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Space Books Media

Ask Larry Niven 546

If you read science fiction at all, you're familiar with Larry Niven. (If you don't, his work is a great place to start.) Anyway, this is a golden opportunity to learn more about a truly innovative author. (Thanks go to Chris DiBona for arranging this interview; he met Larry during one of his TechTV appearances.) One question per post, please. We'll post Larry's answers to 10 of the highest-moderated questions shortly after he gets them back to us.
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Ask Larry Niven

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  • Halo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:02PM (#5397012)
    What do you think of halo's "ringworld"?
    • The AC has a valid question. The Halo game for the XBox has a story line that revolves around a ring-like structure around a giant gas planet. The first time I saw the game's cutscenes I immediately thought about the Ringworld.

      I think this is a good question - does Larry Niven feel ripped off or flattered that the game designers used this idea? And has he played the game or seen the graphics? They're quite good, BTW. Without going into much detail (spill mountains, etc.) they sort of "capture" the mental image I first had when I read the RW books.

      • Actually, I refer you to this webpage: ml

        " Jones explains. "In Niven's books, the Ringworld completely encircles a star, and is thus hundreds of millions of miles in diameter, whereas Halo is just a satellite orbiting a gas giant and is considerably smaller. In fact, structurally it's more similar to the "orbitals" in Iain M. Banks' Culture novels."

        There are a LOT more similarities between the culture Orbitals and Halo than between Halo and Ringworld.
    • Re:Halo (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spyderbyte23 ( 96108 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:07PM (#5398628) Homepage
      He addresses this: []

      Search for Halo. The gist is that Microsoft sent him an Xbox and a copy of Halo, hoping he would write a Halo novel.

  • Crossing my fingers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Demona ( 7994 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:03PM (#5397022) Homepage
    Was your cease-and-desist regarding Elf Sternberg's The Only Fair Game [] motivated more by a personal aversion to the content, or a desire to retain control over "your universe"? How does this jibe with your statement in Ringworld Engineers that "If you want more Known Space stories, you'll have to write them yourself"?
    • Actually, he makes a reference to this in the back of the latest edition of "Three Books of Known Space." He said that what he meant was, imagine the stories, maybe even write and share them with friends. But DON'T attempt to publish them, online or otherwise. And yes, it's out of a desire for control.
  • Fans (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:03PM (#5397031) Homepage
    In the prologue to one of the Ringworld Engineers editions you talk about how some students went to a convention with banners and were chanting "THE RINGWORLD IS UNSTABLE!". I thought that was cute. What's the weirdest thing a fan of your work has ever done? Something like sending you detailed calculations on how to figure out the density of scrith?
    • If you read Ringworld Engineers and read the prologue, you must have also read that someone DID send him detailed calculations about the required tensile strength of Scrith [this is from memory -- I don't feeling like digging up my copy :) ]

      • Re:Fans (Score:3, Interesting)

        by The Bungi ( 221687 )
        I know =) But I couldn't come up with some other example. I think the prologue also talks about someone sending him some math on how the spill mountain system works.

        What I would like to know is what's the weirdest thing anyone has sent or told him.

  • Unstable (Score:2, Interesting)

    by buggieboy ( 557764 )
    Is the RingWorld really unstable?
    • It needs attitude jets as in "The Ringworld Engineers" because if slighlty nudged, the instabilities would increase much more than with an orbiting body. A nudge could occur just from something like a solar flare or even over time, solar wind.
    • Re:Unstable (Score:5, Interesting)

      by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @02:05PM (#5397823) Journal
      A better question might be: Do you believe that the capacity for technology to destroy us will always out-pace technology's ability to protect us? In respect to humans.

      If so, over time we will not be able to avod distruction

  • New trends? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by voice of unreason ( 231784 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:05PM (#5397055)
    In your works you tend to try to pick out trends that'll continue into the future, i.e. organ transplants leading to increased capital punishment and organ thieves, or the role playing game's transformation into "Dream Park" style VR environments. What do you see as the next series of advancements and trends that will affect us in the future?
  • Hi Larry. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:07PM (#5397071) Homepage Journal
    The first time I read the Ring World many years ago in Russian, I still have this book, it travelled with me around the world :)

    Here is the question for you:

    What do you think about the Columbia accident and what do you think about the general direction that Nasa should be taking in order for us to actually make some progress in space exploration.
    What do you think about the space elevator?

    Thank you for your books!

  • 2 questions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jasperc ( 90539 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:07PM (#5397077) Homepage
    Mr. Niven,

    Any plans to do a movie (or better yet!) an animated version of any of the Man-Kzin Wars stories? These are, I think, the most accessible stories of Known Space (Ringworld might go over the heads of quite a few folks out there).

    Also, why not raise attention about how Wing Commander--both the computer game and the attrocious movie--is almost a direct "borrow" of Man-Kzin Wars?
  • by cindik ( 650476 ) <solidusfullstop@ ... m ['ndi' in gap]> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:08PM (#5397081) Homepage Journal
    How difficult is it to prevent technical anachronism? Early science fiction movies had people being shot to the moon with guns, 2001 would have had us with manned spaceflights to Jupiter, and Star Trek is currently dealing with how to show Starship technology more advanced than year 2003 tech while not being as advanced as the original series' audio intercoms and Motorola cellphone communicators.

    Do you have a means of avoiding anachronism? What suggestions do you have for other budding authors regarding this problem?
    • Heh. If I recall correctly, Niven's first published story was a technical anacronism. It was technically accurate when he wrote it, but new discoveries blew it away between when it was accepted to be published and before it hit paper. It hit paper anyway because it was a good story and accurate so far as anyone knew when it was written.

      I don't remember where I saw the side story to this, but the story was 'The Coldest Place'.
    • I'm mildly offtopic: My favorite way to deal with this problem is to write science fiction about the past. That way, you are guaranteed to understand the anachronism that will be in your writing, because you will have put it there.

