2/25/03: More notes from Potlatch

Word count (outline and notes): 14656 On Saturday night, over a fine dinner at Zumi, I talked with friends Matt (former astrophysicist) and Janet (former anthropologist) about the aliens and their planet. Matt thought that giving them no magnetosphere would not necessarily kill them with the radiation, though it would not produce enough radio noise to make radio impractical, and the radiation would be enough to give them a biology different enough from ours to prevent us eating each other’s food (there are maybe 100 potential amino acids, of which Earth life uses about 20). Janet independently evolved the centrality of one-to-one communication from their background as presented, and agreed with my idea of “networks of small hierarchies” as the basis of their culture (a culture organized like the Internet, hmm). From this, we extrapolated a few ideas: they would have neither democracy nor dictatorship, but would be divided into small cooperating/competing clans and sects; they would have overlapping mosaics of culture (maps of religions, languages, ideologies, etc. would not overlap even as much as they do here); they might not even have the concept of a “language” as such, just swarms of ideolects of greater or lesser mutual comprehensibility; their philosophy of life might be something like “me against my brother; me and my brother against the clan; me and my clan against the world.” Matt wondered if such a society could develop the industrial base for spaceflight. I didn’t have an answer at the time, but I now think that their technology is more hand-crafted than industrial. (Plausible? Maybe not.) One other keen idea that came out in that conversation is that they would have Northern Lights all over the sky every night. Oh, as long as I’m here… just got two bits of good news in the mail yesterday: 1. My story “The Tale of the Golden Eagle”, which I sold to F&SF last year, will appear in the June 2003 issue. I should have my contributor copies in mid-April. 2. I received my contributor copies of Land/Space, containing my story “Fear of Widths.” They look great!

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