Ask Iain M. Banks anything you want about "Surface Detail"

Illustration for article titled Ask Iain M. Banks anything you want about Surface Detail

In April, the io9 Book Club read Iain M. Banks' Surface Detail. Now Banks is coming to answer your questions about the book on Monday, May 9.

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He'll be popping into the comment thread on this very post Monday, May 9, between 12:00 and 1:00 Pacific Time. Start posting your questions for him now, and he'll answer as many as he can.

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Please be polite!

NOTE: If you're wondering what this whole io9 Book Club thing is all about, you can read about our past meetings here. We meet once per month to discuss a book, and then the author joins us for a chat. In May, we're meeting on the 31st to discuss Feed by Mira Grant.

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DISCUSSION

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I noticed in Surface Detail that a much more explicit description of emergency mind state back-up was described: the one-shot quantum entangled collapse system. It seemed to me that this came across as an attempt to address the "clone problem" with mind-to-computer transfers: the issue that your backup, or mind state, is not "really" you, but a perfect duplicate. Nice for them, but you still die.

The literally instant entangled emergency system seems as if it might suggest a way out of this - did you imagine such a solution could suggest transferring a consciousness in a more literal manner? It seems as if the more common backup solution in the Culture novels of recording a mind state and archiving (or transmitting) it would rank as the B-tier safety protocol compared to having one's brain and neural lace entangled with a remote receiver and instantly collapsed to safety in the event of physical death.

I suppose this stuck out to me as one of the personal oddities I've found in the Culture setting is how calm both organics and machines at the notion of their mind states and backups being stored separately even as they run off into danger. Not everybody in a Culture novel has seemed sanguine about their data clone living on without them, but most people and machines seem perfectly happy.