Pixel Scroll 11/22 The Lurking Fear Supports Me In Email

(1) David G. Hartwell posted his photo with the comment, “Signs of the cultural times: NYC subway cars entirely decorated in PKD.”

PKD in the subway, NYC

(2) “Red, Reich and Blue: Building the World of ‘The Man in the High Castle’”, a New York Times article:

Early production art for the Times Square sequence included billboards for beer and sausages, but Mr. Spotnitz had them changed to signs promoting the value of work and duty. A scene in the home of a Nazi Party boss emblematically named Obergruppenführer John Smith (Rufus Sewell) was shot as if it were a vintage family sitcom, the son complaining over the breakfast table about a self-promoting Hitler Youth chum at school. His father patiently explains that his son will be a greater credit to his country, because selfishness is what ruined America before the war.

“If you squint and ignore the fact that the guy has a swastika on his arm,” Mr. Spotnitz said, “it looks a lot like ‘Father Knows Best.’”

(3) John King Tarpinian shot this photo at an exhibit of Michael C. Gross’ work a few days before the artist died.

 

(4) WIRED’s Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy” podcast  is talking about the new anthology of best American science fiction and fantasy with commentary by Joe Hill and John Joseph Adams. Also brief comments by Jess Row, Seanan McGuire, and Carmen Maria Machado.

The prestigious anthology series The Best American Short Stories tends to eschew science fiction and fantasy, except at the behest of unusually sympathetic guest editors like Michael Chabon or Stephen King.

But things are changing fast. The genre took a major step toward respectability this year with the release of the first-ever Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by John Joseph Adams. Adams feels the book is long overdue.

“The instruments of science fiction and fantasy—the tools in that genre toolbox—have been out there in the literary world and being explored for at least a decade now, in work by people like Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, and Cormac McCarthy,” [John Joseph Adams] says. “Science fiction and fantasy is part of the literary mainstream, and has been for a while now.”

Adams hopes The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy will prove that readers don’t have to choose between wild concepts and literary quality. Good sci-fi and fantasy deliver both, which is what makes them so hard to write.

“You have to create the compelling characters and have the beautiful prose and everything, but a science fiction story has to do all that and also build an entire world for you, or come up with some mind-blowing idea on top of all that,” he says.

(5) David Gerrold on Facebook:

I was reading an article about “the battle for the soul of science fiction” and I had to laugh.

Science fiction has no soul. We sold it a long time ago. About the time we started worrying about shelf space in the bookstores, share-cropping in other people’s universes, writing for franchises because they were guaranteed NY-times bestsellers, and campaigning for awards like a high-school popularity contest. Not to mention all those who talked about breaking out of the “ghetto” so they could have mainstream credibility.

If science fiction still has anything resembling a soul — it’s not going to be found in arguments about the soul of science fiction.

As I have said elsewhere, there is no single definition for science fiction. Every author who sits down at the keyboard defines it for himself or herself. Every author is his/her own definition of SF — and the genre continues to reinvent itself with every new author who arrives on the scene.

The idea that there is a specific definition for SF … well, we’ve been having that argument since Jules Verne and H.G. Wells got into a bitch fight at the 1902 Philcon. Okay, I exaggerate. Neither one of them were there. But they did hate each other because Verne’s view of science was optimistic and Wells’ view was dystopic — he didn’t think the human species was ready for high tech. He might have been right, but we’re here anyway….

(6) Winter is coming – on Titan

(7) Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories calls it “Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mistake”.

Kim Stanley Robinson published a major buzzkill on BoingBoing this week, essentially declaring that all of us science fiction nerds ought to give up on our dreams of visiting other stars (colonizing the galaxy…galactic empire…space marines…space pirates…discoveries of long dead highly advanced alien civilizations…discoveries of technological alien civilizations that want to be our friends…or eat us…incomprehensible artifacts…intriguingly bizarre ecosystems…) and instead focus our attentions on Earth and solar system centric futures.

