#sciencefiction Feed

Hunt: Galadriel, Gimli, & Feanor—Noted

The Kinda Socially Isolated Ghost of Henry Hunt: 'This, and Galadriel dropping a burn so sick Feanor https://twitter.com/EvanCooney0717/status/1290728350504423435 had to go lie down for another thousand years in the Halls of Mandos, are two moments that are SO much better with full context...

...Capn' Case: Wait what? I forget that part of the tome lad can ye refresh me?

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Cooney: Lore Context & Gandalf v. Balrog—Noted

Evan Cooney: 'I was asked to do a thread https://twitter.com/EvanCooney0717/status/1290728350504423435 on why “lore context” for Gandalf’s fight with the Balrog in the Lord of the Rings is so important and makes the scene much more intense and powerful than first impression. So here we go...

...Let’s focus on what is said. To keep this post relatable, I’ll stick with the lines from the Peter Jackson movies instead of getting too deep with the books, also Jackson does the scene justice IMO: “I am a servant of the secret fire” is a reference to the secret fire of Illuvatar, the monotheistic god of the Tolkien universe. The secret fire refers to his power to give life. Here, Gandalf reveals and identifies himself as not an old decrepit wizard, but one of the Maia.

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DuBois: The Comet—Noted

Worth reading. What we call “Lovecraftian” but in a profoundly anti-Lovecraftian way: the real horror comes not from alien species, or the dead uncaring stars, or death from the comet, but from white men—northern white men—doing what white men naturally did… do:

W.E.B. DuBois: The Comet http://www.gutenberg.org/files/15210/15210-h/15210-h.htm#Chapter_X: ‘He stood a moment on the steps of the bank, watching the human river that swirled down Broadway. Few noticed him. Few ever noticed him save in a way that stung. He was outside the world—"nothing!" as he said bitterly. Bits of the words of the walkers came to him. "The comet?" "The comet—" Everybody was talking of it. Even the president, as he entered, smiled patronizingly at him, and asked: "Well, Jim, are you scared?" "No," said the messenger shortly...

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Martha Wells Is Having too Much Fun Here...

Highly recommended. Martha Wells appears to have had an illegally large amount of fun writing this novel. Here a newly-created instantiation of Murderbot sets out on what is supposed to be a suicide mission: Martha Wells: Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel https://books.google.com/books?id=sBK_yAEACAAJ&dq=isbn:1250229863: 'I initiated a connection and put a freeze on the SecUnit’s governor module so nothing I did would accidentally trigger it. I could tell I had the Unit’s attention, that it knew somebody had initiated contact. I sent it an old company identifier.... After four long seconds, it replied: "System Unit Acknowledge: Identify?"... I said, "I’m a rogue SecUnit, working with the armed transport who is pursuing this ship with the intention of retrieving endangered clients. I am currently present as killware inside the explorer’s SecSystem." It didn’t reply. I can tell you as a SecUnit that under these circumstances this is just about the last thing you expect to hear. Also, SecUnits normally aren’t allowed to communicate with each other so it would be reluctant to drop protocol. I said, "There’s no protocol for any of this. Just talk to me". There was another three second pause. "I don’t know what to say". That was encouraging. (I’m actually not being sarcastic here—the last time I’d tried to talk a SecUnit into helping me, it had just gotten more determined to kill me. But it had been a CombatUnit and they’re a--holes.) I said, "Three of my clients are inside the compartment nearest you. Have you seen these others?"... #books #highlyrecommended #sciencefiction #2020-07-16

Holbo: TransPrincess of Mars—Noted

John Holbo: _ 'I'm retooling my science fiction and philosophy syllabus_ https://twitter.com/jholbo1/status/1279623923613614080 and looking for fun examples of classic sf short stories, preferably by 'major' writers (but I'm flexible), that are gender-themed but weirdly boldly-go yet not-go-there about it. Examples are easy to come by. It's harder to find non-examples. Namely, interesting SF that is about gender yet doesn't boldly re-imagine it. (Why would you bother?) But, equally, most classic SF now seems almost comically conventional about gender roles, in retrospect. I'm going to start in 1915, with "Herland" and "Princess of Mars". A feminist utopia. A nostalgic tale of a Confederate former officer, living his best life on Mars. Dejah Thoris is an egg-laying alien. Of course, she's also one hot chick. If it's ok for a dude to have sex with an egg-laying alien, it's a bit hard to see why certain other stuff wouldn't also be ok. Obviously Edgar Rice Burroughs doesn't go there. (That's not the nostalgic fantasy here.)...

