Jennifer (buran) wrote in robertjsawyer,

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I've just re-read the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy, and I've written a few personal posts last week that some of you might like (see below).

I work in a science lab, am a hopeless science geek, and am interested in (mostly) the hard sciences, and am a passionate space buff. These posts include my musings about the content of the stories and include some interesting facts, which could possibly be interpreted as spoilers, so be careful!

I've also read the Neanderthal (or Neandertal; it's been spelled both ways) books. And if you have never seen a picture of an underground neutrino detector -- go find one; they're amazing!

A geologist from Washington University in St. Louis is developing new techniques to render a more coherent story of how primitive life arose and diverged on Earth — with implications for Mars.

Map Of Life On Earth Could Be Used On Mars

This is very timely, actually.

I've been rereading Robert Sawyer's Far-Seer and Fossil Hunter, which are allegorical stories about Galileo and Darwin, respectively. It is interesting to read the reasoning that 'Darwin' uses to arrive at his theory of natural selection -- some of the theories (such as the study of eroding cliffs to realize that the earth is far older than the Bible claims) are familiar; others are bizarrely reversed from those you'll find in a real textbook. 'Galileo' for the most part follows the same reasoning that the real scientist did -- although he refuses to recant when the 'Inquisition' demands that he do so, and pays the price.

(Side note: It is a real shame that neither book is illustrated. In the first story, the protagonist travels to meet another astronomer when he finds he needs a telescope (back then, all telescopes were refractors, and you couldn't just mail-order one from Meade; you had to grind the glass lenses yourself, and reflectors were way off in the future). The astronomer shows him her notebooks and drawings, including some of the 'handles' of ringed planets (Galileo at first didn't know what they were).

These would be far easier to visualize [for laypeople, the intended, I presume, main audience of this book -B] if copies of Galileo's drawings were included, or at least a reasonable facsimile of such, labeled as being from the astronomer's notebooks; while there are text descriptions included of how planetary phases look from other planets -- people sitting around a campfire in light and shadow is used as an example -- it's just not the same without a diagram ... if you aren't familiar with the work of Galileo, you might just get confused. Fortunately, the Internet, as usual, provides what's missing):

Galileo's drawings of Saturn

Yet, in both, there's an undercurrent of tension between religion and science, just as there is in the real world. Religion does help keep societies stable (and helps keep power struggles from arising when a leader loses his 'right' to lead, in monarchies) but when it seeks to suppress truths about the world and our place in it, society starts to push back.

Has anyone else ever read these?

Science Fiction Writer Robert J. Sawyer: FAR-SEER Index

Science Fiction Writer Robert J. Sawyer: FOSSIL HUNTER Index

Recently, I mentioned that I was re-reading Robert Sawyer's Quintaglio Ascension trilogy. Some years back, I did a piece of 'fan art' of sorts in Bryce and sent it to Sawyer (who really liked it) and a Sawyer fansite was given permission to display it. I'd thought it lost in many formats and cleanups of my Windows machine -- but I re-stumbled across the fan site (The Sawyer Gallery).

So here it is! Gallery :: My Artwork :: GalatJaroob

(Bryce landscape renderer; Jupiter photograph from Voyager 2; adjustment in Adobe Photoshop)

Just for the fun of it, I also created an iMix at the iTunes Music Store to go with the book:

(The title of the last post on this subject translates to "And yet, it moves", which Galileo reportedly said to himself as he left his trial).

I'm looking forward to reading more books, and I'm working on a drawing based on one of the Quintaglio books. The drawing is my interpretation of Novato's cartouche, which is a 'mission patch' of sorts for the Exodus. As a longtime space buff and technical artist - for personal enjoyment - of sorts, I have a fair bit of experience coming up with such things. It's a preliminary pen sketch on the back of a While You Were Out note at this point, and it will go to one reviewer who knows the books well, and possibly a few more who are familiar with this type of drawing in general, before being polished into a final hand-drawn image with more detail. At that point, it and the development sketch will go onto my website.

This community is tiny so far, but I'm looking forward to your comments!
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I adore the Quin series. I actually greatly prefer it to the Neanderthal series.

I'd really look forward to seeing Novato's cartouche. (I used to draw the Quins for fun. I may draw one tonight at work for shits and giggles.)
If you do, I want to see it!

I'm actually depressed today by the death scene in the end of the last one. I'm pathetic.

Must find uplifting music to rock out to to snap out of it. :p
I did, but I need to find a scanner. (Alternately, draw one in with the wacom tablet.)

It's weird, but I always find the Afsan/Novato bits sooo romantic. Which is less disturbing if you don't care that they're walking, talking dinos, and more that they're interesting and tragic characters.

