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Traveller RPG, Firefly, Dumarest, Vatta's War... are they all "Star Punk"?

^^^ Me again. M Harold Page. The writer with the swords and some books in print, rather than the one with the cats and a metric tonne of books in print (plus enough rockets that we really should get him that Tracy Island in which to keep them).

Did I say "swords"? 

Right now it's actually blasters because I'm wearing my Space Opera hat. 

Yes, despite all my books to date featuring many, many swordfights, I wrote a Space Opera. It's called "The Wreck of the Marissa (The Eternal Dome of the Unknowable #1)".

And yes, as you might guess from its title, it's at the other end of the spectrum from the transhuman wibbletech extrapolative futures that Charlie likes to explore. It's also not Military SF. Though there's fighting - the protagonist is a retired mercenary turned archaeologist - it's small scale stuff and the focus isn't on the regular army.

But what subgenre is it?

The same subgenre as EC Tubb's Dumarest books - hero wanders the galaxy in search of Earth - or Moon's Vatta's War - hero trades across the galaxy while coming to her family's rescue - or Firefly - oddball crew trade between worlds - or, of course, the venerable Traveller Roleplaying Game - I've been reviewing the new Mongoose Traveller over on Black Gate (*).

It's partly defined by vibe; hardboiled adventure in an imperfectly distributed future where there are more planets like Tatooine than Coruscant. However, it's also defined by protagonist(s) and scope; independent operators struggling to make a go of it in a hostile human universe with the antagonists capped at corporation or "house" level, with no Dark Lord, and no saving the galaxy.

You know exactly what I mean. It's the subgenre that that bears the same relation to Space Opera that Sword & Sorcery bears to Heroic Fantasy.

But it doesn't have a name! And though I'm half a century late to the game, I think we should call it "Star Punk".

Here's why.

The range of $CONCEPTpunk genres, namely Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Valvepunk, Elfpunk... (Wikipedia has  a handly list) all share one or both of the following:

First, the $CONCEPT really works by authorial fiat. It's what some writers call a "gimme".

Any deep worldbuilding is mostly just handwaving to support the technology that produces the desired literary effect. Taking Steampunk as a representative example: Philip Reeve's Predator Cities (*) trundle around the dried up ocean beds eating each other with backstory, but no plausible technical explanation; and Oppel's more lyrical Airborn (*) gives us an airship based future with some technical explanation, but not much backstory.

And we don't care.

We want the story world with the Zeppelins and steam-powered tanks, partly because they're cool, but also because they enable stories that explore certain themes and human experiences. In this, the $CONCEPTpunk genres have a lot in common with Magical Realism. (Perhaps we punks are really just magical realists who know how to plot?) 

Second, there's a focus on the personal experience of individuals with personal agency - "punks"? - navigating the technology of the storyworld .

The parent genres often use the same tropes and technologies, but it's the punk sub genres that engage with them. Thus, for example, characters in Simon R. Green's scenery chewing Deathstalker (*) series boast various Cyberpunk augmentations, but the series is squarely Space Opera. Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie gives us orcs using Steampunk technology at Isengard, and Tolkien himself turns the Shire into a Steampunk dystopia, but neither are by any stretch of the imagination actual Steampunk. 

I think the reason we recognise a kinship between, say, Dumarest  (space drifter) on the one hand and Firefly (space trader) on the other is because they share a similar science fictional universe in which the what matters more than the why. The same goes for Vatta's War, and most of Flinx, and actually Jack McDevitt's Alex Benedict stories (*).

They are all set in spacefaring civilisations where technology has somehow - with an authorial handwave - and my handwave is particularly cunning and internally consistent - failed to eliminate the human element, where you still need a human to pull the trigger or pilot the scout ship, and where nanotechnology, 3D-printing and vertical farms have neither eliminated trade, nor ushered in a crime-free post scarcity society. They all involve individuals or companions - adventurers, traders, investigators, contractors - pursuing goals of only local significance.

In other words, they could all be transcripts of particularly good Traveller campaigns.

As I said, this genre is like the Space Opera version of Sword & Sorcery. However, I'm damned if I can coin a _____ & _____ term along the lines of Sword & Planet that covers all aspects without making any mandatory. (Have a go in the comments if you like...)

So let's call the whole lot "Star Punk" and be done with it...unless you have a better idea?


M Harold Page isthe Scottish author of  The Wreck of the Marissa (Book 1 of the Eternal Dome of the Unknowable Series), (epub here) an old-school space adventure yarn about a retired mercenary-turned-archaeologist dealing with "local difficulties" as he pursues his quest across the galaxy. His other titles include Swords vs Tanks (Charles Stross: "Holy ****!") and  Storyteller Tools: Outline from vision to finished novel without losing the magic(Ken MacLeod: "...very useful in getting from ideas etc to plot and story." Hannu Rajaniemi: "...find myself to coming back to [this] book in the early stages.") You can find his most recent Black Gate Traveller article here

445 Comments

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1:

Space Punk works better than Star Punk imo. Is that why you used it in the tags?

2:

I'm suddenly more thinking of the RPG Diaspora, where the players and GM create a cluster of worlds, with a range of technology. At the high end, there are planets close to the singularity (but not over, because of the fraughtness, storywise and otherwise, of having post-scarcity societies: They also apparently go "boom"), at the low end, there are pre-spaceflight worlds. The PCs navigate the space between, rather literally.

3:

> Space Punk works better than Star Punk imo. Is that why you used it in the tags?

I don't know what you mean ;) #internetbygaslight

Seriously, though, I considered then rejected Space Punk because "Space" could imply Apollo 13 type stories, and at the same time didn't imply having planetside adventures, which Star sort of does.

However, "Space Punk" perhaps has a better ring to it.

4:

Yes, I like Diaspora (https://www.blackgate.com/2014/04/24/roleplaying-game-review-fate-and-fate-diaspora/).

The singularity idea is a neat handwave. I'm actually writing a Black Gate piece on the problem of ahem Star Punk worldbuilding right now. I'll post the link when it's up.

5:

This isn't an attack, because I don't require everyone else to agree with my taste, and I haven't read your books (or any of those you mention!), but my experience is that XXXpunk is a useful label, indicating that I should read it only if I have run out of almost everything else. So I agree with you :-)

Note: if you feel this is a derail or too antagonistic, please feel free to get it deleted.

It isn't that I object to fiction that explores the consequence and effects of an out-of-this-world assumption, because I very much like them, but I find that the XXXpunk genres DON'T do that. What they do is dump a bunch of traditional fictional archetypes into those worlds and ignore the contradictions in their original assumptions. That would be fine if the science-substitute were peripheral to the story, but I keep getting irritated by reactions like "that couldn't work, because ..." and "hell, if they can do that, they could also do ... and bypass the whole plot line".

6:

In this, the $CONCEPTpunk genres have a lot in common with Magical Realism. (Perhaps we punks are really just magical realists who know how to plot?)

I like to think that, too. "Magical realism" is for me only poorly written urban fantasy, at least the ones I've tried to read.

Diaspora seems like a fun game. I like it that they were aiming for a game with the Traveller feel. I have plans to run it soon, with FATE Core.

7:

> It isn't that I object to fiction that explores the consequence and effects of an out-of-this-world assumption, because I very much like them, but I find that the XXXpunk genres DON'T do that.

Ah. Yes. No. Sort of.

I think it's OK just to revel in aesthetics. However the best -punk does properly engage with the consequences. Sturgeons Law I think

8:

I was utterly enamoured of Diaspora, then I play tested the new Traveller and that blew me away. All that hard randomness generates awesome stories. (see https://www.blackgate.com/2017/04/20/modular-the-new-mongoose-traveller-2-more-than-just-a-science-fiction-midlife-crisis-simulator/)

9:

This may sound odd but I think a major aspect of the X-punk genres is that the economies aren't too well thought out and both the heroes and villains need to have ignored things like an evil overlord who lacks a normal 5 year old child on their board of advisors.

If you have a genuinely super-consistent world that actually makes sense then it loses some of the X-punk feel. I'm talking in terms of "where does the iron and flour come from and who cleans the sewers and why don't we just solve our problems with that obvious application of the magi-tech we avoid talking about".

A true X-punk needs to feel almost paper-thin.

What do you mean "we have a steam powered interstellar space ship why don't we just aim directly for the enemy base while at cruising speed and dump a load of garbage out of our holds to blast their base into rubble"? real gentlemen break in and challenge the enemy general to a 1 on 1 steam-powered-chainsaw-sword duel.

10:

> What do you mean "we have a steam powered interstellar space ship why don't we just aim directly for the enemy base while at cruising speed and dump a load of garbage out of our holds to blast their base into rubble"? real gentlemen break in and challenge the enemy general to a 1 on 1 steam-powered-chainsaw-sword duel.

Wow. I think I'll have to write that!

Yes, some -punk stories are really super hero comics done in prose and "thinness" makes them a light read. Or magical realist (like Philip Reeve.)

However, I can think of at least some really good Steampunk where the economy and society makes sense, e.g. Airborn.

(By the way, *my* spaceships have no velocity, so can't do relativistic rock throwing attacks.)

11:

I kind of have enough Traveller that I decided not to buy it anymore. I read one idea on some blog, which I can't google up now, where the idea was to run Traveller with only the first three books. No Third Imperium, or any of that metaplot, just roll a subsector with the rules, fiddle with it until happy and then start playing.

It seemed kind of like what you write about: randomly generated stuff which creates the adventures.

Also, I want to try out Fate.

12:

Yes, they engage with them, but I said "explores the consequence and effects"; I have never seen them do it more than shallowly and, being who I am, I think things through a lot more deeply than most people. Let's take an example, not restricted to science fiction or fantasy: the 'hardboiled' aspect. Let's ignore the fact that I find a relish for vicarious violence personally distasteful, near-universal though it is.

This almost always has an outsider or unattached person (or a few) who create widespread, repeated mayhem, while moving through an established society of a form that we would recognise today. Well, I know of no society, past or present, that put up with that; those that allowed mayhem invariably did so only to agents or associates of in-groups (often the ruling establishment, but not always). Duelling was at most a partial, limited exception - and an outsider had better not kill too many people or an important insider. Some of it has the protagonist(s) on the run, but alternative personae are almost always easy to create and non-limiting, or evasion is non-limiting, which have never been the case. The exceptions are societies that are in near-complete collapse, and they are incredibly unstable, because gangs establish territories very fast. And those are incompatible with the maintenance of the infrastructure the rest of the plot needs.

13:

> I kind of have enough Traveller that I decided not to buy it anymore.

Yes, umpteen years ago, that's what put me off the game. There's something a little disempowering about knowing your house rule/GM's decision is probably covered in a supplement you don't have.

The new Traveller covers pretty much the same ground as the old Classic Traveller three books, except it skips spaceship design. It's certainly playable in its own right as a self contained game, which is how we've been doing it.

Fate does rock and Diaspora is really very good and easy to play. The space ship battles in particular are great fun.

14:

Yes. Though it can be done if done carefully.

15:

I think you and Murphy are being a little bit harsh to the *Punk (

Quality of authorship matters regardless of genre.

Now I'm off to register *Punk as a trademark before Harold does :)

16:

I think you and Murphy are being a little bit harsh to the *Punk ( meta joke) subgenres, as with other subgenre's such as Space Opera and Mil Sci there are those that use the Genre tropes as window dressing and those that use it to define and drive plot. Thats rather like dismissing MilSciFi after reading an average book by a low-mid list BAEN author, but not reading an early Vorkosigan novel or Nagata's The Red Trilogy (shameless plug for last).

Quality of authorship matters regardless of genre.

Now I'm off to register *Punk as a trademark before Harold does :)


@MODS can you remove #15 pls? accidental Markup tag.

18:

In the light of some of your postings here, I have looked for your books, but the ones that looked as if I might be able to tolerate them don't seem to be available on Epub - and I don't knowingly use pirate sites. In this context, the Wreck of the Marissa.

19:

And I agree, too. What I am pointing out is (a) that this aspect of quality is usually (I would say almost always) very poor in XXXpunk (and in a good many other genres, too) and (b) I find that it really grates when it is central to the story. There is always room for an exception, but I can't think of any offhand.

