Erik Rodgers's Blog

January 2, 2013

I have two— count 'em two— short stories available on download!
It's part of a great app called Ether Books that brings great short writing from new and established authors to your mobile device.

App is free. So are my stories. Check it out. :-)
 •  flag
like  • 
Published on January 02, 2013 09:35 • 45 views • Tags: short-stories

January 19, 2012

“The future has already arrived. It's just not evenly distributed yet.” -William Gibson

Science Fiction. When the term is used, it can evoke a myriad of styles and conventions, from adventure tales in outer space to tightly wound speculations on society's existence just past some technological event horizon and nearly everything in between. Science Fiction has even increasingly burst out of it's two aisle seams in the book store with lauded Literary authors like Kazuo Ishiguro and popular fiction writers like Jodi Picoult all getting in the game.

Even if they don't wear the science fiction tag on their spine, it is still startling to think how much of our contemporary fiction pool draws upon this oft-maligned genre. Or does it? Perhaps the genre itself is a wide array of classic story lines and styles dressed up in space suits or given high tech props. Isn't swashbuckling amongst the stars just an extension of the classic adventure tale, stretching all the way back to Beowulf and Jason and the Golden Fleece (The Argonautica)? Isn't the high-browed 'Speculative Fiction' just literary fiction using technological concepts as metaphor and leitmotifs?

All this vagary around a concept that at casual glance seems so simple can be daunting. At first glance, to most people, the name instantly evokes a milieu— outer space, a spaceship, the face of some far off planet—not a story line. Despite that, it is stubbornly referred to as a genre, despite the wide range of story conventions and narrative styles on display.

In a pinch, one might easily get away with saying it's anything that takes place in the future. By that turn, however, it is in essence fantasy, because it requires imagining things that don't exist, but then that could be said of all fiction. Perhaps we should just do away with the whole appellation and just bundle all books over to the general fiction departments and be done with it.

We can hardly do that, however, for something is there, however ill defined, in these works. A common thread beyond just the set dressing or plot twists. All science fiction has at it's core one common trait. It explores the relationship between man and technology. Whether on a social scale, a personal level, or somewhere beyond, all science fiction contemplates how technology impacts, changes, and reveals us.

From this view on could look back in time and see it's precedents everywhere, but it is undeniable that the explosion of the genre in popularity and relevance coincides with the twentieth century's sudden and massive technological and scientific progress. Imagine someone born in 1890 and dying in 1980. She would have seen unprecedented change in the world around him, most all wrought by technology. Everything from her most basic relationships to the entire social mechanism, her history and her grandkid's future would all have been so profoundly impacted by it.

When faced with something so immeasurably influential on our lives and times, it is an absolute necessity as a culture that we turn to our collective imagination, our storytelling— to cope with the change, to help shape our relationship with it, to examine it's possibilities. In this way, everything from the swashbuckling space opera to deeply character driven 'speculative fiction' all hold a relevant place in this act of cultural rumination.

It's relevance is often betrayed by how quickly certain imaginings can fall out of fashion or seem antiquated, but it's power of a work can also be examined by how well it resists the changing times and continues to speak honestly about that relationship so essential to it's form. After all one can still feel the human truth in Odysseus's run in with the Cyclops, even though we've long settled the Italian shores and are sure that no Cyclops' exist. A classic is a classic for it's enduring truth and fidelity to the essentials of it's story and form.

Because even in the face of an ever changing technological world, we will always seek to discover ourselves, our humanity, reflected back to us from the world outside as well as within.

Be sure and check out the exciting ebook series Wetwire: Part One- The Human Technology and follow it on facebook to stay up to date!

Wetwire  Part One- The Human Technology (Wetwire visionaries) by Erik Rodgers
 •  flag
1 comment
2 likes · like  • 
Published on January 19, 2012 09:08 • 306 views • Tags: genre, literature, sci-fi, science-fiction, speculative-fiction, writing

December 22, 2011

December 16, 2011

One of the most speculative technologies in Wetwire is the ability to download a brain and transfer it into a new body. I stumbled upon this interesting bit this morning:

WATCH THIS: DR. KAKU talks theoretical

I was refreshed to see him focus on the more provocative question of whether or not a copy of you (mentally or physically) would actually be you. However, let us stick to the nuts and bolts of the question for now. How exactly could it be done?

