Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sci Fi Cinema... great things coming!

Before diving into a flood of great new movies on the horizon... or in the past...

== The Long View of Civilization ==

The Long Now Foundation is one of the funnest expressions of techie zealotry (with a bit of Stewart Brand/Ken Kesey thrown in.) Their new bar-slash-hangout-for-fulture-oriented-folk -- The Interval -- is one of the hottest new things in San Francisco.  Managed by my old ArchiTECHS chum, Alexander Rose, the Foundation is also running a brickstarter campaign to support the creation of a MANUAL FOR CIVILIZATION.... starting by collecting a library of essential books for rebuilding civilization.

I had the honor of joining the coterie of mavens helping make the list.  See this article showing my choices…which include Brunner's  Stand On Zanzibar and Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky -- then take a look at the choices from epochal futurist sages Daniel Suarez and Bruce Sterling -- including Asimov's Foundation and Sagan's Contact

Donate to support the forward-looking vision of The Long Now Foundation.

And now... Science Fiction Cinema!

== On Ambition...and Creativity ==

I have hope for cinema, as I view some of the terrific short films of recent years. io9 now links you to one called “Ambition” that seems, at first, to be a whiney-mystical fantasy trip… but turns into a paean to human optimism and science and belief in our future.

Wow, just published online, for the first time, an original essay by Isaac Asimov about inspiration: On Creativity: How do people get new ideas?”....

"It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable..."

== SF'nal Visions of Tomorrow ==

On io9, Esther Inglis-Arkell offers a fascinating look at the trend of simplistic dystopias in fiction, presenting  10 Lessons From Real-Life Revolutions That Fictional Dystopias Ignore, " ending with, "Afterwards, there will be mythology for the losing side."

In novels as diverse as Make Room! Make Room! and Ecotopia, Science Fiction has explored and envisioned the city of the future...Can Science Fiction influence -- not just scientists, but urban planners?  Annalee Newitz writes about the Dystopian City -- and Why Urban Planners Should Read More SciFi.

I have my own take on why the helpful trend of critical, self-preventing warning talks has turned into a plague of cynical doom, undermining our faith in a can-do civilization.

But fight back! By buying the recently released anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Tomorrow, filled with great tales about winning back our confidence in a hopeful future! Optimism as an antidote for dystopia...

== Science Fiction and Hollywood ==

The exciting rumor? HBO and Warner Bros. TV are teaming to produce a series based on Isaac Asimov's “Foundation” trilogy that will be written and produced by “Interstellar” writer Jonathan Nolan. As one of the authors of the Foundation universe — having tied up Isaac’s loose ends in Foundation's Triumph — I am very excited. Especially given the intelligence and thoughtfulness of the Nolan Brothers.

Meanwhile, Kim Stanley Robinson’s agent/producer (and mine) - Vince Gerardis - has “picked up” KSR’s famous (and fabulous) Mars Trilogy for some kind of cinematic or television adaptation.  

If so, terrific! Red Mars offers visions of a can-do society launching into the solar system.

Wow!  They are making a movie - Predestination - of the classic Heinlein story, All You Zombies. THE classic time travel story.  From this trailer, it seems they have tried very very hard to stay faithful to the basic structure and logic of Robert A. Heinlein's tale.  Though from what I can see, the Spierig brothers embellished several added layers of plot.  Nothing wrong with that, per se!  You have to, in order for a movie to work.  (Just as you must CUT layers from a novel, to go to film.) And from the clues, it seems likely they've done so pretty well.  I am looking forward to this.

Still, the tasty way this story - and other great stories - leave you breathless and hanging, with a TONE reverberating in the air... that aspect cannot survive the expansion.  All you can do is hope there will be enough filmic art to make up for that.  They are different works. They are different works. They are different works. They are different works. They are different works. They are different works. They are different works. 

Speaking of great media and the cross-fertilization of SF and science …See How building a Black Hole for Interstellar led to new scientific insights… 

Kewl, a fun article about 10 things you probably didn't know about Star Trek: The Original Series.

This would have been so cool if only they'd had the budget back then ... Nick Acosta frame captured scenes from Star Trek TOS that were panned across a set and turned them into freeze frames showing what the show would have looked like in Cinerama super wide screen.  I Wannit!

== Movies that could'a done better ==

Something I wasn’t sure I’d ever see… according to Movieseum, Kevin Costner’s film adaptation of my novel, The Postman, is right up there with Blade Runner, as one of the Top Ten Great Movies that Failed at the Box Office (at first).

