“Flesh is hard to fake. Meat, essentially muscle tissue (unless you’re talking about offal), is a complex material. A steak, for instance, consists of tens of thousands of muscle fibres, blood vessels, nerves, layers of fat and connective tissue, gristle and perhaps bone. A slab of sirloin is a chunk of incredibly complex machinery, and it is this complexity that is giving the fakers a headache.”
“This is a disruptive technology – one that threatens to overturn a powerful and established order. The global meat industry, which is populated by some very ruthless people, is going to fight this hard. “I think the meat industry will be an adversary, and maybe a dangerous one,” Post says.”
[Link]: Fake meat: is science fiction on the verge of becoming fact? - The Guardian,June 22nd 2012.
“After dinner, rather the better for wine, and lying on the rug, Arnold began telling Alan about his recurrent childhood dream, or nightmare rather, in which he felt himself suspended in an absolutely empty space while a strange noise would start, growing ever louder, until he woke up in a sweat. Alan asked what kind of noise it was, but Arnold could not describe it. Thinking of big empty spaces, Alan imagined the old RAF hanger along the road, and made up a science fiction story (he talked a bit about H.G.Wells) in which the hanger itself was a brain, programmed in such a way that it would work normall for anyone else but when he went in to the hanger, he would be trapped. The doors would be shut. And then he would have to play against the machine, a game of chess, the best out of three. The machine would counter his moves so quickly that he would have to make conversation to distract it. So he would talk to it, first making it show anger, then pleasing it by being stupid, and then making it feel smug.
‘Can you think what I feel? Can you feel what I think?’ he said with terrific emphasis at one point, as he became more excited with the story. He quite transfixed Arnold as he took a piece of chalk, and imagined how he could beat the machine, by doing arithmetic so badly and slowly and stupidly that it would commit suicide in despair. “
‘Alan Turing: The Enigma’ - Andrew Hodges (pg 452).
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter talk about the writing process, the nature of collaboration, the beauty of hard science-fiction literature and creating the start of a trilogy (their new sci-fi work, The Long Earth).
“I know of no woman whose attitude to technology (however “technology” is defined) is either the goshwow school so common in the SF of the 1930s and 40s or the technophobia (coupled with hatred of the “modern world”) of a “D.H. Lawrence, a Norman Mailer, or a Ken Kesey. And “the women I know” include two mathematicians, a computer specialist teaching in University, a biologist, a failed biologist, and a raft of science-fiction writers. The lack of technophobes is fairly simple; return to an idyllic, non-technological past is simply not an option open to women.”
Great and furious analysis on how the fetishation of technology in much SF is divorced from economics.
"Science fiction scenarios have long prophesied a gee-whiz Home of the Future complete with automated appliances, chore-performing robots, and jetpacks. In recent years, technologists and corporate officials have expanded that idea with visions of utility systems, buildings, and even entire cities where sensors, ubiquitous smartphones, and real-time data analytics allow traffic to flow more smoothly, electricity and water systems to adjust efficiently to customer needs, and buildings or bridges that tell their overseers when they are in need of repair."
A report by on The Future of Smart Systems by Pew Internet, exploring differences between the ‘gee whiz’ science-fiction predictions and the more mundane/more complex realities. [Link]
Gas giant A large planet, like Jupiter or Neptune, that is composed largely of gaseous material. The first known use of this term is from a story (“Solar Plexus”) by James Blish; the odd thing about it is that it was first used in a reprint of the story, eleven years after the story was first published. Whether this is because Blish conceived of the term in the intervening years or read it somewhere else, or whether it was in the original manuscript and got edited out is impossible to say at this point. [Link]
Neal Stephenson and Jennifer Rohn will be talking together at the Edinburgh Festival on Saturday 18th August about the influence of science fiction on science ‘fact’ (whatever, of course, fact may be). Stephenson is a sci-fi writer who started out as a technologist; Rohn is a cell biologist who also writes fiction about science - should be good! [Tickets here]