One of the crucial concepts in Wetwire is that technology has bridged the divide between hardwire and 'wetwire' technology (hence the name). In such a scenario, transferring and storing neural information would theoretically become much easier, since the 'platform' would be more compatible. This of course requires usable brains, which is why cloning became essential to the idea of this technology.

Still, there would presumably have to be some interface with hardware technology. On this front, attempts to develop such technology are already under way. Sony is indeed already trying to develop transmitters that would upload sensory data into someone's brain. I was particularly struck by the idea of using ultra sound to transmit the sensory data.

READ THIS: SONY developing brain interface

In reality, we are still a long way from translating ones and zeros into neural and psychological phenomena, but it needn't bee more than a paradigm shift away. Dr. Kaku says that our brain doesn't have a platform, or 'operating system' like a computer, but I'm not sure all would agree with that. Our brains, for all their diversity and mystery still do operate with remarkable consistency across six billion biological systems, and our user experience is more often than not, fairly consistant. Perhaps the key to advancing a technology like this would be to uncover exactly what that neural OS is, its ins and outs. If we achieved that, then it would not be such a far reach to think about uploading or downloading experiences, thoughts, or even entire 'personality systems' from one user to another.

Wetwire  Part One- The Human Technology (Wetwire visionaries) by Erik Rodgers

Wetwire: Part One- The Human Technology
 •  flag
2 likes · like  • 
Published on December 16, 2011 09:02 • 282 views • Tags: cloning, fiction, future-tech, personality, science, science-fiction, speculative-fiction, theory

December 7, 2011

While L-42869 is secreted away to the home of a powerful ally, Adam and Sarafina continue to search for them. Jim adjusts to his new body, while Debra tries to navigate the political pitfalls emerging around them. Swift becomes Debra’s new assistant, giving him new security clearance, but both him and Madden are growing paranoid as tensions escalate.

Wetwire  Visionaries Part Two- The Space Between (Wetwire visionaries) by Erik Rodgers

Wetwire: Visionaries Part Two- The Space Between
 •  flag
1 like · like  • 
Published on December 07, 2011 05:02 • 89 views • Tags: adventure, character, cloning, cyber-tech, future-technology, futuretech, sci-fi, science-fiction, serialization, series, speculative-fiction

November 21, 2011

I was struck by the inclusion of the mention of cloning in the the recent failed attempt to pass a personhood law in Mississippi. Had we really arrived at a point in time when our society needed to actively discuss the ethics and legal status of a human clone?

Looking a little deeper, I realized quickly that the inclusion of cloning was not because Mississippians or pro-lifers were concerned about the legal status of a full grown human clone, but rather over therapeutic cloning and the use of cloned embryos to harvest stem cells.

Still, it was a remarkable inclusion. Years after Dolly has come and gone, cloning continues to advance, and it is now getting a foothold in our consciousness as a viable technology. Despite this, the ethics of it are no clearer now than when Dolly first appeared on the scene.

Already, as a society there are deep conflicts over when life begins. The notion that life begins at conception necessarily requires the serious questioning of embryonic cloning. That notion, however, has remained an unpopular one for most Americans over the past few decades as cloning research has developed. Instead, many Americans require proof of some sort of active consciousness before they consider it appropriate to bestow the concept of "personhood" upon it.

What if we could subvert the emergence of the consciousness, then? How far could we develop the embryo? Would we be able to look at a fully formed human who, lacking any identifiable consciousness, was used for scientific research or for medical health?

The Science fiction of cloning has long considered the possibility of the use of cloning to provide new bodies, body parts, or for testing. The literary writer, Kazuo Ishiguro, has famously taken it on in the recent Never Let Me Go, using cloning as a means of exploring the intricate relationship between our social and personal identities.

Ultimately, as the technology of cloning grows and develops, so will our ideas about it. How we address it and what ethics and laws govern it will depend on the use and opportunity it provides as well as how we as a society frame the concept of personhood.

In Wetwire, I have attempted to draw a convincing world where cloning has become a well developed technology. Subsequent generations of clones have forced these social concepts to evolve and change with experience. Of course the ideas are not always rational — human prejudice, fear and self-protectionism are powerful forces —as it was important to me to show the fluidity and the changeability of society around these important and volatile questions.

In the end, identity and personhood are social concepts that bound and shape us, even as we attempt to explain and define them. The answers we settle on will always be different from one generation to the next, as the needs and wants of the individual and society conflict and abut in new and unforseen ways.

