Saturday, January 29, 2022

Science Fiction: news & updates

In 1971 at Caltech (I was there), Bruce Murray and Carl Sagan welcomed Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury onstage for a panel: “Mars and the Mind of Man.” Among many cogent remarks, Arthur stated: "whether or not there is life on Mars now, there will be by the end of this century."


Well, well. Unless you count a stray bacterium aboard Sojourner... But we can keep on pushing!


== For your consideration... ==


Hugo Award nominations are now open for Chicon - the World Science Fiction Convention - in September in Chicago, likely to be the best SF con in a generation! I have three possibles, if you care to consider them. For the "Related Works" category, my nonfiction book Vivid Tomorrows: Science Fiction and Hollywood. And a series ripe for consideration in the YA roster: The "Out of Time" (or "Yanked!") series: Only teens can teleport through time and space! Dollops of fun, adventure & optimism for young adults...


... and The Colony High series: aliens kidnap a California high school and live to regret it!  Fun for all ages.


== Sci Fi Flick News! ==


Arthur C. Clarke’s sci-fi novel Rendezvous With Rama will be filmed, with Denis Villeneuve on board to direct. ‘First published in 1973, the novel is regarded as one of the cornerstones of Clarke’s works. Set in the 2130s, the story involves a 31 by 12 mile cylindrical alien starship that enters the Solar System. The story is told from the point of view of a group of human explorers who intercept the ship in an attempt to unlock its mysteries. And yes, I grew up with Arthur's books and helped establish UCSD's Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination

When it comes to exploring an asteroid that is much more than it seems, I prefer Greg Bear’s Eon. You decide. Still, after excellent adaptations of both Dune and Arrival (based on Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life). I expect nothing but great stuff from Villeneuve.


== SF out of Asia ==


Of course everyone is talking about the Korean film renaissance, after the worldwide success of Squid Game. But neighbors are also at it.


We just watched the Japanese film version (on Netflix) of Robert Heinlein's great classic "The Door Into Summer." Except for a few embellishments which (mostly) improved the story a bit, it is terrifically faithful and well done. Way-fun! (sub-titles)


From China, a charming 20 minute short about a desert village that comes together to create a sci fi flick about a rescue mission to Mars. The Comeback.


And in Asia next year… Rob Sawyer will be one of the Author Guests of Honor at the 2023 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), which will be held August 16-20, 2023, in Chengdu, China. The other two author guests of honor are Sergey Lukianenko from Russia and Cixin Liu from China. Our family much enjoyed being the first foreign SF guests at a major Chengdu SF festival, just before the Yokohama Worldcon, in 2007.


== A  bit of whimsey ==


From the finale of The Expanse: The troopers listed in the drop pods are a variety of sci fi heroes! Like … Rico, J, … Juan "Johnny" Rico from Starship Troopers, Starr, L, that’s Lucky Starr for Asimov’s YA novels, and D. Bowman of 2001. And Ripley and Hicks and Vasquez & Hudson from Aliens... Duncan Idaho from DUNE, Adm. Akbar from Star Wars, Deckard from Bladerunner, Riker from Star Trek, Alex Rogan from Last Starfighter, Neary from Close Encounters, O’Neil from Stargate, Quaid from Total Recall, and Sarah Conner from Terminator. Commander Shepard from Mass Effect, Nesmith from Galaxy Quest, Kara Thrace from Battlestar Galactica.  Bobbie Draper from Expanse and Louise Banks from Arrival and E. Buck from Halo. And Kevin Flynn from TRON and Joseph Cooper from Interstellar. ...Ashamed to say that a few others only sound familiar. But these are pure nerds! And The Expanse was terrific.


And one of you chimed in: “And just to confuse all us fans, R Levine, H Ochiai and K Garrity are all names of karate instructors who've taught Expanse show runner Naren Shankar.”


Alas I’m still chopped liver. sigh.


== Looking back, to look ahead… ==


Are you a fan of Gregory Benford's epic and magnificent “Galactic Center” novels? The series took a quarter century to complete, and Benford traces his own research into the strange structures there. For the first time, all the depth surrounding the series is collected in one volume. The Galactic Center Companion.


And here's my own such guide  - 'Contacting Aliens: A Guide to The Uplift Universe "Of course you recall the nursery rhyme each Earthchild learns, to help remember the Orders of Life — OHow MReality Tricks MEasily — a mnemonic that's philosophically useful as well as handy." — "the 7 known orders of life in the Uplift universe." Can you use the mnemonic to name them all?


