Saturday, February 6, 2010

Damien Broderick

I don't know who Damien Broderick is. I'm guessing he's a writer though. Tomorrow's person is a writer. And the last two people I've written about our writers. Yeah. I sometimes add types of people in little spurts.

Lord Wiki says Broderick writes science fiction stuff. I'm pretty sure I haven't read anything of his.

No wait. I did. I TRIED to read The White Abacus. I didn't like it. It went way over my head, or maybe I failed to give it enough attention. I just remember struggling, and then I think I gave up. I rarely give up reading a book. I'll usually stupidly read the whole thing, daydreaming through most of it.

Maybe writing this entry will give me important insights into the book. Maybe it will give me what I need to enjoy the book, and I can make another attempt.

Little baby Damien was born on 22 April 1944. I'm guessing his parents were Catholic. His full name is Damien Francis. His name is the same as two well-loved Catholics. There's Francis, that guy who was good with animals. And then there's Damien, the one who helped the people with leprosy. Of course, I also think of the devil boy in The Omen, and the priest in The Exorcist.

Lord Wiki says that Broderick is credited with coining the word virtual reality. Yeah. You know that really hasn't quite taken off yet. I had imagined by this time, we'd all be sitting in our living room with weird goggles, going on mad adventures. I guess the Internet kind of took it's place....at least for now.

Broderick went to Deakin University to get his PhD in literary studies. I wonder if that made him a literary snob. Could you do a degree like that, and then enjoy something like Pillars of the Earth, or Dead Until Dark?

I don't know.

Broderick is one of those people who get to live multiple places. He's in Melbourne, and Texas. For some strange reason, he has two homes in Texas. Why would you do that? If you're going to have three homes, why not spread them out a bit?

Oh no....wait. I think I misunderstood. Lord Wiki says he has a home in San Antonio and Lockhart. It turns out Lockhart is an hour away from San Antonio. Maybe what Lord Wiki meant is that his home in Texas is in Lockhart, and near San Antonio. Although I guess he could have two homes in one state. My parents have a lake house about thirty minutes from their live-in house.

I'm just saying that if I could afford two houses, both of them would NOT be in Texas. That's for sure.

I'm finding this post to be difficult. Like Broderick's novel, his biography is going over my head as well. It's making me feel dumb.

I'm going to hop on over to Broderick's unofficial website. Lord Wiki says his wife made the page. I would think a spouse-made website could classify as official.

Honestly, I'm feeling antagonistic towards Broderick. I think it's because his book was too smart for me. This is a classic defense mechanism, isn't it? He made me feel dumb. I feel antagonistic towards him in hopes that it will make me feel less small.

Well, I'm going to explore the site. Maybe I'll find something that helps me connect with the guy.

He's a honorary senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne. That's cool, I suppose. I'm not really sure what it means. Does he teach anything, or does he just do research?

The University of Melbourne site has a link for his name. I clicked on it, and got this Asian website. What does that mean? Is it an Internet accident, or is there some kind of science fiction-literary joke that I'm failing to grasp.

Okay. On his wife-made website, it says he lives in Melbourne and San Antonio. There's no mention of a third home.

Here's a biography page. It's pretty long and muddled. I think the wife put together a bunch of his speeches and writings to make it.

In a speech from 1992, he totally disses the term "sci fi". He says, ‘Sci fi’ is a term abominated by science fiction devotees, and hence has now been adopted in self-defence as shorthand for really foul pseudo-sf kludged together by, and for, half-wits

Yeah. He sounds like a TOTAL literary snob to me. I really don't think I like this guy.

I also don't like how he takes the liberty in speaking for ALL science fiction devotees. Although I'm sure he'd argue that those who disagree with him, are the half-wits.

In the bio page, he confirms my assumption that he was Catholic.

If I'm reading this right, he had another wife at some point. Her name was Dianne Hawthorne. She worked in a mental institution.

There are letters here that he wrote to a US editor. He's all disgruntled because they held on to his manuscript too long.

I think it's really odd that he includes these letters on his website. Then he goes on to say, that the editor didn't hold a grudge. When Broderick and his wife visited NYC, the editor let them stay in his apartment.

I find this page very difficult to read. It's so choppy. I'm being so negative. I know.

I should just quit.

But I won't....not yet.


I've kind of jumped ahead to the end. He talks about his wife. She's from Texas. So that's probably why he has a home there. Broderick says he wasn't the type of guy who supported marriage. So maybe that other woman wasn't a wife. Maybe she was a partner type of thing. Anyway, he was against marriage, but then found the perfect someone to make him change his mind. It's like a romance novel.

I gotta say though.....His wife seems pretty awesome. She was a cyclist. She can fly a plane. She's bilingual. She has a degree in math. She butchers animals for meat; I guess from her own farm. I respect omnivores who raise and kill their own animals.

I'm sorry but I'm going to leave this website. It's too confusing for me.

This Nanotechnology website has an interview with Broderick. It's regarding a book he wrote around 2001 called The Spike: How our Lives are Being Transformed By Rapidly Advancing Technologies. I guess that's nonfiction rather than fiction.

Broderick says he has been interested in the future since he was twelve. That's probably one of the few facts I'll understand in this interview.

I think the basic idea in the book is that technology is going to advance at a crazy fast rate. I got that from reading this interview, but I guess I could have also just read the book title.

He's big into the life extension idea. Well, I guess it could work. Maybe. I should assume if scientists can find a way to extend our lifespans, they can also find a way to deal with overpopulation.

