Friday, August 31, 2007


Your Friday Entertainment

Peggy Hailey points out this little gem. Movie themes, turned into parody songs, complete with videos.

Here's Back to the Future.

And here's Jaws.

More here.


Beatts Speaks

For his Agony Column podcast, Rick Kleffel has interviewed one of my favorite people on the planet, Alan Beatts, owner of Borderlands Books in San Francisco, one of the two best genre booksellers in the country. Give it a listen!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


The Simpsons Star Wars

Go watch Rich Cando's Simpsons/Star Wars parody, if you've got fifty-five seconds to spare.



(via) I spend a lot of time with words, reading them and writing them, but I'm sure that I still make a fair number of the mistakes listed here on a regular basis.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Be Happy

Here's a little unalloyed joy, courtesy of Georgia. We watch a lot of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! around our house, and the episode featuring Bob Boyle's song "Be Happy" has been in heavy rotation the last few days.

Watch the first minute and change of this "Webbcast" and see if you can manage to keep from smiling. Then try to imagine a cute three year old in the back seat of your car, sing "Be happy, be happy, be happy happy happy, happy" to herself. It's a tonic, I can assure you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007



I just got some incredibly good news, about who'll be doing the cover for my next Pyr release, End of the Century. It's probably not kosher to say anything about it yet, so I'll leave it at that, but suffice it to say the artist was my first choice for the job. Not someone I've worked with before, but someone whose work I've been admiring for a while now. And absolutely perfect for the book.


Stealer of Souls

Last month, I pointed to the first peek we've had of John Picacio's take on Elric, an interior illustration for the forthcoming collection of the first two novels in Michael Moorcock's signature series.

And a little while earlier I'd posted Picacio's cover to the forthcoming Moorcock collection, The Metatemporal Detective, which features another guise of the albino swordsman, Count Zodiac.

Well, today John has posted the final cover illustration for Stealer of Souls to his own blog. Want to see it?

Kick ass.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Flight of the Conchord's "Frodo"

Prepare for the pure awesomeness of Flight of the Conchord's musical tribute to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, from last night's episode.


Give me a clap!

The other day, I mentioned that Georgia had picked out a birthday cake for me. Well, Saturday we picked it up, and brought it home so we could begin gorging. Originally some more family was going to come into town, but with one thing and another it ended up being just the three of us and my folks. So there was more than enough birthday cake to go around.

Georgia, of course, got to keep all of the little stuffed toys that rode in the gondola on top, Winnie the Pooh and all his pals. Which, to be honest, is the reason she picked it out in the first place. Georgia was in charge all weekend, though, and wasn't about to leave anything to chance, and even blew out the candles herself when the time came, to make sure the job was done right.

Here's her, immediately after. As soon as the last candle was out, she looked up at the rest of us, and imperiously said, "Give me a clap!" as though surprised we weren't already showering her with applause. Only after we were all clapping vigorously did she look back and survey her handiwork, satisfied with the result. (And eyeing the rainbow of icing on the far side of the cake, which she'd already claimed as her own.)

Friday, August 24, 2007


Pool Parties and Flying Horses

Here the Aquabats doing their song "Pool Party" on Yo Gabba Gabba, just for you.

I also discovered last night that they did a song about "Luno the White Stallion," while digging online for stuff about flying horses (about which more later, perhaps).

The AquabatsHey Luno

Honestly, what's not to love?


Neuer Bericht

That means "New Review." At least, I think it does. I don't understand German. But that doesn't stop me from enjoying it.

Marcel Buelles has reviewed Set the Seas on Fire for the good folks at Phantastik-Couch, which as near as I can tell means, um, Fantastic Couch. The review is in German, so I'm relying on the agency of Google's translation function to tell me what it's all about.

Um, they liked it, I think?
Roberson succeeds a pleasant blending to that of category and with a nice triangle relationship in the luggage develops it sufficient tension, in order to advance the reading speed properly. Which was saved in the summary from space reasons, the prehistory Bonaventures, which covers its youth, is in which he from a mysteriösen master to an excellent sword fighter is trained. It provides the background history for the narration, on whose basis the Protagonist behaves and develops and which not least a further mysterious level adds, which positively strikes to beech.

Sent Roberson connects Bonaventures adventures in the south Pacific, its hopes as a young man and his experiences also by time jumps as a stood soldier of its majesty. At the end of the book Roberson keeps even still another small, but fine surprise ready, which does not fit the continuous tenor so at all historically/fantastisch, so that one should quite gönnen oneself the book. Robersons reader is Bonaventure naturally a term, because already in its novel „“one could meet Paragaea him. The American Fantasy and Science Fiction author, who contributed among other things also a novel to the X-Men, did not have to reach into this case also at all deeply into the trick box: it extended already a 2001 published manuscript, in order to give to Bonaventure a further chance. Readably!
I know it's childish, but I am endlessly amused by clunky software translation.



More Figures of Action

Last month I bloviated a bit about action figures, and I'm about to do so again, so stop now if that's of no interest to you.

Okay, so tomorrow I turn 37 years old. Not really any significant milestone, to be sure. But every year around my birthday, my parents ask me if there's anything I want for a gift. Usually I tell them not to go to any trouble, since I haven't made a big deal of holidays for years, and ours isn't much of a gift-giving household. But this year there's something I want that I can't buy for myself, so when they asked I had a ready answer.

See, we have a "no action figure" rule in our house, after I wasted a bunch of money ten years ago on toys that I had no reason buying. I've still got a huge box in the attic filled with nifty "figurines" of comic book and movie characters, which were purchased, allowed to gather dust on shelves or on my day-job desk, and then packed away when space became a premium.

But a strict interpretation of the "no action figure" rule says that I can't buy toys for myself. It says nothing about receiving them as gifts. And if my loving parents were to purchase one for me, it would be rude to refuse, right?

Which brings me to this.

Can you make that out? They're reproductions of the 1974 line of GI Joe Adventure Team toys, sold through Wal-Mart.

Adventure Team? Remember them? Only about the coolest that GI Joe ever got.

And 1974 Adventure Team means only one thing. Kung. Fu. Grip.

That guy right there? In the box? That was the exact model of Joe I grew up with, fuzzy "lifelike hair" and all. Mine was lost by the wayside years ago, and I shudder to think what a mint version would net on eBay. So in terms of recapturing my lost youth, picking a brand-spanking-new Land Adventurer off the shelf at Wal-Mart for just a few bucks was too attractive to pass up. (Of course, for accounting reasons, it's my parents paying for it, not me, so no rules have been violated.)

Of course, every Wal-Mart in the country immediately sold the damned things out when they appeared on shelves earlier this month, and a two city search came up empty.

Internets to the rescue.

Last weekend I found someone reselling one of these reissues for a not-unreasonable markup, paid the nice man, and then this morning I find this little big of awesome waiting on my front doorstep.

How kick-ass is that? Allison was taking Georgia to preschool as I was opening it up, and I had to assure Georgia that she would get to play with Daddy's new toy when she got home.

And the fun doesn't stop there. See, a couple of weeks ago I discovered that Diamond Select was doing a reissue of the original Mego-mold Star Trek action figures, starting with Captain Kirk and the Klingon. My Mego Kirk is one of my few toys to survive from the seventies, though his clothes disintegrated or vanished years ago. So the poor bastard has been knocking around in boxes for thirty years in nothing but his blue plastic underwear and black boots. This was the second thing my folks agreed to get me for my birthday, again skirting the no-action-figure purchases rule. And again, the local comic shop had sold out of this one, too. But once more, internets to the rescue, and by next week I expect to get this dapper little dude in the mail.

I'm tempted to take the clothes off this guy and give them to Naked Kirk, since he's suffered long enough. But either way, by sometime late next week Land Adventurer and Captain Kirk will be adventuring again, as they haven't for thirty years or more, only this time it'll be my daughter directing all the action. More than likely at this point that'll mean tea parties and dancing to Yo Gabba Gabba, but hey, it beats staying mint in the box, right?

Now, honestly, what else could a 37 year old want for his birthday, anyway?

(Oh, and Georgia has insisted that we have a birthday cake and party, and so we're letting her manage the whole thing. The people at the grocery store's bakery looked at us a little askance when we told them that the Winnie the Pooh birthday cake should bear the inscription "Happy Birthday Daddy," but hey, when a three year old is driving the bus, you take what you can get...)

Thursday, August 23, 2007


New Interview

Ken over at Neth Space asked me five questions, and he got five answers. You can't say fairer than that.