      That's what Pynchon did in Vineland (written in the early nineties, and set in 1982 or so) and that's what Gibson has done with Pattern Recognition. Everyone keeps saying that its set in the present day, but it isn't. It's frozen in time, about four months ago. Like a time capsule. Certain parts of the book were built to go out of date.

      I guess Niven is a different brand of Sci Fi. And yes, I insist that Vineland is Sci Fi. Call me crazy.
  • by dduck ( 10970 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:10PM (#5397104) Homepage
    Are the plans for a Ringworld movie (or indeed, any LN filmatizations - Gill the ARM would be great) totaly dead, or can we still hope to see Louis Wu and Speaker on the silver screen?
  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:10PM (#5397106) Journal
    Moderators: These interviews are probably the neatest thing Slashdot does. Please only moderate up actually interesting questions that can't be answered with a quick Google search, a read through his (excellent) work, a few moments thought, or a handful of words ("Yes, I do like to write.").

    I particularly recall the Dave Barry interview where it seemed like half the questions were pathetic attempts to toss him a straight line, rather then really interesting questions.

    I think these are the most "importent" moderations you can do on Slashdot, as they are the only ones that have any real effect on the world. Please consider them carefully.

    Again, this is not a question so should this happen to get modded highly please do not forward ;-)
  • by perdu ( 549634 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:11PM (#5397109)
    Will we ever establish and sustain a colony off of the Earth? If so, where, when and how do you think we'll make it?
  • by jamie ( 78724 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:11PM (#5397121) Journal
    Mr. Niven,

    In The Ones Who Stay Home, in a recent issue of Analog, you raise some pretty serious issues about terrorism and retaliation.

    The technology of violence is an arms race which in my lifetime seems to have been pretty well balanced, attacker vs. defender. Lately, the worst the bad guys have done to the U.S. is take down a few buildings: no nuclear weapons yet in the hands of honest-to-goodness madmen, no "gray goo" against which there is no defense except going offplanet, no asteroids being dropped from the moon.

    How long do you think this balance will hold? And what do you think the first weapon will be against which it is infeasible -- because of economics, technology, politics, or otherwise -- to mount a successful defense?

    • by Demona ( 7994 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:26PM (#5397332) Homepage
      Apply the Orwell Test:

      "It is a commonplace that the history of civilisation is largely the history of weapons. In particular, the connection between the discovery of gunpowder and the overthrow of feudalism by the bourgeoisie has been pointed out over and over again. And though I have no doubt exceptions can be brought forward, I think the following rule would be found to be generally true: that ages in which the dominant weapon is expensive or difficult to make will be ages of despotism, wereas when the dominant weapon is cheap and simple, the common people have a chance. Thus, for example, tanks, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons, while rifles, muskets, long-bows and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon -- so long as there is no answer to it -- gives claws to the weak."

      George Orwell (1903-1950), "You and the Atom Bomb, essay for the TRIBUNE, October 19, 1945

      Or, as James Donald put it:

      "The evil of Digital Rights Management, like the evils of guns, depends on who has the gun and who has not.

      "If only certain privileged people have guns, and the rest of us are disarmed, then guns are evil indeed.

      "If trusted computing means that certain special people have ring -1 access to my computer, and I do not, and those certain special people are people I do not trust..."

      Certainly not everyone will be able to financially afford technology. But as long as there is democratic access to it -- no privileged, favored class of people who are given special license to do what the majority are forbidden to do -- that will remain the most efficient and moral method of containing the violent impulses of the socially maladjusted.
  • by Adam Rightmann ( 609216 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:12PM (#5397131)
    I know most SF writers aren't big on religion, but religion occupies a very large space in your collaboration with Pournelle, "The Mote in God's Eye", yet is conspicously lacking in Known Space. Is the religion in "Mote" all Jerry's doing?

  • by Spencerian ( 465343 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:14PM (#5397161) Homepage Journal

    What 3 or 4 TV SF programs have you found most to your liking over the years (if any), and what significance do you think those shows brought to the overall quality of TV SF?

    For instance, if I were to ask myself this question, "Star Trek", the original show, remains a classic, but all the sequelized spinoffs (except portions of TNG, and almost all of "Enterprise", which seems to "get it" again) have driven this show into the state of a repeatedly bludgened, very deceased equine.
  • What do you read? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caesar-auf-nihil ( 513828 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:14PM (#5397163)
    Mr. Niven,

    I'm always curious about what authors read for either inspiration, or what they find to be good literature. What books (science fiction or otherwise) have influenced your work, or do you find to be delightful reads. Any favorite authors?

    Thank you for your time.

  • Breaking In? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kent Brewster ( 324037 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:15PM (#5397165) Homepage Journal
    Where do you see the future of written science fiction going, given the decline of readership in the top markets such as Analog, Asimov's, and F&SF, and the rise of franchised universes like Star Trek and Star Wars? Online? Still in print? Or somewhere else?

  • Rip-off? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the bluebrain ( 443451 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:16PM (#5397177)
    Dear Larry Niven - I regard this /.-item as a real opportunity.
    A question I have had in my mind for a couple of years now: have you read Terry Pratchett's novel "Strata"?
    If no, you might find it interesting ... if yes, what is your opinion? Blatant rip-off of your ringworld universe, or homage? And, what is you opinion of how it compares to your ringworld series?
    • Strata is a very clear homage to Niven's Ringworld, with many original elements of it's own. It's one of the earlier examples of pTerry taking a similar millieu and turning it up to 11 to see what breaks.

  • by brennanw ( 5761 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:17PM (#5397197) Homepage Journal
    My favorite stories of yours are the series of short stories you wrote about Gil Hamilton, the ARM agent with "invisible hand." Aside from the interesting character, what fascinated me was the strange, nearly dystopian world where a good thing (amazing advances in the science of organ transplants) led to a world so desperate for organs that you could get the death penalty for almost every crime in the books.

