Magonia 82, August 2003
Undoubtedly the biggest cinematic event of the past few months or so has been the Matrix Reloaded. Forming the middle act in a trilogy between the earlier Matrix and the Matrix Revolution, due to be released this autumn, the film has already generated more than its fair share of media hype and academic speculation, including one paper by Mercer Schuchardt, which claimed that it is a new religious parable for the information age.
In its wake, philosophers have claimed that the world could, indeed, be a computer simulation run by an alien civilisation, a view taken up by no less than the astronomer and science writer John Barrow in the pages of New Scientist. 
Other, more sanguine critics, have complained about its great length and the messianism surrounding Keanu Reeve’s character, Neo. It is, of course, not the monumental philosophical tour de force claimed by the more excitable journalists and academics, but a fairly standard Hollywood blockbuster, though one which astutely mixes the balletic martial arts choreography of Hong Kong action movies with cyberpunk. None of it is actually terribly original, as some critics reviewing the academic literature already generated by the movie have pointed out.  Neither are the complaints of some of its detractors. The messianic theme may be at the forefront of its plot and action, but it’s hardly greater than that of Dune, and considerably less than many cult SF and fantasy books now filling the shelves of Waterstones. Where the film is of interest is as an example of the cult of information and Virtual Reality as it has emerged in the last few decades.
The first thing to note is that the notion that the world is a giant virtual construct has been around for a very long time. Apart from Plato’s metaphor of chained prisoners seeing only the shadows of reality on a cave wall in The Republic, it’s a logical extension of the old philosophical problem of distinguishing dream from reality, when the only guide is one’s senses. By the 1980s this had been expressed in the academic philosophical literature as the ‘Brain in a Jar’ problem. This states that it is quite possible that we are all, indeed, nothing more than disembodied brains, convinced of our own corporeality by being fed sensory information artificially. The Polish SF writer Stanislas Lem used this notion in his short story, 'Doctor Diagoras'. 
Diagoras, a Greek cyberneticist, has, as one of his experiments, constructed just such a series of disembodied mechanical minds. These minds are being fed pre-programmed recorded experiences, so living out ‘virtual’ lives. Supernatural phenomena, such as deja vue, ghosts and precognition, are the result of glitches in the programme, similar to those John Barrow suggests should be looked for in our consensual reality, where the recording has jumped forward a few moments. Lem was very much aware of the essentially religious nature of such a philosophical construct, and in another short story, 'Non Serviam',  describes a series of computer experiments in which virtual worlds are created, whose digital, ‘personetic’ inhabitants debate the possible purposeful creation of their reality by an outside force, the resulting theogonic arguments being recorded by the presiding scientists.
Lem himself was a fan of Philip K. Dick, whose novels also explore the problems of distinguishing between artificial and genuine reality, often overlaid with overt, if not blatant, religious speculation, as in Valis and the Divine Invasion.  While Dick is undoubtedly the best known, he was by no means the only SF author exploring contemporary science’s potential for myth and virtual realities. Jonathan Fast’s 1978 book, Mortal Gods, was set in a future where the human colonists of Sifra-Messa had created, through genetic engineering, the Mortal Gods of the title, transhuman titans, living in hyperspace, who physically personify the motifs and values of their worshippers’ society.  Elsewhere in the galaxy, Earth has been devastated by radiation from an erupting Black Hole in a cosmic war. As a result, the survivors had been forced underground, retreating into amniotic jars, to lead virtual lives through robot bodies on the surface controlled through telepresence.
While it isn’t quite the world of the Matrix – the humans are, in this instance, in control of the robots – in its depiction of a devastated world in which humans survive in bottles linked to intelligent machines as a kind of virtual reality, it isn’t far off by any means.
Although this artificial reality was benign, if horrific, far more malign visions of the potential of VR to enslave and dominate appeared later in the 80s. In the ‘Galactic Centre’ novels of Gregory Benford – Great Sky River, Furious Gulf Tides of Light and Sailing Bright Eternity - the remnants of future humanity, reduced to a hunter-gatherer existence by an aggressive machine civilisation, are pursued as vermin across the galaxy by the Mantis. 
