Friday, February 26, 2010

Predictions, Podcasts and the Future

Inventor Nathan Myhrvold, of Intellectual Ventures, recently unveiled a mosquito death ray -- part of a plan to eradicate malaria, funded by Bill Gates. Using a Blu-ray playe’s laser and a laser printer’s fast-moving mirror, controlled by a sensor that measures wingbeat frequency and size the of flying insect and decide whether it is worth killing.

earthSound familiar? Writes tech pundit Jamais Cascio: “Okay David, so it's mosquitos and not killer bees, but I'll give this EARTH prediction to you anyway.” (Aw man... how many of these do I need, before people gimme respek? I mean sheet, I got a better record than Sterling, Doctorow an’ all dose guys combine! Sigh. ;-)

While we’re at it... see progress toward Tru-View Goggles (shown in my novel EARTH).

And another predictions registry item... people looking hard for the last remaining “quiet places” on Earth. (Forecast in my novel of that name.) Doug Moran suggests that “you should consider releasing a 25th anniversary edition of "Earth" in 2015 (when we're halfway there), with an afterward that talks about things that have happened.”

Another prediction from EARTH (1992) -- Tidal power is taking off, in Europe. (Now a further prediction. These “snakes” will also be designed to stir bottom mud and fertilize currents. )

See a list of predictive hits (and misses) from Earth at: http://earthbydavidbrin.pbworks.com/w/page/15607657/Predictions

Speaking of predictions, see my classic article about Psi and telepathy and precognition and all that: Parapsychology and the need to believe in a new transcendence

Jamais Cascio and Mike Treder hold a fascinating conversation about environmental ethics. See Jamais work out the fact that each big cheesburger results in the emission of 4.5 kilograms of greenhouse gas! (From farmers' fuel to fertilizer to cattle farts to transport etc.) Leading to about 20 million tons of co2 coming from America from just the cheeseburgers it eats. (I don't think he included the resulting human farts.)

President Obama’s new space plan offers a huge boost to commercial space operations, including manned flight. Exactly what all my libertarian buds have said they wanted, for ages. Watch. He’ll still be called a socialist. (On the other hand, Buzz Aldrin was wonderfully cogent in arguing for an approach that the President seems to have adopted, whole cloth.

MISCELLANEA.....

See a “One Minute Critic” summarize KILN PEOPLE.

LifeAfterPeopleYou can catch a clip of me on History Channel’s Life After People. You may have to actually paste in this address:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzZmkQT-lv8

The Age of Amateurs pushes forward. How crowdsourcing is helping in Haiti. This article discusses how (mostly) volunteer response in other countries helped (and still is, to a degree) the ground based workers.

I’ve posted a couple of education-related pages. Science Fiction that Teaches.

and
Movies for Teaching Science.

Learn about Solar Probe Plus, a planned mission to study the Sun with a brave probe from near distances where it will appear 23 times wider than it does in the skies of Earth. I have been asked to be a sort of honorary “inspirational consultant” member of the team, Among the mysteries to be studied are the origins of the solar wind and the reasons for the superheated temperatures of the corona, which reach more than a million degrees. As a former solar astronomer myself, and author of Sundiver, I’ll be pleased to help in any way. Read more.

This covers the nitty-gritty of using Hexayurts in Haiti. It's a research doc, but has good, clear descriptions of the cleverness required to put together a cheap shelter that stands some chance in a serious storm. Pass it on, they're going to need it.

A fun - if long-winded - take-down of the Star Wars prequels. Makes the same point that I did, years ago... that The Phantom Menace has no hero. None at all, and during Lucas’s “Joseph Campbell Period!” Hilarious.

READ this very informative article about how easy it is to subpoena web records and find out about your identity, if you post anything anonymously defaming. Of course there’s Anonymizer.com...

Foundation“Krugman explained that he’d become an economist because of science fiction. When he was a boy, he’d read Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy and become obsessed with the central character, Hari Seldon.”

