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Ultraphyte’s first post

October 17, 2011

Welcome to Ultraphyte, my first book blog. In my new book The Highest Frontier, student-athletes go out in space to Frontera College, where they discover how to save planet Earth.  Their space habitat is run by a tribal casino and protected from ultraphytes (UV-photosynthesizing aliens) by Homeworld Security. The ultraphytes evolve like an RNA virus–which is a lot more bizarre than normal evolution, with alarming results.

Whatever you’d like to know about my books, feel free to ask. Some topics of interest to me:

  • Solar energy in outer space
  • Life evolving in extreme environments
  • Native American culture, especially the Iroquois
  • Elections: Is voting obsolete?
  • Geocentrism: Why people still believe it
  • Cuba: ¿Qué pasa después?
  1. October 17, 2011 2:34 pm

    Congratulations and welcome to the blog-iverse, Joan! I feel awful–I began “Reamde” and still haven’t started “Frontera”. But when I do, I will certainly be coming here with any sort of troublemaker comments and questions. (You know I love to stir things up.) So, now that you’re back (public-eye wise), any plans for another book? Take care and be happy.

    • October 17, 2011 8:13 pm

      Well, the ultraphytes are clamoring to say what they REALLY did next, but maybe I shouldn’t upset your reading plans and should wait till everyone’s finished Reamde. (Could be quite a wait, from what I hear.) What do you think?

  2. October 17, 2011 2:38 pm

    As a bacterium living on hydrogen at Yellowstone, I have a lot to offer for energy in outer space. What I don’t understand is, how do YOU manage to grow in extreme environments below 90 deg C?

    • October 17, 2011 8:03 pm

      I should have known a smart-aleck bacterium would rear its sugar-coated head. Just remember, outside Yellowstone the only place YOU can grow is in the steam vent from our autoclave–where we normally exterminate by the trillions your temperate-growing cousins.

  3. October 17, 2011 3:25 pm

    Welcome to the blogverse! I look forward to interesting conversations.

  4. October 17, 2011 7:06 pm

    I visualize your blog becoming an enormous success! I wonder if the life forms on the dark energy/dark matter side of the universe have discovered that our side of the universe exists?

    • October 17, 2011 8:06 pm

      “Dark matter” and “dark energy” mean all that’s left in the universe after we add up what we can measure. There could be life only if the “dark” forms of matter can exchange energy with entropy so as to store information. But if we can’t see life there, maybe they can’t see us either?

      BTW there is an analogous problem in the search for bacterial genomes:
      The vast majority of bacterial genomes in nature cannot be “seen” by present DNA methods–the “dark genomes” many of which encode invaluable antibiotics and other great things. But Venter scientists have found algorithms to capture another 90% of what’s left…unless even more remains than we think.

      • Heteromeles permalink
        October 17, 2011 9:43 pm

        Great to see you blogging, Joan! In response to the post, I had a lot of fun with the dark matter life forms in my latest book. Since it involved time travel, I’ll admit it wasn’t exactly serious…

      • October 24, 2011 5:08 pm

        Great link! Today was one of my ‘Christmas days’ (free gifts). Singularity Summit made their videos available on youtube. Yes!


  5. Matthew permalink
    October 19, 2011 9:43 am

    Do people *actually* believe in geocentrism, or just say that because they want to be different or special in some way?

    • October 19, 2011 11:18 am

      It’s hard to know what people think, but there was a very serious conference on geocentrism last year:
      A book on geocentrism was published by someone who actually got a degree in the subject, at a university that lacks accreditation:

    • Jeff R. permalink
      October 19, 2011 1:41 pm

      There is a big problem with young-earth Creationism, which is that every night one can see the light of stars that are considerably older than 6,000 years old. So in addition to rejecting modern biology, you really need to reject a lot of modern physics if you want to seriously believe that sort of thing.

