Wednesday, August 15, 2007


In between not doing the paying stuff I'm supposed to be doing and checking out the various articles and links you folks have sent my way over the altruism essay (thanks for all of that, btw — there was a lot of good stuff in there and it actually changed my thinking somewhat), I managed to add a few bits of chrome to the ol' website: three Blindsight blurbs (one from Challenging Destiny — complete review here — and the others from SFRA Review, thanks to Prof. Dom Grace) and a late-breaking blurb for ßehemoth: ß-Max (also from SFRA Review). More importantly, though, one Brian Gilbert has very kindly converted all of my online novels into Mobipocket format. You can download them at the appropriate sub-pages over on my Backlist

And now, a couple of questions that never got answered over on XFire the other day:

  1. Peter Watts i have read one of your short stories last night, the flesh made word, what inspired you to do such an immersful script ? I had this cat, dying of a liver tumour. Everyone was telling me how much suffering she was going through, how euthenasia would be the most merciful option, how horrendously-expensive and most-likely ineffective surgery would be. And I would have killed her in a second if I'd known that was true — but the fact is, organisms are programmed to want to survive, right? How much pain would you have to be in before you'd rather be dead? And when you're deciding whether to kill a friend, how do you decide what she wants if she can't tell you? These were the questions that inspired that story. (I got off easy, btw: I committed to the surgery even though I couldn't afford it, but Zombie died two hours before the operation was scheduled to begin. I got to feel as though I'd passed the test without having to pay the price.)
  2. Do you support gay marraige? Dude, I don't even support straight marriage.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your first comment is a pretty complex one. Yes, the drive of life is to survive...but if the animal doesn't know what death is, it can't make the decision anyway. For that matter, how was it your place to decide to keep her as a pet? Similarly, I wonder how much trauma is suffered by a pet going through surgery...

Anyway, I've never owned a cat. I prefer dogs (that's not to say I don't like cats, they're cute and funny). But I was you really consider a cat a friend? I mean, cats are cute, but I always got the impression that they were sort of wild animals whose territory just happened to intersect with your living space, and weren't particularly interested in whether or not you were there. This is evidenced by the bond people seem to form with their pets: when I worked at a vet's office in high school, I always noticed that when a cat was dying, the owner would be sad, blearly eyed, etc. However when it was a dog, the owner would fairly frequently go into a full-blown shuddering-with-tears routine, the whole family hugging and moaning (these are not absolutely, of course). As a dog owner, I could understand.

I'm going to anonymous this, methinks >.<

August 16, 2007 11:48 AM  
Blogger AR said...

If you really want to cover all your bases, use a load of buckshot to the back of the head. Then the question becomes moot on account of all the thinking machinery being blasted apart in less time than it would take a signal to travel from one side of the brain to the other. One minute you're alive, then, without the slightest sensation or thought, you're back to the oblivion you knew before you were born.

August 16, 2007 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

anonymous, on behalf of all cat owners who aren't Peter but are here right now, there are days that I really wish that I had some cats who weren't particularly interested in whether or not I was there.

That way I wouldn't have a hefty Burmese splaying himself over my keyboard and purring, or collapsing all 15 pounds onto my feet and purring, or following me into bed and attempting to give me mouth kisses, because, dude, I'm really not into the interspecies congress thing, you know?

And don't get me started on the tabby who howls and moans unless I sit with her in the garden while she purrs and bumps her head on me and sheds like crazy. She simply cannot enjoy going outside unless I sit down with her and pet her for a solid 5 minutes. Even the fact that I take up most of that time painfully hand-picking and removing the mats of fur she's developed, being old and totally uninterested in grooming herself, doesn't deter her.

But when either one of these annoying little wretches finally kicks the bucket, rest assured I won't just be sitting there looking sad, if my reaction to my other two cat deaths is anything to go by.

August 16, 2007 7:00 PM  
Blogger Mac said...

Your #2 answer deserves to be enshrined somewhere. Nice!

August 16, 2007 10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does immersful mean?


August 17, 2007 3:37 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

What Mary said, but squared or maybe cubed.

August 22, 2007 1:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

What Lee and Mary said.

Yes, I consider my cats friends, just as much as they consider me a can opener on legs. The same emotional circuitry engages; the feelings are the same. I could withstand the death of most of the humans of my acquaintance without a tear — I might miss them, or be struck by existential angst, or whatever, but I would retain my self control. One of my cats dies, and I'm a wreck.
I don't think the intensity of our attachments scales to intelligence or objective value so much as it scales to the simple prominence of other creatures in our lives. I'm with these fuzzbots every day; one of 'em's lying across my feet as I type. When human acquaintances die, you miss them when they fail to appear at the office party or the annual writer's retreat. But when Banana or Chipwalla die, they'll leave a hole in every part of every day that we'd have been hanging out together.

August 23, 2007 10:11 PM  
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October 26, 2007 6:16 AM  

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