I tried to reach Krugman and offer him a copy of FOUNDATION’S TRIUMPH, which ties together ALL of Isaac’s loose ends... but could not get through his protective layers with the message. If any of you happen to be within two degrees of separation and care to pass on a message...?

=== SCIENCE!! ===

Son of Big Dog... the Army will deploy Boston Dynamics robo-mule for a test in less than 3 years.

Betty Jones has posted a list-link to “100 Eye-Opening Lectures on the Future of Engineering” - quite a compilation and well worth several impulse clicks.

A fascinating Youtube about mythbusting Climate Change assertions.

Fun engineering games.

In less than one billionth of a second, plants transform 95 percent of the sunlight that falls on them into energy stored chemically as carbohydrates. The quantum key to doing that lies in a phenomenon known to physicists as quantum coherence, where more than one molecule interacts with the same energy from one incoming photon at the same time.

Is the solar-system sized bubble in the Consellation Cygnus a planetary nebulae or could it be an "AC" or astroengineering construction, also known as a Dyson sphere? (Sigh, obviously the former.)

Scientists have found a striking similarity in the DNA that enables some bats and dolphins to echolocate.

Connecting the dots in algae-to-fuel!

Calling all Hugo Award voters. Podcasts are now allowed! Have a look and then try some of the casts from Glasgow’s “Starship Sofa.” (including some stories of mine!) Consider for Best Fanzine.

And now that's done. Phew! Now please forgive me if I stay mostly off of the comments section for a while....

40 comments:

Tim H. said...

I particularly like the mosquito death ray, a shame neither Charles Addams or Vincent Price lived to see it.

Robert said...

I recently came across this argument for discriminating against people and violating their First Amendment Right of Freedom of Religion through a most convoluted thought process. This person argues that Atheism is not a religion and that everyone should be "required" to believe in God. Um... okay? I wonder if this person believes Pagans should be forcibly converted to Christianity because they believe in Gods (and Goddesses) instead of God? And how about non-Christian monotheists like Islam and Judaism?

The truly sad thing is, this person probably believes her literal interpretation of the Constitution is correct and what was intended. And she'd probably be leading a lynching mob against those of our Founding Fathers who were Deists.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Ilithi Dragon said...

Rob,

That particular letter is actually a satirical spoof, though Poe's Law comes into effect because, while satire, we all know people who actually believe it...

Robert said...

Ah. I should have had my coffee before reading it. Oh well, I'm more gullible before my brain fully wakes up. ^^;;

Rob H.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Yeah, but like I said, Poe's Law applies. That particular letter is a spoof, but it's so easy to believe that it isn't because we all know people who really do hold that opinion.

colinatl said...

Sadly, your "You have GOT to see this!" link was served with a DMCA Takedown by the BBC. We will never know what we should have seen...

Ilithi Dragon said...

colinatl,

It was the ultimate answer to all our problems, that would have fixed everything.

Corey said...

Dr Brin, I really have to thank you for the 'mythbusting Climate Change assertions' video. I've actually been looking for something that tackles that much in such plain language and with such clear examples for a long time.

David Brin said...

The correct link to the Life After People segment is
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzZmkQT-lv8

Corey said...

"The correct link to the Life After People segment is
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzZmkQT-lv8"

All that work just to depress us by reminding us that in the end, no testament to us will remain once human civilization disappears :P

Corey said...

Keep in mind of course, that given our obscene genetic diversity from the size of our population, said population, the area of which we have settled, and the adaptation to countless variations in climate are such, that any climatic, geological, or astronomical event sufficient to completely wipe out the human race would leave insufficiently complex life behind for another species that might rival us to rise up in only a couple hundred thousand years.

Humanity isn't infinitely durable, but we're close enough that I'm pretty certain it would take something just shy of the Permian Extinction to wipe out every last human (an event so cataclysmic, that the only remaining life would be relatively small and simple organisms that were low enough on the food chain to make efficient use of what little energy continued to flow through the battered biosphere, precluding the survival of large, tertiary consumers like us).

Gilmoure said...

