I am delighted to announce that the Second Edition of my novel Eden against the Colossus (originally written in 2002-2003, and published in 2004) is now available for free download in PDF format. Click here to download and read a copy. I shall also endeavor to make the book available in other e-publishing formats in the near future.
The novel’s official home page has also been updated. You can go there to download the book and read reviews by others. I encourage you to submit reviews of your own to me in the manner described on the page. Additionally, I invite you to read the introduction to the Second Edition below.
Introduction to the Second Edition
It has been some ten years since I wrote Eden against the Colossus. I worked on this book gradually from July 2002 through July 2003, with some light edits made in the summer of 2004, for online publication in July of that year. In October 2011, Lulu.com, the former host of the e-book, took it down inexplicably. I decided then that I never again would risk the availability of my work being put in jeopardy due to the whims of an external host. Hence, I have worked this past year to release this second edition, entirely free of charge, for as many electronic and e-book formats as I could manage.
In the course of creating the second edition, I performed some thorough editing, largely for style and not content. The aim of the editing process was to retain as much of the original intent and vision of Eden against the Colossus as I could, while improving the phrasing of certain sentences and sometimes modifying or clarifying a few peripheral details to render the story more internally consistent. My writing style has progressed considerably in the past decade, and I have endeavored to apply some of what I have learned in order to enhance this work – but not enough to alter its fundamental structure, plot, or ambience. Moreover, I have not diminished the substance or sophistication one bit.
Science fiction is shaped by the author’s ability to project the future from present circumstances. Upon re-reading and editing this work, it was interesting for me to contemplate the actual changes that had occurred in the world during the intervening ten years, and how they aligned with my predictions. In some ways, I am more optimistic about the future (especially the most proximate century) than I was when I wrote this book. Some of the technologies I anticipated, such as electronic ink, are already ubiquitous (though not facilitated by nanobots and an interface between the mind and an e-reader, as I had imagined). Other technologies, such as in vitro meat, are around the corner in our time – but have taken humankind in my projection some 750 years to arrive at.
I wrote Eden against the Colossus prior to my exposure to the work of Aubrey de Grey on indefinite human life extension and the work of Ray Kurzweil on exponential growth in computing technology, artificial intelligence, and the concept of the technological singularity. Even the Intergalactic Protectorate – with all of its technological marvels – is a pre-singularitarian society in Kurzweil’s sense. I suppose that it had to be one in order for me – from the vantage point of the early twenty-first century – to have been able to conceive of its various aspects. This fictional universe is also one in which sentient machines have not emerged – as I considered them impossible at the time of writing. There are numerous intricate robots on various scales – to be sure – but all of them remain instruments of man. Humans do, however, have numerous technological enhancements to their bodies and minds – a combination of biotechnology and computing add-ons – that serves as a soft parallel to Kurzweil’s concept of the merger of man and machine into an enhanced being of vastly greater cognitive capacity. The dialogue of the characters is far more advanced than most spoken discourse today; think of an entire society possessing the literary skills of elites during the 18th-century Enlightenment – in their speech.
It is important to understand this hypothetical future as one conditioned by centuries of retrogression, war, and gradual, staggered recovery of civilization. Perhaps it represents one of the less palatable tracks of civilizational progress – where the Malthusians and Luddites set back prosperity and innovation for centuries, but where the human will for life, achievement, and expansion comes out ahead anyway – eventually. I certainly hope that, in the real world, we can do better to prevent the de-civilizing process from taking hold during the early third millennium. I harbor now – to a greater extent than I did ten years ago – the hope of personally someday living in a world where the level of human advancement and prosperity has surpassed what I envisioned here.
Eden against the Colossus is a humanist work, and a proto-transhumanist one. It embraces reason, industry, innovation, and technological progress, and thoroughly critiques and condemns the enemies of human development. Though it will be apparent to the reader from even the prologue, the book is intended as a response to and refutation of Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael, which I still consider to espouse a worldview that is most diametrically opposed to my own. What would the society glorified by Ishmael really look like? Is it truly compatible with the human condition as it can be and ought to be? These questions are explored here in depth. I still think that most of my answers to them are correct, and worthy of consideration – especially as compared to their antitheses. It is particularly important for the ideas of reason, individualism, and technological progress to be spread today – in the face of misguided attacks from such diverse individuals as Leon Kass, Sherwin Nuland, Daniel Callahan, John Gray, and Nassim Taleb, which, if embraced by too many of our contemporaries, could seriously damage the advancement of civilization and our own life expectancies and standards of living. I might have phrased some of my statements differently had I written this work today, but the overall emphasis and intellectual direction are on target. I am rendering this book available to all for free download and redistribution, because I consider it essential to spread sophisticated discussion of these ideas and to counter the opponents of meliorism on both the Left and the Right.
Along with being a science-fiction tale, this book is a philosophical mystery story, which implies that not all pieces of information will be available to the reader immediately. I assure you, however: they will be accounted for. Reality brooks no contradictions, and any fiction that pretends to have value in this world cannot, either.
I have seen fit, as part of the mystery, to invent an entirely new language, which the reader will perceive to be quite confounding. It is meant to be. And, of course, the confusion is meant to be resolved.
This book is not what it seems when you begin reading it. If it were merely about a straightforward ideological disagreement, or about interaction with an extremely different alien species, it could perhaps be phrased better in a treatise. Even though it may seem that I am telling you a lot of the ideas in the book, this is just one of the mechanisms used to show you this story.
To those who are expecting light reading, this book is certainly not that. It must both set up an elaborate future world and develop the mystery within it. The book must necessarily get off to a slow start, but once the background is explicated, the story begins to take on a life of its own, and careful reading of the early passages will pay intellectual dividends to the reader during the latter half. If you appreciate a text that is constructed with great care and in which every fact and every statement is selected with a logical purpose, then you will enjoy Eden against the Colossus.