An example of utterly imbecilic inconsistency that doesn't grate too badly is Tolkein's dwarves. He says that they have a bounded lifespan, there are very few females, and they average only a few children. Er, just HOW are there any left? But that's not central to the story.

20:

Betcha they could do something equally crazy, *especially* if they have no velocity. :-D

21:

I haven't gotten around to releasing Marissa as an ebook yet. You *can* get a hard copy from amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1520988095?tag=mhapa-21

If that doesn't suite, email me mharoldpage at gmail and I'll hit some buttons.

22:

Cosmopunk, perhaps? English has commandeered the root term "cosmos" (as it did with the Ur-punk prefix, "cyber") but it's a little more Other than "Space" or "Star" and may be protectable as a trademark. I like "Uchupunk" but that root's not as familiar to most folks in the West.

As for the gimme in most SFnal stories, it almost all comes down to energy -- either you have it or you don't and if you do want it you have to pay for it. Dumping garbage on a flyby of a target at 0.9C requires getting your ship and the garbage up to 0.9C in the first place, and that's expensive in terms of energy. It's why pinpoint attacks in military operations are cheaper generally because they use less energy than widespread "bounce the rubble" attacks.

23:

Probably.

Basically they skip through space in very small jumps, and the act of jumping bleeds of velocity with respect to the most dominant local gravity well.

They can't tow anything, or nudge it along. They could still *drop* large rocks. However, they don't have microelectronics because the "wash" from the drive technology is like an pervasive EMP burst. So accuracy would be an issue.

24:

Thanks very much. I saw that, but it would have to wait until the stars are right (i.e. I need to order something else AND have a junior moment and remember it!) I will Email, but it's not worth putting yourself to much effort.

25:

Sure, but if you're flying around in your interstellar space ship anyway....

@M Harold Page

If you asked a few dozen geeks for creative problem solving methods I think they could suggest a few things nastier than rocks...


I'm aware I'm part of a small minority of people who adore when an author lets a character get properly inventive. Best example I can think of is Worm.

26:

Ah, Traveller. Many are the nights our little band spent in college wandering that universe instead of studying!

For your subgenre, have you considered "starship and blaster"?

I'll have to check out the new version. But I think I'll hold off on following those links until I'm not at work.

27:

"This is free trader Beowolf..."

Not really; I did once have a classic Traveller campaign (to give my D&D Dungeonmaster breaks from writing stuff and chances to play) and pretty much all the adventures were planet set.

28:

"starship and blaster"

Alas, Dumarest uses a laser. And one of the markers for Traveller influence is kinetic weapons.

29:

The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called... COWBOY BEBOP

Would Cherryh's Chanur books fit into your subgenre here?

30:

Well here it is in epub: http://www.lulu.com/shop/m-harold-page/the-wreck-of-the-marissa/ebook/product-23159685.html

Elderly Cynic - a free copy is yours if you get around to emailing me.

31:

Not read them. What happens in them?

32:

> Cosmopunk, perhaps? English has commandeered the root term "cosmos" (as it did with the Ur-punk prefix, "cyber") but it's a little more Other than "Space" or "Star"

Cosmopunk is cool, but sounds a bit retro. I'm trying to avoid connotations of neopulp.

> and may be protectable as a trademark.

Do you mean Cosmopunk might be trademarkable? Personally, I'd rather have a genre term that couldn't be.

33:

Raygun & Rocketry.

I'm interested in when 'punk' got discoupled from the meaning I thought it had in cyberpunk - denoting an anti-establishment aesthetic (just like punk rock). Some time after the cyberpunk heyday, but before steampunk became a thing? Steampunk seems to cover the whole gamut from anti-establishment to reactionary. Is 'punk' as a suffix nowadays purely an apolitical marker for anachronism, or does it still require that the players are the little people, as you suggest?

34:

Steampunk was named steampunk because at the time it was being written by cyberpunk authors and the other -punk aesthetics have followed the Watergate example of naming-by-analogy, AFAIK.

35:

Cowboy bebop novels. YES. Perfect!

36:

I watched a panel about this at Eastercon. Some people got quite heated about the "punk" equals, *must* equal, a focus on the underdog, the dissempowered etc.

For myself, I think a lot of -punk does focus on the littler people, but only in the way that Sword and Sorcery does. Technically, Fafhrd and Grey Mouser are "little people".
But it doesn't have to.

Ultimately,I think -punk is just a marker for a certain kind of worldbuilding.

However, it now occurs to me that the real punks of -punk, are the writers banging together the tropes and settings and holding them in place with safety pins.

37:

Or maybe duct tape in the case of dieselpunk? ;-)

38:

It seems like the kind of thing that would be good for fights. The question of whether this or that is punk is probably second in carnage only to that or whether it is or isn't metal.

I do wonder if a better suffix all along wouldn't have been '-pulp'. That horse has well and truly sailed, but.

(Dromaeopunk is, of course, the aesthetic that combines anti-establishment anachronism with spacefaring dinosaurs.)

39:

""punk" equals, *must* equal, a focus on the underdog, the dissempowered etc."

So, to be clear, they took the position that a story about Abraham Lincoln getting a steam powered cannon arm and charging off to fight a villain with a giant clockwork spider could not, by definition, be steampunk? unless that is Lincoln was made poor and dissempowered?

40:

Would Cherryh's Chanur books fit into your subgenre here?

They belong in a different subsubsubGenre - "80's scifi catlike Aliens done well". Or the "Humans are the true aliens"

Basically single human shows up in tenuous Multispecies trading Alliance - and fun* ensues. Told from the Cat's side not the Humans. Contains several of the best instances Cherryh's trademark properly alien psychologies.

Nominally part of her Alliance-Union Universe but functionally separate.

*Interstellar politics, trading, piracy and war values of fun.

41:

Alas, that link is broken....

42:

It seemed so... Or at least what you describe wouldn't be proper punk.

43:

Well, except that, whilst the villain in "Wild Wild West" did have a giant mechanical spider, the 2 main hero protagonists were a US Army Captain and a US Marshall.

44:

I'm with gordycoale: "Punk" isn't what defines the quality; it only defines the context and the esthetic. The author's job is to use that context well. Some do, and create art; some don't, and create pastiche or worse. Like any story, you need to create a context that lets your reader suspend disbelief and dive into the action. You can't do that just by strewing the landscape with boilers, brass, and vacuum tubes.

If you need a label, my vote is for "Space Punk"; "star" implies interstellar, and you can have some rousing spacepunk adventures entirely within our solar system (e.g., Carson of Venus, John Carter of Mars*).

* A hybrid subgenre: Spacesword Punk!

I could swallow "Ships and Blasters" as an alternative label, but would rather avoid it where possible; sounds too much like the name of a roleplaying game (Dungeons and Dragons, Swords and Sorcery, Fill and The Blank) and not enough like a story genre.

45:

Magnificent. You win the Internet for today. Bravo.

46:

I wasn't intending to describe Wild Wild West, I was just sort of describing the most steampunk hero and villain I could think of.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-06-15/news/ct-lockport-steampunk-tl-s-0619-20140615_1_lockport-gallery-norton-building-art-series

47:

Don't need to. If I have it right, a rock travelling at 0.9 c has the energy equivalent of 1.6e11 times its weight in TNT. Unless you are trying to eliminate almost all life on a planet, a 1 Kg rock is an excessive weapon - i.e. that has the impact of a 160 megaton nuke.

48:

It's always a bit difficult to know whether little people with powerful sponsors should continue to be called little people, but Ningauble and Sheelba aren't exactly protectors ....

49:

I agree though I didn't name the 0.9c figure. at 0.01c it's about a kiloton worth of energy from a 1kg object.

Any absurd velocity works. Even merely orbital or interplanetary speeds are enough to drop a crowbar through most bunkers.

50:

And yet the only way you could make the description more like the film would be to name the characters!

51:

How about 'Etherspunk'?

'Ether' can span sci-fi, fantasy and hybrids thereof.

'Spunk' for two reasons: first - its what the heroes in these stories have more of than any other attribute; second - because when I looked up the origin of the word 'punk' (prostitute) figured that although many 'punk' heroes were mercenary, they weren't whorish.

Alternatively and depending on your audience, you could also say that the first word/portion of this is 'Ethers' which means that the story will span multiple planes of existence or universes and keep the second word as 'punk' as a signifier intended to convey that 'any sciency stuff in this novel is for decoration only, please do not consume as effects on intelligence have not been lab-tested/Nat'l Institute/Dept. of Science-approved'.

52:

I recall seeing calculations that converting nearly all of an object's mass into propulsive energy at 100% efficiency would get it up to about 0.5C or thereabouts. Anything over and above would require lightsails and lasers or other methods of accelerating the projectile/quasi-photon from outside. Easier to just fire up a Nicoll-Dyson laser.

53:

I get that the spider thing is an iconic image from WWW but I don't think I tick any other boxes from that film with that description...

I don't remember most of the film. Did Abraham Lincoln get a steam powered cannon arm?

55:

Well, I bought it from the Kindle store at lunchtime...

56:

That's almost certainly not the origin. Punk also means decayed wood, especially as used for tinder, and the modern use of punk (meaning: of poor quality etc.) probably came from that.

57:

> 'Spunk' for two reasons: first - its what the heroes in these stories have more of than any other attribute; second - because when I looked up the origin of the word 'punk' (prostitute) figured that although many 'punk' heroes were mercenary, they weren't whorish.

Um. You obviously didn't look up that word with as much gust as you did "punk." http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=spunk

58:

You're better off using the classic term "Planetary romance", that's what I do with my books.

Think how they brought the term "Weird Fiction" back into use, then tried to invent a new term like "slipstream" that never caught on. I use Weird Fiction on many of my books when appropriate. Don't waste time inventing a new term, critics will do that for you. HA!

Planetary romance is the heart of all those great Andre Norton, Jean & Jeff Sutton, books that I read as a kid in the 70s.

BTW, The Riddick movie series has the same flavor as Dumarest.

Riddick Trilogy (Pitch Black / The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury / The Chronicles of Riddick)

Every time I watch the movies I feel the need to pull out the Dumarest series.

59:

> You're better off using the classic term "Planetary romance", that's what I do with my books.

In some ways I agree. However, I am afraid the "romance" part would be misunderstood these days. Also, it seems to include stories of free traders such as, e.g. the Angels Luck series (https://www.amazon.com/DESPERATE-MEASURES-Angels-Luck-Book/dp/B000GVUXKA)

60:

Near-c rocks!

So, how would piracy work in these settings? In Traveller, one of the careers in many incarnations is 'Pirate', and in many of those a pirate can get a big ship for pirating. Where do they catch the traders and where do they sell the good?

;)

61:

This is because near-c rocks in Traveller are not mentioned, though they would be easy tonise. The piracy is also not elaborated.

62:

Hmm ... different dictionaries give different meanings?

This is what I got:

punk pəNGk/ noun

1. a loud, fast-moving, and aggressive form of rock music, popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s. an admirer or player of punk rock, typically characterized by colored spiked hair and clothing decorated with safety pins or zippers.
noun: punk rocker; plural noun: punk rockers

2. North American informal - a worthless person (often used as a general term of abuse). a criminal or hoodlum.
USderogatory (in prison slang) a passive male homosexual.
an inexperienced young person; a novice.

3. North American - soft, crumbly wood that has been attacked by fungus, sometimes used as tinder.

adjective: punk - 1. North American - informal in poor or bad condition.
"I felt too punk to eat"
2. relating to punk rock and its associated subculture.
"a punk band"

Origin - late 17th century (sense 3 of the noun): perhaps, in some senses, related to archaic punk ‘prostitute,’ also to spunk.

63:

Okay - make that 4 definitions.

So, this means that you can call it whatever you want because you can probably via a blend of obsolete and new street definitions (or, '6 degrees of separation' for English words), make a case for any meaning.

64:

Steampunk was named steampunk because at the time it was being written by cyberpunk authors and the other -punk aesthetics have followed the Watergate example of naming-by-analogy, AFAIK.

I am certainly not disagreeing with you - but I wonder how many people have stated it this way. I was at a discussion at a steampunk convention in 2015 where people were pointing out how few characters were 'punk' any more and made this point. In fact, I made exactly that point, comparing the -punk suffix for genres to the -gate suffix for political scandals. The point still strikes me as a valid one, yet it seemed to be new to well read steampunk fans not two years ago.

