Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is Anybody Out There? -- eARC Giveaway

Just after I posted my previous blog entry on Is Anybody Out There? -- an anthology of original stories based on the Fermi Paradox, to be published by DAW Books on June 1 -- I received an email from my co-editor on the project, Nick Gevers. When Nick and I were actively working on this book, emails were flying constantly through the aether between us, especially since email is the only method of communication that we use: I reside in Northern California and Nick resides in South Africa! But now that the book is complete and we're just awaiting its publication, the volume of email between us has declined drastically. So receiving his email shortly after I clicked the "Publish Post" button on my blog entry was indeed a coincidence. Or possibly "synchronous" would be the more apropos word.

In his email, Nick informed me of a new nonfiction book entitled The Eerie Silence by physicist/cosmologist Paul Davies. The U.S. edition, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is subtitled Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence. But even more interesting, considering our own forthcoming anthology, is the subtitle of the UK edition (the specific edition that Nick mentioned), from Allen Lane Publishers: Are We Alone in the Universe?

So I did a bit of searching, and found an article entitled "SETI at 50" on
Failure Magazine that features a Paul Davies interview, in support of the publication of his new book. Since its inception, SETI has searched beyond Earth for radio signals, all to no avail. So Paul Davies -- director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, co-director of the Cosmology Initiative (both at Arizona State University), and chairman of the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup -- is suggesting that we attempt other means of detection and communication. Here's Davies' own words, from the interview:

...It's too soon to say it's a waste of time to carry on with traditional SETI. I think it's a great thing, but maybe after 50 years the public might be thinking, "Can we try something else?" And I think we should. We should think much more expansively about what a signature of intelligence might be. Forget messages, all we really want to know is: Is anyone out there? Their presence could be betrayed in a large number of ways....

...ET might use biological organisms as a means of sending information. Genomes are packed full of information. If you could get a message into a cell somehow it would just replicate and replicate. If you could do that in a way that doesn't compromise the biological functionality of the host then you've got something that could endure for millions and millions of years. So rather than sending radio messages, I would be in favor of, for example, dispatching viruses -- retroviruses -- that would insert DNA into any DNA-based organisms.... So why don't we search as many genomes as we can get our hands on, not just human -- just to see. It's a crazy idea, but then all of SETI is slightly crazy. I believe we should do what we can do easily and cheaply even if the chances of success are exceedingly small....

...If [SETI scientists] succeed, it will probably be the most momentous scientific discovery in history. So to allocate some small fraction of the world's resources to addressing such a very deep question is certainly justified. And even if SETI fails, it's very healthy that we address issues like: What is nature? What is humanity? What is our destiny? What do we mean by life? What do we mean by intelligence? What is our place in the universe? These are all good things to think about, even if we never pick up a signal.

This is only a small taste of the full interview with Paul Davies, which you'll want to read in its entirety on Failure Magazine, assuming you're intrigued by what he says regarding the SETI program and the search for intelligent life.

And, of course, Paul Davies' proposals for non-standard methods of SETI detection and communication tie directly to the content of our anthology Is Anybody Out There? (You knew I was going to work my way back to this anthology, right?) In some of the stories, the aliens are already here, among us, communicating with us via direct brain stimulation, or from within our own subconscious. In other stories, the aliens are "out there," and choosing whether or not to reveal themselves based on political and/or social implications. Or maybe, just maybe, all we are left with is to speculate, hypothesize, and infer as to why we have not had contact with the other. All this and more can be found within the contents of Is Anybody Out There?

Now, in honor of Tax Day, I have a PDF file available of the Advanced Reading Copy (eARC) of this anthology. If you are a book blogger and/or a book reviewer -- and you have an interest in blogging about/reviewing Is Anybody Out There? -- then please read on...

This is a giveaway, so to speak, and here are the guidelines for a chance to obtain an eARC of science fiction anthology Is Anybody Out There?

1. You must have a Twitter account.

If you do not have a Twitter account, then you can easily
set up an account. It's free -- and who knows, you just may enjoy the ride! (The Twitterverse has an extensive literary focus, both mainstream and genre: authors, publishers (books and periodicals), editors, agents, reviewers, etc.)

2. You must follow me on Twitter.

My Twitter ID is: martyhalpern. Once you have a Twitter account, you can click on the "Find People" option, enter my ID, and once my ID is found, simply click on the "+" button to follow me.

3. Send me a very specific tweet; please read these rules:

Even though a tweet is 140 characters in length, you don't really have 140 characters to work with. Why? Because you must use this hashtag in your tweet: #IAOT (6 characters total: 5 characters plus the preceding or following space). Since you are not sending the tweet specifically to me, I will track it using the hashtag. This is a public hashtag so anyone within the Twitterverse may read your tweet.

Using the remaining 134 characters, convince me that I should send you the eARC of Is Anybody Out There? for your review and/or blog. Be as creative as this minimal space will allow. You may include anything you wish, such as links to your blog, reviews, etc. I suggest you use a link shortener such as tinyURL or in order to use as few characters as possible.

4. Only one tweet per person/ID; and, again, the tweet must include the hashtag: #IAOT.

5. The deadline for all tweets using the #IAOT hashtag is Friday, April 30, at midnight (Pacific time). After which I will remove the hashtag from my filter and read no further.

6. I will choose the best tweets -- obviously, my subjective definition of "best" -- and I will contact the individuals directly. (I may also include the tweets in a follow-up blog post, since they are public postings anyhow.)

If you have any questions regarding this giveaway, please feel free to post here and/or tweet me, and I will do my best to respond.

Remember, this contest is for a PDF only (not a physical copy of the book) of the Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of Is Anybody Out There? -- co-edited by Nick Gevers and Marty Halpern, and forthcoming from DAW Books on June 1.

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