A friend died yesterday.
In many ways he was an alien, but equally, he was also very human. And he was a good friend.
I’m speaking of Tyson, our cat and companion of sixteen years. He came into our lives at the beginning of the journey of my wife and I, and now that he’s gone it feels like we’ve entered an alternate future.
We met him a few weeks after he was born. Runt of the litter, he was blind for many weeks longer than most kittens and had been left to fend for himself on the streets of Israel by his mother. He survived because he was being fed by a friend who worked at the same university campus as us. He joined our family when she asked us to watch him for a few weeks while she visited family abroad and we fell in love with him, adopting him with her blessing upon her return.
It was in this period he earned his first nickname, SpiderCat, for his love of climbing up the backs of sofa chairs… and me. And he earned his name ‘Tyson’ when he developed a taste for nibbling ear lobes. And I’ll always remember his attempts to wake me in the mornings by climbing along my chest and swatting me, with a soft paw, in on the cheek. If I didn’t get up fast enough, he continued swatting.
For a cat he’s had an amazing life, living in three different countries and a half dozen different cities and houses. Through it all he always valued his independence and we gave it to him as much as possible. And no matter where he roamed, he always returned to us.
Sadly, last year something happened while we were on vacation, and we’re still unsure what. But it resulted in a lot of leg pain and a slow deterioration with eventual blindness. We did all we could over the next ten months to make him feel happy, comfortable and loved while we tried to figure out how we could medically help him. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful and he went fully blind several months ago and his leg pain became worse.
During the period, he went through several cycles of improvement followed by worsening, until a few weeks ago he stopped eating or drinking. In the last few days, during the periods he was able to walk well, he began trying to climb up walls and onto ledges, and ended up hurtinghimself even worse when he fell badly or had items fall on top of him. His only peace was when he was sleeping. At that point we all knew that the only option was for the eternal sleep. In reality, despite a year of preparation for us, Tyson appeared more ready than we were and was serene on the trip to the vet.
We buried him last night, in the garden, and we can see his grave outside the kitchen window. It was a very emotional event where we each said our ‘goodbyes’ and thanked Tyson for blessing our lives with his company.
And now, we have to move on. And it all feels different.
While we always knew we’d outlive Tyson, we were not really ready for the finality of such an ending. In a very real sense, we are now living in an alternate future. One without Tyson. One we had thought, hoped, would not come for several more years.
Our friend is gone and, while we fully believe it was the best for him, this alternate future we find ourselves in seems emptier than we had expected. A sad reminder that we never know which twists and turns our path through time will take, so we should value those we meet along our journey as much as possible.
I was glad that I had the opportunity to spend the last morning with him and, more than that, glad that he entered our lives. It’s never easy to say ‘goodbye’, especially the final one.
R.I.P. Tyson (2002 – 2018).
You were a wonderful companion and I’m richer for having known you.
Edwin H Rydberg
Another Eastercon has come and gone. Ironically, this one, Follycon 2018, seemed less of a capital ‘e’ event for me because it was in Harrogate, only a 40 minute walk from home. That meant a much lower financial and time investment this year, for which I was grateful in a year of watching both costs. Nevertheless, it was interesting and notable for a few reasons.
The international guest speakers Kim Stanely Robinson and Nnedi Okorafor were both very interesting and inspirational. I attended both their main solo events, and their readings and wasn’t disappointed at any of the four sessions. I was also excited to hear several other well-respected authors, such as Paul McAuley, Michael Cobley, Fiona Moore, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Gareth L. Powell, Juliet McKenna, and Justina Robson on panel discussions ranging from Future Cities, The AIs are Coming, and Negotiating the Otherworldly, to Genre Economics and Fundraising Your Project.
Notable in its absence this year was the writers workshop usually hosted by the London genre writing group T-Party, which was replaced by instructional literary critique sessions.
A few interesting discoveries I made this Eastercon were The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt Podcast and Handbook, which I’m looking forward to listening to. I also discovered an interesting space program called Lunar Mission One with the aim of sampling the soil of the lunar south pole — and burying there a capsule of stories from as many cultures as they can. You can get involved in a local chapter by checking on their website. Finally, although I’ve known of a science fiction group in Sheffield for a while, I didn’t know they were as large and organized as I recently discovered. I will be contacting the Sheffield Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Group soon for a variety of things and hopefully I can build a mutually beneficial bridge with them.