So you are saying that APoM is a bold statement that the essence of identity as a woman transcends biological reproductive organs? HeliumWomen are women?

John Holbo: 'You have certainly guessed my riddle! But I hadn't worked out the slogan yet. "HeliumWomen are women!" That is awesome! But, yeah: you frame it one way and 'sex organs don't matter', only gender roles matter, seems like the natural conservative default…

.#noted #sciencefiction #2020-07-05

Martha Wells Is Having too Much Fun Here...

Highly recommended. Martha Wells appears to have had an illegally large amount of fun writing this novel. Here a newly-created instantiation of Murderbot sets out on what is supposed to be a suicide mission. Murderbot's first person POV:

Martha Wells: Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel https://books.google.com/books?id=sBK_yAEACAAJ&dq=isbn:1250229863: 'Obviously some things had happened since [the] A[--hole ]R[esearch ]T[ransport] had... cop[ied the old me to create me]...

...And ART was right, it couldn’t risk a comm contact, even to get intel. If the Targets managed to deliver the threat to kill ART’s crew, it would put them in control of the situation and we had to avoid that any way we could.

I said, "I’m not actually a human baby, ART, I remember the f---ing directive—I helped write it".

"You’re not making this any easier", ART said.

"You can either have an existential crisis or get your crew back, ART, pick one".

ART said, "Prepare for deployment..."

#books #highlyrecommended #noted #sciencefiction #2020-05-12

Jo Walton (2004): The Dyer of Lorbanery (Spearpoint Theory) http://www.jowaltonbooks.com/23rd-february-2004-the-dyer-of-lorbanery-spearpoint-theory/: ‘There comes a point in writing, and it’s a spear-point, it’s very small and sharp but because it’s backed by the length and weight of a whole spear and a whole strong person pushing it, it’s a point that goes in a long way. Spearpoints need all that behind them, or they don’t pack their punch in the same way. Examples are difficult to give because spear-points by their nature require their context, and spoilers. They tend to be moments of poignancy and realization. When Duncan picks the branches when passing through trees, he’s just getting a disguise, but we the audience suddenly understand how Birnam Wood shall come to Dunsinane.... You certainly need to do a lot of set-up, carefully, towards what you want to do later, and the reason for that is so that when you actually get to doing it, it can stand alone at that point, be that point, because the spear needs to be behind it, and a spear-point supported right there with scaffolding doesn’t have any impact at all. It needs to be moving when it hits you, and it needs to have the spear already there, whether you and the reader built the spear together along the course of the book or whether the reader came into the room with it. And if you’re building the spear, you have to come by it honestly, even though you’re doing set-up, it all has to fit with what’s there it all has to work in its own context or you won’t end up with anything but a pile of splinters. And sometimes you don’t have room and it isn’t going to be fully there until afterwards, and I think it’s better to suck that up and trust the reader to think, to come back and re-read, to get the impact then, than to try to hammer the spear-point in when there hasn’t been time to build the spear…

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Walter Jon Williams: Charging A Brick Wall http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/williams_interview_2020/: Arley Sorg: 'What can you tell us about your recent novels—the Quillifer books and the Praxis books—what is special about them to you, and what do you really want readers to know about them?' WJW: 'At some point in the Nineties, my books started to grow in scope and got longer and longer. Eventually I wised up and split the huge stories into multiple volumes, which allowed me as much scope as I wanted, and also to be paid multiple times. Win/win! I’ve only recently realized that I’ve had a single project over the last twenty years, which is to examine the artifacts and tropes of genre, take them apart, and reassemble them in ways that make sense to me. It’s a very science fiction thing to do....

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Science fiction and fantasy publisher Baen Books is publishing some truly totally weird batshit these days. Far beyond Fox News totally weird batshit. Perhaps the weirdest:

Perhaps the most outrageous, and certainly most damaging for our civilization is the campaign of “women’s liberation,” male-bashing, "role-reversal,” or whatever you care to call it. Again, as most of these epidemics are at the beginning, it seems to be far more vicious in America and Britain than in the rest of Europe. Yet, all the signs are in evidence that the infection is rapidly spreading, particularly through the electronic media, invaded as it is by the images of glamorous, bright, articulate, hyper-energetic and.super-successful women executives...

Just what is the grift here? Who is the target audience for this? How dumb do the editors think the people who buy their books are?

Just saying:

Vladimir Bukovsky (1992): Judgment in Moscow: "Epilogue.... There are much more far-reaching consequences of the West’s failure to win the Cold War.... From the collapse of the world order to the bankrupcy of welfare state, and from the crisis of representative democracy, abused and besieged by power-hungry 'minorities', to degeneration of our cultural life-these all are direct results of the collectivist egalitarian dream which reigned supreme since French Revolution.... The case of Bosnia is probably the most illustrative.... God only knows why did they decide, in their wisdom, to make an independent state governed by a Muslim minority (43.6% by the 1991 census) out of a Yugoslav province.... Serbs, constituting“ the largest "minority" (31.2%) particularly objected to any attempts at separating them from Serbia proper.... The Serbs in Bosnia have suddenly woke up one nice morning in an “independent" Muslim-governed state. Small wonder they have taken to arms.... The ensuing civil war, barbaric as it usually is between peasants fighting for their land, has been cleverly termed the "ethnic cleansing.” Ethnic? Since when did "Muslim" become an ethnicity?... Most of the main culprits in Yugoslavia-the leaders of "ethnic communities"-have routinely committed similar crimes for the past few decades in.their former capacity as the communist bosses. But, no, no one is going to judge them for those crimes. And if they continued to murder capitalists and kulaks, priests and "reactionaries,” no one would have dared to condemn them. Our moral indignation must be reserved only for the mythical "ethnic cleansing”...

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Genetic counsellor Claude Mordan, an early Heinlein character, waxes enthusiastic about the real point of an armed society—ot improve the breed by killing off the unalert, the weak, the stupid, those who are not quick with their hands, and those who are not quick with their wits, and so improve the breed.

Note that early Heinlein's authorial stand-in Hamilton Felix does not think much of this argument:

Robert A. Heinlein (1948): Beyond This Horizon https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1625793146: "'An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. For me, politeness is a sine qua non of civilization. That’s a personal evaluation only. But gun-fighting has a strong biological use. We do not have enough things that kill off the weak and the stupid these days. But to stay alive as an armed citizen a man has to be either quick with his wits or with his hands, preferably both. It’s a good thing...

...“Maybe so,” Felix answered slowly, “but it does seem like there ought to be a better way to do it. This way is pretty sloppy. Sometimes the bystanders get burned.”

“The alert ones don’t,” Mordan pointed out...

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Mary Robinette Kowal (2014): Me, as a Useful Representative Example: "Some people said some not nice things about me in a public space, and the story has been picked up as an example of sexism in part because one of the people saying those things works for my publisher. Silvia Moreno-Garcia has done a good analysis of the sexism in what’s going on, so I’m not going to rehash that. Instead I’m going to talk about how this affects me.... My impulse is to tell you all that I’m fine and that this has no material affect on my life. And that is true. But I also know that I am a useful representative sample of the abuse that happens to other women. I know that there are a ton of women who have received similar messages.... Sexism happens all the time. It’s visible in SFWA because people are actively fighting against it. Too many places, too many women, get this sort of unwelcome attention and commentary about what they were wearing but no one does anything. It’s always, 'Laugh about it' or 'Just shrug it off', or 'Ignore it and he’ll go away'. You see how well that last is working? So, I really, truly am fine. But watch what happens to me now that I’m posting. Read the comments when they happen. Note the people who say that because I’m talking about the abuse, I must be begging for attention. Take me as a useful representative example. And know that I am not an isolated case...

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Alexis Lothian: Alice Sheldon and the Name of the Tiptree Award: "In recent days, we’ve seen questions raised on social media about whether the name of the Tiptree Award should be reconsidered.... The questions relate to Alice Sheldon’s actions at the end of her life. On May 19, 1987, she shot first her husband, Huntington Sheldon, and then herself.... The Motherboard does not believe that a change to the name of the Tiptree Award is warranted now. But we believe that this is a very important discussion, and we do not think it is over. The community that has grown up around this award since its founding in 1991 deserves to have its voice heard in any conversation as significant as renaming.... Alice Sheldon... the story of how she and her husband, Huntington Sheldon (known as Ting), died. Friends and family—and the science fiction community at the time—viewed this tragedy as resulting from a suicide pact: the desperate and tragic result of a combination of physical and mental illness and the Sheldons’ desire to die on their own terms. He was 84 years old; she was 71. However... the story can also be seen as an act of caregiver murder.... Ting’s friends and family understood his death and Alice’s as the fulfilment of an agreement between the two of them.... Phillips writes: 'Ting didn’t leave a statement, but all Ting’s friends that I talked to plus his son Peter were unanimous that it was a pact, and that Ting’s health was failing'...

