The Mind's I


I love William Gibson and I'm not afraid to say it.

Here's just a few great sites for him.

Resources on William Gibson
A pretty good starting point.

The Cyberpunk Movement
I think this is a very cool class. Great reading material and a good introduction to the genre.

Probably one of the best Gibson sites out there. It's a bit outdated, but still good.

A poem that Gibson once wrote. Gibson is a poet at heart. His attention to words is phenomenal.

William Gibson
A great biography.


International Space Station
I'm so proud of the development of the international space station. They are currently in the process of moving materials to the space station in preparation of the first 'permanent' crew that is arriving next year in March. I believe that living today, at this time, is exciting.

Books on Demand
I think this is a very cool idea. To print books only after they are ordered. However, there is something to be said of the nostalgia of picking up a book and leafing through it with no real intention of buying it. Atleast, not then. I rarely know what book I am going to buy when I walk into a store. I love browsing. It's people like me that will never make bookstores or libraries obsolete.

Mir today, gone tomorrow
It looks like they are scrapping Mir. Letting it burn up in the earth's atmosphere. Will it burn away that fast? Actually, I think they should salvage it if they can and bring it back for historical purposes. Have it installed as part of a permanent exhibit somewhere. It's part of our history that should be cherished... although at what cost is an entirely different question all together...

Genera Plantarum

Since we're talking about science fiction, I wanted to tell you about a class I took in college. It was a class called "The Form and Function of Flowering Plants" and was taught by my college advisor, Dr. Cheeseman (don't laugh! He is one of the coolest teachers I know and is a fascinating character). We learned about how form follows function and function follows form in a beautiful circle when it comes to plants... and the main project of the class was to construct a fictional plant!

Essentially, I had to come up with an interesting-sounding plant and justify its existance by putting up the forms that would construct this unique plant. I came up with mine when I was thinking about problems with space. I remember looking at apple trees and thinking that there are lots of branches on the apple tree that aren't occupied with leaves or flowers. Or in an urban environment, there isn't much space available for plants. So I designed a plant that is supposed to live in the areas where plants generally don't grow. On the branches of other trees, for example. And this plant will generate an edible fruit.

So, I studied plants that live on plants without the benefit of soil. I studied members of Bromeliaceae (Bromeliad familt), especially Tillandsia, the branch of Bromeliaceae that hold air plants. You know air plants. You can typically buy them in a shell that has a magnet and can attach to the front of your fridge. They require no soil and very little water (just a slight misting). They are designed to suck water from their leaves and their roots don't have water-absorbing qualities. Their roots are designed to plant them on the rock/tree/structure to keep attached.

My plant would fill the spaces that fruit trees have between branches. It would produce *one* fruit a year or two, a crop similar to a small pineapple. Efficient use of space. We can start having urban farmers, the plants growing ont the side of buildings not requiring soil and getting the water in needs from the air.

I got a B+ in the course. Yay.

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June 2, 1999

Eileene and Mike

Here is Mike and I on my bed. It's way too small for both of us. Although we both live in my parents' house, we sleep in separate rooms. We're not married so, that's the big reason why we're separated when it comes to our sleeping arrangements, which is really fine with me. I get to sleep with the computers, so I can plug away on my machine without bothering Mike. A good deal. I'm not sure how my schedule is going to change once Mike and I get our own place, but it definitely will. I'll have to refine my online process, especially journal updating.

I'll work on that when it comes, yah?

I got my science fiction fix for today.

It looks like Janeway isn't going anywhere for the next season. I really like her. Mike never much cared for her, since he felt that she was imitating Patrick Stewart's amazing performance as Captain Jean Luc Picard. I can't exactly disagree with him because she does have that air to her, but I think it's a necessary attitude for a starship captain. I didn't care for her highly PC crew when the series first started, but I grew to like the series immensely, especially with Seven of Nine in tow. She's cool and very very sexy. I want to look that good in her outfits.