    In an essay, you mentioned you'd written those stories at a time when you were very concerned about the possibility of that future actually coming to pass -- that the convenience of a technology would make the general population so rabid for it that they would become more tolerant of things we would find excessive and cruel in today's world. You also mentioned that you were less concerned about that specific future coming to pass.

    If you were to write the Gil Hamilton stories today, what would be the technology you would be concerned about *instead* of organ transplants? What convenience would you see as the basis and rationalization for receiving the death penalty for breaking the speed limit more than three times?
  • by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:19PM (#5397220) Homepage
    Mr. Niven,

    First, thanks for the awesome books that you have written-- I am a big fan.

    My biggest question about the universe in which many of the stories take place is about the "Outsiders." They seem to be extremely technologically advanced; they jump in whenever something impossible needs to be done, such as the Puppeteers moving their worlds around. How come the Outsiders didn't end up competing with Protectors, or do something on the scale of building a ringworld?

  • Larry: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maeryk ( 87865 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:19PM (#5397232) Journal
    Having been an avid reader of the "chaos manor" site for a while now, I have to wonder. Are you as tech savvy as Jerry, and (more importantly) with you guys having done SO much together, do you find you "share a brain" occasionally, and is it difficult to write with/without him (and/or Steven) after so much work together?
    (pick any one or all to answer, as you choose!)
    Thanks for the great work!

  • by Khalidz0r ( 607171 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:20PM (#5397236) Journal
    Well, being a successful and already well known author, when you write something, do you write it just to write something, keep your name known, get money .. etc, or do you write because you feel there is something in your head that needs to be put down in paper and read by others?

    In other words, what is the "motive" you are writing for?

    Thanks, Khalid
  • Although Carl Sagan purported to be a fan of fiction based on scientific possibilities, he didn't appear to have much of a use for more fantastic works. You write pretty hard science fiction, so what on earth was Carl Sagan's beef with you?
  • One of the things a lot of fans enjoyed was the technical aspect of your sci-fi. If I recall correctly you had contacts with people at JPL [] and made use of those contacts. What were the most interesting tidbits you gained from this?
  • Down in Flames (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Verteiron ( 224042 )
    In N-Space, you published a series of notes on the utter downfall of Known Space in the chapter called "Down in Flames". This detailed the tnuctipun takeover of Known Space as the result of billions of years of perseverance, cruelty, and downright cleverness. In that same chapter, you mention that the "Down In Flames" storyline became obsolete when you wrote Ringworld. My question is, what stayed your hand? What made you think to write Ringworld instead of pursuing the end of Known Space as you had planned?

    Also, why do the Outsiders chase Starseeds? I didn't have the trillion Stars last time I was on one of their ships...
  • by Kostya ( 1146 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:22PM (#5397273) Homepage Journal
    Could you comment on the difference between intelligence and wisdom? You seem to hint at some ideas in Ringworld Throne when Wu chooses to depose the Vampire Protector because he was not wise enough.

    In these Pak Protectors, we have unbelievably intelligent and clever beings, but wisdom does not seem implied. What are your thoughts on wisdom, and what points were you trying to make? Considering the audience for most of your books (geeks, "smart folk"), it's an interesting point to include.

    Side question: where did you come up with the idea of the Pak, especially as human ancestors? It has to be one of the more original conjectures about affects of old age that I have ever read :-)

  • DreamPark and gaming (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ndr_Amigo ( 533266 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:22PM (#5397279)
    I've generally found that most people recognise RingWorld, but few people have heard of my favorite series - Dream Park (it's very hard to find).

    Gaming technology, although holography isn't at the stage yet, is constantly moving towards more realism. And trends in online gaming and MMORPG's are setting the mentality. However what are your opinions on the social feasibility of something like DP ever becoming a reality, given the rapid movement away from traditional GMs and social non-computer RPG'ing? Would people just prefer to stay at home fully virtual rather than participating in an event with other actual physical people?
  • Joyce's father's name is 'Wang Mei Ling'[1] You then say that Joyce took her father's surname: 'Mei Ling'. Now, this is so stupidly wrong, it's hard to believe. In Chinese, the family name comes first, followed by the family name. Joyce would have been Joyce Wang-Trujillo.

    For me, this was a 'these guys have done no research at all' moment in the book. I was gobsmacked that no one had commented on line in any way that I could find. Do you not know anything about Chinese culture at all?

    Also, the UK title of 'The Gripping Hand' is 'The Moat Around Murcheson's Eye'. Have you ever felt like meeting that guy who came up with that awful title in a dark alley? Is a baseball bat involved? At the very least, he deserves half his head shaved in a proper asymmetrical beard.


    [1] Mei Ling is a girl's name, in fact, it's incredibly girly, meaning something like 'pretty beutiful'. No one in their right mind would name a boy Mei Ling. 'Wong Mei Ling' is the Chinese name of Suzie Wong, from the book and the film of the same name.
    • Re:The Gripping Hand (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gmuslera ( 3436 )
      That was a "translation" from english to english.

      But I wonder if have problems with translation to other languages. At least in spanish, the same book title was translated to "El tercer brazo" (the third arm) that was not so far from the book content. What was the funniest/weirdest translation you found for one of your books titles?

      I always felt that the literal translation of "The end of childhood" of Clarke to spanish ("El fin de la infancia") was better than the original title in english, In spanish "fin" also means for what something is done, and well, I'm not sure if in english I could understand the title in that way.

  • Favorite book? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by emarkp ( 67813 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:24PM (#5397302) Journal
    Of the work you've written, does one title in particular have a special place in your heart? Douglas Adams once said that his book "Last Chance to See" was the one book he'd hope that people read if they only read one of his books. Is there one book of yours you'd like people to have read?

