Esquire Informs Us About the First Immortal;

Wired Inquires about the Lucas Force;

And

Icon Profiles Former Iggy Pop Drummer,

Presidential Hopeful and Biotech Mogul

Cortland Dahl

Magazine Review: Esquire, May 1999

 

Actually, the best science or science fiction story I read this month didn’t appear in Wired, but Esquire.

Called "The First Immortal Man", the story begins as nonfiction—former National Book Award nominee Richard Dooling uses himself as the autobiographical hero—and it then turns into really really good science fiction as Richard imagines the logical outcome of various age extension treatments for himself. It’s very funny. It kind of feels like Kilgore Trout: Immortal.

Dooling makes it look easy. All he does is take stem cell and genetics research to its logical conclusions. He even introduces us to a couple of terrorist groups such as "The Sons of Ted K." (Ted being the unabomber for those not into serial killer myth) and Darwin’s Army. Both groups want people to return to natural evolution and die off as per usual. And of course they’re willing to kill you to make their "godly" point.

Here’s an excerpt:

 

"2079, February 3rd: I receive a letter, rather, a communique, from my son, who is dying, simply because he will not accept telomerase or organ transplants. I didn’t raise him to be mortal, but he just won’t listen to me. Instead he wants me to stop taking taking telomerase and rejoin the "natural human race". My daughter and my son are both "older" relatively speaking, than my wife and I, and they have all the crotchets and personality disorders that come with natural aging. What pains in the ass!

"My daughter travels around the country giving speeches to activists and neoluddite groups who forswear telomerase and artificial implant technologies and boycott all artworks created with the aid of artificial intelligence. Her political party, Natural Way, espouses the belief that mortality is the true human condition and that carbon-based thoughts are better than thoughts created or augmented by electronic or photonic implants…"

 

He also imagines a war between young and old as the old stop dying. It’s your standard evil gerontocracy. The only minor complaint I have is that in conventional science fiction lore the old are pushed off of Earth or leave of their own volition. With superior talents like the very old would have, they would need new challenges anyway. But that’s a minor point. There’s even a small piece by scientist/biologist E.O. Wilson about the ramifications of an older population. Actually, the fiction piece is far more illustrative of the problems he was talking about.

Score one for fiction. Oh yeah, there’s also a big profile on genre hero David Duchovny this issue.

Magazine Review: Wired, May 1999.

 

Ever since the Rosettos, former eccentric Wired editors and publishers who apparently got screwed out of their brainchild, left (more like forced out) some months ago, the magazine just hasn’t had the same cool feel. I mean, who else could believably write those crazy blurbs that begin each magazine.

Yet this was a pretty good issue. The Lucas profile was decent. It went into detail about how the new Stars Wars film will be a state of the art CGI production. Judging from what I’ve seen of both the trailers and the photos from the films this will be a groundbreaking film, although I think it will be hard pressed to beat the Matrix.

But what I’ve always liked about Wired is the fine print, or the small pieces. The features which stood out for me involved cars that run on compressed air and a short feature on Neal Stephenson’s new crypto novel titled, appropriately enough, "Cryptonomicon."

France’s air powered car has no relative emissions to speak of, or any emissions apparently. The designer says the car creates "negative pollution". Mexico, according to the article, is considering a buy of 40,000 vehicles. Apparently, no one in the Mexican government has seen the film "Tucker".

While it’s not entirely clear in the article, it appears you can fill up the car by using your gas station’s tire pumps. You can fill up your tank in three minutes and that will get you about 120 miles. They’re expected to go on sale here around 2000 and cost about $13,000 grand.

As for Stephenson, I think he’s the most talented of that cyberpunk crowd. His novel has Pynchon level aspirations—it’s 900 pages long—and is already getting rave reviews. I guess I just have to quit my job in order to read the thing.

What’s cool, not to mention intellectually intimidating for some of us, is that Stephenson actually created an unbreakable code using a deck of cards for the novel. You can find the card code he dreamed up at www.counterpane.com.

 

Magazine Review: Icon, April 1999

Everyday you read about the newest high tech billionaire this or that.

Ever wonder whether any of them had any political ambitions? You may have heard that the guy who runs Real Networks is a leftist or that Bill Gates is secretly a democrat despite giving millions to GOP senators in protection money. But do they want to change anything? Or are they content to simply let their interest accrue?

And would these guys ever run for anything?

Well, wonder no more.

Icon magazine sez the Chosen One just might be former Iggy Pop drummer and current billionaire biotech mogul Cortland Dahl.

Mr. Dahl, who clean shaven looks to be actor Peter (Buckaroo Banzai) Weller’s long lost half brother, used the interview as an opportunity to announce that he’s making an independent run for the White House. He rationalizes his decision by saying that he thinks he’s got "as good a chance as any of these other characters" of becoming president.

In print, at least, he seemed entertaining and sensible. He’s probably in spirit more a republican, just like our current president, but he’s put off—like everyone else—by the GOP’s reactionary right wing crazies.

As for his science fictional Bond villain tendencies, his most controversial idea has to do with letting prisoners become controls in drug experiments—not far removed from convicted murderer Dr. Kevorkian’s plan to allow organ harvesting from felons—like himself I now presume.

The other controversy stems from what his company, Sequence Corp, might be doing. The rumor is, according to Icon, is that the company might be doing something along the lines of Designer Children—kind of the forerunner of that Gattaca premise.

For those of us interested in what we suspect is the libertarian, fiscally conservative perspective of the new techno elite, I highly recommend this profile.

Iggy Pop at the White House? The end is near.

 

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