I'm sure others have independently coined the same comparison, if only because it strains credibility that you would have heard a chance remark from a literature talk in Oregon.

65:

Skipping all the intermediate comments:
Poul Anderson did a lot of this, especially in the "Flandry" series ...
maybe.
All good clean fun, but not what you'd call maind-bending.
I must admit, the puff for "The Wreck of the Marissa" had me laughing, which is always good news.

67:

' Wibbletech ' ? I haven't heard that before

68:

I thought Planetary Romance was more akin to some of Jack Vance/Gene Wolfe; maybe even Kage Baker is a branch that's taken a very twisty development off that tree since she uses a (relatively) near future or even past Earth as a backdrop.

I think Gordycoate gives a decent enough description of Chanur.

April, it helps that my daughter and I are rewatching the show right now. There are Bebop graphic novels, but I cannot remember if they are any good and I don't know if they would read better in their native Japanese.

69:

M Harold Page @59, said: However, I am afraid the "romance" part would be misunderstood these days.

For "Planetary romance"

Wiki - Dray Prescot series

to see something even longer running than Dumarest.

List your books as Science Fiction or Fantasy, and then have the phrase be part of the sub-title. (Remember, sub-titles are your friend.) As example:

(Label this as SF)

The Wreck of the Marissa
- A Planetary Romance

Or:

The Wreck of the Marissa
- A Sword and Planet Story

Here are some Mike Resnick titles to suggest a system and variations:

(These two are labeled as SF)

Santiago
- A Myth of the Far Future

Ivory
- A Legend of Past and Future

(This is labeled as Fantasy)

Stalking the Unicorn
- A Fable of Tonight

70:

Just got directed here from a post by Winchell Chung and I have to say it's pretty heartwarming to see so much love for Diaspora some 8 years on. Since most of the things people here say they love about it are exactly the same things we loved while making it (and still love today), we're clearly all comrades in that sense at least. Thanks, folks.

71:

For comparing and contrasting, there's the term "Rocketpunk", as claimed here: http://www.rocketpunk-manifesto.com/2007/04/on-rocketpunk.html

The author of that blog, Rick Robinson, focuses a bit more on hard science fiction, with the sort of exhaustive breadth that would probably appeal to Elderly Cynic.

It's telling that the atomic-rockets community has named a unit after him: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacegunconvent.php#firstlaw

If you want to harden your spaceships' science, both of those sites are good reads. If it's a first time visit, keep in mind that while they might not be as bad as the evil website, they both can devour time if you aren't doing a quick in-and-out reference grab.

72:

(Quote)my handwave is particularly cunning

Details? I'd love something other than a discourse on the Butlerian Jihad and an appeal to preserving player agency to answer the awkward questions some of my players are famous for...

73:

On the assumption that authors usually write what they like to read, I recommend some CJ Cherryh's Alliance/Union books.

(Background: Alliance/Union is her setting for a wide range of stories, including two Hugo winning novels. But as a professional author she has to write what the market will buy, and for the past decade or more that's been her "Foreigner" series. So these are her older works.)

Pride of Chanur
As accurately described above, cat aliens done right. But as a small merchant ship struggling to make a living, Pyanfar and her crew would be right at home in Firefly. (And now I want to read the cross-over fanfaction...)

Merchanter's Luck
Rimrunners
Both all-human stories, again about small ships and crew living on the ragged edges.


74:

I recommend that you not put too much faith in Wikipedia. They have claimed for years that I coined their expression "Timepunk" in GURPS Steampunk, which is not true. (I did suggest "clockpunk" for Renaissance settings with ornithopters and perpetual motion machines and such, but I didn't generalize it.) Of course, by their rules, my being the author doesn't seem to qualify me to correct them, and my book is a primary source and cannot be cited as evidence. . . .

I don't think the Vatta's war series falls into the same category as the others. The first volume looks like it, but after that the series turns into military SF. Quite good military SF, but not what you're talking about. On the other hand, if you're going to talk about interstellar trade, you gotta have the Van Rijn/Falkayn stories by Poul Anderson, which did a lot to create the genre—they were one of the primary influences on Traveller. I'd also mention Andre Norton's Solar Queen books and the interstellar traders who take Thorby in in Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy.

75:

(a) K-selected, like humans under hunter-gatherer conditions, or elephants, or trees.

(b) From the fact that two out of three dwarves are male, it's evident that half the males not getting to breed is normal; they must be doing something else that contributes to the survival of their sisters' children. Maybe they die fighting to protect their mines from orcish invaders (or other dwarves!). Maybe they obsess over craftsmanship and add to their sisters' dowries.

(c) Dwarves ARE a dying race in Middle-Earth, one that's lost its biggest domain and is on the way out (Middle-Earth is ancestral to us, and our world has no dwarves in evidence). The ten or twenty thousand years of its history is the blink of an eye for purposes of natural selection.

76:

When I was running a Traveller campaign (decades ago now) I decided that piracy didn't make sense, given the Imperial Navy force levels etc*, unless you assumed that the "pirates" had a power base capable of keeping the Navy off their backs.

So IMTU* pirates were either unsuccessful merchants turning to crime (and soon to be caught) or megacorporate-sponsored agents acting to keep the competition down (and using 'piracy' as a cover).

*The Navy had enough ships that they could park a destroyer or a few escorts in every system — more than enough to deal with stray pirate ships.

**In My Traveller Universe

77:

Described in today's Black Gate. Had thought of doing it here, but would feel too much like a viva.

78:

> Planetary Romance

Yes but, though you and I and other educated people know that Romance can, and originally meant, "damned good yarn", the rest of the world thinks it involves kissing and stuff. Plus to me the term has a self conscious retro feel about it, and lacks the sense of grit. Would you really apply it to Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War.

79:

I tend to like to work my deeper themes into the setting and the people, then just tell a good yarn. But the delivering that yarn is my main objective.

80:

Small shout out to the sequel to Rimrunners - Hellburner.

Near-Relativistic combat done very right indeed. (Take that MilSciFi!)

81:

In other news, somebody suggested "Space Junker", a term used by Eve fan fic writers. Anybody heard of it?

82:

Only in the context of Firefly/Serenity.

83:

I've only run a couple of Traveller campaigns and they have all been with mostly noble characters. I've basically ignored the piracy problem in them. One of the problems is of course that the owner of the ship could sell it and never work again, making more money out of that than pirating. You need to provide some reason not to do that, in my opinion.

One of the games was using the Spinward Marches map for young nobles on their Grand Tour. That was fun, especially because I presented the players with a choice of worlds they could jump to for the next session, they made a choice, and then I took the Universal Planetary Profile of that world and what little I had on it (sometimes one sentence, sometimes one paragraph) and rolled many dice for the tables in the World Builder's Handbook to describe that world. Then I figured out what could happen there. So, in a way random but not completely unrestrained.

84:

Naval policing at that level is not going to work - costs too much.
Unless, of course, you are super-rich, with surplus cash & can really afford it.
However, at the same time, piracy has never really paid in the long-term, because as soon as it becomes successful, guvmints will move in, usually in concert.
As soon as the Somali's really got going, the "West" took notice & mostly squashed them ...
Exception: The Caribbean approx 1583 - 1688
[ Very special circumstances applied, though ]

85:

Nah. Half a dozen generations at 20% replacement leads to a factor of 15,000 reduction in population - and Tolkein implies that it was that or lower. He simply didn't think the consequence of what he said through, but he was whatever the converse of a polymath is.

86:

The youngsters of today! Even Wells's books were called scientific romances. I blame the transpondian marketdroids of the 1920s and 1930s, and those that took their, er, education from them.

87:

"spacefaring civilisations where technology has somehow - with an authorial handwave - and my handwave is particularly cunning and internally consistent - failed to eliminate the human element, where you still need a human to pull the trigger or pilot the scout ship, and where nanotechnology, 3D-printing and vertical farms have neither eliminated trade, nor ushered in a crime-free post scarcity society."

Smithpunk.

88:

> One of the problems is of course that the owner of the ship could sell it and never work again, making more money out of that than pirating. You need to provide some reason not to do that, in my opinion.

Most ships in Traveller have mortgages to pay. In fact I have heard it speculated the the setting has a subprime mortgage problem...

89:

Ah, true - I checked Megatraveller, and every other ship has been bought a 40-year loan except the Scout ship, which is not really owned by the character. It still is possible to own a ship without a loan, but it takes quite a bit of luck (get the ship result from the mustering out tables five times).

90:

Agree - re: importance of a good/catchy subtitle.

If the novel or series is long enough and skews comic/satiric, the subtitles always referencing (thereby establishing) whatever genre label the author likes can take on a life of their own.

91:

Not to derail, but some favorite SF handwavium is edging a bit closer to reality:


http://www.sciencealert.com/physicists-just-came-up-with-a-mathematical-model-for-a-viable-time-machine

'... theoretical physicist and mathematician, Ben Tippett, from the University of British Columbia in Canada.

... Together with David Tsang, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland, Tippett has used Einstein's theory of general relativity to come up with a mathematical model of what they're calling a Traversable Acausal Retrograde Domain in Space-time (yep, the acronym is literally TARDIS).'

Okay, plenty of challenges left but this provides SF authors some more sciency detail they can add to their stories.

92:

They probably spent more time on the backronym than they did on the paper.

93:

And he built a Crooked House
( R A Heinlein reference )

94:

I mean, I guess Star/SpacePunk is an okay name, but it really feels like the wrong name.

Star Lanes & Space Travellers/Drifters/Voyagers?

I think, though, that the fact that nearly everybody who is into this genre rapidly gravitates to Traveller says something.

TravellerPunk? VoyagerPunk? TravelPunk?

95:

At a quick glance, it's just black hole diving in the shallows (black hole snorkeling?) A minor variation on an old theme (Tipler's). I remain skeptical. When I was at school, and again in my mathematics degree, we were taught never to extrapolate through (or even up to) a singularity.

96:

I think PrivateIron's suggestion of "cowboy bebop" is pretty hard to beat; the type specimen's a Western-inflected anime about constantly broke bounty hunters stooging about the solar system in an amphibious spaceship getting into fistfights, gunfights, and spaceplane fighter duels.

97:

Re: '... black hole diving in the shallows'*

So this leads to a question of how good does the mathematical model have to be before it gains traction? Apparently this TARDIS math model requires a 'naked singularity' plus a few other things not yet discovered or doable. Then again, lots of clever people (e.g., Einstein, c1905) initially said that scientists would never be able to detect gravitational waves (LIGO - 2016). And string theory is still 'unproven' in the lab but has plenty of nice elegant math supporting it, plus lots of funding. So, what these TARDIS guys need is for someone to find a 'naked singularity'.

Could be interesting to see this theory fleshed out in SF just for the compare and contrast exercise re: how different time travel options affect humans. How would you wage a time-war if you and your enemy used different time travel technologies?

98:

Special relativity is as solid as Newton's laws are, and for the same reasons - it's specifically general relativity that is the problem, and then only at high curvatures. Many of the so-called tests are bogus (e.g. the precession of Mercury), for various reasons (which I could go into), but there have been some recent (past 50 years) solid tests of it at low curvatures; I believe that the first one was in 1959. However, we have NO tests that confirm the general relativity formula at high curvatures (including gravitational waves, black holes etc.) that do not rely for their 'proof' on the assumption of general relativity.

Note that this is NOT an argument against Einstein's principle of equivalence, or the fit of the formula at low curvatures, but against extrapolating that up to and beyond its singularities. There are other formulae that are equivalent for all valid tests that give different results (and often no singularity). How many of those would explain the observed phenomena, I don't know, but I believe that at least some of them do. Until and unless there is a solid test that the formula holds up to and beyond that point, that aspect remains mere speculation.

Back to the point. The 'time travel' effect of Tipler cylinders etc. depends entirely on extrapolating the formula up to and beyond the singularity, and so might fall if an alternative formula was actually correct.

99:

You say X punk needs to feel paper thin and like such a setting wouldn't actually work. That's because X punk isn't so much about an impossible setting as about an unstable one. A boulder can be unsupported in midair--for a moment, then it starts falling. A world can build an uncannily advanced civilization on a relatively primitive technology--briefly, then there's a breakthrough to the next stage. What X punk is about is an unstable transitional time inexplicably being stable long enough for the emergence of sophisticated developments based on primitive substrates. Like spring powered robots. Engineering something like that would take forever, many generations of work. By the time you develop spring powered robots, if the universe allowed it at all, you would much more likely have developed electronics. That's the paper thin feel. The prolonged instability.

