Back to: The last refuge of scoundrels | Forward to: PSA: Ignore the news

The Fumes of Mordor & Other World Building Models

Aloha again, everyone. While Charlie's off on vacation in the tropics, I thought I'd talk a little about my own near-tropical home of Hawaii, looking at it from a writer's point of view. I've lived in Hawaii since I was ten years old and, while I can safely say it's no utopia, overall, things are pretty decent here and as a general rule, people are helpful and friendly. We've been designated the happiest state in the USA for the fourth year running, for good reason.

But is Hawaii a good place to grow a science fiction career? The lack of working SFF novelists here seems to indicate otherwise. The two that I know of are myself and Kate Elliott, and we're on different islands.

Another negative indicator—as much as I hate to say it—is that there isn't a big fan base here, especially for the kind of extrapolative SF I like best. When was the last time you attended a science fiction convention in Hawaii, right? (For those interested, there is a big and growing anime convention called Kawaii-kon... but that isn't quite what I'm talking about.)

So Hawaii lacks SFF writers as well as active fans, and traveling anywhere else to meet them requires at minimum a five-hour plane flight, because we are a long way from anywhere. Professionally then, it's an isolated existence. Still, there are advantages to living here. Metaphorically speaking, Hawaii has a multitude of worlds.

Thanks to our unique geography, these islands contain many different habitats, convenient to see and to experience and, for an SFF writer, very useful in generating ideas for world building.

We're positioned just north of latitude twenty in the Pacific Ocean, far from any landmass, and we are "high islands," meaning we have significant mountains up to 14,000 feet [4200 meters]. These peaks catch the moisture-bearing trade winds, creating rainforest on one side of an island and a desert rain shadow on the other. Altitude produces additional variation, resulting in a wide range of microclimates over very short distances. It's fascinating to get out and explore.

Living here, I've been able to visit lush, windward shorelines where dense foliage reaches almost to the sea. On leeward coasts, everything is different. I've hiked for miles along a barren, lava-rock shoreline where tough trees grow only in pockets fed by underground springs. It's another adventure to hike through steamy forests, or dense groves of bamboo sheltered within the walls of narrow valleys, with a high waterfall the reward at the end. On other days, on different hikes, there have been cold, moss-laden, cloud forests empty of any sign of human presence beyond the trail, or savannah-like landscapes, with dry grass rustling beneath thorny trees, and the distant lowing of cattle. And at the high volcanic summits: barren cinder fields, storms, and winter snow.

I've rarely set stories in Hawaii, but over and over I've used parts of Hawaii to extrapolate the experience of being on another world, or in another part of this one, taking what I've experienced and changing it, using realistic details while making the story world more dangerous—because while it's nice for me to live in the happiest state in the USA, my characters must struggle and suffer. Excessive happiness is the death of compelling fiction.

So I get to take the relatively benign world-building models I've experienced in Hawaii and make them all much, much worse. To this end, strange, dangerous creatures begin to swim in the sparkling blue offshore waters. The forests become tainted with ancient alien plagues. Artificial life begins to grow in the paddies of innocent farmers. Dense fog on the mountain slopes becomes a deadly nanotech mist. And soldiers powered by exoskeletons move at night through a savannah landscape, watched over by an unseen drone.

There are settings I haven't used yet, but still might someday. We have two active volcanoes, one that has been continuously erupting for thirty years, and when the wind is in the wrong direction, we have the dense air pollution the volcano generates, known as "vog" (volcanic+smog). Here on Maui, it sometimes looks like the fumes of Mordor have rolled in to envelope us.

And beyond the landscapes, we have the people. According to the US Census Bureau via Wikipedia, we have a small population of only about 1.3 million residents, but they're a diverse mix: 38.6% Asian, 24.7% White/Hispanic, 23.6% from two or more races, and 10.0% native Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders. The culture here is strongly influenced by native Hawaiian as well as by Asian cultures, particularly that of Japan, yielding diverse points of view to adapt into fiction.

