Three Pound Brain

No bells, just whistling in the dark…

Category: UPDATES

Updatage…

by rsbakker

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One of my big goals with Three Pound Brain has always been to establish a ‘crossroads between incompatible empires,’ to occupy the uncomfortable in-between of pulp, science, and philosophy–a kind of ‘unholy consult,’ you might even say. This is where the gears grind. I’ve entertained some grave doubts over the years, and I still do, but posts like these are nothing if not heartening. The hope is that I can slowly gain the commercial and academic clout needed to awaken mainstream culture to this grinding, and to the trouble it portends.

I keep planning to write a review of Steven Shaviro’s wonderful Discognition, wherein he devotes an entire chapter to Neuropath and absolutely nails what I was trying to accomplish. It’s downright spooky, but really just goes to show, at least for those of us who periodically draw water from his Pinocchio Theory blog. For anyone wishing to place the relation of SF to consciousness research, I can’t think of a more clear-eyed, impeccably written place to begin. Not only does Shaviro know his stuff, he knows how to communicate it.

Robert Lamb considers “The Great Ordeal’s Outside Context Problem” over at Stuff to Blow Your Mind, where he asks some hard questions of the Tekne, and Kellhus’s understanding of it. SPOILER ALERT, though. Big time.

Dan Mellamphy and Nandita Biswas-Mellamphy have just released Digital Dionysus: Nietzsche and the Network-Centric Condition, a collection of various papers exploring the relevance of Nietzsche’s work to our technological age, including “Outing the It that Thinks: The Coming Collapse of an Intellectual Ecosystem,” by yours truly. The great thing about this collection is that it reads Nietzsche as a prophet of the now rather than as some post-structuralist shill. I wrote the paper some time ago, at a point when I was still climbing back into philosophy after a ten year hiatus, but I still stand by it and its autobiographical deconstruction of the Western intellectual tradition.

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Still Idiosyncratic, yet Verging on Mainstream

by rsbakker

I’ve been killing myself working to meet several commitments I made way back when, which is why I’ve been avoiding this computer—or I should say its internet connection—like the plague. Even still, I thought I should share a couple pieces of news exciting enough to warrant violating my moratorium…

The Journal of Consciousness Studies has accepted “On Alien Philosophy” for publication, likely, I’m told, for some time in early 2017.  The article uses heuristic neglect to argue that aliens possessing a convergent cognitive biology would very likely suffer the same kinds of confusions regarding cognition and consciousness as we presently do. This could be an important foot in the door.

And with details forthcoming, it looks like we have a deal for the television rights to The Prince of Nothing… there’s not much I can say yet, except that the more books I can sell, the greater the chance of seeing the series on the screen! Time to pull out the purple tuxedo…

Gathering Momentum without Expending Wind

by rsbakker

It’s been a busy week, enough to make me pine for a cabin on the Arctic Circle with only the whine of a billion mosquitos to keep me company. The reader reviews on Amazon continue to be over the top, but I’ve been worried by the lack of any institutional reviews (outside Blogcritics). A couple people have told me this is due to the release date being split, and that we might have to wait until after September 29th before things begin to heat up.

Even still, this week’s media roundup is a long one…

Rob and Phil interview me over at the Grim Tidings. This is my first ever Skype interview and it shows! The guys managed to make it a great time, however.

Richard Marcus gives his views on The Great Ordeal over at Blogcritics.

Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist picks The Great Ordeal as one of the Provisional Speculative Fiction Top Five of 2016.

Philosopher David Roden ruminates on “Crash Space,” Neuropath, and great deal more in a wonderful piece of theory-fiction called “Letter from the Ocean Terminus” in Dis Magazine. What happens when our most fundamental landmarks begin to walk? How will we find our way? With lines like “Philosophy is a benign histamine response, a dermographism allowing us to shimmer helplessly in the dark,” you simply cannot go wrong!

Clarkesworld has published “Fish Dance,” a fantastic, Eganesque short story by another philosopher friend of mine, Eric Schwitzgebel. I’ve proofed several of Eric’s stories now, and all I can say is watch out. “Fish Dance” makes me jealous. I can admit it.

The Grimdark Magazine kickstarter campaign for the Evil is a Matter of Perspective anthology has reached its goal. And in short order, too! When I’m not working on The Unholy Consult rewrite, I’m working on the anthology’s Foreword, “On the Goodness of Evil,” and a short story featuring Uster Scraul. Congratulations to Adrian and the GdM team.

The North American Release of The Great Ordeal

by rsbakker

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I was wrong! Jason actually has one final teaser—this one catching Saubon shortly before one of my favourite scenes in the whole of The Second Apocalypse.

So the book is out in North America! If you believe in the series, thump whatever tub you can… you’re the credible ones.

Everything I do just seems to scare people away!

The Other Lidless Eye…

by rsbakker

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Overlook has released the last of Jason Deem’s spectacular visual teasers drawn from The Great Ordeal, this one featuring Mimara and the mystery of the Judging Eye.

Adam has posted A History of Earwa, Part 5: The Holy War, his conclusion to his epic recounting of the epic histories forming the backdrop to The Second Apocalypse. The TPB piece on secondary worlds and histories I mentioned previously is almost finished, so I hope to have it up soon. What Adam is doing is providing an alternate interpretation of an alternate interpretation of fictitious sources reporting events that never happened. This is pretty cool, like disentangling the form of an important socio-cognitive mechanism from the hair of the real. The degree to which his account layers my account allows you to see the way ‘realism’ or ‘credibility’ has to be a function of the organization of information as opposed to any source. Why should that be? Why should the compounding of interpretations generate ‘realism effects’?

The Darkness that Comes Before has been listed as one of “The Top Ten Best Fantasy Books” over at Top Ten Plus.

And for those who are interested in the philosophical underpinnings of the series, I stumbled across an old article of mine on the topic dating from 2000, some time prior to the publication of TDTCB: “Why Fantasy and Why Now?” It’s bizarre bumping into younger strangers possessing your name—yet another radical transformation in our cognitive habitat, I’m sure. Yet another reason to buy another sack of rice at the supermarket.

 

 

 

A World that Only the Blind Can See

by rsbakker

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Overlook has released the third of Jason Deem’s magnificent countdown teasers, as you can see above. The Last Cishaurim, I must say, has special place in my heart. Such water!

The Daily Dot has listed The Second Apocalypse as one of ten series to read while waiting for the next Game of Thrones installment. A recommendation echoed by the Spanish language culture webzine, Conectica.

And last, but certainly not least, Adam has “The History of Earwa, Part 4: The Modern Age” up at the Wertzone.

Reading Adam’s ongoing exegesis, especially while revising and expanding the Encyclopedic Glossary for The Unholy Consult, has got me thinking hard about the significance of world building in fantastic literature, and role of what might be called ‘folk ontologies,’ and the notion of ‘adaptive ignorance.’ I’ll be posting on this in the near future.

On the Irreducible Unity of Language and Ancient Old Souls

by rsbakker

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So Overlook has released another one of Jason Deem’s visual interpretations of The Great Ordeal. This time he takes us deep into Ishterebinth, and to the revelation that will transform Sorweel forever.

Adam Whitehead continues his epic recounting with, History of Earwa, Part 3: The Apocalypse. The more I read, the more I want to buy this Bakker guy’s books, largely because I’m a ‘world junkie’ from way back. I’ve been cooking, snorting, smoking, and injecting ontologies for as long as I can bloody remember. Part of what makes Adam’s treatment so cool, of course, is the way he incorporates Jason Deem’s art to visualize his retelling.

And lastly, Mike Hillcoat has opened two subforums on The Second Apocalypse discussion boards, an Author Q&A where I will answer, as best I can, general questions pertaining to the series, and also TGO ARC Author Q&A, where I will do my best to not answer specific questions pertaining The Great Ordeal (and of course, The Unholy Consult), but will do my best to sound generally informative. Bear with me on these. And remember, I love difficult questions. If a zone swallows me up during the day, as is usually the case, then I will try to respond sometime after 10PM, Eastern Standard Time.

Cosmic Darkness…

by rsbakker

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The Unholy Consult rewrite has been owning me, of late. But I wanted to share a couple more incredible advance reviews for The Great Ordeal, one from Grimdark Magazine,

It’s everything you expect from a Bakker book: gut-shredding violence, big moral dilemmas, grey and grey and grey, sweeping epic scale, detailed historical world-building, and a sense of horror that eclipses anything else in epic fantasy. Boy oh boy, does The Great Ordeal deliver.

and the other from Kosmos Biblioth, a.k.a., Roger Eichorn, whom I love precisely because he’s never had a problem telling me when things are shite. This time his words are golden:

In sum, Bakker’s latest is both harrowing and thrilling, often simultaneously.  The final chapters are among the most propulsive he’s ever written; they’ll leave you breathless.  They certainly left me gasping.

As an author, dissatisfaction is far and away the safest thing to feel about one’s work. It’s the spur that keeps you working, and even more importantly, keeps you open to continually learning and relearning your craft; it also bridles your hopes, pre-empts the authorial instinct to read your book for your readers, to assume your blinkered estimation, your reading, is the reading that will carry the day.  It almost never is.  This is why I’ve been terrified by my own appraisal of The Great Ordeal, and why that terror subsides a little with each review like these.

So… Who knows? My hope is that these next two years will hoist the series into the mass cultural imagination, that it will scratch the eyes and bruise the hearts of millions, actually do what contemporary literary fiction can only pretend to do.  Pulp is the way forward. Trump supporters are Trump supporters because those who could have broken the me-first spell are too concerned with displaying their anti-me-first credentials to one another, and congratulating themselves for their courage after.

Just believe! This is the ubiquitous moral, the inescapable refrain of our culture. I think it’s safe to say we could use a little more EAMD moving forward.

Updatage: History, Hell, and Thievery

by rsbakker

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Check out Jason Deem’s rendition of Kellhus in the Thousand Hells. If you pester him enough, he might spill the beans on his inspiration painting the scene, as well as my inspiration writing it.

Kudos to everyone who contributed to the previous thread: I think I’ve compiled a great list of zingers to send to my new publicist thanks to you.

Just a note of warning to those who think I need neither food nor shelter to write, there’s apparently some phishing sites using The Great Ordeal as click bait. It looks like they’re even lifting material from The Second Apocalypse Forum to lend the appearance of legitimacy.

Also, the inimitable Adam Whitehead has posted A History of Earwa, Part 2: The Age of Man on Wertzone. Very, very cool, especially if you, like me, were bewitched by historical atlases in your youth. Consulting a number of different sources, Adam has pulled together a very interesting interpretation of the overthrow of the Nonmen and the rise of Men to literate civilization. But simply being able to visualize the ebb and flow of nations and empires through the centuries will, I think, help those who feel overwhelmed by my historical references.

And the winners of the Second Apocalypse Forum galley giveaway have been announced. Congratulations to Corky and Litgreg!

If Truth does not shine, then perhaps it glimmers now and again… or blinks like an icon.

Updatage: New Interview and Another Giveaway

by rsbakker

– You’ve previously described The Aspect-Emperor series as ending in a ‘Gordian Knot’ of plots. At which point do you think the reader will have all the pieces to elucidate the problem, let alone the answer?

Plot closure, yes. Thematic closure, not so much. The problem of the books—the problem of ourselves—has no solution, of course. All the things that make fantasy fiction fantastic—the magic, the spirits, the gods, the objective morality, the fate—also happen to be staples of Scripture, be it Christian or ancient Greek or Hindu or what have you. Fantasy celebrates and critiques our most natural way of conceiving the world, a way that has been and continues to be undermined by the findings and proceeds of science. The way I see it, fantastic literature is the dirge of our civilization, a final retelling of our most ancient and primordial songs. The song ends when our voices fall silent. No one knows what follows the song. We can only hope that we’re somehow stronger for the singing.

This is what the best storytelling does, I think: arms us against what we cannot understand. Given my themes, ending any other way would be a betrayal.

Just a snippet from my latest interview on Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist

Also Grimdark Magazine is hosting its own Advance Reading Copy giveaway of The Great Ordeal. To enter, simply name your favourite character in the series and explain why–there’s already several pages of fascinating explanations. My favourite character overall has to be the Great Ordeal itself, simply because it embodies all the contradictions of aspiration and appetite on the scale of epic endeavour. It also has the least dialogue. Nothing worse than a prolix holy war.