Re: Host - an extropian novel

Russell Whitaker (
Fri, 23 Aug 1996 15:02:09 -0700

On Aug 22, 10:43pm, Max More wrote this (quoted with ">"):
> Subject: Host - an extropian novel
> Actually I'm not sure it's an extropian novel yet, since I've only read a
> quarter way through. But it certainly presents cryonics and uploading ideas
> very accurately and sympathetically. The author, Peter James, obviously did
> considerable research, consulting with the Alcor Foundation, and most of you
> will recognize several names among the acknowledgments, including - on this
> list - Marvin Minsky (if he's still reading the list) and Russell Whitaker.

I was _wondering_ when this book would make it to the American market!
I proofread and commented on a section of the draft involving cryonics.

> I can't help like a book with the following paragraph. The context: Our
> hero, uploading researcher, brilliant scientist Prof. Joe Messenger, has
> returned to his lab in England from Los Angeles, and is opening his
> accumulated mail:

A little personal background on this:

Peter James contacted me about 4 years ago on this, when I was living
in London, as I had some (limited) previous experience on Alcor's
suspension and transport teams. He expressed that he would be visiting
Alcor's U.S. facilities, which at that time were still in Riverside,
California. After long conversation, I came to the conclusion that
Peter was sincere about the depth of his research.

I was not disappointed in my supposition. The many manuscript pages
on which I commented dealt well with their subject matter, especially
given the (somewhat thinly veiled) transition to fiction.

I had the pleasure of discussing this further over a Christmas dinner
held by Alcor UK principal Alan Sinlcair, at his seaside Eastbourne hotel,
at which Peter was present. A genuinely nice guy, with an active mind.

> "He cheered a little as he came across one that bore the frank of one of his
> publishers, and might contain reviews of his most recent book, The Computer
> That Loved Ben-Hur. He slit open the envelope and was pleased to see a group
> of clippings: an interview he'd done with the Guardian; a review in New
> Scientist; a more lengthy review in The Sunday Times, which he scanned and
> was reasonably happy with, even though the reviewer appeared to have totally
> missed the fundamental point of the book. And there was what looked like a
> rave write-up in a small California magazine he much admired, called
> Extropy, which pleased him more than anything."

Peter had enjoyed *Extropy*, and had told me he would be writing a
mention of it into the novel. Now I really _must_ lay my hands on a copy,
as I haven't read the entire work, just the cryonics-related sections.

By the way, as I didn't have Peter's email address, I did an
Alta Vista search on keywords '+"Peter James" book +Host' and got this
interesting link as hit #1:

'Host', by Peter James - The Electronic Book

According to that page, the U.S. paper version appeared December 1995.

An excerpt from that URL:

"The electronic version of Host allows the reader to call up
cross references which include the author's research notes, audio and
video clips, photographs, illustrations and definitions of
scientific terms. The text is therefore just part of a much wider
software package.

Electronic Host includes:

The full text of the novel
Hot-key words which bring up all the back-up research conducted
by the author in writing the novel
A quicktime video of Peter James introducing the novel
An audio epilogue featuring Peter James explaining developments
since the novel. "

Very interesting! Of course, it's not a _web_ version, but rather,
strangely, a HyperCard version. I hope to see a full-blown version
for the WWW sometime, in similar fashion to:

"Engines of Creation", K. Eric Drexler, full text:

I'm copying this to Peter, whose address seems to be '',
from what I can gather from my Alta Vista search.

Some other web resources apropos to this, mostly reviews and/or announcements:

An excerpt from the book:

A pic of Peter, with bibliography:

I don't know if this is up-to-date, but an excerpt from :

"Host, a two-part mini-series in development at ABC to be directed and
produced by Garris. Based on the novel by Peter James, the screenplay is
Preston Sturges. Frank Von Zerneck and Robert Sertner also produce."

Yow! The first I've heard of _this_! I'm copying Peter - presuming
I have his correct email address, to see what's up here.

Peter: hi there! I'm copying you on a discussion thread started by
Max More ( on the (now public) Extropians mailing
list, Please feel free to join us by dropping
a note to



> Host, by Peter James
> (1993 Victor Gollancz, Great Britain, 1995 Villard, Random House, USA) 469
> pages. 0-679-43733-9
> Upward and Outward!
> Max
> Max More, Ph.D.
> President: Extropy Institute (ExI)
> Editor: Extropy
> 310-398-0375
>-- End of quoted excerpt from Max More

"Here the ways of men part:  if you wish to strive for peace of
 soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee
 to truth, then inquire..."  - Nietzsche

Russell Earl Whitaker Webmaster, Silicon Junction Silicon Graphics, Inc. Mountain View, CA ===============================================================