Charged with eradicating the human pests, this robot electronically steals their minds, sucking them into its own personal virtual reality while at the same time fashioning grotesque sculptures from their bodies as art. Much the same attitude to their human victims is followed by the machine villains in Paul McAuley’s Red Dust.  Here, the great cybernetic intelligences ruling Earth and Mars, the Consensus and the Emperor, have rebelled against humanity, and are attempting to eradicate it from a universe in which intelligence has no place. On Earth, the Consensus has exterminated the human race as a way of preserving the terrestrial biosphere, though the artificial intelligences at the heart of the system have preserved humanity’s minds in cyberspace as worshippers, setting themselves up as virtual gods.
Mars’ own ruling machine, the Emperor, has been corrupted by the Earth’s Consensus into following the same gaol, encouraging its citizens to surrender their lives to become ‘half-lifers’, wired zombies dreaming their way into Heaven, the part of Martian Information Space reserved as an eternal environment for the dead. If SF is creating new mythologies for the scientific dispensation, then these machines – the Mantis, the Consensus, the Emperor – are truly its devils, cybernetic Lucifers stealing human souls to drag them down into virtual hells.
Of course, this essentially religious fear – of the soul’s enslavement and torture for all eternity by a malignant, nonhuman intelligence – would not exist if the writers could not present a plausible scenario for the cybernetic survival of the human personality after death. Following Marvin Minsky and the Extropian Downloaders, Benford presents just such a possibility in his books. Here, humans preserve the accumulated wisdom of generations of the deceased in the form of Aspects and Faces, digital recordings of their minds saved at the point of death. Each human carries a number of these cybernetic familiars to advise him, summoning them up from the depths of their circuitry as and when they are required.
McAuley adopts the same concept and terminology in Red Dust, though here the posthumous personalities are preserved and transmitted by nanotechnological viruses, their new incarnations revered as gods. Planned reincarnation through cloning is also foreseen. On Earth, natural reproduction has been abolished altogether, replaced instead by the recreation of past generations by clones, which then have the memories and personalities of their predecessors artificially implanted in a strange parody of the Buddhist cycle of reincarnation.
A similar process, though this time benign, appears in John Barnes’ A Million Open Doors, in which the dead live through clones electronically given the personalities of their deceased parent. 
McAuley, the founder of Rhibofunk/Gene Punk, was a biologist before becoming a professional SF writer, and has admitted on Radio 3 that in his novels he was deliberately trying to do for the biological sciences what William Gibson, Bruce Sterling and the Mirror Shades crowd had done for computers. Thus, in Fairyland and Red Dust, he depicted the squalid underside of decaying future worlds where, instead of hacking machine code, people cut and paste their own genomes in grimy back street salons, and nanotech viruses stalk the wetware processors of human brains like those of computers.
In all of this there is a very strong streak of messianism, apotheosis and apocalypticism little different, except in its technological underpinnings, from the more conventionally supernatural treatment of such themes elsewhere in fantasy and horror literature, and which frequently includes motifs and images from Christianity, as well as other religions. Both Gibson’s Neuromancer and McAuley’s Red Dust end in an apotheosis.  In the first, the hero’s shadowy A.I. employer. Wintermute, unites with its Brazilian counterpart, Neuromancer, to form a single intelligence which expands into Cyberspace; only, it is hinted in later books, to fragment into separate autonomous intelligences which take on the personae of Voodoo gods.
At the end of Red Dust, it is the hero, Wei Lee, who himself achieves this elevation to divinity, as, despite the murder of his physical body, he defeats the Emperor in Cyberspace to become the new, benevolent virtual ruler of Martian Information Space, effecting democratic reforms in its structure before planning his reincarnation in the body of a boy seeded with his memories by nanotech viruses. If the messianism in the Matrix and its subsequent outing was considered excessive by some, then it’s fairly certain they probably wouldn’t enjoy Red Dust: Wei Lee himself is revealed at the end to be a genetic construct, planned from before his birth to receive the viruses which would destroy the corrupted Emperor and the tyrannous human elite who serve it.
