Code 46 and viral driven behavior

Watched a mediocre scifi movie a few days ago, Code 46. Apart from some boring scenes setting the dreamlike mood, and some stupid sex scenes, there was one brilliant idea.

In this movie viruses have profound power over people.  A woman is given a virus which causes her revulsion when she is near a man whose genetics matches hers.

The idea that viruses modify human behavior would have been pure science fiction a few years ago, but that was before discoveries about a virus which causes rats to change their behavior such that they are more likely to be eaten by cats.

A hundred years from now will we have a long list of human behaviors which are primarly caused by viruses?

If we could purge all viruses from our bodies how many dysfunctional and destructive behaviors would vanish from our lives?


I just finished listening to Richard Morgan's Thirteen from Audible. This new novel is an involving story about a genetically engineered mutant, such people carry the nickname Thirteen. Reminds me of Rome. The 13th Legion warriors were aggressive and invincible. So are the mutants. They are fierce male warriors recruited for dirty work such as military ops, assassinations, and tracking down people who don't want to be found. I would disagree with anyone who claimed this book is not science fiction. However I would understand their claim. This book starts with the crash of a spaceship from Mars, the sole survivor is a mutant human, another Thirteen is recruited to hunt him down, this hunter was on Mars, and returned to Earth enhanced with military implants.

But this is another of Morgan's detective story with cops and guns and government agents and conspiracies, and murder scenes and drug dealers.

I'm glad I read it and would recommend it to anyone interested in scifi, but I was disappointed that the science fiction elements played such a minor role. This story would be essentially identical if it had been written without any of them. The Kovacs trilogy was a lot more dependent on the scifi devices.

Review of Vinge's 'Rainbows End'

I just finished listening to Verner Vinge's book "Rainbows End". There were some things about this book which were very difficult to follow in audio, perhaps reading it would be easier. Overall it was an interesting portrayal of life in the near future when personal technology has become as useful as shoes and eyeglasses. But I have to say the ending of this book was a tremendous disappointment. It's not a spoiler to say that The Rabbit is one of the most intriguing and important characters of any book I've recently read. Vinge showed his genius in creating Rabbit as one of the heroes, or was it an anti-hero? It's hard to classify.

So why after all this effort and success would Vinge leave the character unresolved at the end of the book? We learn nothing about Rabbit. He is simply not there. We don't know if he is dead or alive, a winner or a loser. Vinge may intend on writing a sequel, but he still should give some hints. In the end we are left to guess as to the core of Rabbit's essence. Saying more would perhaps give away a spoiler.

Vinge's vision of a technological life is encouraging. HIs vision of secret personal messaging is excellent and shows that the next evolutionary step after IM is still just a conversation. And his ideas of what would happen to old people whose diseases were suddently cured is inspiring.

But I can't get past the question "What happened to the Rabbit ??"

Interesting note,  SF Reviews did not even mention the Rabbit.

July issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Thanks to Gordon van Gelder for the July 2008 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Two stories caught my attention: Reader's Guide by Lisa Goldstein had an interesting twist at the end, at least I thought so. Seems that a young apprentice might be rising up in the organization. This was an interesting format for a story, but probably not one which should be imitated.

The other was Fullbrim's Finding by Matthew Hughes. In this story Mr. Hughes offers an explanation as to why this world seems so imperfect. The vocabulary was almost a roadblock, too many clever new words. But he stayed on this side of decipherable. The character of the detective was slightly derivative of Dirk Gently, but his personality and techniques were not central to the storyline.

Enfant Terrible by Scott Dalrymple is a short story about a gifted child whose gift is not exactly desirable. But child abduction is a controversial subject regardless of the motives.

I've never understood the fascination with alternative histories. 1949 in Nazi dominated Russia is fairly boring (to me) in Albert Cowdrey's Poison Victory.