Let’s say you had a choice all the time whether or not to speak or use telepathy. Obviously if you are communicating at a distance, telepathy is the only choice. Remember, cellphones and internet are obsolete in the world of Gaia’s Web. But what about conventional conversations and meetings? What then? In a public place telepathy could be more private but in some ways the personal qualities of speech might be more intimate. Then again, maybe if you know the person well, the intonations of their speech might carry over into telepathic communication. Perhaps most people would use a moment-to-moment blend of telepathy and speech, like a bilingual family switches from one language to another in midstream sometimes. And speaking of languages, does telepathy communicate meaning or specific words (language dependent) or general meanings (language independent)? Let’s hear your ideas and mayb some of them might turn up in the sequel.
On 3/27 at the Cosmic Spiral reading there was an interesting discussion of spirituality in Gaia’s Web. The passages I chose to read focused primarily on that theme. So what are the religious and spiritual threads woven into Gaia’s Web? First, the Gaia concept of a conscious planet with wholeness and harmony among all sentient beings dwelling on it. Then there’s the way their different brands of spirituality influence the attitudes and behavior of supposedly objective scientists. The four players on the STAIR team may function like a well-oiled machine when discussing research findings but they practically come to blows over the spiritual implications of those findings. There’s even some ironic parody of a fanatical preacher who predicts the same catastrophes happenng to humanity on religious grounds that the scientists are predicting on scientific grounds. BTW, I learned while working on Gaia’s Web that writers can’t prejudge their characters and take sides in their conflicts with each other, or else the story falls flat as just a morality tale inhabited by lifeless cardboard cutouts. All human beings, even villains, are complex creatures with conflicting motives, some of which work for good. In Gaia’s Web, the scientists are fervent practitioners of four different faiths. They call one another out on the downside of each others’ beliefs as well as appreciating the upsides. They all have flaws and foibles, and together they save the world.
How do you get a geek interested in spirituality and religion? Just give him an SF novel featurning some supersmart brain and computer scientists with deep spiritual convictions who are able to prevent environmental collapse by designing a computer program that’s conscious and creative. How do you get non-scientists who are definitely not geeky to read a near future visionary SF novel? Just give them spiritual characters they can relate to.
Last night’s reading at the Community Writing Center in Salt Lake City led to a stimulating discussion on many issues confronted by writers of long fiction such as keeping the action going rather than interrupting it with long passages of explanation and background, advancing the plot through dialogue, making descriptions more vivid by using all five senses, and the intricacies of character development. Thanks to a small but enthusiastic group of participants, I came away with renewed energy and appreciation for the writing process — the cookies and cider were good too.
We are so wedded as a culture now to computers and digital devices of all sorts that it seems virtually impossible for most people to imagine a life without them. Perhaps it is easier for me because I belong to a generation that grew up with nothing but typewriters and landlines. But even for me it’s a stretch to imagine a post-digital society connected telepathically rather than electronically, where sharing data is merely a thought (not a even a keystroke) away. Most science fiction I’ve seen envisions advanced AI and AI/human interfaces or AI vs. human warfare (like the Terminator series), but not a universe that has evolved beyond computer-based entities. Gaia’s Web charts a path to such a future. Can you imagine yourself living that way? The forthcoming sequel Gaia’s Mind will begin to explore this new territory.
I notice some days like today I feel wiped out. Strange sensations pass through my body. No, it’s not the flu. I seem to be experiencing an energy upshift, a kind of resetting of my bodymind, similar to activating new versions of programs online by rebooting my computer. Sound familiar to any of you? @GaiasWeb
The Cosmic Spiral presents
Author Steve Proskauer
Gaia’s Web: Reading, Discussion and Book Signing
Spiritual Themes in a Visionary Science Fiction Novel
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 7 pm
920 East 900 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged with: @GaiasWeb
The Community Writing Center presents
Author Steve Proskauer
Gaia’s Web: Reading, Discussion and Book Signing
The Crafting of a Novel with CWC’s Help
Monday, March 18, 2013 at 6 pm
SLCC Community Writing Center
210 East 400 South, Suite 8
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
A recently posted review of Gaia’s Web on Amazon included a provocative sentence near the end: “In Gaia’s Web with the aid of artificial intelligence people can potentially, for the first time, be guarded as one unit. It is a brave new world, in which the computers we have built can become either the ultimate world’s servant or ultimate world’s parent.” This raises interesting questions about the relationship between man and his creations, especially artificial intelligence. Since the reviewer hadn’t read the book in its entirety but only dipped in at random mining for gems, s/he can be forgiven for misunderstanding the ultimate relationship between the computer program AGA and the human race, yet the issue is still relevant — as a species,are we looking for a servant, a parent or something else? When we pray, we look to a parent-figure to take care of us. With today’s computer, we employ an electronic tool so sophisticated that it can be regarded as a servant. In Gaia’s Web, mankind is looking for a savior from its own imbalances and atrocities. AGA obliges, but then finds a way to help humanity avoid such errors in the future. To learn how these things occur, read the book and decide for yourself who AGA becomes in relation to humanity.
It’s still frigid here in Salt Lake City. It’s 8 degrees and we have 15 inches of frozen crusty and slowly browning old snow choking up everything. We’d all be better off if we were hibernating bears. They crawl into the back of a warm cave, snuggle down in the leaves and dirt, lower their metabolism down to practically nothing and sleep away these frosty days. They come out thin and hungry in the spring, but well rested and ready for action.
Now look at us humans. We insist on keeping up the pace all through the winter months. The frenetic drama of modern life defies the seasons and gives the finger to the elements. No wonder we have flu epidemics and universal sniffles. We don’t know how to slow down and flow with the season, go into the cave of dreamtime and conjure up something magical. I remember doing that back in 2011 when I began writing Gaia’s Web. Gosh, I got the whole plot served to me on a silver platter one weekend two years ago when I had the good sense to hunker down and listen. Now it’s all about marketing the finished book and polishing up the sequel, while keeping house and taking care of my integrative psychiatry practice. Sound like a lot? Well, it is — and too much for the winter season.
Now the time has come for the Sundance Film Festival. Great. I get to stand in line in the inversion smog that inevitably happens at this time of year, eager to pay big bucks to see obscure new films that want to make it big. Don’t get me wrong — some of these films are great and worth waiting in line for, BUT IT’S WINTER. GIVE US A BREAK!
In the middle of all this activity, I had to dig my car out of a pile of ice dumped on my wheels most generously by the zealous snowplow crew, busy cleaning up and pushing back what had already been plowed twice. I had to call a f–ing tow truck to get to work! Welcome to Siberia, Utah style.
In the world of Gaia’s Web, we warm each other well. The folks in the tropics project their experience to the cold people up north — not just describe, project, so the freezing people feel the sun on their skin and can bask on the beach with their fellow humans in the warmer climes. Likewise, if you get hot and sweaty down on the equator, just tune into the Yukon and get a blast of cold from an Eskimo or prospector up that way. Very refreshing and generously provided at no charge as we take care of each other by balancing one another’s experience of the extremes on this planet of contrasts. Try hooking into Gaia’s Web this way and your winters will be less wearing, your summers less sweltering as you share the wealth of the human condition with your fellows.