Living Algorithms

BioMech_Eye_by_kirkh

“The three contemporary science fiction novels discussed here mirror the development of our stance towards artificial intelligence. In Gareth L. Powell’s The Recollection, which employs a polarised world-view reminiscent of Cold War politics, the AI is demonized to such an extent that speaking about it and speaking about the devil become indistinguishable. In Stone Adam Roberts depicts uprising nanobots as terrorists from a human perspective but as freedom fighters from that of the awakened AI. Finally, M. John Harrison’s take on the topic in his Empty Space trilogy is the most complex one, reminding us that we too are living, self-replicating, self-conscious code. Based on that, self-aware technology is simply another culture to interact with.”

I have a new article up in Infinite Earths: “Living Algorithms: The Move towards Anti-Anthropocentrism in Gareth L. Powell’s The Recollection, Adam Roberts’ Stone, and M. John Harrison’s Empty Space Trilogy”. The illustration above is “BioMech Eye” by Bruno (kirkh on deviantart).

Reading Finnegans Wake… and Mondegreens.

A while ago my friend Michael hosted my paper on reading Finnegans Wake on his blog. I would have put it up on here, but I thought that it was rather long and didn’t really fit the overall theme of what this blog has become. However, I’m still getting feedback on this piece from all directions, so for completeness’ sake, here’s the link to it.

More Weird Politics

shoggoth

My essay “Sympathy for the Shoggoth” is now up on Infinite Earths! It’s based on a talk I gave at last year’s Weird Council Conference at Birkbeck and now features a lot of additional material as well as awesome illustrations by John Coulthart, Abigail Larson, K.L. Turner, and Nicholas Kole. (Thank you for letting me use them!)

Teaser illustration above: “Shoggoth” by K.L. Turner.

Weird Superheroes

Here’s a link to my Alluvium article on identity and consciousness in China Miéville’s superhero comic series Dial H. I love this series, and it never ceases to surprise me with the most wonderful plot-twists, literary cross-references and meta-commentary on the genre of superhero comics. It’s a shame that it was cancelled, and there will be no more issues after #15 (which will be 48 pages long). Let’s hope that the series will return some day (as it’s done before). In the meantime, I’ll run around enthusiastically recommending it to everyone around. Seriously, take a look at it. It will blow your mind.