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Do you speek Geek in the Summer? A Science Fiction Quiz

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Netscape co-founder and now blogger extraordinaire Marc Andreessen took some time from his busy schedule as an entrepreneur with social networking startup Ning to name his favorite up-and-coming science fiction writers . (He also was friendly enough to link to our cheat sheets and write some kind words -- thanks, Marc!) We'll be tracking down these authors at the Cambridge public library soon for some juicy beach reading. In the meantime, test your knowledge of the science fiction writers whose geeky ideas have, in many cases, been turned into reality. While there still aren't any flying cars or consumer jet packs, it's remarkable how far we've come in 2007.

1. The term robot first appeared in a 1920 play, not a novel, called R.U.R.: Rossum's Universal Robots . In the play, the robots eventually overthrow their human creators. Who coined the term "robot?" (Scroll to the end of the definition for the answer.)
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2. What author is generally credited with coining, or at the least popularizing, the term cyberspace ?
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3. This seminal science fiction writer's 3 Law of Robotics have been revived again and again as robots become integrated into real life. Who created the 3 Laws of Robotics ?
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4. Cyberpunk is a sensibility or belief that a few outsiders, armed with their own individuality and technological capability, can fend off the tendencies of traditional institutions to use technology to control society. Where did the term originate?
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5. Second Life was intended by founder Philip Rosedale to closely mirror the "metaverse," a 3D version of the Internet set in the near-future as described in the cyberpunk novel Snow Crash . Who wrote Snow Crash ?
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6. If you know that to "grok" something is to understand something so well that it is fully absorbed into oneself, you may be familiar with the 1961 science fiction classic, Stranger in a Strange Land . Who wrote it?
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7. Ogg Vorbis (sometimes just called Vorbis) is an open source patent-free audio compression format, developed as a replacement for proprietary digital audio encoding formats like MP3 , VQF, and AAC. While "Ogg" comes from the network game Netrek, "Vorbis" derives from a character in a book, Small Gods. Who wrote it? (Hint: He's perhaps better known for the Discworld series .)
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8. This author edited Mirrorshades , an anthology of stories that largely defined the cyberpunk genre, along with authoring books like Holy Fire , Zeitgeist and, most recently, The Zenith Angle . He made headlines in 1995 for challenging a conference of computer artists and the world at large to help identify the extinct species in the new media taxonomy, initiating the Dead Media Project . Who is he?
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9. Fred Saberhagen, one of the giants of 20th Century science fiction, passed away on June 29, 2007. Along with the Swords series, he's best known for the Berserker books. Saberhagen's masterwork describes an ongoing war between humanity and Berserkers, self-replicating probes programmed with one primary objective: Destroy all life. What are the probes more commonly called -- and what acclaimed computer scientist are they named after?
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10. Mathematician and retired professor Vernor Vinge, best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, , wrote an influential 1993 essay entitled "The Coming Technological Singularity." The Singularity now has its own conference and supporters, notably inventor and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil. This much-hypothesized creation depends upon _____ to arrive at smarter-than-human entities which then rapidly accelerate technological progress beyond human comprehension. What technology does development of the Singularity primarily depend upon?
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This was last updated in July 2007
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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