So Hawaii has a lot of advantages for an SFF writer, but of course we don't have everything. Travel does open your eyes—which is why I'm heading east in a few weeks to visit Washington, D.C. My newest novel, The Red: First Light, is the beginning of a trilogy. In the second book, The Red: Trials, the opening takes place in Washington. There's nothing in Hawaii that can stand-in for the American capital, and while I can get a sense of the setting from Google Street View, I want to see it for myself, be there, experience it. Feed the process that blends reality with imagination, to make the best story out of it that I can.

67 Comments

1:

I believe Wen Spencer also lives in Hawaii, though it is a relatively recent move.

2:

So how much did you use this for the setting of the landside parts of The Bohr Maker? I identified that setting as probably South East Asia somewhere, but I'm now wondering whether it was one of your mutated Hawaiis.

3:

The Bohr Maker? I identified that setting as probably South East Asia somewhere

Yes, the setting was intended as southeast Asia. I think I concocted it out of research and bits of experience. I've never been there, still.

4:

I spent about five years in suburban Virginia near DC. One big thing to realize is that almost everyone white-collar commutes at least 45 minutes each way, and often 90 minutes or more. Traffic is at a near standstill from ~6am to ~9:30am and again from ~4:30 to ~7. Ironically, the worst areas are usually near the Metro (train) stations.

It will help your sense of place if your characters know that going somewhere at 2pm is fairly easy, but getting across town at 6pm in less than an hour will likely require a helicopter.

5:

Linda, this video about making the film "Oblivion" might be of interest to you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9m6KzRMWnA

They filmed the cloudscape from the top of a Hawaiian volcano and used the results as part ofc one of the primary sets. The light of the setting sun is from an actual sunset and so on.

6:

but getting across town at 6pm in less than an hour will likely require a helicopter.

That sounds a lot like Honolulu--a very nice city, but the traffic!

Thanks for the input. I'm taking notes.

7:

Or is it "an Hawaiian volcano?

8:

IIRC it is called "The Mahasserenberg effect" - the vertical compression of climate zones caused by an isolated mountain ot land-mass - especially noticaeble near a sea-coat (Ben Nevis in Scotland is a good example, too .....
Of course, the USSA inundated the native Hawaii'ns about 130 years ago, didn't it?
After deposing the local ruler.
I think the treaty of Waitangi may have been more quitable .....

9:

I'd love to visit Hawaii some day. The strange and unusual environments would be inspirational for any writer--or photographer for that matter.

It is a pity you don't have a "community" there though.

10:

They filmed the cloudscape from the top of a Hawaiian volcano

Interesting! They said they filmed it from the top of Haleakala, which is mountain on which I live. It's considered a dormant volcano, with the last eruption several hundred years ago.

11:

The Mahasserenberg effect

I don't remember that term, but it's been a long time since college.

12:

It is a pity you don't have a "community" there though

There are readers, but the organized fan communities that I'm aware of are more focused on anime and film.

But yes, you'd have a great time here with your camera. So much to see beyond the resorts.

13:

> There's nothing in Hawaii that can
> stand-in for the American capital,

That's only reasonable. You don't normally link "Hawaii" with "post-apocalyptic urban blight."

14:

As I'm writing this I'm sitting in my house on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. I purchased Red today, but haven't read it yet, so don't quite know where you're placing your future, but thought I'd give you one science fiction fan's take on the city.

First, it's a city of neighborhoods more than I would have thought when I first moved here in 2000. And the neighborhoods are fairly small and self contained. Second, it's a city in near constant flux. The waves of white flight, crime, and the reverse gentrification action have re-written the city dramatically since I've lived here. Third, many, many people are here temporarily. People work for a political figure, a think tank, an international body of one sort or another, a temporary assignment. I certainly thought my move was temporary thirteen years ago.

As for settings, the quite striking metro system always seems somewhat dystopian and moody in a batman kind of way. And the Smithsonian is just amazing. And free! One of my favorite museums is the Sackler. It looks like a hutch in a garden, but dives many many stories underground and is bursting with Asian and Middle Eastern art, really a remarkable place.