      About 20 years ago, the accepted solution to this conundrum was C-decay, the assumption that the speed of light was infinite at the moment of creation and has been steadily decreasing to our current, fallen state. But apparently the math doesn’t really work out for this model, and so the new paradigm is a new geocentrism, which doesn’t really care that much about whether the Earth goes around the Sun or vice versa, but is deeply, deeply invested in the idea that the Earth-Sun system sits in a priveledged frame of reference at the center of the universe.

      • October 19, 2011 4:25 pm

        So if the Earth-Sun system is special, what about the other planets? And the rest of the universe is a painted backdrop?

        Some creationists make a similar “exception” for bacteria, which (I think) are allowed to evolve because the Bible doesn’t mention them.

        • Jeff R. permalink
          October 19, 2011 4:47 pm

          IIRC, the others planets are fine, still part of the solar system. The rest of the universe is there, too, but due to some complicated cut-and-paste mixing of parts taken from relativity and the inflationary period part of the big bang theory, the further away parts get to experience more subjective time between then and now than we do.

  6. paws4thot permalink
    October 19, 2011 11:21 am

    Hi Joan,

    Remember me from the guest stop over at Charlie’s Stross’s blog? Expect more cross-traffic from there. So I’m using the same name since it has a cross-sphere presence (and the same green bacteria species as some of the other places I visit).

    • October 19, 2011 11:41 am

      Great to see you again!
      BTW, any idea which green bacterium you are, maybe Chlorobium or Anabaena?

      • paws4thot permalink
        October 20, 2011 4:10 am

        I’m a software engineer by profession, and tech geek by inclination. I know next to nothing about biology!
        I’m also interested in politics itself (party political slanging matches which are replacing coherent debates over policy not so much).

        • October 20, 2011 9:42 am

          What interests me is the practical side of politics–how things really work, and how technology is really changing what we do (or not). I’ve always considered politics a subfield of animal behavior.

          • paws4thot permalink
            October 20, 2011 11:39 am

            We’re on very much the same wavelength then.

  7. Frances permalink
    October 19, 2011 4:52 pm

    Hi Joan,

    I just finished The Highest Frontier, entirely from discovering you at Charlie’s and besotted by it; expect I shall read it again soon — once I’ve read everything else sci-fi of yours. And very happy you’re blogging now also.

    (hoping I’m some kind of slime bacteria…)

  8. October 19, 2011 8:07 pm

    I’m so happy that you’re blogging! I loved “The Highest Frontier” and really enjoyed reading your posts while you were filling in for Charles Stross.

    • October 19, 2011 8:35 pm

      Glad you stopped by, “a.” And what a cute little red monster.
      Let me know what topics you’d like to hear about.

  9. Trey permalink
    October 19, 2011 11:44 pm

    Another immigrant from Charlie’s blog.
    OK, two things of interest we share – native American cultures and what happens after in Cuba.
    So, why the Iriquois?
    And what do you think will happen in Cuba?

    • October 20, 2011 9:37 am

      A huge qualifier–I am no expert on native Americans, but from what I’ve read from diverse sources: The precolonial Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) interest me because they somehow synthesized these disparate traits:
      — A governance structure that served as the model for the US constitution–But no voting; tribes met and acted by consensus
      — Gender equality so strong that some European women voluntarily joined (not all were captured first–some were runaway servants)
      — Extremely violent to outsiders, yet nonviolent within the tribe; including lack of sexual violence
      — Strong tribal identity, yet eagerly “adopted” members of any race

      As for Cuba, I know even less, but I’m planning a research trip in preparation for my next book. I recommend the Voces Cubanas multi-blog.

  10. Trey permalink
    October 20, 2011 9:53 pm

    Hmm. I’ve gotten into per-colonial and early post colonial American history (thanks to 1491) – can you suggest any reading on the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee)?

    • October 20, 2011 10:47 pm

      Here are a few for starters. It’s important to read many different points of view, because different historians have very different views. But I found they ultimately came together; I think what I put in my book was a balanced synthesis.
      Barbara Alice Mann, Iroquois Women: The Gantowisas
      Daniel K. Richter, The Ordeal of the Longhouse
      Horatio Hale, The Iroquois Book of Rites [On Google books; I used this to base some of the rituals in The Highest Frontier]

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