"There are times when it's worth putting aside the endless myopic navel-gazing that occupies so much literature, in order to look out at the universe itself and value it for what it is."
An Australian author who puts the Hard Science back into Hard Science Fiction
. Likes to show his work.
Quite unapologetic for being deeply technical - he's got his niche of the "1% that treats science as something of interest in its own right", the rest have enough authors writing for them already.
Works with a page on this Wiki:
His other works include:
- Distress - Political intrigue surrounding the development of a Theory of Everything.
- Incandescence - Pre-industrial aliens discover General Relativity because their world circles the black hole at the centre of the galaxy.
- Orthogonal - Aliens in a universe with very strange physics build a Generation Ship in an attempt to avert disaster. A trilogy, consisting of:
- The Clockwork Rocket
- The Eternal Flame
- The Arrows of Time
- Permutation City - Philosophical inquiry leads to the creation of a universe, simply by starting to simulate it and then turning the computer off.
- Teranesia - Through quantum computing, life becomes capable of mutating into the optimum form for its environment.
- Zendegi - Simulations of human neural maps are used to add realism to a virtual world.
Common themes in his works include The Singularity
, atheism, regional politics, religion being the source of many problems, and non-standard sexual identities.
Tropes in his other works include:
- Adam and Eve Plot: With all the religious symbolism that shows up in Permutation City, it's only fitting that it should end with Paul and Maria setting off together into their own newly-created universe.
- Adaptive Ability: In Teranesia, an evolving organism is apparently able to anticipate future challenges and develop appropriately.
- All There in the Manual: He stuffs his stories with heady physics that is almost impossible to fully convey without diagrams and calculus. He has interactive animated simulations on his website for the confused yet still interested. He's recently taken this Up to Eleven, posting eighty thousand words along with hundreds of illustrative diagrams to describe the alternate-universe physics he invented for Orthogonal.
- Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": The Clockwork Rocket takes place in a universe with entirely different laws of physics from our own. It still uses common words like "plant", "forest", and "wheat" to describe the things that are roughly analogous (never mind that plants gain energy by emitting light rather than absorbing it).
- Cure Your Gays:
- In Oracle, an alternate universe Alan Turing is locked in a punishingly cramped cage by the secret service in an attempt to cure him of his homosexuality. The No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Turing notices the Anviliciousness of the situation:
Quint was silent for a moment, then he replied with a tone of thoughtful sympathy. "It's unnatural, isn't it? Living like this: bent over, twisted, day after day. Living in an unnatural way is always going to harm you. I'm glad you can finally see that."
Robert was tired; it took several seconds for the meaning to sink in. It was that crude, that obvious? They'd locked him in this cage, for all this time ... as a kind of ham-fisted metaphor for his crimes?
- His short story "Cocoon" also has the eponymous treatment for pregnant women that semi-inadvertently prevents gay-making hormones from reaching the baby.
- Dying Dream: An unusual version of this is found in the story "Transition Dreams". A man's brain is scanned and transferred to a computer. The end result is an exact copy, as though the man's mind had been instantaneously transferred from brain to computer. But the mind is conscious of the transfer, and realizes that all its dreamlike experiences of the process must be annihilated before it can be identical to the original brain scan. The real twist, though, is that the end of the story calls into question whether he even really is being transferred to a computer, or if he's just plain dying and the whole brain-scan thing is a hallucination born of denial.
- False Crucible: In Permutation City the initial protagonist repeatedly attempts to download his intelligence into a computer, but the downloaded intelligence always kills itself, so he (the original, human one) brainwashes himself to believe he's one of the downloaded copies, to get a better appreciation of what it's like for them. At least, this is what his devoted girlfriend explains to him when he wakes up after 'deleting' himself. After he repeats the test a few times, she ceases to exist...
- Fling a Light into the Future: A species doomed to extinction by a black hole crashing through their starsystem in Incandescence takes a radical approach to Fling A Light Into The Future: they engineer a de-novo descendant species and culture able to live within chunks of rock orbiting inside the accretion disk.