There’s been a fair amount of pushback on this (we do love our space pirates after all), with the primary arguments being that –

KSR is being too pessimistic

KSR is making the cliched mistake of assuming that future technological growth won’t include unforseen breakthrus

KSR is not projecting far enough into the future

Those may all be true, but I have one other “mistake” to add to his thoughtful but bitter article:

KSR is making the mistake of trying to predict what will NOT happen in the future, as opposed to trying to predict what WILL happen in the future.

(8) Billy Dee Williams tells Parade that his Star Wars role keeps him in the spotlight – but it’s not always easy!

Fans have always wanted to talk about who Lando is and why he did what he did. Back when my daughter was in elementary school, I would go pick her up—this was right after The Empire Strikes Back came out—and I’d find myself in the middle of the schoolyard justifying Lando’s actions to a bunch of little kids. They’re all yelling at me saying I betrayed Han Solo. (By the way, I never auditioned for the Han Solo part and I’ve never not gotten along with Harrison Ford, who is a dear friend. Those rumors are completely false.)

Over the years, I’d be on airplanes and a flight attendant would accuse me of betraying Han Solo. I would just say, “Look, I—er, Lando—was just trying to prevent everyone’s complete demise and had to come up with a plan. Lando ended up losing and he had a lot to lose.”  Then I’d say, “Well, nobody died.”  That’s how I’d finalize it.

(9) Well, my eyes sure weren’t dry after watching this ad…

(10) Diana Pavlac Glyer is now in the author database at Worlds Without End, as is her forthcoming book about the Inklings, Bandersnatch, which you should unhesitatingly rush out and order.

(11) “Gal Gadot is adding to her fans’ building anticipation for the 2017 release of Warner Bros.’ superhero movie Wonder Woman,says The Hollywood Reporter.

(12) Peter Finocchiaro, in an article about the Lovecraft controversy for Salon, volunteers an answer for the question “of what to do with rejected or discarded ‘Howard’ trophies:”

Send them to Providence, Rhode Island. Providence – founded in 1636; 2010 population: 178,038 – was Lovecraft’s hometown, and it’s where I’m currently teaching a semester-long class on the author at the Rhode Island School of Design. And no object better embodies the complexity of his legacy than these now-outdated trophies. They are the perfect teaching tool.

After all, Providence plays a major role in the Lovecraft story. It’s where he spent all but a couple years of his life. It’s a playground for the slithering, malevolent creatures he imagined. (See “The Shunned House” and “The Haunter of the Dark.”) And it’s a place that he loved with such fervency that he once declared in a letter “I Am Providence” – a quote now etched on his tombstone, in the city’s Swan Point Cemetery.

Lovecraft’s racial views are not irrelevant to his civic pride. In one letter, he wrote “New England is by far the best place for a white man to live.” In another, he added, “America has lost New York to the mongrels, but the sun shines just as brightly over Providence.”

For decades after his death, Lovecraft’s hometown love was mostly unrequited. But recent years have brought a long-delayed love-fest. Drive through Providence today and you’ll see “H.P. Lovecraft Memorial Square,” two plaques in his honor, and a Lovecraft bust in the city’s famed Athenaeum library. The city has Lovecraft-themed read-a-thons, walking tours, research fellowships, apps, writing contests, and bars that serve Lovecraft-inspired drinks like the “Bittersweet Tears of Cthulhu” and “Lovecraft’s Lament.”

(13) We have met the aliens, and they is us. Certainly some of the time.

There are a few known cosmic objects capable of producing bursts of radio waves. For instance, dense remnant stars called pulsars produce them, just not with such regularity or with as much power as observed in FRBs. Still, perhaps there are some undiscovered superdense stars that operate according to an underlying physics we don’t yet understand, which are spitting these radio waves across the cosmos. That’s one possible natural explanation, though mere conjecture at this point.