Corey said... any climatic, geological, or astronomical event sufficient to completely wipe out the human race would leave insufficiently complex life behind for another species that might rival us to rise up in only a couple hundred thousand years.

While it might be difficult to take out people in one swell foop, I think it might be a bit easier to reduce us down to enough scattered remnants that we would be on a generational one way luge slide to oblivion.

Also, I think you underestimate the perversity of rats, squirrels, raccoons and coyotes. Very hardy creatures and all very good at problem solving. I'd hold them up as candidates for NBT (next big thang).

John Kurman said...

Gilmoure said: "Also, I think you underestimate the perversity of rats, squirrels, raccoons and coyotes. Very hardy creatures and all very good at problem solving. I'd hold them up as candidates for NBT (next big thang)

I don't know. Don't count us out quite yet. I mean, we got recipes for them. I don't hear about them having recipes for us.

But anyway, thanks for making me waste most of the day on those redletter media film reviews. The one thing the old guy failed to point out, since he was picking nits on various things was Star Trek: First Contact. So, we've just gone through a nuclear war and nuclear winter and all that, and people are eating out of cans, except for the occasional really tasty Rat Francaise, but Cochrane and Lily can build a starship as like what? A hobby? Something to forget about the misery?

Oh, wait. Human exceptionalism. We are these really puny, kind of stupid small headed creatures, but our engineers can "turn rocks into replicators". Okay cool. Never mind.

And hey, thanks for the news about the broadcasts turning into noise. I, for some reason, feel a lot safer now.

Corey said...

Well Cochrane's whole deal isn't that hard to explain away if you just assume he was some government scientist who had had serious resources to throw around prior to WWIII. Yes, it's a dumb explanation, but it reduces that problem to a point to where it's a non-issue compared to the other plausibility problems in FC.

For instance, why didn't the Borg just go to another system, THEN go back in time, then fly to Earth?

John Kurman said...

My beef with these stories is you sacrifice common sense for false drama. It could have been a much more interesting story if the Enterprise had to cause WWIII in order to stop the Borg infestation. But what the hey, Ron Moore has done OK with other stuff.

And anyway, having a time machine lets you pretty much do anything. The Borg going back in time to assimilate Earth is like me going back in time to win a bet or buy the right lottery ticket. When I could've set myself up as the Almighty.

Yeah well, I guess we've all watched way too much Star Trek. My brother's story is he's ready to watch an original ST show and our Dad makes og out and mow the lawn. He's out there mowin the lawn and cryting because he is missing the show and he will never, ewver get to see it...

rewinn said...

A huge fan of each ST series, including the cartoons, except for the most recent ungodly bad one ... it's unfortunate that Star Trek movies are always awful (except #4 which was just a comedy of manners)... but it may be inevitable because stuff that works o.k. in a recurring TV series fails in a movie.

A movie is like a novel: the Hero goes on a Quest and Achieves His (Her)(Its) Most Important Thing Ever ... but a Price Must Be Paid.

A TV series is different: the Hero needs a New Quest every week; whatever is Achieved cannot be too big because it has to be done again next week; the Price Paid cannot be so crippling that it ends the series. Now move those characters to the Big Screen, and you're left with movies that can't have any character Achievement or Price Paid. They invent a son for Kirk to lose; they kill Spock but the very next flick is about bringing him back. Nothing changes and therefore there are no movies, just more episodes.

Some TV series develops story arcs that actually allow the whole thing to be a Hero's Quest over the course of 30 or 60 episodes-hours, and that's great, but they don't seem to make good movies either because a 60-hour story arc doesn't have many grand 2-hour stories in it. Note that ST:DS9 and ST:Voyager have no movies in the works (despite having great casts) because the Quest Has Been Completed: Voyager made it back and Cisco didn't. End of stories.

Sorry for geeking out there. I agree that the whole Time Travel thing in StarTrekVerse makes no sense until there's a time-travelling version of StarFleet enforcing a temporal Prime Directive (which was one of the best recurring gags in Voyager and led to ST:DS9's best comic episode IMO).

Ian said...

