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The Canon

Posted by deadgenome 
The Canon
February 20, 2008 12:51PM
What do people think is useful/fun reading material that relates to this project, both fiction and non-fiction?

here's a short list to start things off..

Ian M Banks's Culture Novels (Consider Pleabas, Use Of Weapons, Player of Games, etc.)
all of Neal Stephenson's books, but especially The Diamond Age and the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, etc.)
Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series
all of William Gibson's books, especially the Neuromancer Trilogy and All Tommorrows Parties
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest M Mimms III
The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
Design for the Real World by Victor Papanek
Worldchanging: A Users Guide for the 21st Century by Alex Steffen (Editor)
Distraction by Bruce Sterling
The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
On The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/20/2008 01:07PM by deadgenome.
Re: The Canon
February 21, 2008 03:59AM
Just to cause discussion.....

A is for Anything- Damon Knight >Post scarcity Dystopia at its finest
Diamond Age- Stephenson >unavoidable
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom- Cory Doctorow >Post scarcity econ & soc 101
The Dispossed/The Lathe of Heaven- U K LeGuin >Post scarcity psyc 101
Schismatrix/Shaper/Mechanist cycle- Bruce Sterling >the long view
Rendezvous with Rama- Arthur C Clarke >space travel via replicator

as a comment, I would prefer the Virtual Light -> All Tomorrow's Parties trilogy (by Gibson) for it's treatment of how material culture and social structures interact.

Machinerys Handbook/Pocket Ref- eds. >In order of preference/completeness
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions- Thomas Kuhn >define paradigm shift
Post-Scarcity Anarchism- Murray Bookchin >Early essays on the topic
Advanced Automation for Space Missions- NASA 1980 summer session . >Serious engineers think about real self replicating machines
Small is beautiful- E F Schumacher >technology as if people mattered
The Cathedral and the Bazaar- Eric Raymond >Why and How cooperation works

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/21/2008 04:05AM by BDolge.
Re: The Canon
February 21, 2008 04:58AM

It occurs to me that quite a few of those books you mentioned might be more general 'quality scifi' than material that applies to the topic of replicators, though I suppose the whole 'post scarcity' thing does count winking smiley Definite ++ to The Diamond Age though, and a slightly smaller + to All Tomorrow's Parties.

I can recommend Singularity Sky by Charles Stross, which deals with the introduction of replicators to a society that went out of its way to destroy the ones it posessed, on the basis that they promoted decadence.

I can also recommend *not* reading Recursion by Tony Ballantyne. It didn't grab me at all.


I can most wholeheartedly recommend Deus Ex. Exactly my sort of game, fun to play and with a pretty good plot to boot. Largely focussed on human augmentation and AI, but replicators do get a look in too. Skip the sequel though... nowhere near as clever, and significantly worse as a game.

System Shock 2 (never played the original) touched upon replication, but mostly concerned itself with AI. Not technically post scarcity yet (to replicate something you need nanites, which worked as currency and a limited resource as their manufacture was evidently tricky or not at all widespread.

Total Annihilation, for the heartwarming tale of how one intelligence and a military replicator brought 'peace and unity' to the galaxy, eventually. The writers called it 'nanolathing', which seems like a nice word to me.


Uh, no idea. I'll let you know if I ever get any that seem any good winking smiley
Re: The Canon
February 21, 2008 12:00PM
The Singularity is Near

The Zombie Survival Guide
Stranger in a Strange Land
Snow Crash
Starship Troopers
Les Miserables
A Tale of Two Cities

Re: The Canon
February 21, 2008 01:33PM
Umm Books

Don't get me started on books

You haven't got enough space here for me to list our library and I love it all. It's a touch difficult to ask me what I like to read cos I read so much and over a pretty broad cross section.

Not particularly related but quality SF

Just about anything by Robert Heinlen, prtcly - Friday, Stranger in a Strange Land
All of gibson, sterling, donaldson and Iain M Banks (His contemporary published as Iain Banks is good too)
Phillip K Dick - Demi god that he is anything he wrote.
Alfred Bester - Tiger, Tiger. (But again anything he did)
Richard Morgan - Too many to list
Phillip Kerr - Too many to list
Anything by Douglas Adams but particularly Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
Asimov - Clever guy, liked and still have a lot of his stuff but lost interest as the formula became overplayed.
Harry Harrison - (As Asimov)
EE Doc Smith - (As Asimov)
Samuel R Delaney
Terry Pratchett - Was only sufficiently interested in his stuff to read Mort Liked it but wouldn't buy anymore.

