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How close an eye do you keep on changes in the scientific world?
At the moment I'm reading THE MONKS OF WAR by I maintain contacts with researchers in dozens of fields, both for fun and to keep up. In fact, any well-read citizen can stay reasonably current nowadays, by reading any of the popular science magazines that describe remarkable advances every week, in terms non-specialists can understand. The advance of human knowledge has become - at long last - a vividly enjoyable spectator sport! And a growing movement toward amateur science shows there is room for participants at every level.
What's the world's greatest invention so far?
Criticism - the only known antidote to the human genius at self-deception. The problem is, you have to grow up a bit in order to even begin using it. (I'm still working on that part.) Every marvel of our age arose out of the critical give and take of an open society. No other civilization ever managed to incorporate this crucial innovation, weaving it into daily life. And if you disagree with this ... say so!
What would you like to see created tomorrow (other than dittos?)?
An even wider diversity of voices to talk to. Communication with dolphins and intelligent computers ... and among existing human cultures. And new cultures we invent as we go. We need both a technology and a linguistics or truth telling.
What are you reading at the moment?
THE DREAM OF SCIPIO by Iain Pears, a 'literary' historical/philosophical novel that rubs against my personal philosophy at almost every level. I grumble and snarl every few pages - and find my assumptions challenged. Also A BRAIN FOR ALL SEASONS by William Calvin, a brilliant look at how human evolution may have been influenced by climate. When it comes to science fiction, Iain M. Banks can't be beat. Greg Bear rattles everything you thought was true.
Which authors have most influenced your writing?
I grew up on Robert Heinlein and Robert Sheckley, moved on to Aldous Huxley and James Joyce, then thawed out a bit with Vonnegut and Amis and Sharp. Finally, I decided to become a storyteller, and reacquainted myself with the clear, almost tribal rhythms of Poul Anderson.
Will Al Morris return?
I am writing Kil'n Time as we speak. It focuses less on Al Morris than his pal - a man who uses his 'home copier' to make the craziest dittos you'll ever meet.
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