Lee himself is guided in his quest by the Virtual recreation of Elvis Presley, one aspect of a monad of personalities downloaded and adopted by a gestalt community of self-replicating probes in the Jovian atmosphere. This benign machine intelligence instead has incorporated aspects of the lives of Orpheus and Jesus into its persona, and in the end appears to Lee in cyberspace as Elvis driven in a pink Cadillac by Christ himself.
While it’s a slightly blasphemous handling of the person of Christ, it is a good illustration of the way the new scientific religious sensibility at the end of the 20th century was swift to adopt older, traditional religious beliefs and imagery. As such, it is only a stone’s throw from notions of Christ as an ascended Master living on Venus with Aetherius, or hearing the voice of God Himself in a UFO piloted by Quazgaa.
Elsewhere in the fantasy canon authors satisfy themselves with their heroes undergoing a Christlike passion before destroying their enemies and passing on, like Brian Lumley’s Harry Keogh in the last Necroscope book. Deadspawn.  Now afflicted by vampirism himself, Keogh is crucified by his vampire enemy Shaitan – who obviously has more than a passing resemblance to the Judaeo-Christian Satan and Muslim Shaytan – before destroying him in an explosion. Keogh’s then disembodied spirit is praised by one of the lower guardian intelligences of the Cosmos, and rewarded with reincarnation throughout the worlds of the multiverse in all of which he will retain the memory of his previous existence.
As with McAuley and, to a lesser extent, Gibson, there is an urge in these books to redeem the dead. Keogh is a hero throughout the sequence of novels as he uses his powers as a necroscope to converse amicably with the dead, offering them companionship and encouraging them to create a posthumous community by talking to each other, instead of spending eternity in lonely isolation, or torturing them for their secrets as the Vampires and their human counterparts do. At the end of Red Dust, Lee tears down the barrier around Heaven, the part of Information Space reserved for the dead, so that its denizens can communicate with the outside world, while granting those cybernetic ghosts forced to serve the Emperor their freedom.
Similarly, at the end of Necromancer Case grants the artificial, posthumous personality of the Texas Flat Line its freedom and transcendence in Cyberspace. It is significant that, despite his own brain death and brief existence as a virtual ghost in the machine environment of Neuromancer, the computers running the simulated reality are unable to intrude into Case’s own mind, even when he is trapped in their reality, a literary attempt to preserve some portion of human freedom and transcendence even in the face of god-like omnipotent machines.
I found myself wishing for the simple, humanistic belief that valued human life as it is, not just for what it may one day become
Of course, all this would be of purely literary interest were not for the fact that such a faith in the transcendent power of Information, a desire to pass beyond the ‘pearly gates of Cyberspace’ in Margaret Wertheimer’s succinct phrase, were not held by an increasing number of people. Paradoxically, given Richard Dawkins’ own vehement hostility to religion, his theory of memes forms a vital part of this new faith, a faith that raised its head several times during the Cheltenham Festival of Science in May this year . Discussing his latest book, Our Final Century, the Astronomer Royal Dr Martin Rees cautioned the audience against thinking that humanity was some kind of culmination. Our Sun was only halfway through its life, and there was no telling into what it may evolve. Like many, perhaps most professional scientists, he was unimpressed with predictions “from flaky Californian futurologists” that nanotech ‘grey goo’ was going to eat the planet, though there was a real, though remote possibility that humanity would be overthrown by intelligent machines.
It was on this point that the Faithful of the Wired Age arose to challenge him during the question and answer session. One young man wondered if humanity’s obsolescence by its machines would be a bad thing, given that these new, artificial intelligences may care more for the environment. I found that problematic, considering that such machines would probably have even less in common with the organic world than humanity, which is doing so much to destroy it at the moment. One young woman with blazing red highlights in her hair wondered why we should be so concerned about taking all this wetware – the human body and its attendant organic requirements – into space, as it was information, such as that on her computer, which was now more important.