We have literally no idea what you need to make a warp drive.

For all we know all it takes is a microwave oven, a cell phone and some carefully-folded pieces of aluminium foil.

A more interesting question is if Corchrane doesn't believe in aliens and the Earth has been reduced to barbarism, how exactly does he expect to get rich off his invention?

Ian said...

Interesting article from NPR abouit how cultural attitudes shape attitudes to scientific data (especially in relation to climate science.)

Bottom line: people who identify as individualists are much more likely to accept the factual basis of climate science if told "nuclear power is the answer".

People who identify as "communitarian" are the reverse - if a group of them are told that nuclear power is the answer they are LESS likely to accept the evidence that climate change is real.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124008307&ft=1&f=1007&sc=YahooNews

This is based on work by the very interesting Cultural Cognition Project.
http://www.culturalcognition.net/

Robert said...

I actually preferred the Star Trek history given in the old Star Trek Technical Manual; it had the Federation finding a Vulcan ship that had engine problems out in Pluto's orbit and the human ships saving the Vulcans (and the problems that came from Vulcans requiring higher temperatures and the like).

It presented humanity as slightly more noble and didn't have the Vulcans "uplift" us and all that BS. We were already explorers... we then found the Vulcans while in the process of taking those first steps. First Contact took that away from us and gave us the Meek Shall Inherit The Galaxy venue that Star Trek pushed down our throats starting with Next Gen.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

"You have GOT to see this!"

See what? There's no video at that link.

Please post a correct link.

Corey said...

"We have literally no idea what you need to make a warp drive.

For all we know all it takes is a microwave oven, a cell phone and some carefully-folded pieces of aluminium foil."

I can has Macgyver?

"I actually preferred the Star Trek history given in the old Star Trek Technical Manual; it had the Federation finding a Vulcan ship that had engine problems out in Pluto's orbit and the human ships saving the Vulcans (and the problems that came from Vulcans requiring higher temperatures and the like).

It presented humanity as slightly more noble and didn't have the Vulcans "uplift" us and all that BS. We were already explorers... we then found the Vulcans while in the process of taking those first steps. First Contact took that away from us and gave us the Meek Shall Inherit The Galaxy venue that Star Trek pushed down our throats starting with Next Gen.

Rob H."

I think you're being a little too rough on the story, and on TNG (and post-TNG) in general. In fact, in many ways, the more recent history hashed out int he cannon makes humans MORE noble vs the other three founding races of the Federation, if you really look at about 2050-2161.

In the TOS TM/TOS canon history, humanity is perfect. We just got up one day and decided to become that way. Then we found a bunch of other perfect races in the Galaxy and said "Hey, let's be friends, and go beat up the nasty Klingons... which look and act strangely like ancient Mongolians". It's good and fine if you're trying to criticize 1960s western society, but I prefer the new history in relation to the modern day (as it seem to much more relevant).


In the new history, humanity is a decent bunch of guys, but hey, we have our flaws. Our shortcomings as a global society eventually get the better of us for awhile, but we learn from it and evolve. Early in the process, we meet the Vulcans, who we see initially as saviors and who, themselves, carry a very arrogant and superior attitude and view us as a backwards race with the technology to destroy as and half the quadrant with us, who are therefore in need of their "superior" guidance.

So we venture out, and find that the galaxy is not quite as our Vulcan friends make it out to be. They are in fact engaged in a three-way low-intensity war with the Andorians and Tellarites, and being the nosy SOBs that we are, we manage to make some enemies ourselves (but since when did the Klingons like anyone anyways?). It turns out that most of the galaxy is really suffering from the same prejudices and failings that nearly lead us to the destroy ourselves 100 years prior.

Incidentally, our refreshingly odd nature makes us a number of friends too. After awhile, a little human tenacity and human optimism eventually gets injected into the situation, and our species gains the trust of and unites the warring factions of our local space in time for concerted defense against a full-blown invasion by the Romulan Empire, after which The Federation, the greatest institution the alpha quadrant has ever known, is born.

