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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

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The first two novels of my trilogy, The Talismans, are available as e-books from Smashwords. I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $AU25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

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The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

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Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

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Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

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Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

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Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

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Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
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Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

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Places I've lived: High View, WV

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Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

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Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

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Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

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Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
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Monday, 24 August 2015

Sci-Fi and the Buddha dhamma





Let’s get back to the Global Buddhist Conference, held in Perth over the second weekend in August.  As promised, here is my take on the final panel of Day One.

It was a Lulu of a panel, especially for a conference concerned primarily with matters spiritual! To me, as a writer, it was the dhamma taught by means of science fiction. What is a cyborg?  When does science fiction become science fact? Where does the physical stop and the spiritual start? Where does humanity stop and technology start? Where does imagination stop and reality start? 

As the opening speaker on this panel, Bhante Sujato, reminded us ‘Jedi Knight is just a subset of Buddhism’. The Jedi Knights, of course, are characters in the Star Wars movies, and the concept of Jedi as a religion was probably seized upon first by people who resented the census question on religious preference. The idea took off: at last count, over 60,000 people in Australia chose to state ‘Jedi Knight’ as their religion in the census. Jedi-as-faith took off in other countries, notably Canada and especially New Zealand, where, if census figures are to be believed, it was the second largest religion in 2001! Where does sci fi stop and religion start? It will be interesting to see what the numbers are in next year’s Aussie census!

Can we bring science and wisdom together to create the future? Neil Harbison, a real live cyborg, suggests we can. He was born with vision that only recognises grayscale: he cannot see colours at all. As he explains with a rueful smile, to him, France, Italy and Canada all have the same flag!

A musician as well as an artist, Harbison persuaded a surgeon to set him up with an antenna that would enable him to ‘hear’ colours. The antenna sprouts from within his occipital bone and is now a permanent part of his anatomy. He can now ‘hear’ colours of all kinds, and can compose music just by observing the world around him. Red comes out as the musical note F, blue is heard as C sharp. He can even hear ultraviolet and infrared. And he can ‘listen’ to people’s faces!

The next speaker, Stelarc, is an artist with an interest in science, especially in regard to the human form. He performs with mechanical and electronic devices that through external stimuli program repetitive movements. Having seen Stelarc perform before, I knew what to expect. It is quite eerie. Through movement, he can activate a model of his head, complete with vocals. He looks forward to the day when it will be possible to replace an ailing heart with one that works by the same method and doesn’t even need to beat. Only a man who has had himself strung up by metal hooks though his back and has a cartilage ‘ear’ implanted in his arm could have that kind of imagination.

GuyBen-Ary, Artist-in-residence at the Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts at the University of Western Australia, was the next speaker. Most of what he said was beyond my comprehension, but I understand that he does really strange things such as growing his own cells in a petrie dish then connects it to a synthesiser to create abstract-sounding jazz. Check out his website to learn more.

Damith Herath obtained his Ph.D. in robotics from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Autonomous Systems (CAS) at the University of Technology, Sydney, having earlier completed his BSc Eng (Hons) degree in production engineering from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. He has worked as a researcher, academic and consultant in fields related to Robotics, Automation and Manufacturing (and Robotic Art).

What does intelligence mean in regard to machines? Date and power do not add up to sentience or consciousness, Herath says, and we are a long way off being able to create truly intelligent machines. Perhaps it is actually impossible. But who knows? It has long been realised that SF anticipates science and always has, ever since the days of HG Wells and Jules Verne. In response to a question from the floor on the wisdom or otherwise of taxpayers’ money being spent on the arts, Herath assured us that Intel employs a writer to create sci-fi stories for the company’s engineers to turn into reality.

Overall, this was, to a speculative fiction writer, the most intriguing panel of the conference. It left me wondering, ‘Where does spec-fic stop and the dhamma start?’ 

Next time, I'll write about day two of the Global Buddhist Conference.



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