Anathem, by Neal Stephenson, is the perfect find for my interest in mathematics in sci-fi. Most of my previous blog comments have remarked on the passing mention of mathematics within the plot of a sci-fi novel. This book is founded on a monastic society of philosopher-scholars whose knowledge of the theoretical far surpasses the technical world that surrounds them. Many of the texts on my bookshelves deal with directed acyclic graphs, DAGs, but they are not fiction. Reading the term as it is used to describe the structure of the metaverse, or polycosmi, was geekishly thrilling. And who among you has read the phrase “symmetry group of the eighth roots of unity” in fiction? Stephenson describes a piece of the architecture of his Mynster in those terms. The public opinion of his “avout” over time, called Iconographies, are studied, revealing “certain patterns that recur again and again, like, like – attractors in a chaotic system.” When the hero makes that remark, his superior says, “Spare me the poetry”! That is exactly what I see in the use of these terms within literature, poetry. My own attempts to do this lead me to a style I call techno-poetic. Anathem contains enough references to real mathematics that you could create a good college course from extracting them and studying the concepts. Or, you could read more quickly and let the mathematics become part of the setting, like the stones of the “Math.”
It seems that the poet, Mad Erik, who is running through my next book, Perturbations of the Reality Field, is a bit too prolific for the manuscript. Therefore, I’ve decided to release a few of his works separately. I hope they intrigue you.
The soul is a thing with many eyes
Each watching unique rivers of universes flowing by.
Every mind hears it whisper.
But those blessed with the power can listen to its multitudinous voices.
Will its bodies touch the holy earth with tenderness or a crushing hand?
The heart, not destiny, will decide.
I hope that my fans will recognize the multiverse of The Family Of Man hidden in these words.
My apologies to any and all who have read my blog and posted a comment without my acknowledging them. They are being overwhelmed by “comment spam”? I’m not sure if the blog is set up incorrectly, or if the garbage is an unavoidable consequence of trying to connect with the world.
Perhaps if I hint at a reward I can separate human fans from whatever else is happening. Check out my previous post about The Fifth Prophet.
For a limited time only get a free e-book copy of the second edition The Fifth Prophet. This near future sci-fi novel begins my Family of Man series. Its plot remains deadly current and its themes put forth solutions to some of the world’s most serious problems. Follow this link https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/1dc95011edb80397 .
Of course, the hope is that anyone getting a free copy will write an honest review. And then, even better, purchase the remaining books in the entire series. At least that is how it is supposed to work according to all the advice on marketing for indie writers. Other attempts at this through my publisher have been very expensive, generating some readers and some notice, but not enough to warrant going that route again. This time, it is totally self-marketing, made easy by Amazon’s giveaway program. We’ll see how it goes.
If you are a winner, I hope you enjoy my writing. If you are too late, try out some great metaphysical sci-fi on your own.
My previous blog post explains my motivations for revising my first book, The Fifth Prophet. The current religious chaos and violence in the world makes it more relevant than ever. I was even bold enough to offer my “fictional” response to terrorism to several current presidential campaigns, but I received no response other than the usual automated computer replies. Who knows, however, where ideas go once they are released into the wild.
In any case, my intended audience is more geeky-nerd than politico, and I hope that anyone brave enough to attend Dr. Bosronov’s seminar on Computational Hyperdimensional String Theory, attentive enough to understand Dr. Beseret’s lecture on Catastrophe Theory, or curious enough to consider Abu BinBob’s experiments in caustics, will also enjoy the more action packed developments in the rest of the story.
Be sure that the cover of the version you request has a “Vitruvian man” in a red flannel shirt at the bottom of the hypercube. That is the revised edition, and it should be available any day now.
At my book signing at the sci-fi convention last month, I spread my five novels out on the table before me, along with assorted business cards, book marks, and short descriptions of the stories. I also started to reread my works so that I would remember what I wrote in case someone asked me for specifics. I only got as far as The Fifth Prophet, which was written eight years ago.
The good news is that I have become a better writer over time. The bad news is that I need to do a few more passes through the first manuscript. At first I saw no way to fix the “near future” aspect of that story. That issue is why I set Time Travelers Are Schizophrenic two hundred years into the future; science fiction that is on the verge of reality tends to become real very, very quickly. Thus it loses something in the story. Some of my “prophecies” have come true already, especially the “VCLs” now commonly known as Google Glasses or their competitors. At the time, wearable technology was still a military thing supported by DARPA.