Rees’ answer was that humanity still had a long, evolutionary future ahead of it. In the metaphor for the present situation he used, if you were transported back to the end of the Devonian period to see the first fish walk out of the sea onto land, you may well have considered it an ugly brute and bludgeoned it to death. If you had done so, however, the whole of land-based life would not have evolved.
It’s a good point, but I found myself wishing for the simple, humanistic belief that valued human life as it is, not just for what it may one day become. Bertrand Russell was asked once by the BBC while on a CND march why he was protesting against nuclear weapons. ‘Because,’ said the Great Brain, ‘they threaten to destroy the entire human race. And some of us think that would be a very great pity.’ Not perhaps the most intellectually sophisticated of answers, and recent biographies of the great man have shown that he wasn’t the paragon of moral rectitude you may have expected, but the answer did have the simple virtue of a straightforward concern for humanity, even in its present state.
I suddenly felt nostalgic for the fifties, where, for all the era’s numerous faults, at least such uncomplicated attitudes could be aired in the face of global extinction. The intellectual environment has grown more sophisticated, more cynical, since then, to the point where a return of a little intellectual directness would not go amiss.
Back at the Cheltenham Festival, another member of the audience asked Jim Al-Kalili during his talk on his book Quantum Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed - whose subtitle was surely lifted from Maimonides classic of Jewish philosophy – about the conservation of information without a base in matter. Al-Kalili poured cold water on this, too. He mentioned Edward Fredkin’s belief that information lay at the heart of reality, though at the moment it seemed that information always needed to be encoded in something concrete, like matter.
Following questions from a sceptical neuroscientist, who wanted to know if he really believed that quantum processes in the human brain gave rise to consciousness, Al-Kalili confessed that he thought this theory, from Hameroff and Roger Penrose, was also rather too farfetched. These two, an American neurosurgeon and a respected British mathematics professor, have suggested that tubulin molecules in the brain build up quantum information by adopting, in true quantum physical fashion, two separate states at once until a critical point is reached when the structure collapses and information is spread throughout the system as a whole, creating consciousness. Al-Kalili doubted that this was actually the case, and stated that he believed the theory had only been accepted because of who Penrose was, rather than being otherwise discarded.
Fredkin’s influence on the new virtual faith of transcendent information is strong, and has been remarked upon by Erik Davis, amongst others, but Dawkins’ memes also play an important, though muted role.  Meme was the term Dawkins gave to a self-replicating unit of information in his book The Selfish Gene. It was originally intended to be a metaphor for the expression and replication of genetic information. His example was a limerick – a meme, which contained the coded information for its own replication, like biochemical genes. The consequent structures in the human brain which arose to record this information could be seen as its phenotype, in the way the bodies of living creatures are the expressions of their genes.
Although intended merely as a metaphor, Dawkins then went on to use it to explain the evolution and propagation of cultural traits in human societies in his subsequent book The Extended Phenotype, which generated a lot of attention and controversy. There is something to it – recently, information processing techniques taken from DNA analysis have been used to show the similarity between changing tastes in babies’ names and genetic drift,  and the evolution of the P and Q Celtic tongues from a single parent language.  There are, however, also real drawbacks. The definition of a meme as a ‘self-replicating unit of culture’ is actually very vague, and can be used to cover almost every component of human society, from the insignificant – limericks, or shoe styles, say, – to the immensely powerful, such as religion and political ideologies. This is in sharp contrast to the clear definition of a gene as a tangible, biochemical phenomenon, a section of DNA coding for particular proteins.
