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Marilee J. Layman

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06:34 pm: Asimov's August 2008
The front section had a guest editorial by Stephen Baxter about Arthur Clarke, Agberg's reflection on story length, James Patrick Kelly's article on how science fiction is too good, and something on Awakening by Rudy Rucker, which I didn't read. The first paper page has another really awful ad for a self-published book, although at least this one is through Lulu.

I was really struck by three very strong stories in this one:

1. Lagos by Matthew Johnson -- what happens when the World Bank lets Nigerians run telepresence booths? This is much more complicated than that sounds, and it's not just his excellent writing, but the many layered ideas that are there.

2. Divining Light by Ted Kosmatka -- if you use Feynman's two-slit experiment and find that other mammals can't collapse the wave, what do you test next? I disagree with the conclusion of this story and would like to argue about it with someone. Or at least discuss it. It's still a very deep story.

3. Wilmer or Wesley by Carol Emshwiller -- he's captured as a baby (they kill his mother) and put in a zoo. As he grows up, he finds he doesn't look any different from them, he can talk, he's an artist -- why is he different enough to be in a zoo?

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From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 26th, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC)
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"I disagree with the conclusion of this story and would like to argue about it with someone."

I present myself as an option. :) I'm curious what you didn't agree with about the ending. I'm only 90% sure I understand it myself, but since the story is about quantum mechanics, it seemed... fitting somehow to leave some uncertainty at the end.

Thanks, by the way, for the nice comments on the story.



--- Ted K.
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From:mjlayman
Date:June 26th, 2008 09:27 pm (UTC)
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Hi Ted! I don't believe in souls, so I don't think that can be the difference between the humans who can collapse the wave and the ones who can't. (Okay, I'm applying my belief to fiction, but still.) Given that that happened, I think the difference has to be something brain-related -- perhaps a minor mutation in the womb -- and that it can't be considered to lessen those humans as true humans.

You're probably thinking of him opening the packet to find the interference pattern, and I thought that probably meant that he wasn't going to be an alcoholic again.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 27th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
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That's an interesting take on the story, Marilee. I decided to write "Divining Light" only because I lacked the facilities to actually perform the experiment I'd dreamed up. Writing it was the next best thing to doing it, I figured. And I actually have no idea what would happen if this kind of test was done. Maybe somebody will perform it now, and move this story to the dust bin with all the other science fiction stories that have been proved wrong. I hope so. Or maybe the real results would show I was onto something. That's the scarier alternative.

The "soul" aspect of the story was meant to be just one possible interpretation. I've always been very interested in where science meets religion, and this was another attempt of mine to explore that territory where their repective territories have not been clearly mapped out.

Thanks for your interest in the story. You have a wonderful blog here, by the way.

Ted K.

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From:mjlayman
Date:June 27th, 2008 03:47 am (UTC)
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It would be fun to run the experiment. I wonder if the anti-abortion folks would give us a grant. I'm glad you like the blog, although I suspect reading the minutia of my life is mostly boring.
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From:mjlayman
Date:June 27th, 2008 04:17 am (UTC)
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Wait. I can't believe it took me this long to get it. The fact that he had alcohol and also the interference pattern means he didn't collapse the wave. And there's the gun. Hmmm. But hadn't he been an observer early on? I'll have to skim through tonight.

Edited at 2008-06-27 04:17 am (UTC)
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