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From: areynold@estsa2.estec.esa.nl (Alastair Reynolds)
Subject: Re: (whorl) disposable robots and the talus
Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 17:20:20 +0200 (MET DST)


> require some level of terraforming. While I find the probability-based
> arguments for the existence of biospheres on other planets to be fairly
> plausible, I see no reason to expect that their life-chemistry will be in
> any way compatible with ours. I just re-read Vernor Vinge's
> _A_Fire_Upon_the_Deep_, and while it is a great book, he seems rather naive
> in assuming that everyone can eat everyone else and not die.
> R.

there's a nice Joe Haldeman short story which exploits the idea of
incompatible biochemistries - I think it's in his last collection,
whatever it was called.

It's interesting that at the moment, SF seems to be questioning some of 
the core assumptions which have held good for decades - like, if we
had the ability to settle other worlds (in this solar system or elsewhere)
we automatically would do so. Remember in Sterling's Schismatrix, how
the entire solar system has been "taken over" by humans, but hardly
anyone actually bothers with settling planets or moons. Similarly in
Egan's recent Diaspora, the posthuman explorers (actually just software
running on tiny spacecraft!) are deeply reluctant to introduce any sort
of contaminant into the planet they are exploring. Rather than sending
submarine probes into the planet's ocean, they toy with the idea of
waiting a few hundred years until a tsunami dumps some sea-life onto
dry-land, where they can study it from orbit.

Incidentally - for anyone interested in the science (and art) of
extrasolar planets - I'd suggest having a look at this *very* nice
website I found yesterday (needs Java though):




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