Again not particularly related but quality reading

Anything by Graham Greene or Le Carre (Insightful on the world we live in, the lessons we could learn but don't and the people that continue to screw it up)
Anything by Umberto Eco just for the cleverness
Anything by J G Ballard (Some better than others)

Non Fiction but definitely related :-

Horowitz & Hill, The art of Electronics (Still the best)
Building Robot Drive Trains, Robot DNA Series
Neurophysiology, R S Carpenter (Currently reading but v slowly)
Robot Builder's Bonanza
Digital VLSI Systems Design, Seetharaman Ramachandran (Currently reading but a lot faster)
The C Programing Language Kernighan & Ritchie
The Art of Computer Programming, Donald Knuth
Anything (just about there are some exceptions) published by O'Reilly
The Kingdom of Robots - (Insightful narrative on the cultural differences that permit Japan to be more pro AI and Robotics than the west, although from what I understand of oriental culture it is not just Japan)

If I can think of anything else to pull out of the list that might be of interest I will drop it in.


Necessity hopefully becomes the absentee parent of successfully invented children.
Re: The Canon
February 21, 2008 01:34PM
Oh Sorry

Whilst not strictly a book, I love reading Wikipedia.

How sad am I, and don't care.


Necessity hopefully becomes the absentee parent of successfully invented children.
Re: The Canon
February 21, 2008 04:03PM
I love wikipedia as well, especially the 'Random article' button... winking smiley

the Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels) might also be considered required reading, not so as to follow it, but just to understand where they went badly wrong.
(IMHO their biggest failure is in not properly recognising that technology drives social change far more than social change drives technology. So seizing the means of production for instance was not going to help particularly, because it was those means of production that helped form and support the society which they were intent on destroying)

and on a less political bent, every O'Reilly technical book I own is excellent. Best technical publisher in the world. And their Safari books service is unparalleled - [safari.oreilly.com]

also 'Complex Organizations: A Critical Essay' by Charles Perrow has some useful stuff in it that pertains to this project.
Re: The Canon
February 21, 2008 11:25PM
I was trying to stay more or less "on topic" with both the fic and non, "on topic" being the topics of self replication, fabricators and their effects on society, societal change driven by technology, and tech books useful in a specific or general way for matter hackers.
If we're gonna talk favorite sci-fi or general reading I have to warn you that every room in my house except the bathroom has at least 2 full height bookcases (including the kitchen). I have bookcases on the stairs. All my bookcases are full and have books stacked on top of them. It's a gaddam sickness I tell you.

Also add to my list:
Godel, Escher, Bach: an eternal golden braid- Hofsteader > the ultimate book about self-reference, unprovability, computers, minds, and zen

Holy Fire- Sterling >another post scarcity society

Personally, I feel like if you're not reading 15 new books a year you're not doing your bit to create a decent society.
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 12:15AM
On self-replication and rationalising the production process...

"Batteries not included" written by Mick Garris (1987 movie)


"Ring around the Sun" written by Clifford Simak (1954)

"Cosmic engineers" written by Clifford Simak (1939)
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 09:42AM
oh man, batteries not included is a great movie. (sorry for not contributing)
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 10:34AM
Greg Bear's "Queen of Angels" and "/" ("Slant")
Fred Saberhagen's Berserker series
Gregory Benford's Galactic Center series
Stanislaw Lem's "The Cyberiad"
Robert J. Sawyer's "Golden Fleece"

Actually, just about anything by Greg Bear or Robert J. Sawyer is a must-read for me.
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 10:51AM
I didn't expect this thread to take off quite this well winking smiley

all of you, be careful in waffle houses, especially in Fyffe, Alabama..

gonna add some blogs to the list >>

Beyond the Beyond - [blog.wired.com] - Bruce Sterling exposing himself in public (and I thought there were laws about that sort of thing)
Dezeen - [www.dezeen.com] - an excellent design magazine
Treehugger - [www.treehugger.com] - green design, technology and consumer stuff

and a webpage >>

Viridian Green Notes - [www.viridiandesign.org] - another Bruce sterling thing - now sleeping having served it's purpose.
Read the notes. All of them. Start Here > [www.viridiandesign.org]
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 10:58AM
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 11:02AM
Maybe I'm funny that way but Walter jon Williams is one of my all time favourites.

"Aristoi" is a great book about self-replicating machines set in space opera setting.

But I'm a complete fan of hard sci-fi, such like Kim Stanley robinsons Red, Green, Blue Mars, and anything of that type
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 01:05PM
Yeah, Greg Bear talks about machine self-replication quite regularly in his stories and novels. His "Slant", however, is really about the grey-goo, nanotech approach. I suggested "Batteries not included" because it was really about clanking replicators, which is what we are doing.

If you want nanotech approaches you might try Crichton's "Predator". He's written such a bunch of junk these last few years, though, that it's become a chore to read his stuff.
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 04:09PM
Ooh, whilst I think of it, Ken MacCleod's 'Fall Revolution' series is rather good. The second and third books, Stone Canal and Cassini Division look at two very different post-scarcity societies.

