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Deeply annoying realization ...

It appears that I can write fiction, or I can write blog entries—and right now I'm trying to write a trilogy.

I shall attempt to do a Crib Sheet on "419/Rule 34/The Lambda Functionary" as/when I run out of plot mojo on the first volume of the trilogy. Until then ... hell, use this thread to ask me questions about the stories in "Wireless", why don't you?

73 Comments

1:

In Rogue Farm the protagonist is rather concerned about concealing what he does to the farm that wanders on to his property. Are the rights of farm assimilated beings still recognized in their individual human sense or is he just afraid of a ticket for burning without a permit?

2:

I found 'Missile Gap' deeply disturbing...

3:

Deeply, enjoyably disturbing:)

I think 'A Colder War' is my favourite for that, though.

4:

No idea! I wrote it more than a decade ago.

5:

You've stated many times before that Palimpsest was begging to be a novel, do you plan to do so once the next few books in your contract are done or is it still undetermined?

6:

Sorry that should read: "do you plan to write it once..." Not enough time in the shade today it seems.

7:

Doesn't Palimpsest deserve it's own crib sheet? Or at least a Primeresque timeline chart?

8:

Yes, I intend to write the other two-thirds of "Palimpsest" as soon as I plough through my current contracted workload. (In other words, I won't get to start on it until 2015.)

"Palimpsest" is the first third of a story. I know roughly what the middle third is about. The final third is still gelling. I'm hoping that it pushes as many sense-of-wonder buttons as "Accelerando", only in a different key (singularity-free).

9:

I'm not going to do a crib sheet essay for "Palimpsest" until the entire novel is out in the wild. Reasons: it would contain spoilers for stuff that isn't yet in print.

Similarly, I'm not going to do a crib sheet essay for anything else that's not in print yet (i.e. "Equoid" (Laundry novella coming from Tor.com in September), "The Rhesus Chart" (Laundry Files #5), or "Dark State" (book #1 of Merchant Princes: The Next Generation)). You would not thank me for spoilering those books.

10:

Right around the time I read Palimpsest, I read Neal Stephenson's Anathem and Iain Banks' Transition, and later Terry Pratchett's Long Earth, and I just sort of lumped them mentally together, even if they shared very little "tech".

Do you think there's a connection, however tenuous?

11:

I think more could go on in the world of 'Missile Gap'. That story was both thrilling and frightening. It also reminded me how unfortunate it is that the Russians gave up on the large ekranoplan programme. Did you imagine Comrade Gagarin to command the Caspian Sea Monster or was his ship supposed to be even bigger?

12:

Haven't read "Anathem" or "Long Earth", see nothing in common whatsoever with "Transition".

13:

Gagarin's Ekranoplan was much larger than the KM: for one thing, it was nuclear powered and had room to carry parasite fighters!

I envisaged something more like the Beriev Be-2500 ...

14:

I loved “Missile Gap!” I got the impression it was more about humanity’s place in the cosmos than the US-USSR stuff happening in the foreground. Is that a fair assessment?

If it’s not too forward to ask, does the US-USSR stuff tie into the story with the aliens on a level beyond the plot — i.e. is there some sort of allegory there that I’m missing?

I suppose what I’m trying to ask is if there’s more to this story than I’m seeing? I’m not especially good at seeing beyond the superficial plot, so I find your commentary on structural stuff really interesting. For example, the unreliability of the narrator in Glasshouse wasn’t obvious to me when I first read it (I have some reading skills to develop).

Thanks for the crib sheets, they’re great.

15:

The setting of Palimpsest seemed to me very reminiscent of Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men. Was that an inspiration when writing it?

16:

I don't really see a connection with Long Earth or Anathem, though both novels are enjoyable.

I can see some similarity between Palimpsest and Transitions, mainly that in both the powers that be seemed to be afraid of some "Other", and going to great lengths to stop/hide it. Though Transitions dealt with a multiverse, and Palimpsest with a single timeline that could be rewritten.