Hey, it’s good to see The Postman movie get some positive recognition for a change. I have always deemed the first half of the film to be exquisite -- and I never really minded the directors' choices to simplify my plot. The character's core ethos is identical to mine. Indeed, the whole thing displays a great big, thumping lot of heart! Oh, and visually and musically? The Postman is visually and musically one of the most beautiful motion pictures of all time.  You can read my more detailed reaction here.

But ranking it up next to Blade Runner?  Even putting aside my personal feelings about Mr. Costner (who treated the original author with unearned and bewildering contempt), I have to say that the last third of the flick was something of an incoherent mish-mash that could have done with sincere story workshopping. This version of the ending left audiences with the kind of let-down that is death to any “classic” ranking. Alas.

The real disqualifier for the Movieseum list, however, is Costner’s other work that’s present.  Waterworld.  Really?  Sure, there were some creative visuals. But… really?  Please.

I am left bemused, falling back upon a standard piece of advice for all of you.  Read the original book!  I offer guarantees.

==And More Science Fiction ==

A podcast, Flotilla Online, poses  questions about writing to the great Sci Fi author Allen Steele - and me and rising star Dan Haight - in an hour-long interview.  And yes, after the first 10 minutes or so I do calm down!

Bizarre aliens, a genius heroine and fantastic new cover art for Jeff Carlson’s FROZEN SKY series!  

In his project Signs from the Near Future, blogger Fernando Barbella takes a wry look at how our street signs may also have to change to take account of driverless cars, internet-connected contact lenses and solar roads.

==  A worthy kickstarter? ==

Here's an interesting one. CounterCrop aims to teach people an innovative, modern way to grow their own food. A remote controlled, self-contained indoor gardening unit that's "so fun and simple literally anyone can grow fresh, abundant veggies on their kitchen counter." The video, at least, seems way-cool. Someone try it out and report back here? 

I've been asked to ask as many people to "back the project" as possible the morning of Dec. 4th. Jack Abbott also promises the first 50 contributors will get unites at a steep discount.  Oh, see what I do with this concept in the imagined future of my short story, "NatuLife"!


Paul Shen-Brown said...

Hi Dr. Brin,
On the idea that science fiction writers can influence urban planners, it was suggested in a class I took in college that Le Corbusier had seen the movie "Metropolis" and it had an impact on his thinking, though I don't have any confirmation of this. Regarding the idea of creating a library of books to help survive a social collapse, do you know if the old Niven/Pournelle novel "The Mote in God's Eye" was the first to do this, or is the idea older? Come to think of it, Bradbury's "451" kind of hints at this, doesn't it?

I don't want to be a turkey here (just before Thanksgiving - that would be flirting with Fate), but you listed "Tunnel in the Sky" as an Asimov novel. This was one of the most re-read books of my early years. Slight oops, there.

Unknown said...

Going to have to take a deeper look at Long Now, but am already concerned about some things. Location, for me, is a problem. The waterfront of San Fransisco? Seems something with a little more elevation and may fewer seismic events might've been wiser - like Las Cruces or Great Falls. Another thing is a clever comment on Long Now's site itself - how would you instruct Pre-Columbian Americans to build a rail system - telegraph system - and steam power? Having just finished Mark Twain's timetravel novel, I wonder how you could advance the past or rebuild a damaged future.

smitpa said...

On the idea we should leave a manual for civilization I think we must. It may not help our children but think of what the rediscovery of Rome and Greece did for the Renaissance. Deciding what legacy to leave may help us get our collective heads together. We should leave things like how to make steel and glass etc. There is a lot of process info we may have already lost from moving to the next thing. Leave tutorials that start with how to read micro film and move up from there and require one step to be mastered before moving on.

smitpa said...

Our other option would be to leave. I would hop an Orion type ship in a heartbeat. Mars or Vestia or some where with iron and water would fill the bill nicely. We need a frontier or civilization will not survive. A high value goal would be exactly what we need as the spending at home would revive a middle class.

David Brin said...

Paul & Elon... make it happen! ;-)

Tony Fisk said...

'We need a frontier, or civilisation will not survive'

Having read about 'spatial sorting' in Flannery's 'Here on Earth', I think the 'frontier concept' is due for a bit of a review. By that I mean some contemplation about why it is necessary, and whether civilisation can survive in a state of dynamic equilibrium.

Anonymous said...

A key component should be a form of Rosetta Stone - one that motivates the discoverers to learn the language.