He makes an interesting point (probably in Cassini Division) that there was precious little difference between mining and farming on this new planet... all you did was plant a replicator, and it would take material from the ground and atmosphere and you come along later and harvest whatever it had made.

You could do worse than reading some of Alastair Reynold's stuff too. The Revelation Space - Canyon City - Redemption Ark - Absolution Gap series deals with the predations of some malign replicators, but more interestingly has a look at a society that went rather rapidly from post-scarcity to post-apocalyptic following the mass corruption of all their nanotech at the hands of an alien disease.
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 04:59PM
Ru: Those sound interesting. I'm going to give them a look.
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 06:46PM
I can second the Reynolds stuff, it's brilliant...

Was thinking about comics... would people think that 'the League of Extraordinary Gentleman' is relevant, because to me the reprap is a pretty steampunk bit of kit..

I can imagine a pre-transistor version of it all too easily, with the object definitions being punched holes in strips of rolled copper...
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 07:51PM
This is going to sound badly Kitsch but the icon in the top right hand has it, (No it's not the B***** penguin, although this is part of it).

Kim Stanley Robinson
Ken MacCleod
Alastair Reynolds

This is Anarcho Syndicalism, this is what we do, and what we are doing.

Is it so bad....?

Space Opera (God I hate the phrase) We got'a get out'a this place. If it's the last thing we ever do. (Rocky Horror Show). We got'a get out'a this place. If it's the last thing we ever do, Girl there's a better life, for me, and you. (The Animals)


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/22/2008 07:51PM by Andy Kirby.

Necessity hopefully becomes the absentee parent of successfully invented children.
Re: The Canon
February 22, 2008 11:23PM
arrrgh!!! the ghost of Kropotkin rears it's head... As long as you keep it personal and don't go to the anarchists federation AGM and help plan "The Date By Which We Will Achieve Organised Anarchy And Ban Money (TM)" then it's ok by me... winking smiley In one place I lived, one of the organisers of the british anarchist federation told me that I must read Kropotkin before I was allowed to live there as that was the method by which anarchy worked (to which I cheerfully pointed out that this sounded suspiciously like an external rule and more than a little dogmatic, so therefore to show I was a committed anarchist, I wasn't going to.. comrade..)

My personal view is that the base state of reality is anarchy, so there is therefore very little point in trying to bring it about.
This usually pisses off a lot of people on both sides of the argument (which is a sort of hobby of mine) but those who are working full-time at achieving something do not, on reflection, like being told - 'not to worry mate, it's already here, Why not just put yer feet up and have a cuppa instead'..

My basis for this view is that -

A. you can already do anything you like that it is physically possible for you to do, however you have to accept the consequences of your actions, especially in the reactions of those around you.

B. all systems of external governance are purely conceptual structures that only really exist if we go along with them.

Point B I once extended to the concept that all professions are also purely conceptual structures (as in the difference between believing you ARE a given role, as opposed to believing you are playing a given role in a society), so therefore policemen also don't exist, they are merely humans that are deluding themselves into believing that they are policemen. Point B then got me pinned up against a wall by my throat and threatened with a kicking if I didn't shut up by members of the anarchist federation who said they were appalled that I had suggested that policemen were humans too. (totally true story)
Personally, I think they were just pissed off cos I was a little too left-wing for them tongue sticking out smiley


but in other news...

Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' is an excellent book that could apply to repraps if things go badly wrong
As does H.G. Wells' 'The Time Machine' while I'm on the subject of the classics..
Re: The Canon
February 23, 2008 03:59AM
I agree on several points here

Anarchism is personal, where it ceases to be personal it ceases to be anarchism.

My step mother in law (An Italian) observed that in a democracy you can do what you want, but it is better not to.

For me personally Governance however constructed (This also includes, a whole bunch of clubs, associations and federations etc) is all about making rules for other people to live by, whether they want to or not. Therefore by the definition as I understand it can never be anarchistic.

You are subject to more governance, than you vote for. (Have a think sometime about mortgages, wage slavery and how commercial folk decide what your life style is and how they can exploit it)

Who ever you vote for the government are still in power.

Syndicalism, is working together towards a common goal, because you can and want to, it's not about coercing others to do the same.

Kropotkin, never read him, I tend usually to avoid political reading for it's own sake. I know my politics and don't feel the need to change them or reinforce them with someone elses ists or isms.

Sorry for all this, I usually keep most of my politics to myself (Not to mention it being well off topic, so I will add no more on the subject) but had an in depth affair last night with the bottle of vodka I bought in for experimenting with making support pastes.



Necessity hopefully becomes the absentee parent of successfully invented children.
Re: The Canon
February 23, 2008 11:02AM
are you a bonzo's fan by any chance? - [neilinnes.org] smiling smiley

hmmm, tunes to play while making repRaps..

