Pixel Scroll 5/19/18 For Once A Goof In A Pixel I’ve Provided Wasn’t Introduced By Me

(1) #NEBULAS2018. Cat Rambo is ready for the banquet:

(2) #NEBULAS2018. Tell me this doesn’t send a shiver down a writer’s spine:

That comes from a thread with livetweeted highlights of a Nebula Conference panel.

(3) #NEBULAS2018. Pin at the Nebula banquet.

(4) UNWASHED MASSES. Don’t tell this to writers, but Jimmy Kimmel has been prowling the streets asking strangers, “Can You Name a Book? ANY Book???”

According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, almost one in four Americans has not read a book in the past year. So to find out if that is true, we sent a team to the street to ask pedestrians to name a book, and here are the very sad results.

 

(5) STARSHIP TROOPERS AS SPAGHETTI WESTERN. Fabrice Mathieu has done an incredible job with his new mashup called Far Alamo (Vimeo Staff Pick) in which John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and other Sixties western stars meet the world of Paul Verhoeven when the Alamo is attacked by BUGS!

(6) LATE ARRIVAL. Jeb Kinnison wants to convince you “Why ‘Arrival’ is Bad Science Fiction”.

The value of science fiction: narratives predicting science and technology and effects on future society. Stories enabled by the new, that help readers grasp what is to come and where they might place themselves to affect the outcome of their own stories. These can be more or less inherently entertaining, but the fascination of young people (especially young men) for them is in dreaming of mastery: to understand and control Nature, to vanquish enemies and nurture their families through something other than brute force and violence (though a blend of both is often very popular!)

“Junk science” is those beliefs promoted to persuade or entertain that have either been shown to be false or are simply unsupported by empirical tests. The media world is flooded with it, with sober studies making one small data point on some topic oversimplified and promoted as a breakthrough, to get clicks or publicity for research funding. “Junk science fiction” is therefore a story that borrows the authority of science to make unsupported or frankly false claims as part of a narrative, which nonscientists will accept as plausible or possible. And Arrival is junk science fiction.

(7) NOT EASY BEING GREEN. Tor.com’s Brandon O’Brien says “It’s Time to Talk About Marvel’s Gamora Problem”. Were you running out of things to criticize about Avengers: Infinity War? This will restock your cupboard.

To be clear, this is not me saying that that the movie is bad, or unenjoyable in a general sense. The action was engaging for the most part, and there are some character progressions that I think elicited real dramatic effort from the film. I like how it sets up Tony Stark’s pained, traumatic franchise-long journey from selfish, egotistical brat to responsible, self-sacrificing, if conflicted leader, which I hope they go all in on in upcoming installments. Thor, being my absolute favourite character from the franchise in general, has one really committed throughline, from losing everything that ever mattered to him in two back-to-back genocides to literally taking a beam of white-hot suffering through his body just to regain trust in his own heroic potential. Individual moments, like when Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon have their first fight with Thanos’ Black Order goons in Scotland, are delightful to look at, visually. And some of the more unlikely on-screen team-ups, like Tony with Doctor Strange, or Thor with Rocket, actually make room for really interesting dialogue.

But ultimately, there’s one aspect of the film that I simply can’t get past. We need to talk about what happens to Gamora….

(8) CAPTAIN MARVEL. The promise of Carol Danvers – What Culture makes a case for “Why Thanos Should Fear Captain Marvel.”

She is one of Marvel’s all time most beloved and powerful characters, especially in more recent years.  Since then, she’s had a new look, gone in various new directions, and has been at the absolute forefront of everything the company has tried to do.  A transition into the MCU was inevitable.

…Even Kevin Feige has said Danvers is as powerful a character as we’ve ever put in a movie.  Her powers are off the charts, and when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we have ever had.”

 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY

  • Born May 19, 1944 – Peter Mayhew

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy learned from Pearls Before Swine how bookstores can compete against Amazon. Turns out it may be hard on the customers, though.

(11) DON’T STEAL THAT SMELL! Apparently they just got around to this, 62 years after the product went on the market: “Hasbro officially trademarks Play-Doh smell”.

Toy maker Hasbro announced it has trademarked one of the most recognizable aspects of one of its most iconic products: the smell of Play-Doh.