    Similarly, if I were to introduce someone to your books, which one would you suggest I give him first?
  • What is your view of ametuer rocketry and the teams going for the X-Prize?
  • (Note: All of this is preliminary, I haven't done all the calculations yet. By coincidence, I actually started this project two days ago, so take what I say with a grain of salt.) We all know the story of the ringworld's instability, but it seems to me you may have been too hasty in introducing a plot device to fix the problem. It is possible that a material (no more magical than scrith) that selectively absorbs neutrinos could passively stablize a ringworld structure, as recent experiments have suggested that the flux of specific types of neutrinos is not a simple inverse square law. How do you feel about the necessity of defending your artistic works about scientific attack (even if the defense is another, quite successful book), and does the possibility that the physics of the attack were incomplete change your view at all?
  • by sfled ( 231432 )

    In "Ringworld" you placed an emphasis on the Luck of Teela Brown. Would you like to take a stab at what percentage of acts, actions and outcomes occur principally based on luck?
  • by mfarah ( 231411 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:25PM (#5397320) Homepage
    I came up with an interesting (and, dare I say, slightly original) concept for an alien world. I'm toying with different ideas for short stories within it. So far, my two biggest problems are

    1) Finding a good enough story, and

    2) Worldbuilding.

    The latter problem is the one I actually care the most - I don't want all of my aliens to be "disguised humans", so I've done big efforts into figuring out how do they behave, what their culture is like, how their physical differences affect their way of thinking AND language, and all that. However, I can't shake the feeling I am missing aspects I shouldn't. This process is tedious and takes long, but I consider it very important.

    Are there any guidelines you'd suggest to do it properly?
  • Collaboration (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:26PM (#5397327)
    I'm a big fan and have read most of your works. I (and I'm sure many of your other fans) think that some of your best books are the result of collaboration with others, particularly Jerry Pournelle. When working with Jerry and others, how is the work divided? Are there particular aspects of the story that each author contributes? What do you think are your strongest contributions to such a partnership?
  • Star Wars (Score:3, Interesting)

    by odaiwai ( 31983 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:27PM (#5397346) Homepage
    So, there's this rumour that you and Jerry Pournelle used the 'Star Wars' SDI to bankrupt the USSR. Specifically, given that the USSR had to maintain equality in military hardware with the USA, you, and several other advisors who had the ears of infulential people in Government, proposed a hugely expensive series of projects which, if the USSR was to match, would break their economy and cause a collapse of their economy.

    Is this true? Is it classified?

    dave "and did Bjo Trimble take the minutes?"
  • Interspecies Sex (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Randolpho ( 628485 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:27PM (#5397349) Homepage Journal

    In Ringworld Engineers, you spend an great deal of time surrounding the concept of inter-species sex and copulation. Luis Wu engages in it frequently, it's even mentioned that it has evolved into a means to seal a bargain.

    Why the fascination?
  • by geeber ( 520231 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:28PM (#5397352)
    Mr. Niven,

    As a young adult, I was a huge fan of science fiction. As an adult, and a scientist, these days I find I can no longer read much of it, because of the ignorance many authors display towards our current scientific understanding of the physical universe.

    You at one point in your past went to Cal Tech, and also have a degree in math, so you are clearly technically minded. So I am very curious about your opinion on the science in science fiction. What do you do these days to keep abreast of current science or is that important to you now? Also, what do you think of science fiction such as Star Trek that uses crutches like Warp Drives and Transporters that ignore science as we know it?
  • Critical Commentary? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anzha ( 138288 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:28PM (#5397355) Homepage Journal

    Hey Larry,

    I've been a fan since, well, I was knee high to a grasshopper. _The Mote In God's Eye_ was my first introduction to you, and JP, via my father when I was 11. Some of your earlier work has been amazing and fun, re _Ringworld_, _the Magic Goes Away_, etc. So please don't take this wrong.

    I have been seeing something that has been, well, frankly, disturbing as of late in some of the books that have been coming out with you in colloration. While the first Renner and Bury chunk of _The Gripping Hand_ was quite good, the rest felt, uh, unworthy of the original. There were a lot of inconsistancies with the previous book. Ditto for _Beowulf's Children_ vs _Legacy of Heorot_.

    What's the reason for this, if I may ask? Is this a side effect of just working up a sequel (already difficult) compounded with the added difficulty of working in collaboration? Or is that the collective you felt pressured into writing the books and just wanted to get them over with? Or was it due to the fact that they didn't get the scrutiny of previous works before going out the door (re Heinlein's famous critique of _The Mote in God's Eye_)?

    You did note in one of your delightful mental dumps (_Playgrounds of the Mind or _N Space_, more please! Perhaps call it the _N Body Problem_? ;)) that inconsistancies do tend to pile up (re Known Space). However, in both the cases I'm noting above, it's just single stories and their sequels (discounting JP's shared _War World_ books for the moment...)

    So is this the case of an overly zealous fan (re trek[ies/ers] ;))?

    Thanx and have fun playing! The rest of us thoroughly enjoy it when you do!

  • by CowboyNeal ( 4 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:29PM (#5397363) Homepage Journal
    I've recently read and enjoyed Ganthet's Tale, your collaboration with John Byrne about the origins of the Green Lantern Corps as well as the DC Universe. With all the attention comic books have been getting in Hollywood lately, with movies from Road to Perdition to Daredevil being produced from comic stories, and screenwriters such as Kevin Smith writing comics, do you have any plans to return to this media?
  • Animation? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Thud457 ( 234763 )
    I vaugely remember your being involved in writing for the old animated "Star Trek" series. Which, by the way, rocked!

    We've been hearing rumors about various stories of yours, particularly "Ringworld" being given the Hollywood treatment for ages.

    Have you gotten proposals to do any stories for good animated science fiction?