As for upcoming conferences, I learned the 2019 Worldcon is in Dublin, so I’ll be making a large effort to attend that, as well as the next Eastercon (Ytterbium) in London (adult membership until the end of this month is £60 for the weekend, after that it increases incrementally to a max of £90).
An interesting social experiment that was performed this year were the gender neutral toilets. In the main lobby, the Majestic hotel has men’s and woman’s toilets side by side, and distinguishable due to the presence or absence of urinals (and consequently, the number of stalls). The convention organizers labelled these gender neutral and, for the first couple days people entering each were quite mixed (I used the one with more stalls, as I don’t usually like urinals). Interestingly, by the final day, the washroom users had essentially self-segregated back along traditional gender lines with men using the urinal washroom, and women the non-urinal washroom.
Finally, this Eastercon was memorable for me because it was the first one my young’un was old enough to attend. She enjoyed it immensely, focusing, of course, on the children’s events such as an improve acting session, the Easter egg hunt, and the games and dealers rooms. She also made a few new friends her age from around England.
Overall, for me this was a low-key event that ended up being enjoyable, although different, from the usual Eastercons I’ve attended.
Checking in from Follycon (Eastercon 2018: Harrogate). The first day was, as always, slow, but not dull. Registration, getting the lay of the land, checking out what’s on in the Art Show and Dealers’ Room (shout out to York’s own Stairwell Books).
After the opening ceremonies, I saw two interesting panel discussions. The first, moderated by an architectural design tutor from Newcastle University, was on The Future of Cities and gave a lot of food for thought regarding my novel No More Tomorrows. A highlight was seeing two well-known authors Paul McAuley and Kim Stanley Robinson. The second was on near future AI. The panel largely agreed this meant no artificial general intelligence, but was largely restricted to expert learning systems, advanced heuristics, etc. that they felt would be feasible in the next 10-20 years. This was an often heated discussion dominated by the debate between the three female panelists with saw Lilian Edwards (IT lawyer) set against Fiona Moore (business professor and SF author) and Renee Sieber (professor of geography) who often talked through the moderator, while the male authors sat quietly and watched. Regardless, many good points were raised and, if I hadn’t already known, it would be clear that this was a topic that could easily spawn conventions of it’s own (and has).
Looking forward to another interesting session tomorrow, with the young one in tow for part of the day.
Insight and longevity.
Just before Christmas I was interviewed by Promoting Yorkshire Authors member Dan Crow for his Yorkshire Writer podcast. Dan is a wonderful interviewer, relaxed and insightful and we had a great (and long!) conversation about many things. We covered subjects from travel, writing, and the books I’m working on this year to artificial intelligence, multiverse theory, and the surprise writers sometimes experience when they discover the themes of their own writing.
The interview will be posted in several parts. The first two segments have recently been posted and involve a discussion about the themes in my artwork and writing. To aid understanding of the discussion, I’ve posted low-res version of the art below. You can listen to this segment HERE. In addition, some excerpts from the rest of the interview have been posted on the Promoting Yorkshire Authors YouTube channel (Yorkshire Author Promotions).
And now, here are the accompanying images in order discussed.
Hello and welcome. I’m Edwin H Rydberg, author of Echoes of the Past, first episode of the Altered Destiny series and, coming soon, a number of novels in the Gateway to Eternity saga. I also write children’s books and I have a non-fiction series in the works. In addition, I run writing and coding workshops at my local library and primary schools.
I primarily write science fiction and my writing explores the relationship between humanity and technology and how each influences the other. It’s often been said that science fiction is stories of now, extrapolated into the future, and I believe this is very true. My stories tend to explore ideas and aspects of human natural in futuristic settings because I love the wonders of technology and imagining what might be achieved with them. However, I’m also aware of the horrors that can be wrought by the misuse of technology, which is why I also include a healthy dose of warnings.
This blog will include samples of my writing, reviews of science fiction stories, comments on scientific and technological developments and my thoughts on how technology has and will influence society. All of these are my own opinions, which are ever evolving. For that reason, I hope this blog will become a discussion with you the readers, rather than a lecture or a wiki. If you’re interested in learning more about me and my writing, please check out the ABOUT page. And if you want to stay up to date on my writing, opinions, and the tech of our times, please join my e-mail list.
I hope you will come with me in an exploration of the undiscovered country as we move Into The Future.
Edwin H Rydberg