Moreover, the initial idea of a meme has cross-pollinated with cybernetic information theory, so that the vehemently anti-religious Professor Dawkins can denounce religions as viruses of the mind. This last comment actually isn’t as original as it appears. The comparison between superstition and disease, specifically cholera, was made as long ago as the mid 19th century by the great popular educator James Augustus St John in his book The Education of the People.  Although the analogy has become rather more contemporary with the implication religious belief is specifically like computer viruses, it does seem to be part of the curious Victorianism that seems to inform many of Dawkins’ pronouncements.
The philosopher Keith Ansell Pearson in his book Viroid Life denounced the expectation of many Futurists that organic life would be replaced by mechanical beings as a kind of corrupt Hegelianism.  It’s an analysis, which could very easily be extended to cover memes. Instead of history being the process of the gradual enactment on the plastic plane of transcendental ideals, history and the evolution of human society becomes merely the result of the operation of competing memes acting on human consciousness. Indeed, to researchers such as Dr Sue Blackmore, the human mind is nothing more than a vehicle for these memes, just as the bodies of living organisms are no more than the vehicle for their genes. The selfish gene has become the selfish meme.
The idea of memes as autonomous, conscious informational creatures has penetrated SF, adding new dimensions to the scientistic Gnosticism of the 21st century. McAuley mentioned on BBC radio’s own short series investigating the transhurnan condition, Grave New Worlds, some years ago that he was influenced by the concept of memes when inventing the nanotech viruses used by corporations and politicians in Fairyland to alter behaviour and voting allegiance. Going further, in Benford’s last Galactic Centre novel to date, Sailing Bright Eternity, memes have become vast, godlike disembodied entities using gravity waves and other forms of energy as their substrate, evolved from the thoughts of the Clays, mineral intelligences based on crystalline lattices which arose to use the vast energies produced by the massive stars at the beginning of the cosmos. 
These memes are benevolent, seeking to end the war between organic life and the robotic Mechs so that both may evolve towards the electron-positron plasma, which will survive the cosmos’s final Heat Death. This drive for transcendence can be seen as a kind of positivist God-building, in which humanity itself advances towards an apotheosis through collective action. In this scheme, such memes become archons, or damons, lesser gods or spirits acting as intermediaries and agents for the higher being into which humanity will one day evolve. It is but a short step from this scientifically informed literary speculation to the far less scientifically respectable theorizing of many Forteans. Indeed, it bears more than a passing resemblance to John Keel’s suggestion that UFOs, fairies and other apparitions are the products of a deranged computer at the end of time, though with the difference that these more recently postulated computational entities lack even the semblance of a physical body.
The problem with such a view of ideas as abstract autonomous beings is that it ultimately leads back to the cry of the Idealist in Goethe’s Faust: “Ideas can be a tyranny/ To give one mental twinges/ If all my thoughts are really me/ My mind is off its hinges.”  People naturally rebel against notions of such determinism, as well as the view, articulated by Blackmore in her book The Meme Machine and elsewhere, that consciousness does not exist. It appears to contradict lived, empirical experience, as well as reducing humans to automatons controlled by their ideas and subconscious mechanisms, where the sense of self is only an illusion.
It also seems, curiously, to bear the stamp of Dawkins’ own moral hostility to the very phenomena he investigates. He has asserted that in his personal views he is almost anti-Darwinian, and railed against the ‘tyranny of the selfish gene’. Culture is a way out of that biologistic reduction of organisms to genetic determinism. In positing memes as the controlling evolutionary unit of culture, however, he has replaced genetic with cultural determinism, and so rails against them, or at least their religious expressions, as retrograde, oppressive forces. It’s almost as if there is something in his psychology. which, unable to accept the notion of humans as possessors of free will, compels him to erect prisons about the human condition to denounce and strive against.