If there's anything remotely similar to Palimpsest, it's Asimov's End of Eternity, though it is somewhat dated now.

Palimpsest is hands down my favorite time travel story, followed by Michael Swanwick's "Bones of the Earth". I would love to see it as a full novel.

17:

The "nice" thing about Missile Gap is that more copies of Earth are going to keep popping up. And there appeared to be more discs out there, which may have copies of Earth as well.

18:

I guess my question was whether or not "A Colder War" was a template for the Laundry books, and how it influenced them. It seems a more serious, less humorous take on the same subject...

19:

I loved “Missile Gap!” I got the impression it was more about humanity’s place in the cosmos than the US-USSR stuff happening in the foreground. Is that a fair assessment?

Yes. It's really an argument about the Simulation Hypothesis and the weak anthropic principle -- we may be living in an Ancestor Simulation, but we aren't necessarily the ancestors being simulated -- we're NPC's in someone else's game. In fact, mammalian life in general, as opposed to eusocial insects, are the NPCs in the ancestor sim being played out on the disk by incomprehensibly advanced species who are examining possible origins for intelligence and civiliation in the cosmos.

20:

Plans for "Palimpsest: the novel" include a grand battle for the soul of future humanity between Nikolai Fyodorovitch Fyodorov and Olaf Stapledon ...

21:

Nope, "A Colder War" wasn't a template for the Laundry. It was, however, a stage in my evolving ideas for how to do Lovecraftian fiction. See also "Trunk and Disorderly" with respect to "Saturn's Children" and "Neptune's Brood". (Different setting and tone, but playing with some of the same ideas ...)

22:

Just a note that "A Colder War" was the first piece of your fiction that I read, lo, many years ago (on the Web). Which led in logical progression to the Laundry Stories. On a tangential note, I'm actually surprised that none of the reviews I've read of Neptune's Brood has even mentioned the Crimson Assurance, which is a fantastic jest and nearly caused me to spill my beer when I first came across it.

23:

@ 10
I've given up, utterly, on "Anathem" - the quite deliberate mis/re-naming of common objects & procedures is just a very annoying gimmick, & gets in the way of understanding the story - assuming there IS a story under all that froth.
As opposed to "The Quantum Thief/Fractal Prince" where an utterly changed "world" has to be described - & I think there's a crib-sheet somewhere, too!

Charlie @ 20
I note that Fyodorov turns up as an "inspiration" for one of the factions fighting the future war in "Fractal Prince" - The idea of the Fyodorovians vs (or in parallel with) the anti-quantum filth factions is utterly fascinating.
The phrse (IIRC) "taking back the dice from a mad god's hands" is truly electrifying. [ If you know the context, of course. ]
And, like you, I think I might prefer Stapeldon - but hey, I'm prejudiced, I read my father's copy of L&FM @ age 9.

@ 22
As in "Crimson Assurance" = (!=) "Prudential" ??

"The man from the Pru" etc, oh dearie me.

24:

@Greg 23:

To grab the first line from its Wikipedia entry:

The Crimson Permanent Assurance is a short film that plays as the beginning of the feature-length motion picture Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.

Great silliness, and cause of much chuckling when I read Neptune's Brood.

25:

I too found some similarities between Transitions and Palimpset.
Partly it's that they both feature some kind of 'alternate dimensions' idea, and a main character who is part of a secret, powerful, organisation that controls access between these different dimensions/timelines.
Said main character is taught by an older female, who goes rogue, and who the main character eventually joins in rebellion against the old order.

That said, it's been a couple of years since I read either, so I might be forgetting or conflating bits of either.

I guess there must have been something in the water in Scotland around that time ;)

26:

Considering the readership of this blog, I thought I would throw out a discussion that I have been having at work. I’m not a writer, and this is not me trying to generate a sci-fi world, it just comes from my interest a number of comment or articles I have read that in the future we would need to move away from a labour based economy. The following is just me trying to imagine what such a world would be like, based on the bits and pieces that I have read.

