Just Read The Instructions and Of Course I Still Love You are the names Elon Musk has chosen for the east coast and west coast SpaceX spaceport drone ships. The names are from the late Iain Banks Culture novel Player of Games, and are indicative of the attitudes taken by Culture AI spaceships in naming themselves (a full list of Culture Vessel Names may be found here) An introduction to Iain Banks on Mefi previously, and on Mefi again at his passing ("The Culture represents the place we might hope to get to").
The long-term optimism comes from the the fact that no matter how bad things seem and how idiotically and cruelly we behave. . . well, we've got this far, despite it all, and there are more people on the planet than ever before, and more people living good, productive, relatively happy lives than ever before, and—providing we aren't terminally stupid, or unlucky enough to get clobbered by something we have no control over, like a big meteorite or a gamma ray buster or whatever—we'll solve a lot of problems just by sticking around and doing what we do; developing, progressing, improving, adapting. And possibly by inventing AIs that are smarter and more decent than we are, which will help us get some sort of perspective on ourselves, at the very least. We might just stumble our way blindly, unthinkingly into utopia, in other words, muddling through despite ourselves.In 2010 Jude Roberts interviewed Iain M. Banks for her PhD. Banks discusses his utopia, The Culture, which he created in a series of science fiction novels.
Two of our finest authors, humanist and government critic, Iain [M] Banks is dying of cancer. His next novel will be his last. His books are a source of inspiration and joy for me and many other mefites.
Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds, and Peter F. Hamilton discuss their books with fans (video). The Hydrogen Sonata, the 10th of Bank's Culture books, will be released October 12th, read the first chapter here. Meanwhile it's 20 years since Reynolds first started work on Revelation Space.
Guardian Book Club: Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks, Week one: John Mullan discusses the twist [more inside]
Iain Banks interviewed by the Open University (45min). Compare and contrast with Iain Banks interviewed on STV (25min) back in 1989. [more inside]
Previously on Metafilter, we unearthed hundred year old scotch. So let's talk about scotch. There's a lot to say. [more inside]
The Culture, in its history and its on-going form, is an expression of the idea that the nature of space itself determines the type of civilisations which will thrive there ... The thought processes of a tribe, a clan, a country or a nation-state are essentially two-dimensional, and the nature of their power depends on the same flatness ... The contention is that our currently dominant power systems cannot long survive in space; beyond a certain technological level a degree of anarchy is arguably inevitable and anyway preferable. [more inside]
Transition, the latest from Iain Banks... or is it Iain M. Banks? Anyway, as well dead tree and audio, it's also a free podcast on Itunes... [more inside]
Edinburgh author Iain M. Banks, creator of the post capitalist space faring society The Culture and it's oddly named ships, has long been the UKs top science fiction writer, but has never had more than a toehold in the US (in part through lack of availability, in part due to lack of promotion and in part due to some pretty awful covers. That could change: Matter, his latest, has been heavily promoted in the US and sports a cover nearly identical to the UK edition. This week Orbit are releasing US editions of the two earliest Culture novels, with the third following in July, which could mean a complete release of all the novels in the US in order. [more inside]