Events In Extropia



Author Catherine Asaro at Sophrosyne’s
Saturday Salon, August 9, 2008


Cleverer Than The Rest of Us

SOPHROSYNE STENVAAG: OK, welcome everyone, to Sophrosyne’s Saturday
Salon. We’ve got a lot of familiar faces, but for anybody
new – we encourage audience chat and questions –
but I’d like to ask – Catherine’s new to SL, so
let’s try to keep the question speed down so,
if a couple people have asked questions that
haven’t been answered yet please hold on to yours!
we’lll get to everybody, but when everybody’s
asking at once, it gets kinda crazy! thanks!

ok, while we’re waiting, I’m going to quote you
Catherine’s bio- because it’s utterly amazing –

Catherine Asaro was born in Oakland, California
and grew up in El Cerrito, just north of
Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in Chemical
Physics and MA in Physics, both from Harvard, and
a BS with Highest Honors in Chemistry from UCLA.

Sites where she has conducted research include the
University of Toronto in Canada, the Max Planck
Institut für Astrophysik in Germany, and the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Much
of her research uses quantum theory to describe
the behavior of atoms and molecules.

Catherine served full-time as a physics professor
until 1990, when she established Molecudyne
Research. In recent years, she has begun to turn
her attention toward educating the next
generation of mathematicians and scientists,
teaching homeschooled students who compete with
top students throughout the nation.

Catherine Asaro’s fiction is a successful blend
of hard science fiction, romance, and exciting
space adventure. Her novel, The Quantum Rose, won
the Nebula Award for best novel of 2001. She is a
three-time winner of the Romantic Times Book Club
award for “Best Science Fiction Novel.”

She has written over 20 novels, many of which
belong to her Saga of the Skolian Empire. In
addition, she has published short fiction in
Analog magazine and in several anthologies, as
well as reviews, nonfiction essays, and
scientific papers. Her paper “Complex Speeds
and Special Relativity,” which appeared in the
April 1996 issue of The American Journal of
Physics, forms the basis for some of the science
in her novels.

She has written over 20 novels, many of which
belong to her Saga of the Skolian Empire. In
addition, she has published short fiction in
Analog magazine and in several anthologies, as
well as reviews, nonfiction essays, and
scientific papers. Her paper “Complex Speeds
and Special Relativity,” which appeared in the
April 1996 issue of The American Journal of
Physics, forms the basis for some of the science
in her novels.

Her husband is John Kendall Cannizzo, an
astrophysicist (the proverbial “rocket
scientist”) at NASA. They have one daughter, a
ballet dancer and award-winning mathematician.

ISENHAND NIGHTFIRE: couldn’t u have just said “she’s cleverer than the
rest of us put together” and left it at that?

TAELLINU AICHI: I feel inferior now………im also considerably

CATHERINEASARO SKYTOWER: All that, buit she can’t figure out how to sit in
a char! 😉

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: Now that we’re all properly intimidated –

welcome, Catherine Asaro!

CatherineAsaro Skytower: HI, everyone

Building Galaxies

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: OK, one of Catherine’s latest works is an essay in
the new antholgy, Year Million – a look at the science
and technology of the far future

Catherine – what do you see for us, a million
years out? and will you be around to collect the bet if you
get it right?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: We’ll be engineering entire galaxies

Hah! I get royalties if I’m right. 😀

Taellinu Aichi: What do yo mean by that? engineering entire
galaxies? Creating them? or just manipulation of what is out there?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Like terraforming, but with galaxies instead of
planets. Give us a million years, and I bet we could create
them,t oo.

ALI HERMES: Isn’t 1000 years a bit hard to predict?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Even 100 years is hard to predict. It’s fun to
imagine possibilities, though.

EXTROPIA DASILVA: I see the point of terraforming a planet. You can
then live on it. But what do we hope to gain by
designing galaxies?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: For now, humans only need planets to live on. By
the time we have the technology to change
galaxies or even universes, we will probably bee
a lot more than we are now.

The biggest problem I see is will our wisdom
evolve as ast and as well as our science and

isenhand Nightfire: so far it apears our wisdom hasn’t

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Well, it seems it hasn’t. But compare our culture
now to the way we were 1000 years ago. We
consider those days barbaric and now civilized.

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: Catherine – in your interview on “The Future and
You” you seemed pretty optimistic on that score –
that we do grow culturally pretty fast

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Soph, I think so. We’ll have such capabilities,

RODFORD STEINBECK: Catherine: How do you think we will meld
technology into our bodies at first? Will some be
Borg like or will people want more refined and
less noticable implants?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Someday we might have all the combined wisdom of
the human race in our brain.