Elsewhere at the Science Festival, other aspects of contemporary fringe belief raised their head. In their talk on the possibility of life on Mars, the astronomers Heather Coupar and Nigel Henbest recounted with dismay the argument Ed Malin had over the photographing of the infamous ‘Face on Mars’. Malin was one of the software engineers contracted by NASA to process the images from the Pathfinder probe. He refused to train the probe’s cameras on the Face because he saw it as a publicity stunt, not true science. Faced with people demonstrating outside the gates of JPL against what they saw as a NASA cover-up to hide the existence of intelligent life on the Red Planet after the probe’s imaging equipment went down after briefly capturing the Face, the NASA hierarchy insisted that Malin train the cameras back on the feature. After taking his objections all the way to Dan Goldin himself, who personally insisted on it, Malin eventually complied. The episode did, however, seem to have left him bitter. While Malin’s purist concern for scientific research over hype is perfectly understandable, even praiseworthy, in this instance the NASA top brass were actually quite correct in their actions.
Faced with mass demonstrations at their gates and the growth of yet another irrational conspiracy myth, they were undoubtedly right in trying to forestall any further criticism by training the camera back on the Face. The result has been that the Face stood revealed as an ordinary mesa without any particularly strong resemblance to the human physiognomy, though Coupar jokingly suggested that this was due to the Martians coming out in the meantime to chip away at it to mislead us. As for the photograph apparently showing a sand-whale crawling at the bottom of a transparent plastic tube miles long, which so excited Arthur C. Clarke amongst others, Malin suggested that the image be rotated 90 degrees, at which it becomes an ordinary slumped dune at the bottom of a gully system. Faced with unfamiliar perspectives, the mind can plays tricks even on the best of us, so that it easy for even sceptics to see creatures which aren’t there.
A classic example of this, which Coupar and Henbest mentioned earlier in their lecture, was Percival Lowell’s notorious canals. These haven’t been recorded since they were effectively disproven by Antoniadi, circa 1916, and numerous astronomers and historians have wondered what he, and others like him, was looking at. Coupar recalled a conversation she had at Flagstaff with Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto. Tombaugh told her that he had seen canals on Mars plenty of times using Lowell’s telescope. In fact, the telescope was rather too powerful, so that Mars became too bright to look at through it when it was closest to Earth. Lowell had solved this problem by stopping it down – effectively reducing the instrument’s magnifying power – by placing a plywood board half over its aperture.
Tombaugh himself had seen the canals, but always when he too had placed a board across it. This suggests that the canals were an illusion created by this technique, though it must also be added that Lowell and other astronomers like him were keen to see the specific features noted by Schiaparelli on his maps. Schiaparelli himself had failing eyesight, not recognised at the time, and so it’s quite likely that many of the astronomers who saw his canals had persuaded themselves to see features which were tragically optical illusions produced by the fading eyesight of a once brilliant observer.
Lastly. Coupar and Henbest discussed the possibility of human colonisation, both by terraforming and its alternative, the genetic modification of humans to survive on Mars in its present condition. Such a variety of humanity – Homo sapiens martialis - would need a tough, leathery skin to survive the radiation flux, and to get their oxygen by other means than from the atmosphere, possibly using altered livers to extract oxygen from fluids. This new breed of humanity was illustrated by a slide showing what could well have been three Greys emerging from the fog. The talk’s host jocularly declared that he already knew a good many people with leathery skins and dodgy livers, speculating that perhaps they were Martians.
Despite the tentativeness of this speculation, you do wonder how long it will be before this image of Homo sapiens martialis turns up in the fringe literature as fact, perhaps as time travelling colonists from the Red Planet’s future, in the way that the speculative reconstruction by Dr Dale Russell of the intelligent dinosaur which would have evolved if the Chicxulub asteroid impact had not occurred got roped into the UFO myth as the true identity of the alien Greys in David Buxton’s 1995 book, Aliens: The Final Answer.
Finally, Dr Kevin Fong’s talk on Medicine for Mars on the Saturday contained a detail, which should caution anyone against taking anomalous experiences reported by astronauts at face value. Discussing the immense physical and psychological challenges facing voyagers into the Deep Black, Fong, the director of Britain’s Institute of Space Medicine, and who himself had served on shuttle rescue and retrieval crews, stated that astronauts were vulnerable to auditory and visual hallucinations. As were submarine crews, where it is the second most common cause of manoeuvres being abandoned after ordinary accidents.