Maybe I'll do some bibliography stuff. I'm not going to list all of Broderick's books, or look into all of them. I'll just look at the titles that appeal to me.

There's The Judas Mandala, which was written in 1982 and then revised in 2002. This is the book that is sometimes credited with inventing the term virtual reality. Amazon.com says it's about a single mother who time travels.

Wow. I've actually found something to be positive about. Broderick wrote a book about Uluru. It actually sounds really good to me. It's called The Dreaming. Amazon.com describes it: An anthropologist travels to the central Australian desert to search for the source of an aboriginal myth; he suspects the terrible "Rainbow Serpent" is connected to the sacred Uluru rock formations. The holographic "Gate" he discovers with his nephew explains not just the origin of a legend, but the origin of man, and the true fate of the dinosaurs.

It sounds like something I'd like, but I'm weary to try it. I'm afraid Broderick's writing style wouldn't work for me. I should try it though, shouldn't I? Maybe if I can find it at a good price. That way if I don't like it, I won't feel I've wasted money.

I'm looking at the bibliography that Lord Wiki provides. It seems he co-wrote a lot of his fiction with a guy named Rory Barnes. They did six books together. I guess they have better luck with the process than Peter Jennings and Morris Gleitzman.

His nonfiction books look interesting to me. He has stuff about the paranormal. I wonder if he's a believer or skeptic. This title makes me think he's the former: Outside the Gates of Science: Why It's Time for For the Paranormal to Come in From the Cold.

From the review on Amazon (taken from Publisher's Weekly) it sounds like he's skeptical, but not too much so. He examines the science that has taken place regarding the subject.

There's a review by Dean Radin on the site. He's the author of Conscious Universe, which is the same type of book...a scientific exploration of the paranormal. Anyway, Radin says: I enjoyed this book because very few skeptics have been willing to suspend their disbelief long enough to do their homework and tackle a controversy as intense, persistent, and at times as confusing as psi. With a healthy skepticism firmly anchoring his opinions, and with much intellectual struggle, Broderick concludes that something interesting is going on. What that something may be is not likely to be understood any time soon if it is forced to stand outside the gates. Hence the book's subtitle.

My problem with the fanatic skeptics is that, to me, they sound no different than fanatical Christians. Fanatical Christians refuse to give merit to anything outside the Bible. Fanatic skeptics refuse to give merit to anything that hasn't been proven in a science laboratory. And if if evidence IS found in scientific studies that point to the paranormal being real, than the skeptics label it as pseudoscience. It's just like a fanatic Christians will label anything nonbiblical as being Satanic.

I really respect people who can take a balanced view of the paranormal....open-minded, yet not too open-minded. So my feelings towards Broderick have improved a bit.

Here's another interview with Broderick. It was done by a publisher of a small press. The introduction says that Broderick's writing career began in 1964 when he was nineteen. He published a novella called The Sea's Furthest End.

Broderick says, Sf's not a genre, like romance or crime fiction, but actually an independent literary mode, a whole coding system for expressing ideas and emotions that can't be expressed any other way.

I totally don't get that. It sounds literary snob to me....or maybe sf snob.

He admits that he'd like to see his novel The Dreaming turned into a movie. He mentions Steven Spielberg or Peter Weir as the director. Yeah, they'd probably both work well with the material.

Broderick believes we'll eventually have computers that are smarter than people. I think he's a believer in artificial intelligence. Well, artificial intelligence already exists...to some point. The question is whether it will ever resemble that which we see in science fiction. Maybe. Will one day robots be our friends? I'd take a robot as a friend. I've already formed a strong bond with my virtual trainer on Wii Fit. I even gave her a name. Anna. Well, because she reminds me of Anna on V. She's like the friend I've always dreamed of. She praises me. She encourages me. She offers very gentle constructive criticism. You're a little shaky. She's so nice, but also honest. My only grief with her is that she's a bit repetitive. But that's okay.

The one I do NOT like is Mr. Wii Balance Board. I swear. That little guy WANTS me to have an eating disorder again. He frequently reminds me to weigh myself. I'm trying to lose a reasonable twelve pounds....NOT because of health reasons, but for simple vanity ones. I'm at a healthy weight. I just want to fit into my clothes a little better. I gave myself a good time range to lose the weight. But on some days, that Mr. Wii Balance Board weighs me, he tells me I'm not losing weight at a good enough pace. I'm not losing it fast enough for him. What an asshole! It seems he wants me to lose a pound everyday, or something. If I do that, I'll be a dead skeleton by the time my goal date arrives.

No. I do not like Mr. Wii Balance Board. But I do love my Anna.

The stuff that Broderick believes in reminds me of The Matrix. He says,`Posthuman' would be some bizarre state beyond that, where we can literally rewrite our gene codes, plug ourselves into computers and the Net to enhance and expand our powers of thought and feeling.

Wow. It's hard to imagine a world like that. But I don't doubt it could happen. A few decades ago, I'd never imagine it would be so easy to have communication with people around the world.

Well, the interview was fairly interesting. I'm going to end this post though. It's actually put me in a mood to read science fiction, but probably not Broderick's stuff. Another Aussie science fiction writer that I DO enjoy is Jay Caselberg. His writing is more on my level. I like the future he's come up with. I've also read some of John Birmingham's science fiction. I like that as well.

I really should give Broderick at least one more chance though.