Alright, that's more Enterprise than TNG (TNG didn't cover that era much), but then, TNG gave us the most noble representation of all, because we got to be represented by Captain Picard, who is the man :)

Still, I find the 'revised' history present in more recent canon to be a lot more engaging (especially given the toned down black and white "us good, they bad" attitude that TOS beat its viewers over the head with).

Corey said...

Sorry for the bad typing there; I just got up ^_^;

but yeah, if there's one thing TOS missed that later series nailed, it's that people find more interest in and common ground with a protagonist who's able to overcome their flaws than a protagonist who's 100% perfect from the get-go (otherwise, where's the story?).

Robert said...

The original 1975 Technical Manual did not paint humanity as perfect, not by a long shot. It did, however, create a fascinating look at how humanity took its first steps into the galaxy, and how the Federation itself formed.

Of course, I'm also looking back with nostalgic-colored glasses, so I might not be entirely accurate there. However, the early Star Trek fiction was not the rosy-glassed depiction that post-Next-Gen writers took it. Enterprise was perhaps a glimpse of a more believable Federation, but it was fettered by First Contact (which was a superb movie, don't get me wrong, but it still had some significant flaws and an idiot-plot which calls into question why the Borg doesn't just go back in time a couple million years, Borgize the First Race, and from there have a Borg Hegemony that assimilates each new race as it evolves).

Rob H., who honestly preferred the storyline telling of Earth and Beyond and Babylon 5 to the episodic format of Star Trek

Corey said...

Well that's certainly fair, and yes, while a good movie propelled by a very strong performance by Patrick Stewart, First Contact did have a few gaping holes in the story.

At least it wasn't Nemesis though, where data killed himself over the simple oversight of not realizing the Enterprise had a bay full of shuttle (which have their own transports) :)

Corey said...

transporters* :)

Tim H. said...

Did STNG writers have Michael Swanwick's "Vacuum flowers" on their mind when they came up with the BORG?

David Brin said...

There is nothing like Trek. Nowhere else are humans shown with decent institutions, and descendants who are better enough to be worth our hard work to make them.

Robert said...

I prefer science fiction that shows humanity to be a little bit more... human. Your own stories, Dr. Brin, shows humanity to be flawed... but also to be clever, able to think on their feet, and with the ability to grow. I would far prefer to live in a scifi world of your imagining, in which humanity retains that essential aspect of itself, than the Suetopian society of Star Trek that is both technophobic and petrified to act lest it have an untoward effect on other non-starfaring species.

And Vacuum Flowers is a fascinating book, though not among the best of science fiction out there. The concepts it put forward such as the hivemind of humanity caused by an Internet Singularity is fascinating, and the thought that the limitations of the speed of light ultimately stopping the hive from growing past Earth's boundaries is an interesting one, though I'm unsure if a hivemind of a technological singularity would stop even with such a limitation.

(For an interesting look at the concept of the Technological Singularity, and a satirical nod toward Star Trek: The Next Generation's odd fear of that concept, Dresden Codak had an interesting storyline on that theme.)

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

"We have literally no idea what you need to make a warp drive.

It may require three drops of mouse blood, a source of octarion radiation, and a *very* large turtle.

While I enjoyed Trek, and a large portion of TNG, I found myself gravitating to B5 in favour of DS9 and *shudder* Voyager in short order (despite seeing the pilot and crying 'oh, puhleeze!'. It soon becoame apparent that there was a back story that was building into something pretty intriguing, and which turned out to be more than just Lensmen style good vs bad uber-aliens)

Nowhere else are humans shown with decent institutions, and descendants who are better enough to be worth our hard work to make them.

"I thought we (the Babylon Project) meant something, and weren't just some deep space franchise!" Ivanova, from 'and now for a word'

Ambassador Delenn also observes that humans are unique in forming communities on other worlds and seeking to understand alien cultures: something that is not a natural tendency with other species (although they, too, can learn).

Humanity and the institutions depicted in B5 are far from perfect. There is a multitude of political conflicts going on which make the 'art of the possible' all but.

appodula: a light wine that goes well with swedish meatballs.

