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I'm on NPR

Or rather, I'm one of the folks Rick Kleffel interviewed for Weekend Edition Sunday, which you can catch online via the link.

27 Comments

1:

I'm surprised that Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle wasn't mentioned.

2:

Nice, Charlie. Good PR for you, and a little bit of consciousness raising on the idea of profiting from uplift. The Clan was the right place to start; too bad they didn't give you a bit more time, it might have been fun to hit them with a quote from Accelerando describing Manfred's business model.

3:

Aha! A voice to associate with the face (the picture in Flurb comes to mind).

BTW - just finished Toast. Good Stuff!

4:

Sadly, NPR is still contributing in their small way to the loss of data from the late pre-Singularity era. The audio is only available as a Windows Media or Realplayer stream. Lame, lame, lame, lame, lame!

Sigh.

5:

Ted, Rick Kleffel of The Agony Column told me he would be posting an MP3 to his website at some point in the relatively near future. Keep an eye on his website for it.

6:

Bah, it's some kind of streaming crap, where can I get an MP3?

7:

Heh, yea, I also had trouble with the horrible wmv/real streaming crap...
NPR has had this problem for a while. I have managed to find links to podcasts in the past, but those are often days later or not avaliable for the part of the show you want...
although if you really want it, that's where I'd start.
by the way, are there any audiobook versions of any of Charlie's books? I have really liked many of his books, and I'd like to read some again, but it would really be cool to hear it the second time instead of just re-reading the print version.

8:

By the way, the Mises Institute did an article on the economics featured in Accelerando titled "Can the Future Do Without Economic Logic?" http://www.mises.org/story/2402

9:

Bertie Wooster: after getting to the bit where the writer called me a "second-hander intellectual mountebank" I decided to treat the rest of the article with all the respect it deserved. (Which, if it had been on paper, would have involved a quick trip to the smallest room.)

It helps to be familiar with the jargon: "second-hander" is a particularly loaded term of abuse that usually signals that the speaker has overdosed on Ayn Rand at an impressionable age. (In Rand-speak it signifies one who contributes nothing new and lives off the intellectual fruits of their betters. Go figure.)

10:

wow. thats real mean.
howd ya get the guy so upset?
did you sleep with his wife or something?
adultery is not nice charlie.
for shame.

11:

Ah, yes, the Mises Institute, whose acolytes spammed Digg to such an extent the site had to tweak its recommender algorithms with severity. The MI-spammers disproved the libertarian thesis, incidentally, by showing that even with low stakes they would game any system, thus showing the necessity for rules and boundaries when real worldly advantage might be at stake.

13:

The Mises article is about what they want to write about, rather than the book they refer to, and is not recommendable.

I do recall seeing a more serious article, by an economist if I recall correctly, on economics of SF...

14:

I look forward to a Stross pastiche of an Ayn Rand science fiction novel. Libertarians claim connections between those and Heinlein novels, of which the Stross homage is forthcoming.

As I wrote on Science Fiction AUTHORS: R, and should update with "Died: March 6, 1982 New York City":

Ayn Rand (2 Feb 1905-?):
To list more recent editions, and SF awards:
Novels:
* We the Living
semifinalist for 1983 Prometheus Award
finalist for 1989 Prometheus Award
finalist for 1995 Prometheus Award
* Anthem [Penguin/Dutton, 1995] 0-525-94015-4, $22.95
finalist for 1983 Prometheus Award
finalist for 1984 Prometheus Award
Winner of 1987 Prometheus Award
* Atlas Shrugged [Penguin/Signet, 1995] 0-451-17192-6, $7.99
Winner of 1983 Prometheus Award
Background:
Russia-born American philospher/screenwriter/novelist.
Her first screenplay was sold to Universal: "Red Dawn"
{hotlink to be done}. Her first play was a success on Broadway "The
Night of January 16th" (1935-1936). Her dystopian novel "Anthem"
(London: Cassell, 1938; paperback Signet 1961)
bears much in common with "We" by Zamyatin, as a principled and
passionate attack on conformism, anti-intellectualism, and Communism,
and is certainly science fiction (science and technology are used as
tools to liberate the individual against a srepressive super-State).
"The Fountainhead" (1943) was filmed starring Gary Cooper {hotlink to
be done} and focuses on an architect who would rather dynamite his own
building than compromise on its design. "Atlas Shrugged" (New York:
Random House, 1957) is also a utopian/dystopian science fiction novel,
wherein a handful of Heinleinian competant men and women try to
rescue a collapsing, immoral, dysfunctional near-future America by
going on strike. Ayn Rand founded the philosophy of Objectivism,
which is libertarian (but strongly opposed to the Libertarian party as
such), and valorizes Capitalism, individualism, responsibility,
intellect, and refusal to lower ones' self to the level of a mediocre
society. Her work struck a chord with many science fiction fans,
typically in their teenaged years, and is politically closer to the
center of the science fiction community than most mainstream reviewers
would believe.