That got me thinking about Science Fiction and what authors I really love. William Gibson is one of those writers. When I was in high school I had three posters up in my room. I made them by enlarging the pictures of the authors from the back of hardcover books to poster size. Frank Herbert. Robert Heinlein. William Gibson. A few years ago, I was introduced to Neil Stephenson, who writes in the same cyberpunk genre as Mr. Gibson. However, I like Gibson better. Gibson is more formal, a literary writer. I consider him a poet with his words, one of the few poets that I can connect to. Stephenson, although I enjoyed reading Snow Crash is more in a 'popular' style. He's far easier to read, so although both author's stories are generally equally satisfying, I feel like I've accomplished more by reading Gibson.

He holds a place in my heart as one of my favorite writers. He does own the distinction of writing my favorite short story, Hinterlands. I don't know what it is about the piece but it makes me cry every time I read it. I no longer outright sob like I did when I first read the story, but I always have tears.

Hinterlands makes me feel small. Like a character in the book, I feel the desperation as a member of a hinterland tribe. Our hands outstretched, collectively blind, hoping to catch some scrap that will enlighten us. Teach us teach us. I can almost hear the desperation in our voices. The way we hold out our peers like lambs to the slaughter, the lambs not struggling and praying to be taken away. To be made immortal by being one of the lucky ones to bring back the next alien artifact.

And then I think of the characters in the book. They are the few that don't get taken. The ones that are rejected from this unknown singularity and don't get taken. They don't get to be immortal. Rejection from something that you don't even know or comprehend. It's not even rejection. No blatant "sorry". Just silence.

That's a chord that strikes me in the story. The characters are all rejected by silence. There was no voice of rejection, something that is tangible. Instead it was ambiguous silence that reached their ears and I personally hate that. I hate getting the silent treatment from people. That game doesn't fly with me, a big believer in communication.

So, there are many elements in Hinterlands that affect me in very profound ways. I encourage you to read it, Constant Reader. Here's an excerpt from it.

We're like intelligent housefiles wandering through an international airport; some of us actually manage to blunder onto flights to London or Rio, maybe even survive the trip and make it back. "Hey," say the other flies, "what's happening on the other side of that door? What do they know that we don't?" At the edge of the Highway every human language unravels in your hands -- except, perhaps, the language of the shaman, of the cabalist, the language of the mystic intent on manipulating hierarchies of demons, andgels, saints.

But the Highway is governed by rules, and we've learned a few of them. That gives us something to cling to.

Rule One: One entity per ride; no teams, no couples.

Rule Two: No artificial intelligences; whatever's out there won't stop for a smart machine, at least not the kind we know how to build.

Rule Three: Recording instruments are a waste of space; they always come back blank.

Dozens of new schools of physics have spring up in Saint Olga's wake, ever more bizarre and more elegant heresies, each one hoping to shoulder its way to the inside track. One by one, they all fall down. In the whispering quiet of Heaven's nights, you imagine you can hear the paradigms shatter, shades of theory tinkling into brilliant dust as the lifework of some corporate think tank is reduced to the tersest historical footnote, and all in the time it takes your damaged traveler to mutter some fragment in the dark.

Flies in an airport, hitching rides. Flies are advised not to ask too many questions; flies are advised not to try for the Big Picture. Repeated attempts in that direction invariably lead to the slow, relentless flowering of paranoia, your mind projecting huge, dark patterns on the walls of night, patterns that have a way of solidifying, becoming madness, becoming religion. Smart flies stick with Black Box theory; Black Box is the sanctioned metaphor, the Highway remaining x in every sane equation. We aren't supposed to worry about what the Highway is, or who put it there. Instead, we concentrate on what we put into the Box and what we get back out of it. There are things we send down the Highway (a woman named Olga, her ship, so many more who've followed) and things that come to us (a madwoman, a seashell, artifacts, fragments of alien technologies). The Black Box theorists assure us that our primary concern is to optimize this exchange. We're out here to see that our species gets its money's worth. Still, certain things become increasingly evident; one of them is that we aren't the only flies who've found their way into an airport. We've collected artifacts from at least half a dozen wildly divergent cultures. "More hicks," Charmain calls them. We're like pack rats in the hold of a freighter, trading little pretties with rats from other ports. Dreaming of the bright lights, the big city.

Keep it simple, a matter of In and Out. Leni Hofmannstahl: Out.

Excerpt from "Hinterlands" © Copyright William Gibson
© Copyright 1999, Eileene Coscolluela