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Marc Stiegler (born 1 August 1954 ) is a science fiction author and software developer. He co-authored Valentina: Soul in Sapphire with Joseph H. Delaney. The computer program, Valentina, was one of science fiction's earliest examples of sentient computer software, completely unlike mainframe AI's such as HAL and Colossus.
Stiegler also wrote the short story, "The Gentle Seduction" based on Vinge's ideas about a technological "singularity," the exponential growth of future technology that will drastically affect the human condition. The story's characters are augmented with molecular nanotechnology. The 'seducer' is the technology itself, and perhaps the programmers of the technology. He realized the majority of mankind is more willing to swallow a pill that fixes one's back (this happens in the story) than take a pill that installs a computer in one's forehead (also from the story). He also realized that many humans do not have the mental fortitude to survive the Technological singularity. The heroine of "The Gentle Seduction" is a normal woman whose very elemental connection with her own identity is key in soothing humanity's jarring experience of finally meeting an alien mind.
Stiegler's software development career partly parallels his science fiction. His non-fiction work, "Hypermedia and the Singularity" predates the development of the Web and predicts that hypertext will play a key role in accelerating the evolution of knowledge. Shortly after writing this article, he took over development of Project Xanadu, the hypertext system envisioned by Ted Nelson. Later software development efforts included the development of DecideRight (1995) which won the Software Publishing Association's CODIE Award for Best New Business Software. In the late 1990s his attention turned to computer security, then writing the web page Introduction to Capability Based Security that became the top Google hit for capability-based security. Later he wrote the online book E in a Walnut about the programming language E, specifically designed for developing secure distributed systems. He also developed CapDesk, a capability-based desktop resistant to cyberattack, and invented the principles underlying Polaris, an overlay for the Windows operating system that secures the system against several important kinds of computer viruses and trojan horses. His sf book EarthWeb takes place in a future where computers have been secured from attack, the Web has evolved to largely supplant government as the underpinning fabric of human civilization, and idea futures are used to make decisions about important future events.
- Valentina: Soul in Sapphire (1984) (with Joseph H. Delaney) ISBN 0-671-55916-8
- Programming Languages: Featuring the IBM PC and Compatibles (1985) (with Bob Hanson)
- David's Sling (1987) ISBN 0-671-65369-5
- Earthweb (1998) ISBN 0-671-57809-X
- The Gentle Seduction (1990) ISBN 0-671-69887-7
- "Masters of the Mortal God" (1990)
- "Too Loving a Touch" (1982)
- "Petals of Rose" (1981)
- "The Bully and the Crazy Boy" (1980)
- "Evolution of Entropic Error in Closed Conservative Systems" (1982) non-fiction article
- "A Simple Case of Suicide" (1983)
- "The Gentle Seduction" (1989)
- "Hypermedia and the Singularity" (1989) non-fiction article
Anthologies containing stories by Marc Stiegler
- Nanodreams (1995)
The following three stories comprise the novel Valentina: Soul in Sapphire:
- "Valentina" (1984) (with Joseph H Delaney) Hugo nominee
- "The Crystal Ball" (1984) (with Joseph H Delaney)
- "The Light in the Looking Glass" (1984) (with Joseph H Delaney)
- Hugo Award Best Novella nominee (1985): Valentina
- Prometheus Award Best Novel nominee (1988): David's Sling
- Marc Stiegler's website, with a selection of his fiction and non-fiction writings.
- Marc Stiegler bibliography at the Locus Index to Science Fiction
- Marc Stiegler at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database