'21st Century Digital Boy' & 'I Want to Conquer the World' - Bad Religion
'Where's Your Head At' - Basement Jaxx
'It Takes Time to Build' - The Beastie Boys
'Readymade' - Beck
'The Times They Are A-Changing' - Bob Dylan
'All Systems Go' - Chris Liberator
'Complete Control' - The Clash
'Cut Here' - The Cure
'Harder Better Faster Stronger', 'Robot Rock' & 'Technologic' - Daft Punk
'Proto Culture' & 'Future Development' - Del The Funky Homosapien
'Not Ready Yet' - The Eels
'One More Robot' & 'In The Morning Of The Magicians' - The Flaming Lips
'Absolutely Free' & 'Plastic People' - Frank Zappa
'Half Man, Half Machine' - Goldie Lookin' Chain
'Tommorrow Comes Today' - Gorillaz
'Blockheads' - Ian Dury and The Blockheads
'Make It Funky' - James Brown
'Better Things' - Massive Attack
'The Becoming' - Nine Inch Nails
'Dinosaurs Will Die' - NOFX
'Any Colour You Like' - Pink Floyd
'Bang On!' - The Propellerheads
'Take The Power Back' - Rage Against The Machine
'Makin Monsters For My Friends' - The Ramones
'Give It Away' - Red Hot Chilli Peppers
'You Can't Always Get What You Want' - The Rolling Stones
'Le Deux Machina' - The Smashing Pumpkins
'You've Got Everything Now' - The Smiths
'(Dawning Of A) New Era' - The Specials
'Perfect World' - Talking Heads
'One More Cup Of Coffee' - The White Stripes
Re: The Canon
February 23, 2008 01:00PM
Greg Egan has some good stuff. 2 other cool books are "The adolescence of P-1" and "Code of the lifemaker"

The Guy
Re: The Canon
February 23, 2008 05:43PM
Can't say that I know the Bonzo's but I'll have a look at the link.

Music, I'll have to think about that one a little (Processing is still a touch off line due to delayed recovery from vodka poisoning) But as a quick one.

Einstein a GO GO, Landscape
Are Friends Electric, Garry Newman
It's a question of time, Depeche Mode
Discovery, ELO
Time, ELO
Twilight, ELO
Ticket to the Moon, ELO
Yours Truly, 2095, ELO
The Race, Yellow (Or was it YMO)
Tesla Girls, OMD
Magnetic Fields, Jean Michelle Jarre
Lone Ranger, Quantum Leap
Tainted Love, Soft Cell
Hard Days Night, The Beetles (Peter Sellers, shakespearean version is pretty apt too)
Get a Grip, The Stranglers

For the Women folk/partners spurned in favor of something with a little more electricity.....

Don't you want me, Human League

smoking smiley


PS The Frankenstein complex is a very real phenomenon.

Necessity hopefully becomes the absentee parent of successfully invented children.
Re: The Canon
February 23, 2008 05:54PM
Couple More

Fake Plastic Trees, Radiohead
Map of the Problematique, Muse (And god are'nt they good)
Time is running out, Muse
Novocaine for the soul, Eels
Is this it, The strokes
Basket Case, Greenday


Necessity hopefully becomes the absentee parent of successfully invented children.
Re: The Canon
February 23, 2008 05:58PM
Not forgetting of course

An Honest Mistake, The Bravery
All Sparks, The Editors.


Necessity hopefully becomes the absentee parent of successfully invented children.
Re: The Canon
February 24, 2008 05:48PM
One book that deals a lot with nano replicators is Charles Stross's Glass house.
Re: The Canon
February 24, 2008 06:16PM
I havent heard anyone mention vernor vinge yet smiling smiley
peace war/marooned in realtime/true names and other dangers etc
most of the others i thought of have already been mentioned
though blood music while not on topic is semi related.
Re: The Canon
February 25, 2008 02:59PM
While it seems silly to promote something that hasn't been published yet...

Next month's wired - the free issue (probably not free on the magazine shelves, though they were offering a limited stock of free issues on their website to people in the US and Canada)
*edit* sorry, just the united states, but here's the link for those dwelling on the appropriate side of the imaginary line - [www.wired.com]

The Wired article on the subject - [www.wired.com]
And the book, by Chris Anderson, titled, you guessed it, 'Free'

I've read the article online and it is about exactly the ideas that are encapsulated within the reprap project. Presumably the book is as well... although I'm sure it won't really be free (unless you nick it of course, you could probably get away with doing that to, if you played it stupid and claimed that you thought the title was an offer)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/25/2008 03:16PM by deadgenome.
Re: The Canon
February 25, 2008 04:01PM
I dropped my subscription to Wired. It seemed like they were doing all their articles with in-house staff and the quality really sucked. I'd subscribed for over 10 years, too. The way they've been after me to resubscribe, I get the feeling that they've been subscribers in a flood.
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