Did you know that there's Quins-Come-To-Earth short story? (I'm seriously going to pay fifty cents to download this thing.)
I came across the link once and then lost it -- can you toss it my way?

I don't care if they're humans or not -- we need more non-human SF stories -- there's no reason that primates are the only thing that have the potential to become sentient. And no reason that other sentient creatures wouldn't have similar emotions as we do!

You could always mail a photocopy to me if you like (although if you do that, chances are you'd take it to a copy place like Kinko's and they could probably scan it for you).
It's at, search Robert Sawyer, and then it's Uphill Climb. Unfortunately, it's copy protected, and I like Rob enough not to type it out manually. (Although it is only like 3-4 pages.)

I could post a quick summary too, under another LJ cut. Might be better.

I'm /all/ over sentient non-humans. The less hominiod, the better actually. That's one area Rob's great at.
Oh, I didn't want you to type it out -- just a link to grab it from. I think I found it -- is this it?

KnowBetter eBookStore: Uphill Climb [MultiFormat] by Robert J. Sawyer

Why they disabled printing I don't know -- one of the big points of the PDF format is that it's supposed to enable you to generate a paper copy that looks identical no matter what platform you're using. Grump. :p
Yep, that's the one. And yeah. :( It's only a dollar though. I could also provide a summary, since it's real short.
Sure! Summary is good. I went to pick it up and you have to sign up for an account just to download it. Sadly, my library does not have the book it's from, so I will probably also try the used-book shop down my street.

Fire away!
Okay. Basically, Obno is a young female Quintaglio who is an engineering liason between the Quins and the humans. She's come up with a robot that will basically do any task, which she wants to distribute to the human race. (The robot is blue, by the way.)

The only problem is that the robot works on treads, and won't be able to climb stairs. (Since Quintaglios don't usually use them.) The human head of the Combinatorics Corp doesn't think it's a problem, and orders her to start distributing them.

By winter, they're selling millions of these things. (She says the fabricators aboard the Mothership are having a hard time keeping up. She also doesn't quite understand capitalism.) Anyway, it's inefficient, because people are installing ramps to allow their robots to work at great cost, and she thinks she could design legs and it would save society a lot of trouble. Still he refuses.

By spring three years later, IBM has sent her mail, offering to buy the patent, but put legs on the 'bots. Obno is pissed by how much money they've wasted for the industrialized world, to convert stairs to ramps. But Kively says that's fine, and tells her she should sell it-- and then points out that outside, a young woman in a wheelchair is easily using a ramp to wheel herself inside.
I was going to point out that the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) already requires ramps for most public buildings here in the US -- and, to ask if the robots wander around saying "Annihilate! Annihilate!". ;)

Still, many private homes wouldn't be able to handle them except for those owned by the disabled ...

If someone did come up with a bot like that, I can imagine it being a positive development since it would provide even more incentive for buildings to be made handicapped-accessible.

(I'm not a wheelchair user, but I *am* hearing-impaired, so I do have a reason to know how the law works...)

Sounds like an interesting story. I do hope I can find the book. The idea of IBM wanting to buy the patent doesn't surprise me too much (though knowing modern society, they'd probably try to sue based on infringement of some patent or other) though I would find it vastly amusing if US Robotics (which was named after the robotics company in Asimov's story I, Robot) bought the patent instead. ;)
True, but it's worth noting that a lot of older buildings in other countries are still not ramp accessable. (I also think the age of this piece has to be taken into account.)

It's really short. But I thought it had some interesting bits.
Oh, it does sound interesting! And you're right -- not all buildings are (there are exemptions of various sorts, and not all older stuff is converted yet; newer stuff is more likely to have such ramps).

I do wonder what happened to that last generation-ship. Maybe it'd give NASA the slap it needs to stop being so wimpy these days if a huge starship slipped into orbit and started hailing. ;)
The Sal-Afsan? Indeed; I almost wish he'd write that one. (I get the feeling he worked all this stuff out in the Ned. books, though.)
The ship was named Dasheter -- the computer was named Afsan.

It also carried the telescope that was used to make the discoveries, leading me to wonder what kind of mementoes will be carried on the first manned ships to leave the solar system... Apollo astronauts liked to do similar things and would take patches, pins, family photos, and other important-to-them things with them on their missions. Many are still on the Moon today.

Might we carry one of Galileo's telescopes? I think that would be an appropriate memento.
Yeah! It's been a while since I picked them up to read. (I need to buy them, since I moved away from the library that had readily accessable copies.)
Erp, correction.

Photocopy of the drawing. :)
Oh! Hah. I decided to draw one in instead.
Not sure what you mean though! -- still am interested in a story summary anyway. :)