In a world where most things are automated and most goods can simply be printed in 3D, there is very little need for human labour. The only value a human can have in the developed world is the generation of information, whether it be intellectual information generation such as design, art or technological innovation, or just raw data for use in commerce, politics or administration. Intellectual property rights become of great importance, as each piece of human generated information needs to be traceable back to its source so that that person may profit from it. Any picture, comment or blog uploaded onto the internet, for example, is owned and traceable back to the originator. If it is used, either by a large corporation harvesting information about its customer base, or by a news agency, the end user is obligated to remunerate the progenitor. This would need to wealth based on a person’s ability to generate information, either through education or activity. A technically minded person may be able to generate wealth through patents, or someone may profit through fame by gathering followers and becoming information dense, pulling in and exporting out vast quantities of data.

Any comments, would such a world work? Could there be enough money in it? Could my vast knowledge of the X-Men eventually become valuable to me?

27:

Excellent :) I look forward to reading it, Palimpsest is one of the only books featuring time travel that haven't made me want to throw it against a wall lol.

I just have one question regarding the Palimpsest universe: does our RL version of history exist? Specifically the last century? Given the organisations task of rewriting history it seems to me that the 21st century with its space race and subsequent space cadet culture would run counter to their plans. Either that or the winding down of the space race and cancellation of next-gen heavy lifters etc was the work of time travellers masked as sensible economic concerns...

28:

As I recall, the Stasis was very very cautious about tinkering with the first appearance of humanity, since a major screwup there could endanger everything. As you point out, there was a brief interest in space travel - but that's been a thing less than a human lifetime so far and we're already settling down on sending out robots. Sure, space opera science fiction wasn't in line with their plans, but it's also a very young genre.

29:

Well, with 9 billion surplus humans sitting around, I strongly suspect that someone will find a use for them. One highly likely use will be tearing apart the factories that are making them feel useless, or alternatively, abandoning the economy that has surplused them and striking out on their own, thereby dooming both the dominant economy and quite a few of the billions of people.

Really, this question assumes we're still living in 2002 America, with the administration urging us to be good consumers. We are past that already, and I'm pretty sure a lot of people around the world will be demonstrating the one-fingered mudra of contempt for anyone who forces them to be such useless pigs again.

The thing to remember is that a trained human is already pretty close to a 3-D printer in a lot of media. In many parts of the world, it's more cost effective to train the human than it is to buy the printer. We're entering an era of more humans and less energy to run global supply chains, and that doesn't really favor universal printer adoption. I think it's a neat technology with a lot of potential uses, and I think it's going to mess up global supply chains in some interesting ways. Nonetheless, I'm not sure it's going to put humans out of business.

30:

The 'feel good' sector: anyone performing/delivering a service that makes someone else feel good/better and/or valued. Examples currently include the traditional performance arts, healthcare, religion, sports, etc. Agree that tech substitutes will become increasingly available, affordable and sophisticated, nevertheless the 'best' of such services will probably remain those delivered via human agency. (There's a difference in how you feel when watching a beautifully recorded performance by your favorite artist on your home entertainment system versus at a live performance with tens of thousands of other people. Other people's favorable reactions tend to contribute to the enjoyment.)

I'm guessing that the most recent 'nouveau riche' cultures/countries will be the ones to watch for insights as to specific product/service categories.

31:

Nice as the BE-2500 is, I'd envisioned Gagarin's Ekranoplan as being something like the CSM but turned up from 10 to about 23.

32:

Re. Anathem, there definitely is a story; it's one of the most perfect unions of story and philosophy/ reality that I have read. It's just a bit dull to begin with to put you off. Plus the odd names for familiar gadgets thing is entirely necessary. It isn't a gimmick, although one has to wonder what your reading capabilities are like if such a simple thing puts you off.

33:

Yes, the book is absolutely beautiful and bought two copies of it, so that's something.

However, none of that will change the fact that satellites in a polar orbit will not cross the sky through the (celestial) northpole ... unless you happen to be at the northpole yourself or the satellites are somewhere out there pretty close to infinity. Certainly not spy satellites at 50 degree north. They are just too darn close to the planet.