Tim H. said...

The best of Star Trek is very good indeed, but some of it ages better than others. Babylon 5 is my personal favorite, but it's not quite the same animal as Star Trek, and there's easily room for both.

Dwight Williams said...

Trek and Babylon 5 both have their virtues...among them a shared hope for the better virtue and a trust that we have the means at hand to build it.

If we but dare.

jim moore said...

Yes, but Bab 5 had earth ships that spun to produce artificial gravity!

That is how we would do it. And its a pretty cool plot device as well.

Ian Gould said...

If we're comparing fictional futures then probably hands-down the most pessimistic view from a popular franchise (albeit one that extends to games, books and computer games but not yet TV or film) is Warhammer 40,000.

The entire human race is ruled by a viciously repressive xenophobic dictatorship that crushes all signs of internal dissent and wages constant war on all aliens.

oh and the Empire is ruled over by an immortal insane megalomaniac who is literally worshiped as a God and who requires constant human sacrifices to himself (or it was before he became senile and left it in the hands of the Inquisition).

Most of the alien races are, in anything, worse.

Corey said...

Warhammer 40k is, indeed, among the most pessimistic view of humanity that I have ever seen (or a view of humanity with a very backwards set of priorities).

Of course, the irony to 40k is that the emphasis on self-centered expansion and conquest has not even produced tangible benefits to the selfish humans who undertook the policies of the Imperium of Man. The government, and the society as a whole, fails to provide for the basic needs of the people it governs. Of course, one could argue that it succeeds well as a corrupt oligarchy, but that's hardly a credit to the society.

Technologically, these people are not only inferior to other advanced humans shown in other science fiction settings, but are, in fact, no more sophisticated in most respects than TODAY's humans. They have a rudimentary grasp of fusion power, but their weaponry is equivalent to our own, today, to the extent that many infantry units are still using basic combat shot guns (while "advanced" weaponry would be along the lines of a traditional missile with a chemical warhead). They also have no mastery of FTL technology, and instead rely on a dangerous, supernatural travel that requires entrance into a demonic realm, which countless ships (and fleets) have entered, never to emerge.

38,000 years, and these people have only managed to regress or stay static compared to 21st century humans. It's sad, really.

Tony Fisk said...

Yes, but Bab 5 had earth ships that spun to produce artificial gravity!

NASA asked the B5 crew if they could 'borrow' the Starfury design to develop into an EVA vehicle.

forksly: having good dumpster-diving dining etiquette

Tony Fisk said...

It's a little unfair to compare Warhammer (an unapologetic excuse to kick some scaly arse and sell miniatures) to serious speculative fiction.

Still, even GDW can't avoid the currents of uplift: WoW showed itself to be an effective epidemiological modelling tool when the blood plague was unleashed.

Who knows? Maybe those miniatures will help kick off the fabber market.

Robert said...

Actually, Warhammer 40K is a bit more advanced technologically than you'd think. First of all, they have genetically enhanced super soldiers who can enter into hibernation, spit poison, survive wounds that would kill a normal human while remaining viable for combat, resist diseases and poisons that would quickly incapacitate a normal human, and are physically stronger and tougher than the baseline human. The armor of these super soldiers is able to shrug off weapon fire of anything short of the equivalent of a next-generation Hellfire missile (or whatever anti-armor missile they're using these days). The primary weapon used by these super soldiers is an accurate gyrojet rifle (each round is basically an armor-piercing rocket). Their tanks can run off of a wide variety of fuels, including petroleum, alcohol, or any other liquid hydrocarbon fuel, with equal efficiency, while utilizing heavy weapons that are at a minimum the equal of our heavy machine guns, as well as effective laser and plasma weaponry.

The primary weapon of the run-of-the-mill non-augmented soldier is an effective laser rifle powerful enough to kill or incapacitate a human with one shot that runs off of IR solar cells (the ammo clips can be recharged quickly through a charger, left out in the sunlight for a more gradual charge, or tossed into a firepit to charge that way, though the third option does tend to damage the clips).

The tanks of the Imperial Guard are heavily armored, armed with a range of weapons that can annihilate the heavily-armored super soldiers, and come in a wide variety (mostly to sell extra model kits to wargamers with cash to waste).

The problem is that humanity has descended into the worse aspects of superstitious beliefs which are perpetuated by power structures that utilize humanity's ignorance to stay in power. Technology is considered magical, and the engineering caste worships machinery (much like in Isaac Asimov's first Foundation book); the tendency of "Tech Priests" to keep secrets has resulted in technology to be lost if a world that has the only schematics on the technology succumbs to alien invasion or worse.

Their FTL travel is basically an interdimensional form of transit, with this other-dimensional realm influenced by the emotions and thoughts of those in our world. Literally, the thoughts and beliefs of humans and many alien races shapes the Warp... and has resulted in eldritch horrors forming sentience and working to corrupt or destroy humanity and other races.

In short, Warhammer 40K is a dark dire look into the future. Humanity is constantly at war with dozens of alien races and with the corruptive elements of the Warp and with dissident elements in their own societies. And yet it is immensely popular, both with the fiction put out by Games Workshop and with the wargame itself, partly because it is a universe of black and black ethics, where there are no good guys, only people and entities fighting for survival at any cost.

The wargame is also... well, I think it should be classified as an addictive substance; it is entirely too each to blow thousands of dollars buying various models that come out.

Rob H., who is a Warhammer 40K addict... and who has also written some fiction in the setting.

P.S. - One of the best 40K novel series is by Sandy Mitchell, and in many ways an homage of "Flashman" focusing on "Ciaphus Cain, Hero of the Imperium." It is about a Commissar of the Imperium who is believed to be a great hero but who feels he is a fraud and coward who constantly has to pretend he's something he's not in order to maintain his reputation and skin. It's also remarkably more upbeat than the background material for 40K.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Yes, but most of the tech in the WH40K universe isn't really that much more advanced than we have now. We already have early battlefield lasers (Northrop-Grumman's Firestrike laser system has been in production for a year or better now), and we are fairly close to developing functional fusion technology. Machineguns and heavy machineguns we already have, and the military is constantly looking at newer and better armor equipment, and has been looking at mechanically-augmented soldiers for a while now. Give us another 50-100 years to advance in power generation and storage tech, bio tech, armor and weapons tech, and we'll have met or exceeded the best the Imperium of Man has to offer 38,000 years from now, with the sole exception of FTL capabilities.

Also, the gas turbine engine used by the M1 Abrams is capable of running on a variety of fuels now, though there is a minimum standard of quality and combustibility (which will no doubt be improved upon, unless we can develop mini fusion reactors to power them instead of combustion engines).

Claudia said...

Americans have generally trusted science to address the problems of the future, but that is changing rapidly. Today I was sent this article "Smart Grid: The Implementation of Technocracy?" http://www.augustreview.com/issues/technocracy/smart_grid:_the_implementation_of_technocracy?_20100222156/ which comments: "Before the dust settles on Smart Grid, both consumers and utilities may learn some sharp lessons about government intervention: When the government shows up on your doorstep and offers to help you save money, everyone knows that is an oxymoron. Government does not function to help people or companies to save money or to be more efficient; rather, it functions to maintain and increase its own power and control over its citizens."

More and more, technology (and scientists) are seen as tools of Corporate State control. The groups may seem to be fringe, but the fears they foster are not.

Dwight Williams said...

And I see the spammers hard at "work" here. :-(

Looking back, I see where we might have confused the ST Spaceflight Chronology with the Starfleet Technical Manual.

In any case, I don't think I'd be interested in playing in the Warhammer 40,000 worlds. As others have noted, it's too gloomy for my own tastes as well.

I would, however, be tempted to add the alt.future of the various incarnations of DC Comics' Legion of Super-Heroes, were it not for the fact that it has to be set in a world roughly a millenium after that of the DC heroes of the present day.