The Pawtucket, R.I., company announced Friday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has officially recognized the distinctive Play-Doh smell as a registered trademark of the brand, which first hit stores in 1956.

(12) CURIOSITY. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination presents “Why: What Makes Us Curious, with Mario Livio” on June 11.

June 11, 2018
6:00pm
Roth Auditorium
Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine
UC San Diego

The ability to ask “why?” makes us uniquely human. Curiosity drives basic scientific research, is the engine behind creativity in all disciplines from technology to the arts, is a necessary ingredient in education, and a facilitating tool in every form of storytelling (literature, film, TV, or even a simple conversation) that delights rather than bores.

In a fascinating and entertaining lecture, astrophysicist and bestselling author Mario Livio surveys and interprets cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience that aims at exploring and understanding the origin and mechanisms of human curiosity.  As part of his research into the subject, Livio examined in detail the personalities of two individuals who arguably represent the most curious minds to have ever existed: Leonardo da Vinci and Richard Feynman. He also interviewed 9 exceptionally curious people living today, among them Fabiola Gianotti, the Director General of CERN (who is also an accomplished pianist), paleontologist Jack Horner, and the virtuoso lead guitarist of the rock band Queen, Brian May (who also holds a PhD in astrophysics), and Livio presents fascinating conclusions from these conversations.

(13) GRANDMASTER’S TRADING CARD. Walter Day presented SFWA Grandmaster Peter S. Beagle with his souvenir trading card during tonight’s Nebula ceremony.

(14) A CHARMING CONVENTION.

(15) GAIMAN ADAPTATION. NPR’s Chris Klimek says it’s OK: “London Calling (Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft): ‘How To Talk To Girls At Parties'”. Last year at Cannes this was being called a disaster; no word on whether it’s been reworked.

Men Are From From Mars, Women Are From Venus, a best-selling early-’90s relationships guidebook argued. How to Talk to Girls at Parties, a sweet, slight comic fantasy expanded from an early-aughts Neil Gaiman short story, knows the truth is far more complex: Men and Women Are from Earth, Members of an Advanced Extraterrestrial Species on a Reconnaissance Mission Here While Temporarily Wearing the Bodies of Men and Women are from…. well, we never find out where they’re from, exactly. But every planet has its misfits.

(16) STILL READY PLAYER ONE. Did I already link to Glen Weldon’s review of this movie? Just in case: “Arcade Firewall: ‘Ready Player One’ REALLY Loves The ’80s”.

There will be grunts.

Grunts of recognition, that is. If you watch Steven Spielberg’s solidly built sci-fi phantasmagoria Ready Player One in a crowded theater, there will be grunts aplenty, so prepare yourself for them.

You can’t, you won’t — but try.

Every time any beloved or at least recognizable nugget of 1980s popular culture turns up onscreen, one or (likely) more of your fellow audience members will let out a low, pre-verbal phoneme, a glottal unh, to signify that they do, in fact, recognize said nugget and wish to inform those around them of this key development. This grunt, by the way, is a subspecies of the one heard at live theater, whenever a given patron wishes to express their comprehension of, and/or amusement at, some passage of dialogue they find particularly trenchant (that one’s more an amused hm!).

(17) VEGGIES IN ORBIT. GeekWire headline: “Small seeds could lead to a giant leap in space farming”.

The next Orbital ATK delivery to the space station will carry several strains of seeds for Arabidopsis, a flowering plant that’s closely related to cabbage and mustard. These will be grown in the Final Frontier Plant Habitat which was delivered on an earlier mission. The same genetic variants will be grown on Earth and used as baselines to compare harvested specimens sent back from the space station. You may recall that an earlier experiment in the overall mission to test growing of plants (including crops) in space involved lettuce, which was actually consumed by astronauts onboard the station.

When Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket launches a robotic Cygnus cargo spaceship toward the International Space Station, as early as Monday, it’ll be sending seeds that could show the way for future space farmers.

The Antares liftoff is currently set for 4:39 a.m. ET (1:39 a.m. PT) on Monday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, with an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather. NASA’s live-streaming coverage of the countdown begins at 1 a.m. PT Monday.