100:

Maybe the dwarves weren't always like that. After the fall of Numenor and Moria and all that maybe they gradually fell into a sort of collective depression and stopped breeding. So Tolkein's description is valid for the end of the 3rd Age. Where there's a contradiction in any work you can just point at it and say "hah!" or you can find a way to make it work, which usually generates new implications.

101:

There are probably IP issues with calling the subgenre after the RPG!

102:

the only problem with a kinetic weapon,, for it to do damage it has to survive impact with the atmosphere. so a crowbar isn't going to. faster it goes, the more of it there needs to be

103:

Ah, no... although they did contribute troops to a couple of battles, the history of the Dwarves followed a largely separate path from the history of Elves and Men of which we are told, and suffered their own series of independent catastrophes, mostly in lands whose history is not recorded. The fall of Numenor was of no particular concern to them, and the fall of Moria came very late in their history, by which time they were already significantly diminished.

The characteristics determining their rate of reproduction were partly innate (grossly skewed sex ratio) and partly deeply ingrained characteristics of a culture which was also, and deliberately, highly resistant to change (rigidly monogamous, even without a formal bond, such that a woman whose object of desire was already spoken for would remain unmated rather than break faith, one-sided though it was; so strong an interest in mechanical and artisanal activities that many women had no desire to waste time on children that could be better spent in the forge; no desire for large families, such that four was an exceptionally large number of offspring).

Lifespan 250-300 years; reproductive span about 150; 33% women, not all reproductively active; average number of children per reproductive woman certainly under four and almost certainly under three. It just doesn't work. I suppose there is the possibility that the given description applies only to "urban" dwarves and omits that their numbers were continually replenished by overflow from "rural" communities who shagged with merry abandon; dwarf farmers must have existed, after all, or else what would they be eating? They're not mentioned, but except in the case of Hobbits where farming and scoffing the produce were defining characteristics of their culture, Tolkien seems to have been happy to just assume that farmers existed and make only the most cursory reference to them, if any at all (I think there's about one line mentioning Gondorian farmers and two words about farmers of Rohan, and that's it).

104:

"And string theory is still 'unproven' in the lab but has plenty of nice elegant math supporting it, plus lots of funding."

Plenty of mathematics yes, but it is neither nice nor elegant. String theory is as much a construct of capitalism and academic politics as of science. Check out "The Trouble with Physics" by Lee Smolin (which was recommended to me by someone on here, JI-P I think).

105:

"I think PrivateIron's suggestion of "cowboy bebop" is pretty hard to beat"

A lot of people seem to agree with you, but I must say I think it's a terrible idea. It seems to require for comprehension a familiarity with a specific and obscure work in a niche genre. Its intended connotations are totally opaque to me; if I saw a work labelled as "cowboy bebop", it would suggest only and irresistibly something like John Wayne with a soundtrack of crappy mid-20th-century jazz, and I would instantly classify it under "not worth even remembering it exists".

On the other hand, nobody seems to like "Smithpunk" either, although (given the imprecision implied by "-punk") I think it fits a treat :)

106:

It's more of a quote than a suggestion. It would be interesting to see numbers on what constitutes a "niche" genre. I am not a big anime fan and Bebop is not a typical anime; however, I suspect that anime might be more popular than the works we usually discuss here. When I wear a Cowboy Bebop t-shirt, young and middle aged WOMEN comment on it. That never happens with any other nerdy merchandise I occasionally adorn myself in.

108:

And sure enough failed with the link.

110:

I find it's the other way around: many of the authors whose works we discuss on here crop up in plenty of conversations elsewhere, but I can only think of one person (outside people who post on here) who might like anime, and even then I'm not sure if he actually does or not. Maybe it's a geographical thing.

111:

I think it might be a generational thing. Cowboy Bebop is an older anime, and I think everybody I know who recognizes it is about my age. Also, not many people of my age here generally know what Cowboy Bebop is as anime wasn't as much of a thing twenty years ago and it wasn't easily available.

My kids don't know it either, though at least the older one reads manga and watches anime. It's mostly Studio Ghibli from the older stuff and then others more recent things.

112:

Precisely. But, because they aren't central to the story, the inconsistencies can be ignored. It's where they are central to it that they really grate.

113:

Hipster punk.

I know this guy, makes spaceships to his own design, none of this mass-produced stuff. Yeah, that's a custom blaster - my sister hand-carved the stock to fit me, it's Sirian Rosewood; you have to cure the wood for a decade, and need to be a true craftsman to work it... Yeah, miners trim the beard this way, to fit it in the pressure suit...

Firstborn, firmly preferring Marvel over DC, will buy Deadpool in print form when he can afford it / persuade us, and was heartbroken with "not looking 15 enough to get into the cinema" and having to wait for the film to arrive on disc. :) Does that count as manga / anime, or does it have to be authentically Japanese? :)

Meanwhile, now that all reasonable space programmes have their own names (Astro/Cosmo/Taikonauts), what's the European equivalent? Or the post-Brexit one? (Stellarnaut?)

114:

Netflix have licensed Bebop, and it's accessible to considerably older audiences given its own influences. It's also still the go-to gateway anime in a lot of communities, not least because the English dub is still the usual end of argument about whether good dubs are even possible.

Calling it obscure for anime doesn't quite strike me on the same level as saying that of Pulp Fiction, but as anime goes it's not far off: I think a lot of the age gap factor is that its themes don't appeal so much below a certain age, it's a firmly seinen work (and atypical even then). Compare and contrast with who in the west even knows *monogatari exists vs its popularity in Japan.

115:

Quibble: You are thinking of Heavy Time about asteroid miner skullduggery, with the sequel Hellburner about space fighter procurement skullduggery.

Rimrunners is about fugitive marine Bet Yeager ending up working for the other side in spook ship skullduggery.

116:

At least in GURPS Traveller the immediate cause of the Long Night is an interstellar banking crisis. Maybe the crisis was when the ship mortgage bubble popped.

117:

I think the idea was that piracy only worked in border areas where the imperium's writ didn't really run the Canon traveller galaxy is very large and the Navy and scouts are spread very thin.

118:

Well the classic Traveller STL was very much Newtonian mechanics you would not be accelerating any thing to any where near C.

Of course some of the JTAS supplements with input from JPL had some interesting speculative anti particle beam weapons for spinal mounts. The write up suggested for one test this on a spare solar system from at least 50 au the other side.

And some of the tech 15/16 gear was getting into Culture level weapons, deep meson guns, Jump Commandos (Power armoured troops who are all teleport capable).

Higher tech combat was remarkably similar to the monthy python how not to be seen sketch

119:

And when you get higher tech like say the traveller meson guns purely kinetic weapons tend to lose effectiveness certainly at the top end my power armoured imperial marines where running a pair of high x ray lazers as dedicated personal Point Defence systems.

Of course that does mean that a fire team / brick cost more than free trader was new

120:

Of course that does mean that a fire team / brick cost more than free trader was new

That's certainly how the US military budgets trend. If a platoon isn't humping a civilian starship's worth of bespoke high-tech kit across some godforsaken wasteland, the contractors aren't making enough money.

The grunt view may be somewhat different. *grin*

121:

Just how old is 'hardboiled galactic traveller “Lucky” Jim Brandistock ... ageing ex-mercenary turned archaeologist'?

Ask because I enjoyed the free look inside and get the impression that our hero would make for an entertaining space-curmudgeon. Apart from Scalzi's Old Man's War, can't think of any recent oldsters-in-space stories. Should be as easy to add backstory using an older hero as for the near-universal newbie-in-space set-up, with the advantage of having a character who by definition should be able to provide more personal info and trivia to flesh out situations and POVs.

122:

High Guard suggests you have fuel for the maneuver drive for 4 weeks. With a 6G drive at constant acceleration that's over a third the speed of light when your fuel runs out, completely ignoring relativity. I'd say high-speed kinetic energy planet killers are well within Traveller capabilities.

123:

Not quite true about farming not being mentioned. In talking about Erebor, one of Thorin's company tells Bilbo that their mines and workshops were so productive that they never bothered to grow their own food, but traded for it. The fact that a dwarf makes a point of saying that, as a claim to worldly success, implies that in the ordinary course of things dwarves do grow much of their own food.

We also know, not only about the Shire, but about the great slave-worked fields around the Sea of Nurnen, which fed Mordor's armies; about the wine of Dorwinion, which was shipped up river to the halls of the Elvenking in Mirkwood; and about Lotho getting rich shipping food and pipeweed to Orthanc. And I think some of the fighters who come to defend Minas Tirith are dood producers.

124:

I wouldn't call Vatta's War "planetary romance" because it doesn't take place on a planet most of the time; much of the key action takes place in space. The prototypical work of planetary romance, A Princess of Mars, is about a dude wandering around a single planet where he gets into swordfights and meets humanoid inhabitants. Really it's very close kin to travelogue fantasy like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—Oz even ends up with a princess in the second book. Bradley's Darkover books have a lot of aspects of planetary romance, though the sex is more explicit.

I think the genre you're talking about might be called mercantile science fiction. Its model for venturing into space seems to be, not the American frontier, but the earlier European nautical expansion that created the Wild West as a minor byproduct.

125:

With a 6G drive at constant acceleration that's over a third the speed of light when your fuel runs out, completely ignoring relativity. I'd say high-speed kinetic energy planet killers are well within Traveller capabilities.

Any time you have anything solid going fast you have a kinetic weapon. Plus the drive, if it's a reaction drive of any sort, usually works quite well as a weapon too. "Point ship directly away from planet. Press Start". Viz, the difference between a ZW laser/particle drive and a ZW weapon is all in the mind. What a ZW "push against the underlying fabric of space" drive does to planets is presumably nasty, and any kind of gravity-manipulation drive could reasonably be fatal to whole solar systems (immediately via fusion explosion or later via small singularities).

But my time in RPGs was mostly calculating more mundane stuff, like how far apart along the direction of travel bullets from a heavy machine gun fired laterally would be. In metric it's easy... 50 rounds per second (3000rpm) when traveling at 25 metres per second (~90kph)... makes the GM unhappy because it will not kill very many thousands of people. Especially if they duck. Replacing with a laser makes the problem worse (dwell time per kill/power consumption means you'd be better off detonating the power pack). And we haven't even got off the ground yet :)

126:

Yes technically but I don't recall seeing many realistic ships with 6g manoeuvre drives and I was taking planetkillers being the EE doc smith style.


And I doubt that a 6G manoeuvre drive would cope with being run flat out for a month.

And more pertinently once you have a high enough tech level to build a useful 6g drive to power a kinetic kill - there are simpler ways to kill a planet just ask Grandfather

127:

Id take my tech 15 power armour and a FGMP 15 over a M4 any day :-)

128:

In one of the Traveller supplements the force breakdown of the Imperial Navy is given, and there are enough ships to do that and still have all the Fleets. One problem with the Official Traveller Universe growing with multiple authors writing over a generation — small throwaway references get established as canon, and no one works out all the implications until it's too late.

Near-c rocks are another classic problem. My solution was to limit the upper speed of reactionless thrusters. Not canon, but none of my own games were.

(I tried to stick to canon when writing for publication, and also tried to provide wiggle room so as not to constrain other authors. Not certain how much I succeeded with that.)

129:

No, it's not "Star Punk".

I can't post them (it'd be naughty) but the focus group / writers stuff on Guardians of the Galaxy make it clear. It's Space-retro-heist / Space-retro-Gangsterism / Low-Tech-Space-Heist.

All the tropes are there:

#1 Small tight gang vrs large Corporation / Empire etc
#2 Limited goals, usually just getting money and avoiding capture (aka low ambition, until the big bad story intrudes)
#3 The gang are usually low-tech but often meet adversaries / allies etc with high tech (e.g. End of Guardians of the Galaxy where the (comparatively) low-tech pirates (numbering, perhaps 100) team up with a planetary force who have energy web link-up in their ships vrs a massive C&C cruiser that hosts thousands of attack craft)

It's an old format, Star Wars did it with Han Solo etc.