  • Cautionary tales? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by J. Random Software ( 11097 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:31PM (#5397385)
    You've built worlds with uncommonly dystopian elements, such as Plateau's long tyranny over a disarmed populace, organlegging, all-out war with ruthless aliens, and suppression of dangerous technology. Have you intended any of these to be cautions about likely (or even inevitable) events, or just interesting to think about?
  • by SLot ( 82781 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:31PM (#5397391) Homepage Journal
    I seem to recall some years ago reading that Dream Park had been optioned for the big screen.

    a) Was this true, and if so, what is the status of this project?

    b) Do you feel that the current level of technology in todays world would allow an accurate portrayal of the computers/holographs in the book on the big screen?

    (thanks for introducing me to Kuru!)
  • Lucifers Hammer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wierd Willy ( 161814 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:32PM (#5397400) Journal
    As a long time reader of your work,(I first read Ringworld in the 6th grade) I would love to see your known space series brought to the Big Screen. Would you be involved in such a project? I would also like to see Lucifers Hammer as a movie, and the only way do do it right is to involve the authors in the project to make sure the original story is kept intact.

  • With all of your imaginative ideas, do you find it hard to focus on the one story you are currently writing? (Or do you work on multiple stories at once?) What if you are 200 pages into writing a book and a much better idea comes into your head? Do you finish writing the first book, or do you start on the new one? And do you have lots of unfinished books sitting around waiting to get finished? And finally, however you do it seems to work for you, but would you suggest to other people that they do the same thing?
  • by Argyle ( 25623 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:37PM (#5397462) Homepage Journal
    With all the possiblities for Known Space movies and television programs, especially the Man/Kzin Wars, why have none been made?

    The only show episode to incorporate your vision I know of was The Slaver Weapon in the Star Trek Animated Series []. It was based on your short story, The Soft Weapon.

    Have stories been optioned and live in development limbo?
  • Hard Sci-Fi? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by docrailgun ( 653921 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:37PM (#5397463)
    Mr. Niven, How do you respond to writers such as Greg Bear and Gregory Binford who complain that there is no "hard" science fiction today of the sort that Asmov wrote? Do you explain to them that Asmimov wrote pulp fiction, even if it was pretty good pulp fiction; or do you point out that stories without character development but lots of whiz-bang tech were part of the era they were written in and fans have moved on?
  • by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:38PM (#5397472) Homepage Journal
    What do you think of video games as a future outlet for original SciFi universes? Do you think that the interactive environments games provide will appeal to writers who would otherwise create movies or shorts?
  • Mr Niven,

    First, thanks for the playground and the many happy hours I've spent there.

    Can you tell me how you perceive the maturation of your writings ?
    Your more recent books seem to have less of the idea-a-second, dare-devil excitement I enjoyed so much.

    Thanks for everything,
  • by Anonymous Commando ( 6326 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:41PM (#5397506)
    Having just read Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex [] (recently linked to by BBspot []), I have just one question: How often do you contemplate the sex life of fictional comic-book characters?

    Follow up question: if you were to write a similar article based on one of the recent or upcoming movie superheroes (Hulk, Daredevil, Spiderman, X-Men, etc.), who would it be?

  • by ldopa1 ( 465624 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:49PM (#5397609) Homepage Journal
    As a sci-fi fan and (hopefully) a future author, I am very interested in knowing how you got your first published work through the "slush pile" that every editor keeps on their desk. Is it true that the only way you'll get your work noticed is by knowing someone who knows someone who knows and editor somewhere, or is it just chance?
  • Sex in sci fi (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Snarfvs Maximvs ( 28022 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:54PM (#5397676)
    Something I'm puzzled by is the SF genre's increasingly bizarre take on the subject of sex. Sex seems to be more and more gratuitous and graphic in a number of the works I've read by various authors. In the so-called "Golden Age" of science fiction sex was not commonly dealt with, probably as a result of the mores and values during that time. Now the discussion of sex is no longer taboo.

    What is your take on this trend? Are authors simply trying to tittilate their audience(s) or are they really attempting to explore the implications of sex in the futures (or pasts, or parallel universes) that they're predicting?
  • Inferno (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:57PM (#5397716) Homepage Journal

    I greatly enjoyed Inferno. It caused me to later go and read (a translation of) the original by Dante.

    I must have missed something, however... What was "the secret" that Mussolini (and later Carpentier) knew that allowed them to move freely about Hell?
    • I must have missed something, however... What was "the secret" that Mussolini (and later Carpentier) knew that allowed them to move freely about Hell?

      I thought that was made explicit near the end - that hell was a post-life chance to repent, renounce your sins, redeem yourself (through pennance), and achieve heaven. (And also to get stuck again in a different hellish object-lesson by embracing some other sin.)

      (Of course IAJAR (I Am Just A Reader). Maybe I didn't get the point either.)
  • by anzha ( 138288 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @01:58PM (#5397728) Homepage Journal

    Since we're only allowed one question per post...

    One of the things I have greatly admired about some of your works, and especially your info dumps (_N Space_ & _Playgrounds of the Mind_) is the raw creativity that comes through, especially in describing your sessions like at Contact where you pull out some really weird and fascinating ideas for aliens.

    Have you ever considered, whether here on slashdot as a guest writer, or in your own web page (like what Jerry Pournelle does) or through UseNet (like Steve Stirling does), putting together an online presence/participation that would allow you to periodically spin out, with your fans, worlds and ideas?

  • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @02:07PM (#5397848)
    Do you have any strong views or insight on the state of space exploration today and in the near future? If you were appointed NASA administrator and given a free hand to set its direction along with a healthy budget and no political interference what would you do? In particular, what are your views on manned missions to and colonization of Mars.
  • Blending Writing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CyberRanger ( 540633 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @02:08PM (#5397873) Homepage
    Howdy Mr Niven,

    I am a daily reader of Dr Pournelle's Chaos Manor & have read quite a number of your joint projects not to mention quite a few of each of your individual books. What is it like working with Jerry days on end & how do you manage to blend your writing styles so well? I often wonder, while reading one of your books, who did which chapter. I've read that you alternate writing chapters. How does that work so that the book flows so well? Do you two have compatible writing styles or has it come from years of working together?
  • by Ender_Stonebender ( 60900 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @02:20PM (#5398008) Homepage Journal
    Reading any of your works that involve the kzinti, and then reading the Man-Kzin Wars stories, I was struck by the difference in in behavior of the alien characters between your own work and that of others. (For example, Speaker-to-Animals takes the variable sword back from Louis at a time when Louis expected curiosity to distract him - I don't think any other author would have thought of that.) How do you get inside the minds of aliens in order to understand what their reactions to a given situation will be? You seem to be considerably better at this than most other SF authors out there.