More than 7,200 pounds of supplies, equipment and experiments will be packed aboard the Cygnus. One of the smallest payloads consists of seeds for the Final Frontier Plant Habitat — part of a $2.3 million, NASA-funded initiative that involves researchers from Washington State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the University of New Mexico and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The automated habitat was delivered during previous cargo resupply missions and set up for planting. Once the Cygnus’ cargo arrives, astronauts can proceed with the habitat’s first official science experiment, which is aimed at determining which genetic variants of plants grow best under weightless conditions.

(18) STAND BY TO SCORCH YOUR CREDIT CARD. Ars Technica delivers a “Peek at LEGO’s upcoming sets: Star Wars crafts, Hogwarts, Ninjago city, and more”, sharing pics of LEGO’s upcoming summer and holiday 2018 sets, including:

  • Jedi Starfighter ($19)
  • Collector Series Y-Wing Starfighter ($199)
  • Snoke’s Throne Room ($69)
  •  Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter ($79)
  • Sandcrawler ($139)
  • Kessel Run version of the Millenium Falcon ($169)
  • Hogwarts Express ($79)
  • Hogwarts Great Hall ($99)
  • Quidditch Match ($39)
  • Ninjago City Docks ($229)
  • Ninjago Destiny’s Wing ($19)

Non-genre sets pictured include:

  • Arctic Supply Plane ($79)
  • Cargo Train ($229)
  • LEGO City Passenger Train ($159)
  • Creator Expert: Roller Coaster set ($379)
  • Mobile Stunt Show ($49)

(19) CATS SITTING WITHIN SF. Cory Doctorow discovered “Bandai is manufacturing armored cats”. Here’s an example. More photos at the link.

(20) DEADPOOL’S HISTORY. ScienceFiction.com explains how “‘Deadpool 2’ Mocks Marvel’s 10-Year Anniversary Video” in “Deadpool 2 – The First 10 Years.”

The clip chronicles the history of the ‘Deadpool’ franchise from 2008 to 2018, also giving it a 10-year history like Marvel Studios’ MCU – it even has the same format, aesthetic, as well as the use of dramatic background music. Clocking in at just over a minute, the clip features only Deadpool, unlike the MCU’s version which had commentaries from several key players in the film series, as he narrates what happened in the last decade that led to the creation of the upcoming sequel. The clip is filled with the character’s signature brand of humor as he honestly speaks about Reynolds’ starring in ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine,’ which certainly didn’t help their cause, as well as Fox’s multiple rejections of the project

 

(21) DEADPOOL IS HISTORY. Mark Kermode’s review of Deadpool 2, “…not as bad as Kick Ass 2” ouch.

Main problem in his view is it has tried to be more than the first and lost what he liked about the first one.

[Thanks to IanP, Jayn, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Iphinome, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mark Hepworth, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chip Hitchcock.]

113 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/19/18 For Once A Goof In A Pixel I’ve Provided Wasn’t Introduced By Me

  1. Just saw the Avengers movie. It would have been better with Deadpool in it, I’m pretty sure. Not to mention Herbie Popnecker, but that’s another publisher.

    You want I should scroll you with this here pixel?

  2. (6) LATE ARRIVAL.

    This got the same level of appreciation from me as was achieved by the quoted blog post by Stross: lots of eye-rolling.

    Where would we be, without the self-appointed gatekeepers of “right SF” to tell us who is doing it wrong? 🙄

  3. 6) Yeah, kind of my feeling. By his standards, it would seem that all the readers would require advanced science degrees or else they wouldn’t be doing it right.

  4. (6)

    Chiang invokes the so-called Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, which suggests that the language you use determines what you can think. In its weakest form the hypothesis is inarguable (“inability to express a concept easily in a language makes that concept harder to think about”) but in its stronger form is largely discredited. Chiang leaps from “sees many things easily as blue because there is a word for blue” to “can see the future because the language treats all events as happening at once.” This is nonsense supported by fake science, and suggests determinism and lack of free will make all efforts to change the future futile.

    Yes, the strong version of Sapir-Whorf is rejected by most linguists, and could be considered junk science. When Kinnison rejects most SF stories because they depend on the junk science of faster than light drives, then I’ll take him seriously. Otherwise it’s just a thuggish attempt to reduce proper SF to his beloved whiz bang adventure stories for young (white, straight) men that ignores the vast amount of SF that is not about what he thinks it is primarily supposed to be about but rather about taking an interesting idea, even one that might be false, and following it to an interesting and possibly dramatic conclusion–which Chiang does a LOT and at a very high level of accomplishment

  5. Continuing with what I wrote before:

    There is a huge difference between plausible and possible developments in future science like FTL (Faster Than Light) travel or wormhole gateways and “science” that violates laws of causality, which is really magic.

    That’s self-serving BS. If you take relativity seriously, then FTL also violates causality, pure and simple, no bones about it–this is why physicists since Einstein himself traditionally rejected the very possibility of traveling faster than light, since it opened the door to paradoxes about causality. For that matter, if he takes the idea of free will seriously, then he can’t accept Newtonian or relativistic mechanics without adding in “junk science,” since neither one makes any allowance in the standard form for causes that are not the effects of preceding causes, pure and simple and no bones about it–that’s the basic reason Kant set up his idea of the noumenal world, so as to allow free will into the Newtonian universe somehow. And this leaves aside the whole tangle of silliness in time travel…speaking of violating relativity and causality.

    (Somehow I don’t think he’d look too kindly on the most scientific way, according to relativity, of doing time travel–you take someone or something out of the present and stick it in another time, where it doesn’t and indeed can’t show free will, but simply acts out the effects in that time of the causes acting on it in its original time, without any consideration of how you’d handle conservation of matter and energy, never mind momentum and angular momentum–one can easily imagine that thing placed in another time slamming through the atmosphere emitting Cerenkov radiation because of the mismatch in momentum, etc., or if it is stationary, being completely flattened into paste because of the acceleration that had to be applied to get it to be stationary in the new frame of reference. Nope, not to his taste at all, I’m sure, which shows that what he is interested in is actually not science or scientific accuracy but his philosophical worldview, the one in which the universe is just one great Planet Earth with lots of previously undiscovered islands people can travel to easily and not too expensively with unusual critters and customs as backdrops for the same old stories of whiz bang adventure for little boys or, more seriously, philosophical what-if tales that violated the scientific knowledge of their day, and often ours, but did allow people to think interesting thinks about interesting things, like, say, “what if Sapir-Whorf held true in a deterministic universe like that of Newton or Einstein?”)

    Mind you, the story behind Arrival is not my favorite in the book, precisely because of the Sapir-Whorfness in connection with determinism. It’s not something I find so easy to suspend my disbelief in. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a brilliant treatment of “what if?”

  6. This got the same level of appreciation from me as was achieved by the quoted blog post by Stross: lots of eye-rolling.

    Where would we be, without the self-appointed gatekeepers of “right SF” to tell us who is doing it wrong? ?

    Yes, this.

    And as an occasional linguist, I do agree that the strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is wrong, because language does not work that way. I still liked Arrival, though.

  7. (6): The value of science fiction: narratives predicting science and technology and effects on future society.
    What complete and utter tosh.

  8. Ferret Bueller, thank you for those thoughtful posts.

    I agree, Arrival was a brilliant rendering of “What If?” If I avoided reading anything which violated Mr. Kinnison’s “rules”, I would have almost nothing left to read (and neither would he: a great deal of that to which he is giving a pass does not meet his exacting criteria).

  9. 1. Sure strong Spair-Whorf is wrong but in so far as Arrival addresses it, it as a what-if in an otherwise sensible universe. That’s about as core SF as you can get. Take science and tweak part of it to make something fictional and interesting. (Also ‘wrong’ for values of ‘no, nobody actually knows how minds work and what intelligence is’)
    2. Yeah, the ‘laws of causality’ – that’s not actually a thing. Laws of thermodynamics are a thing, General relativity is a thing. Causality? That’s more metaphysics unless you are reducing it down to more fundamental physics and if you can do that then you don’t need ‘causality’ except for hand waving.

  10. (1) #NEBULAS2018. She looks awesome!

    (4) UNWASHED MASSES. Seriously?! Not even something they read as a kid, or the Bible, or The Joy of Cooking, or anything?!

    (8) CAPTAIN MARVEL. “She is one of Marvel’s all time most beloved and powerful characters, especially in more recent years.” – I didn’t realize she’d become so beloved. But I remember her from the X-Men days, when we had more than one Carol Danvers (sorta, thanks to Rogue) running around, and her transition to Binary. 😉 I’m not familiar with her more recent stuff, though.

    “Her powers are off the charts, and when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we have ever had.”

    Oh, really? Groovy. I’m looking forward to her movie.

    (11) DON’T STEAL THAT SMELL! Wow, I was unaware you could trademark a smell. I didn’t even know it smelled like that on purpose. 😛

    (19) CATS SITTING WITHIN SF. I, for one, welcome our feline overlords, etc. 😉

  11. @Mike Glyer: “FOR ONCE A GOOF IN A PIXEL I’VE PROVIDED WASN’T INTRODUCED BY ME”

    Congratulations, Mike! Appertain yourself something nice! 😉

    @Kip W: I also just saw the Avengers movie (mid-day Saturday). I liked it a lot!

    @PhilRM: “(6): ‘The value of science fiction: narratives predicting science and technology and effects on future society.’ – What complete and utter tosh.”

    Yes. @Ferret Bueller’s describes SF better – “what if?”!

  12. 6) I was too distracted watching Arrival on Prime to make it to the end of the silly article.
    Love this movie.

  13. I’d like to throw something out to the assembled knowledge-holders here. Genealogical research has found several mentions of “unhorsed Confederates.” Non-pejorative mentions. For instance, a will which names two people “who, like myself, are unhorsed Confederates.”

    An unhorsed soldier is a soldier is someone who has been knocked off of, or otherwise removed from, his horse, but is still a soldier. This would leave me to believe that an unhorsed Confederate is someone who lost his war but is still loyal to his cause. But that’s just a guess. These people are writing relatively soon after the war, and this seems to be common terminology, but I can’t find a source that tells me for sure what they mean by it. I’m happy with my guess, but I hate just relying on a guess.

    Anyone familiar with this phrase, either in terms of the American War Between the States or something similar?

    ——— On topic, I like “The Story of Your Life” more than Arrival, but I love them both, junk science or not. “If this were true, this could happen” works for me.

  14. Jeff Smith: Anyone familiar with this phrase

    Didn’t soldiers have to provide their own mount? Thus there were the “higher-class” soldiers who rode, and the “lower-class” who were too poor to afford a horse and therefore served as foot infantry. Is it possible that’s what it means?

  15. Kendall:

    Yes. @Ferret Bueller’s describes SF better – “what if?”!

    Thanks, though as you doubtless know, it’s hardly mine. Like much modern SF, I’m just regurgitating the tropes of far older, better thinkers and writers.

    I’ll just make a more general point. When I was in high school, my tastes in SF ran pretty much to Kinnison’s (and I hasten to add, in case anyone took my words in a direction I don’t mean, I still like that sort of SF, if done well and in smaller doses than I used to). Then I left off reading SF for years and read lots of the classic non-science fiction I looked askance at earlier, and even some about esthetic theory. Then later I returned to SF with a vengeance (though I still read the other stuff as much as I always did). The whole jab that SF is just escapist children’s stories, and thus modern fairy tales, and the jab that literary fiction is just polished gossip about people who don’t exist and would not be worth knowing if they did, was put into perspective by arguing far too long on a linguistics newsgroup with a crank who argued that EVERYTHING is either scientific–which, he explicitly stated, is either mathematized to a fare-thee-well or is not science–or entertainment, including EVERYTHING that is not mathematized, and therefore lies (since fiction involves what is not true at the foundational level), and therefore should be 100% excluded from education at all levels and is shameful when not pursued as relaxation in between doing bouts of science.

    (Mind you, he was not only a linguistic crank, for alongside arguing that his Turkic ancestors spoke the original language of mankind and founded all of western civilization, he also argued that Georg Cantor was a lying idiot, all decimal representations of fractions actually terminate, and other bits of thoroughly stupid math crankery. I might add he was a very cranky crank–one of the nastiest people I’ve ever encountered on Usenet.)

    Somehow his prohibition on all that is not mathematized did not extend to history, which he was trying to rewrite from the ground up (thereby creating what is in effect the dullest, stupidest passel of Mary-Sue-drenched historical fiction you’d ever find), but more to the point, yeah, in a way he’s correct, though not in a way he would accept as valid: All fiction is based on lies. Yet those lies are often emotionally powerful and seem truer than true somehow. Which brings up back to so much of aesthetic theory, which you can find discussed elsewhere by much more interesting, much acuter people than me.

    In any case, all fiction is based on what is not true. What untruths does a piece of fiction or a genre accept or rule out and how does it play with those it accepts? Those are I think the interesting basic questions. But as I’m not a great aesthetician, I don’t really have an answer, and I like a lot of all kinds of stuff, even stuff I’d have thought I wouldn’t like because I don’t like that sort of playing with fictions and ideas. Kinnison has his own answer to that, and he seems to think that the latest findings of science somehow have veto power over what is essentially no more true than the stuff he doesn’t like. But then in that he’s not that different from a lot of other people who place their veto powers elsewhere.

  16. @Ferret Bueller: Heh, yes, I know it’s not solely your phrase, but you used it in response to the article, so I wanted to “me too” you. 🙂 BTW to “me too” @JJ, thanks for these great comments!

  17. Nobody tell this guy about Snow Crash. Or the one that I have suddenly blanked on the name of—had the really good aliens that all moved in the time it took your brain to redraw your vision and the narrator talked about consciousness like he’d just taken acid for the first time in college and also there were vampires for some weird reason?

  18. RedWombat: the one that I have suddenly blanked on the name of—had the really good aliens that all moved in the time it took your brain to redraw your vision and the narrator talked about consciousness like he’d just taken acid for the first time in college and also there were vampires for some weird reason?

    Peter Watts, Blindsight.

    I really don’t care for books featuring vampires, but wow did that one hit my sweet spot.

  19. THANK YOU. My brain kept saying “Blackout” which was…a very different book.

    I rolled my eyes endlessly at the central conceit in BLINDSIGHT but those were some of the finest aliens I’ve read in ages.

  20. Et Internëtto Filerenna utúlien. Sinome maruvan ar Scollenyar tenn’ Pixel-metta.

  21. Saw Deadpool 2 today. Liked it a lot on first blush, although it is a fine line to walk making something so ludicrously meta have meaningful emotional stakes. I’ll have to let it stew for a while and see if its flaws or its virtues steep better.

    There were a lot of really good quick-hit piss-taking in-jokes in it, that’s for sure.

  22. Blindsight has a sequel, Echopraxia, which manages the challenging feat of being even more miserable and pessimistic than the first one. I did not have the heart to try the third installment.

  23. Niall McAuley: I did not have the heart to try the third installment.

    You’re just fucking with me, aren’t you? There is no third installment. 😜

  24. Dear folks,

    Others here have ably pointed out how Jeb gets his physics badly wrong in his effort to criticize Arrival. Putting on my physicist hat, I’m going to explain how he gets his philosophy wrong!

    Wading through his essay, his real objection isn’t to Sapir-Whorf, that’s just the wedge for his axe to bite. His real objection is to backward-directed time travel, which he believes forces “determinism and lack of free will,” and he is philosophically opposed to that. (It doesn’t matter whether the time travel is physical or mental — the problematical part is information going the wrong way.)

    Here’s the thing — it doesn’t force that. That is, in itself, an unprovable philosophical position.

    Suppose backward-directed time travel were possible. Current physics says it isn’t, but let’s ignore that and shove it into the Canon anyway. Having done that, you can construct physics (that is realistic and internally consistent and does not violate anything that is currently known to be true) in which the universe can be deterministic or nondeterministic and in which free will does or does not exist. Most significantly, all four possible combinations — deterministic/nondeterministic + free/non-free — are physically possible and realistic.

    Physics can’t tell us which one is true at this point. Well actually, at this point, physics says the question is pointless because you can’t have that kind of time travel. But if you could… Physics still can’t choose which of those four combinations represents reality. That is a question for philosophy, not science.

    His fundamental objection evaporates. A does not have to imply B, he’s only choosing a philosophical model in which it does and not even realizing he’s making a choice.

    The reason for his umbrage and high dudgeon isn’t even real!

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  25. (6) Another splendid example of the issues that arise when someone tries to take subjective personal preferences and make them universal. I’m not sure this failure mode is universal to science fiction fen, but it sure seems a lot more common among us.

    (7) This, on the other hand, is a textbook example of how to do criticism. Not “this is wrong”, but “this has the following ethical and cultural implications”.

    (8) Not having viewed the video yet, after reading the previous article, all I can think of is that Captain Marvel will be a McGuffin when first introduced. And if she’s so important to Marvel, why hasn’t she had her own movie by now, or been introduced or hinted at in any other?

    (17) I’m all for science that yields immediate practical benefits (in this case fresh astronaut food).

  26. The strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is a fun counterfactual to play with. (Vance did it in The Languages of Pao, Delany in Babel-17.) It’s like FTL travel in that respect. But I’m sure we’d all be happier dealing with hard science, instead. Like psionics, or eugenics, or the Dean Drive….

  27. by arguing far too long on a linguistics newsgroup with a crank who argued that EVERYTHING is either scientific–which, he explicitly stated, is either mathematized to a fare-thee-well or is not science–or entertainment, including EVERYTHING that is not mathematized, and therefore lies (since fiction involves what is not true at the foundational level), and therefore should be 100% excluded from education at all levels and is shameful when not pursued as relaxation in between doing bouts of science.

    Yeah Wittgenstein got there before him, wrote a better book, wandered around for a bit being terrible as a teacher and architect, then spent the rest of his life explaining in detail why he was wrong.

  28. I know what you’re thinking. “Did he scroll six pixels or only five?

  29. @Kendall

    (8) CAPTAIN MARVEL. “She is one of Marvel’s all time most beloved and powerful characters, especially in more recent years.” – I didn’t realize she’d become so beloved. But I remember her from the X-Men days, when we had more than one Carol Danvers (sorta, thanks to Rogue) running around, and her transition to Binary. ? I’m not familiar with her more recent stuff, though.

    I drifted away from Marvel sometime in the late 1990s and so I remembered Carol Danvers mostly as that annoying person who occasionally popped up to take over Rogue’s body (and Rogue was one of my favourite characters) and who sometimes showed up in person to flirt with Wolverine and was otherwise not particularly useful.

    I even fished some early Ms. Marvel comics starring Carol Danvers from the 1970s from a back issue box somewhere and they were very, very earnest in their attempt to be feminist and not very good. This was actually the painful message fiction that the puppies accuse modern Marvel comics of being.

    So I was also very surprised to see that Carol Danvers has apparently morphed into an awesome character in the meantime. I am looking forward to the movie, though.

  30. @Ctein @Andrew
    I always viewed the story as an afffirmation of free will. After all, she could have sent Jeremy Renner’s character packing. She chose not to, even knowing what would happen.

  31. Andrew:

    I’d like to hear about the Sapir-Worf hypothesis…

    Can’t help out there, but at least one person has had a brush with the fellow. (Right hand column, top.)

    Though it has come up before.

  32. Darren Garrison:

    I’d like to see Sapir-Worf fight Dunning-Kreuger.

    I giggled in most unseemly fashion at that.

  33. I’ve seen this expressed as: “relativity, FTL travel, causality, pick at most two.” If it’s possible to travel faster than light, either Einstein was wrong in other important ways, or we’re wrong about causality on the effects-follow-causes level. (ObSF: the time travel in Heinlein,’s Time Enough for Love.) If relativity is wrong, whatever replaces it as a better description of the universe also has to contain/be consistent with gravitational lenses, the precession of Mercury’s orbit, and the fact that time passes more slowly in geosynchronous orbit than on Earth’s surface.

    If causality doesn’t hold, I don’t know what happens, because just about everyone’s ordinary world view, most formal philosophies, and a lot of ethical systems depend on it. On the practical level, we assume things like “if you push something off the table, it won’t just hang in the air” and “if you put a pan of water on a hot stove, it will heat up, not freeze or turn into a cube of purple gelatin.” (ObSF: Le Guin, “Schrodinger’s Cat.”)

    Even the purely rule-based “this is right because God said so” approaches tend to involve at least one of “we know this is what God wants because $Reasons” (and I suspect that any “because” that isn’t pure formal mathematics is iffy if you don’t have causality) and “if you don’t do what God wants you will be punished” (which tends to, again, assume causality). Strong Calvinist predestination, of the “you have no free will, God knew what you’d do before you were conceived, and you will still be rewarded or punished for those actions” might be logically consistent, but they’ve never felt satisfying as ethical guidelines: if my eternal fate was determined before I was born, I might as well ignore the question of damnation, because my decisions can’t affect it.

  34. @Jeff Smith

    Looking at a couple newspaper archives I’m finding three articles using “unhorsed Confederate” as a reference to the Democratic Party around the time of the Hayes administration (1877 to 1881). Contextually I would interpret it to be used with a derogatory meaning pretty close to your interpretation. I’d look to a historian for a more informed answer but based on limited evidence that’s my read on it.

  35. (8) There are a lot of things said there that do not seem to be supported by comic sells or her power set in said comics. And after Civil Wars 2 I think she usually turns up in the most hated hero lists.

  36. @Mister Dalliard:

    (8): They’re working on it [Captain Marvel]. It’s due to open a few months before Infinity War Part 2.

    Yeah, I know. I checked the IMDB, and from that I saw Avengers: IW: 2 was in post-production, and Captain Marvel was filming, so I assumed A: IW: 2 would get out before CM, which apparently was incorrect.

    But she still wasn’t even hinted at until Avengers: Infinity War, and then only in the post-credits scene.

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  38. @Andrew,

    thank you for the link to the story by Ted Chiang. I simply had to read it!

  39. @Ferret Bueller: I would put it – All fiction lies. The best fiction lies in order to tell us the truth.

  40. @Ferret Bueller: Thanks for the Sapir-Worf link

    @Christian: Glad you liked it – I read it was it was new (in 2005) and it’s always stuck with me.

  41. 6) The reason for his umbrage and high dudgeon isn’t even real!

    My money is on Ctein!

    Meanwhile, doesn’t Kinnison misread Stross? Kinnison is arguing that to be plausible SF must predict some aspect of technology or society in the future. But I think Charlie was saying that the effort of the writer must be put into making a plausible scenario in SF, because reality itself doesn’t have to make sense. I don’t see the connection between Charlie’s point and the necessity for predicting the future.

    Further, as others have mentioned, this completely misses the point of great SF, which intrigues and delights because of the tension between plausibility and the fantastic. Was R. A. Lafferty predicting anything? And yet he was an engineer, too.

    And let’s hope that Accelerando wasn’t a prediction, eh? Those freaking lobsters!

  42. @Andrew:

    I’d like to hear about the Sapir-Worf hypothesis. . .

    The Linguist List, Ask a Linguist FAQ, entry for Sapir-Worf Not as funny as Ferrett’s links, alas!

    I loved Arrival which I saw before reading Chiang’s story; I was rather ‘meh’ at the story which is unusual for me.

    Not enough speculative fiction really focuses on language and translation issues in any serious way (see: Universal Translator!). I am a fan of linguistic sf, and here are my major favorites:

    Suzette Haden Elgin, Native Tongue Elgin was a linguist (did her Ph.D. dissertation on Hopi) and this novel (and the two loose sequels which follow) ask what if the strong Sapir-Worf hypothesis was true, and “women” could create a language that encoded their reality.

    Jo Walton’s review has some mild spoilers and points out strengths and weaknesses with the premise. The linguistic material in the novel is fascinating–if you like linguistics!–and Elgin not only created Laadan, a feminist language for the novel, but created dictionaries and learning materials for those who want to learn it.

    She used Noam Chomsky’s Transformational Generative Grammar as the basis for the system of magic in her Ozark Trilogy. I think that this attempt was much more successful in some ways; I still remember the first time I was introduced to TGG in a linguistics class and sitting there going OMG, it’s Ozark magic. Elgin had a LiveJournal for some years before she died, and I told her about that experience. She said I was the only person who’d ever said that.

    Another novel heavily influenced by linguistic knowledge is Janet Kagan’s Hellspark (link to Tor review, no spoilers, but a perfect description of the linguistic theory in the novel:

    a language is more than the words you use to speak it—you have to learn to dance a language.

    And pretty much all of C. J. Cherryh’s science fiction focuses on the difficulties of learning languages and cultures in ways that show her awareness of linguistics.

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