Star Punk would be... just a little bit more glam and/or raunchy.


~

The term most accurate?

Probably: "Buddies n Blasters".

You're welcome.

130:

Note: "Blasters n Buddies" sounds, well, very anachronistic these days.

thatsthejoke.jpg


If you want a slightly more intellectual break down of the issue, it's that Fantasy has always had at least two 'classes' of approach: 'Swords & Sorcery' isn't about the milieu, it's about the two ends of the spectrum (men in hulking steel vrs men in robes and smelling of herbs: ffs, the Raistlin vrs party and later sister practically defined this via Dragonlance).

"Space" / SF doesn't have this split.

Firefly attempted to do the split with "Retroesque Blasters" vrs "Psionic powers" but it never really hit home.

That's why the dualist name cannot take (well, without some serious legwork and genre building a la Bloodchild and other novels where biology is taken seriously).

~

TL;DR

It's a category error: you're looking for a name that cannot exist because your milieus don't contain the necessary dualisms.

Derp.

131:

And, triptych, because:

Look: Guardians of the Galaxy is predicated upon understanding the entire D&D geek joke - it's why the entire film is soaked in 1980's America pop-music. Go watch it: it's very tightly structured around... *drumroll*... a D&D adventure session. And yes: do a GREP about Rocket Raccoon... you might be surprised by the mentions preceding the film and all that jazz.

~

Anyhow: Punk is dead. As a fucking dodo, burnt on the River Thames and via Butter Adverts. Literally not a label anyone wanting a viable product would ever choose.

Punk died, my man.

America What Time is Love YT: Music, KLF, 4:47.

132:

(And Star Wars got this point in 1977 with Blasters and Lightsabres, so...?!)

133:

Compare and contrast with who in the west even knows *monogatari exists vs its popularity in Japan.

Me! Me! Me! I even caught the first two Kizu movies in cinema release here in Scotland and I expect I'll catch the third later this year. They are an acquired taste though, and some folks don't get the Shaft art direction thing.

Saying that I'm not sure stuff like *monogatari is actually popular-popular in Japan compared to, say, (hack spit) Naruto/Baruto or card-game drivers like Yugioh!. The anime is based on light novels which are selling well enough, though.

134:

Does it involve two male actors hitting each other with bare fists? I think we may need a Bechdel-style test based on this.

135:

Actually, that's a very good point and you have given me an idea. Despite the polemic and dogma, similar biases (as tested for by the Bechdel test) are as common about men as they are about women - just different. In many of the sorts of work being described, the male characters often do nothing but fight, fuck, fix up and fall over.

But let's skip the politics. Such tests would be an excellent way of classifying fiction, and might give some interesting results. But the first requirement would be, as usual, to suppress the idiots pushing political agendas.

136:

Lucky!

I think it's fair to say that it's into hit territory given how long it's been running and how much the budget keeps growing (comparing the anime of Bakemonogatari to Tsukimonogatari, say) rather than being yet another chancer "cute girls doing cute things" show. And I say that as someone who owns both Azumanga and both seasons of Non Non Biyori but laughed like hell at Araragi and Hanekawa dismissing a café and a haunted house as festival ideas for their class. Maybe not to the same extent as the light novels (anime adaptations generally exist to sell more of the source material), but how long UK versions have been readily available is pretty telling unto itself.

As for Cowboy Bebop, the whole new sounds/genres/... conceit (from the promo material and background of the opening sequence) is probably worth someone posting here even if it's meant as flavour rather than a mission statement? I lack the energy (long story), alas.

137:

Re: "Blasters n Buddies"

Catchy!

Or, Steroids-in-Spaaace! Because the heroes of such epics usually have the emotional/social IQ of a doorknob and their hormones and nifty hand weapons get them both into and out of all of their problems.


138:

Re: 'general relativity ... curvature of space'

Thanks!

Any recommendations re: reading materials or videos at a non-technical level that discuss this?

139:

Not really :-( Everything I said is seriously heretical to the Disciples of Einstein, and even established academics have to be a bit cautious treading on the toes of certain Eminent Professors - no, I am NOT going to describe what I know about that aspect in this forum. Once upon a time, I might have been able to tool up my mathematics to explain a bit better, but that was many decades ago. And this isn't an area that I track closely, though I have worked with people who have published on it.

I could explain why most of the older tests are not good evidence, if that's what you wanted, but it would be a derail, so the author of this entry would need to OK it. But, as I said, nowadays there is some solid evidence.

On the curvature problem, consider the purported black holes. Has it really been proved that those observations are compatible ONLY with them having a finite event horizon? Or would those observations also be possible with there being only a point singularity? Or with some other alternative? You can find a whole sheaf of alternatives to general relativity on Wikipedia, with lots of different properties. Many of them are as compatible as GR with our direct observations.

140:

However, at the same time, piracy has never really paid in the long-term, because as soon as it becomes successful, guvmints will move in, usually in concert.

Ahem: piracy that is too successful becomes government. After all, there's a lot of accounting involved, and all those spoils/looted items have to be monetized somehow, and there's crew to pay, and before you know it you have a board of oversight/arbitration ensuring nobody's holding out, and you have standardization of equipment and internal affairs and an Admiralty (in the Peypsian sense, not in the modern sense of two-admirals-per-guided-missile-frigate) and when you have a navy and a port and a treasury you're one jump away from a flag and a king president.

The one thing that kept this from happening often enough to be a notable pattern between about 1700 and 1917 was the existence of the Royal Navy, and they were near-as-dammit pirates in the early days — think of the career of Sir Francis Drake, from the point of view of a Spanish governor in South America, or the way prize money was formally allocated until relatively late in the 19th century,

141:

the only problem with a kinetic weapon,, for it to do damage it has to survive impact with the atmosphere. so a crowbar isn't going to. faster it goes, the more of it there needs to be

Naah.

Firstly, if you hit the atmosphere fast enough, the atmosphere becomes a weapon in its own right: or at least, an energy transfer medium. (Current thinking is that the Chicxulub impactor was sufficiently big and fast that the atmosphere and water — not a lot of difference on these time scales — sandwiched between it at the lithosphere couldn't get out of the way between it penetrating the stratosphere and ground impact; the initial crater that drilled right through the crust and into the outer mantle was driven by a steam/air explosion before the dino-killer asteroid arrived. (Well, a split-second before it arrived.)

Secondly, if you're going at orbital velocity and up, why not send two projectiles in tandem? First one designed to evaporate and dump all its energy into heating up the air, second one to fly down the rarefied plasma tube opened up by the shock wave from the first. (AIUI something not unlike this, only for concrete and rock, is used by bunker-buster weapons today — and by some anti-armour shaped charges, to defeat reactive armour.)

142:

Indeed. And even genuine pirates were taken into government, if they had mainly operated against the other side - I am, of course, thinking of Henry Morgan.

143:

And the French and Spanish navies weren't all that much different. Then there were the privateers, ie. civilian Captain Bloggs (or Capitaine Blogues) with a letter from the government to say it's OK for him to be a pirate. And as EC says, the chaps who nobody really minded being pirates too much as long as they pirated the right people. Rather a lot of piracy was government business in one sense or another.

144:

Except Frankie Drake died in 1596 & your stated period begins in 1700 (?)
Yes, I know, all the time ... details!

145:

"Letters of Marque & Reprise" were very dodgy, certainly initially.
Morgan, of course, always claimed to be a Privateer", operating under "LoM&R" ...
Regulations got tighter over the years, until, IIRC, as part of the general "Congress of Vienna" settlements, they were abandoned/barred ... except for one nation that refused ( as it often still refuses) to be bound by "Foreign Commitments".
Yup, the USA, & it came back to bite them when the Civil War came along.
CSS Alabama as the song says, was built in Birkenhead for the Confeds, who paid in gold, because the Brit shipbuilders didn't want to know until they realised that the treaty didn't apply in this case. [ And they were being paid in GOLD ]
What gets me is that the USSA still has not learned that treaties are for everybody, & if you don't sign, then someone can do it to you, too.
Idiots.

147:

Apologies to OP, I promise I will tie this into your world-building (no, really!).

Greg, you've not been paying attention:

A Dangerous New Americanism? War on the Rocks, 24th April, 2017 - interesting for the references to "British Israelism, which it itself was dead as a dodo until it has been resurrected as a contemporary foil to US Dominionist politics. Although, look at the lyrics of that famous hymn...

Look, there's a high-level psyop being run here, that counts on the fact that, well:

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

(Date: 1807 or something, would have to check)

Precedes the minor impact that "British Israelism"[1] (that was never actually called that - "Israel" as a conceptual country or construct, you know, not actually existing then: ffs, it predates Zionism as an intellectual movement - and yes, there's a team running from both ends spinning reality here, but they're mostly male, and so we're allowed to cull their efforts: fucking muppets) could have had, if it did ever exist.

It did exist: it had existed even in the time of Alfred. The continual chain of Christianity from the Holy Land to the far reaches of the Empire was a big fucking deal. But it sure as bugfuck was NOT a genetic or familial claim, it was a spiritual claim[2].

I mean, literally: do you even know what the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings is?!?

Oh, and onto more weird:

Turkish authorities block Wikipedia without giving reason BBC, 29th April, 2017

Turkey suspends more than 9,000 police officers over 'Gulen links' BBC, 27th April, 2017

Turkey arrests 1,000 in raids targeting Gulen suspects BBC, 26th April, 2017

~


Anyhow, on topic:

As links show, the criminal gang / buddy blaster genre always has to (as OP states: and my handwave is particularly cunning and internally consistent ) create exceptions to a high-tech universe to allow them to function.


And, as ever, the exceptions are far more interesting than the Rules.


[1] Prime slice of evidence for "PSYOP AUTHOR OVER-REACHING THEIR TALENT" is that they mention Ham etc. The entire saga of Ham and black people / Mormons is... exclusively American. Not even a thing. And trust me, given we have Shakespeare and the Moors, totally 100% US PSYOP.

[2] This isn't even up for grabs: whoever is running this shit-show of revisionist nonsense to 'fight the good fight' (and yes, that's a joke: if you doubt my credentials, check out John S.B. Monsell, 1811-1875, and when it was written, at the time of this alleged "British Israelism" - top fucking tip boys, Nationalism around this area is real fucking fuzzy)

148:

Spoilers: Mendell published his work in 1866.

The wiki link claiming etc etc... oh boy, what a trip.

Long story short, there's a massive speen effort there. Biblical in proportions to back up the British Empire's moves. Extremely impressive World-Building, hat's off to the Boys who made it all.

But it's all bollocks.

149:

Triptych, because important: 15 mins, Mind working at ~10% capacity. We See You

It doesn't even take effort.

~

Oh, and on topic: Look: the "punk" aspect was a counter-culture thing. It was a dead horse when Miéville wrote "Iron Council", explicitly.

SF needs serious exceptions (Flyfly tried the whole "less tech on the outworlds" and so on") to ever have the conditions exist for the protagonists to be alive, let alone be Agents.

And yes, Turkey does prove that.

150:

(*Firefly - sigh, hello boys & MIM triggers).

151:

And, sigh:Jean Bodin

What's even more depressing is that they're using M. le Loyer's The Ten Lost Tribes as a source. Spoilers: it's a modern (hello Mossad) fake. Literally doesn't exist.

M a Liar-or...

Get it?

152:

Greg, you've not been paying attention:
BOLLOCKS, yes I have, but it's just that I pay attention to people who write comprehensible English in sentences that have a meaning, rather than oracular bullshit.

I mean, literally: do you even know what the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings is?!?
The rules of this blog forbid an answer to that, since it isn't even remotely printable & would be extremely personally abusive.
If you haven't got something sensible or poetic to say then stfu, OK?
Grrr.

#148
Gregor MENDEL

#149 "We see you"
So, wtf? Does this have a meaning, other than "I'm waving my willy"?

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Now, then, are there any serious commentators out there, willing to dip a toe in, regarding DT's attack on the US Constitution. [ And I don't mean the ship! ]

153:

Let's not be sexist. She may be waving her ovipositor, or it may be waving its copulatory tentacle. I rather agree that the multinominal one has gone downhill, and the postings have a higher proportion of content-free abuse and a lower one of thoughtful but obfuscated ideas.

