Monday, September 4, 2006

Mississauga Write-Off Day Three (evening)

Today's food was a brunch at our place in the morning, followed by an early dinner at Emerald Chinese, one of Mississauga's best, and most authentic, Chinese restaurants (by the time our dinner was over, the place was reasonably packed, and we were the only non-Asians eating there). Liz and Hayden very kindly bought for everyone.

I got my 2,000 words done (total 6,000 so far for the Write-Off). At 8:00 p.m., we all did five-minute readings from what we'd been working on, which was great fun; the readings were fueled by Pillsbury chocolate-chip cookies.

After, we watched my favourite episode of the HBO TV series From the Earth to the Moon, which is "Galileo was Right." In it, David Clennon plays a geology professor who teaches a bunch of Right Stuff-style astronaut jocks how to be scientists; I've never seen any SF work do as good a job of conveying the excitement of scientific discovery.

We also watched an episode of a Corner Gas, a wonderful Canadian sitcom (three words that, until recently, could not be used in the same sentence), since our American friends hadn't ever seen it. We also watched parts of Silent Running, and Probe, the pilot film for the TV series Search.

And we had a fascinating discussion about the accessibility of modern science fiction, using these paragraphs, the opening of Chapter Two of Charles Stross's new novel Glasshouse, as a springboard:

Welcome to the Invisible Republic.

The Invisible Republic is one of the legacy polities that emerged from the splinters of the Republic of Is, in the wake of the series of censorship wars that raged five to ten gigaseconds ago. During the wars, the internetwork of longjump T-gates that wove the subnets of the hyperpower together was shattered, leaving behind sparsely connected nets, their borders filtered through firewalled assembler gates guarded by ferocious mercenaries. Incomers were subjected to forced disassembly and scanned for subversive attributes before being rebuilt and allowed across the frontiers. Battles raged across the airless cryogenic wastes that housed the longjump nodes carrying traffic between warring polities, while the redactive worms released by the Censor factions lurked in the firmware of every A-gate they could contaminate, their viral payload mercilessly deleting all knowledge of the underlying cause of the conflict from fleeing refugees as they passed through the gates.

Like almost all human polities since the Acceleration, the Republic of Is relied heavily on A-gates for manufacturing, routing, switching, filtering, and the other essentials of any network civilization. The ability of nanoassembler arrays to deconstruct and replicate artifacts and organisms from raw atomic feedstock made them virtually indispensable not merely for manufacturing and medical purposes, but for virtual transport (it's easier to simultaneously cram a hundred upload templates through a T-gate than a hundred physical bodies) and molecular firewalling. Even when war exposed them to subversion by the worms of censorship, nobody wanted to do without the A-gates to grow old and decrepit, or succumb to injury, seemed worse than the risk of memory corruption. The paranoid few who refused to pass through the verminous gates dropped away, dying of old age or cumulative accidental damage; meanwhile, those of us who still used them can no longer be certain of whatever it was that the worm payloads were designed to hide in the first place. Or even who the Censors were.

All in all, a wonderful, stimulating, productive, enjoyable (but fattening!) day.


At September 04, 2006 6:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Made In Canada not qualify as a wonderful Canadian sitcom?


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