Human Memory More Like Clockwerk Memory Than Previously Thought

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As you may have guessed, given the titles, these articles are not for the faint of heart. Not a subscriber? Luckily, the summaries, available here and here, are free as the wind. Unluckily, they’re even more daunting than you could possibly imagine. Need proof? Here’s an excerpt from one of the summaries:

We show that a dynamic interplay within the macaque frontoparietal network accounts for the rhythmic properties of spatial attention. Neural oscillations characterize functional interactions between the frontal eye fields (FEF) and the lateral intraparietal area (LIP), with theta phase (3–8 Hz) coordinating two rhythmically alternating states.

What the heck was that, right? I’m afraid the problem here is what’s called sesquipedalian prose—that’s an unfortunate side effect of what happens when scientists attempt to talk to each other in public. But we’re going to give them a pass, because where would we be without scientists? We’d be in a world lit by fire, that’s where: Imagine a world without YouTube videos, without iPhones—without steam-powered tarantula cabs! How would people in the Steamwerks burg get to work? Or . . . werk?

Okay, so what’s this sesquipedalian prose, you ask? The prose part is easy—that’s just a fancy way of saying writing. Sesquipedalian is a little harder. It comes from the Latin word sesquipedalis, which means, literally, a foot and a half long. And Latin, in case you’re wondering, is a mostly dead, mostly moldy language that’s still occasionally mined by our friends the scientists for making up new words that are just as difficult to digest as the original Latin, but I digress.

Now, back to those articles. What they’re saying is that human consciousness only focuses on small samples taken from everything we see. For example, if you were looking a big, beautiful garden, full of thousands of plants and petals and leaves, you might notice only the bee over there that just started flying your way.

That’s exactly how Clockwerks view the world! Especially older Clockwerks. After all, the older the Clockwerk, the less complex the BrainBox. That means fewer rpm, less processing power, less memory—less everything, really.

But why take my word for it? Here’s Tiffany Widderchine explaining to Willa Snap how Clockwerks reduce the need for massive memory storage by sampling only a portion of what they see. I’ll spare you Tiffany’s reversed DLP projector analogy by starting right after Willa gets it:

“Einstein’s hair! I see it! But wouldn’t recording all those bits of light need tons of memory? I thought Clockwerks didn’t have much in the way of storage.”
“That’s true, a Clockwerk’s eyes do generate a lot of information, but the Clockwerk doesn’t have to save all of it to see where it’s going or remember where it’s been. And when it does decide to save something, it only needs to take a little snapshot. Think about it. We’re not all that different. Nobody remembers EVERYTHING they see.”

And there you have it, right from the heir apparent to the great Thiphania Widderchine, who, as everyone who’s anyone knows, was born in 1161 CE and abducted in 1203 by the Black Fez for building a highly dangerous thinking barn. Safely stowed in Grandeur, Thiphania built the very first sentient compact BrainBox, powered by her son’s #3 mainspring and housed in Torsicus Widderchine, one of the first bipedal sentient Clockwerks with free will.

Midwest Book Review

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The folks at MBR released a review of Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy today! We’re really excited to post it here!

Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy pairs lovely illustrations by Carolyn Arcabascio with the first book in a satisfyingly original, compelling series for ages 9-12, introducing Willamina Gilbert Snap, an eleven-year-old who discovers there’s a force keeping the world from destruction – and that force is comprised of Idiots.

She should know: she’s apparently one herself, and her destiny is to never see home again – among other things.

Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy represents Willa’s “first highly illegal memoir” and details her venture into Grandeur, a city of time-traveling dragons, talkative cats, and scientific discoveries unknown to Outside.

There’s a lot to relish about Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy; not the least of which is an approach that offers much food for thought about the structure of Willa’s world and the science and psychology behind it: “The problem is that geniuses – both capital G and small g – either think you understand everything they’ve said as perfectly as they do, or that you’re as dumb as dirt. It’s one of their biggest flaws.”

From the baristas’ strange brewed creatures (“a hermit crab the size of a basketball, a foxlike cashier wearing a hat and vest, and a small winged dragon perched in a cage, preening its bright green feathers“) to devices that rent unused brain space, Willa sweeps readers along. Sentient Clockwerks, a cat-run curiosity shop, and steam-powered rhino cabs coexist in a setting the author describes as “polypunk.”

It’s unusual to see such sci-fi depth and detail in a title directed to young adults, but this is precisely what makes Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy such an appealing production: the characterization is solid while its fantastic setting will intrigue ages well beyond its intended 9-12-year-old audience.

Time vortexes, ghosts, and the costs of navigating this odd world make for a complex but thoroughly engrossing story recommended for young sci-fi and fantasy fans who hold a prior attraction to books such as John Bellairs’ House with a Clock in its Walls.  From its engaging drawings to its powerful message, Idiot Genius will leave readers musing about Willa Snap’s adventures long after the winding story concludes. It is highly recommended for young adults seeking something compellingly different in tone, approach, and perspective.

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Jaja Toosk

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This is Jaja Toosk, bio-engineered pigmy elefantkin and short order cook at the Jolly Rajah Man-o’-War o’ Pancakes. (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner; open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy, by Richard Due, illustrated by Carolyn Arcabascio. Coming Dec 2017.

Professor Farsical

Farsical

Professor Farsical

Standing in the hallway was a man enveloped in steam. I say man, but honestly, that was up for debate. His leather coat seemed normal enough, but the cloak draped over his shoulders was studded with small steam pipes puffing away at regular intervals. WAS THIS GUY STEAM POWERED? In one hand he gripped a brass-topped cane, in the other, a clipboard covered with gears. Perched on his head was a top hat mounted with aviator goggles. A monocle—a monocle!—adorned his left eye. He must have had a good twenty pounds of brass gadgets strapped to him. And I couldn’t have told you what a single one of them did.

Excerpt from Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy, by Richard Due. Illustrations by Carolyn Arcabascio. (Coming Dec 2017.)

 

The Blasted Dragon

BlastedDragon

 

Excerpt from Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy. (Coming Fall 2017.)

We emerged into a hazy courtyard. The Blasted Dragon’s stone exterior looked like two immense dragons curving around face to face, their outstretched wings forming a high-pitched roof. A row of blasted steps between their smoking snouts appeared to be the only way in or out. A rumbling shook the cab.
“What’s that?” asked Nimet nervously.
Bertie glanced uneasily at the top of the steps.
“Wait for it,” he said grimly.
A few seconds later, the dragons’ mouths erupted into a fiery red blaze, completely engulfing each other’s heads.
Nimet let out a little shriek.
I turned to Bertie. “That’s fake, right?”
“Yeah . . . never really had the nerve to check that out.”

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Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy, by Richard Due, illustrated by Carolyn Arcabascio.