And #147 is wrong, too. The Ham myth was originally mediaeval, but was made use of later by the slavetraders.

154:

Well, yes - it's nothing unusual. Look at Erdogan, Thatcher/Whitehall, Blair and May (seriously). Thatcher and Whitehall eliminated most scientific oversight, and emasculated the local authorities. Blair emasculated the House of Lords, more because they had been the liberal opposition to Thatcher than for any other reason, and made other such changes. And May has made it very clear that she is going to use the Great Repeal Act to give herself essentially unlimited powers. Most of the point of a constitution is to stop that, which has so far succeeded in France and the USA, and failed dismally in Turkey.

155:

It's suspiciously similar to a line from an old John Carpenter horror movie, which suggests that the item being waved at Greg is either a tentacle or Sam Neill.

Not sure which is worse.

156:

What if you only want to hit a particular building on the surface or a deep bunker without smashing the rest of the continent? A KE weapon sufficiently massive and solid to get to the planetary surface from space will cause a lot of peripheral damage due to dumping a lot of its expensive KE into the surrounding areas via atmospheric coupling. A small weapon will have higher drag and lose a lot of its speed before it gets to its target.

As an aside, the KE weapon doesn't have to be travelling that fast to suffer the problem of the atmosphere not getting out of the way quickly enough -- air is a gas and can only move at the speed of sound and increased pressure doesn't change that characteristic, only increased temperature (and not by much).

If I was designing a KE killer deployable from space or even within atmosphere I'd use a kickass booster motor designed to fire a second or two from target to raise the speed dramatically just before impact. Something like the (insane) Sprint missile motor would do fine.

Just remembered -- a worked example of a KE-enhanced weapon is the WWII Grand Slam bomb which weighed about 10 tonnes and hit the target at about the speed of sound. The kinetic energy of the impact alone was equivalent to about 130kg of the main explosive charge of Torpex in the bomb casing. Saying that the charge in a Grand Slam was 4.4 tonnes...

157:

You have to give Barnes Wallis and the RAF credit, they were great at naming these things. "Grand Slam" is SO much better than MOAB.

158:

Re: 'DT's attack on the US Constitution'

IMO, DT's miffed that according to the US Constitution (Article 1, Section 8), it's Congress that has the official right to declare war. A right that is not shared with anyone else, POTUS included. POTUS as CoC has a limited right to send troops but only to 'defend'.

Seems DT has also decided to completely miss the point that the whole idea behind the constitution was to protect the governed from impulsive power-hungry uninformed idiots like him. (Either DT consistently failed elementary school US history/civics or he hired some other kid to write the test/essays for him.)

159:

Here's the civics classroom summary of Congress' authority.

http://www.annenbergclassroom.org/page/article-i-section-8

160:

Re: 'drive technology is like an pervasive EMP burst'

Had to look up what could create/fuel an EMP burst. There's nuclear, non-nuclear (chemical), static, etc. Soon as I saw 'static', thought: Aha! He's got cats chasing mice on his old spaceship and the only safe and useful way of getting rid of cat fur static build-up is to dump it into something that when thrown out at get-the-hell-out-of-here-fast speed can be used as a weapon.

Static electricity is readily made in dry atmospheres. Great news because this means human Martians will be able to provide their own power for necessities like their espresso machine for their morning cuppa jo.

https://www.universetoday.com/10830/static-electricity-in-space/

And, ... is 'The Wreck of Marissa' available in dead-tree format?

161:

I would tend to agree with most of what you say.
I tend ( At present ) to disagree re. May, since she all-too-obviously is not a n other madwoman from Grantham - yet.
But.
She has started to show a different dangerous tendency, as she appears to have caught Blair's disease & is starting to "do god" - which I find very unsettling.

162:

Sorry, I haven't been into gaming for a long time... but Dumarest? As in, Dumarest of Terra, by Tubb? Geez, I just googled, to remember the author's name, and they say 33 books? I knew of less than half that.

Oh, and some of those books; actually, most of the Dumarest stories I have are Ace Doubles, running in the general range of 90 pp each.

Has anyone read all of them? Did Dumarest ever make it home?

mark

163:

He did ...and you could buy the book in Hard, Paper, Copy if you needed to track it down ..
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Child-Earth-Dumarest-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B005K8GZZG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493658760&sr=1-1&keywords=Child+of+Earth+dumarest

The Dumarest Saga was of another Literary AGE ..an age in which it was possible for an author to make a living from One Book a Year in an interminable series ...plus magazine stories and the now and then one off novel from out of series . This was of Long Ago and Once Upon a time when I could pick up the latest Dumarest, DAW paperback every year .. that someone or other had abandoned in the local second hand book shop in Sunderland, North East of England and I was due to be sent off on assignment on one of my interminable train journeys across the Galaxy ..err,well, all right then .. across the United Kingdom. ... The Truth .." The Temple of Truth " and also many others ..is OUT There ... https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=dummerest+daw+paperbacks&client=firefox-b&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiUvfDhms_TAhUsI8AKHVynBdMQ_AUICygC&biw=1440&bih=687

164:

But Thersa May Always, Did God! Always has, always Will.

The Prince of New Labour, Tony B, Liar, avoided the subject, as his advisors did 'suggest' - New Labour ? " we don't do religion" ? - but, Terresa May, the Daughter of Her Father? " Mrs May's previously said that her Christian faith is "part of me... part of who I am". She also chose the hymn When I survey the wondrous cross while appearing on BBC's Desert Island discs. "

https://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/Theresa-May-reveals-more-about-her-vicar-father

And May is a firm upholder of The Union.

Oh come on! YOU know better than this! ..."Church of England ‘still the Tory Party at prayer’ " http://www.churchnewspaper.com/40144/archives

165:

P.S. Its not just that I Am disappointment in you at your lack of Cynicism/Realism , but also that .... Jean-Léon Moore will also be disappointed. Oh the Horror of it!

166:

I was under the fond illusion that she'd grown out of it, as most do.
I was unaware of the Desert Island episode.
Shudder.

167:

Rejoice! For HERE it is ..do you think you're Tough Enough to Listen ? " You ..over so many important aspects of our lives " " ... all part of a Plan? " Here HER Voice in Reply! First UP? " Walk Like A MAN!"


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04pr6rz#play

168:

And #147 is wrong, too. The Ham myth was originally mediaeval, but was made use of later by the slavetraders.

I'm afraid this isn't correct.

In the 'middle east', Ham and ethnicity were linked (c.f. The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam Goldenberg, 2005, Princeton Press) but much earlier, in the 6-9th Cs.

In Europe, the 'curse of Ham' was used to justify serfdom (c12th Honorius Augustodunensis) but wasn't (obviously, serfs were not slaves and certainly not imported from Africa etc) ethnically based - it was purely a socio-economic prop-up of the Aristocratic orders.

An interesting aside is that Robert Boyle (yes, the famous chemist) was the one who tried to erase the rubbish ethnic link, in Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours 1664 (full text). And, apparently, was largely successful in the UK / British Empire.

Until... the late 1860-90's. (We've seen that period come up before. Interesting place).

What I was getting at was that the Israelite - British stuff (which originally was about genealogy, not race per se) is really fucking dubious and has some really interesting names attached to it and has large warning bells all over it. And it's still apparently extant, organized and so forth. Dig a little deeper and you start seeing KKK high dragons perverting it in the southern USA, for instance. (And no, not a conspiracy theory: Reuben H. Sawyer 1866-1962)

So, I'm of the Mind that the British version was very definitely used to bulk up / support the creation of Israel the state, but the US version has some very very dodgy links to the entire Apocalypse fun times mods they're running. And you'll find that the power-players behind it are certainly of the type advising Mr Trump and his recent 'Civil War, has anyone ever thought about that'? quotations recently.

[So, yes Greg, it did have an answer of sorts, but you needed a bit of leg-work to spot them. And the society is very much active and I suspect with no small clout still looking at the members list. Empire is srs bzns, thus the cross-eyed wall of spam].

~

Apologies to OP.

It does highlight the difficulties 'Blasters and Buddies' get into though: innocent facade with the bad guys underneath...

169:

I first recall hearing the -punk suffix with cyberpunk (Gibson et al.) which was clearly the Street finding its own uses for technologies.

Next one I encountered was steampunk, as a description for The Difference Engine, which was a pretty standard cyberpunk novel (with brass instead of transistors). (This was before steampunk because a costuming fad.)

Am I correct in assuming that -punk is now used to indicate a mashup of different genres and/or time periods?

Asking out of curiosity, because (getting back to your original posting) I'm not seeing why you need to include "Punk" in your description otherwise…

170:

Am I correct in assuming that -punk is now used to indicate a mashup of different genres and/or time periods?

At least approximately, yes. It's become a useful linguistic convention to allow people to quickly describe a certain family of storytelling experiments. The -punk suffix also seems to say, relatively explicitly, that the author is knowingly taking great liberties with the power of a given technology and that the audience should play along. See also anonemouse at 34 and me at 64.

171:

Fine. You may be right. However, this statement of your in #147 was what I was responding to, and is just plain wrong:

"The entire saga of Ham and black people / Mormons is... exclusively American."

172:

> Just how old is 'hardboiled galactic traveller “Lucky” Jim Brandistock ... ageing ex-mercenary turned archaeologist'?

> Ask because I enjoyed the free look inside and get the impression that our hero would make for an entertaining space-curmudgeon. Apart from Scalzi's Old Man's War, can't think of any recent oldsters-in-space stories. Should be as easy to add backstory using an older hero as for the near-universal newbie-in-space set-up, with the advantage of having a character who by definition should be able to provide more personal info and trivia to flesh out situations and POVs.

Had his midlife crisis at 40. Assuming at least 3 yrs as an undergrad, 4 doing PHD, 3 as what Americans call a professor, 50. In my head he looks a bit like Daniel Craig.

173:


Denotes a fictional and aesthetic genre based on the noun to which it is suffixed, usually involving ahistorical or anachronistic technology and its effects on society.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-punk

The problem being that SF is well, future anyhow ;)

~

#172

Ok, I'll bite and tie this into why the -punk doesn't work. The 'Curse of Ham' was a total anachronistic re-invention of the myth, quite deliberately, in the late 1880's - 1920's (which is why I included that book from Princeton, before the Zog Galleries get anyway excited). You're correct, I was underselling it because I was rather shocked to discover that a) this organization is still around and b) it has tentacles and parts that look fine, but some that are still massively problematic (and full of Power Players, of the old type): the UK parts look ok, and untouched by the racist parts of the Biblical revisionism, but hmmmmmm Daily Mail and all that jazz.

In June 1830, Joseph Smith began translating the Bible. Parts of it were canonized as the Book of Moses and accepted as official LDS scripture in 1880. It states that "the seed of Cain were black" (Moses 7:22). This is the only place in LDS scripture that defines the mark of Cain as being black. ...

Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young referred to the curse to justify slavery.[37][38] In addition, Brigham Young used the curse to bar blacks from the priesthood, ban interracial marriages, and oppose black suffrage.[39] The Book of Abraham is still considered scripture in the LDS church.

Revoked in 1978. Which is barely out of the millennials, don't forget.

The tie in is that Bingham and the KKK and all the other nasties (c.f. prior discussions of this) were using anachronistic justifications. Robert Boyle (it's part XI of the experiments, it's a fascinating anti-racist viewpoint only marred somewhat by realizing that the "King's Witches" were albinos, which is a mutation, but there we go. No, really: worth a read about the Witches) had done the leg-work ~200 years previously (and also campaigned ineffectively against slavery at the same time).

So, the USA saw a huge religious version of "racist-punk" during this period. Which, oddly enough, is just coming home to roost. Oh, and remember that Mormons are, well: significantly over-represented in the intelligence community.

TL;DR

You probably don't actually want to be "star punk" - I'd focus on getting that whole Guardians of the Galaxy vibe, it's big right now (and also, second movie is coming soon, it's gonna be huuuge).

174:

Note: OP's other post includes these lines:

The older versions of Traveller even had the expectation that adventures themselves would be randomly generated. Sometimes things would turn out as they seemed (the patron really is being tailed by local thugs), or the threat might be non-existent (he’s deluded), or much worse than advertised (he’s actually a gang boss being pursued by religious fanatics). Players could never bank on the rules of narrative or the logic of story providing a satisfactory conclusion thus saving them from a fool’s errand or a Bambi-versus-Godzilla moment, so they had to take all the possibilities seriously.