As much as I loved that diagram the first time I saw it ... but no matter how you slice it, it's bullshit. Fortunately, the rest is up to the usual standards and Neal Stephenson is a human being after all.

34:

I also liked "Missile Gap."

For more on a similar theme, Alastair Reynolds' "Century Rain" turned out to be way better than I expected from the synopsis.

35:

@ 22 - 24
Oh dear - I got entirely the wrong joke!

guthrie @ 32
No, it just grated - horribly.
And it isn't a so-called simple thing it appears to be 150% unneccessary, put there so that N Stephenson can literary-wank over his readers to show how supposedly clever he is. [ He IS clever, we all know that, but really, did he have to? ]
Given that I regularly contibute in comments, here, I find tha allegation of my "reading capabilities" grossly insulting.
By the time I was 10 I had read both "Last & First Men" & the first volume (the next two were then still in translation, by the incomparable D L Sayers) of Dante's "Divine Comedy"

36:

The thing to remember is that a trained human is already pretty close to a 3-D printer in a lot of media. In many parts of the world, it's more cost effective to train the human than it is to buy the printer.

The great advantage of the 3-D printer is that it doesn't get bored. Leave the humans to do more fulfilling work.

37:

I think the transaction costs of tracking back every single piece of IP to the orginator might be significant i.e. significantly more than just saying to folk – have some free stuff.

38:

It may be perverse of me, but I enjoyed the first part of Anathem, but found the last part to be a bit dull-ish, just another parallel worlds story.

39:

I can assure you, having read the book, unlike yourself, that the 'annoying gimmick' is in fact part of the methods of establishing the background of the story which fits in with the later part. I don't doubt that you have read many important works, but yet feel happy enough misunderstanding a work which many others have rather enjoyed and understood perfectly well. Clearly that sort of story is not for you.

NelC- I've now given up on SF authors producing anything particularly 'new' because 1) I've read too much in the field already, and 2) there doesn't seem to be any particularly new areas of scientific endeavour opening up, or perhaps a better way of putting it is that we've already opened up all the science which is easily put into a story.

40:

NelC- I've now given up on SF authors producing anything particularly 'new' because 1) I've read too much in the field already, and 2) there doesn't seem to be any particularly new areas of scientific endeavour opening up, or perhaps a better way of putting it is that we've already opened up all the science which is easily put into a story.

You haven't been paying attention to Hannu, then ...

41:

I think the second part ("we've already opened up all the science which is easily put into a story") might be slightly closer to the truth, but in general I disagree.

There are couple of entangled issues that I see. One is that science fiction has largely abandoned a realistic future for at least the last decade. There are signs that is starting to change (sorry Charlie, I don't agree that Hannu is one). Thing is, when you start grappling with things like climate change seriously (read: not in apocalypse/disaster of the week format), then you get to pull in a large amount of recent scientific and cultural innovation that's under-represented in current SFF.

Most SF writers honestly lack the chops to deal with environmental issues, and since it's not clear that there's a market for it yet, they're not willing to take the time to acquire those chops. In this case "chops" means learning to see the world like an ecologist, which requires a facility with lateral thinking that most people simply don't have.

A related problem is that there are a lot of non-scientists writing SFF. This is a problem only in the sense that it can be painfully obvious when someone is clueless and making crap up. Not that I'm saying that scientists make better writers. Most don't. There's simply a joy and facility with a subject that a practitioner brings in that is difficult to impossible to fake, and when you combine that with writing skill, you get something innovative.

But ultimately, I'd say the problem is the marketplace and Sturgeon's Law. Ninety percent of everything may be recycled crap, but if that crap reliably sells (here's looking at you, Star Wars franchise), the sane publisher is going to hold her nose and continue publishing it.

42:

I have to respectfully disagree with:

...if that crap reliably sells (here's looking at you, Star Wars franchise), the sane publisher is going to hold her nose and continue publishing it.

