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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book contract signed with Springer - Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination

ICYMI (and I probably haven't made enough fuss about this), back in November I signed a contract with Springer to write a book entitled Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, Minds, Ethics.

The manuscript is due for delivery in late 2016, which implies a publication date some time in 2017. That's quite a long time to wait to see the book in print, but not such a long time for me to write it (while dealing with some other projects that are under negotiation). I'll be spending a lot more time than has recently been the case getting back to reading science fiction novels and stories, watching SF movies, etc. I'm sure writing the book will be hard work, as always, but the research should be fun.

Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination will be part of Springer's new Science and Fiction series.

Toes, meet water

So, quite a lot has been happening in my own life. Perhaps time to make some short posts about this, if only to catch up. I still don't expect to be returning to serious blogging (frequent long posts on serious topics, etc.) any time soon, but at least I might be able to catch up a bit.

Also, with a relevant book contract signed (I've revealed this before, but will blog separately about it), I hope to get back to reading/watching a lot more science fiction (and related popular culture) this year, so I might be getting back to writing more reviews and comments about SF/pop culture. I'm especially aware that this is going to be a big year for movies in that respect, with the new Avengers, Star Wars, Terminator, Jurassic Park, etc., movies scheduled.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Hellfire Club returns to this site

Over at Skeptic Ink, I wrote a farewell post announcing that (and why) I have left the Skeptic Ink Network. As explained there, it is all amicable, and I remain a friend of the network. The issue is mainly that I will not be blogging frequently for the foreseeable future. There are numerous other priorities, for the moment, that squeeze out blogging - not least, writing, editing, researching, seeing through publication, promoting, etc., my own books.

So, as stated in the farewell post, the Hellfire Club now returns formally to this site. However, don't expect to see a lot of action here for now. If I ever do get back to more regular/or frequent blogging, I'll announce it, of course (here and elsewhere).

Remember to follow me on Twitter, if you don't already, where I am @Metamagician.

I'll redact the previous post on this site accordingly to minimise confusion.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Hellfire Club is moving

The Hellfire Club has moved its activities over to the Skeptic Ink Network, run by John Loftus and Ed Clint.

This is the new link for The Hellfire Club for you to use, bookmark, and send to others.

[Redacted: 19 February 2015. As announced last week, this blog has now officially moved back to this site. The reasons relate to other priorities and workload issues that make it unlikely that I will be able to post frequently or regularly for the foreseeable future. That makes it inappropriate to stay on a blog network where I can't pull my weight. I remain on good terms with Ed Clint (the site owner) and the network more generally.

Skeptic Ink will retain an online archive of my posts made there during the two years that it hosted The Hellfire Club.

For now, other projects of mine will need to be my priorities, not least my own books. When and if I do return to frequent or regular blogging, I'll announce it here and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, don't forget to follow me on Twitter, where I tweet as @Metamagician.]

Monday, December 31, 2012

My top 10 posts of 2012 from Talking Philosophy - a personal selection

This list is not based on number of views or on feedback, but simply on my own personal likings and current whim. So there is no confusion, this is merely my top 10 of my own posts. It would be interesting to prepare a personal top 10 of all posts at Talking Philosophy in 2012.

Furthermore, I'm going to go light on posts about free will and determinism. I wrote a lot of them, and I (can't help but) think that the quality was quite high. However, I'll err on the side of variety and include (at number 1.) only my opening remarks in that particular lengthy debate.

My personal top 10 are, in order of appearance:

1. Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris on free will

2. Modern art and its alleged evils

3. What is a sexual image?

4. Is nice nihilism enough?

5. The Selfish Gene in The Guardian

6. Sam Harris on the Innocence of Muslims affair

7. Why can’t men shut up about abortion?

8. Freedom of religion and the contraceptive mandate (Missouri court case)

9. How can you say that if you’re an error theorist?!

10. Gaukroger, religion, and the rise of science

My ten most popular posts of all time

These are not necessarily my favourites - some are, but some rather cursory posts also make the list. Still, it's interesting to see what posts have struck a chord or incited a reaction over the years, and they do tend to have good threads attached.