    Also, you mention - I believe in the introduction to a section of Ringworld in either N-Space or Playgrounds of the Mind - that a student had written a paper based on the thesis that the novel Ringworld was a sci-fi rehash of the plot of the The Wizard of Oz. You denied having done this intentionally, but have you ever "borrowed" a plot from a work in another genre and attempted to adapt it to a sci-fi setting? If so, what work did you borrow the plot from, and how do you feel the story turned out?

  • Pak protectors (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ppanon ( 16583 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @02:20PM (#5398011) Homepage Journal
    I never could see a mechanism for how Pak protectors could have evolved in symbiosis with Tree-of-life virus (or vice versa). It always seemed to me that tree of life virus would have to have been designed. Perhaps the pair were the follow-on tnuctip weapon after Jinxian Bandersnatch against the Thrint, since humans have latent resistance to Thrints (World of Ptavvs).

    Much to my chagrin, since then it has occurred to me that this is similar to the argument that many Creationists use to push so-called "intelligent design" theories.

    So, 3rd-stage Pak - evolved or designed? If evolved, what mechanism would you propose since the effects of tree-of life virus happen after the Pak breeder phase and have no foreseeable effect on the ability of ToL virus to reproduce.
  • by farrellj ( 563 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @02:21PM (#5398022) Homepage Journal
    Could you *Please* let us in on all of the puns and injokes and cameos in these books!!!

    I know about "As a shade of Purple Grey = Asimov", and the Roddenbery Bush in Flying Sorcerors, what are the many others?

  • by fatima ( 62152 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @02:21PM (#5398032)

    Mr. Niven, in many of your books, space travel plays a much more prominent role than does the contemporary computer network. The network is usually there, and its presence is implicit in the story, but it's not really important to the story. Here on earth in the present day, the computer network is much more important than space travel, except on the rare occasions when space travel goes wrong. Even space travel seems to be mostly for further propagation of the computer/communications network.

    As I was growing up, reading science fiction of all varieties, I had dreams of one day flying in spaceships, living on the moon, etc. It just didn't seem that far away. Now, however, the dream of space seems further and further away -- it feels as though my generation (I'm near the end of Generation X, though I despise the term) has traded the difficult goal of space for the easy goal of computers.

    How do you feel about this apparent trend in modern history as compared to the predicted space-based future of many older SF stories? Would you have steered humanity's course differently if you had the chance?

  • A Question... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by superdan2k ( 135614 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @02:29PM (#5398124) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me, in looking from the outside, that a large majority of successful SF writers have degrees in the sciences, but not in the writing. In college, I bailed from the hard sciences and majored in English (creative writing concentration). Some might argue that this gives me a leg up, but I don't really see it. Generally speaking, the writing in SF, which I read extensively, seems to be more prosaic/utilitarian than "literary" fiction, and I guess I can see the need for that, given the materials covered. I guess my question is this: do I rely on my not-as-vast scientific knowledge that I maintain by reading the science journals and rely on the strength of my writing to carry me through to publication? Or do I focus away from writing science fiction?

    (A subset question of this is: is it easy to get pigeonholed in a particular genre? I am putting the finishing touches on a pair of SF short stories that I am going to be sending out, but I'm writing "literary"/mainstream fiction novels that I'd like to see in print. Am I going to face discrimination working in two blatantly different genres if I try and publish in both under the same name?)
  • by docbrown42 ( 535974 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @02:39PM (#5398247) Homepage
    What is your opinion of "A Darker Geometry" by Benford & Martin? Was this book written with your permission, considering it explains a number of Known-Space mysteries?

    Personally, it's one of the few books in my collection that I'm sorry I bought and read (I keep it only for completeness).

  • Alien Sex (Score:3, Funny)

    by abe_is_fun ( 320753 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @02:39PM (#5398251) Journal
    I have read several of your books, including the Ringworld series. I thought the first Ringworld was awesome! However, as you progressed through the other two, the plots seemed to center more and more around having sex with aliens.

    It seemed to me that you were using "rish" way past the point of being an interesting plot twist, or a literary device to illustrate how different people are all the same inside, and even too far to set up the evil power of vampires.

    It seemed to me like you needed to get out and find yourself a girlfriend!

    Can you explain why you were so obsessed with inter-planetary inter-species lust?

    Disclaimer: I am generally in favour of sex -- I like pictures of sex, reading about sex, having sex, etc... but just not with aliens.
  • by hugui ( 41535 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:00PM (#5398531)
    One of my favourite books is "The Mote in God's Eye" (written by you and Jerry Pournelle). . I'm very interested in knowing how do you and Pournelle split the work (no only in this book but in general). Is anybody in charge of the dialogs ? Do you have a preference to create certain situations that he doesn't like (or viceversa) ? How do you decide the course of a story, etc.
  • Ethical changes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RSparks ( 201278 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:13PM (#5398718) Homepage
    Mr. Niven,
    In "A gift from Earth", you make the point that technological changes precipitate changes in popular mainstream ethics. What technological changes do you see having the most impact on ethics over the next thirty years and what are the changes you see them causing?
  • by Wellspring ( 111524 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:28PM (#5398883)
    I've been a fan since I was 10... and it took me years to realize one of your major contributions: returning real science to science fiction, which had gone down a less rigorous path when you came on the scene and was slowly turning into fantasy.