From the point of view of the publisher, this is very much not a bug, it's a feature. I'm sure that editors and publishers like to publish good ('culturally significant') works, for whatever values of 'culturally significant' they prefer.

However, they are in the business of making money. And if crap sells, their bottom line says it isn't crap.

43:

Agreed. From the point of view of someone complaining about lack of innovation, it's crap. From the point of view of someone supplying a reliable product to a reliable audience on a reliable schedule, it's a job, and to investors, it's a wise business decision.

The only problem with it is that one of the myriad of Murphy's Law subclauses states that reliable product lines fail unexpectedly, for both predictable (death of author and audience) and unpredictable (changing tastes and fashions) reasons. A certain amount of novelty is necessary to keep the whole business going.

44:

Charlie @ 40 ( & referring-back to #20 too )
I've just finished "Fractal Prince" & re-read through a wiki or two on those 2 books of Hannus ... makes more "sense" now - though I was hooked from the word go.
However ...
It is apparent that the Stapledon / Fyodorov [ or realist / tanshumanist OR fallible / perfectible ] struggle is playing out here, too.
The Sobornost are enemies of death, but they are also slave-owners - bitterly opposed to the Zoku.

What is your proposed stance for Stapeldon in the expanded "Palimpsest" then?
That we should be allowed to fail, if we must, but that the will remain free & not subject to some "god" or other?
It is notable that Fyodorv was a devout (Orthodox) christian, euw.

What I like about Hannu's work is that a/some sort of "singularity" has happened, but it was messy & incomplete, with lots of unintended consequences & side-effects.
Should a real "singularity" of the tyoe usuallly referred to happen, I suspect that this would be the case.
After all, the last two slow, overlapping singulaities we've had: Steam-power & control of electical impulses in ever-greater sophistication were exactly like that - lots of unintended consequences & winners & losers.
Ditto for the first big singularity - settled agriculture - & the huge amount of WORK required to kep it running - referred back-to in the christian/jewish book of Genesis, in fact.

45:

Touche!

I have read his novels, not sure I understood them so well though. Anathem made much more sense, partly because it had a lot more space to explain things and is simply written differently.

46:

>I've just finished "Fractal Prince" & re-read through a wiki >or two on those 2 books of Hannus ... makes more "sense" now - >though I was hooked from the word go.

Flipping heck Tucker! (UK children's telly reference)

I've been waiting, oooh, about a year to read this. Amazon gave me an update of sometime round the middle of Sept for it to turn up....

47:

Snowball's Chance - what was up with the last couple of paragraphs, after the "Devil" gave Davy a credit and went off to sort out the mess? It seems like Davy was running some sort of con or deeper plot, but I've never been able to figure out what.

48:

A regular mugging, by Davy's drinking buddy. (You go drinking in the wrong bars in Leith, that's what you'll get ...)

49:

Oh yeah, that. Actually, I used "Snowball's Chance" as an introduction to someone who hadn't read Charlie's work, to see whether they liked his sort of humor or not. He did, fortunately, but he said, "boy, that's black."

50:

Just simple thuggery, then. Thanks!

51:

Does this imply that "The Lambda Functionary" is already in print somewhere, or that it never will be?

If the latter, add me to the list of the disappointed.

52:

I gotta say that 'Missile Gap' was heavily rigged against the humans - of course the higher tech guys are going to win! So this isn't really a dispassionate experiment to see who comes out on top.

Otoh, that very fact suggests that the ones running the experiment aren't, uh, human ;-) I'd suggest that stacking the deck is a universal were it not the case that my sample size is n=1.

53:

The thing to remember is that a trained human is already pretty close to a 3-D printer in a lot of media. In many parts of the world, it's more cost effective to train the human than it is to buy the printer. We're entering an era of more humans and less energy to run global supply chains, and that doesn't really favor universal printer adoption. I think it's a neat technology with a lot of potential uses, and I think it's going to mess up global supply chains in some interesting ways. Nonetheless, I'm not sure it's going to put humans out of business.

Humans cost energy too. A fit and hard-working person may deliver ~3.6 megajoules of mechanical work per day, from an energy input of ~14 megajoules food. Basal metabolic rate alone requires ~5 megajoules food. You can source 19 megajoules from 1.3 kg of rice, at a current cost of 69 cents (rice at 55 cents per kilogram). Rice alone does not provide a human being with the nutrients needed to survive long-term, but still let's call it 69 cents to get 3.6 megajoules daily (1 kilowatt hour) of mechanical work out of a human laborer. Costs per kilowatt hour go up if your laborer ever takes a day off, or needs clothes or shelter, or needs a more varied diet to survive.

Now the solar equivalent: 15 cents to produce 1 kilowatt hour of electricity, used in an 85% efficient electric motor, costs 18 cents to produce 3.6 megajoules of mechanical work. Add battery storage and costs soar: now we're up to 58 cents. Use wind instead of solar, also battery backed: down to 48 cents. Or use traditional resevoir backed hydroelectricity instead: down to 7 cents.

The United States alone produces about 250 terawatt hours annually from hydro power, or the equivalent of turning ~90% of its adult population into rice-fueled motors eating nearly half of global rice production.

Consider water pumps, grinders, crushers, lathes, drills, surveillance systems, phones, and bicycles: even the most expensive renewable electricity is cheaper than the food needed to replace electrical sensors, logic, communications, and motive power with human brains and muscles.

54:

Uri Gagarin @ 46
ANY reference, at all, to any television of any sort post (approx) 1975 will pass me by completely - since that's when I threw the hypnogourd out ....

55:

Returning to a theme I mentiond back up @ # 44.

And asking a question - specifically directed at Charlie, if he has time, but all comers welcome!

I wonder how relevant to the "moral "struggle between the Fyodorov vs Stapeldon views is another, famous-to-those-in-the-know meeting, that took place in "The Eastgate" pub in Oxford, during 1954.
Present: C. S. Lweis, J. R. R. Tolkien, A. C Clarke & Val Cleaver.
Lewis, backed by Tolkien were insisting that space travel was, in some sense, evil of itself. Clarke & Cleaver were, of course of the "technology will set you free" school.

How does this map across to the contest(s) both present & future between the Tranhumanists, the uploaders, the singularitarians & others, I wonder?

It seems to be an emerging trope in SF, since not only OGH, but many others are investigating this ... "the Long Earth" is another example, f'rinstance.

56:

#54 ref #46.

"Flippin' 'eck Tucker" is a reference to Grange Hill, first broadcast was 1978 though. That said, at that time it was sufficiently pervasive that if you actually held conversations with teenagers or 20somethings you'd have some sort of awareness of it.

57:

I must have failed to talk to myself or my contemporaries for a few years then.

Oh wait, perhaps I just didn't watch Grange Hill?

58:

Does this imply that "The Lambda Functionary" is already in print somewhere, or that it never will be?

The original plan (circa 2011) has been rendered obsolete by subsequent events, much as the original plan for "419" circa 2006 was rendered obsolete by the banking crisis of 2007, forcing me to push back writing into 2008 (and re-title it "Rule 34").

My fallback idea met with some not-unjustified criticism from my editor at Ace, forcing a long-term rethink.

Meanwhile, I wrote "Halting State" in 2005. It was set in 2017. "The Lambda Functionary" can't now appear in print prior to 2016, even if I wrote it immediately after my current contracted job: history is running ahead of my extrapolation in that near-future time line, so I'd have to break continuity with the two earlier novels.

59:

Me too. (I'm pretty much a telly refusnik, going back to my childhood; I once timed how much TV I watched per week as a 16 year old and discovered it was around 6.5 hours ... in a week when there were two films on the box that I wanted to see, which was a rare occurrence. National average TV consumption for my age at that point: 17 hours/week.)

60:

At some point during the late 80s/early 90s, living on my own, I divided the hours per year I was watching by the cost of the licence and realised that on an hourly basis the cinema was cheaper (assuming no visit to the concession stand).

I got rid of the TV and let the licence lapse.