On one mission, two Russian cosmonauts were caught staring out of a porthole, as one had heard a dog barking and a baby crying. On another mission, two crewmembers had woken up to find a third about to take a spacewalk with his oxygen hose unattached. When questioned, the cosmonaut could give no reason for his potentially fatal actions, apart from the fact that he felt like taking a spacewalk. Given the isolation, incredibly cramped condition aboard spacecraft, and the intense physical disorientation, which occurs in microgravity, it is not surprising that the crews may occasionally suffer such episodes. It does, however, suggest that any UFOs, which may be reported by such crews from time to time could similarly be the result of such episodes, or optical illusions created by the problems of adapting to weightlessness. The immensity of space is deceptive, as well as mysterious.
From all this it may also be concluded that the cult of information, however, deeply felt, is as much a literary construct as a scientific postulate. This is not necessarily a criticism: myth is essentially a creation of the imaginal realm wherein poets of all eras have found their inspiration. Much of the embryonic science of early ages also found expression in poetry, from Empedocles to Lucretius’ long De Re Natura, whose atheism and scepticism made its translation one of the more scandalous literary products of the 17th century. Even now there is a considerable corpus of poetry inspired by science.
The mythographic tendencies of much science fiction are merely the latest expression of the perennial human drive to construct my1hs and cosmogonies from scientific speculation. Those scientists writing such are only following a long line of philosopher-adepts pointing to transcendent worlds available to the human intellect from the renaissance magi to Pythagoras and beyond. It does, however, warn us that other scientific minds, more fixed on the reality of what actually occurs, rather than dreaming of other, more glorious worlds, are much more sceptical of its reality. It’s a pity that some of this scepticism towards the wilder claims of certain futurists and technological visionaries were not rather more widespread.
- Barrow, J., `Glitch!’, New Scientist 17th June 2003, pp. 44-45.
- Grossman, W., ‘SF Overloaded, review of Yeffeth, G., with an introduction by Gerrold, D., Taking the Red Pill., Science, Philosophy and religion in The Matrix, in New Scientist, 21st June 2003, p. 55.
- Lem, S., ‘Doctor Diagoras’, in Tales of Pirx the Pilot, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Orlando.
- Lems S., ‘Non Serviam’, in A Perfect Vacuum, Harvest/Harcourt Brace Kovanovich, Orland 1978, pp.167-196.
- Dick, P.K., Valis. Bantam; The Divine Invasion, Timescape, both 1981.
- Fast, J., Mortal Gods, New American Library, New York 1978.
- Benford, G., Great Sky River, Victor Gollancz, 1987; Tides of Light, 1989; Furious Gulf, 1994; Sailing Bright Eternity, 1995.
- McAuley, P., Red Dust, Vista, London 1993.
- Barnes, J., A Million Open Doors, Orion, London 1992.
- Gibson, W., Neuromancer, Grafton. 1986.
- Lumley, B., Necroscope V: Deadspawn, Grafton, London 1991.
- Davis, E., Techgnosis, Serpent’s Tail, London 1988, pp. 125-5, 160, 281, briefly discuss Fredkin’s views of the universe as a ‘cellular automata’ – a Virtual simulation.
- ‘From Ashley to Zoe, its name drift at Work’, New Scientist, 21st June 2003, p. 26.
- ‘Just once for Celtic’, New Scientist, 5th July 2003, p. 20.
- Davies, 0., Witchcraft, Magic and Culture 1736-1951, Manchester University Press, Manchester 1999, p. 53.
- Pearson, K.A., Viroid Life: Perspectives on Nietzsche and the Transhuman Condition. Routledge, London 1997, p. 33.
- Benford, G., Sailing Bright Eternity, Vista, London 1995.
- Goethe, trans. Wayne, P., Faust Part 1, Penguin, London 1949, p.185.