    Where would you say that science fiction as a genre is going? In the direction of more science, or less? More galactic epics, or more personal stories? And, of course, more mainstream acceptance?
  • by kindbud ( 90044 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:30PM (#5398905) Homepage
    Larry, special effects and CGI have progressed to the point where Ringworld could finally be credibly realized on the big screen. Is there any possiblity of rescuing it from the rights limbo it has wandered into?

    A CGI rendition of Nessus could make Gollum look as ordinary as Sean Astin was in Rudy. Speaker would be a kick to realize on CGI as well.

    So what's the story, is there any hope of a Ringworld movie?
  • Movie Jealousy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:07PM (#5399340) Journal
    David Brin has been forthright concerning his jealousy over bad SF being made into movies while his work is not. With the exception of 'Forbidden Planet' I have yet to see a science fiction movie that draws me in the way a good Sci-Fi book does.

    I also think that your works would make excellent movies. Brin's work would probably play well in Europe, where people seem to prefer a little more ambiguity in their movies. It probably wouldn't do well here. Now, I'm not saying your writing isn't of the same caliber as Brin's work, but it is a little more accesible to the common man, and therefore seems well suited to be made into a blockbuster that would do well in the states. My questions: 1.) Are you at all jealous that lesser talents get to have their work seen by millions on the silver screen? 2.) Have you been approached by any producers regarding screenplays of your work? 3.) Would you even want to have your works made into movies?

    That said, I just have to say thank you for providing me with so much quality entertainment! I grew up reading your stories from the time I was ten. In my esteem, you are one of the best well rounded Sci Fi authors out there. Your work has great characters, fantastic settings, believable science, and lots of action. Thanks again.
  • Why sequels? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kenneth Stephen ( 1950 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:13PM (#5399419) Journal

    Some authors write books that are obviously self-contained and when reading these works it is intuitively obvious that there were no sequels planned by the author. Yet, a few years later, you find that the author has succumbed to sequel-mania. More often than not, these sequels detract from the original work. A disastrous (set of) sequel(s) that comes to mind are the sequels to "Rendezvous with Rama". While your Ringworld sequels arent as bad those, nevertheless, those works prod me to ask "Why?". Couldnt you leave that story line alone and let your masterpiece be a monument by itself? Sometimes, the Washington monument is what one needs rather than a Stonehenge.

    Note that I am not against sequels per se. It is possible to plan sequels ahead of time when authoring the first book, and sometimes, the effect is well done. Orson Scott Card's "Speaker for the Dead", and "Xenocide" comes to mind as examples of the good variety of sequels. But a lot of sequels to bestsellers were written because the first book was a bestseller, and those are the variety that more often than not make readers cringe.

  • Ssoroghod's People (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cato the Elder ( 520133 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:31PM (#5399587) Homepage
    In the Draco tavern tale "Ssoroghod's People", you tell a cautionary tale about experimenting in your only living space. What do you feel is the greatest danger from biotechnology? What do you feel is the most promising application for it?

    ("Ssoroghod's People" can be found in the collection Redshift, ed. Sarrantonio)
  • by crashfrog ( 126007 ) <crashfrog AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:32PM (#5399599) Homepage
    In most of your stories you posit societies with significantly relaxed sexual mores - polyamorism, cross-species sex, etc. - to the point where it seems like a particular fascination of yours. (Not that everyone isn't fascinated by sex, of course.)

    How would you describe the relationship between sexuality as presented in your work and your own personal views on the subject? (What does your wife think about it? :)

    P.S. Great fan, so is my girlfriend - question not meant to offend.

  • Power satellites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drjoe1e6 ( 461358 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:49PM (#5399781)
    In Niven's Laws, you discuss how we could have seriously changed the world by now if we launched solar-collecting power satellites 20 years ago. Do you still think these satellites are a good idea? Is it (ever) too late?


  • Rishathra (Score:4, Funny)

    by raretek ( 215909 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:50PM (#5399790)
    Do you advocate Rishathra and if so, could you recommend a species that is particularly good at it?

    My, uh, friend wants to know...
  • by Rubyflame ( 159891 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @05:21PM (#5400142) Homepage
    Well? Who would win?
  • by technoCon ( 18339 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @05:43PM (#5400383) Homepage Journal
    Lots of folks love SF: Today there's a cable network and a nauseating volume of Star Trek reruns. Computer graphics makes it feasible to put a movie into any imaginable setting. Technology is being deployed so quickly that Vernor Vinge's singularity comes to mind. Technological progress is moving so fast it is hard to anticipate it.

    NASA is dinking around in LEO: Boldly going where John Glenn has gone four decades before. I don't know who said it: The future just ain't what it used to be.

    The Sputnik generation is graying: When I was a lad, I watched moon shots. It captured my imagination. I read any book that had a rocket on its cover. I'm late forties and will be dead of cancer soon.

    Writers are moving out of SF: William Gibson's latest novel has high geek content, but none of the science isn't already deployed. Same for Neal Stephenson's _Cryptonomicon_: good story with high geek content, but nothing beyond the current state of the art. And I've seen guys who once wrote Hard Science Fiction branching out to Fantasy.

    Publishing is corporatized: The huge bookstores I haunt have SF sections that are overcrowded with Fantasy and StarTrek, StarWars, Babylon5 & <insert corporate franchise here> serials.

    It looks to me as if Science Fiction is in trouble, or it may be sick, or it may be dead and doesn't know it yet.