Recommended: a periodic table of elements WITH samples of each element and samples of the most common natural source of the element - the ore or other substance from which it can most easily be extracted. Provide clear labels and an attached book describing ways to process the materials with diagrams/drawings to represent the described processes, with ways to make simple but useful tools.

That should be enough to let a curious and experimental reader easily understand the value of the find, and bootstrap their understanding of the language.

mwsmith said...

David, do you have a personal definition of science fiction?

Paul451 said...

The always thought The Postman (film) would have worked better if the protagonist and antagonist were reverse cast. Will Patton as the downtrodden survivor-drifter turned con-artist turned reluctant folk-hero, Costner as the larger-than-life, scenery-eating warlord.

Paul451 said...

"The always thought"

I meant "Thee" obviously.


Paul Shen-Brown said...

I just looked over that Counter Crop site, and it makes hydroponics look really chic and easy. If it is not prohibitively expensive it might introduce indoor gardening to the chronically indoor. But the thing is so tiny it could not possibly make much of a contribution to the diet of even a small family. Anyone who has had a garden knows it takes a lot of space to grow enough food for a large mammal, and urban living space does not come cheap. Still, if it were affordable I would get one. It would be great for an herb garden. Come to think of it, I would probably get one for my mother, who is in her 70's and lives in a condo where she couldn't do any gardening even if her knees were up to it.
On another level, if the cost of such an automated system could be brought down low enough, it could represent a technology that would support even higher population densities.

Tacitus said...

Although I very much enjoyed Postman - the book - there was an obvious "seam" where the pace and tone changed. Natural I suppose as I understand it was two related novellas spliced together.

Perhaps the movie adaptation - which I have not seen - hit that and jolted like a needle on an old school LP.

I suppose such things are NOT DONE but it would be interesting to ponder a different second half - again I speak of the book - or perhaps a third act where we really find out what happened elsewhere...


locumranch said...

The frontier where second (or third) chances exist, people are free to reinvent themselves, rules become mutable, flexible or cease to exist, and opportunity (a term synonymous with chaos) abounds, was what I most desired until I realised that it was a trope rather than a place.

All of the New World frontiers that you've heard about, including the Wild West, Prague Spring, the 1970's & any revolution, never really existed as remembered. Instead, they were war zones like Ferguson where the Old Guard was swept away by willful youngsters who tried to build a new and better world in its place.

The frontier exists only because we create and need it; we need it because it represents our primary mechanism for scientific, social & cultural change; and it therefore follows that this desire to self-perpetuate & immortalise our idea of civilisation is simultaneously wrong-headed, obstructionist and counter-productive.

Instead, we should accept our futurological irrelevance, allow our mixed-blessing cranky-old civilisation to fall, husband 'what comes next' as we do our children (who we guide rather than control), then get-the-hell-out-of-the-way and allow the young to pick, choose and rebuild the bits of our civilisation worth saving.

Dare imagine a world where 'The Postman' is irrelevant:

'What's a Postman, gramps ??'

'Why it's someone who physically carried written communications from place.'

'But that's INSANE!'

'It was, indeed.'


Alex Tolley said...

Heath Rezabek has been working with the Long Now Foundation to design what he calls a "vessel" - a robust archive for civilization. There were ideas for where to put these constructs, one of which was the moon (very 2001). Another issue was what form the archive should take to ensure both accessibility and longevity. There were a number of posting over at "Centauri Dreams" by Heath. Interesting stuff.

I too look forward to a new treatment of the Foundation series. My concern is that it will feel very dated now. How to stay true to the themes but update it so that its age doesn't show. It should be much easier to do KSR's Mars trilogy. But what a sprawling series it would be. The scope is huge, making even Mitchener's novels seem short.

Re: Top 10 Great Movies that Failed. I think their various lists are just click bait. The selections make little sense to me. The Guardian newspaper does this sort of thing too, and they also make little sense. The commenters are usually far more educated that the list compilers.

LarryHart said...


Although I very much enjoyed Postman - the book - there was an obvious "seam" where the pace and tone changed. Natural I suppose as I understand it was two related novellas spliced together.


I suppose such things are NOT DONE but it would be interesting to ponder a different second half - again I speak of the book - or perhaps a third act where we really find out what happened elsewhere...

"The Postman" is one of the books I would choose to have with me if stranded on a desert island. It was also the first book I lent to the girl I'm now married to (yes, the wife who is having the medical issues). I wouldn't change a thing.

