CAIRO--We're back, away from the fire zone of the eastern side of the Sinai peninsula. Some heavy security checks yesterday on the way here. We took a mini-bus from Dahab, a ride that should have taken 5.5 hours, but which actually took around 8 (the main checkpoint was a 45 minute delay). Obviously these are minor irritations given the misery inflicted upon innocent people in Sharm el-Sheikh (most of whom were Egyptians, if what I'm told is correct), but I wanted to keep friends and family informed.
Cairo's big, man. Something like 15 million people here. Makes NYC seem like an also-ran. We're staying in the refurbished seventh floor of a downtown office building that is now a hostel, overlooking Midan Tahrir (Liberation Square--more like a plaza or traffic circle) and the Egyptian Museum. Today my wife and I are going to see the Great Pyramids of Giza, our final ancient monuments destination (and, arguably, the greatest ancient monuments anywhere in the known universe).
Just finished Robert J. Sawyer's book Hominids, positing a quantum-alternate Earth in which Neanderthals, not humans, ascended to civilisation and escaped extinction. Raises some intruiging questions about human development, violence, quantum physics and what is actually knowable from paleoanthropology. I met Sawyer at Seattle's Norwescon in March; he's an extremely nice fellow and certainly one of Canada's (and SF's) most successful authors, ever. It's always intriguing to read a fella's work after you've met him--you tend to reevaluate conversation and personality in light of the world-view and ethics he's espoused in his work. By all means, check out Rob Sawyer's excellent website, full of fascinating discussion and helpful advice for writers.