Thursday, December 26, 2013

A review of Karen Joy Fowler's novel We are all completely beside ourselves

There are books that tell stories that could have happened. And then there are books that make you yearn that the story they tell, however fantastic, had in fact happened — as if without it, without these particular events and without this human being who’d experienced them and now tells her tale, there is something amiss in the world. The only disbelief you suspend is the one where you can’t believe you’ll never meet this character in your real life.

Karen Joy Fowler’s latest novel is one of such books. Written as a memoir and filled with references to actual events and facts, the story balances on the verge of “happened” just as the narrator, Rosemary, balances on the verge of a grand disclosure that will expose her as she is, with all her idiosyncrasies, to the whole world.

In a nutshell, the novel imagines the fate of one of the experiments actually performed around nineteen seventies (if I am not mistaken) in the US, and pursuing comparative analysis of human and primate development. In such an experiment, a human and an ape infant are reared together from the very early age on, they are treated in the same way, as if both are human; they know each other intimately, they communicate with each other using sign language. It is researchers’ hypothesis that the ape child may be advanced, behaviorally, closer to the level of a human child. It was the actual outcome, at least in some cases, that the human child began to acquire behavioral traits more reminiscent of an ape. Rosemary Cooke, the heroine and the narrator of the novel is one of such children. She spent the first five years of her life with a sister who happened to be a chimpanzee.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This coming Thursday, November 21 (6-8PM) I will be participating in a panel discussion on Intersections between literature and science  at the Tacoma Art Museum.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Guest-blogging at

 My recent guest blog post for  details some of the story behind writing and researching The Age of Ice:

Memories of Ice
The Age of Ice started about six years ago, with me reading The New Yorker article by Elif Batuman, The Ice Renaissance. The article discussed two episodes in Russian history separated by two hundred and sixty six years. One — the building in the winter of 1740, upon the order of the empress Anna Ioannovna, of a palace made entirely of ice, where two of the empress’s jesters were forced to spend their wedding night. The other episode — building of a replica of that palace on the same site in the winter of 2006, and its popularity with St. Petersburg’s denizens.
Read the full post here:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A book reading in Bellingham, WA

I will be reading and signing The Age of Ice on October 18 in Village Books in Bellingham.  Starts at 7:00 PM. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I agree

with this article in HuffPost

Sequestration ushers in a dark age for science in America

It is  a detailed, accurate account of today's state of affairs in biomedical sciences: 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Zeno's paradox and a brinicle video

Will the warship outrun the sailboat?

I took this pic during my off time at San Diego's waterfront. I am back from trips to LA, San Diego, and Portland where I was reading from, rambling about, and scribbling on The Age of Ice. Thank you all who came to listen to me. I hope you had a good time!
Something I mentioned at the readings -- a video of a "brinicle," a.k.a. an ice finger of death. Make sure you watch till the end, where it is the most icy and deadly. Here is the link: An Ice Finger of Death

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Readings and readings

Thank you all  for making my first reading from The Age of Ice, held at the University bookstore in Seattle, an awesome event. My next two readings will be in California: one in Pasadena and one in San Diego. Please visit my website's page Author Appearances  for schedule details and bookstore links.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Author news

My short story The Colors of Cold can now be read at Wattpad , an online library of free fiction, where I now have a profile.
I have also posted blog entries at the Campaign for the American Reader an excellent website dedicated to connecting readers and writers, a site that holds all answers to the question What to read next? 
My entries are here and here

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Introducing: Ice is Cool

The main character of my novel The Age of Ice, Prince Alexander, is obsessed with ice. Among the many ice-related things that he does, is ice sculpture. Here is an interview with a real-life, present-day ice sculptor and entrepreneur Tatiana Viquez, who lives in the hot Southern CA, and has kindly agreed to talk with me about thrills and challenges of her art, about girl-power and power-tools, and why her company is called Troubled Ice.

Q: Why ice sculpting?
A:  I'm an art lover, always have been. I draw, paint, work with pastels, create chalk murals, glass blow; basically, I'll try anything that lets me be creative. Which is pretty much how I became an ice sculptor. And honestly, once you see the tools you get to use as an ice sculptor, why wouldn't you want to be one? Chainsaws, chisels, rotary tools. I love the power. Sculpting ice gives me a rush I don't experience from dragging a pencil across a piece of paper.  I know that when I hold a power-tool with a hundred sharp teeth that could sever off any of my appendages, all my senses are heightened. And I get to wield this tool to make works of art that makes people question, is it glass?  Is it plastic?  No, it's water, it's ice, that’s the marvel!
Click here to continue reading 

Friday, July 5, 2013

A thorn in a beaver's mind

I read somewhere, a researcher was studying behavior of a beaver, that other animal who profoundly changes his environment (the number one animal who does it is us humans). It is a well-known fact that beavers watch out tirelessly for leaks in their dams. If they hear the sound of running water they rush to the site and execute repairs. The researcher played a trick on the beaver – played the sound of running water on a tape recorder. The beaver rushed in. Went to work. He worked and worked on a perfectly intact dam, while the tape played on.  The researcher concludes that the industrious rodent lacks in a certain kind of operational intelligence.
As a scientist, I agree.  As a writer, I see a caveat and a metaphor.  Do we not react the same way, when faced with an upset to our own little orders of things? We do what we can. We do our personal best. We do what we are used to do, trained to do. And sometimes, when the upset is beyond our comprehension or ability, we still do just that, keep patching a perfectly intact dam because we just can’t help it. Because all we know is that something, somewhere, somehow, is wrong -- we just can't understand what it is, exactly, that is broken.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Age of Ice is on IO9! Plus: a free e-book offer on Amazon

An excerpt from The Age of Ice is up on IO9!

And, a short story called The Colors of Cold is now available on Amazon as a free e-book. This story's events happen next door from the mainline narrative of The Age of Ice. The characters of the two tales may have passed each other in a hallway. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

An article about my novel The Age of Ice is up online in Seattle Magazine!

 Seattle Magazine published online an article by Brangien Davis about me and The Age of Ice, my upcoming novel. I may be considered partial but I think that Brangien has done a great job, and I really appreciate it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Another quorum sensing idea

For those who read my post about quorum sensing and quorum phenotypes in bacteria, now consider this marvelous idea (I write this while my partner, who sits next to me on the couch, is playing one of those epidemic games on his cell phone, where you are a pathogen and the goal is to infect the world):
What if a pathogen had a mechanism for sensing the quorum of having infected a certain threshold number of  people, after which point a new phenotype would trigger in, such as increased virulence, for example?
Just think about it.
But seriously. As the game of Epidemic progresses next to me on the couch, and the game responds with messages like "American scientists are 25% done on the cure," I ask my partner, "Is there a 'defund the National Institutes of Health' button in the game, that you, as a pathogen, can press to slow the progress of scientists with regard to finding the cure?"
No, there isn't, he says.
Not in the game, that is. But in our reality, there is such a button, sadly. And it is being pressed.

Monday, March 4, 2013