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Weekend Reading: Neofascism as a Publishing Niche

Weekend Reading: Science-fiction publisher Been Books goes all-in with the neofascism: Vladimir Bukovsky https://www.vladimirbukovsky.com/judgment-epilogue: Practically every country of the industrialized world has either bankrupted itself... or will be bankrupt.... And yet, poverty, crime, illiteracy, lack of medical care have not diminished; in some countries they have actually grew in a direct proportion to the growth of welfare. Worse still, there is a welfare-dependent underclass growing almost in every large city, with many families drawing some kind of state benefits for three generations.... This dangerous development is deliberately encouraged by those who need such a constituency in order to stay in power...

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Roger Zelazny: For a Breath I Tarry...: Weekend Reading

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They called him Frost. Of all things created of Solcom, Frost was the finest, the mightiest, the most difficult to understand.

This is why he bore a name, and why he was given dominion over half the Earth.

On the day of Frost's creation, Solcom had suffered a discontinuity of complementary functions, best described as madness. This was brought on by an unprecedented solar flareup which lasted for a little over thirty-six hours. It occurred during a vital phase of circuit-structuring, and when it was finished so was Frost.

Solcom was then in the unique position of having created a unique being during a period of temporary amnesia.

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Into the Abyss: James David Nicoll on Heinlein's "Starship Troopers": Weekend Reading

Starship Troopers Reboot in the Works Exclusive Hollywood Reporter

Weekend Reading: James David Nicoll: Into the Abyss: "In the spirit of Social Credit leader Camil Samson’s wonderful phrase, 'Ladies and gentlemen, the Union Nationale has brought you to the edge of the abyss. With Social Credit, you will take one step forward', follow me over the edge and into the abyss that is Heinlein’s post-Scribners work. Scribners rejected 1959’s Starship Troopers, marking the end of what had been a fruitful relationship between the touchy Heinlein and that particular publisher...

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Adam-Troy Castro: Young People Read Old SFF: "Nobody discovers a lifelong love of science fiction through Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein anymore, and directing newbies toward the work of those masters is a destructive thing, because the spark won't happen. You might as well advise them to seek out Cordwainer Smith or Alan E. Nourse—fine tertiary avenues of investigation, even now, but not anything that's going to set anybody's heart afire, not from the standing start. Won't happen...

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Hoisted from the Archiyes: Why We Hate Chickenhawks: Selections from SFF Author David Drake

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David Drake, a good chunk of whose work is best classified as horror and is really about his experiences as an interrogator in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the "Blackhorse", when it went through the Cambodian market town of Snuol:

I [now] had much more vivid horrors than Lovecraft's nameless ickinesses to write about.... I wrote about troopers doing their jobs the best they could with tanks that broke down, guns that jammed—and no clue about the Big Picture.... I kept the tone unemotional: I didn't tell the reader that something was horrible, because nobody told me.... Those stories... were different. They didn't fit either of the available molds: "Soldiers are spotless heroes," or... "Soldiers are evil monsters"... [...] The... stories were written with a flat affect, describing cruelty and horror with the detachment of a soldier who's shut down his emotional responses completely in a war zone... as soldiers always do, because otherwise they wouldn't be able to survive. Showing soldiers behaving and thinking as they really do in war was... extremely disquieting to the civilians who were editing magazines...

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Hoisted from the Archives: Why We Have Good Reason to Hate Chickenhawks

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Hard Power, Soft Power, Muscovy, Strategy, and My Once-Again Failure to Understand Where Niall Ferguson Is Coming From: Live from Le Pain Quotidien: In which I once again fail to understand where Niall Ferguson is coming from:

Niall Ferguson: The ‘Divergent’ World of 2015: "Hard power is resilient...

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Weekend Reading: Trust and the Benefit of the Doubt

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Weekend Reading: Dietz Vollrath sends us to a classic story from the late Douglas Adams: Douglas Adams: Trust and the Benefit of the Doubt: "This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person was me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of the train wrong. I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table. I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind. Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase. It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it...

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Note to Self: Enjoyed Cherryh and Fancher's Alliance Rising very much, but... I wish I had read something else this past week and had saved this for five years from now, when The Hinder Stars II, III, and... IV? would be out...

For reasons I do not fully understand, these days publishers seem to want to greenlight books where the authors say: “and we have already written to sequels!” This then creates the problem of how to end the first book with a satisfactory plot resolution while still leaving a bigger story open for the sequels. It is a hard problem. And, much as I enjoyed reading Alliance Rising, Cherryh and Fancher did not quite manage to make it work.

Mind you, it is close—If only Jen-and-Ross-Together had been given twice the screen time, 40% rather than 20% of the book, it would have been a wonderful Happy-for-Now romance In addition to all of its other excellences. And overshadowing it all is that it is all going to end very badly for a great many of the major characters: Because I do not remember hearing about them in any previous Cherryh book, I fear for the ships Rights of Man and Galway and for the entire Monahan family. And I know that Alpha Station becomes a Mazianni military base. I have a bad feeling about Hinder Stars II, III, and... IV?: C. J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher: Alliance Rising: The Hinder Stars I https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0756412730...

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J.R.R. Tolkien: The Bespelling of Morgoth: From The Lay of Leithian: Canto XIV: Weekend Reading

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Or is it the Vamping of Morgoth? "For Lúthien hath many arts/for solace sweet of kingly hearts..."

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lay of Leithian: Canto XIV:

There came a slow and shuddering change:
the batlike raiment dark and strange
was loosed, and slowly shrank and fell,
quivering. She stood revealed in hell.

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Homer's Odyssey Blogging: "Like Little Birds... They Writhed with Their Feet... But for No Long While..."

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So let me procrastinate some more this morning...

Let me riff off of something that crossed my desk last night: Emily Wilson's reflections on her translation of the Odyssey, and on the Odyssey itself. There is one passage that always has been, to me at least, horrifyingly freaky in a very bad way. As David Drake—one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy authors—puts it:

Odysseus caps his victory by slowly strangling–the process is described in some detail–the female servants who have been sleeping with Penelope’s suitors. This is only one example (although a pretty striking one) of normal behavior in an Iron Age culture which is unacceptable in a society that I (or anybody I want as a reader) would choose to live in... a hero with the worldview of a death camp guard...


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Martha Wells's "Artificial Condition" Is Strongly Recommended

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Very strongly recommended: Martha Wells: Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries.

This is one scene: perhaps the best "tell, not show" scene I have read in a long time: Martha Wells: The Last Stand of the Four ComfortUnits of Ganaka Mining Pit: "In the corridor near the living quarters, I found the other ready room, the one for the ComfortUnits...

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Martha Wells Is a Galactic Treasure...

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Terminator, if the Terminator were incredibly shy, were addicted to watching soap operas, and were genuinely driven to protect and serve. Martha Wells is making very interesting comments on artificial intelligence, human connection, and narrative and cognition here: Martha Wells All Systems Red: "I COULD HAVE BECOME a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites...

...It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure. I was also still doing my job, on a new contract, and hoping Dr. Volescu and Dr. Bharadwaj finished their survey soon so we could get back to the habitat and I could watch episode 397 of Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon...

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Vikings and Zombies and Magicians and Dinosaurs, Oh My!

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Graydon Saunders has “committed book” again. The Human Dress is live at Google Play Books. If this is the kind of thing you like, you will like this thing—I like it very, very much. Vikings and zombies and magicians and dinosaurs and much much much more.

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Wakanda and the Resource Curse

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Wakanda and the Resource Curse: Wakanda’s prosperity is based on its possession of vibranium, a stable transuranic elements with unique And extraordinary chemical properties. Yet those of us who have studied the history of emerging markets with powerful natural resource advantages would fear for the present and future of an emerging market country that based its prosperity on such a road so very vulnerable to the “resource curse“.

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Live from Rant Central: Charlie Stross has had it with you people—those of you people who abandon worldbuilding and the exploration of possible human civilizations different from ours in the future direction for spectacle, and warmed over Napoleonic or WWII stories in fancy future dress: Charlie Stross: Why I barely read SF these days: "Storytelling is about humanity and its endless introspective quest to understand its own existence and meaning...

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Should-Read: I have to think about this. Yes, distributions have lower tails. but it still seems to me that the absence of clearly visible life out there is powerful evidence that there is a "Great Filter": that one of the parameters (or more than one of the parameters) in the Drake Equation is near zero. Sandberg et al. seem to me to be arguing not so much that the absence of visible life out there is likely even if none of the parameters are near zero, but that our uncertainty is so great that it is not surprising that the universe we live in has one or more parameters near zero even though the average value of each parameter across all universes we might live in is larger: Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler and Toby Ord: Dissolving the Fermi Paradox: "The Fermi question is not a paradox...

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The Robert Heinlein Wars, Part MDCCLXIV: Hoisted from 2006

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The Robert Heinlein Wars, Part MDCCLXIV http://www.bradford-delong.com/2006/12/the_robert_hein.html: John Scalzi watches as Dave Itzkoff begins another round of the Heinlein Wars:

Whatever: NYT Review Fallout: There's been some interesting commentary and discussion following Dave Itzkoff's NYT Book Review piece on me and my books, so I thought I'd post links to some of them I've found, for the edification of Whatever readers. In no particular order: Instapundit notes the piece, and has some thoughts on the idea of [Robert Heinlein's novel] Starship Troopers being fascist, roping in Spider Robinson to rebut that claim...

I would dispute Scalzi's claim that either Glenn Reynolds or Spider Robinson has "thoughts" on this issue. I would characterize them as having "reflexes."

I think I had some "thoughts" on this issue some 10^8 seconds ago:

The Starship Troopers novel I originally read in the early 1970s had four layers:

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Weekend Reading: Ursula LeGuin (2007): Genre Fiction

Weekend Reading: Ansible 240, July 2007 http://news.ansible.uk/a240.html#leguin: On Serious Literature:

Michael Chabon has spent considerable energy trying to drag the decaying corpse of genre fiction out of the shallow grave where writers of serious literature abandoned it... Ruth Franklin (Slate, 8 May 2007)

Ursula K. Le Guin: Something woke her in the night...

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Monday Smackdown: Why Do I Find John McWhorter so Annoying?

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Is it me? Or is it him?

I find an interesting link on Making Light http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016593.html, follow it, immediately find that the introduction annoys me—gets my back up—and then I notice that it is by John McWhorter. Other people like McWhorter a lot: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016593.html#4335396.

But I read:

John McWhorter: English is not normal https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-english-so-weirdly-different-from-other-languages: "Hwæt, we gardena in geardagum þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon...

...does that really mean ‘So, we Spear-Danes have heard of the tribe-kings’ glory in days of yore’? Icelanders can still read similar stories written in the Old Norse ancestor of their language 1,000 years ago, and yet, to the untrained eye, Beowulf might as well be in Turkish...

And my immediate response is: the cards have been dealt from the bottom of the deck here.

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Essence of Decision: Understanding the Real History of the Imperial and Succession Wars: Hoisted from The Archives

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Hoisted from The Archives: Essence of Decision: Understanding the Real History of the Imperial and Succession Wars: The fall of the Empire, and the failure of its successor states to re-establish order in the galaxy, is usually mistold in the history books.

Popular, semi-academic, and even academic authors write it as a combination of tabloid soap opera and personal heroics: villains, Jedi Knights, stunning double crosses, the Palpatine succession, and--of course--the bizarre and incomprehensible repeated cross-generational psychodramas of the Skywalker family.

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Should-Read: We are narrative-loving animals. It's how we think. We are jumped-up East African Plains Apes, only 3000 generations removed from those who first developed language, trying to understand the world as monkeys with, as Winnie-the-Pooh would say, “very little brain”. We are lousy at remembering lists—that is why we need to write them down. We are not much good at retaining sets of information—unless we can, somehow, turn them into a journey or a memory palace. We are excellent, however, at remembering landscapes. And we are fabulous at stories: human characters with believable motivations; beginnings, middles, and endings; hubris and nemesis; cause and effect; villains and heroes. To place ideas and lessons in the context of a story is a mighty aid to our thinking:

Charles Stross: Why Scifi Matters More When the Future Looks So Dangerous: "Near-future scifi is not a predictive medium: it doesn’t directly reflect reality so much as it presents us with a funhouse mirror view of the world around us...

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