Science Fiction Awards Watch

My pals Cheryl Morgan and Kevin Standlee have launched a new site, the Science Fiction Awards Watch. Here's what they have to say about it...

So what is this all about? Well, there are few things that the science fiction community likes to talk about more than awards, so we thought it might be good to have a central place where these conversations can take place. To that end we will be providing:

- A list of awards, with details of how they are decided
- Prompt news about these awards, including live reporting from some award ceremonies
- A recommendation list (covering many awards, not just the Hugos)
- Discussions of award short lists and favored candidates for nomination
- And, of course, a blog

That’s the plan. Now it has to survive contact with the public.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that I'm one of the folks who'll be participating in the short list discussions, which will be kicking off sooner or later. Expect me to bloviate about Doctor Who, about the failed promise of Battlestar Galactica, about kids' shows no-one else watches, and other topics near and dear.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The Aquabats!

In elementary school, I was absent the day they started teaching us long division. For years, I felt like I was one day behind everyone else in my grade.

I know I'm seldom ahead of the curve, but I like to think that I'm sometimes on the curve, and at worst following right behind. So imagine my disappointment to discover that I'm way behind the curve when it comes to the Aquabats.

See, this week saw the premier of the new children's show, Yo Gabba Gabba, which I've blogged about before. I've known for some time now that the show was co-created, written, and directed by one of the guys behind the California band, the Aquabats. But until last night I never bothered to check to see what the Aquabats were all about. Considering that Yo Gabba Gabba has proved to be just about the most perfect thing I've ever seen (and both Georgia and Allison agree with me on this), I was motivated to see what else these Aquabats folks had done.

Here's a demo they made back in 1999 to try to pitch a tv series based on their band's "mythology."

And here's the video for their track "Fashion Zombies."

Um, oh... It turns out that they are made of 100% awesome, and are the perfect band for me. A post-punk superhero ska band who uses music to fight supervillains and giant monsters. Who knew?

Well, I should have known, for one. In my defense, they were just getting started in Southern California at the time that I was obsessed with ska back in the 90s, and by the time they started gigging and showing up on ska compilations and the like, I was about to head back to Texas and lose touch with the whole ska scene. Now, they appear to have toured quite a bit in the last ten or so years, and released several albums, so why did it take me this long to check them out? My only defense is that I thought for some reason that I'd heard them before and not clicked with them, but now it seems like I was confusing them with someone else. (Some other post-punk superhero ska band, I'm sure...)

But look, they have their own t-shirts...

And action figures...

And, um, pudding dispenser belts...

Okay, I'm now totally ashamed that I'm just now discovering these guys. I'll cling to whatever geek cred I have left, and go looking for more of their music now. Be sure to check out Yo Gabba Gabba, though. You won't be sorry. It's intentionally as mental as Sid & Marty Krofft's stuff was unintentionally, spiced with 70s fashions, early 80s video games, Japanese junk culture, dance, monsters and magic robots, and celebrity guest appearances (including a drawing segment with Mark Mothersbaugh). Honestly, it's one of the best things in the history of ever.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Blog Review

Larry Ketchersid has read Here, There & Everywhere and seems to have liked it.



A Public Apology

I've written a guest blog entry for my masters at Solaris, regarding the woeful shortcomings of Set the Seas on Fire. Mea culpa, mea culpa maxima.

(But I'm not kidding about the story with the airships and octomonkeys...)

Monday, August 20, 2007


Mad Props

(via) Do you need a Vibro-Beamer?

How about a sonic screwdriver?

Or how about a Brit-City Judge's helmet and a Lawgiver?

For these (as well as Wookie bowcasters, Jedi lightsabers, transport bracelets, and more), check out Stentor Industries. Lots of awesomeness on display there.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Sideways in Crime

Lou Anders has posted the provisional TOC of his forthcoming Solaris anthology, Sideways in Crime: An Alternate Mystery Anthology, due out next summer.
The People's Machine by Tobias S. Buckell
Running the Snake by Kage Baker
Via Vortex by John Meaney
The Blood of Peter Francisco by Paul Park
G-Men by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Adventure of the Southsea Trunk by Jack McDevitt
Sacrifice by Mary Rosenblum
Murder in Geektopia by Paul Di Filippo
Fate and The Fire-lance by Stephen Baxter
Chicago by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Worlds of Possibilities by Pat Cadigan
Conspiracies: A Very Condensed 937-Page Novel by Mike Resnick & Eric Flint
A Murder in Eddsford by SM Stirling
The Sultan's Emissary by Theodore Judson
Death on the Crosstime Express by Chris Roberson
This is one antho I'm really looking forward to checking out.

Friday, August 17, 2007


New Review

Eric Brown has reviewed Set the Seas on Fire for the Guardian, and says all sorts of nice things about it.
When the HMS Fortitude suffers damage after attacking a Spanish galleon in the South Pacific, the Captain elects to head south into uncharted waters in search of habitable land. They come across paradise in the form of an island inhabited by hospitable natives, but not before locating the survivors of the Spanish galleon who tell a horrific tale of another island further south inhabited by monsters. First Lieutenant Heironymus Bonaventure has always sought a life of adventure, and his dreams and nightmares are fulfilled in the south seas. He falls in love with a native woman, and then faces the demons of the southern island as the Fortitude leaves in search of the Spanish gold hidden there. Bonaventure, wry and humorous, is an engaging character, torn between his love for the islander and his duty to the flag. The novel is an informed discourse on navy life circa 1800, swordsmanship and the relative qualities of Christianity and island deism. For much of its length it's a slow-burning historical novel, with dark undertones, which towards the end suddenly bursts into understated though effective horror.



Return Flight of the Conchords

You may begin celebrating now.
HBO is taking another flight with the conchords.

Quirky musical-comedy series "Flight of the Conchords" has been picked up for a second season by the pay cabler. Net has ordered an undisclosed number of episodes of the halfhour series that stars deadpan New Zealanders Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie.
The full details can be found here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Up Next

The contracts went off in today's mail, and while I'm sure Solaris will be making a more official announcement at some point, I'll spill a few beans here. The next Celestial Empire project will be Three Unbroken, a serialized novel that will start appearing online this fall. The story takes place during the Second Mexic War, contemporaneous with "Line of Dichotomy" and The Dragon's Nine Sons, and involves three soldiers in the military of the Dragon Throne, a pilot, an infantryman, and a marine commando. Each of the sixty-four chapters in the novel will be headed by, and will illustrate the traditional interpretation of, a hexagram of the I Ching.

More details as they become available.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


New Review

Rhianna Pratchet has reviewed Set the Seas on Fire for the September 2007 issue of SFX magazine and, aside from having some trouble spelling my surname consistently, she seems generally to have liked it, with a few reservations.
Taking to the high seas for a Napoleonic naval romp is a bit of a departure for Chris Roberson. best known for his SF works and the Shark Boy and Lava Girl adventure series. And there's definitely some boyhood fantasy fulfilling going on here as Robinson [sic] spins the tale of Lieutenant Hieronymus Bonaventure (angsty, yet manly, master-swordsman, who also appeared in Robinson's [sic] novel Paragaea) and the crew of the HMS Fortitude

After a battle with a Spanish galleon is interrupted by a storm. Bonaventure and Co. are forced to sail into the "mare incognita" (the unknown sea) to find suitable land for repairs. Thankfully, they wash-up on an island where the natives are friendly, lithe of limb and flower-bedecked and not inclined to have them upside down in a big pot before they can say "weevil biscuit?"

When two members of the Spanish galleon's crew turn up claiming to have escaped from an island where their shipmates have gone mad, the novel kicks up the pace, steering away from its Horatio Hornblower beginnings and moving into more Lovecraftian territory.

Although it's a neat way of side-stepping the usual naval-novel fare, the marriage of these two genres isn't completely harmonious; neither nautical enough for naval fans, nor truly horrible enough for horror buffs. We never properly get to know any other characters outside of Bonaventure, so it's difficult to care what happens to them as they set foot on the island known as the "first volcano." That said, Robinson's [sic] prose is very readable and the story has a fair amount of Boy’s Own-style charm.


Monday, August 13, 2007


Mike Wierigno

I've just read the sad news that Mike Wieringo has died of a heart attack at the age of 44. One of the highlights of my day in recent months has been Ringo's daily sketch over on his site, and I'd been hoping to see some of the pulpy, science fantasy stuff he'd been working on develop into a bigger project. I've never met the man, but always enjoyed his work, and I'm far more upset by the news that I might have expected.