Wetwire  Part One- The Human Technology (Wetwire visionaries) by Erik Rodgers

Wetwire: Part One- The Human Technology
 •  flag
1 like · like  • 
Published on November 21, 2011 10:48 • 351 views • Tags: cloning, individuality, kazuo-ishiguro, morals, never-let-me-go, personhood, philosophy, science, science-fiction, society, technology, wetwire

November 16, 2011

Precognition. ESP. Clairvoyance. Prescience. Call it what you like, but the ability to see the future has long been a dream of mankind. Unfortunately it's only the stuff of fantasy and fiction.

Or is it?

From time to time, despite resistance from the established scientific community, people actually do research on this issue. Though the article below is not exactly conclusive, it does indicate that that some sort of phenomenon exists upon which our ideas of premonition is based.

As our scientific understanding of the world expands, we realize that our relationship with time is more complex. According to Quantum theory, our mere observation of events helps determine the outcome. We do not yet know how this happens. Perhaps our minds have some receptive quantum mechanism, or perhaps our consciousness has the ability to express itself as a force outside our own own skulls?

One interesting aspect of Dr. Bem's research (see link) was that risk takers were more likely to anticipate the correct image. That suggests that there may be some biological or genetic component to it.

Perhaps there is some mechanism within our brains which, however crude, can sense those looming quantum possibilities just as they begin to take shape, that can tune in on some level to the immediate future and trigger us. I could very well be a simple pavlovian sort of trigger, stimulating us towards positive probabilities that are emerging just beyond our sphere of consciousness.

This is the basis upon which I built the concept of Prescience in WETWIRE — that a particular genetic trait could be identified in the expression of these abilities and, through genetic modification and cloning, enhanced. What would it mean to us, as individuals as well as a society, if we could begin to harness such an ability?

It is for now, less the stuff of science and more the stuff of fiction. But perhaps there is an element of prescience to us all. Our fiction is where we as a culture collectively imagine the future, glimpse it, and help bring it closer to reality.

Maybe our dreams have an element of precognition after all.

Wetwire  Part One- The Human Technology (Wetwire visionaries) by Erik Rodgers

Wetwire: Part One- The Human Technology
 •  flag
1 like · like  • 
Published on November 16, 2011 09:36 • 282 views • Tags: esp, future, quantum-physics, sci-fi, science, science-fiction, scifi, technology, wetwire

November 14, 2011

Hello all,

I've just released the first installment of my Science Fiction/Speculative Fiction series called WETWIRE.

I plan to release a new installment every month or so.

Here's a bit to get you acquainted with the story:

L-42869 isn’t a device— she’s a clone. More specifically, she’s a WetWire - a clone that’s farmed for experimentation. Harvested from a genetic strand that produces these Prescients, L-42869 can do more than just glimpse the future. She can slip into it, even shape it. Only now she’s been stolen from the Farm. This is where I come in. Who am I?

“I’m Adam. Until yesterday I was a Zone Enforcer. Now they’ve enlisted me to track down L-42869. Why me? Well I’m a Prescient clone as well, only I’m from the First Generation. One of the few left. They let us have regular lives. Turns out that was a bad idea. We had emotional issues that clouded our minds and made us ineffective. But that wasn’t the worst of it.

“It turns out that all clones suffer from an illness called ASP- Anti-simeostasis Pathology- the overwhelming desire to kill other clones like you so that you can be ‘original’. They discovered this 15 years ago when us First Gens all went crazy and started the Great Crisis. So now they keep clones in separate regional Zones, so that we don’t interact and, well, try and kill each other.

“Not all the Clones obey the law, though. Some remove their Zappers and jump the Borders. Others join a cult called Gertrude’s Garden where they try to brainwash themselves into loving one another. Creepy stuff. Anyway, they think that it was the Gardeners who stole L-42869. Rumor has it that the Gardeners think that L-42869 will become their new leader, and spark an uprising to free the clones and overthrow the Egos.

“Egos, by the way, are what we call natural born humans. They think they’re better than everyone else. And they run everything. Will they be overthrown by the clones someday? I hope so. Not because I think that’ll make anything better. I think that if it ever happens, then the clones will finally blow everyone up and end this whole improbable and useless thing they call life.

“Well, anyway, what’s an outdated and emotionally troubled First Gen to do?”

You can go to the website or follow on Facebook to stay up to date on when the next installment is due out!
 •  flag
2 likes · like  • 
Published on November 14, 2011 17:17 • 70 views • Tags: cloning, science-fiction, speculative-fiction