15:

JvP: objectivism is full of shit, if you'll pardon my use of a mildly euphemism in place of my real feelings for that ideology.

Luckily for us, its followers are more interested in their precious individualism than they are in the idea of forming a mass movement and actually acquiring power, so we've been spared the full piles-of-skulls treatment (except to the extent that quasi-objectivist barking loons make up one wing of the Republican party these days).

16:

I'm not disagreeing. I know that you know, and was simply filling in some referential gaps for some of your readers.

I do take Science Fiction and Economics both very seriously, having published several of each (Mathematical Economics, usually very technical). I did (with help from Kathryn Cramer) have my 17-year-old son present an unfortunately premature paper at the NKS-2006 Wolfram Conference, which was more than half about Science Fiction analyses of Economics, after a mathematical prologue. Wolfram himself said that it was a pretty rough draft, but invited me and my son to come back with a similar paper next year (2007) and had his Economics expert suggest several interesting research topics.

Abstract: Jonathan Vos Post, "Toward Enumeration of All Possible Economic Systems"

"... A series of arguments are made on science fiction as a source of economic models, especially on the economics of abundance. Some short comments are included on the pointlessness of modeling a plethora of flavors of socialism and communism, and on economies in transition...."

The full poster paper is hotlinked to from there.

To turn this into a paper appropriate for Analog, say, would require me to quote you a whole lot. You are one of the dotcom generation who bring a very sophisticated economic worldview into your fiction, in all genres.

I did tell you that John Forbes Nash, Jr., is quite a science fiction fan? Love to introduce the two of you, face to face!

17:

The MISEs boys didnt seem to grasp the point that Accelerando is a work of fiction... if you could actually explain Economics 2.0 you would be in a far better pay grade than 'excellent SF author de jour'

However you really seemed to get up their nose...which isn't so bad really,

-- Andrew

18:

"they are in the idea of forming a mass movement and actually acquiring power"

Well, does Alan Greenspan count? Not a mass movement, but definitely influential.

I did listen to the interview (I seem to be in the minority). You came off well, and the segment sparked some reflections. Samuel R. Delaney is fond of saying that fiction is about money and class. Thinking it over, I don't think it's true of all sf: it doesn't seem to be true of Left Hand of Darkness, for instance, or The Enemy Stars. But it may be true of most "realistic" fiction; it certainly applies to both Austen and Dickens, for instance. So I think the NPR interviewer has actually stumbled on to something very old.

19:
I look forward to a Stross pastiche of an Ayn Rand science fiction novel.
I advise against it, Charlie; they parody themselves far better than anyone else can.
20:
(In Rand-speak it signifies one who contributes nothing new and lives off the intellectual fruits of their betters. Go figure.)
Has anyone figured out what Rand contributed?
21:

"Has anyone figured out what Rand contributed?"

There is no god but money, and Rand is His profit?

22:

"Has anyone figured out what Rand contributed?"

Cigarettes with dollar signs.

Just to play devil's advocate for a minute, let me mention that my father's father was an old-school Wall Street Conservative Republican, having worked his way up from penniless immigrant from Budapest to founder of a stock brokerage, with his own seat on the New York Stock Exchange. He was a pure capitalist and anticommunist, and I see a trace of his style in Ayn Rand's writings. Of course, both were blind to things that fell outside their paradigm, such as FDR in his case, and pollution in hers.

I have friends who still admire Ayn Rand's writings. I still like some works by L. Ron Hubbard (such as "Fear"). I had Jewish relatives who went to Beyreuth for Wagner concerts. I enjoy some poetry by Ezra Pound despite his anitisemitism and fascism. One can, at least partially, separate an author from the philosophy and writings and PR stunts of the author. "Time will pardon Paul Claudel, pardon him for writing well."

The Heinlein-Rand connection is deep and subtle. I've been on panel discussions about it. Alan Greenspan may have started as a Jazz musician, but as an acolyte of Rand, he made and still makes an impact on US fiscal policy.

Rand contributed an in-your-face praise of Capitalism and a fierce anti-communism that could only come from someone who had suffered under Communism and prospered under Capitalism. I have seen the same fervor in a restauranteur from Cuba (Xiomara), and a karate instructor from Cuba (founded Red Dragon in Pasadena).

I had a member of the Writer's Union of the USSR as a guest in my home (whose architecture he thought Latvian). The gentleman was the official translator of Robert Sheckley into Russian. He was now a bureaucrat for the California government. "I thought I knew all there was to know about bureaucracy after working in Moiscow," he said," until I came to work for one in Los Angeles County. We've thrown off our Communist oppresssors," he said. "You have not, yet."

23:
>One can, at least partially, separate an author from the philosophy and writings and PR stunts of the author.
I agree completely; this statement holds true in general for any kind of artist. My snarky comment about Rand is because I have yet to read anything of her's that I can force myself to finish reading (and I've even read some of Hubbard's earlier stuff to the end). A great, or even merely very good artist can get away with political art, at least on occasion; bad writers should not try. The sin is not in the embracing of a political position, it is in lashing the art to it, as if the politics could support the art.
24:

The challenge of distilling Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"
By Kimberly Brown
Thursday, January 11, 2007

International Herald Tribune
LOS ANGELES

Back in the 1970s, Albert S. Ruddy, the producer of "The Godfather," first approached Ayn Rand to make a movie of her novel "Atlas Shrugged." But Rand, who had fled the Soviet Union and gone on to inspire capitalists and egoists everywhere, worried aloud, apparently in all seriousness, that the Soviets might try to take over Paramount to block the project.

"I told her, 'The Russians aren't that desperate to wreck your book,'" Ruddy recalled in a recent interview....

In other news, Charles Stross denies that he fears "The Deep Ones" might try to take over the movie studio which optioned his Lovecraftian James-Bondian novels...

Alan Greenspan had no comment to this reporter, but Sean Connery said that Mr. Stross was coming to see the benefits of the Scottish Nationalist Party...

25:

This will apparently condemn me to at least mild mockery in present company, but I was hugely impacted, philosophically if not artistically, by Rand when I first read Atlas Shrugged as a young teenager. While I don't consider myself an Objectivist because of the inconsistencies and lack of justification in some of the philosophy's aspects, I remain strongly influenced in terms of support for capitalist economics and libertarian political philosophy.

So, that background taken care of, have you ever published anything purely on your justification for the rejection of capitalism and classical liberalism and embrace of command economics in philosophical and mathematical-economic terms? I think I understand a lot of the post-singularity reasoning, for a technocratic controlled economy at least, but in more general terms?

And even though a lot of the Mises article's points clearly stem from misconceptions, how *do* you address the contradictions in the conflation of Marxist and Austrian economic theories? And *do* you have a solid idea how and why a reputation-based unit of account and market would work? These two stuck out to me as at least somewhat legitimate questions to ask.

26:

So, that background taken care of, have you ever published anything purely on your justification for the rejection of capitalism and classical liberalism and embrace of command economics in philosophical and mathematical-economic terms?

Eh?!?

What "rejection of capitalism and classical liberalism and embrace of command economics" are you talking about?

I just don't believe in putting capitalism on a plinth and worshiping it as a little tin god.

It strikes me that any ideology that asserts that it has the One True Solution to organizing human affairs is deeply suspect, and this is every bit as true for capitalism as for communism, feudalism, or any other ism.

To my mind, The most annoying thing about the Austrian-school types (and indeed most capitalist ideologues) is their tendency to assert that capitalism is a universal tool that can be applied to everything. What price is sleep? Or happiness, for that matter? Insofar as these are qualities that are variable and of value specific to an individual human experience (you can't buy or sell them), I'd have to say that we can clearly delineate important areas of human existence that are clearly and permanently immune to manipulation by any economic theory. And this goes as much for communism as for capitalism -- although the communists, with their talk of "new communist man" at least implicitly recognized the impossibility of universalizing their ideology without changing the human condition.

We'd all be a lot happier if we'd stop trying to paint rainbows in black and white. Alas, lots of folks seem to have difficulty handling inconsistency and conditionality.

27:

I caught the interview live and was please to hear one of my favorite authors mentioned. Good job! I actually haven't read the "Clan" books yet. I did just get through reading the _Jennifer Morgue_ and re-reading the _Atrocity Archives_. Those two are now in my all-time-favorites list :-). Sorry I didn't contribute to the whole Ayn Rand debate. I've already maxed out my navel-gazing quota for the day.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on January 7, 2007 7:22 PM.

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