Alas now out of print. (Looking for a legacy publisher.)


SFWA's Heritage Author Republication Project (HARP) helps “heritage” authors republish their currently out-of-print backlist titles. The Independent Authors Committee's primary aim for HARP is to help older or disabled authors get their backlist titles back into print, especially books that have never been available electronically and have been out-of-print at least 15 years.


Do you have a favorite long-neglected author of SF? I'm thinking Zenna Henderson, John Boyd, C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Richard C. Meredith, Lisa Goldstein, Hal Clement, James Blish, Roberta MacAvoy, R.A. Lafferty, Meghan Lindholm, Cordwainer Smith, J.D. Bernal, Pat Murphy.


Some greats I simply refuse to believe are out of print! Fritz Leiber and L. Sprague deCamp. Charles Sheffield! But James P. Hogan's 70s and 80s novels are impossible to find. Also Piers Anthony. You’ve likely heard of them, at least, but D.G. Compton is recipient of this year's Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. I assume it isn’t time yet to ‘rediscover” true greats like Fred Pohl or C M Kornbluth or Poul Anderson or Robert Sheckley! Frederick Brown’s epic short stories and those of Eric Frank Russell. Zelazny or Farmer.


Facebook followers also chimed in with Alfred Coppell. John Boyd. Jerry Sohl. Richard Wilson. Clifford D. Simak. Alan E. Nourse. Raymond F. Jones. H. Beam Piper and Keith Laumer will always be beloved of the Baen crowd. But Mack Reynolds? Christopher Anvil?Jack Williamson? And  James Schmitz gave us out first taste of a spunky young heroine in popular sci fi, other than Isaac’s Bayta and Arkady Darrell… the indomitable Telzy Amberdon. (Guys in may age clade fell in love.)


Panshin, Pangborn, Boucher and Russell… Tom Reamy.  Yeah, Van Vogt… though his obsession with portraying uber-lordly demigod supermen above all mortal law grew as tiresome then as it is now with the relentlessly anti-democracy works of O.S. Card.


As a treat, here's a treasury of book synopses of ancient science fiction.


And finally... It seemed like cutting edge sci tech at the time. Dwight Eisenhower – later president – led a cross country truck expedition in 1919 that was epic and showed how crude American infrastructure was. Yet how important.

  

51 comments:

gerold said...

Wow - nice catch on the Expanse SF hero troopers! I totally fanned on that. The show was good; just wish they hadn't truncated/mangled the ending though.

I read Door into Summer when I was about 11 c. 1969; a film adaptation sounds like fun, especially from Nippon. Appreciate the heads-up.

Is Laumer out of print? Love me some KL. I think his Earthblood space opera would make a great movie (coauthored by Brown of course.)

As for spunky heroines: how about Wyoming Knott? (TANSTAAFL!)

gerold said...

I'd never heard of the Center for Human Imagination; was it founded in 2012? My wife and I are UCSD alums (81) and so is my son (2011) but somehow I missed the Clarke Center. Bummer! Looks like fun!

duncan cairncross said...

I miss Charles Sheffield and Professor Robert L Forward

A bit later than the ones you mention but among the greats

Tony Fisk said...

What? No E. 'Dodger' Durnam and M. Garibaldi in the dropship listings? I suppose there were only so many berths.

The name 'Telzey Amberdon' does ring a bell: I think I read Lion's Game. (Is Podkayne of Mars still doing the rounds?)

One of my votes for forgotten tales is 'The Happy Planet': a (very) YA novel by Joan Lindsay I have fond memories of (as in : I remember 10yo me reading it through twice!)

Unknown said...

Growing up overseas, I'd have to add Johns Wyndham and Christopher.

Pappenheimer

David Brin said...

gerold lovely memory triggers. Telzy was wonderful and alongside the Darrell girls in Asimov, awakened much interest iin many of us in girls as spunky equals.

Earthblood should be a MUSICAL!

TheMadLibrarian said...

Elizabeth Lowell writing as Ann Maxwell did a SF series with 3 books; I expect if the demand had been there (or she didn't make more money writing romance novels) she might have continued. The books are OOP: Dancer's Luck, Dancer's Illusion and Fire Dancer, pretty good for someone writing out of their normal area.

scidata said...

Not an SF aficionado, but I often think of those who tried yet never quite made it. It's hard to stay motivated after many rejections. I know more computation/inventor types, and they have a similar nature. Completely agree about the Darrells. Asimov sometimes gets an exaggerated rap for being misogynistic; remember he was a creature of the mid-20thC. Perhaps the AppleTV+ casting folks thought of him that way.

David Brin said...

In my main essay on the Foundation universe I point out that each decade's Asimov ARGUED with the previous decade's. Certainly bringing forth the Darrell girls in SECOND FOUNDATION was part of that.

Don Gisselbeck said...

Walter Miller. A Canticle for Leibowitz is amazing. The Darfsteller explores the social effects of robots in 1955!

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

Asimov sometimes gets an exaggerated rap for being misogynistic; remember he was a creature of the mid-20thC.


And even so, I wouldn't say "misogynistic" so much as simply not being conscious of women much at all. And even so, there was Susan Calvin, who despite being cliche in her romantic desires, was still...y'know...a full fledged scientist. Written in the 1940s.

Dr Brin:

Certainly bringing forth the Darrell girls in SECOND FOUNDATION was part of that.


Bayta Darrell was earlier than that. Foundation and Empire.

Incidentally, her husband, Toran Darell is one more literary character who I mentally "cast" as Michael York. Another, as I previously mentioned, is Gordon Kranz from The Postman.

Alan Brooks said...

[If you receive this comment more than once, it’s not deliberate—must be my computer]
—————
Someone once asked, “yeah, but can people live on Mars?”
I replied: “can we live on Earth?”

Robert said...

Thought I'd drop in an update on the so-called Trucker's Convoy (because oddly most of the people involved aren't actually truckers)…

So far they have:
• displayed Confederate flags and other racist symbols
• defaced the statue of a cancer victim
• desecrated a war memorial
• demanded food from a soup kitchen at a homeless shelter, while harassing both staff and patrons with racist insults
• harassed and threatened retail workers sufficiently that shops in the area are closing

Also, they are apparently receiving more international attention than much larger numbers of protesters against fossil fuel projects, indigenous genocide, or sexual violence have received.

Not to mention more attention than larger numbers of (mostly female) nurses protesting wage cuts and forced overtime/transfers, which has apparently received NO international coverage.

So from what I can tell, the international media is still preferentially giving attention to entitled white men over any other demographic.

Robert said...

Thinking of Asimov, question for those who've finished watching Foundation on Apple TV+…

How much of the show is based on material other than the original three trilogy?

I'm only three episodes in, and so far the show is very different from the original novels, and not just in ways that relate to the medium. It seems to be a show written by someone who herd the original idea (mathematical genius predicted future history and figured out way to shorten collapse) and then wrote their own story based on that idea.

If there's a way to answer this without spoilers I'd appreciate it, because currently I'm not certain how much more time to spend watching what seems to be a bait-and-switch programme…

David Brin said...

Robert see my essay/blog on Foundation just a week or two ago.

Der Oger said...

@Robert
So from what I can tell, the international media is still preferentially giving attention to entitled white men over any other demographic.

I fear you are right in your assertion.

DP said...

Totally off topic:

WHO DEY!!!

WHO DEY SAY GONNA BEAT DEM BENGALS!

WHO DEY!!!

DP said...

In other football news, Lucifer is making ready to collect Tom Brady's immortal soul.

"Hey, a deal is a deal," said the Prince of Darkness.

"He signed that contract in his own blood of his own free will. 22 years of football fame in return for his soul. What's mine is mine."

David Brin said...

DD: DAMN YANKEES! (Wonderful musical)

Robert said...

see my essay/blog on Foundation just a week or two ago

Sorry David, I'm not finding it on this site. Is it elsewhere?

El Muneco said...

"Starr, L." on the drop pod could also be Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) from Spaceballs

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

see my essay/blog on Foundation just a week or two ago.


Can anyone provide a title or a date or something to zero in on? I'm not finding it.

Larry Hart said...

speaking of casting,

I just re-watched the Marvel movie "Avengers: Endgame" for the first time during the Biden administration. The movie came out in 2019, long before it was even clear who the Democratic candidate would be the following year, but I swear that the brief appearance of 100+ year old Captain America channels modern day Joe Biden. Not the face so much, but the facial expression and speech style.

David Brin said...

Oooops! So sorry Roberts I EDITED it a week or so ago. It is still in the queue! I robbed you of how many minutes of lifespan? Ouch. Okay, here yo go....***

gerold said...

@Robert and Der Oger re:privileged white men getting all the attention -

I think there's a different explanation: freak shows are a draw. It's no longer permissible for a circus to have one, but a Trump rally is considered a legitimate topic for news coverage. They make a spectacle of themselves, and spectacles are spectacular by definition.

I would prefer to see more attention on environmental causes, protests against social injustice and the challenges of health care workers. But the media has to compete for viewers and clicks, and if it bleeds it leads. Truckers for Trump run around making fools of themselves and shitting on everything. It's a train wreck. You can't look away.

gerold said...

@DB: Earthblood the musical ... ?

I think Miranda might do it justice ... could also work as a comedy too. Laumer is funny as hell.

How about Retief on Netflix? In this time of tension with Russia we could use a few more Bolshoi Ballets and Yankee Stadiums.

David Brin said...

Reteif requires a planet of WHEELED aliens!

scidata said...

Interesting elevator ride yesterday. A young couple was expressing dismay about the 'freak show' in Ottawa over the weekend. An old woman I've known for a few years, very conservative and set in her ways, stood in silence. The couple left, I was leaving on the next floor. The old woman said quietly, "We know how to deal with Nazis".

Luckily, elevator rides are too short for my discourses on psychohistory :)

Gator said...

Out of print authors - why not make these available as e-books? Surely easier and less cost than physically printing books. I love physical books, but I've gotten used to the convenience of checking out books from my library on my "Libby" app.

duncan cairncross said...

Gator
Google proposed something like that

As far as I can remember they were going to take all of the out of print books and make them available as e-books - with a small fee charged and the profit going to a fund for all of the living authors

Personally I thought that was an excellent idea - copyright should NOT continue once a book is no longer in print (or available as an e-book)

The idea however crashed and burned

Der Oger said...

@ gerold
I think there's a different explanation: freak shows are a draw.

Maybe. For me, it is more and more a Rebellion of the "parochial petite bourgeoisie" (not sure if the translation is right).

You know, those same people who also protest against "immigration" and "islamisation of the occident". Or hunt them down in progroms or put torches to asylum homes.
Those same people who look away, stay silent or participate in sexual crimes, especially if commited by church officials or high-ranking members of their community.
Those same people who laughed at and belittled young climate activists.
Those same people who made dirty jokes about lgbt+ people, or just beat them up.
Those same people who ridicule people of education and culture.
Those same people who sue you for your tree growing on their land, for untidy hedges, for playing and laughing kids, and for unseparated garbage.
Those same people who constantly dog-whistle or bull-horn about Very Bad Things, and defend themselves with the right of free speech. ("But Churchill was a war criminal, too!")
Those same people who are always good with the boss because they rat out on other colleagues, or disperse bad and humiliating rumors.
Those same people who worked for the Stasi as well as the Gestapo as informants and denunciators.
Those same small-minded people who entrenched on other people's dignity and liberties, who were the uncrowned kings of their small town and suburbian hells they tried to create, suddenly transforming into a foaming radicalized mob.

Newest crazy conspiracy theory over here: Antifa and the police have infiltrated the "Lateral Thinker" community together to discredit them. What sounds funny might lead to increased violence against cops and persons perceived as "antifa", or medical personnel.

A friend told me that he found a doctor who would vax his children ... but only in secret. Death threats have been made against a colleague, or so she has been told. Another doctor, after driving with her three year old child, found out that someone had loosened and removed the screws on her vehicle so that, eventually, the wheels would come off. (And then there is that paranoid-sceptical part of my brain that asks itself: Could this be a "counter-conspiracy-theory"?)

Saturday, covid demonstrators stormed the area of a psychiatric hospital (to evade identification by police). Last year, an outright murder of an 19-year old who asked a customer to wear a mask. Talks of rebellion.

Those same, small-minded, hypocritical, bigotted, parochial, petite-burgeois people who had a good life, once.

Maybe they feel that this time is over, this is their last chance to display some sort of power ... and if it is so, this "rebellion" might actually be one of their last stands.

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

Maybe they feel that this time is over, this is their last chance to display some sort of power ... and if it is so, this "rebellion" might actually be one of their last stands.


I wish I could believe that. Here in the US, I've been hearing how the Republican Party is doomed for over a decade, while they continue to capture more and more of the levers of power.

At Trump rallies now, there are open and proud displays of Nazi flags.

Unknown said...