World Fantasy Award Nominations

The World Fantasy Award nominations are up, and there are several things about it of note. First, and closest to home, are the nods for Mark Finn (Special Award - Professional for Blood & Thunder), Joe Lansdale and Scott Cup (Anthology for Cross Plains Universe), and Kim Newman (novella for "The Man Who Got off the Ghost Train" from Man from the Diogenes Club), which makes three MonkeyBrain Books items on the list.

Next, take note of badass and bon vivant Jeff Ford raking in three nominations, for novella, short fiction, and collection (in the interest of fairness, note that M. Rickert is pacing along beside him in all three categories). Deanna Hoak gets a much deserved nod in the Special Award - Professional category for copy editing, as does Greg Ketter on the retail side for Dreamhaven. I'm equally delighted to see drinking buddy John Klima and smoking pal Gary K Wolfe ending up on the Special Award - Non-Professional list, which so far as I know is the first WFA nod for each of them. Anthology is a crowded field, with every slot being filled with someone I know and like, and even with a horse in the race myself, I'd be delighted to see it go to Sharyn, or Ellen & Terry, or David and Susan (but if Joe takes it home for Retro Pulp Tales, don't you think that's just a bit unfair to Scott? He should be forced to share it with him anyway, the way I figure). And the Picacio juggernaut continues to roll with another nod in the Artist category.

This short list is the closest to my own tastes and prejudices of any I've seen in years, and I don't disagree with a single name on the list. My congratulations to all the nominees, and my heartiest admiration to the judges for a job well done.


New Interview

Sany Auden has interviewed me for the UK SF Book News site, all about Set the Seas on Fire, how I steal all my ideas from television, and the importance of my being a sad bastard in my younger days.




ArmadillCon is lingering a bit for me this year, I suppose, since I'll be having lunch with Sharyn November later today, but either way I can say with confidence that the con was, as always, a terrific time. Renee Babcock did a hell of a job running the show, AT Campbell's map of the dealer's room was a revelation, and Kimm Antell did a splendid job with the programming, which took on an even lighter tone and more tongue-in-cheek attitude than normal. When I first started attending ArmadilloCon regularly a few years back, there wasn't much of a bar culture at the show, with the only lushes hanging out in the hotel bar being one or two pros who weren't regulars at the show. I can't take all the credit (or blame), but in the five or so years since, that's changed, and now there's always a healthy crowd of folks malingering in the hotel bar from the moment the doors open until last call. The writers workshop on Friday went without a hitch on Friday, for which Patrice Sarath should be commended (and for which Jayme Blaschke gets no credit at all), and I won't be surprised to see some of the novels and stories workshopped in my group ending up on shelves in the not-too-distant future.

It was great seeing all of the local writing folks, some of whom hadn't been to the con before, and it was nice seeing a few new attending pros from outside the area, as well. Really one of the best and best run ArmadilloCons in years, from what I saw. Looking forward to next year!

Friday, August 10, 2007


I'm Off

In a couple of minutes I'm heading across town for the ArmadilloCon Writers Workshop, to be followed in close order by drinks and dinner, then panels and parties and all manner of silliness. If you're going, I'm sure I'll see you there. If you aren't, then I only ask that you be excellent to one another, and I'll be back in a few days.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Who Review in Five Minutes

(via) If you don't have three or four years to commit to watching all of Doctor Who in order, perhaps you could set aside five minutes or so? A nicely edited collection of quotes, along with scenes from every episode of Who from the original series, start to finish.

By the way, for anyone curious, my own Who review has been proceeding apace. I finished "The Keys of Marinus" on Monday, and will be starting on "The Aztecs" next week. So far the main takeaway from the project is that Susan Foreman screams an awful lot.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


British Fantasy Awards

Congratulations to Kim Newman, whose Man from the Diogenes Club has made the shortlist for the 2007 British Fantasy Awards in the Collection category.

And big ups to John Picacio, appearing in the short list for Artist for what I believe may be the first time!

The full list of worthies can be seen on the website of the British Fantasy Society. Lots of people I've enjoyed drinks with on that list...



This may be one of the most perfect things I've ever seen. Dinosaurs, drift racing, and other dimensions, a natural combination.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Ongoing Lameness

I've been plagued by a weird, ill-defined illness the last few days, almost completely without symptoms except for a sore throat, one normal lymph node and one swollen like a shooting marble, and a general fuzzy-headedness. It's left me almost completely uninteresting, and vaguely complainy. Still, it's a good week for it, since all I've got on the schedule is a big pile of [REDACTED] novels and a few episodes of [REDACTED] to get through in the next few days, to get these pitches into shape. (And no, I probably needn't be so coy about what I'm working on, but where would the fun be in just coming out and saying what it was...?)