I then spent the next few years politely explaining this to the TV Licence people. They were not entirely disbelieving, but their systems did tend to throw my name up again and again.

I did read a lot of books at that point, and spent quite a lot of time online.

These days we have a nice big 42" screen. But I'll blame that on the wife, oh yes, and pretend that it wasn't a good chunk of my overtime pay.

We do have a slight tendency to record series such as Being Human, and finally watching them half a year later.

61:

@54:
ANY reference, at all, to any television of any sort post (approx) 1975 will pass me by completely - since that's when I threw the hypnogourd out ....
---
I gave up thirty years ago. But in the USA, the idiot boxes are hard to avoid. Most restaurants have several, often turned to competing channels. Doctor's office waiting rooms - any kind of waiting rooms, come to think of it - have them. Businesses have them. I once tried to make an insurance payment, and the clerk would only acknowledge the presence of a customer during commercials. I called the home office to complain, and they pretended they couldn't understand what I was complaining about.

A few years ago a friend was arrested. When he was arraigned, the bailiff rolled a cart into the courtroom. It had a camera and a TV set. There was someone in a judge's robe on the screen.

Any contests of general knowledge or trivia seem to be primarily based on old television programs or celebrities who weren't even born when I freed myself from the box.

Another interesting thing is "multimedia tie-ins." That's when you see signs or billboards with just a logo, or a face, or a lone word that doesn't mean anything. That's a tie-in to a TV program, although apparently some TV commercials have had their own tie-in media.

People frequently think I'm stringing them on when I tell them I've never heard of some program or person they're trying to talk about. I've seen some of them get angry about it.

"Just pretend I'm from a different country."

"Where?" (they think they have me now, since every other place is exactly like where they are)

"1965."

62:

Sad bugger that I am, I used to have the TV on from when I got home from work till bedtime. These days, with iPlayer and so on, I've cut down to shows I actually have some interest in, but I tend to fill the gaps with radio.

63:

... lot of non-scientists writing SFF... There's simply a joy and facility with a subject that a practitioner brings in that is difficult to impossible to fake, and when you combine that with writing skill, you get something innovative.


Which scientist-SF authors do you recommend?


64:

Is there a backstory for the world-building in Missile Gap, or is it simply godlike powers of godlike beings with a subtle nod to Ringworld?

65:

With the note that he's a Baen author, so you may have issues with his politics, Travis S Taylor, who is a genuine rocket scientist and writes mostly plausible technology (in the view of another rocket scientist).

66:

Thanks for the recommendation re: Travis S Taylor.

67:

Any time; Start with "Back to the Moon", and see what companies/projects you think he's filed serial numbers off of.

68:

We have a TV in our (shared) house, but I can't remember the last time I saw someone watching live TV, except possibly sport. Instead it's used as a screen for watching pre-recorded stuff.
Personally I consider the license fee to be my subscription to 6 Music, and BBC 4 and am happy.

69:

I watch about 9-11 hours of TV per week. It seems like a lot. That's not counting the odd YouTube video.

The average American watches 34 hours of TV per week. I don't understand how that's even possible. I suspect they have it on while doing other things. I use podcasts for that.

70:

I bet that includes thing like "watching" gridiron as "watching Tv", when most people use that time primarily as eating, drinking beer and chatting with their friends time.

71:

I'm not at all a sports fan, but my brother is. My brother is a mundane -- doesn't read sf, doesn't watch it on TV or in the movies, doesn't really understand it at all. So he's my connection to what real people are like.

He was bemoaning to me the recent tendency of US baseball management to fill up the downtime between action on the field with meaningless electronic entertainment. Baseball is a very slow game, and fans used to use the frequent downtime between activity on the field to talk with each other. It's like in the movie WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, if you've seen that -- or it used to be.

72:

I've seen scenes from "When Harry Met Pippa", or whatever it's called.

I've not seen the entire film,and had no clue that it involved a rounders game.

73:

"Rounders." Ha! I had to Google that.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on July 16, 2013 9:36 PM.

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