I was playing around a little, then I discovered the KKK really were involved.

175:

Apart from Scalzi's Old Man's War, can't think of any recent oldsters-in-space stories.
Not sure how Singularity Sky fits in or if it counts as recent, but Rachel Mansour might qualify (depending on one's standards):
Rachel Mansour, a black operations agent for the United Nations Committee on Multilateral Interstellar Disarmament. A 150-year-old native of Earth who appears to be in her 20s due to anti-aging treatments, ... (Any more or clicking on the link might be a spoiler.)

176:

Apologies to OP, I promise I will tie this into your world-building (no, really!).

The really funky thing is when OP realizes his art has been incorporated into the weave to help the !resistance!.

On a serious note: get yourself in contact with the furry community and others to get some real art on your covers. If you're not aware of a recent moment of joy, I'd suggest reading all about it:

http://www.lawyersandliquor.com/2017/04/free-furry-of-the-land-when-sovcits-and-furries-collide/

https://twitter.com/BoozyBarrister

He was "adopted" and had quality art-work, love and invites thrown at him: quite the opposite of all the "Nazi Furry" stuff going around.

(But, no, really: hit them with $100 and you'll get A grade front cover artwork: the entire community is focused on the fact that: Furries pay Real Money for art - there's any number of aspiring artists there if you don't want to do the commercial route).

And yes: you need a decent splash page, and the furry community has plenty of artists who can help you out.

177:

recent space-curmudgeon

That's different from oldsters in general, though. The Culture is a good example of space opera featuring really ancient people that never seem to get old and crotchety. The Jaran series is another, albeit it mostly focuses on people under a century old.

I vaguely recall some "get off my lawn" characters in the Vorkosigan saga and I suspect that's still grinding along. Illyan and Gregor both seem to spend their time alternating between curmudgeonhood and eldersaints.

178:

Strictly speaking, it's the men who are hulking, not the iron. Anyway there's a number of Sword & Sorcery writers (L. Sprague de Camp, Jack Vance) whose heroes relied much more on wits than muscle. Sword & Sorcery came out of the pulp fiction tradition, with a cosmos that was neutral if not hostile and heroes with exceptional abilities but common origins and no particular destiny except that they made for themselves. Put the hero in a trenchcoat and fedora, give him a private eye's license and stick him in a then modern city and you've got a private detective story. Give him a six shooter, a cowboy hat and put him on a horse - you've got a Western. Give him a blaster and a rocket ship and you've got Northwest Smith or some other early space opera hero. Give him a sword and let him loose on some ancient fantasy land and you've got Sword & Sorcery. The strongest proof of this comes from C.L. Moore. She originally intended Northwest Smith as a Western hero, then put him space fighting Lovecraftian monsters and one time teamed him up with Jirel of Joiry in "Quest of the Starstone."

The genres diverged over time - Chandler made private eyes literary, science fiction writers started worrying more about space operas making sense and Sword & Sorcery got edged out by epic fantasy. Dragonlance is an oddity - it's primarily an epic fantasy with Destiny and Quests but also based on D&D so there's all kind of odd bits there. But definitely not Sword & Sorcery.

If I were to come up with a name for the subset of space opera that focuses on the adventure and worries as little as possible about plausibility, I'd go with Rockets & Ray guns. Pulp fiction type heroes in space who adventure for a living and survive because they're tough and resourceful. Bat Durston stories. The name's very retro but so's the genre.

179:

I think you are a little out-of-date with regard to LMB's "Vorkosigan" series

180:

Hostile Takeover features a relativistic triple-tap. IIRC, it went about how you described, with the first one carving a tunnel through the atmosphere, a middle one to take down the target's shields, and then the final one to leave a crater. Since these were going at approximately .5c, it was large crater.

One of the upsides of not caring about the first getting to the ground is that you can make it really small and really fast.

181:

IMO after a quick read:-

Other than in EE "Doc" Smith's Lensman and Skylark series, Ke planet killers weren't really "a thing" in SF when "Black Box Traveller" was written, and Traveller is a basically Einsteinian universe where the cited EES series both hack Einstein like you would not believe!

182:

Vattaverse - I guess no-one else has read the latest volume "Cold Welcome", where spacecraft and FTL comms take a back seat for most of the book? In fact, half of it reads a bit like s/Ernest Shackleton/Ky Vatta!

183:

Yeah, the KE problems in Traveller get their first peak in Megatraveller and its reactionless drives, which basically give uniform acceleration when given power. THe maximum they can do is 6 G, but that's plenty if you have a lot of space to accelerate in. So, basically jump to the Oort cloud of a system next to some iceball, optionally refuel, and build the maneuver drive and a fusion reactor on the iceball. Turn them on, and point the iceball at 6 G acceleration to your target. Jump away, or stay to watch the fireworks.

Then you get a nice long acceleration at 6 G and when the missile gets to the inner system it's going at a nice pace already.

This is of course intentionally misreading the intent of the rules.

There were a lot of discussions about these on the Traveller Mailing List a long time ago.

The next rules version, Traveller: The New Era had again reaction mass drives, so this wasn't as easy.

(Mind you, you can do similar things with other drives, too. ISTR the 2300 AD stutterwarp was also quite abusable to get near-c rocks.)

184:

I think you make a very good point and that may be why I get that feeling from so many Xpunk stories.

many of the things that niggle at me tend to take a form similar to "you can do X, Y should be trivial for you but you've ignored it!"

185:

My only exposure to the later Traveller variants you cite was playing a couple of planet-based scenarios at a con. (well, if you'll give me crewing a de-orbitting shuttle which was attacked during the descent as "planet-based"?)

186:

Yes. And it's historical nonsense. Leaving the technology's stability aside, consider the thud and blunder aspect. In our numerous eras of instability, all of the serious technology was based in islands of stability - it just isn't feasible to invest in the infrastructure needed if it is unlikely to survive until its 'profit' has repaid the investment. Semi-lawless frontiers ARE fairly stable, especially when kept that way by external forces (the Congo, for example), but they aren't immune to the changes occurring in the societies that are exploiting them. And, if there is one thing that major technological developments have always achieved, it's changes in the societies that use them.

187:

I don't get the aesthetic claim being made here.

Cyberpunk was punk. It was dirty and nasty and personal and despairing and glorious. It wasn't clean, it wasn't uplifting. It was raw and intimate like a knife-fight.

Steam punk was a wannabe punk that thought that what mattered was a good pair of docs. Steam punk wasn't punk in the ways cyberpunk was.

Tramp traders in space is a really separate genre. Andre Norton wrote awesome works in this genre 50 years ago, Becky Chambers does now.. Heinlein touches on it (half of Citizen of the Galexy, for example). Firefly nails it. I love it. But it ain't punk. It's about belonging. Punk isn't.

188:

Triple-taps (or my favourite, the Three Sisters Satellite attack from a rather obscure anime) are sweet but sadly physics gets in the way. For one thing, Nature abhors a vacuum in free atmosphere so the "tunnel" created by the first projectile closes up quite quickly. There's turbulence, a lot of it, behind the first projectile which tends to throw the following projectiles out of the "tunnel" while it lasts absent active guidance. The deceleration of the first projectile as it punches its way through thick air means the second catches up and rams into it followed by the third. Leave enough time and distance between them to prevent catchup, the "tunnel" is long gone.

If you're going to use fractional-cee KE attacks on a planetary surface with any kind of substantive atmosphere you're going to have to use energy overkill to get results, creating a lot of peripheral damage in the process of getting sufficient mass at sufficient velocity to the target point to do the job. Pinpoint nukes in the Tsarbomba class are a lot less damaging. If you're not concerned about peripheral damage then go for it but a single attack vehicle is going to be less difficult to set up, aim and deploy than a tricky sequenced multishot.

189:
With a 6G drive at constant acceleration that's over a third the speed of light when your fuel runs out, completely ignoring relativity

It isn't so bad, ignoring relativity at those sorts of speeds.

(Now, the next bit only applies to reaction drives, so you can ignore it if you were talking about reactionless drives)

The thing you can't so easily ignore is propulsive efficiency, which basically says if you want your rocket to operate efficiently, you want your current exhaust velocity to be pretty close to your current vessel velocity. If you're going to boost your way up to .3c without outside assistance, you're going to need antimatter. Lots of antimatter. And a beam-core engine. Beam core engines capable of boosting stuff at 6G are the sorts of things who's power output might be reasonably measured in Kardashev units, and would produce so much gamma radiation that there would be absolutely no way of hiding where you were and where you were going.

If you're only going at .3C, that massively bright gamma shine will light up your target long before you arrive, giving them plenty of time to waste you with long range defences.

190:

All this talk of relativistic projectiles and wasting people suggests you are thinking too small.

If the setting allows FTL then use it - wait until a couple of seconds before impact, then move the planet.

SF has far too few protagonists going joyriding with planets. Maybe all the back seat drivers telling them to slow down get annoying.

191:
Nature abhors a vacuum in free atmosphere so the "tunnel" created by the first projectile closes up quite quickly.

"Quite quickly" is very probably "not quickly enough" when you're talking about relativistic projectiles. Even if you're only doing .5c (and that's a boringly low gamma and so doesn't deserve to be called a 'relativistic' projectile), the reaction products of fusion or annihilation reactions seem positively sedate and you'll easily outpace them. If you're travelling at serious speeds (.99c and up) the atmosphere may as well be solid for all its movement matters.

It is also worth remembering that the 'tunnel' being spoken of here could be enormous when you're dealing with things going at the aforementioned .99c and up.

There's turbulence, a lot of it, behind the first projectile which tends to throw the following projectiles out of the "tunnel" while it lasts absent active guidance.

One does not apply active guidance to a (possibly only a little bit) relativistic projectile over the last ~100km or so of its journey. There's just not enough time to do it in. On the bright side, your target won't be able to dodge to a useful degree either.

If you're throwing a big mass very fast, your kill-radius is going to vastly exceed any distance you might be able to move in that time.

The deceleration of the first projectile as it punches its way through thick air means the second catches up and rams into it followed by the third. Leave enough time and distance between them to prevent catchup, the "tunnel" is long gone.

"Deceleration" is a slightly tricky bit of terminology to use here. The projectile will basically explode; the forces involved will be far higher than any of its molecular bonds.
Anyway, the key thing to remember is that the projectile n + 1 only has to survive long enough to penetrate slightly deeper into the atmosphere than projectile n.

As mentioned in an earlier post, though, you don't actually have to hit the surface. If you've got really big yields, a high altitude airburst is still going to toast the ground pretty thoroughly, and the environmental destruction could be going to be colossal.

192:
All this talk of relativistic projectiles and wasting people suggests you are thinking too small.

Eh, usually the problem is people thinking too small, casually tossing around speeds like 0.3c like it isn't really any sort of big deal.

If the setting allows FTL then use it - wait until a couple of seconds before impact, then move the planet.

If you've got FTL, then the big benefit of relativistic weapons, ie. by the time you've seen it, you've only got a nanosecond to react, can be negated by a suitably prepared opponent.

What you should be doing is thinking of fun FTL ways to blow things up instead, like throwing one end of a wormhole onto your target's planet and the other end into a star, or something.

193:

Re: '... 50. In my head he looks a bit like Daniel Craig.'

Good choice! Early gnarly in attitude and appearance.

194:

Re: ' ... different from oldsters in general, though.'

Yes, my point exactly. Curmudgeons do not have selective recall: they remember both the bad and good bits of their and others' pasts.

As far as near-eternal youth - don't recall much about what the price paid is for this boon in most modern SF. IMO, Swift's take on immortality is still the most disturbing and probably realistic. Banks' Culture from the bits I recall - for humans, not the AI ships - seemed to go either (a) an extended experience of what we think of as modern-day life stages (major life events are spaced further apart) or (b) recursive loops (people keep going through the same stages over and over again). Very unsatisfying and probably wrong because look at what living into the grandparent age/stage did for our species, i.e., education/culture - accelerated learning along with deeper history and forward planning, more diverse topics learned from more POVs, etc.

195:

Re: 'FTL and anti-gravity'

Okay - nowhere near understanding the real physics of these ideas, so feel free to correct, modify and/or enhance the unreality of it all.