Here we go, without further ado, as a New Year special, my ten most popular posts of all time:

1. Shallow, smug, arrogant; pot, kettle, black

2. Avengers movie

3. What you can't say about Islam - the backlash against Elizabeth Moon

4. More rubbish about "shrill" atheists - this time in The Daily Mail

5. Why this was never an atheist blog

6. Interpreting Deuteronomy - with sophisticated theology

7. Some Saturday supervillainy: Zeus vs the Hulk

8. Sunday superstuff - Marvel's first gay wedding: Northstar and Kyle

9. Islam and "Islamophobia" - a little manifesto

10. "The next step is to prohibit religious expression" - really?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday supervillainy - Amazing Spider-Man #700

I don't get creeped out easily, but even I am creeped out by this. Amazing Spider-Man #700 ends with a scene where Dr. Octopus is apparently about to rape Mary Jane Watson. Dr. Octopus has taken possession of Spider-Man's/Peter Parker's body and has access to all his memories. As readers, we know that Peter and Mary Jane still love each other, despite having broken up some time back (there was that whole "deal with the devil Mephisto" story, etc., etc.), and despite all the bad shit they've been through together.

Now, despite (on top of those other "despites") how oddly "Peter" has been acting, Mary Jane seems to be up for getting back to together with him. And Dr. Octopus seems like he wants to take advantage of the situation.

Ugh! Just no. I really hope that this is a fake-out and that Mary Jane is going to be revealed as too smart for what has been set up here and/or that Doc Ock, usually a relatively sympathetic villain, is going to be revealed as not that evil. Even if it does prove to be a fake-out, I'm going to be shaking my head at this development.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Some scattered highlights of 2012

As the year comes to an end, what were some highlights? Well, they would include my trip to the US early in the year, mainly to speak at a CFI convention in Orlando, Florida (but the trip also involved meeting some wonderful people, and visiting some great places for the first time, not least Yale University, The Kennedy Space Centre, and the superb CFI headquarters in Amherst, NY).

I'll also give shout-outs to the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, the national science fiction convention (also in Melbourne), and the splendid evening put on by the Hunter Writers' Centre for the annual Newcastle Poetry Prize.

As to the latter, I've been appointed at least until the HWC's next AGM in May 2013 as chair of its board of directors - a role that I'll perform to the best of my ability, seeing if I can do something positive for a small but effective community organisation. Please check out the HWC's website, and if you are in (or have connections with) the Hunter region maybe think about how you can be supportive in 2013.

Online highlights included a couple of interviews: this science-fiction-oriented one with journalist and horror writer Jason Nahrung; and this much more philosophical one for RationalHub. I was involved in some interesting online debates: the biggest one, over the issue of free will, ranged across this blog, Talking Philosophy, and other forums, including the ABC Religion and Ethics Portal, where I ended up writing this long piece. It's almost a manifesto.

It's been a delight to be involved heavily with Talking Philosophy - I'm sure the place will go from strength to strength next year (there's at least one pleasing announcement to emanate from there fairly soon). I also commenced in 2012 as a regular writer for Free Inquiry, which is another partnership that I'm very happy about.

I'm still editor-in-chief of The Journal of Evolution and Technology - most of JET's activity over the past two years has been devoted to the online publication of a bumper issue on the subject of minds and machines. I'm pleased to say that this is now almost complete. It's been the equivalent of co-editing (with Linda Glenn) a large book. Meanwhile, the fifth anniversary of my tenure in that position at JET is about to come around. Time really does seem to fly!

Dominating my own publications for the year was my latest book, Freedom of Religion and the Secular State (released in January from Wiley-Blackwell), though I also had a long peer-reviewed article published by Ethics and Information Technology, and there were numerous other publications, some of which I've mentioned in earlier paras.

And so we move into 2013. I've been working hard through recent months, and I've been professionally involved with other people who've been working hard. You'll gradually see announcements rolling out, starting soon. Very soon.