Anyway, hopefully tomorrow I'll be a little less complainy and fuzzy-headed, and can try being interesting again for a while...

Friday, August 03, 2007


What now?

This comes pretty close to discussing politics, which I've more or less stopped doing for a while, but I couldn't let this pass without comment.
Federal judge Barbara Jones has ruled in favor of the CIA in its attempt to prohibit former agent Valerie Plame Wilson from disclosing the dates she worked for the agency in her upcoming book. Wilson, along with publisher Simon & Schuster, filed a lawsuit in late May in New York seeking to stop the CIA from interfering with publication of her book, Fair Game.

In their suit, Wilson and S&S argued that since the dates of Wilson’s CIA service have been made public, she should be able to write about it in her memoir. Judge Jones ruled that while the dates are in the public record, they have never been declassified. She also said a letter from the CIA, which neither S&S nor Wilson saw, convinced her there were national security reasons for keeping her from including the dates.

In a statement S&S spokesperson Adam Rothberg said the publisher is “disappointed in the court’s ruling, which we believe runs counter to the First Amendment, sets a dangerous precedent, and creates an unreasonable standard by which the government can disappear public information and rewrite history.” He said no decision has been made about whether to appeal the ruling, but added that the company still expects to release the book this fall.
Did you follow the reasoning there? I'm not sure that I did. Though the dates through which Valerie Plame Wilson was a CIA agent are now public knowledge, they can't be printed in a book because they're still classified. Um... what?

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Best SF Presents: "Companion to Owls"

Mark Watson of have posted my story "Companion to Owls" as part of the Best SF Presents series. The story, which appeared in the March '06 issue of Asimov's, is reprinted here in its entirety.


Other Fields

Having finished The Dragon's Nine Sons last week, and writing a short story for Lou Anders's forthcoming Sideways in Crime this week (the story is "Death on the Crosstime Express," for what it's worth), I'm gearing up to do a bit of sharecropping in the next couple of weeks. Or rather, preparing to prepare to sharecrop. Confusing enough?

You see, I'm working up pitches and outlines for two different franchise projects, one a novella in a universe I'm very familiar with, and one a short story in another universe I'm just digging into. I can't discuss any details until the deals are done, except to say that both are space operas of a sort, though the two franchises really couldn't be more dissimilar. It's an interesting kind of work, though, burrowing into someone else's imagined world (and richly imagined worlds, at that) and seeing what kind of stories there might be to tell.

And having spent all year tilling my own fields, as it were, with two Celestial Empire and two Carmody-Bonaventure projects, it makes for a nice change of pace to work in someone else's fields for a change, especially since they've already done all the hard work of worldbuilding before I ever arrived. If I'm unsure about the mechanics of a bit of technology, or how far it is from point A to B, all I have to do is check the reference materials and there's the answer waiting for me.

Of course, the fact that the "research" for these two projects involves me consuming other bits of franchise entertainment that I would have happily devoured just for fun is just that much more attractive.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Time is an illusion...

...and lunch-time doubly so.

Jay Lake points out this terrifically interesting article on the Discover site about how down at the Planck length time might not actually exist at all.
By “big things,” Rovelli means anything that exists much above the mysterious Planck scale. As of now there is no physical theory that completely describes what the universe is like below the Planck scale. One possibility is that if physicists ever manage to unify quantum theory and general relativity, space and time will be described by some modified version of quantum mechanics. In such a theory, space and time would no longer be smooth and continuous. Rather, they would consist of discrete fragments—quanta, in the argot of physics—just as light is composed of individual bundles of energy called photons. These would be the building blocks of space and time. It’s not easy to imagine space and time being made of something else. Where would the components of space and time exist, if not in space and time?

As Rovelli explains it, in quantum mechanics all particles of matter and energy can also be described as waves. And waves have an unusual property: An infinite number of them can exist in the same location. If time and space are one day shown to consist of quanta, the quanta could all exist piled together in a single dimensionless point. “Space and time in some sense melt in this picture,” says Rovelli. “There is no space anymore. There are just quanta kind of living on top of one another without being immersed in a space.”

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