Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Listening to an author speak

Robert J. Sawyer, a well-known, fiercely Canadian, award-winning science-fiction author, gave a talk at Google today. He's just published a new book: Wake, first of the WWW trilogy, which is about the world wide web gaining consciousness, and so he was talking about consciousness.

Sawyer is a very skilled speaker - he has done CBC radio lectures, so I expected him to have a good voice, and he was also very enthusiastic and engaging. He was obviously very interested in what he was saying about consciousness and had researched it thoroughly, until he knew it inside and out. It was a very interesting talk, and so interesting and engaging that time flew by; I was shocked when I looked up and saw that he'd been talking for 40 minutes!

He talked about what it means to be conscious and how a consciousness could rise out of the web. He also discussed how difficult it was to write about this; as a conscious human being, how can we possibly conceive of an alien consciousness, and how would it develop, without turning that consciousness into an anthopomorphic being?

Ian and I both very enjoyed the talk; Ian actually got to talk to him in a small group before and after and got to know him a little bit. He seems like a really interesting person :)

A side-effect of listening to the talk was that I can "hear" his voice when reading his books. I've read a few of his books (including Wake) and while I've loved the concepts - they're extremely thought-provoking - I've had trouble with the voice that they're written in; some parts have seemed a bit stilted when I think he's been trying to convey an emotion. I don't read emotion in books very well, which goes along with not being able to "see" emotions very well on people's faces. For a long, long time, I couldn't figure out what people on movies were doing to show emotion; their facial expressions didn't make sense to me. I'm getting better at that.

Anyways, if Robert J. Sawyer stops by your city on this promotional tour, I'd recommend that you go and listen to him speak; it's interesting and well worth the time, even if you aren't a science fiction fan.

Tomorrow I call to get my CT scan results: I expect that the results are good, but of course I'm nervous about  getting them. I'll post the results here on my blog when I get them.

No comments: