Pixel Scroll 9/6 With Six, You Get Egg Scroll

(1) A postcard from the Baen beachhead at Dragon Con.

(2) The Stanley Hotel in Colorado inspired Stephen King’s novel The Shining, a connection the hotel’s operators have used to market the resort for years.

But unlike King’s fictional Overlook it never had a hedge maze – until this summer when the owner had one built to placate his customers.

Missing from the experience, however, has been the hedge maze that Mr. Kubrick used as the setting for the film’s climax….

At a colleague’s suggestion, Mr. Cullen [the owner] opted to hold a contest for the design, a move that amplified the public-relations potential. A panel of judges received 329 entries from around the world, and the winner was a New York architect named Mairim Dallaryan Standing.

Mr. Cullen chose to form the maze from juniper trees that grow to just three feet high, making the Stanley’s maze far less imposing than the 13-foot labyrinth in the Kubrick film. Mr. Cullen said he was concerned about losing children in the maze.

This summer, that decision has caused some disappointment….

The owner of the real hotel builds a maze to please King fans, who then are not pleased because it doesn’t match the source. How fannish is that?

(3) John O’Halloran’s Sasquan photo album – mainly the Hugo ceremony.

(4) Lou Antonelli on Facebook

I’m going to write an alternate history set in a world where cloning was perfected in the 1920s and by the beginning of the television era in the 1950s entertainers are able to license copies of themselves for live performances.

The clones of bigger stars are more expensive than the clones of lesser ones. One man has to settle for a Teresa Brewer clone, but he bemoans the fact that he couldn’t afford a clone of the star he REALLY wanted.

The story will be called…

“If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love.”

(5) The works of Karel Capek are being celebrated at a festival in Washington D.C. Celia Wren penned an overview in the Washington Post.

Prepare for rebellious automatons, a 300-year-old opera singer, and a pack of newts taking a page from Ira Glass. These and other inventions will unfold locally this fall courtesy of the Czech writer Karel Capek (1890-1938), with help from other artists.

Capek is the focus of the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2015, led by the Embassy of the Czech Republic and offering films, theater pieces, lectures, art exhibits, and — for children — a Lego Robotics Workshop. Now in its sixth year, the festival pays tribute to an influential Czech figure, such as Antonin Dvorak (2011), Vaclav Havel (2013) or Franz Kafka (2014).

The Mutual Inspirations website has complete details.

Running from September 3-November 21, 2015, the festival highlights events at select venues in the Washington area, such as the Kennedy Center, the Gonda Theatre in the Davis Performing Arts Center at Georgetown University, the Avalon Theatre, and Bistro Bohem. Highlights of this year’s festival include a jazz-age evening of music and dance, theatrical readings of the new work R.U.R.: A Retro-Futuristic Musical, the world premiere of War with the Newts adapted by Natsu Onoda Power, a robotics demonstration and lecture with Czech robotics expert Vladimir Ma?ík, a panel discussion on R.U.R. and the Rationalized World, and a Lego Robotics Workshop for children facilitated by the Great Adventure Lab. Additional noted speakers include Templeton Prize-winner Tomáš Halík, art historian Otto Urban, and theatre/ interactive media arts scholar Jana Horaková. The festival incorporates a variety of events, including theatrical performances, film screenings, a concert, lectures, and exhibitions. With over 30,000 people attending the festival over the last three years, the festival strives to reach a wide audience through its vibrant programming.

(6 George R.R. Martin, in “Awards, Awards, and More Awards”, encourages the Puppies who are talking about starting an award of their own.

He discusses how many different awards there are in the field and includes lots of pictures – which is easy because George has won most of them.

A great many of the awards discussed above were started precisely because the people behind them felt someone was being overlooked by the Hugos and/ or other existing awards, and wanted to give an “attaboy” to work they cherished.

There is no reason the Sad Puppies should not do the same. Give them at Dragoncon, give them at Libertycon… or, hell, give them at worldcon, if you want. Most worldcons will give you a hall for the presentation, I’m sure, just as they do for the Prometheus Awards and the Seiuns. Or you can rent your own venue off-site, as I did with the Alfies. Have a party. No booing, just cheers. Give handsome trophies to those you think deserve it. Spread joy.

That’s what awards are supposed to be about, after all. Giving some joy back to the writers and editors and artists who have given you so much joy with their work. Celebration.

Since RAH is already taken by the Heinlein Foundation for its own award, maybe you should call them the Jims, to honor Jim Baen, an editor and publisher that I know many of you admire. If you launch a Kickstarter to have a bust of him sculpted for the trophy, I’ll be glad to contribute. (It may surprise you to know that while Jim Baen and I were very far apart politically, we shared many a meal together, and he published a half dozen of my books. Liberals and conservatives CAN get along, and usually did, in fandom of yore).

(7) Kevin Standlee philosophizes about the relationship between a stable, democratically-run society and good sportsmanship.

A prerequisite of a stable democratic society is being a good loser.

If your definition of “democracy” boils down to “I get what I personally want or else the entire process is wrong and corrupt,” then you have reduced yourself to the spoiled child who throws a tantrum and overturns the table when s/he loses at a board game.

Could it be that our society’s over-emphasis at “win at any cost” and “second place is the first loser,” and a complete de-emphasis on learning how to be graceful in defeat is undermining the entire democratic process? After all, if you’ve been conditioned to think that Winning Is The Only Thing and that losing gracefully is for suckers and wimps, how can you possibly live with yourself when your “side” loses a political election, even if the process was demonstratively fair? In such a situation, you almost naturally are doing to insist that the process itself is wrong, because you’ve built up a self-image that requires you to win.

I’m also worried that we’ve overly emphasized not hurting people’s feelings when they are young by pretending that they can never lose. When they reach the real world where not every corner is padded for them, they can’t handle anything other than “I showed up, so I need to win.” I admit that possibly I’m just being old and crotchety about Those Darn Kids.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m disappointed that Popular Ratification, into which I invested a lot of myself, lost at the ratification stage. But I can see that the process was fair, and I neither consider myself a moral failure because my cause lost nor do I consider the entire WSFS legislative process invalid because I got outvoted. I get the feeling, however, that a whole lot of people out there can’t live with the concept of losing.

(8) Didact doesn’t care.

I really can’t make it any clearer than that, unless the good people over at File770 want me to break out a pack of crayons and draw them a picture. And I don’t speak any dialect of dipsh*t, so even that probably won’t help.

Didact, Vile Faceless Minion #0309, repeats:

WE DON’T CARE whether or not our nominees won awards. Not this year, not next year, and not in any other year. It matters not the minutest quantum of a damn for us. As far as I, personally, am concerned, the Hugo Awards have lost their point and purpose and need to be torn down and replaced wholesale.

I don’t know why I have such a hard time getting it through my thick skull that they don’t care. Really. It’s just embarrassing. As many times they’ve been forced to repeat this. Think of all the time they could  spend on something they do care about if only I would just get it. All my fault. My bad. So sorry.

(9) And dammit, Jonathan M has uncovered another of this blog’s deepest secrets.

(9) Great photos from a vintage computer exhibit.

K9 robot dog COMP

(10) Megan Guess at Ars Technica – “I watched Star Trek: The Original Series in order; and so can you. Or, Filling the gaps in your cultural knowledge is equal parts boring and fun”

At the beginning, this is how I approached The Original Series. Despite how much everyone wants to talk about Star Trek‘s progressiveness in 1966, you can tell just by a quick glance at the costuming that womankind is not going to be treated as equal, with all the rights and responsibilities pertaining thereto.

But around the end of season one, I couldn’t help but become a little bit invested in the world of the Federation. I was always happy when Lieutenant Uhura was given real lines in an episode, because she was just what you’d want in a starship officer of the future—brave and serious, but with a human side, too. Nurse Chapel was also welcome—she had gravitas without being robotic and cold.

Of course, for every Uhura or Chapel there was the endless supply of one-off Kirk foils planted on every strange new world, waiting for a strong-jawed spaceman to rescue them. Sometimes they were decent characters, like Edith Keeler in “The City on the Edge of Forever,” one of The Original Series’ most famous episodes. In it, Kirk and Spock end up in the 1930s and a depression-era charity worker—Keeler, portrayed by Joan freaking Collins—preaches futurism to a group of unenlightened hobos. (And then Kirk falls in love with her. Because of course.) Other characters were worse—you need only search “Women Star Trek Original Series” to find the lists of the show’s hottest, most vacant babes.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mark and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James H. Burns.]

748 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/6 With Six, You Get Egg Scroll

  1. it’s a scanned image of that printed text

    This is the sort of thing that makes me shout “accessibility, dammit!” at whoever’s responsible.

  2. @Jamoche:

    I know, right? I mean, if the formatting had been especially bizarre or the text had included strange glyphs, that’d be one thing. But this… I could replicate it with a blockquote and a couple of judicious precautions to minimize the chances that the placard would break across screens or that two-word product names would break across lines. I could even give it a nice border to reinforce the whole “placard” look, and I could carry that styling over to the correspondence that appears elsewhere in the book…

    You know, if I were the kind of person who’d tinker like that. Which I’m not saying I am. 😉

  3. @Rev. Bob,

    Your disk notching story reminds me of the World’s Funniest Joke:

    Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator says “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?”

  4. Yes, of course some people have suffered profound tragedy. They haven’t experienced the literal end of civilization, though. There’s a difference, at least in scale.

    Tell that to people in Syria. Or Mosul.

  5. @Ann Somerville: “Tell that to people in Syria. Or Mosul.”

    Pity you didn’t read my final footnote:

    The specific shade of meaning I intend is that it is something which lays outside the lived experience of readers. I’ll even qualify that to “most readers” if you would say that “I survived a revolution/domestic war” is close enough to proxy for “I survived the end of the world.” That’s not quite my belief, but I won’t argue with it; I can easily see how someone who’s been through a revolution or something like it could be triggered by at least some End of Civilization motifs, and erring on the side of caution seems reasonable.

    I think that rather explicitly covers Syria and Mosul.

  6. @Fin Fahey: Welcome, and (if I may so bold, despite being an only-rare commenter here) thanks for the kind words. Despite the various comment threads, please be assured – you were seen, heard, and appreciated. It’s great to see someone get excited about SF again!

    @John Seavey: “phenomenally readable” – is that damning with faint praise?

    @First Computer Folks: My first exposure to computers was to a TRS-80 (with cassette !) and an Apple ][ or ][+ (not sure which). My family’s first computer was an Apple //e. I have used a Wang dedicated word processor/computerish system – with 8″ floppies. (Writing about a Wang with 8″ floppies, after reading about the File770 engine of wank . . . makes me feel dirty, LOL.)

    @Camestros Felapton: OMG that video you posted at 11:14 AM on the 7th is adorable, thanks! (The timestamp I refer to is what I see – not sure whose time zone that is.)

    @Everyone: I’m amazed all the interaction with buwaya; do not engage. . . .

    Gotta go sleep – not caught up on this comment stream yet, despite (blush) leaving a comment of my own here!

  7. Post nuclear holocaust novels–haven’t seen anyone mention Robert McCammon’s Swan Song. Very grim, but hopeful at the end. Big thick book, sort of like The Stand but a nuclear war. Introduces a bunch of characters just before the war happens and follows them through the aftermath as they all coalesce into two main rival factions. I’ve re read it several times over the years and it holds up pretty well.

  8. Wild Harbour by Ian MacPherson (my review) was written in 1936 and imagined the next war, easily predicted at that point, causing the complete collapse of society. It concerns a married couple trying to hide away in the Scottish wilds, and ends on a note of very guarded optimism.

  9. Life After The Sea Rises: Future Boston: The History of a City 1990-2100 and In The Cube detail life in a “future” Boston where the sea level has risen and the city is *also* under alien occupation.

    post-apocalypse non-dystopia. In Andre Norton’s Solar Queen cycle Terra has survived a nuke war and came back.

    I think someone else already mentioned Level 7

    I’d also recommend P.K. Dick’s The Penultimate Truth and Paul Cook’s Duende Meadow

  10. @Mike

    “it does almost look like an ornate look in a clock hand, doesn’t it? But it’s entirely accidental.”

    Thanks for the info! I’d say I’d start writing File770 conspiracy fic, but the genre’s getting pretty well tapped out, I think. 😉

  11. Some post nuclear apocalypses:

    The excellent Gwyneth Jones’ Divine Endurance and Flowerdust. (It’d be pretty hard to argue that they’re not dystopic, though, although a dystopia in transition.) I’d seriously recommend her to anyone who hasn’t read her yet. My favorite series by her is the Bold As Love sequence which is also post-apocalyptic, but after what I might call a “soft” apocalypse — a global economic crashed caused by a need to transition away from oil-based technology. The Bold As Love books take the odd-sounding premise that a group of rock musicians end up in control of England and run with it to surprising places.

    Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn books are also post-nuclear apocalypse dystopia-in-transition, but I can’t really recommend them except maybe for the first one. I got through about five before the sometimes leaden prose did me in, but the first one is reasonably good.

    For not nuclear, but still caused by weapons, there’s Nick Harkaway’s rather wild The Gone-Away World.

  12. Kyra:

    “For not nuclear, but still caused by weapons, there’s Nick Harkaway’s rather wild The Gone-Away World.”

    That book is just fantastic. One of those that I felt I just had to buy some extras at once and force them upon others.

  13. @Rick Moen

    Oh believe me, I noticed your quite bizarre take on Socrates as political actor. You would have discovered, had you read Xenophon, that Socrates in fact resisted the Thirty, rather than approving of their unpleasantly proto-fascist regime with its political murders, repression of free speech, informers, show trials etc etc. Also, it’s quite clear that you don’t realize that Plato’s presentation of Socrates is not a straightforward biographical one at all. It’s almost a cliche of introductory courses on Plato that you just can’t take Plato’s Socrates at face value as an historical figure. There was an abundance of Socratic literature when Plato was writing, with a wide range of views as to what Socrates had actually said and thought. Several schools of philosophy with quite diverse views took Socrates as, in some sense, their ancestor. Then again, there is the presentation of Socrates by Aristophanes as a typical unscrupulous, logic-chopping, pseudo-scientific sophist – and this was how he was presented in front of a mass-audience his fellow-citizens, many of whom must have met him, while he was still alive. Would Aristophanes have diverged too wildly from a recognizable portrait of Socrates? And yet, his vision of Socrates is impossible to square with Plato’s relentless mocker of the sophists who has long abandoned any interest in Milesian-style scientific inquiry.

  14. buwaya on September 7, 2015 at 12:57 pm said:

    “Haiku are only 3 lines and your syllable count is all wrong.”
    Its free verse of course. I am unconstrained by such tired bourgeois strictures.

    Or, rather, this:

    It’s free verse, of course.
    I am unconstrained by such
    Tired bourgeois strictures.

  15. Its free verse of course. I am unconstrained by such tired bourgeois strictures.

    Thinks about the occupational profiles of Eliot, Williams and Stevens. Laughs and laughs and laughs.

  16. Post apocalyptic works, surprised no one has mentioned Earth Abides by George A Stewart which I’ve seen often in shops in the Sci Fi Masterworks series but have never gotten around to reading.

    Also Gary Gibson’s Extinction Game which I read recently and enjoyed. Though it stretches the definition, as the protagonists are all survivors of their own Earth’s apocalypse being used to study how other Earth’s die in different dimensions.

  17. @socialinjusticeworrier @rickmoen

    Most philosophy professors (including me) also tend to separate the Socrates-related parts of Xenophon, Aristophanes, and “early” Plato, all of which would have been read by people who knew the persons and events directly, and Plato’s subsequent writings like The Republic that do not describe actual events and express Plato’s distrust of a polis that could sentence Socrates to death. Aristophanes’ portrayal of Socrates as sophist can be interpreted in many ways, including the following: (1) Some elements of the caricature match elements of the early Plato and so it would have been recognizable to an Athenian, but Aristophanes had a poor grasp of actual Socratic arguments, which accounts for the discrepancy between Aristophanes and Plato; (2) The fact that the play finished last in the competition (behind another play that ALSO included satirical comments about Socrates) suggests that many Athenians in fact DID reject Aristophanes’ portrayal of Socrates; and (3) Aristophanes’ view is exactly the view held by those who charged, tried, and sentenced Socrates, so some Athenians would be agree and others would not (Plato himself appears to hold this position).

    (Incidentally, as someone suggested earlier, Plato is rather enlightened on gender issues for his era, given that he nominates Sappho for Muse of Lyric Poetry and concedes that SOME women are suited to be philosopher-kings–not quite as good as the “best” men, but better than most).

  18. In Roger Zelazny’s _This Immortal_, a civil servant has to play tourist guide to a blue alien he has reason to believe is sizing a post-nuclear! kaboom! Earth up for a planetary purchase.

  19. (2) The fact that the play finished last in the competition (behind another play that ALSO included satirical comments about Socrates) suggests that many Athenians in fact DID reject Aristophanes’ portrayal of Socrates;

    No Award!

  20. Rev. Bob on September 7, 2015 at 11:26 pm said:
    @Anna: “But societal collapse is not something I can deal with. I was absolutely serious in saying I need a trigger warning. Why do people who can’t stand a depiction of rape get a trigger warning but Everybody Dies Horribly And in Despair and Civilisation Ends doesn’t get flagged?”

    Speaking as something of an outsider, and with absolutely no desire to minimize your experience or concerns – I think two big differences are the intensely personal nature of rape and the fact that many people have been affected by rape. Everybody Dies Horribly And Civilization Ends is by its nature neither personal* nor something readers have experienced**. Hence, rape gets a TW and the end of civilization is so big and impersonal and alien*** that it does not. In addition, Civilization Ends (or Has Ended) books tend to feature that fact in the blurb; it’s a major part of either the story or the setting. Is that insufficient as a warning? A rape episode is much more likely to show up as an unadvertised and unwelcome surprise, for which a TW can be more helpful.

    As a woman and as somebody who has experienced rape I very much reject the status of totally different experience uniquely traumatising that rape gets. I actually think that is part of the patriarchal narrative.

    So we are left with “but mention of it can sincerely traumatise people”. Yes – and some things can and do severely traumatise me. I am really not kidding. I am home from work today, and I think it is because I am fighting a virus, but certainly the state of mind I was in yesterday can’t have helped my immune system. I have fought against depression all my life, and I can recognise dangers I should not take.

    Apart from that, who am I kidding, a trigger warning would only make me more willing to read.

  21. @Lucy: I’m sorry I got personal yesterday, I was really ill partly because of Station Seven and partly because of exhaustion and partly because of a virus, which of course doesn’t help when you are reading a book in which Everybody Dies Of The Flu.

    But yes, when I came down from Seattle to San Francisco in 2003 I reached out to you and got not answer. It’s been too long ago now to remember how I did it and it was probably a case of missed communication.

  22. I’ve always been a bit puzzled by the idea that The City and the City is fantasy; but Among Others certainly is. There is also a work which won a Hugo quite recently in which a narrative takes control of the characters’ lives in a way which (explicitly) makes no scientific sense. If that’s not fantasy, what is?

  23. @Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy

    (2) The fact that the play finished last in the competition (behind another play that ALSO included satirical comments about Socrates) suggests that many Athenians in fact DID reject Aristophanes’ portrayal of Socrates

    Not necessarily – and, in fact,this would be a serious over-interpretation of very scanty data. We know that the judges – the audience didn’t vote, remember – preferred the other two comedies on offer, but this doesn’t equate to “therefore they must have disliked the portrayal of Socrates”. They might well have thought that the portrayal was reasonably accurate, but that the play itself was rather pedestrian.

  24. There is a literature of research into PTSD and its management, which is what content notices/trigger warnings are about. My experience, alas, is that when I provide citations to it, I end up getting mocked and trampled by people bent on proving it’s all about coddling weaklings, imposing a structure of moral judgments, or something else. I’ve gotten all I could handle of that and then some with regard to my purely physical health problems; revisiting it with my psychological ones is not so much fun.

    This was my best shot at explaining it last year, from a thread at lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com ; I’m sorry I don’t expect to be able to continue discussing it. The answer to Anna’s question is that people who deal with support for the stress-damaged in education do take content notices for war-related damage seriously – after all, shell shock is one of the first kinds of such stress damage recognized as a genuine medical problem, as opposed to lack of will. It comes up less in America and western Europe than sexual assault or individual-scale violence simply because fewer of us have been directly involved in wars of late. But since we still have living veterans of conflicts going back to World War II, plus civilians involved in wars and related calamities, it’s a living issue as well. I can point at some examples of instructors dealing with it, but I’m not up to any arguing about it.


    Let’s see if I can write anything less grumpy about trigger warnings.

    Many of you know Christine Miserandino’s essay “The Spoon Theory“, in which she writes about how life with disabilities eats away at your limited daily supply of resources – physical, mental, emotional. You start off with a reduced capacity and then have to use a lot of it on things healthier people don’t.

    We’ve also had good posts and comments over the years about consequences of poverty, including the way everything costs more because you get none of the fawning consideration and discounts rich people do and how widespread the measurable medical toll of stress and inequality is.

    Life with PTSD is like those. It makes you poor in spirit.

    To have PTSD, first of all, you have to have a trauma. You got raped. You were physically or sexually abused. You were physically or psychologically tortured. You’re shell-shocked from war. Something really ugly.

    Second, you have to have had an incomplete recovery. You have the psychological version of scars along with whatever physical lingering consequences there are from your traumatic experiences.

    You are injured, just as much as someone blinded in an accident, or who lost a leg to a land mine, or whose rapist threw acid in your face. Maybe your injury pains you or otherwise intrudes all the time, like having no sense of balance because someone boxed your ears and beat your head hard enough to shatter your ear drum. Maybe it sometimes recedes into the background, like a damaged intestine when there’s no major digesting going on at the moment. Either way, you have an injury.

    Now you go through your life, day by day, in a world where many people don’t believe your injury is real. They mock you the way they’d tell a one-legged person to stop using crutches and prosthetics and get back in the marathon, the way they’d yell at a blind person for failing to spot a distant fire, the way they’d harass someone with genitals destroyed by an assailant for failing to reproduce. And they will congratulate each other for their maturity in doing this, their wisdom, their superior insight. You deal with that. Every day.

    You can try to carve out some space where others work with you to reduce the likelihood of fresh impingement that reactivates your injuries. It’s hard. Every person with the injuries of trauma is a little different – or a lot different, so there’s some inevitable going too far here, maybe holding back more than necessary there, while working out where everybody’s boundaries actually are. Over time, a shared pool of experience builds up, but individual needs can (should) take precedence over the generalization, so it’s never a finished work.

    The second biggest problem in making this work in general society, behind people who deny the reality of the whole thing, is that it requires everyone to make a bit of adjustment. In this regard it’s tougher than, say, curb cuts, which teachers and others hand off to construction people and then it’s done. It’s harder than, say, preparing material in Braille, which again, gets handed off to specialists. Instead, even though it’s very much a medical issue, it has to be handled more like a social one, like getting people not to use racial epithets, homophobic slurs, and the like. It requires people to be prepared to rein in their own wishes even when it comes to (for instance) teaching material of great value but also laden with triggers as they would in passing around important artifacts that happen to be randomly spotted with poison.

    This is hard and slow.

    Those of us with PTSD who’d like to see more trigger warning aren’t looking for easy lives. We know we can’t get those. We aren’t looking for lives no more impaired than general society at large. We know we can’t get those, either. We hope to expand the sphere of opportunity for us to participate at reduced risk and with a support structure that help reduce the harm that follows when risk becomes actual injury.

    That’s all.

  25. Those of us with PTSD who’d like to see more trigger warning aren’t looking for easy lives. We know we can’t get those. We aren’t looking for lives no more impaired than general society at large. We know we can’t get those, either. We hope to expand the sphere of opportunity for us to participate at reduced risk and with a support structure that help reduce the harm that follows when risk becomes actual injury.

    The entire post was great. This is perfect. Thanks Bruce.

  26. A kind of post apocalyptic-ish thing I read was After the fall, during the fall, before the fall by Nancy Kress. It’s science fiction if you’re prepared to believe in an ultra-strong Gaia hypothesis (self-aware Gaia), fantasy otherwise. It’s not a dystopia. It has a very small survivor base and aliens you don’t see.

    I read it a month ago and I still don’t know if I liked it, but it’s short, so not a big investment.

    My favorite Stephenson is The Diamond Age and after Reamde I won’t read anything new by him ever.

  27. Anna, I don’t remember those events-all I can say is whatever happened there, I regret it, because meeting you would have been great.

  28. Hi Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy !

    “It’s free verse, of course.
    I am unconstrained by such
    Tired bourgeois strictures.”

    I will keep this bit of inadvertent brilliance in my files, and cite your excellent eye !

  29. @Morris Keesan:

    I, on the other hand, briefly used IBM terminals that were Selectrics with RS232 connectors and associated electronics. And APL type balls.

    APL was the first programming language I ever learned, using an IBM thermal printer terminal with an acoustic coupled modem after calling in to the University mainframe. (My uncle worked at the University in question.) I was about eight.

    The fact that APL was my first programming language may explain some of my later programming oddities.

    The first computer we actually owned was a first generation Tandy Color Computer, or CoCo: they’d just stopped producing the 4K ones, so we got one with a grand 16K of memory, which was the most the hardware could support. (The CoCo II could support 32K of memory by using 64K memory chips that had been marked as ‘bad’ by selecting ones that only had bad bits in the unused half of the memory. Yes, Tandy was that cheap.)

  30. On the subject of post-apocalyptic novels, is anyone familiar with how Japanese science fiction may have treated a post nuclear world since WWII, given that they’ve actually had the cultural experience of being affected first hand?