BUT, I'd say the book's ending didn't foreclose new adventures (or adventures of other locations) in the same world. The status quo didn't change except in a very local way. Just as Isaac Asimov built a "Foundation" concept around which many stories could be written, so it might be possible with the world of "The Postman" too.

Acacia H. said...

Actually there are elements of Foundation that would work quite well. I mean, consider the first three stories of Foundation: the creation of a scientific outpost that will record technology and scientific advancements on the outskirts of civilization and thus will avoid the fall of civilization itself. The creation of a false religion using the trappings of scientific advancements to make people believe what you want them to. And finally, a rebellion between the entrenched powers-that-be and agents of change who feel the old way of doing things is outdated and needs to change.

These are core stories. Civilizations fall. We saw one fall within the last 50 years - the Soviet Union. Now imagine if the Soviet Union had won... had conquered the world... if the United States, South and Central America, China, Europe... all of it had become states of the Soviet Union. And then the central government fails. Communism falls. Anarchy everywhere. Nor does it happen all at once! The Empire shed outlying regions. Russia lost its outlying territories, including the Ukraine and Baltic States. And it struggles now to remain relevant.

Scientology is an example of a false religion that dupes people. Now imagine if a core group of Congressmen and the President believed in and followed Scientology. (Christianity could also be considered as such, given that most of what we see is lip-service to the Christian God but plenty of people not being true to the spirit of the faith.)

As for the agents of change against the powers that be? Corporations see that every day, all the time.

Foundation is relevant today. You don't need to precisely copy the old stories to keep true to those core stories and what they were about.


As an aside, Dr. Brin, remember a couple essays back you quoted a certain Republican article I quoted? He has written a couple more articles since that show promise. We need more Republicans like him.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin love your post
Best Sci Film of 2014. Gotta be
The Frame Brillant film

Tim H. said...

Rob H., thanks for the link to "goplifer". Yes, a return to the principles of TR would be very welcome, and hard on Democrats, but would alienate the dixiecrats that Nixon's southern strategy saddled the GOP with. The inheritance of the old GOP may have to be for a new party.

Jumper said...

Recreating civilization? Synchronistic as I'm just now into S.M. Stirling's "Island in the Sea of Time" series. Recommended.

Frontiers? Antarctica and the oceans.

Alex Tolley said...

@Robert - I like your ideas about updating Foundation. That could well work, although it would now be a story "based on the Foundation Novels by Isaac Asimov". I think the idea of psycho history using computer modeling would be fine. The mutant Mule might be represented by some other force that upsets the predictions. I've never particularly liked the psychic 2nd Foundation, and the concept seems so outdated. Maybe the new brain science experiments could be used to refresh that concept.

Some details would clearly be dropped, like fossil fuel powered hyperspace ships. :)

LarryHart said...

Alex Tolley:

I've never particularly liked the psychic 2nd Foundation, and the concept seems so outdated.

I had a personal theory which can probably never be proven now, that Asimov's original idea for the Second Foundation was that there was no such thing. It was all a bogeyman that he planted in the minds of the Foundationers by the simple expedient of mentioning it. And that the way it "worked" was that the Foundationers' belief in the guiding hand of the Second Foundation was enough to keep them on track and to overcome despair in troubled times.

LarryHart said...

And BTW, just dropping by to say "Happy Thanksgiving" to the Americans here. The day remains one of my personal favorite holidays of the year, focusing on family and good will rather than commercialism and empire.

David Brin said...

Alas, the War By Christmas is trying to destroy the best holiday - Thanksgiving.

==re Foundations:

Part of reader dissatisfaction with Isaac's series arose from what was the series's greatest hallmark - though seldom mentioned -- the fact that Isaac was constantly arguing with his earlier selves! First we can model human behavior as gas molecules are modeled. But a later Isaac objects that there are perturbations! So he solves it with a Second Foundation that guides events on track.

"But --" a later Isaac complains "--now you get an inherent ruling caste!" So he comes up with Gaia/Galaxia... till still-later-Isaac realizes that humanity will be squashed into sameness, one mind, thinking one thought. Indeed, he started hinting about how to resolve this quandary...

...along with others, like the fact that robots and humans have reversed roles! The servants are few and all-powerful and controlling and the "masters" are numerous as grains on a million beaches, helpless and too silly to be trusted. There were some pretty clear hints where Isaac intended to go next, in a wonderful head-fake that would take his whole cosmos full-circle! Alas, he was unable to finish the series.