    What is your assessment of SF's health and which of these considerations do you think most significant?
  • Chicken or egg? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JohnnyBolla ( 102737 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @06:03PM (#5400667) Homepage
    What comes first, the science or the fiction? Did you imagine a ring shaped world and then build the physics model afterward, or start with a Dyson Sphere and end up with a ring? Are your creatures created and then put into an ecology, or do you think of an ecology and evolve a creature out of it? Did the Kzinti exist before the Kzinti homeworld?
  • ARM? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FatigueStrain ( 576137 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @06:13PM (#5400774)
    Part of the background of your Known Space novels was the ARM governmental organization on Earth. You described ARM as a paternalistic, totalitarian world government that existed for the most part to protect humankind from the consequences of unrestrained technological development (widely available fusion bombs, exotic weapons, etc.) and to control population growth (which could be seen as another outcome of improved technology). In contrast. the Belt civilization seemed to be a much freer society, perhaps because of its different situation (more distributed == less vulnerable, more room == less worry about population pressure).
    With that as a background, both of these societies sacrificed different levels of freedom for different amounts of security, certainly a relevant issue in todays post-9/11 environment where there is an increased awareness that technology (secure communications for terrorists, increased travel, biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, etc.) have made society more vulnerable. What do you think of the United State's steps towards increasing safety (perhaps at the expense of freedom)? Do you feel that as Earth becomes more technologically advanced and more densely populated and interconnected that some movement towards an ARM level of social control is inevitable?

    PS: Just wanted to thank you for your many stellar (pun!) novels. Your books never cease to provoke new ideas and questions and were/are a tremendous influence on a developing young technie. Keep it up!
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @06:54PM (#5401127) Homepage Journal
    You stated in Ringworld Engineers that Louis Wu was incorrect in assuming Ringworld was build by the Pac. My theory is that it was built by the tnuctipun, who also created the Pac. Am I correct?

    Here's my reasoning:
    The Tree Of Live virus is just too convenient to have evolved naturally. Somebody made it - who? The tnuctipun. They wanted a race of warriors smart enough to use Soft Weapon level tech, but fanatical enough to resist the Thrint Power.

    Now, being nicely paranoid the tnuctip would be unlikely to make a warrior race without some form of control. What better control than making them pathetically stupid and weak until a trigger event you can control, and after triggering them keeping them addicted to something you control, like Tree Of Life root. So the tnuctip could have worlds full of stupid monkeys, and when needed dust the worlds with Tree Of Life virus and BANG - instant army.

    I'd also bet that ANY tnuctip "smells right" to any Pac.

    Now, where did the tnuctip survive The Great Suicide command? In statis, of course. However, once out of statis they would need a safe place to be - a place shielded from the Pac, hard to get to, defensible from long range. I'll bet scrith blocks The Power. And by the time a Thrint could get over the edge of the Ringworld and start ordering folks around, "Hey, what's that violet glow around everythZZZZAP".

    So the Pac probably found monkeys on Earth when they got here, but just "displaced" them.

    Am I even remotely correct?
  • by joey ( 315 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @07:44PM (#5401576) Homepage
    I've often wondered why you only wrote one sequal to The Integral Trees. It seems that the world of the Smoke Ring calls for at least a 3 part series. I've always found the basic world more enthralling and magestic than Ringworld.

    So why did you leave Kendy waiting, and never come back to it? I've read about how Known Space was getting full of too many special cases (statis fields, general produces hulls, Sinclair string, stepping plates, etc, etc) to make it much fun to try to write stories set in that universe, but the Smoke Ring is on the periphery of Known Space, it doesn't seem this should be a problem. And all those poor folks in the smoke ring are just gonna fry when the core explosion hits.
  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:15PM (#5401827) Homepage Journal
    Your collaborative novel Fallen Angels [] is available in the Baen Free Library. What prompted you to make it available there? Have its paper sales picked up since you posted it there? (Assuming it's still in print to be sold.) Might you consider making some of your other works available that way?

    Also, Fallen Angels features a couple of references to one of the ultimate ubergeeks of the Linux world, Richard M. Stallman. Who was responsible for that? (I'm guessing it would have been Pournelle.) Are there any amusing stories associated with those appearances?
  • The Integral Trees (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cowtamer ( 311087 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:27PM (#5401915) Journal
    Hi Larry,

    I've always thought The Integral Trees [] and the Smoke Ring [] were the best visual imagery ever featured in a book, hard core sci-fi or otherwise.

    Have you ever approached any moviemakers with the idea of making a feature-length film that takes place in a 0-G environment society such as the one in The Integral Trees? In a related note, do you think the special effects are up to par yet for this?

    I, for one, would pay cold, hard cash to see the trilaterally symmetric fish, "ponds," foilage, and of course the trees themselves...
  • by tchdab1 ( 164848 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @08:56PM (#5402132) Homepage
    Dear Mr. Niven, I ask this respectfully. With the exception of yours (which I have enjoyed very much)and a very few other author's works, why is so much SF so badly written? Does the focus on unusual ideas mean that the quality of the literature must suffer, do we readers have low expectations,did the evolution from Pulp culturally imbue trashiness, or what? It seems that so many readers who love this genre feel "I can write SF too", and I've always felt we really mean "I can write better stuff than this", but I'd rather that other writers do it so I can continue to enjoy reading it. In any event, thank you for yours.
  • by scherrey ( 13000 ) on Friday February 28, 2003 @01:46AM (#5403874) Homepage
    It's been years (>20) since I read the RingWorld novels so it's interesting what things stick in my head (and now I've got to go back and read them again). Many sci-fi books discuss lifespans extended by technology but either ignore or or skim past its psychological and societal impact. I found Louis Wu's habit of going on sabatical's particularly interesting and possibly appealing. When you imagine "conquering" life - having raised a family, become financially independent, enjoyed a long retirement but still not even having reached middle-age, its not hard to imagine needing something to shake you up and revive your taste for life. Of course some just go on the "wire" and eventually waste away in bliss - Wu having nearly done so himself. It's obvious that you've given the impact of serious life extension a lot of thought. Now that bio technology seems to be giving such life extension a palpable credibility - what other impacts do you anticipate when we finally reach common, healthy lifespans of two or more centuries?
  • Which prediction? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sbaker ( 47485 ) on Friday February 28, 2003 @04:38PM (#5409029) Homepage
    Which of all the predictions of the future in your books do you most wish would come true?

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming