Pixel Scroll 6/17/18 Come Away, O Meredithed Book, To The Kindle And The Nook

(1) ADVICE AND DISSENT. When Elon Musk described himself as “…a utopian anarchist of the kind best described by Iain Banks” on Twitter he got plenty of pushback. Soon Lee and Rob Thornton report that the pushers included Charles Stross, Hal Duncan, Cory Doctorow, and —

For those who need an introduction, Edward Champion’s 2013 essay “The Culture Novels of Iain M. Banks” looks promising:

When not committing his considerable energies to such intense Bildungsromans as The Wasp Factory or bleak-humored narratives like The Crow Road, Banks inserts an M into “Iain Banks” and writes science fiction novels. Most of these speculative volumes concern the Culture, a utopian-anarchist society that extends across a sizable cluster of the universe. These Culture vultures gambol across the galaxy in ships with such eccentric names as Don’t Try This at Home and Serious Callers Only. Culture citizens live for centuries, and can even change their appearances if they grow discontent with their corpora. These conditions encourage these civilized sybarites to have more fun than a flighty Dalmatian discovering a chiaroscuro sea of spotty companions. Never mind that there’s always an intergalactic war going on.

(2) DOLLAR BLAST. Just as you’d expect superheroes to do: “‘Incredibles 2’ crushes animation box office record”.

The Disney and Pixar film premiered to an estimated $180 million at the domestic box office this weekend. The sequel to the popular 2004 computer animated film soared past the record for biggest animated film opening in box office history by $45 million.

That record belonged to another Pixar film, “Finding Dory,” which opened to roughly $135 million two summers ago.

So far the film brought in $231.5 million around the world.

(3) BIG CAT. Should an owner discourage the ambitions of an SJW credential?

(4) HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED LEX. Some fantastic beasts who practice law in Hollywood are sowing darkness across the land: “Warner Bros. Crackdown Puts Dark Mark Over Harry Potter Festivals”.

Warner Bros. is cracking down on local Harry Potter fan festivals around the country, saying it’s necessary to halt unauthorized commercial activity. Fans, however, liken the move to Dementors sucking the joy out of homegrown fun, while festival directors say they wll transfigure the events into generic celebrations of magic.

“It’s almost as if Warner Bros. has been taken over by Voldemort, trying to use dark magic to destroy the light of a little town,” said Sarah Jo Tucker, a 21-year-old junior at Chestnut Hill College, which hosts a Quidditch tournament that has coincided with an annual Harry Potter festival in suburban Philadelphia.

Philip Dawson, Chestnut Hill’s business district director, said Warner Bros. reached out to his group in May, letting them know new guidelines prohibit festivals’ use of any names, places or objects from the film series. That ruled out everything from meet-and-greet with Dumbledore and Harry to Defense Against the Dark Arts classes.

(5) WELL ABOVE MINIMUM WAGE. Owen King tells readers of The New Yorker about “Recording Audiobooks For My Dad, Stephen King”.

My father gave me my first job, reading audiobooks on cassette tape. He had caught on to the medium early, but, as he explained later, “There were lots of choices as long as you only wanted to hear ‘The Thorn Birds.’ ” So, one day, in 1987, he presented me with a handheld cassette recorder, a block of blank tapes, and a hardcover copy of “Watchers,” by Dean Koontz, offering nine dollars per finished sixty-minute tape of narration.

This was an optimistic plan on my father’s part. Not only was I just ten years old, but when it came to reading aloud I had an infamous track record. My parents and I still read books together each night, and I had recently begun demanding an equal turn as narrator. Along our tour through Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped,” I had tested their love with reckless attempts at a Scottish accent for the revolutionary Alan Breck Stewart, whom the novel’s protagonist, David Balfour, befriends. Even as they pleaded for me to stop, I made knee-deep haggis of passages like the following:

“Do ye see my sword? It has slashed the heads off mair whigamores than you have toes upon your feet. Call up your vermin to your back, sir, and fall on! The sooner the clash begins, the sooner ye’ll taste this steel throughout your vitals.”

Despite this, my father enlisted me to narrate “Watchers.”

(6) WHAT A RUSH. It’s not going to take long for Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2018 to fill up –

(7) ARCHEOVIDEOLOGY. Echo Ishii returns to the history of TV sff in “SF Obscure: Ace of Wands.

Ace of Wands is an ITV fantasy show broadcast in 1971 to 1972. It’s technically a children’s/ family show, but it’s fairly sophisticated and one that held my interest. Ace of Wands ran for three series, however, only the third series remains. At the time, ITV wiped old series due to the high cost of production materials and storage.

(8) CATCHY TITLE. Anna-Marie Abell gave her novel an irresistible name — Holy Crap! The World is Ending!: How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex with an Alien and the Destruction of Earth. For the next couple of days it’s a 99-cent special on Amazon. If somebody reads it they can tell the rest of us whether it lives up to the promise of the cover.

Anna-Marie Abell grew up in a trailer park. Well, several actually. Her trailer was on wheels so she got to experience the Pacific Northwest’s vast array of mobile home parks as her parents moved her from one to the other. Somewhere along the way, she got totally into UFOs. Probably because she was hoping extraterrestrials would come and abduct her. But they never did. Luckily for her she was smart, because her only hope of escaping trailer life was college and a full scholarship. Moving to sunny California on her almost full ride to Chapman University, she was well on her way to her new life. Two bachelor degrees later (Film and Television Production and Media Performance), and several honors and awards for her accomplishments, she managed to start working in an almost completely unrelated industry from her majors: infomercials.

It was in college that she got bit by the “ancient alien” bug after listening to Zecharia Sitchin on Coast to Coast AM. In her pursuit to uncover the truth, she has spent the last twenty years researching the ancient Sumerian culture—in particular their “gods” called the Anunnaki—and their connection to the creation of the human race. What she found changed her life, her beliefs, and her understanding of the universe and everything beyond. Her humorous science fiction trilogy, The Anunnaki Chronicles, is a culmination of all her research, her borderline obsession for all things paranormal, and approximately 2,300 bottles of wine.

(9) FRONT, PLEASE. Dorothy Grant’s “Cover caveats” at Mad Genius Club is a great introduction to the process.

So where do you find your cover art and cover designer? Well, you can search the premade options put together by artists and designers, so you know exactly what it’ll look like when you get the “Your Title” swapped out for your actual title, and “Author Name” swapped for your pen name or real name.

Or you can get one designed for you. If you have no idea what you want or need, this can involve writing up a short description of the book or sending the book to the designer. Be aware that a busy professional designer probably will not read your entire book, but is skimming for worldfeel, character descriptions, possibly an iconic scene.

Or, if you’re a little more artistically inclined, you’ll send the designer / artist basically three sets of URLs.

First, links to bestselling books in the same subgenre that have covers similar to what you want. (send 3, so they can get a feel for what’s standard to that subgenre vs. particular to that single cover.)

Second, Send them URLs from stock photo sites that say “models like this”

Third, URLs from stock photo sites saying “backgrounds like this”

Artists think in pictures, not words, so communicate in visuals as much as possible.

(10) IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. I watched the first part of Live Slush Session 2 and was intrigued to hear Baen’s publisher and a contributing editor give candid reactions to authors’ manuscripts.

Baen Books’ Publisher Toni Weisskopf and “Slushmaster General” Gray Rinehart read the openings of volunteer submissions to give writers some insight into the evaluation process.



  • John King Tarpinian saw how Deadpool celebrates Father’s Day at Brevity.
  • And Ben Solo’s dad featured in yesterday’s Brevity.
  • Mike Kennedy sent along Pearls Before Swine’s suggestion for how to get people to read. (He didn’t say it was a good suggestion….)

(12) ALDEBURGH FESTIVAL. The Stage’s George Hall reviews the opera based on a Silverberg story: “To See the Invisible review at Britten Studio, Snape – ‘a musical patchwork’”.

New at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, Emily Howard’s chamber opera To See The Invisible has been freely adapted by playwright Selma Dimitrijevic from a taut and distinctly Kafkaesque short story by the American sci-fi writer Robert Silverberg.

The central character has been found guilty of the crime of coldness and is sentenced to a year’s invisibility, during which he is completely ignored by (almost) everyone he meets.

In Dimitrijevic’s libretto the character’s isolation remains severe, though he now has a family consisting of a mother, father and sister. His encounters with them and other individuals – in court, in a public gardens and a brothel – ameliorate his plight while also allowing some of Silverberg’s focused purity to dissipate.

In the opera he also has a kind of shadow in the shape of what the libretto describes as The Other Invisible – Anna Dennis’ female soprano regularly in synch with Nicholas Morris’ baritonal male. The character’s dual vocality is undoubtedly one of the more successful features of Howard’s score….

(13) IT’S NOT EASY BEING MEAN. Olga Polomoshnova analyzes the villain who gave evil a bad name — “On Sauron’s motives” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

Being the chief villain of the Second and Third Ages, Sauron sparks numerous questions concerning his motives. How did he become the evil figure we know him to be? Why did he run the risk of transferring a great amount of his inherent power into the One Ring knowing that it could lead to his destruction? Let us look at his downfall and motives through Tolkien’s own stories and letters.

Having risen like the shadow of Morgoth, Sauron was nevertheless different from his former lord. His downfall arose out of good motives, nor was he the beginner of discord. Sauron belonged to the Maiar — spirits created from Ilúvatar’s thought. He came into existence before the physical world took shape. Originally Sauron, who was known as Mairon (the Admirable) at that time, was associated with the people of Aulë, so he was a very skillful smith….

(14) EATON PHOTOS ONLINE. Andrew Porter labors on, identifying people in Jay Kay Klein’s photos. At the 1967 Worldcon, NYCon 3, this shot of a panel audience showed Walt Liebscher, Ray Fisher, Arnie Katz, Lee Hoffman, and Bob Tucker:

(15) A PENNYFARTHING FOR YOUR THOUGHTS. Ninety years ago, when Frank R. Paul painted his cities of the future, he didn’t include any bicycles at all. Now the BBC is asking — “Tomorrow’s Cities: Will the bike become an urban must-have?”

Fifteen years ago there were just four bike-sharing schemes in cities around the world, but now there are close to 1,000.

Most require you to pick up and leave a bike at a designated area, but new “dockless” schemes from China are coming to cities around the world – and proving controversial.

(16) THE MUMMY DIET. There’s a blog devoted to mummies, and Michele Brittany’s Musing on Mummies is up to “Episode 11: Sokushinbutsu and the Mummification Method Not Often Discussed”.

Ii-wey! Natural or intentional is usually what comes to mind when discussing the process of mummification. Certain environments, deserts, high altitudes or arid cold for example, will naturally dry the deceased, arresting the process of decay as a result. Intentional mummification requires human intervention after a person has died and most often, the Egyptian mummies come to mind. However, there is a third process that is not as well known.

Sokushinbutsu is a Japanese term that refers to a Buddhist mummy that remained incorrupt, or without decay after death….

(17) RADIO FREE BRADBURY. Listen to Ray Bradbury’s Tales of the Bizarre on BBC Radio 4. Four episodes are available online, with three more to come.

(18) NOT THIS WAY. “Astronaut Chris Hadfield says the rockets from NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin won’t take people to Mars” — Hadfield told Business Insider why he’s skeptical.

…NASA’s Space Launch System, which is slated to debut in the 2020s, will power its engines with a combination of liquid hydrogen and solid chemical fuels. Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, is also looking to use liquid hydrogen. SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, is staking its future on burning liquid methane, which the company believes it can generate on the Martian surface.

Like other experts, Hadfield doesn’t doubt that any of the vehicles could actually get to Mars; his issue is about the safety of any humans on board. Explosions, radiation, starvation, and other problems would constantly threaten a mission.

“We could send people to Mars, and decades ago. I mean, the technology that took us to the moon back when I was just a kid, that technology can take us to Mars — but it would be at significant risk,” he said. “The majority of the astronauts that we send on those missions wouldn’t make it. They’d die. Because the technology is still quite primitive.”

(19) EMMY TREK. Star Trek: Discovery submitted a long list of material to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in over 20 categories. The full list is available at the linked GoldDerby story: ”’Star Trek: Discovery’ Emmy Submissions: How Many Will it Win?”.

That post also links to a separate story showing Trek Emmy winners from the past series.

The original “Star Trek” series ran from 1966-1969 and didn’t win any Emmys, but it was nominated 13 times, including twice for Best Drama Series (1967-1968). “Star Trek: The Next Generation” followed two decades later and aired for seven seasons from 1987 to 1994, during which time it won a whopping 19 Emmys, all in Creative Arts categories. “TNG” struggled in top races, however, and wasn’t nominated for Best Drama Series until 1994 for its final season.

(20) DON’T QUIXOTE. Terry Gilliam’s tragedy-plagued project is still plagued but it may not be his anymore. Io9 reports: “Terry Gilliam Has Lost the Rights to The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”.

Well, this is a strange new chapter in one of the strangest stories in modern film. For decades, famed genre director (and former Monty Python, uh, snake) Terry Gilliam struggled to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, his own surreal take on the classic Spanish novel. He succeeded, finally, with a rendition starring Adam Driver, and the film premiered this year at Cannes Film Festival.

Except, uh, apparently Terry Gilliam just lost the rights to it. Yes, that’s correct: as reported by Screen Rant, the Paris Court of Appeal just ruled in favor of the film’s former producer, Paulo Brancho, who sued for rights to the project on the grounds that Gilliam made the film illegally.

(21) OH NOOO…. When will they make an end? Comicbook.com is spreading the alarm, er, the — “Rumor: ‘Star Wars’ Actor Claims 9 Movies in Development, Including More ‘Story’ Stand-Alones”. Voice actor Tom Kane is said to have claimed there are nine Star Wars movies in some stage of development. Kane has provided voices for Star Wars video games (starting with Shadows of the Empire in 1996), TV shows (Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels), and several of the more recent movies (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi).

Only six of the projects are known:

Disney-owned Lucasfilm also has plans for fan-favorite Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and famed bounty hunter Boba Fett, who will reportedly receive his own stand-alone from 3:10 to Yuma and Logan director James Mangold.

Lucasfilm is also said to be developing an all-new trilogy under The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson, which will be unconnected to the Skywalker saga depicted in the episodic installments and set in an unexplored corner of the galaxy.
Johnson’s producer, Ram Bergman, recently gave an update on the “completely new trilogy,” saying, “It’s all new characters. Everything is new.” The project, he added, is “just in the early stages.”

Abrams’ Episode IX, Johnson’s planned three-movie series, and two new anthologies in Obi-Wan and Boba Fett make six, leaving three supposed projects on the docket.

[Thanks to Dann, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rob Thornton, Soon Lee, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ky.]

102 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/17/18 Come Away, O Meredithed Book, To The Kindle And The Nook

  1. Sadly I also have a loss to report.

    Steerpike, by then having celebrated his 18th birthday, developed lymphoma and was wasting away before being put to sleep. He had a good innings and is missed.

  2. Wait, Musk says he’s a socialist, just not he type who cares about poor people? What other types are there? Is he trying to very slyly say something dogwhistlish about mixing socialism with nationalism?

  3. Sorry to hear that, nickpheas. We’re having a rough week here. Thanks to everyone for the hugs and sympathy.

  4. @ Dr Science, Amme Shelley & Nick Pheas
    My deepest condolences on your loss. It’s already a tough week and only Monday.

  5. @nickpheas
    My condolences to you. This is really an awful month, in more ways than one.

    Regarding Elon Musk, methinks the man is in dire need of a basic political education class.

  6. I lost a long-time credential last year and I still miss her. Hugs to all the humans left behind (and careful scritches to the fellow credentials).

  7. Well he said he wont shift ressources to least productive, because that causes harm. „True socialist seeks greatest good for all“.
    I think hes making it up as he goes along.

    Condolences to all who lost a cat!

  8. Nick Pheas: My condolences over your pet.

    Meredith Moment: The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel: Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman is $1.99 at Amazon.com.

  9. The Heterodyne Boys and the Pixel Scroll of Prague
    The Three Filers and The Secret of the Purple Pixel Scroll
    Tom Swift’s Atomic Pixel Scroll
    The Hardy Boys and The Missing Fifth
    Hugos for Biggles
    Doc Savage and The Screaming Librarian
    Nancy Drew and The Secret of the Old Book
    The Destroyer #143: Bad Dog

  10. Anne Sheller and Doctor Science, I am so sorry. I’ve been there.

    And NickPheas, I just saw your post. I’m so sorry.

  11. Maximillian says Wait, Musk says he’s a socialist, just not he type who cares about poor people? What other types are there? Is he trying to very slyly say something dogwhistlish about mixing socialism with nationalism?

    Damn if I know. I do know that The Culture is a post-scarcity society with fluid genders where the humans are not our species as Banks made clear more than once. As near as I can tell, there’s absolute no concept of a political system to be found anywhere in the novels.

    How The Culture which is ten thousand years old IRRC isn’t dealt with in the novels which makes sense is think Banks wanted a setting that was was vague as possible. In that, it reminds me of Asher’s Polity series.

  12. Anne Sheller and NickPheas, my condolences also to you on the loss of your beloved companions.

  13. It rules that Elon Musk has twenty-one billion dollars, a pop star girlfriend, a factory that makes seven electric cars a year for rich people, and a campus full of brilliant engineers focused on achieving the stars, but he chooses to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon acting like a dipshit online and getting dragged across the internet like Hector’s corpse by his favorite author’s friends.

    What a boring, solipsistic, genuinely stupid person.

    Call him all the names you like, but genuinely stupid person seems like a ….genuinely stupid thing to call him.

  14. A colleague of my mother is asking for recommendations for recentish science fictions texts which comment on or respond to social media / the internet / communications technology. The list they’ve started with is:

    MT Anderson – Feed
    Kevin Brooks – iBoy
    David Thorpe – Hybrids
    Patrick Ness – More Than This
    Patrick Ness – Chaos Walking trilogy

    (I’ve only read the last one, but I think you can go fairly oblique – the “social media” in Chaos Walking is mind-reading.)

    I’ve suggested Naomi Kritzer’s Cat Pictures Please, and tentatively also John Scalzi’s Lock In and Head On (because of the Agora), anyone have any other ideas?

    @Doctor Science, Anne Sheller and NickPheas

    My condolences. It’s always hard to lose a beloved pet.

  15. Meredith, these are a couple which come to mind:

    Newsflesh series by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) – about blogging’s supplanting of traditional newspapers, with politics, medical science, and espionage

    Infomocracy series by Malka Older – governmental boundaries are drawn by virtual consensus groups, rather than physical boundaries, and all information is disseminated and consumed virtually

  16. @Cat Eldridge: I think the title story in the collection The State of the Art is pretty explicit about how Banks saw the Culture in terms of our own political conventions…. The similarities between the Culture and Asher’s Polity (post-scarcity economies ruled by questionably benevolent AIs) have always struck me: Asher, a right-winger (by UK standards anyway) thinks you can get to that end-point by free market economics, whereas Banks has *ahem* a different view.

  17. Paul Weimer: It appears that Mr. Del Arroz has a new Worldcon Project

    I notice that the price for a Worldcon membership which he’s quoting ($160) in his Affirmative Action For The Oppressed White Menz campaign is way below the actual cost ($230).

  18. @Anne Sheller, @nickpheas: sigh. hugs. sympathy. My oldest credential is pushing 18, has two chronic illnesses, and has decided grooming is no longer for her. The other one’s “only” got one chronic illness, as well as being obsessed with food.

    It’s been a bad month, and it’s only just half over.

    I wanna live in the Culture, now. I’m sure it would be comfy for the credentials as well.

    And I could never explain any of it to the fine folks in 1943 — they think they’ve got it bad now, but it’s going to get better in a few years, for a while. The big band music is swell.

  19. I have suspected for some time the reason Asher doesn’t do better in the US market is that some elements of his fiction which are clearly right wing in a UK contest read like total Banksian red commie socialism to the sort of Americans who would otherwise be snapping the Polity books up.

  20. @James: But then why does Banks do better than Asher in the US? Is he so far left (by US standards) that it simply doesn’t ping the political part of the American brain?

  21. Banks is the better writer. Although I thought he didn’t do as well in the US as the UK? No American police procedurals carefully positioning Banks books to be seen by the viewers but I’ve seen that happen on UK shows.

  22. No, Banks didn’t do as well in the US as in the UK, but he did better in the US than Asher. I guess talent will out, wherever.

  23. Echoing other’s condolences to Doctor Science, nickpheas, and Anne Sheller. I’m very sorry. My credentials are what gets me up in the morning.

    @James Davis Nicoll – I discovered Asher after I’d read most of the Culture books. I immediately latched onto it as a grimier Culture, enjoyable but not nearly as amazing. I had no idea he was considered right-ish until I read an argument online somewhere. I can see how he is subtly (at least to my USian mindset) right wing, whereas Banks has that righteous fury about injustice that I expect from people more left-oriented, like Pratchett.

  24. @ Cat Eldridge, Steve Wright:

    I’ve been known to say that I consider Asher’s Polity to be “Grim meathook Culture” and I am not surprised by that end result from the authors’ place on (some sort of) political spectrum.

  25. I think Asher does not do as well as Banks in the US for the same reason he does not do as well as Banks anywhere else: he is not as good.

    Readable and fun as long as you don’t read too many close together, but not as original or striking as Banks.

  26. @Meredith: The Affinities, by Robert Charles Wilson
    Zero History, by William Gibson
    Love Minus Eighty, by Will McIntosh
    Rainbows End, by Vernor Vinge (indirectly)

    ^^I’ve only read two of them (the Gibson & Vinge), so those recommendations are based on what I’ve heard about them.

  27. Ah, that’s the one I couldn’t remember! Definitely The Affinities.

    Love Minus Eighty I remember being mostly about having the capability to revive frozen people as partners/companions for lonely people who could afford the cost. I don’t remember the social media being that prominent, but some of the reviews seem to indicate that it is.

  28. “It was a reaction to a lot of the dystopian science fiction I’d read. I was revolting against that. Why does it have to be horrible? Why can’t it be totally brilliant?”

    Which is kind of an odd statement to me, given that my experience of Culture novels has been that they are quite grim and somewhat horrific. As in the best outcome a surviving character has is to kill herself, and the Minds’ reaction is “Whatevs”. Also, it seems to be a lethal proposition to be anyywhere near a Culture agent, or one of those benevolent Minds and their knife missiles.

    I mean, there’s a lot written about the background of the Culture, and how incredible it is, but that seems mostly like an informed attribute.

  29. @Rose Embolism,

    I think that it’s more the Culture itself is Utopian (or aspires to one) – and it is for most part, for those living in an Orbital or a GSV. It’s a society where living is easy & your material needs are easily fulfilled.

    Now the Culture novels on the other hand, those tend to take place at the fringes of the Culture, where the Culture comes into conflict with those outside it. Culture agents belong to the Contact Section, or the more dodgy Special Circumstances (SC) organisation that sits within Contact, and for SC especially, the normal rules don’t seem to apply. For me it’s that tension between Utopian ideals & the sometimes dirty work required to maintain it that makes for interesting stories.

  30. For me it’s that tension between Utopian ideals & the sometimes dirty work required to maintain it that makes for interesting stories.

    Which almost sounds ike a snarky commentary on America. The white middle class gets to enjoy a great life, while being wilfully ignorant of what government agencies are doing overseas to maintain that prosperity.

    Of course even in the heyday of the sure middle class, there was the very un-utopian fear that Somebody would come and take the good life away

  31. Possibly the closest thing to everyday life in the Culture is Ben Aaronovitch’s Doctor Who novel “The Also People”. Non-BBC, so very much out of print.

  32. @Doctor Science, Mr. Doctor Science (IIRC), @Anne Sheller, and @nickpheas: I’m sorry for your losses! 🙁

    @August: Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh was very good!

    @JJ: IIRC the social media thing in Love Minus Eighty became plot-related a few times. I want to say one of the protagonists was a minor celeb (or was it the person he was dating early on) in the future-social-media. Shoot, I need to re-read this! My memory is kinda flakey today.

    @Meredith: Rick Wilber’s Alien Morning has a pretty significant future-social-media thing called sweepcasting (multisensory streaming where you immerse yourself in another person’s experience as they live it). It had a lot of interesting pieces, but some flaws as well. The tech stuff was pretty cool, though.

  33. @Kendall: (social media in Love Minus Eighty)

    Your summary reminds me of The Fifth Element in some respects.

  34. Soon Lee writes: For me it’s that tension between Utopian ideals & the sometimes dirty work required to maintain it that makes for interesting stories.

    I think this misses the point a bit – even the colossal Idiran War was not fought to maintain the Culture itself, it was to maintain the Culture’s ability to interfere in other civilizations and make them better (that is, more like the Culture).

    The Culture has a kind of anti-Prime Directive, and the Idiran expansion would have preventing them busybodying in a lot of other people’s business.

  35. @Niall McAuley,

    That is an interesting perspective but not one I agree with. I think it goes to how the Culture self-identifies, as a force to increase the happiness/contentment in the universe, which yes, does appear to involve becoming a society similar to the Culture. And the meddling/do-gooding is part of it.

    The Culture ceding to the Idirans would result in greater unhappiness, goes against the core belief (such as it is) of the Culture. Sure they could move their GSVs, evacuate the orbitals, and move to a different part of space where the Idirans have no presence. But “the standard you walk past, is the standard you accept” is so much the Culture that I don’t think they could just “walk away”, so they end up “having to fight”.

  36. @Soon Lee

    Agreed,and the bits that were unwilling to join the fight due to their ideals left the Culture proper to form groups like the Elench.

    I’m fond of both Culture and Polity series, while Banks writing shows more literary sophistication I can appreciate a good story simply written from Asher too.

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