Some other scientists have theorized that FRBs could come from what is known as a “contact” binary star system, two stars orbiting each other at an extremely close distance.

It’s also possible that the signals are coming from something human. Perhaps an unmapped spy satellite is hovering about, appearing to send signals from deep space.

Human sources can be difficult to rule out. For instance, back in 2010 the Parkes Observatory picked up 16 pulses with similar characteristics to FRBs that turned out to be signals generated from microwave ovens operated at the Parkes facility. Though these signals were clearly of terrestrial origin, unlike FRBs, it goes to show that there may well be a simpler, human explanation for FRBs that has yet to be identified.

(14) “Reason enough to buy a Harley,” John King Tarpinian says about these Star Wars –themed motorcycle helmets described by BoldRide’s Jonathon Klein.

First-Order

Currently, a host of DOT-approved and other motorcycle helmets are being sold on eBay for all your cosplaying and motorcycling needs. You have everything from an almost perfect Darth Vader helmet to the all-new First Order Storm Trooper.

(15) Robert Altbauer, Fantasy Cartographer, has a series called “The Crusades and Lovecraft’s Monsters”.

This is a series of illustrations that imitates the style of old medieval paintings and adds a macabre flavour by incorporating some of H.P. Lovecraft’s famous monsters. The text is mostly medieval Middle High German.

robert-altbauer-furchtbar-drachengezucht COMP

(16) Phil Nichols of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies noted on Facebook:

R Is For Rocket (Doubleday hardcover, 1962) was a compilation of previously-collected Bradbury short stories put together for a young adult audience.

The cover art by Joe Mugnaini relates to the story “Icarus Montgolfier Wright.” If you look at the body of the spaceship, you will see the Montgolfier’s balloon, the Wright brothers’ plane, and a winged Icarus.

Curiously, “Icarus Montgolfier Wright” isn’t included in the book!

(17) Ray Bradbury wrote in Fahrenheit 451:

If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.

(18) Uh-oh! [SPOILER WARNING!] This is the week they bumped her off!

Why Does Clara Face The Raven?

Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat talk about that big moment in the latest episode.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Josh Jasper. ]

147 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/22 The Lurking Fear Supports Me In Email

  1. Ah, “Wonder Woman” …. interesting story about her creator William Moulton Marston can be found here; http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/24/books/the-secret-history-of-wonder-woman-by-jill-lepore.html

    A sample:

    “He was a Harvard graduate, a feminist and a psychologist who invented the lie detector test. He was also a huckster, a polyamorist (one and sometimes two other women lived with him and his wife), a serial liar and a bondage super-enthusiast.”

  2. I’m still recovering from my Jessica Jones binge-watching, and somehow lost 2 hours last night building my first Fallout 4 settlement, but given the favourable and trustworthy word of mouth, I *really* need to make time for tMitHC.

  3. (7) Charles Stross wrote an essay, “High Frontier Redux” with much the same conclusion on his blog. He too copped a lot of flak for it.

    [I tend to agree with both of them: given current technology & politico-economic conditions, human colonisation of space is very unlikely. ]

  4. Now I need a daguerrotype of Wells and Verne’s Philcon bitchfight. Or a reasonable approximation thereof.

  5. @bloodstone75:

    That wasn’t much of a spoiler warning.

    Amen! We just caught up on a bunch of Doctor Who today, but still haven’t watched this week’s yet. So, um, yeah.

  6. Ray Radlein on November 22, 2015 at 10:55 pm said:

    @bloodstone75:

    That wasn’t much of a spoiler warning.

    Amen! We just caught up on a bunch of Doctor Who today, but still haven’t watched this week’s yet. So, um, yeah.

    Officially Coleman has one more episode still to go. Apparently she is listed in the series final Hell Bent. Note also that she has died for proper twice already in previous seasons and ha-ha-not-really once already this season.
    Also evil Maise Williams!

  7. @Soon Lee

    Aha! I was just thinking the same thing re: Stross having made many of the same points, but couldn’t remember exactly where.

    I think this is a problem that hard-ish SF has acknowledged for some time, but rather handwaved by having ships and colonies staffed with “systems experts” who are mysteriously making all this problems go away in the background, normally by planting stuff and cleaning unspecified filters etc etc. I’ve no objection to a good handwave in order to let the main story carry on, but it’s a bit sad if KSR has taken heat for looking at the handwave in closer detail.

  8. KSR has proved his point about the foolishness of taking an inner system object, cramming it with Earth stuff, and giving it a shove in the direction of Earth II. But those generation ship-like technologies would first be refined within the solar system. People who have already demonstrated that terrestrial biomes and human cultures can (or can’t?) be successfully adapted to conditions in, say, the Kuiper belt, would formulate different approaches. Instead of sending a crew of humans in spaceships or whatever to create a habitat on a single target body, they might design lightweight starter kits of the needed embryos, bacteria, what have you, and local biomes at multiple targets would be grown and nurtured under AI and robotic supervision. So if such a starter kit is light enough, send it to as many candidate systems as you can afford, and decide what to do after it phones home. Or else just learn how to live in the Oort cloud first, and take the slow train. In any case, wherever we’re going, our robots will have colonized it long before we arrive.

  9. I don’t get all the pessimism around space exploration. I mean, it’s not like the problem is all that hard to solve. Just tell Shell they’re allowed to drill for oil on whatever planet you want colonized. By the time they arrive, there’ll already be a Walmart, a McDonald’s, and an Amazon.com fulfillment center waiting for them.

    Piece of cake.

  10. If Bandersnatch doesn’t feature the Inklings putting on magic rings, jumping into ponds and being transported to(and having adventures in) the places they wrote about, I am going to be seriously disappointed.

  11. I’ve been trying to catch up on my media backlog. Watched two seasons of Arrow in a week and a half, and that covered a lot of ground. Unfortunately, I had to stop there because the first few episodes of this season are lost in that netherworld between On Demand expiration and possible repeats before next year’s Blu-ray release. Maybe next year I can watch season four in time to follow season five alongside season three of The Flash.

    Oh, well. I still have an episode of Doctor Who and a bit of iZombie waiting for me, as well as several movies. Maybe one year I’ll get far enough down the “watch this now” stack by my bed to reach that war movie I’ve heard so much about… Platoon. I hear the second Godfather movie was good, too.

    (I am absolutely not making up those examples. The rest of that stack, from bottom up: Just the Way You Are, Semi-Pro, Battle Royale collection – of which I’ve watched the first – Repo, Money for Nothing, Shallow Grave, and the first season of Dark Angel. On top of those are the K-9 series, an Alice Cooper concert, Robocop 2 and 3, the Criterion release of A Night to Remember, two Clive Barker movies, Cloud Atlas, and then the stuff I can easily grab. That would be Kingsman, Gotham season one, Bubblegum Crisis, a Genesis concert, and Star Trek Renegades. Jeeves & Wooster is in there, too…)

  12. The more you look at it, the challenges of crossing interstellar distances look more and more daunting. I think that’s the ultimate source of Stan (and Charlie’s) pessimism about it ever working out. The article is not against space exploration, but against us hoping there will ever be interstellar space exploration.

    I wonder, also, if this isn’t an indirect answer to the fermi paradox: Where are they? Well, they can’t get out of their own solar systems, either.

    More generally, though, if interstellar travel really is a non-starter in the real world, that puts all interstellar SF into the softer side of the SF equation. To have any travel outside the solar system, be it arks, sleeper ships, or FTL is to play with the net down.

  13. Officially Coleman has one more episode still to go. Apparently she is listed in the series final Hell Bent. Note also that she has died for proper twice already in previous seasons and ha-ha-not-really once already this season.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that it’s yet another different “Clara” in the finale; that would be far more appropriate and fitting for the character than some sort of magical rescue which would undermine the sacrifice somewhat. (In the same way that Amy’s sacrifice felt properly tragic too, although they didn’t quite go as far as killing her outright.) But hey, if they go for magical rescue then that’s fine by me. I’m not running the show, I’m just enjoying watching it.

  14. @Brian Z.: 1) What “embryos?” Human brains don’t develop right without human contact. 2) If (huge and essentially undoable “if”) we can learn to live in the Kuiper Belt and such places, why bother colonizing the stars? At that point you can make habitation work pretty much anywhere in the solar system, which is huge.

    Mind you, that’ll never happen either.

  15. (15)

    Well, it’s cute and it’s well done.

    But it’s no more medieval than a guy in a vest and a beret and linen trousers and a cape at the Renaissance Fair.

    It’s based on modern expectations of medieval looks, more Pauline Baynes than anything.

  16. Also, on the popular “our robots will do it” theory, why? If they’re “our” robots, what’s the benefit to humans? And if they’re our successor civilization, then a) why should they care? (Their priorities are likely to be very different) and b) why should we care? (where we means humans today) It would be like homo habilus hoping Homo sapiens sapiens gets to the moon one day.

  17. It’s an interesting question. How would human children develop with, say, AI simulations of their parents/grandparents plus robot nannies and teachers, some other kids, puppies, what have you? With actual human contact subject to a 25 year communications delay? Would that be impossible or unethical? If possible, would it be any less ethical than bringing them into the world in the same situation except plus a handful of nearly deceased elders to raise them for the first few years? My point was you could start building your biome without them, and don’t press play unless it seems like things are working. Or, send adult humans in the next wave. Either way, I can picture the early work of developing habitats for our biomes being done by robot, with humans entering the picture at a later stage.

    Finding ways to survive on Kuiper belt objects would not negate the attractiveness of finding Earth II – but yes, the people who had already accomplished that would have very different priorities than we do sitting here. Such a step would allow us refine the technologies needed to go farther. Why are you so sure it won’t work?

  18. (12)

    About the time HPL was writing “America has lost New York to the mongrels, but the sun shines just as brightly over Providence”, maybe 400 yards from where he was sat in Barnes Street, Providence-native SJ Perelman had recently been laughing it up with Nathanael West at Brown University.

    Indeed were it not for HPL’s attitudes, it’s nice to imagine the possibility that a few years earlier HPL could have walked a couple of streets over from Angell Street and purchased sweets or other goods from Perelman’s family grocer shop in Smith Hill, maybe even from young SJP himself. But since, from what I can tell, that was the area into which the immigrant population had settled, was probably half a world away in HPL’s mind

  19. I’m missing the thrust of your question on robots. I mean robots as tools to do things we can’t do without them, whether a rover on Mars with a 20 minute lag or a factory orbiting Earth II with a 20 year lag. We’re talking a couple centuries out – if you mean our civilization won’t likely last that long, you have a point.

  20. @Brian: I’m mostly sure it wouldn’t work for reasons Stross gives in several blog essays, plus the one linked, plus the fact that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take and I don’t think we’ll ever take the shots. The political economy – incentive structure basically- is never going to be there for interplanetary colonization. And to your point, interplanetary colonization is a pre-req for interstellar travel. I do also think interplanetary colonization is unlikely to “work” even if tried, but first I think we’re not gonna try.

  21. @ Paul Weimer
    re: Interstellar travel

    I generally agree that FTL and wormholes are probably not going to be feasible. Given that our sun is going to broil us alive in the distant future, if something related to homo sapiens survives to that point, we/they will need to at least try to get out of Dodge. In the meantime, exploring and maybe colonizing the solar system might be first steps to figuring out the rest eventually.

    But there is the Fermi Paradox, isn’t there? My WAG on that one is a combination of
    a) life is probably fairly common, but highly intelligent species capable of technology are probably extremely rare (look at Earth’s history-we are a complete accident that almost didn’t make it!),
    b) even if an intelligent species does evolve, surviving to get off the home planet is tough-if Iceland decided to zipper open like the Siberian Traps did 250 million years ago, our chances of getting off this rock in time and surviving are slim, even with our current technology,
    c) if you can survive to that point, it’s really, really hard to get out of your solar system,
    d) maybe the odds are such that only about 1 or less tech civs arise per galaxy per life of universe. If getting out of the solar system is tough, out of the galaxy is…real fantasy.

  22. @Brian Z.: I apologize if I was unclear on the robots. It’s a big subject and I tried to cover the whole thing in a few asides. Robots as interstellar pioneer proxies is a thing I specifically doubt the point of. If humans can’t go ever – as I suspect – there’s no reason to send robots commensurate with the expense in treasure and attention.

  23. A robot capable of raising human children is an AI. Why would it want to raise another generation of slavers?

  24. If the political economy isn’t there, why are there both public and private efforts to get to Mars? Why have so many signed up for a chance to die there? Of course people will go to the Kuiper belt. Because it’s there.

    Whenever robotic systems that can transfer and adapt terrestrial biomes to alternative real estate within the solar system get small enough, then we’ll be able to send them across interstellar distances. It is sending these giant Arks that is too expensive.

  25. I wonder if some of the melancholy about the unlikelihood of interstellar, or even interplanetary, travel comes from a yearning to have an option to escape what is perceived as an increasingly crowded and polluted planet.

  26. @Brian Z.:

    If the political economy isn’t there, why are there both public and private efforts to get to Mars? Why have so many signed up for a chance to die there

    I think the political economy is there to say we want to go to Mars. I think there’s even an outside chance that some nation or international coalition tries a human-staffed voyage. And a further chance that it “works.” But I rate the chances that Terrans spend the money and time to get a Mars colony to the point of “self-sustaining” (minimum 10s of millions as a generous 2OM reduction of Stross’s 1 billion estimate) are, IMHO, zero. There’s no plausible reward commensurate with the attention span required.

  27. If we can somehow break through out of the Holocene with the world and ourselves intact then maybe interstellar travel is a possibility. Right now though we cant even deal with all the problems of space flight that lasts longer than a few weeks outside the orbit of the moon.

    But on the subject, what are good reads for localised space travel and the hurdles to overcome? I’ll start the bar low and suggest Ben Bova’s Grand Tour books, which I always enjoyed as a kid but look on a bit more critically now as an adult.

  28. @Peace: Humans wanted Easy Travel to Other Planets before the sense of ecological peril set in, so at a guess the melancholy is more connected with the growing sense is never going to happen. Goodness knows I’m melancholy about it.

  29. But I rate the chances that Terrans spend the money and time to get a Mars colony to the point of “self-sustaining” (minimum 10s of millions as a generous 2OM reduction of Stross’s 1 billion estimate) are, IMHO, zero.

    I haven’t read all those essays but I gather Charlie meant “self-sustaining” in the sense of being able to survive even if the Earth were gone. No, of course not.

    But a modest terrestrial biome with some dozens and eventually more humans in it, that could survive on Mars for decades or more with limited, intermittent external inputs? Why not?

    And from that we’d learn lessons about how to adapt to even more extreme environments.

    (Even for the eventual interstellar exploration, you’d probably want to set up a freight propulsion system to send critical supplies. Costly, yes, but all automated.)

  30. @Brian Z.: I think your hopes are doing your analysis here, but clearly I can’t know that for certain. It was a good discussion though. Thank you.

  31. I wonder, also, if this isn’t an indirect answer to the fermi paradox: Where are they? Well, they can’t get out of their own solar systems, either.

    That wouldn’t explain the radio silence. And transgalactic radio communication is something you can do with merely 20th century tech.

  32. Re: space travel.

    There are a few reasons I think KSR is verging towards grumpy old man territory, some of which have nothing to do with space travel, but on space travel, there’s one in particular: why on Earth is it baseline humans or nothing? There are already discussions of human genetic engineering, and a culture among wealthy people in the developed country that stresses getting as much advantage to your child as possible, as early possible.

    Point being, more prosaic modifications, the don’t send us into Nick Bostrum territory intellectually but would give us more of a tolerance for radiation or allow our physiology to do much better in zero-g are very likely to be in the pipeline sooner, rather than latter. If there’s one thing the US pharmaceutical industry is founded on, its that there’s money in allowing the well off to be young forever. There are more options than the binary of baseline or The Singularity.

    Over all, there’s a case to be made for Aurora as KSR’s “if god had meant man to fly, he would have given him wings” novel. Our understanding of biology is assumed to be limited by some mystic connection to Gaia; any society is assumed to ultimately fall apart with a strong man on top, and we should all really stop thinking about this tomfoolery of space and focus on the soil that birthed us. I’m not entirely surprised by this – one of the things about the Mars Trilogy that has not aged well is the assumption that China and India would be poor third world powers and very much junior to the Russians until close to 2100. I love the Mars Trilogy – but KSR is someone bound to be taken by surprise on occasion.

  33. That wouldn’t explain the radio silence. And transgalactic radio communication is something you can do with merely 20th century tech.

    But is all the noise we made with our 20th Century tech really that ‘audible’ and intelligible at light-years’ distance? Maybe we look ‘silent’ to really distant observers as well.

    Re (7) : I remember reading a science-oriented book for laymen (maybe one of Sagan’s in the 80’s), in which a respected physicist was quoted explaining why FTL travel was impossible. Then he added, “But it won’t be discovered by someone who doesn’t believe in it.” To my frustration, I can’t find the quote or the book now.

  34. @James Davis Nicoll:

    That wouldn’t explain the radio silence. And transgalactic radio communication is something you can do with merely 20th century tech.

    What jayn said re inadvertant signal pickup. The square-cube law seems like a hell of a muffler.

    Which leaves deliberate broadcast. Which has to cover intergalactic distances per the population density postulated, and reach a civilization able to decode alien signals and feel like responding, and then the response itself has to cover intergalactic distances. On the time scales we’re talking about for this “communication” then, both civilizations need to be willing to wait a very long time, which means you’re now down to not just the one intelligent civilization per galaxy, but the fraction of them that achieve effective immortality or such riches that people are happy to take a flyer on building and operating this transmission mechanism that they’ll likely never see results from. Those would be alien civilizations indeed. We’re talking about a much more sustained effort than what it took and cost to chuck Pioneer out of the solar system.

  35. I remember reading a “You’ll never get to stars” article back in the late 70s in Ares magazine. (Ares was a SFF magazine from SPI the people who published Strategy and Tactics magazine and various boardgames.) I suspect that there’s someone publishing a “You’ll never get to the stars” style article on a regular basis. Probably yearly.

    There’s always someone who wants to tell you that there’s no such thing as warp drive, phasers are inefficient and the transporter makes no sense.

  36. I think your hopes are doing your analysis here

    Sure, and if it were just Brian Z doing the hoping, enough said. Fortunately we’ve got the Elon Musks of the world on the case. Seems like sending a bunch of people there will happen soon enough, one way or another. The water is sure going to be helpful. Soil will be tougher than expected. We’ll see.

  37. *muse* I supposed one solution to the AI problem is to have human parents back on earth remoting in to android bodies so that the kids get a reasonable facsimile of human contact. So, y’know, build me an ansible and we’ll talk. *grin*

    But I still think my best shot at space travel is good-natured alien social workers showing up and going “Oh, the poor souls! They don’t have FTL yet, and will you look at their idea of medicine! We must help them!”

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