sneedle flipsock

review: written in blood

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flipsockgrrl @ gmail .com

18 July 2003



It's the people who haunt you. The grieving mother, the dying biologist, the proud father, the farmer who clings to his belief in a better world even as he watches the apocalypse. These people wrestle with responsibilities, passion, ambition and the big questions that confront us all: who am I? What is my place in this world? Am I real? Do I matter? What matters most to me?

Chris Lawson's anthology, "Written In Blood", starts with an interview in which he resists being labelled a scientist (he's a medical doctor as well as a writer). The six short stories that follow are clearly science fiction, dealing with topics like artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and biotechnology.

Similarly, the five essays in "Written In Blood" demonstrate a resolutely rational approach to understanding the physical and intellectual world around us. The essays are what Lawson describes as definitive versions of articles previously published in his weblog, Frankenstein Journal.

Lawson's interests are broad. Recently he's delved into World War I history, and currently he's exploring Byzantium. He applies clear logic to demolishing creationist and AI fallacies, and he understands large chunks of astrophysics, mathematics and other 'hard' sciences.

Science, in Lawson's writing, is not inherently beneficial or dangerous. Lives and worlds are changed not by the science itself but by how it's used and (mis)understood by fallible, passionate, intelligent, ordinary people. Emotional resonances are the heart of "Written In Blood", in both the fiction and the essays.

OK, here comes the obligatory Greg Egan comparison.

Egan is currently regarded as a leading writer of 'hard' science fiction. He's Australian, and several of his works have been set here or in the South Pacific. It's been said that Egan's form of 'hard' science fiction, with its reliance on detailed, sophisticated maths and physics, is written for an audience that hasn't been born yet. It's also been said that Egan's more recent work needs a good editor.

Lawson has a good editor, Bill Congreve, whom Lawson credits with significantly improving the quality of "Written In Blood". (Note to the cognoscenti: "In the study of history, it is important never to confuse William Congreve with either William Congreve or William Congreve." Macinnis, 2003, chapter 4)

Lawson has another advantage over Egan. He pays attention to rhythm, character and concise storytelling. He uses different writing styles to communicate ideas and portray characters, and he rarely stumbles on matters of technique. In short, he's a better writer.

Launching "Written In Blood" in Melbourne this month, Russell Blackford predicted great things from Chris Lawson's writing future. Buy this book. Read it. Bookmark the weblog. Send him an e-mail. Grab the opportunity to watch this promising writer fulfil his potential.

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2004 flipsocks:

17 Dec: the sock has flipped
10 Dec: anything anywhere any time
3 Dec: instant flattery
26 Nov: the steamroller of branding
19 Nov: fried v rice
5 Nov: the page with no name
29 Oct: and then there were none
22 Oct: filled with naughty laughter
15 Oct: get souls and disconcert the public
8 Oct: ooh, aah, ooh
1 Oct: pinch and a punch
24 Sep: design is the new art
17 Sep: footsteps of Aeneas
10 Sep: slow art, viral aesthetic
3 Sep: I can see your house from here
27 Aug: forever blowing bubbles
20 Aug: jargon for the digital age
13 Aug: beautiful plumage, the Norwegian blue
6 Aug: brokenated terribility
23 Jul: Alice underground
16 Jul: color-coded
2 Jul: for so long treated as nouns
25 Jun: looking for love, echidna-style
18 Jun: joy-to-stuff ratio
11 Jun: fun's fun but a girl can't dance all night
4 Jun: pink dinosaur
28 May: two people every minute
21 May: incompitnce [sic]
14 May: zygomatic smile
5 May: mailbox
30 Apr: bananaguard
23 Apr: mmmmmWAH!
15 Apr: playtime
8 Apr: googlewhack
2 Apr: we wish to inform you...
18 Mar: daffy dills
12 Mar: echo chamber
9 Jan: refund profologies


Also on this site:

about this site
home page

who is geoffrey ebert?
testing for the fun factor
chicken at the (higher education) crossroads
crawford's theory of interactivity

home-page real-estate wars
the eagle has landed

must-reads for web people
recent reads

pop-culture quotes

they shoulda been words

lemon and rosemary risotto

Written In Blood by Chris Lawson
The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams

Without whom (web):

frankenstein journal (Chris)
tbn97 (Troy)
webster's encyclopedia [sic]
science playwiths (Peter) (Neroli)
Maverick IT network consultants (Rick)
Look! There's a castle! (Brent)
Cairns Corporation (Gerald)
Homosapien Books (Julie and Bruce)
Southern Sky Watch (Ian)
Panda's Thumb (Ian again)
ABC Science-Matters (official)
science-matters (unofficial)
Bovios (Alex Burns)
Lee Battersby
Little Malop Gallery
Digest of Usability Resources and News (Dey)
WooWooWoo (Andrew)



Without whom (also):

Ramona P Lovechild
Katherine with a K
Katherine (no relation)
Claire (no relation)
Toby and Jann
Paul, Warren, Dr K and The New Reality


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