From the Science-Fiction-Cyberpunk-Writers-Give-Good-Quote Department:
You might know him as the author of the recent Sandman Slim books or the Vertigo series "Accelerate." You might have seen the Bridget Fonda film "After Amy," which Richard calls "one of the worst movies of 2001;" it was based on his cover story about cloning for Wired magazine. And hey, if you're reading this blog? You might be one of the select, a clandestine fan of Richard's seminal early cyberpunk novel Metrophage.
In addition to scaring fanboys at cons with his burly tattoos and cutting sense of humor, Richard shows his fetish photography in art galleries. Based in San Francisco, he's written and spoken about art, culture and technology for Wired, The San Francisco Chronicle, Discovery Online, The Site, SXSW and Wired For Sex on the G4 cable network. He may or may not have once taken a job writing for The Smurfs.
What recent scientific or technological advance has changed your life, and how?
I'm all about practical when it comes to technology. I'd be half blind and probably dead without my expensive glasses for my weird prescription. We don't tend to think about things like glasses as high-tech items in a more, but they're one of the most important human body augmentation devices in history. [That's why we're gonna write about them here on the Eureka Idea Lab blog any day now... -Ed.]
Yeah, jet packs will let you fly. Army-issued exoskeleton body armor will make you as strong and sexy as the Terminator. And night vision systems coupled with augmented reality tech will make you as deadly in the dark as a Bengal tiger and as observant as Sherlock Holmes, but none of that means anything if you needed glasses when you are five, never got them and walked in front of a dump truck outside Baskin Robbins.
Smart roadkill is still roadkill, so I like my glasses. And GPS. And Microsoft Word. And Photoshop. All the tools to make it possible for gimps like me able to do our work and stay alive. Oh, and those synthetic cells they came up with at the JCVI aren't bad either. Fed Ex me some Faster Pussycat Kill Kill replicants when you get a minute.
How about scientific discoveries or theories; can you tell us about one that made its way into one of your books or films, or totally messed with your mind in a good way?
I've always been a sucker for opposites and extreme positions, so the merging of bodies with technology has always fascinated me. You can go back all the way to the first world war and see clever uses of prosthetics and non-surgical facial reconstruction with sculpted appliances that mask missing noses, cheekbones or palettes.
Digital tech has changed everything. Since the invention of pacemakers we've been living with cyborgs. New tech such as myoelectric prostheses and titanium leg replacements will make cyborgs commonplace and even boring. When gene manipulation becomes a finer science and we combine it with advanced body tech, we really could be on the threshold of a whole new human species. Of course, maybe this is all one big Jungian joke. We think we're building the future of humanity, but really we're just constructing the aliens who never bothered visiting us from space.
What technology or scientific advance do you dream about, do you wish we had working *right now*?
I wish commercial passenger spaceflight were cheap enough that everyone could to try it. Aside from that, I'd take a pill that made me look like Brad Pitt and as smart as Stephen Hawking. I'd make a killing on Jeopardy.