We "Killer Bees" - Gregory Benford, Greg Bear and myself -- were asked by Janet and Robin Asimov to do the "Second Foundation Trilogy" though each of our novels aimed to accomplish different things.

While my book my own capstone novel tied loose ends and followed Isaac's hints toward a final resolution of the tales of both Seldon and R. Daneel Olivaw, Bear's book closely scrutinized the implications of running a galactic empire and

Benford's... well... Gregory had a lot of fun.

As did I, reading Mark Strauss's rambling exploration-insightful of one of the greatest of all sci fi future histories. Here's hoping the Nolan boys will (again) make us proud.

LarryHart said...

I want to see "Interstellar" without knowing too many details in advance. My wife is afraid it will turn out to be just another film full of sci-fi tropes without much under the smoke and mirrors.

Without mentioning spoilers, can someone verify that it is worth seeing, or that it is not?

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

==re Foundations:
First we can model human behavior as gas molecules are modeled. But a later Isaac objects that there are perturbations! So he solves it with a Second Foundation that guides events on track.

Wasn't the Second Foundation mentioned in the very first Hari Seldon appearances? The mention of another group "at Star's End" and all? I didn't think the idea of the Second Foundation was a retcon, but its nature might have been.

Alas, the War By Christmas is trying to destroy the best holiday - Thanksgiving.

I'm glad I'm not the only one noticing that the phoney "War On Christmas" meme distracts from the very real War on Thanksgiving, turning it into just another shopping day (and a full work day for retailers) in the Christmas frenzy which now extends back to Halloween if not Labor Day.

As a columnist in the Chicago Tribune put it: "If there's a war on Christmas, Christmas is winning."

Tacitus said...


Interstellar is worth seeing, but with the length I think it is the sort of movie for which once is enough. It would not be as good on the small screen, so go.

Some obvious homage to "2001", so if you liked that you will like this also.
Just saw a bit of "2010" the sort of sequel to "2001". Made in 1984 it has in a minor role a young John Lithgow...who has a minor role in Interstellar. Guess three decades later he is still the Hollywood go to guy if you are making a movie about....ooops, almost went to spoilers there.


Tony Fisk said...

@Larry Interstellar certainly could have been a lot better, but the basic bones are sound enough.

Tony Fisk said...

LarryHart said:
"The Postman" is one of the books I would choose to have with me if stranded on a desert island. It was also the first book I lent to the girl I'm now married to (yes, the wife who is having the medical issues). I wouldn't change a thing.

My wife also enjoyed the Postman, even though she is not usually a sci-fi buff (unlike her sister)

David Brin said...

Group mind help. Very minor matter. Anyone know how I can access the SYMBOL for "command" in Macintosh parlance? You know, the cloverleaf thing? I want to actually get it into typed passages.

I know that alt-and many keys will give me greek & other letters...

Paul451 said...

Bowen Knot (looped square): Unicode block "Miscellaneous Technical", number U+2318 "Place of interest sign". HTML entity ⌘.

If blogger reproduces it, which seems unlikely, it's here => ⌘. Highlight, copy, paste.

Or in your "Edit" menu, "Special Characters", "Symbols", "Technical symbols". (Use the gear icon at the bottom left, then "Customise list" to add "Technical Symbols" if necessary.) Once you find the symbol, drag it to the "favourites" section so you don't lose the damn thing.

[There doesn't appear to be an Alt/Option key combo.]

[Turing: "Inside Nepaulese"]

Paul451 said...

Hey it displayed.

[Turing: "Combat"]

LarryHart said...


Just saw a bit of "2010" the sort of sequel to "2001". Made in 1984 it has in a minor role a young John Lithgow...who has a minor role in Interstellar.

Cute. I actually did see "2010" several times when it came out. In many ways, I liked it better than "2001", although it's not the same sort of classic that the original was.

Tim H. said...

Tacitus, 2010 is worth watching (For me, anyway) because it's about humans, not so much humanity as a whole, as in 2001 where the most human character was HAL.
David, from edit menu in a Yosemite Mac, special characters, bottom row, click the show next categories, there it'll be.

Alex Tolley said...