    I don’t know myself but it came to me as an interesting question while I scanned comments.

  31. Essentially, the problem with universal trigger warnings is that almost anything can be a trigger. I have one that is usually, but not always, warned for (not making claims to PTSD here, no diagnosis, but these are things that have immediate and lasting impact on my mental health), because it’s not uncommon, and one that’s never warned for because (while I’m sure it isn’t that rare) it’s specific to me (accusations of lying, which not coincidentally is directly related to my physical issues, and yes sometimes I skim the hell out of Aaron’s comments or anything with “@Brian Z” at the top because of that; the shakier ground I was on that day, the more likely I am to end up in a spiral of Not Coping, and the quickest way to freak me out entirely is to accuse me, specifically, of lying). Some people might get triggered by the colour yellow, or a particular texture of carpet – someone I know can’t cope with any kind of animal harm. The less “general” your trigger is, the more likely you’ll need to crowdsource, ask a trusted friend, ask your professor for specific accommodations, etc.. Anna did exactly right when she asked in the thread about other works that she thought might prove an issue or her. (“do I need to avoid the nominees for [award] this year because of [trigger]?” /paraphrase – is a great question)

    One of the problems with books in general is they rarely have any kind of warnings, even for the general stuff. There’s no equivalent to the ratings on films.

    Excuse the confused nature of this, it’s not an easy subject (and I don’t have Bruce’s way with words).

  32. @gmarie

    The most famous Japanese exploration of nuclear aftermath is, of course, Godzilla. 🙂 Post-apocalyptic, I’m not sure. Nick Mamatas might be a good person to ask.

  33. As a fairly casual watcher of anime, there’s certainly a post-apocalyptic track in Japanese visual SF, and quite a lot of mushroom cloud imagery, although not necessarily nuclear. Without a fuller knowledge I’d hesitate to psychoanalyse an entire nation though, or speak to written sf, but it’s certainly an interesting question. As Meredith says, Mamatas might have some Opinions.

    More generally, our apocalypses do seem to be cultural. You can trace a fairly simplistic line from nuclear to biological and environmental in the west, for example.

  34. I’m not hugely familiar with Japanese prose SF, but manga and anime frequently explore apocalyptic themes. Akira is probably the best known, starting with the devastation of Tokyo and its rebuilding as Neo-Tokyo. The manga goes into considerably more detail than the anime, with the city devastated a second time, abandoned by the Japanese government and transformed into a mad max-style wasteland for the second half of the story.

    Appleseed by Masamune Shirow is a good example of a world recovering from nuclear war. In it, World War III is a distant memory, and World War IV is just over. With the traditional superpowers in disarray, a small island nation which survived the war with a high level of technology imposes peace and begins a utipian plan. Sadly the comic ground to a halt before the main plot got going.

    Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell is also set in a post-World War IV world, with a higher level of general technology.

    The Macross anime franchise (best known in the west as providing the first story arc in Robotech)features the extermination of almost all of humanity by orbital bombardment in the first TV series/movie, and a rapid recovery including cloning technolgy as a background element afterwards. There’s a fight scene in a deserted city in one of the sequels, the suggestion being it’s either waiting for a opulation to be cloned, or it’s just been emptied into a colony ship.

    Space Battleship Yamato (known as Star Blazers in the west) has a similar storyline, where bombardment by asteroids has rendered the surface of Earth uninhabitable, the last remnants of humanity living underground as radiation seeps further inwards. The crew of the Yamato are racing against time to retireve a miraculous technology to restore Earth before it’s too late.

  35. Tavella or anyone else

    I don’t know if Stephenson is getting worse or I’ve just lost my tolerance for his quirks, but I bailed out of Reamde entirely not long after the trained (female) secret agent had to be rescued by a bunch of (male) geeks, and I didn’t even get as far in Seveneyes before starting to skim.

    I don’t remember where in Reamde Olivia Halifax-Lin had to be rescued by a bunch of male geeks and I thought I had a fairly clear mental map of how all the characters made their way from the big bang in Xiamen to the big crunch in Idaho. Maybe something like that occurred in the final massive gunfight in Idaho and I’ve forgotten, although by that point in the story I would have said Csongor was the only surviving male geek. Anyone care to refresh my memory with suggestions what Tavella is referring to? I don’t feel up to rereading the book just yet, even if I didn’t have a load of 2016 Hugo reading waiting for me.

  36. I’ve loved a lot of Stephenson’s books and hated REAMDE. To quote from the review I wrote at the time:

    What I’m left wondering is, how can 1036 pages feel so thin? When I finished reading Snow Crash, and when I finished reading Diamond Age, my mind was all a-ferment with ideas. The burbclaves. The philes. The Rat Thing (poor Rat Thing!) The Feed, and what does it mean to be an artisan in a world of mass-produced items? All kinds of ideas and issues and nifty concepts to play with and think about.

    Ending REAMDE left me with a feeling of “yeah, okay, whatever. Oh, that character survived? And that one didn’t? Eh, whatever.”

    Color me cranky, and not exclusively because of this cold.

    In the discussion thread on MetaFilter, one commenter said, “I closed the book, walked into my husband’s office, thumped it down on his desk, and said, ‘I cannot recommend you read this book.'” I have to agree.

    Another commenter on MetaFilter said, “I should remember that when mainstream reviews call something an author’s most accessible work, it means the people who actually like that author’s work probably won’t.”

    I wound up reading Anathem as a palate-cleanser and loved it.

  37. Andrew M: I’ve always been a bit puzzled by the idea that The City and the City is fantasy

    It’s certainly not science-fiction.

    It’s a detective story set in a large city where nearly everyone has agreed to participate in a massive illusion.

  38. @Brian V: Thanks for the pointer to @SFEditorsPicks – great idea they have, though it’d be nice if they included a couple of words about the story and/or why they liked it (I know, I know – Twitter = short msg).

  39. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (which all Truefans have of course already watched, given what a superb example of science fiction television it is) deals with Japan’s nuclear trauma directly in the second season. More than that would be spoilers, though…

    Ursulav already brought up Always Coming Home but I’ll give it my vote as non-dystopian post-apocalypse as well. “Houston Houston Do You Read” might be read as non-dystopian, from a certain point of view.

  40. JJ, on The City and the City:
    It’s certainly not science-fiction.

    It’s a detective story set in a large city where nearly everyone has agreed to participate in a massive illusion.

    It’s certainly not hard science fiction, but I’m not at all certain there isn’t a case to be made for it being science fiction based on social sciences. It strikes me as being grounded in psychological conditioning and the state changing perception on a mass level the way that the state can change memory on a mass level. In that it’s allegory and contains stylistic flourishes of second-world fantasy, it’s edging into fantasy territory, but it contains no fantastical elements. In that it’s grounded in the real political use of applied psychology in a speculative setting, it’s SF. IIRC, nothing in that world was supernatural, it was all pure extrapolation of existing psychological knowledge.

  41. Amoxtli: [The City and the City is] certainly not hard science fiction, but I’m not at all certain there isn’t a case to be made for it being science fiction based on social sciences. It strikes me as being grounded in psychological conditioning and the state changing perception on a mass level the way that the state can change memory on a mass level.

    Your argument is persuasive. I wasn’t thinking about the social sciences and psychology being “science”, but of course they would be considered such.

    I enjoyed the book, but found the setup for everyone to buy-in to the mass illusion unconvincing as described. I actually liked Embassytown a little better. I have not yet read his other Hugo-nominated works, but they’re on the TBR list (*sigh* — along with about a thousand other books).

  42. I enjoyed the book, but found the setup for everyone to buy-in to the mass illusion unconvincing as described.

    All cultures have socially conditioned assumptions that become invisible to the people who share them. For instance, this and this are experiments to reveal invisible assumptions that we don’t consciously know we act on. It’s the sort of thing that’s trained when we’re young and statistically we all do, while not realizing we do it or being very aware of when it happens around us. Mieville’s metaphor is making the abstract concrete, the residents of Beszel and Ul Qoma are not observing something that’s physically happening rather than conceptually happening. But the basic mechanism by which people do that exists.

    There’s a lot of of modern allegorical magical realism, particularly out of Eastern bloc countries or things like Animal Farm and 1984, which all explore similar ideas, the ways authoritarian governments can manipulate or redact the memories and beliefs of people within their borders. The City and The City seems like it’s in that tradition to me, a book that’s saying that a government with broad police powers can condition its population much more deeply than we tend to recognize. It turns its answer to that question into more of an adventure story, rather than the damning conclusion of Winston Smith learning at last to love Big Brother, but I think both books are predicated on essentially the same pessimistic conclusion about just how far it’s possible for a government to take mass psychological control.

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