Going over the Baen press Family, I'm noting the following names you mention, though I'm certain that not all are there:
Leigh Brackett
L. Sprague deCamp
Robert L. Forward
James P. Hogan (the later Velikovskian books are out-of-print, but some of the 70's-80's novels are still there)
Frederik Pohl (one written with Jack Williamson)
James H. Schmitz (Telzey's three or four compilations have been pulled from the Free Library, but are in the ebook store)
Charles Sheffield
Cordwainer Smith (scroll to the end for the two collections).

I recall some of these being available on the Baen CDs which were made available for redistribution but not sale, and do include Telzey, see https://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/). This was back when Jim Baen was alive and they were looking for and editing the greats that they could locate permissions for. Christopher Anvil as well.

(I still haven't forgiven Weisskopf for revoking the Fair Price manifesto (that ebooks should cost no more than 3/4 the price of the trade paperback, since you aren't getting any physical objects with it, just the writing, finding, editing, and proofing) and selling out to Amazon, destroying the post-printing Webscriptions bundles, but we deal with reality as it is.)

gerold said...

@Der Oger:

There are two separate issues here: what makes a human being into a right-wing MAGAtard Trump-worshiper - for which you suggested a lot of plausible explanations - and why the media gives them so much free air time.

When Trump was president he got a lot of air time. Part of that was the freak factor, but there was a serious side as well. This criminal clown was president. He had actual power which could affect our lives. His greed and incompetence put everyone at risk. It's important that citizens be aware of what he is and what he's doing.

You describe the behavior of these MAGAtards; their dishonesty and delusional beliefs, and certainly in the US an important reason for it is their impending irrelevance. Western culture is becoming more enlightened and inclusive, and that is inimical to reactionary thought. Young people have little tolerance for bigotry and old relics feel left out. Last stand of the rednecks.

Larry Hart said...

gerold:

and why the media gives them so much free air time.


The media might have been concerned (copyright Susan Collins) about Trump's policies and his effect on the country, especially when he called them the "enemy of the people". But apparently they loved his ratings more.

With Biden doing a "back to normalcy" presidency, people aren't breathlessly tuning into news 24 hours a day, which is a good thing. Except the media have become addicted to Trump-level ratings. So they do what they can to keep us in Trump World.

GMT -5 8032 said...

My wife and I watched THE DOOR INTO SUMMER tonight after spending 8 hours schlepping heavy boxes from our Uhaul locker to our new house. Mae is half Japanese so she loves Japanese media. She enjoyed it, but was critical of the plot holes. I only vaguely remember the Heinlein novel (I just downloaded it and will read it soon).
One plot element annoyed her. So the hero is 10 years older than the teenaged girl who has a crush on him. He makes her wait 10 years before joining him. This was rather inconvenient for me. You see, when I met Mae, she was a teenager and I was 10 years older than her. Okay, she was 19 and I was 29. I did not go into cryosleep. I just waited a few years and time solved that problem. 19 and 29 looks a bit odd. 22 and 32 a little less so. 37 and 47, no one bats an eye. Okay, my dad was 15 years older than my mom so I knew that age differences are not permanent. Mae still holds it against me that I made her wait 17 years before we became a couple…and that was only after SHE made a move on me.

gerold said...

@Larry Hart: media and the ratings chase -

From a libertarian/free speech pointy of view, the profit-driven ratings-driven media is actually a good thing. It motivated the media to cover the events that the public is interested in, in the way the public wants to hear about it.

This does lead to grotesque twists of fact and reality, as we see from right-wing media like Fox, OAN, Newsmax and talk radio. It's tempting to wish for a media that was fair, impartial and honest, but that would mean a small number of people at these media companies get to decide what is true and what the public needs to hear. That's great if they're the right people, but so is dictatorship as long as the dictator is benevolent and wise. Unfortunately that's not an ESS - an evolutionary stable system.

A profit-driven media will naturally segment itself according to market demand. If we have a segment of society that's paranoid, delusional and consumed with hatred and envy, then a media organization will arise to supply that market. Hence Fox et al. But a democracy is only as good as its citizens, and better to get that ugly shit out in the open rather than letting it fester.

The fact that Trump is considered a viable candidate - or an object of cult worship - is pathetically tragic, but that's the country we live in. We all need to deal with it.

David Brin said...

GMT congrats on the new home! And we are a ten-year couple too. Though funny, she stays young while I...

The purpose of asking the girl in TDIS to stay in the 20th Century a while is so that when she does follow him, it's not because of a teenage crush. He told her to live, develop independence and experience life, and then follow only if it is a mature choice.

LH...many of our media problems would resolve if we truly used the enlightenment methods of flat-fair-fact-centered competition in arenas that judge quality and punish its absense. Markets for goods and services and so on. There is no such arena for testing ASSERTIONS. We could have one. The crudest early version would be wagering. I cannot seem to get this notion across.

gerold said...

@DB:

The people who want to be lied-to will also welsh on their bets. If they still believe lizard people aka Democrats are drinking the blood of children and covid vaccines are the mark of the beast then mere facts won't help them.

David Brin said...

Alas, yet again I remain boggled by how many smart people absolutley are incapable of understanding what I am talking about, re wagers, no matter how often or how carefully I explain it. WHAT is so hard about this? Of course they'll never pay! That... is... not... the ... point.

gerold said...

I thought the point of your wager system was akin to the experimental method: an hypothesis about future events - where two people have different predictions about how that future turns out - is tested against reality so each side can measure the accuracy of their prediction. Is that correct?

Q-anon predictions have proven wrong over and over, yet the Cult hasn't lost faith. The terms of the wager don't matter because Republicans want to be lied to. Reality and facts are of no interest to them. They want to believe what they want to believe and nothing less will do.

Tim H. said...

Gerold, your comment makes me wonder what stories the fascist parties of the last century told about the opposition parties, while they existed. There might be something to be gained by bringing them into the light.

GMT -5 8032 said...

David, Mae is 52 and puts 20-somethings to shame. People have commented that she does not seem to age.

Once Mae had to go to an emergency room. My older sister, who used to be a critical care nurse but later became a lawyer, joined us. After waiting 8 hours, we all finally got taken back to an exam room. The nurse led us in then turned to ask my sister and me, “Are you the parents?”

Another funny story. Mae and I once when to see a fertility specialist. At the time I was 52 and Mae was 41. The OB-GYN (and her resident, Dr. Storck…what a perfect name for an OB) started taking Mae’s history after telling me, I’ll get to you in a minute). I noticed that she never asked Mae’s age. And the doctor seemed a bit puzzled why an apparently young couple like us was seeing her, especially when Mae’s medical history seemed so good. After finishing with me, she swiveled in her chair and started taking my history. I worked the sentence, “and I am 52” into my first answer. The doctor’s eyes got big and she gave me a face-palm. Then Mae chimed in, “Oh, I am 42.” The doctor gave us a double face-palm, swiveled in her chair so her back was to us, and said, “Give me a moment.” A few seconds later, she swiveled back around and said, “Okay, we are going to have a different conversation now.” What a hoot.

Oh my…I hurt this morning. 62 year old men should not move several tons of stuff by hand in a day. Good thing I have industrial quality pharmaceuticals. As my dad (an MD and a surgeon) used to say, “Better living through better chemistry.”

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Of course they'll never pay! That... is... not... the ... point.


It's not just that they'll never pay. They'll never concede that they lost the bet. Any source of fact checking you bring to bear will be dismissed as biased or fake or part of the socialist conspiracy.

* * *

GMT-5:

It's tempting to wish for a media that was fair, impartial and honest, but that would mean a small number of people at these media companies get to decide what is true and what the public needs to hear. That's great if they're the right people, but so is dictatorship as long as the dictator is benevolent and wise.


The problem is that the populace is also not necessarily benevolent or wise. The stories that they choose to consume and reward with their patronage don't necessarily reflect reality.

The part you're ignoring is that there is a feedback loop. People who exclusively watch FOX or OAN end up believing the crap they've spoon-fed to themselves. And acting on those beliefs.

Maybe the problem is that people of a certain (ahem) age have been used to the expectation that what we read, hear, or see on "the news" (as opposed to entertainment or opinion pieces) is what really happened (or what is really happening). That's self-evidently no longer the case, so the question now is what is a source of facts that we all can agree on. Without a grounding in reality, democracy can't work. If say, someone shoots up a pizza parlor because he's convinced that children are being raped and enslaved in the basement--and half of the news media and their consumers believe the story to be true, and half of the police and judges believe the story to be true, then how do the rest of us protect ourselves from them?


The fact that Trump is considered a viable candidate - or an object of cult worship - is pathetically tragic, but that's the country we live in. We all need to deal with it


I'm starting to believe that God* sent COVID to do that job for us. The vaccines are the analogue of rams' blood.

What, too soon?

* The vengeful Old Testament YHWH, of course. Jesus would have found a kinder way.

Larry Hart said...

First of all, apologies to GMT for attributing gerold's post to him above.

Revisting gerold:

That's great if they're the right people, but so is dictatorship as long as the dictator is benevolent and wise. Unfortunately that's not an ESS - an evolutionary stable system.


Neither is a system in which the wielders of power and influence think reality is whatever they feel like. 1984 to the contrary, the reich doesn't tend to last 1000 years.


But a democracy is only as good as its citizens, and better to get that ugly shit out in the open rather than letting it fester.


Here's what I meant above when I mentioned the feedback loop. No, we were better as a society when racists and Nazis were inclined to self-censor their views in public. When mainstream political parties didn't actively court their votes.

Trump does the opposite of appealing to the "better angels of our nature". He actively encourages his followers to be their nastiest, worst selves. We as a society are definitely not better off for that. We're much worse off.

Larry Hart said...

(really this time) GMT-5:

she was a teenager and I was 10 years older than her. Okay, she was 19 and I was 29. I did not go into cryosleep. I just waited a few years and time solved that problem. 19 and 29 looks a bit odd. 22 and 32 a little less so. 37 and 47, no one bats an eye


Heh. I was 33 when I met my then-28 year old wife. As you say, no one bats an eye. But it was weird to realize that when we first (individually) saw Star Wars, I was 16 and she was 11.

My wife was also my first serious date who is younger than me, at all. When I was a teenager and my male contemporaries were salivating over female classmates, I was more into the female teachers, My first girlfriend was a few months older than me. My last girlfriend (before my wife) was 14 years older than me. People do bat an eye or two at that.

David Brin said...

Cute story, GMT! Stay healthy and strengthen those core muscles for your back's sake!

Again, I reiterate. The purpose of wager challenges is to show those wavering at the EDGES of MAGAdom that it is a ship of fools and cowards. Two ways: (1) a decent, honorable fellow at the edges can be drawn away from Fox land by cornering him again and again over wagers and facts and suggesting that his refusal to bet is based on his own awareness that he's on quicksand.

But (2) challenging real-red imbecile maniac magas to wagers works in a PUBLIC forum, not to change them, but to show OTHERS that the guy is a craven coward blowhard.

You break up a playground gang of bullies by showing those on the fringes that the leader's not so tough.

Larry Hart said...

Seriously??!

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/31/opinion/republican-misinformation-coronavirus.html

...
After a 2011 freeze, federal regulators had urged Texas to require winterization of gas and electricity facilities. But it didn’t.

And for the most part it still hasn’t: So far, no winterization requirements have been placed on the politically powerful gas sector. Instead, Gov. Greg Abbott is hoping to secure the power grid by encouraging … Bitcoin mining. This would supposedly reduce the risk of outages because Bitcoin’s huge electricity consumption would eventually expand the state’s generation capacity.

Yes, that’s as crazy as it sounds. But it fits a pattern. When confronted with problems that could easily be alleviated through cooperative action, the radical right-wingers who have taken over the Republican Party often turn instead to bizarre nonsolutions that appeal to their antisocial ideology.
...

locumranch said...


Unlike Dr. Brin, I am not optimistic about the future of Science Fiction, as all I see looking forward are retreads of 'Time Tunnel' (1960s) meets the 'Magic School Bus' (1990s).

Luckily, well-written Science Fiction that has already 'been there, done that' is increasingly available via Project Gutenberg and Archive.org. Then, there is always the irredeemably analog used book & thrift store approach for the discovery of great fiction.

Even on 'new' topics like Transhumanism, I wager that the old masters like Pohl and Compton were much more creative than this current crop of regurgitators who merely recycle what's come before:

Humans with mechanical replacement parts is just so tiresome, don't you think, once you read about robots containing stolen human organs??

Like the once great US Democrat Party, the modern writer has become an unoriginal recycler of tired old themes, unaware that all of the old school oppressors, fascists, racists and anti-semites are now 'progressives' like AOC and Whoopie_G.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a newly uncovered stack of pristine Ace Doubles that demand my attention.



Best

David Brin said...

onward

onward

TruePath said...

Is Robert Forward still in print? He isn't exactly a favorite but it was the first (only) sci-fi book I've ever read that came complete with minkowski diagrams (or maybe it was some variation but diagrams to work out the relativity) and I loved it for that.