2010 - It is a very different sort of movie - much more conventional than 2001. By the time it was made (1984) Hollywood had got into the habit of using contemporary computer hardware and software, plus product placements. So the "flat" screens in 2001 were replaced with CRTs and look very dated today. Then there is Floyd with what was a cutting edge laptop which now looks very sad. Contrast this with 2001, where the technology looks much more contemporary, even if what is displayed on some screens is useless. For those interested, there is a great critique by Donald Norman(?) of the user interfaces in "Hal's Legacy". The sets for the Discovery in 2010 were much poorer construction, and show up poorly in the lighting used. I recall that at the time, the aero-braking sequence was considered ve5ry state of the art. Now it looks very dated, with crude graphics for Jupiter's atmosphere and the ablation drops bits slowly downward like an old Buck Roger's spaceship.

The problem of contemporary hardware can be seem in movies like Alien and its prequel Prometheus, where the prequel has far fancier tech than the Nostromo in Alien. Star Wars is the same. While each movie stands alone (and makes money), viewed in context with others in the same universe, the use of contemporary computer hardware dates movies.

The most modern approach is to forgo the hardware and create CGI displays, e.g. Avatar, Prometheus. It will be interesting to see how those ideas date as well in another decade.

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

My wife also enjoyed the Postman, even though she is not usually a sci-fi buff (unlike her sister)

"The Postman" sort of bridges genres. I'm not sure I'd strictly classify it as "sci-fi" except for the fact that "speculation about the future" is usually considered a category of sci-fi. I can't particularly think of any technology in the book that isn't available now--possibly the (not to spoil anything) "augmentation" we find out about toward the end, but even that is probably closer to reality than one would have imagined when the book was written.

I'm not criticizing the book for this, BTW. Just ruminating on why it might have appeal to someone not usually a fan of sci-fi.

David Brin said...

Paul451 thanks!

Alex the retro ambiance of the tech in 2010 is party fitting... it's a RUSSIAN ship, eh?

Alex Tolley said...

@DB - I'm referring to the computers used by Chandra and Floyd (laptop at the beach), as well as the CRTs used on the HAL console in the Discovery pod bay (and SAL at Chandra's office). The Leonov was a fine set, designed by Syd Mead and used all those lit buttons as the lighting source. (JJ Abrams could learn something from that). That slightly retro look of the Leonov and its interiors was "fitting", at least at that time. Design-wise, the rotating living quarters really should have been retractable during the aero-brake maneuver. :)

While I don't want a remake of either 2001 or 2010, I would like to see what design concepts would be used for the ships Universe and Galaxy in 2061: Odyssey 3. It would be nice if they didn't follow the all metal with encrusted handles and cables look that real space stations have provided, and perhaps use something "cleaner" and more minimalist in style. I think even Clarke's vision failed for 3001, apart from some of the technology, it all feels so contemporary. Even the computer secretaries seem rather quaint and barely better than what is available today. even though 1000 years of development have passed.

LarryHart said...

I actually liked "2010" quite a bit when the movie was out--as I said before, I even preferred it to "2001". But as far as prognostication went, it seemed to predict a political situation in 2010 that didn't differ much at all from the status quo of 1984. The US and the USSR were at loggerheads over a crisis brewing in Central America, and the off-camera president who was cheered by congress for escalating the tension all seemed as if they were torn from that day's headlines.

Kinda weird in retrospect to notice who actually was president in the real-life 2010, and that the Soviet Union was long gone.

Still, they did get correct the fact that US astronauts in 2010 would need a ride from the Russians. :)

Alex Tolley said...

@LarryHart - I don't think anybody expected the collapse of the USSR in the 1980's. I recall reading about the Russians invading Europe and Nato unable to do more than delay their advance by 7 days! We also had all that upset of supposed dual key nukes for US aircraft on UK soil, but turned out to be untrue. So the expectation of a continuing Cold War was reasonable even as late at 1984.
Unlike 2001, they was no expectation that we would have manned ships exploring Jupiter's moons by the early 21stC. It would be an interesting thought experiment to consider whether the Mir space station could have been modified to spin up and have engines capable of pushing her into deep space, rather like a poor man's Leonov.

I can almost hear Moiseivitch talking about "giving poor Americans a ride" in a modern text. Prescient indeed!

David Brin said...

Alex that is why it is historically so weird that Saddam chose 1990 to invade Kuwait, the one year we had a huge and totally trained and ready army, sitting just a few hundred miles away with nothing to do. Two years earlier and a substantial force would have to be left guarding the Warsaw Pact. Two years later and half that army would have been dispersed back home.


But I have a new posting.


smitpa said...

I just ran in to this video>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWeFl5iMeOs
Maybe we need a "Foundation" as in Asimov's novels. Or try teaching some of these skills as part of a LARPing game (something on the order of Civil war re en actors).