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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This summer, that decision has caused some disappointment….

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

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

(4) Lou Antonelli on Facebook

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

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

The story will be called…

“If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love.”

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

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

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

The Mutual Inspirations website has complete details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(8) Didact doesn’t care.

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

Didact, Vile Faceless Minion #0309, repeats:

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

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

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

(9) Great photos from a vintage computer exhibit.

K9 robot dog COMP

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. I’ve only read the Seveneves sample chapters, but the prose there was sadly lacking in comparison to Snowcrash or Cryptonomicon – far too many infodumps, not much fun. Can’t tell you about Anathem, it didn’t grab me in the first few pages.

  2. Ken Scholes’ Psalms of Isaak is a post-nuclear apocalypse series that reads more like fantasy in the vein of GRRM, and it’s one of my favorite current series.

    It’s also where the name Whym comes from – Whym is Scholes’ equivalent to Walter Miller’s St. Leibowitz.

  3. Post Nuclear books

    Heiro’s Journey
    Shield wall .. or something like that. A series of novels about people leaving in medieval cities in a matriarchal society with an architect’s writings used as a social guide. Name escapes me .. something Pell perhaps.

    ETA just caught up on strong female protagonist webcomic. Very good but darker than I thought it would be !

  4. Normally I’ll tear through a novel in an evening or two. I found Seveneves less compelling than usual, and ended up having to return it only half-read
    to the library before my Worldcon trip. I will get it back and finish it, but I’ve pretty much already decided it’s not what I would consider Hugo-caliber.

    Once I got into Anathem, I really liked it. I was still thinking about it days afterward — which is the mark of a great novel for me.

    I really liked Cryptonomicon, and I enjoyed the 3 Baroque Cycle novels (which are SF + Alt History).

    But I have to say that The Diamond Age is definitely my favorite Stephenson to date, and I think you might love it too, Emma.

  5. I’m surprised that no one has yet mentioned the obvious post-apocalypse non-dystopia: Star Trek.

  6. I admit, I started skimming the latter parts of Seveneves, because the ridiculous plot points and flat characters and oh god the infodumps, but I found even the initial set up kind of hard to buy. Abg gur zbba oybjvat hc, V jnf jvyyvat gb fcbg uvz gur bar penml guvat va gur tenaq genqvgvba bs fs, ohg gur zbba oybjf hc, gurer’f fb yvggyr zrgrbe qnzntr sbe lrnef gung gurl znvagnva gur vaqhfgevny onfr gb fgntr guerr frcnengr fhpprffshy ybatre-guna-erpbeqrq-uvfgbel fheiviny cynaf… naq gura vg xvpxf bss naq xvyyf bss gur jubyr uhzna enpr va n znggre bs ubhef?

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

  7. “I’m surprised that no one has yet mentioned the obvious post-apocalypse non-dystopia: Star Trek.”

    What indication is there that there has been an apocalypse in Star Trek?

    Everyone’s taking about post-nuclear societies. How about post sea level rise? Post Yellowstone supervolcano? A confluence of both?

  8. Going back a bit to end the world earlier.
    The Purple Cloud
    When Worlds Collide
    Earth Abides
    Alas Babylon
    The End of the Dream

    And post-apocalypse
    Star Man’s Son

  9. JJ: Out of all Stephenson’s work, I’ve only read Snow Crash. I’ve got Anathem sitting on my shelf, but the first few chapters I read were fairly boring. I like what he’s done with linguistics in the book, though. Maybe after books 3 and 4 in Gene Wolfe’s Severian series I’ll read it. And The Dispossessed. And Lord Valentine’s Castle. And The Vanishing Tower. And The Door Into Summer. And The Difference Engine.


  10. @rrede:

    of course one person’s utopia is another’s dystopia, I always say–Plato’s Republic had slaves, etc. etc. etc.

    Slaves and women still being chattel, but also totalitarian control of everyone. The hypothetical philosopher-rulers would have total control over the polis and everything in it, down to even reflexive suspicion of artists and writers because they might bring in new thought, and the narrator (Socrates as recalled by Plato) merely declares all this inherently good and the best of all possible governments because these philosopher-dictators had been trained to ‘apprehend the perfect good’.

    In the real world, the sorts of people Socrates and Plato had in mind for this role were people just like the more sociopathic of their pupils, such as Alcibiades and most of The Thirty Tyrants, the gang who imposed a rein of terror on Athens right after the Peloponnesian War so horrific that the democrat faction and the aristocrat faction allied to finally defeat them and free Athens.

    If you haven’t yet read I.F. Stone’s last work, his 1988 book The Trial of Socrates, I recommend finding it. Among other things, I found that it cured me of that last bit of lingering mediaeval propaganda about how Socrates and Plato were supposed to be benign and harmless people. Talk about your nest of vipers: They operated basically a How to Be Stalin school for decades, and the Athenians tolerated it.

  11. At Doc Sci:

    Ur jnf tbvat gbjneqf bayl lbhatre jbzra, fgngvat gur nqinagntrf (ba nirentr, fznyyre senzr, yvtugre obql) ohg onvyrq bhg orsber tbvat nyy gur jnl gurer.

    Nf zragvbarq nobir, nccneragyl lbh qba’g arrq zra, whfg n zrgubq gb ohvyq QAN – V qba’g guvax jr’er pybfr gb orvat noyr gb shyyl ohvyq n uhzna puebzbfbzr whfg lrg.

    I really liked the premise, but the execution was just not good. He does thank an editor in the afterword, but I don’t think she had either authority to make changes or enough time to beat the book into coherence.

  12. I second “Diamond Age”.
    ” Cryptonomicon” was fascinating, but had far too much unnecessary stuff in it that just bogs things down. It’s about my neck of the woods, and its interesting how much he got right. Good observer.
    “Anathem” has its virtues, particularly the world-building.
    “Baroque Cycle” is an immersive experience in the period, completely absorbing. I’m not sure its actually a novel though.

    “Mongoliad” is rather disappointing.

    In general, Stephenson is a writing monster, but usually has problems ending a book. He’s not the only one.

  13. What indication is there that there has been an apocalypse in Star Trek?

    Star Trek: First Contact seems to indicate that some sort of apocalyptic scenario happened.

    Everyone’s taking about post-nuclear societies. How about post sea level rise?

    I think The Road to Corlay fits this.

  14. Ann: There’s pretty clearly been a near-apocalypse in the past in Star Trek; somewhere between the Eugenics Wars of the far-flung 1990s (based on the Original Series’ information) and the still-to-come WWIII of the 2050s, roughly 100 years before the birth of the Federation (based on the timeline as established between TNG and ENT) that did significant and severe quantities of damage to the world at large, resulting in the rather backwards society seen in ST:First Contact.

    Of course, that just makes the post-dystopian near-utopia of Rodenberry’s future that much stronger an accomplishment by comparison, but still, don’t forget that it was there.

    edit: double-ninja’d!

  15. @Rick Moen

    Congratulations on a Bealesque understanding and knowledge of Greek philosophy.

  16. @Ann Somerville:

    What indication is there that there has been an apocalypse in Star Trek?

    Well, it’s complicated. Way I remember it, a key element of Star Trek was that it didn’t postulate some kind of future apocalypse. The show was optimistic. So I remember a bit of a stink when, in First Contact we see a post-apocalypse Earth, and I guess there was more about “World War III” in Enterprise? Or something?

    Anyway, that’s my understanding: There wasn’t an apocalypse. Then there was. And, feh.

  17. Kurt Busiek –

    EMERGENCE is one of those “Empty America” stories I like so much.

    THE GRACEKEEPERS is now on my list…

    Not quite empty America but I love Fido, a zombie movie where the zombies have been rounded up and used as servants in a weird 1950s style America. It’s on Netflix again now too!

  18. For post-sea level apocalypse, there’s The Sea and Summer. The story is mid-apocalypse, but there’s a framing device looking back from an arguably non-dystopian post-apocalypse future.

  19. Le Guin’s “Solitude” is post-nuclear (or similar) and only dystopian if you’re an extrovert.

    I picked up Charnas’s Walk to the End of the World in a second-hand store solely for the Orientalist imagery on the cover of the 1978 Berkeley addition. Then I read it. Now that cover—and its irrelevance to the book—is my starting text for talking about Islamophobia in SF publishing.

  20. OK, thanks for clarifying the 2012 pure fantasy winner – I was just saying “everyone knows” fantasy never wins a Hugo. Which us, as received wisdom usually tends to be, not actually true.

    And on other Stephenson, I loved Snowcrash, got through Cryptonomicon, but couldn’t get into the Diamond Age, gave up after 500 pages of the Baroque Cycle when nothing had happened (about 10% of the way in) and haven’t tried anything since.

  21. Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake is post-nuclear holocaust, but not particularly distopian. Not necessarily a pleasant place to live, mind you, but not a hellhole, either.

  22. An interesting story, though not on my best-list: Beyond Sapphire Glass by Margaret Killjoy. A story of transhumanism, love, and faith.

    Zbfg crbcyr unir hcybnqrq gurve crefbanyvgvrf vagb pbzchgref, va frnepu bs vzzbegnyvgl. Gubfr jub erznva (fhpu nf gur aneengbe Wnaan) ner zbfgyl dhvgr grpuabcubovp, ohg qb znvagnva gur pbzchgref naljnl bhg bs n frafr bs boyvtngvba; gurer ner nyfb n srj “natryf”, oryvriref jub qrsre hcybnqvat gb znvagnva gur flfgrz. Guvf fgevxrf zr nf hafhfgnvanoyr; va n ybj grpu fbpvrgl fhpu nf Wnaan snibef, gur pbzchgref jba’g or xrcg ehaavat ybat. Ohg guvf vfa’g qvfphffrq va gur febel; vafgrnq gur sbphf vf ba Wnaan’f qbhogf, orpnhfr fur unq n ybir nssnve jvgu n jbzna jub pnzr gb or hcybnqrq, naq abj gnyxf gb gung jbzna’f crefbanyvgl vzcevag rira gubhtu fur guvaxf gung gur vzcevagf nera’g ernyyl gur crbcyr, abg rabhtu gb or n erny crefbanyvgl; ohg ybir vf nyzbfg rabhtu gb grzcg ure gb oryvrir vg. Gur yrnc bs snvgu gung crbcyr gnxr jura gurl qrpvqr gb pbzzvg gurzfryirf gb gur pbzchgre vf rkcyvpvgyl pbzcnerq gb eryvtvbhf oryvrs, gurl gnyx nobhg orvat rfpbegrq gb “urnira” ol “natryf”.

    A rather uncommon take on the relationship between religious belief and technology.

  23. Ann Somerville on September 7, 2015 at 8:17 pm said:

    “I’m surprised that no one has yet mentioned the obvious post-apocalypse non-dystopia: Star Trek.”

    What indication is there that there has been an apocalypse in Star Trek

    Trek’s official continuity includes the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s, plus three decades’ worth of World War III (body count: about 600 megapeople) in the first half of the 21st Century. I’d say that counts as an apocalypse; YMMV.

  24. @Ann Somerville:

    Original Trek’s storyline included somewhat vague references to a World War III with nuclear exchanges having happened in the 21st Century. If you recall that one where Kirk, Spoke, and re-creations of Abraham Lincoln and legendary Vulcan philosopher Surak were made to fight against a team of baddies, one of the baddies, Colonel Green, had killed millions during and just after WW III.

    Also, if you recall the movie ST: First Contact, you may remember that part of the back-story of eccentric inventor Zefram Cochrane is that everyone is poverty-stricken because Earth’s trying to recover from a nuclear war that ended just ten years before.

    In later parts of the franchise, they developed the TOS storyline further.

  25. Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake is post-nuclear holocaust, but not particularly distopian. Not necessarily a pleasant place to live, mind you, but not a hellhole, either.

    And this is why the wise commenter reads all the comments before commenting, rather than just blurting at the first convenient text box. I was about to say that very thing!

    To expand: the landscape and worldbuilding do not let you forget that it’s post-nuclear world, complete with radiation poisoning and an elite class who bubble themselves up away, but the societies and relationships and personal goals of most of the characters are pointing toward building a new world with hope, rather than simply surviving in a broken world as best you can.

    Also: Is FIFTH SEASON! the new GOD STALK! ?

  26. Whym:

    I loved Lord Valentine’s Castle, Valentine Pontifex, and The Majipoor Chronicles. They were some of my early SFF experience (which began with L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, LeGuin’s Earthsea trilogy, and almost all of Heinlein).

  27. @SocialInjusticeWorrier

    Congratulations on a Bealesque understanding and knowledge of Greek philosophy.

    Thanks heavens there was such a great deal more, and priceless gifts to us all, from Socrates and Plato than just their political ideas. And also, thank heavens that there was such a very great deal more to Greek philosophy than those two.

    Or did you simply not notice that I wasn’t talking about philosophical ideas, but rather the practical contemporaneous politics that Socrates was deeply involved in?

  28. John Varley’s Eight Worlds stories are post- a very different kind of apocalypse, involving super-powered aliens wiping out all of human infrastructure on Earth and most of humanity on Earth. Humanity in the rest of the solar system manages to adapt, survive, and finally thrive.

    Fritz Leiber’s “A Pail of Air” takes place after Earth’s been yoinked into interstellar space. It’s grim, but it turns out there’s a solid core of survivors whose long-term prospects are quite good.

  29. I also loved Lord Valentine’s Castle and the next two Majipoor books, and want to revisit them one of these days. I tried the prequel trilogy Silverberg wrote years later, but just couldn’t quite get into it.

    And mention of The Vanishing Tower reminds me that Hawkmoon is post-apocalyptic.

    And there’s also Michael Reaves’ Shattered World books, if you’ll accept imaginary world post-apocalyptic.

    Would William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land count?

    How about Roger MacBride Allen’s Hunted Earth books? (Speaking of series that I really wish would continue.)

  30. Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower feature an Earth where global warming is doing serious economic, political, and cultural damage. Maybe not quite an apocalypse, but very, very not pleasant. Yet by the end of the second book, humanity is adapting, recovering, and making progress again.

    I loved Lord Valentine’s Castle, and just pretend there are no other Majipoor books.

  31. Can anyone who’s read some of his other books tell me if this quality of writing is standard Stephenson?

    His writing works for me sometimes. I like Anathem, but I bounced right off Cryptonomicon, and couldn’t even get interested in most of his others. I’d say borrow from a library.

  32. I have a relatively obscure book, Mona Clee’s Branch Point (at least I’ve never seen it discussed anywhere), which combines a post-apocalyptic scenario with time travel. Spoilers: Cerfvqrag Xraarql npghnyyl yrgf gur zvffvyrf syl qhevat gur Phona Zvffvyr Pevfvf, naq n fznyy fhofrg bs uhznavgl fheivirf va na haqretebhaq ohaxre. Fvapr gur jbeyq bhgfvqr vf erqhprq ol gur qrfgehpgvba bs gur bmbar ynlre gb abguvat ohg vafrpgf naq tenff, gur vaunovgnagf ohvyq n gvzr znpuvar gung yrgf gurz geniry vagb gur cnfg sbhe gvzrf gb gel naq cerirag gur jne, gur svefg fgbc zrrgvat hc jvgu Wbua naq Eboreg Xraarql. Gurer ner guerr nyg-uvfgbel inevngvbaf bs gur grnz’f nggrzcgf gb fgbc ahpyrne jne, rnpu bar iraghevat shegure naq shegure vagb gur cnfg. V jnf vzcerffrq ol gur nhgube’f erfrnepu, naq ure rkgencbyngvbaf bs gur jbeyq’f pbhagevrf, fbpvrgvrf, rpbabzvpf, rgp, va rnpu bar bs ure fpranevbf. Gur svany gevc vagb gur cnfg raqf jvgu gur urebvar (ubcrshyyl) niregvat gur razvgl orgjrra gur Havgrq Fgngrf naq Ehffvn, naq nyfb niregvat n terng znal bs gur zvyrfgbarf va bhe uvfgbel, vapyhqvat gur Pvivy Jne naq gur Pbyq Jne.

    The book does end on a hopeful note.

  33. Not nuclear, except in the sense that the sun itself is nuclear, but the timeline of Doctor Who has the earth being catastrophically depopulated by a series of disastrous solar flares in the next century or two.

    The ark in “The Ark in Space,” Tom Baker’s second serial, is a cryo-storage generation lifeboat sent out from the earth, whose descendants settle among the stars and later return to repopulate the earth (although the earth itself is never completely depopulated in the interim). This diaspora and return is actually referred to repeatedly during the run of Doctor Who, and is definitely one of the more settled elements of its timeline (I think the giant Space Whale of New Who arrived after the aforementioned Ark left, and picked up even more survivors from that same disaster, IIRC).

  34. @Rick Moen

    the best of all possible governments

    How then do you interpret sections 369 to 373 of the Republic where Socrates describes his ideal city before being forced to describe “a fevered state,” i.e. what you call “the best of all possible governments”?

    (also, re: women as chattel: you might want to re-read sections 451-453, i.e. the first wave)

  35. I may still have the ZX-81 with extra wobbly RAM somewhere in the garage! We willingly and knowingly went to a timeshare presentation to get it. As one may gather from our need to spend no money on the ZX, we didn’t have enough income to qualify to be further harassed by the timeshare people. They handed us our tiny computer with absolutely no politeness and a fearsome frown. My first computer experience was with teletypes, punched paper tape, and acoustic couplers. I didn’t have the upper body strength to get the phone seated properly, so I had to stomp on them. Luckily Ma Bell’s big iron phones could take that.

    The reviews on the Wendig book oscillate on how many 1-stars there are. Sooo many people butt-hurt about no EU (good riddance, and not Chuck’s doing) and their inability to deal with present tense and Teh Gay. I’m sure he’s literally laughing all the way to the bank.

    Puppies and genocide: I wish I could say I was surprised. But I am the opposite of surprised. Considering Requires Hoyt only lives in the US since her parents left Europe because their country became not-Fascist, what would you expect? “Hoo-boy, too much democracy here all of a sudden, better go!”

    @Leslie C: I enjoyed your description of feeding Not Your Cat. I’m sure it’s not as much fun for you, but it amused me.

    I miss the time-traveling. But I love that this is a place that noticed the glitch, and instead of whining about it, used it for flash fiction.

  36. @Matthew Johnson: “You all were lucky. My first computer was an Antikythera mechanism. Slow, but you could play Space Invaders on it.”

    And we did our computing by PRIMORDIAL DARKNESS!
    When I
    Was a boy…

    For the record, my family was poor and I only got into a good private school with financial aid. The first computers I used on a regular basis were the Apple ][+ models in the computer lab, the year before they upgraded to the //e. I went from knowing which seats had language cards (64K vs. 48K) to which ones had extended 80-column cards (128K vs. 64K).

    The first computer I owned was a Laser 128EX – a mostly-compatible //c clone with a faster processor (speed switchable at boot time) and a built-in empty memory expansion board that would let you add an unheard-of one megabyte of internal memory to the native 128K. Unfortunately, when I went to do so, it turned out that one row of four sockets – one in each bank of eight – was bad. Manufacturer defect, but I had to pay for the replacement because the computer was out of warranty by then. It was worth it to see AppleWorks load with 1010K available memory and no disk-switching, though.

    I also remember having to hand-modify several staple utilities to recognize the 40 tracks my drives could read, as opposed to the standard 35 tracks the OS was built for. An extra 20K per disk side doesn’t sound like much now, but the difference between 140K and 160K meant the world back then. (Which, of course, reminds me of the time a friend asked me about the arcane practice of disk notching – to use the other side of the floppy, y’see. I was in a hurry, so I just told him it involved a hole punch. He came to me later with a hole punched in the “meat” of the disk, asking what came next…)

    Good times…

  37. Kurt says:

    It’s possible there was never an uncontrovertible link, but OMAC, the Atomic Knights and Hercules Unbound were all part of the DC Future, and OMAC was supposed to lead to the Great Disaster. At least until Crisis, when it led to Tommy Frickin Tomorrow instead.

    But in this pre-Crisis story, the Atomic Knights future is shown to be the bad dream of a slightly deranged Gardner Grayle who is lying in a coma in his hospital bed. (Wikipedia comments that this story is generally not considered canon.)

  38. John Barnes has constructed a string of nifty and often comprehensively and depressingly nasty apocalypses–Mother of Storms, the Meme Wars family (Kaleidoscope Century and associated story lines), and finally the Directive 51 sequence, in which you, me, and everybody we know is probably killed within the first few chapters, leaving large numbers of the surviving cast to be picked off at the author’s leisure.

    About Neal Stephenson: I’m no longer on the Stephenson review beat (too hard for me to fit those doorstops into a monthly read-and-write schedule–Gary’s much faster), but from The Diamond Age through the Baroque Cycle, I found him not only ingenious but compulsively readable–funny, sharp-witted, inventive, provocative, quite propulsive prose. He reminds me, in sensibility and style, of Charles Stross, Bruce Sterling, and maybe Ken MacLeod.

  39. So… to anyone who has finished with Wendig’s aftermath, I got a question….

    jnf gung Guenja?

  40. @Shao Ping: You’re talking about a passage in Book 2, right? Neither my ancient paper copy nor my e-text shows section numbers. I believe you’re talking about where the Benjamin Jowett translation has Socrates saying to Glaucon ‘In my opinion, the true and healthy constitution of the State is the one which I have described. But if you wish also to see a State at fever-heat, I have no objection.’

    I really have not read the Republic in quite a few years. So, I make no apology for missing anything, here:

    The nut of Plato/Socrates’s argument is in books 5-7, where the narrator finally gets around to describing a just polis and the appropriate sort of just ruler for it — based on the narrator’s notion of what was later called virtue ethics (as opposed to deontology or consequentialism). Despite what the narrator said in book 2 about ‘the true and healthy constitution of the State is the one which I have described’, the narrator is at this point dancing all around Glaucon’s challenge of saying that justice involves a social contract among people of roughly equal power, else injustice is inevitable, and doesn’t get to the point until much later in the dialogue.

    However, since you ask, the bits following the ‘fever-heat’ remark, at a quick re-tead, look like where the narrator lays the groundwork for the notion of a ‘guardian’ of the polis, developed further later, being both aggressive to be able to be savage towards outside enemies and also gentle to friends, a trait he says must be sought in philosophers. Anyway, I’m not sure where in either of my copies section 373 would be.

    Not long after that bit, perhaps the bit you’re thinking of, is the part of Book 2 Jowett renders like this:

    And shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?

    We cannot.

    Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good, and reject the bad; and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorised ones only. Let them fashion the mind with such tales, even more fondly than they mould the body with their hands; but most of those which are now in use must be discarded.

    I remember there being much worse bits, but I take quite a bit of pleasure living in a society where people grow up reading casual tales written by casual persons.

    If I have missed your point, I apologise. I will probably be re-reading the whole thing again soon (after rather too many years), but not today.

    ETA: I’ll gladly assume you were right about my misremembering the ‘women as chattel’ bit. As I said, it’s been rather too many years.

    ETA#2: For anyone who thinks I was asserting I.F. Stone wrote the One True Book about Socrates, note that the link I provided was to a review stating the reviewers’ reasons they thought Stone was mistaken.

  41. @Anna: “But societal collapse is not something I can deal with. I was absolutely serious in saying I need a trigger warning. Why do people who can’t stand a depiction of rape get a trigger warning but Everybody Dies Horribly And in Despair and Civilisation Ends doesn’t get flagged?”

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

    In short, my (limited) understanding of trigger warnings is, crudely put, that they’re like food allergy notices: there may be a small population for whom they matter, but if you’re part of that group, they’re vital. I understand and agree with that. However, they exist for people who have experienced an intense trauma and wish to avoid reminders of it because such reminders can trigger a panic attack or PTSD episode. From that perspective, apocalyptic fiction does not appear to qualify. Accounts of rape do. That viewpoint may be incorrect, and I certainly intend no offense in relating it, but… well, you asked, and that’s the best answer I have to offer.

    * Although very personal tales can be told in that setting. Hell, the “personal tale in the midst of global catastrophe” trope practically defines zombie apocalypse fiction.
    ** Yes, of course some people have suffered profound tragedy. They haven’t experienced the literal end of civilization, though. There’s a difference, at least in scale.
    *** I almost said “foreign” here. The specific shade of meaning I intend is that it is something which lays outside the lived experience of readers. I’ll even qualify that to “most readers” if you would say that “I survived a revolution/domestic war” is close enough to proxy for “I survived the end of the world.” That’s not quite my belief, but I won’t argue with it; I can easily see how someone who’s been through a revolution or something like it could be triggered by at least some End of Civilization motifs, and erring on the side of caution seems reasonable.

  42. @Rick Moen

    That’s the section! (and thanks for replying) (though I would be very hesitant to say the first city relies on a social contract between equals–or talk of virtue ethics vs. deontological or consequential–as both smack of reading our modern concepts backwards into the text)

    The point of the section is that the government that is laid out in the Republic is not Socrates’ ideal. So claiming Socrates’ preferred government the Republic is what follows is mistaken (he even mentions later on [can’t find it now] that he still prefers the first city).

    Also since Plato is constantly purposely undermining the explicit message of his work to make the reader engage with his problems (most obviously in the Parmenides with its arguments against the Forms) I would be very hesitant to state anything as Plato’s own view. This is true of the city in the Republic and particularly true of the discussion of art since Plato’s own dialogues don’t match the standards he lays out at all (e.g. there’s a wide-range of human types, from the noble to the shameful).

    And not that you asked, but my own reading would be that in large part Plato is merely applying Athens own standards to its gods and traditional literature. Setting aside the example of Socrates, it did after all exile Protagoras and burn his books for impiety; Anaxagoras had a similar fate and Xenophanes nearly did. So it–like much of the Republic–is actually a sort of reductio argument. I’m not sure I would say he advocated free speech as we understand it now (I doubt anyone did), but probably something closer to it than one might at first think.

  43. There are too many messages to go through before I get on to my bike for my weekly office trip so it might have got mentioned before: Probably Zelazny’s worst book, Damnation Alley, also even a worse movie? Still I think it is worth a read and it is short enough to be finished in a couple of hours. My own copy has the label ™Soon to be a major film!” 🙂

    I got a 1976 print here one too many. Anyone in the UK wants a read let me know and I will post it out for free. Please mail me directly at [email protected]

  44. Oh, and the first wave is Socrates arguing that women are equal to men. Something that was largely ignored by the tradition–Ibn Rushd (aka Averroes) may be the only surviving commentator who agreed with it–until modern times. Given the importance of Diotima to Plato’s Socrates, I suspect this one explicit belief Plato in fact held.

  45. @Whym: (The Door Into Summer on TBR)

    I have discovered something annoying about the Kindle edition, if that affects your preferences… and to my knowledge, that’s the only legitimate ebook edition, at least in the States. (I fundamentally Do Not Get why anyone would only sell ebooks through one store, but I bought both Door and Double Star at the beginning of the month. I’m deliberately limiting myself to a budget of the Amazon reward points I get every month for filling that backlist. I’ve got time enough to acquire the books I love…)

    Anyway, there’s a place in the book where a robot holds up a placard with a few lines of text on it – somewhere between a flyer and a business card in length. In the printed book, this text was rendered as a justified paragraph between a few centered lines, and as I recall it was side-indented as an HTML blockquote is. In the ebook, it’s a scanned image of that printed text, with a large margin of whitespace on all four sides. It’s not even an especially sharp scan.

    That’s exactly the sort of thing that makes me grind my teeth at some ebooks. It’s slipshod and there’s no reason for it. But then, I’m the sort of person who despises walled gardens of both the DRM and custom-format varieties, and I know HTML and CSS well enough to repair that sort of problem in my personal copy. You know, if I were so inclined, which I’m not saying I am… 😉

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