Another literary problem was that my universe evolved as the books were created, so that I needed to be sure that what I hypothesized about the reality of the universe and faster than light space travel was still consistent. Luckily, the “metaverse” solves the problem. My “near future” apocalypse happened in one of the parallel strings of universes within the metaverse; a simple preface to the revised edition, and voila! Consistency. That parallel universe is very, very close to our own, so that maybe much of The Fifth Prophet will still occur to us here. Madame President, aka Hilary Clinton, still has an outside chance of winning. Donald Trump might actually suggest the “annexation of Mexico.” Nuclear war in the Middle East doesn’t need Bin Laden to start it.
So, Perturbations Of The Reality Field is waiting for me to return and complete it, while I revise and resubmit The Fifth Prophet with a new cover that matches the series. I hope you will continue your support and interest in my writing. Now, back to “Phillipsville.”
I just finished selling and signing my books at my first convention. It was quite an experience, on many levels. My little table was squeezed in between an artist who was doing some sort of custom drawings of anime characters, and a graphics design professor doing a brisk business selling stickers for cellphones and laptops, again with characters I was not familiar with. A constant stream of Cosplay fans dressed as pixies, fairies, and goldilocks girls wandered by along with an intimidating Darth Vader and a really spooky Voodoo guy. Were the blue girls Smurfs, or something completely different? I have no idea.
These strange, young creatures never stopped at my table. They just floated on past. Thick books full of physics, philosophy, and the nature of reality did not draw them in. My customers seemed to be the “older” crowd, those guys with t-shirts that mentioned “quantum mechanics”, “Schroedinger’s Cat”, and “Heisenberg”.
Nevertheless, I talked to some of the other authors in the dealers room, and learned some very interesting facts about the publishing business. Audio books seem to be a growth product, as the “older” crowd again, finds reading some small print difficult these days. I was also positioned across the room from a publisher who had a constant video trailer display for their books running on a flat screen tv. Very nice graphics, unfortunately I still can only draw stick-figures, and I doubt I have time to learn anything more artistic. Writing is hard enough! I spoke with one couple, who I thought at first were struggling self-published writers like myself. Ooops … they are very well known members of Science Fiction Writers of America, an organization I can’t join until my sales are much, much bigger than they are now. Another author, with a very nice table display and a costume to match, writes about Cupid as a hit-man!
A special thanks goes to my wife for sitting next to me during this entire adventure, without a single complaint. Whether she will do it again or not, I can’t say, but I appreciate the support this time.
Now, back to writing Perturbations Of The Reality Field where I can control the strange characters that pass on by.
Spoiler? … In A Fire Upon The Deep Vernor Vinge has created a race of aliens unlike any others I can remember. The individuals are small packs of dogs or wolves with shared minds. Without going into many of the other interesting aspects of this creation, I found one that, if not exactly mathematics in sci-fi, is a unique application of computer science theory. Vinge has an antagonist experimenting with the network architectures of these packs/individuals in a very mad-scientist kind of way. With certain techniques of biological and behavioral manipulation he constructs ring and star network topologies out of the alien minds. This is definitely not the Borg, or even the Buggers of Ender’s Game. I can’t wait to read what he does with this concept.
In an attempt to get my books in front of an enthusiastic sci-fi audience, I’ve signed up to sell at the LI-CON2 conference in Ronkonkoma, Long Island this August 14-16. I attended this conference the last time it was held, two years ago, and met many like-minded individuals. Unfortunately manning a dealer’s table means that I won’t be able to attend many of the other exciting events this time.
The last time I signed my books was after a presentation I gave at a local library. Those in attendance got a lecture on self-publishing, which was just catching on at the time, and a good introduction to what my first novel, The Fifth Prophet, was about. This time I will only have a minute or so to pitch one of the five novels in my Family of Man series. I’m still practicing what I will say. 🙂 My protagonists are all human, and the Fifth Prophet wore flannel shirts and blue jeans, so I won’t be able to attract much attention amidst the hordes of aliens and super heroes attending the conference.
It should be an adventure, and I am looking forward to meeting some interesting people and of course, selling a few books.
According to Wikipedia, “The idea that one butterfly could eventually have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent historic events made its earliest known appearance in A Sound of Thunder, a 1952 short story by Ray Bradbury about time travel.” The Wikipedia article also states that “chaos theory and the sensitive dependence on initial conditions were described in the literature in a particular case of the three-body problem by Henri Poincaré in 1890.” And yet, here in The Brothers Karamazov, published in 1880, I found, “for all is like an ocean, all is flowing and blending; a touch in one place sets up movement at the other end of the earth.” Dostoyevsky’s quote came from the mouth of a Russian Orthodox monk in the midst of a long religious section. I wonder how many other readers recognized the similarity to the Butterfly Effect? Come to think of it, there are three brothers Karamazov, and the entire novel has a sensitive dependence on initial conditions and is headed toward chaos, or maybe catastrophe, but that is yet another mathematical subject.