The other thing is that government is the city's business much like cars used to be for Detroit or entertainment is for Los Angeles. The permanent economy is the bureaucrats who staff all those ugly office buildings. And with the US government the biggest kid on the block is the military, which just from the number of jobs and amount of money has re-written the landscape of Northern Virginia.

15:

What do you think of the original Lilo and Stitch?
I thought the first one was an above-average story, for the genre, and the Hawaiian background seemed believable; I've been curious as to what Hawaiians thought.

The experience of all the invasive creatures blending into Hawaii is an interesting model for what might happen to future biology. In a way, all our biosphere has become "Hawaiianized."

16:

You don't normally link "Hawaii" with "post-apocalyptic urban blight."

Agreed...in an earlier draft of the post I had a mention of how we were a little short on gritty, dark, noir settings.

17:

I'm sitting in my house on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.

Thanks for picking up TRFL! And thanks also for the input. I'm keeping notes.

18:

What do you think of the original Lilo and Stitch?

One of the subtleties of Hawaii is that the term "Hawaiian" refers only to people of native Hawaiian ancestry. To include everyone in the state, it's usually "the people of Hawaii" or "Hawaii's people" or some such.

Personally though, I love that movie. The writers definitely knew what they were doing and so many of the jokes were totally on target and falling-down funny.

Not at all funny is the invasive species situation. I didn't touch on it in my post, but what most visitors to the state don't realize is that, unless they get off the beaten path, they probably won't see any native plants. Even coconut palms may have been introduced. The native plant and animal life offers an extreme study in evolution, island biology, and vulnerability.

In a way, all our biosphere has become "Hawaiianized."

A year or so ago I was looking up some beach plant, I can't quite remember what it was, indigenous to Pacific Islands, and apparently it's become an invasive species in the US southeast. Ironic, given all the introduced species here.

19:

Scott G Gier of Genellan fame is also a resident of Hawaii. I understand he is working on Book 5 of his mil-tech scifi series but haven't seen anything to indicate progress for quite a while.

20:

The thing about the Metro that always amazed me was the complete lack of bathroom facilities.

The Smithsonian is a must see, and I definitely agree with whoever recommended the Sackler (one of many submuseums).

21:

I keep wondering what Hawaii will look like in the deep future. Possibly we can take the ideas about a civilization in deep space and apply them to a bunch of really isolated islands?

The more fun idea is the "insularization" of all those weedy species. After all, ALL of Hawaii's native species were once invasive, before they figured out how to live there properly. Sooner or later, there will be hawaiian pines, hawaiian eucalypts, and possibly even insular pigs. Probably the process is happening even now.

22:

Traffic is at a near standstill from ~6am to ~9:30am and again from ~4:30 to ~7. Ironically, the worst areas are usually near the Metro (train) stations.

You're being generous. I have to travel to just north of DC 6 times or so a year from the south. One time I was tired and figured instead of leaving so I'd get there at midnight I went to bed and left so I'd get there about 6:30AM.

Wrong. Traffic had already slowed down at Quantico to between 30 and 40 MPH at 5:30AM. Which slowed me down enough to hit rush hour trying to go around 495(east). Oh, well. Lesson learned.

And Quantico is over 30 miles south of the White House. It's where the current HOV lanes start and they are extending them out another 10 miles. Oy vey.

If you travel US1 in that area there are huge apartment complexes of for people who work in DC. And more going up all the time.

Careful if you drive around at night. A wrong turn can put you into an "interesting" area very quickly.

Arlington is special, no matter what you think of the military.

23:

DC is just different. Pentagone city mall charges for parking. First time in any city in the US I've had that experience. If you want to see something interesting go there and stand across the atrium from the Apple store. You'll see people shoulder to shoulder and spilling out into the walkway. Just next door is a Sony store. The staff could have been tossing a Frisbee for all the customers they had.

Want to spend an interesting day? Travel on the BWI from the north headed south. Exit at the NSA. You'll get to spend a LOT of time talking to people who have no sense of humor.

24:

Just looked it up
Officially DC's population is ~ 650 000, but what is the pop of the "Greater" area? (inside the beltway?)
You have 5 (?) metro lines & any other suburban rail services (??)
London - 10 million+ inside the M25 ...
The "tube" map does NOT show the other suburban rail lines, either ...
No wonder you have traffic jams!

25:

Want to spend an interesting day? Travel on the BWI from the north headed south. Exit at the NSA. You'll get to spend a LOT of time talking to people who have no sense of humor.

However ...

Just adjacent to the NSA is the National Cryptological Museum. Which is not owned and operated by No Such Agency, no sir: it just happens to sit in a publicly accessible dent in their perimeter fence and houses their souvenir collection, including a working Connection Machine CM-1, a couple of Crays, and so many ENIGMA rotor machines that there are a pair set up for kiddies to play with (sending encrypted messages back and forth across a room and decrypting them). Not to mention the declassified records and exhibits about stuff not many people know about -- the NSA's incredibly talented linguists (such as the guy who was fluent in 30-40 languages and on one occasion taught himself Arabic from scratch in a week), and the world's largest collection of bibles. (Bibles: every time a new language is discovered, it's usually the result of missionaries making First Contact. And their first task is to learn enough of the language to translate the bible. So the bible is a kind of Rosetta Stone for obscure languages. IIRC the NSA has over 900 different translations of it ...)

26:

The thing about the Metro that always amazed me was the complete lack of bathroom facilities.

True of the Tube too. To quote from The Atrocity Archives:

The London underground is famous for apparently believing that human beings go about this world owning neither kidney nor colon.

27:

And the Missionaries concentrate on the New Testament. I remember, in ancient days, there was one of those uplifting and ultra-condensed books in the Reader's Digest, which actually managed to be interesting.

And then how do you write down the language? The implication I recall is that the bible translators were also providing a usable written language.Something of a mixed blessing: the bible can ruin a culture, but the process gives you a tool to record it.

28:

From the smell, some people seem to think that out-of-the way corners are public urinals on the tube.

29:

And also of the Newcastle - North East of England - Metro system that resembles the London tube but of course was built much more recently. Not only are there no toilets on the trains in the Metro system but the metro stations dont have them either; you will usually only find toilets at those stations that are on the same sites as Main Railway stations

30:

Kathleen Ann Goonan’s The Bones of Time was set in Hawaii, and it seems she lived there for some time herself, though I don’t know whether that time overlaps with her professional writing career.

31:

A recent Washington Post article (http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-14/local/37693051_1_population-growth-job-market-metro-area) pegged the DC area population at 5.8 million. The difficulty in defining the population is where you draw the boundary for Washington. The District of Coumbia, also the city of Washington, is a relatively small area completely surrounded by other municipalities in Virginia and Maryland. The area between Washington and Baltimore is completely built up, and development sprawl continues to absorb formerly separate outlying communities.

The Metro is actually one of the few relatively decent mass transit systems in the US; only New York and Boston rival it. However, having spent the last four years in Stuttgart, I have to say we don't have it anywhere near right for mass transit in the US. I can walk two blocks from my house to the S-Bahn and be downtown, or at the airport, in half an hour. And yes, it's a rarity that a German train is not on time. I have noted, however, even here that graffiti is spreading like the blight.

BTW, does anyone know how to get a decent identity tag in Google? Mine keeps showing the alphanumeric jumble above.

32:

There was one at Farringdon they are supposedly going to be some new ones as part of the Cross rail at some stage.

33:

Interesting that they used that as practical lighting for the set which reduced the amount of CGI needed.

34:

Bibles: every time a new language is discovered, it's usually the result of missionaries making First Contact. And their first task is to learn enough of the language to translate the bible. So the bible is a kind of Rosetta Stone for obscure languages.

Trying to come up with a written language in a few years and mostly having Roman alphabets as a working model produces some interesting results. Lots of superscripts to indicate inflections and such. So you get things like theo^3 and such. Multiple times in a word.

35:

Just adjacent to the NSA is the National Cryptological Museum.

Thanks. I'll try and stop in next time I'm in the area.

36:

This is still further off topic, but... The Roman alphabet was not as prevalent in missionary work as you think. In northern Canada people still use a syllabic alphabet developed by missionaries based on Pitman shorthand and devangiri script. It was actually so popular that popular literacy spread far faster than missionaries throughout the Canadian north. (there is a graveyard near my office with headstones in a now obsolete syllabic script that was used until roughly 1950 by the local First Nations population - there are still books printed in it in the local library, but only a few very old people can still read them) There are still a lot of Inuit and Cree who use their respective forms of each alphabet, and non-aboriginals who live in the Canadian Arctic tend to learn the script too. There are other examples of synthetic, non-Roman alphabets elsewhere as well.

37:

I didn't say universal but I know some people who work with Wycliffe. And I"m guessing that given computer tech over the last 30 years, using Roman alphabets was way easier for a US based organization. I've seen some of it. Strange looking.

38:

Kathleen Ann Goonan’s The Bones of Time was set in Hawaii

I believe she was a child when she lived here, though she might have spent time here later. It's been a while since I read The Bones of Time, but I really enjoyed it when it came out.

39:

Roman alphabets as a working model produces some interesting results

In Hawaiian, "Tahiti" becomes "Kahiki." I think this is fairly consistent, that the t and k sounds are interchanged.

Some years ago, street signs began to reflect correct Hawaiian spelling by including the glottal stop ('okina) and macron (kahakō), making it easier to know how to pronounce a word. There's a little town on Maui called Haiku, but with the mark up, it's name changes to Ha'ikū.

40:

There are other examples of synthetic, non-Roman alphabets elsewhere as well.

While it has nothing to do with the bible, arguably the most successful synthetic, non-Roman script out their is Hangeul.

Actually, I misspoke. One big reason Hangeul is so popular now is because Christian missionaries, starting around roughly 1920 (give or take) used it to educate their Korean converts. At that time, Korea was a colony of Japan. By the early 1930s, the Japanese started kicking the missionaries out and forcing everyone to learn Japanese, and Hangeul (along with Christian churches) became part of the nascent Korean nationalist movement.

41:

An excellent point I was unaware of. Syllabics have gained a similar status in parts of Canada. There is pressure from Greenlandic Inuit and those Canadian Inuit who use Roman script to abandon syllabic script. Inuit in the Eastern Arctic and Nunavik have refused on the grounds that syllabics are effectively "their" alphabet and part of their cultural identity.

42:

I have never been to a convention. To quote a friend, "I just read the stuff". Neither he, nor I, have ever felt any need to do the convention thing.

I wonder how many readers of SF even care about conventions.

43:

I believe every state has more diversity than most peope realize. Example in New York State: Broad Channel Island, population of about 3,000; surrounded by a wildlife sanctuary. Oh -- and it's part of New York City.

44:

while I can safely say it's no utopia

Sure seemed like it when I was there 30 years ago in September. The local were really grumpy because it was getting up to 85F during the day and they were just all put out about the heat. :)

which is why I'm heading east in a few weeks to visit Washington, D.C. My newest novel, ... the opening takes place in Washington.

If your novel is set in the summer you'll miss a big part of what makes DC so unique. Temp and relative humidity over 95F/95% during the summer at times. I wonder at times if southern politicians haven't seemed to have an outsized position in Washington politics due to they were about the only ones who could operate in such climates. :)

I grew up in an area with similar summers. It's brutal if you've never been exposed to it. Breathing seems like you're inhaling water. Almost hot water.

It still shapes the city. You see these huge government buildings with a window AC in every window. I suspect the buildings are heated with hot water radiators and full of asbestos so the cost of adding central air is huge. So our "lets go green" government is spending vast sums inefficiently cooling down buildings. And in today's world you just can't tell most of the staff to take 1/2of their vacation in the summer as you might have been able to in the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

45:

I wonder how many readers of SF even care about conventions.

I suspect the percentage is a small part of the total, but it's a lot easier to meet potential readers at a convention than out in the wild. It's nice to have a little hometown support to, though other writers concur that doesn't always happen.

46:

You just gave me an excuse to run "He Mele No Lilo" on a loop, in the background again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dx8PHmAZxI

I love that movie, even if I'm not really fond of Elvis. In fact if it weren't for Elvis intruding a bit too I think "Lilo and Stitch" would be one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. It has nearly everything in it: A mad scientist, aliens, FTL police cars...

But, strictly speaking about Hawaii I remember reading in a big survival manual that it is the only tropical region in the world with absolutely no poisonous animals of any kind. No poisonous spiders, no poisonous snakes, absolutely nothing poisonous.

For that reason, and for the reason that I'm nearly allergic to heat (anything higher than 80 F) it is the only tropical region which I would really like to explore. During its "cool" season, of course.

47:

If your novel is set in the summer you'll miss a big part of what makes DC so unique.

This trip was planned in a rush to get it done before summer arrives, because I know I can't handle that level of heat and humidity. Here in the islands, at sea level, many summer days have been well over 85 in recent years. 88-degrees and up is considered brutal.

48:

I don't know what the local convention scene is like in Hawaii these days, but I remember being tickled at the Honolulu bid for Westercon 53. (I see that my wall of convention tchotchkes still bears a Hawaiian flag keychain from their bid party.) Apparently Conolulu was not particularly practical. I never heard a thing against it as an event, but attendance was very low - mostly because Hawaii isn't close to anything else.

49:

Linda, thank you for your very interesting descriptions. It helped my wife and I pick our excursions last night for our 20th anniversary Hawaii cruise. In two weeks I'll be touring much of those diverse landscapes thinking very SF thoughts. Thanks!

50:

Apparently Conolulu was not particularly practical.

I kind of remember that, and yes, we're a long way from anywhere.

51:

our 20th anniversary Hawaii cruise

Nice! I've never been on a cruise. I hope you have a wonderful time.

52:

Hangul is also popular because it simply works really well. It is quite easy to learn. (30-60 minutes and you can read Korean. You won't understand what you are saying, but you will be able to pronounce it.)
It is one of the few alphabets actually designed for the language it is used with, in the 1400s IIRC. (The Latin alphabet after all is derived from Phoenician, which was a quite different type of language (Semetic).)
The change in writing from voiceless to voiced consonant is always the same (because this is a common shift in Korean). So you just learn k, t, p and the same rule converts them into g, d, and b. Elegant.

53:

People have observed that the ruination of American government started with the introduction of air conditioning. AC allowed the Congress to sit for 12 months which gave them much more time for mischief.

Washington's climate makes it a pretty unpleasant place to be in high summer. St. Louis and many cities on the banks of the Mississippi are equally unpleasant. Try New Orleans in August.

54:

I think it's worth making clear to the uninitiated that, contra to the context in which it was brought up in this thread, Hangul was developed in Korea in the fifteenth century, by Koreans. It was designed to be easier to read and write by the common Korean than Chinese characters, and as far as I know was in wide use throughout Korea until the Japanese took over the country in the early 20th century and started to attempt to erase Korea's culture.

I don't think anything said upthread is wrong, I just thought the context needed clarifying.

55:

Oh my gosh, I had no idea you lived in Hawaii! it's true, our fair islands have little or no organized SF base, but there are a few of us!

Wonderful to learn, Aloha!

56:

St. Louis and many cities on the banks of the Mississippi are equally unpleasant. Try New Orleans in August.

I grew up in such a place. Look at Paducah KY on a map. It is surrounded on three side by the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Clarks rivers. Plus the Cumberland and Tennessee are damed just to add more water surface area to the region. :)

Those night in August when it would be 95F/95% at 3AM were just plan awful.

57:

As a convention going fan, let me hang in my £0.02 worth on that.

I actually got into fandom through a Tv show (Blake's 7, if anyone cares that much), then discovered that there was a local to me general SF convention, so decided to find out what that was like. I enjoyed it, and keep going back for more. Several other people that I know would have similar stories, or ones involving a local SF bookshop having a poster saying "$SF_group meets at $location at $day_time" and going along.

As to how useful it is for authors to go to cons as a marketting tool, I'd suggest variable. I'd probably never have started reading Charlie's work or blog if I'd not met him in the dealers' room at a BSFA Eastercon, and decided to buy one of his books on the strength of that meeting, then buying more on the strength of that one.

58:

Here's a good indicator of truly miserable climate mixes in the Continental US:

Determine which areas the military issues both tropical and arctic/subarctic clothing to enlisted personnel. (That's "issues as part of the basic uniform set," not "makes available for personal selection.") Fifteen years ago — the last time it really mattered to me! — that meant St. Louis and DC. Everybody else had only "standard weather" gear plus either topical or arctic/subarctic (and for many areas, neither). Of course, as an officer I wasn't being issued any of it (I was expected to purchase it)... but it was always amusing seeing jungle boots being issued along with fur-lined mukluks.

59:

Washington DC was once described as a city with
"Northern Charm and Southern Efficency"

Maybe we should just as citizns insist that all the Air Conditioners in the House/Senate and their offices be discoonected? Such a cost saving.

60:

our fair islands have little or no organized SF base, but there are a few of us! Wonderful to learn, Aloha!

Thank you, Steven! I know we've got SF readers around. Making the connection though, can be a challenge.

61:

Maybe we should just as citizns insist that all the Air Conditioners in the House/Senate and their offices be discoonected?

Mighty tempting...

62:

This was interesting to read as the wife and I are getting ready to fly out to Puna for a week. Part of it is that we both spent part of our childhood in Hawaii and haven't been since, part of it is that we are thinking about moving there from Seattle.

I was curious about the situation in Hawaii. I knew it would be different from Seattle, where there are loads of indie bookstores, conventions, and a large enough population of writers to establish a separate village.

As far as I could tell, the Big Island has about one bookstore, is that correct?

63:

When I was in the military I had an opportunity to take a really plum assignment in Hawaii, but turned it down, to the detriment of my career. Part of the reason I didn't want to go to Hawaii was that I'd heard it was a really expensive, cramped place where the various numerous ethnic groups were in constant friction and had their own isolated ethnic areas making things even more cramped. Sounds like fertile ground for all kinds of inspiration to me.

64:

Ghod Knows I have resisted the Temptation! But, since no one else will do it...Grits Teeth manfully...I Remember " Hawaii Five-0 "

I was born in the North East of England in 1949 and so came to Television just as the long trail of TV westerns... one a night every night Bonanza/ Laramie/ Have Gun Will Travel and on and on .. Began to fade into what might be termed Police Procedural/Detective and though I can’t remember much of the plot lines I DO remember that marvellously constructed into music /title sequence. And to this day most of my generation’s knowledge of Hawaii will be based upon that ancient TV series and its powerful sequence of images...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=674XcPC33pI

Now that is, I will submit, an example of the Sheer Power of Mythology and Myth Making.

65:

"The Metro is actually one of the few relatively decent mass transit systems in the US; only New York and Boston rival it"

Chicago?
I haven't experienced DC much, or NYC in a while, but my ranking would be

NYC
Chicago
Boston+near suburbs/San Francisco

Boston has a better metro system that ties into the near suburbs well, but the bus network is mostly a low-frequency joke; SF was better on that front. The T is cheaper and more frequent though also creakier access to the suburbs than BART. It's still a hub and spoke system, with poor interconnectivity not through downtown.

Boston can look better than Chicago because it's a lot smaller; Cambridge to downtown is nice and fast. Chicago has 5x the population of Boston, maybe 2x the population of the Boston area... mostly reachable by trains or buses of decent frequency, I think.

66:

My impression from checking weather reports is that Hawaii doesn't have a cool season, it's mid-80s all year. My impression from being there in spring break is that it's the most comfortable 80s ever, with a constant sea breeze, plus daily rain and rainbows... at least on the NE side of the big island.

67:

Hawaiian climate varies a lot more than many people appreciate, but it's fixed more to location than time of year. Wet or dry, hot or cold, is a matter of finding a place that suits you. James Nicoll recently posted to LiveJournal an ancestor's story about a Hawaiian expedition that's enlightening on this.

Specials

Merchandise

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Linda Nagata published on April 14, 2013 9:47 PM.

The last refuge of scoundrels was the previous entry in this blog.

PSA: Ignore the news is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog

Propaganda