’s also local. Jenni at Kitten Kiss with whom I share a birthday. And Kelly who doesn’t post often enough but I bet has some interesting reads. So maybe that’s more than five but at least I stuck to five books…

Feel free to tag yourself (no, that’s not dirty) and post a link in the comments.

And I’ve already thought of a few other books I should add… Sigh…

Written By: Gary on August 17, 2004 3 Comments

This started as a comment/reply to Heather’s post but it gained a life of it’s own. She’s reading a book in which part of the story-line is cops killing repeat felons

…there are a lot of people who would support vigilante cops who took out repeat felons. They are not innocent – and hurt innocent people. But it is returning violence with violence. What do you think of this?

Before I go on – for those of you who don’t know me, I pretty much lean towards the pacifist end of the scale. I volunteer for a SA/DV shelter so I see things from repeat offenders and how the courts don’t work some times so I see the appeal of the possibilities.

I think our legal system has enough loopholes many people are not afraid to kill because they think they can get away with it. Fear of being caught by the executioners might discourage some.

Can someone kill them and forgive them? (I’m serious) If the killing is to stop them from killing/hurting again, can they be forgiven for their past transgressions and still killed to be stopped from harming more innocents?

Did you ever see the Star Chamber (Michael Douglas)?

I just finished The Trigger, they figure out a way to remote detonate gunpowder allowing safety shields. It’s very interesting on how it deals with crime (and the NRA). IT brings up lots of interesting thoughts…

Next two: Not vigilantism, but justice with no courts.
OLD Start Trek: TNG episode. There’s only a few police on the planet, they randomly patrol different areas on the planet. ALL/ANY crimes are punishable by death (they carry the syringes with them). You obey the laws since you don’t know where police will be. Very peaceful planet (if only that damn Wesley hadn’t walked on the grass), everyone knew the rules, they understood the punishment and everyone was good. Interesting concept. I suppose it helps genetically breed out those predisposed to crime/rule breaking. Pretty much you had to be caught to be punished (no courts)

The Hybrid Chronicles (Robert Sawyer) – if guilty of a crime of violence you were sterilized and so were any of your offspring to breed out the undesirable trait (maybe parents/siblings too?), I can’t remember about grandchildren. Very interesting concept. No courts, everyone wore implanted recording PDAs so there was a record to review.

FYI – Heather’s book was Silent Prey by John Sandford (part of the Prey series).

Written By: Gary on May 22, 2004 2 Comments

This week a Vatican astronomer postulated about the existance of extra-terrestrial intelligence and what such existance might mean to not only human religion but to alien religion–and cross-pollination between the two. The astronomer, Guy Consolmagno, described three scenarios: “We find an intelligent civilization and there’s no way in creation we can communicate with them because they’re so alien to us; we find the intelligent civilization. We can communicate.” And: “We find a dozen civilizations out there, and a bunch of Jehovah’s witnesses go up and convert them all.” An anonymous person on Slashdot then took Consolmagno’s comments a step further: “As agents of free-will, the aliens are self-aware of good and evil, thus convertible to some terrestrial religion. The question of whether an alien civilization might convert Earth to their religion, or become a religion unto themselves, is left unconsidered [by Consolmagno].” I entreat you to explore what the Vatican’s astronomer did not. (From The Saturday Slant )
Extra-terrestrials and religion: what’s your Slant?

I find this particularly interesting, why? Because I was just reading about this a few hours ago. Here we go, back to Robert Sawyer (kind of a Canadian Michael Crichton). He ties a lot of this into his books. In particular a book called Calculating God. Here’s a few pages from the middle of the book and chapter one.

Here is the key part:

A bit of cutting (no pasting) from Chapter one to get the point. It starts with the archeologist answering a question from the alien…
book cover

“There’ve been five mass extinctions in Earth’s history that we know of. The first was at the end of the Ordovician, maybe 440 million years ago. The second was in the late Devonian, something like 365 million years ago. The third, and by far the largest, was at the end of the Permian, 225 million years ago.”

“There have also been five major mass extinctions in the history of my planet,” said Hollus [the alien]. “Our year is longer than yours, but if you express the dates in Earth years, they occurred at roughly 440 million, 365 million, 225 million, 210 million, and 65 million years ago.” I felt my jaw drop. “And,” continued Hollus, “Delta Pavonis II [the other planet we stopped by on the way here] has also experienced five mass extinctions. Their year is a little shorter than yours, but if you express the dates of the extinctions in Earth years, they also occurred at approximately 440, 365, 225, 210, and 65 million years ago.”

“That can’t be right,” I said. “We know that the extinctions here were related to local phenomena.” I shook my head. “I just don’t see how that can be.”     I shook my head in wonder. “I can’t think of any reason why evolutionary history should be similar on multiple worlds.”

“One reason is obvious,” said Hollus. “It could be that way because God wished it to be so. The primary goal of modern science,” he continued, “is to discover why God has behaved as he has and to determine his methods. We do not believe — what is the term you use? — we do not believe that he simply waves his hands and wishes things into existence. We live in a universe of physics, and he must have used quantifiable physical processes to accomplish his ends.”

All (most) of his books provide such a premise and he refers to a lot of books that talk about it from a scientific/philosophical point of view, all of it way over my head. But it’s all made me think a bit about it. Some of his other books deals with evil and good (from an AI standpoint) and a collective consciousness. In his one trilogy Hominids/Humans/Hybrids the piece is that they don’t believe in God on the parallel Earth and it brings up some mighty interesting conversations (and outcomes in their society).

From The Saturday Slant

Written By: Gary on May 21, 2004 No Comment
What time do you usually wake up each day? If you could choose your wake-up time, when would it be?
6:45 ish. I’m more of a night person so 10 am would work well for me.
When was the last time you bought groceries? What store did you go to? Name 3 things you purchased.
Last Monday. Farmer Jack. Eggs, OJ and Cantelope; pretty much things I buy every visit (bacon too!).
How many books have you read so far this year? Which was your favorite and why?
Books! Probably a couple dozen. My favorite was Hybrids, the third part of a trilogy by Robert Sawyer (kind of a canadian Michael Criton). It was a great series and they went in a different direction than I thought they were going (which was good, since I didn’t like my guess).
Main Course
What is something you consider to be very elegant? In particular, what about that item/place/person conjures up the feeling of elegance?
Delicate, perfect, breakable, unique, crisp…
Who taught you how to drive?
I took driver’s ed somewhere, but I pretty much had the idea down by then from watchign and motorcycles and such.

From the new meme Friday Feast.

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