Rodford, I think we will have the capability to do
either, and that individual people will decide
their preference.

The question is … why isn’t everyone on Second
Life already? This is fun!

isenhand Nightfire: Catherine, u got a good science background but does
real science have a place in sci fi? Isin’t fiction
about escaping form reality?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Isenhand, I don’t think a person needs to be a
scientist to be a good sf writer. But it helps
when I want to put science in the books.

A Future in Space

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: Catherine, we’ve had some SF writers here who’ve
been critical of the spaceflight trope in SF –

what do you think our future in space is going to
be, and how do you see that playing out in your

CatherineAsaro Skytower: I’m convinced we have a future in space.
It’s as unrealistic I think to say we won’t as it
was when people believed we could never leave the

Taellinu Aichi: How exactly do you see a logical or plausible form
of FTL drive being produced? Through any means or
technology forms we have? or will break throughs
in every scientific field be neede dto realize

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Taellinu, I suspect through a breakthrough.

I had a paper in the American Journal of Physics
with a mathematical game that circumvents the
speed of light. but it was only math.

Taellinu, I’m not sure. It’s hard to contain
enough antimatter, but perhaps it could be culled
from the cosmic ray flux.
The problem with theoretical physics, is that our
theories have gotten head of our ability to test

Enhancement & AI

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: Catherine – you have both AI and enhanced humans
side by side in the Skolian Empire – what do you
see as likely develoments in those fields?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Soph, I have no doubt that humans will combine
with the AIs that we’re creating. We want that
intellectual power too much to let only our
creations have it.

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: so, no “humans versus AI” terminator-style

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Soph, I don’t see it happening. We will become
our “machines” is more like it, I think.
We’re already in the preliminary stages.

Carolhyn Wijaya: Catherine: in what way are we already in the
preliminary stages?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Carolhyn, already rudimentary tehcnology exists
for people to use computers and thiking to, say,
lift an object via sending commands to a robot

And we incorporate things like pacemakers in our
bodies. that will all just get smarter and
smarter, and more intertwinied without our
physical selves.

Carolhyn Wijaya: Catherine: that sounds great for handicapped
people especially.

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Carolhyn, I believe that’s been one of the
preliminary applications.

maybe someday people lioke me will even have
automatic spell checkeckers in their brains that
correct stheir terrible typing.

Innnovation & The Market

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: Catherine – I’d like to follow up on something you
said on your “The Future and You” interview that
intrigued me –

you were talking about expectations towards
nanotech – and that people weren’t factoring in the time it
takes to *market* new technologies –

could you talk a bit about that, and how
technology and society interact?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Soph, I was thinking more about making the tech
into a form people will want to use. We’ve had
electronic readers for some time now, but it’s
only recently that they’ve started becoming
commercially viable, to the point people will use

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: so there’s a difference between the possible and
the acceptable?

isenhand Nightfire: possible and the acceptable? or is it what will
make moeny and what wont?

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: isenhand, is there a difference?

isenhand Nightfire: yes, I think there is

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Isenhand, I think the development of a tecchnology,
at least the =speed= of it, is determined by
commercial applications. That’s why computers are
household objects now and we still don’t have a
colony on the moon.

Carolhyn Wijaya: I agree, Catherine. It’s also driven,
unfortunately, by military applications.

isenhand Nightfire: so, our money based sociaty limits what we can do?
If we had a sicneced based sociaty we would also
have colonies on the moon?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Carolyhn, yes, military applications, too.

The Ruby Dice

Sean Cinquetti: Catherine…I was wondering about any story hints
on the Ruby Dice book coming in April….a
totally new Skolian character

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Sean, the character is Del, one of the Ruby
Dynasty princes. He is a singer.

No one is his family or on his home world can
stand his singing. Then he’s taken to Earth as a prisoner.
Someone hears him sing and says …

Man, you are the best rock singer I’ve ever heard.
Rock didn’t exist on his home world.

Problem is, being a rock star doesn’t sit well
with the royal family

A real rock band, Point Valid, is cutting a CD
using the lyrics and a little of the music I
wrote while I was writing the book.

I had so much fun writing this book. Rock and
metal in the future.

Carolhyn Wijaya: Do you have a personal connection with Point

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Carolyn, I know the guys fairly well, now, bbut I
met them through my daughter, who had a physic
class with the elad singer and lead guitarist in
the band.
I’ve been watching them develop over the past six
months, while we worked on the song and recorded
them in the studio. Very talented group. And

Sean Cinquetti: Catherine…so their music will be bundled with
the new book Diamond Star? Going multimedia…for

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Sean, the hardcover will probably have a mini-CD
with a few of the songs, and information about
how to order the full CD.

