Monday, December 18, 2006

Powerpoint on Vampire Biology

This is making the rounds -- I saw the link last night on Whatever before I saw it this morning on Pharyngula -- so I suspect that anyone who's interested has already had this dangled before them. But since a crucial part of my doing this blog is at least pretending that I have some readers who will see stuff for the first time if I link to it, I thought I'd link to this too.

SF author Peter Watts has done a very amusing, half-hour-long powerpoint presentation on the biology and evolution of vampires. It's filled with a lot of very convincing psuedo-science -- not surprisingly, given that Watts is in fact a marine biologist; in fact, P. Z. Myers says that there is "some surprisingly accurate general information about the principles of evolution embedded in all the silliness". Basically, if you think that a power-point presentation about the biology and evolution of vampires sounds fun or funny, you'll love this -- it's very well done. If you don't see the point -- both the humor and the actual (if whimsical) interest -- then don't bother.

I actually met Peter Watts at Readercon last summer, and he's a very nice guy. The powerpoint is an outtake (promotion? spin-off? not sure what the noun is supposed to be) of his fourth and latest SF novel, Blindsight (warning: large file.) -- I think he actually did his vampire powerpoint at Readercon, but I missed it. The vampires described in the powerpoint are featured in Blindsight, and this powerpoint gives (I think) more detail on their underlying biology than is to be found in the novel.

About Blindsight: it's now out in hardcover but, due to some publishing glitches there may or may not be a second printing, and so the thing is actually in short supply. (Publishing makes no sense to me -- I think this is because it more or less makes no sense, but maybe I just don't understand it. (To vampires, no doubt, it would make perfect sense (that's a joke for those who've seen the powerpoint.))) Because of this, Peter Watts just released the entire novel under a Creative Commons licence for free on the web -- so that people can read it even if they can't buy it. Hopefully this will create enough buzz to actually get that second printing to happen. (The CC release has gotten some big-scale blog attention, which hopefully will lead to increased sales & orders.) I haven't read the novel yet -- I'm waiting to get my hands on a physical copy, since it's too irritating for me to read lengthy fiction on a screen -- but I've read the opening, and I'm really looking forward to it. If you're more screen-tolerant than I, you can go read it now; otherwise, some bookstores still have it -- Amazon seems to -- even if big chains like Borders aren't carrying it. (See above re: publishing makes no sense to me.)

In any event, whether or not you read and/or buy the novel, do check out the powerpoint. It's fun and funny and interesting and just what you might need to cheer you up in a world where Bush is going to stay in Iraq regardless what the commissions, congress or citizens have to say about it.

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