The Future of Government

Taellinu Aichi: What kind of civilization do you see us being in
teh future? A democracy, Reblic, socilaict,
communist, or something else entirely?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Taellinu, that’s a good question. More democratic,
I would say.

My Ruby Dynasty books have a royal family, but
they don’t rule any more. The Assembly is
democratic. but they aren’t powerless, either.

Carolhyn Wijaya: True, Catherine. And I think that’s a realistic
model. A ruling family that doesn’t rule, but is
not entirely powerless.

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Technology and power are closely related, yes.

Taellinu Aichi: How Likely Do you see a Society Founded on
Classical republicanism….like that in teh NOVEL
Starship troopers to be? Wouldn’t that make sense
for an interstellar civilization if the aleins
out there DO turn out to be Hostile?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Taellinu, it’s been so long since I’ve read
Starship Trooper, I’m not sure how to answer. The
older I got, the more I looked askance at some of
Heinlein’s ideas.

I think he meant it to be a meritocracy. I liked
his juveniles when I was a kid, but his books
didn’t hold up as well for me as an adult as,
say, Hal Clement’s work.

That’s actually a problem in writing SF.
If I really wrote what I thought the future in
100-200 years would be, it would be so
unrecognizable compared to what we know, i don’t
think it would be that interesting of a story.

Our fiction still needs to resonate with us as

Writing SF, and a Skolian Sim?

HYPATIA PICKENS: That’s always been a problem writing sf.

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Hypatia, yes. And the faster the world develops,
the faster our sf gets outdated

ALEXANDER BURGESS: Catherine–do you think all sci-fi is about the
future? whether near or far?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Alexander, yes and no. It’s about extrapolating
science and other aspects of our culture into the
future, and I wouldl say it’s also about how those
extrapolations affect us as humans.

Ultimately it speaks to who and what we are now.

Carolhyn Wijaya: Given this discussion, then, Catherine, what are
you ultimately trying to accomplish in your

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Carolhyn, I would both like to entertain people
and also to prod them to think.

Taellinu Aichi: Catherine couldn’t you post your unadulteraded
visions of teh future on a blog? Personally im
rather interested a sto what they are if you tone
your stuff down to print it……..

Sean Cinquetti: Tae….we could have a SL/Extropia version of her

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Taellinu, I’d like to, if I could just find time
to do it.

Sean, that would be so cool! Can you imagine what
an avatar of Soz would be like? Wow.

Sean Cinquetti: well in SL…we can easily make whole sims based
on books

CatherineAsaro Skytower: We could do a Ruby Dynasty sim.

I’ll play Soz. 😀

What Do You Think of SL?

ARGENT BURY: Catherine, you may have been asked this already,
but what do you think of our world?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Argent, I love this! I can see commuhnities like
this growing everywhere, becoming more and more
realistic. My only worry is that I’ll spend to
much of my already limited time here.

I gave up sleep for a few years, so I could coach
more math teams than was humanely possible. I
looked like h*ll.

Then I started to get more sleep, and people told
me I was aging backward.

Carolhyn Wijaya: Do avatars dream of sculptie sheep?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: You’re lucky I’m not drinking coffee.

Space Internet Spam!

Rodford Steinbeck: Do you think there will be a sort of
Internet in space, Catherine?

CatherineAsaro Skytower: Rodford, absolutely

Whether or not it is limited by the speed of light
remains to be seen.

Rodford Steinbeck: Yeah, and when the internet goes down in
space….nobody can hear you scream or swear or
throw things

CatherineAsaro Skytower: sure, why not? If we have chips in our brains and
they start talking to themselves, we could have
huge networks.

But hooboy, I don’t want spam in my brain. Yeeech.

Thanks everyone for coming;. This was great.

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: And on *that* resounding note….!

Thank you, all of you!

Carolhyn Wijaya: Thank YOU Catherine. There’s so much more, we
should all do it again.

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: Catherine, you’re a marvel! you fielded this

Extropia DaSilva: Aww you were just getting started? Another hour,

CatherineAsaro Skytower: It’s such a great group.

Galatea Gynoid: Thank you very much.

Rodford Steinbeck: I’d attend another one Catherine

Extropia DaSilva: Soph, you MUST invite her back.

Rodford Steinbeck: Yes Soph, please do!

Sophrosyne Stenvaag: That might happen! 🙂

CatherineAsaro Skytower: I’d be happy to come back.



1 Comment »

  1. […] Asaro […]

    Pingback by Catherine Asaro Rocks the House! « Events In Extropia | August 10, 2008 | Reply

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