If your universe allows for FTL and ant-gravity (not possible), then shouldn't it also allow you to manufacture black holes on demand [BHODs](also not possible).

BHODs could be used defensively and offensively. Defensively: they swallow and shred apart any projectile fired at them. Offensively: they're fired out at/opened near whatever you need swallowed and shredded. Plus: mini black holes are supposed to emit extra large doses of radiation, which could be harnessed for energy and industrial purposes.

196:

You wrote:
Yes, my point exactly. Curmudgeons do not have selective recall: they remember both the bad and good bits of their and others' pasts.

True, true... and I say that as a self-proclaimed curmudgeon. And I had the best of role models for being one: my long-gone friend, Jack McKnight (yes, the man who machined the first Hugos).

I've worked long and hard to reach curmugeonhood, and I'll gladly tell you why you're wrong to disagree with me.

mark

197:

Genre name suggestion:

Archeo-punk - well, he is an archeologist and whatever he finds will probably need interpretation from a mish-mash of knowledge and tools from different eras and stages of civilization and sci-tech development. Plus, grave-robbers and various nefarious types will probably be around to make things difficult, etc. Also, digging up past alien civilizations is a pretty common theme in SF. (Raiders of the Lost Space Ark?)

Something that few SF writers (apart from Pterry*) address: history, archeology, culture, etc. are the accumulation of many layers. For some reason, in most SF or any other fiction, archeological finds are typically described as purely belonging to one specific era. It's as though each generation just packs up its stuff and moves everything somewhere else as soon as grandma/grandpa shuffles off their mortal coil. Could have some interesting situations if the archeologist can't put the (chrono) horse before the (chrono) cart.

* Ankh-Morpork is built on Ankh-Morpork.

198:

Re: 'I'll gladly tell you why you're wrong to disagree with me'

Yes, please do ... look forward to it in fact!

199:

Nature abhors a vacuum in free atmosphere so the "tunnel" created by the first projectile closes up quite quickly.

Actually, the average speed of a gas molecule at STP (i.e. in our own atmosphere) is on the close order of 500 m/sec.

"Close up quite quickly" is meaningless — if we're using a relativistic projectile to drill a hole in the atmosphere that's a meter in diameter, it'll take on the order of 1 ms for an average gas molecule to diffuse back into it. (Assuming all the gas molecules adjacent to the swept path aren't moving aside from it quite rapidly due to the shock wave/heat flash/etc from the initial projectile.) But if we're throwing crowbars at 0.5 c, the second round could be fifteen kilometers behind the first one and the tunnel is still going to be mostly vacuum, because at that kind of velocity that's only 0.1 ms apart.

The projectile will basically explode; the forces involved will be far higher than any of its molecular bonds.

Ha ha nope: at that kind of velocity the energy levels involved will be comparable to the weak nuclear force binding the nuclei together; you're going to get all kinds of fascinating short-lived nuclear reactions going on. For lots of lulz, you could make your crowbar out of 238U; I suspect the fission chain reaction might end up adding a fractional percentage point or two to the bang. Seriously, by .87 c we're talking about kinetic energy equivalent to the mass-energy of the projectile; a .5 c projectile is merely equivalent to a somewhat inefficient matter/antimatter bomb.

200:

"Something that few SF writers (apart from Pterry*) address: history, archeology, culture, etc. are the accumulation of many layers"

I am not sure it's that rare in fantasy: Steven Erikson, Glen Cook, Gene Wolfe, Robin Hobb, Barbara Hambly, etc. Also, did Pratchett spend all that much time delving into the layers?* I cannot recall him doing so, but it's been a while.

Not really trying for the play on words there, but not changing it either.

201:

Well, the real-life presentation of archaeology also tends to give that kind of impression. So-and-so is tagged as, say, a Saxon village site, and you can read descriptions of the things they dug up there or go and see them in a museum; but there's nary a mention of any post-Saxon stuff they found before they dug down as far as the Saxon stuff, and for all you can tell there wasn't any - which may even be true. You even get it in places like London - someone digs a hole for some modern reason and finds a Roman chain-of-buckets water-raising machine, but even though that was 2000 years ago and the place has been continuously inhabited ever since, from all you get to hear about any stuff they may have left behind you'd think it had been a desolate wilderness ever since the Romans buggered off.

203:

Re: ' ... comparable to the weak nuclear force binding the nuclei together; you're going to get all kinds of fascinating short-lived nuclear reactions going on.'

Can you get a Galilean cannon drop effect out of this?

204:

Prador moon-Neal Asher

205:

Seriously, by .87 c we're talking about kinetic energy equivalent to the mass-energy of the projectile

True, and it's easy enough to see by programming the relativistic paramater gamma, which is the relevant one, into a spreadsheet.

gamma = 1/(1-beta^2)^0.5, where beta = v/c

Among other things, it shows that, as OGH notes, gamma gets to 2 around beta = 0.87. But, since gamma also measures time dilation, it also shows that even at beta = 0.9999, Andromeda is still a long, long voyage.

206:

That's due to an unholy combination of resource restrictions, the need to grab or appear to grab public attention; the difficulties of conveying information in digestible amounts to people who have greatly varying background knowledge. I found the Museum of London Docklands exhibition on the Crossrail finds to be a bit dull and lacking in information, but then I sometimes hang out with archaeologists and have a bunch of dig reports. To someone with limited background knowledge ignoring the rest of things that happened in the area is generally a good start.

207:

Sure. I wasn't trying to make out that it was a true impression; my point was that the way it's usually presented in fiction isn't really a cause for surprise, because it tends to match the way it's presented in real life.

208:

...To put that a bit better: the fictional treatment may not be realistic in terms of actual reality, but it is realistic in terms of the treatment reality gives to the same subject.

209:

If you like this kind of things maybe you will appreciate Solo, by Zozer Games.

I recently bought a copy but haven't had the time to do a full read-through so far, but the idea is to build upon the various mini-games in Traveller so that you can basically play extended campaigns without a referee.

(Solo uses the so-called Cepheus Engine, which is basically a re-edited and slightly enhanced Classic Traveller, and therefore you can easily adapt it to most editions of Traveller).

211:

What you should be doing is thinking of fun FTL ways to blow things up instead, like throwing one end of a wormhole onto your target's planet and the other end into a star, or something.
I refer you to my earlier mention of EES' Lensman series, or, for a more recent work, the Tv show Farscape.

212:

I think it's worth mentioning that in fictional settings containing magic (depending on the power level of the magic, of course) similar effects might be achievable using dimension-twisting magic; the sort of effects used in various D&D transport spells, for example.

OTOH, such excesses might be self-limiting. Some local deity might object to the existence of such spells, or alternatively the civilisation (and maybe continent, or planet) of the wizard with such hubris erases itself soon after its development.

After all, wizards are seldom depicted as having inhuman self-control. Having developed the ability to create multi-gigaton explosions by waving your hands in a particular way, imagine the temptation to try it out... And even if the one who developed it is saintly, spells can be stolen.

213:
If your universe allows for FTL and ant-gravity (not possible), then shouldn't it also allow you to manufacture black holes on demand [BHODs](also not possible).

Well, now. I'd be careful about throwing around terms like "not possible" when you really mean "we apparently need huge quantities of stuff we don't know even exists and even if it did we don't know how to manipulate it".

I'm also not sure that FTL or antigravity necessarily imply the ability to create black holes willy-nilly. If you can make wormholes, you can probably make black holes too, by letting the wormhole throat collapse. I don't know that this woud be a useful thing to do, compared to having an actual wormhole at your disposal, though.

BHODs could be used defensively and offensively. Defensively: they swallow and shred apart any projectile fired at them. Offensively: they're fired out at/opened near whatever you need swallowed and shredded. Plus: mini black holes are supposed to emit extra large doses of radiation, which could be harnessed for energy and industrial purposes.

I don't know how useful they'd be. You'd need an awful lot to make a useful shield, as individually they'd be either very small, or so massive as to be completely unwieldy. You'd also have the problem of how you hold them in place and move them around, and how you stop other people using the same mechanisms to break up your shield.

Offensively, I dunno. They might work well for destroying stars or planets, but that seems pretty wasteful to me.

They would be useful for industrial and power generation purposes though, certainly.

214:

Actually, assuming Einstein's formula is the ultimate truth, there's no known physical reason that we can't create black holes. Tipler's second paper (usually ignored) states that his cylinders can't be created, and there are reasons to believe the same about anti-gravity and unconstrained FTL. The position with regard to small black holes is a bit unclear.

215:
"Close up quite quickly" is meaningless — if we're using a relativistic projectile to drill a hole in the atmosphere that's a meter in diameter, it'll take on the order of 1 ms for an average gas molecule to diffuse back into it.

Well, yes. That was more or less the point I was making (though I was imagining you'd let your leading projectile explode and let the resultant shockwave clear a much larger cavity than merely its wake).

There's also the interesting detail that if your projectile is small enough and fast enough, the interaction length of its component nucleons with the atmosphere will start to exceed the length of the projectile. At some point you can be going fast enough to discount the problem of the atmosphere more or less entirely, but that is a whole new level of pointless overkill.

Seriously, by .87 c we're talking about kinetic energy equivalent to the mass-energy of the projectile; a .5 c projectile is merely equivalent to a somewhat inefficient matter/antimatter bomb.

I'm well aware of that. But the post which prompted this set of replies specifically mentioned 0.5c, which I did point out wasn't really very relativistic.

216:

Even archaeologists aren't great at filling in the gaps. I have been very interested in the lesser technologies etc. for a long time, which are usually more important than the greater ones, but they generally get little attention. This is partly because the materials are often non-durable and there are no records. Based on my knowledge and experience, this is why I believe that Elaine Morgan (in her later, saner views) is probably right. But, despite it being conclusively and repeatedly debunked (both in publication and not), the savanna hunter theory is still promoted. Yes, that's a lot older, but similar things can be said about much more recent eras.

217:
Actually, assuming Einstein's formula is the ultimate truth, there's no known physical reason that we can't create black holes. Tipler's second paper (usually ignored) states that his cylinders can't be created, and there are reasons to believe the same about anti-gravity and unconstrained FTL. The position with regard to small black holes is a bit unclear.

I've no doubt that we could create black holes; they would appear to be real things, after all. The question was about whether antigravity and FTL technologies would let you do it at will. The plausibility of FTL and antigravity wasn't mentioned.

218:

Yes. That aspect is poorly handled in most high-magician fantasy, and most other fantasy handles it by spells being limited and very difficult to discover, learn and achieve. I thought of another approach the other day, which I have not seen used:

Magic allows only the control of possibilities at the quantum mechanical level, where the energy and entropy constraints are those that could be created/absorbed in a human brain. Stopping people's hearts, reading intents, controlling someone's actions, curing some diseases/wounds, starting fires (Maxwell's demon), creating new species - no problem, subject to knowing how and being able to. But not warming oneself, moving a heavy object, destroying anything, controlling a mob, etc.

219:

Well, my favourite AD&D cantrip was "Power Word Tac Nuke"!! ;-)

220:

For an entertaining work-through of the possible effects of a small object going at 0.9c in the Earth's atmosphere, you could do worse than looking at Randall Munroe's relatavistic baseball, his first XKCD What If.

Lots of destruction caused by a simple baseball.

221:

It's been a long time since I read them, and I am very very fuzzy on the details, but I think that The Deathgate Cycle -- by D&D authors (though not in that universe) Weiss & Hickman -- have a magic system a bit like what you describe here.

222:

I stole something from a cartoon in the dragon, and as player character, I could pull out the crosshairs I'd made out of a pipe cleaner, put in on my index finger, and announce about lighting bolt: at this range I don't usually miss...."

Btw, my spell point system (and I work with *original* D&D, so I made it up) made it far more rational. I mean, you study, and study... and can't remember the one spell you know the rest of the day?

No: magic users: intel and cons; clerics, wisdom + cons, give you spell points. At zero, you collapse unconscious. It also made users less ultrapowerfull.
I CAST EQRTHQUAKE! (shiver,shiver,shiver) They're still coming! Um, er, SLEEP! SLEEP! SLEEP!

mark

223:

I skipped from AD&D 2e to the Fifth Edition D&D, so I don't know that much from the intervening editions, but 5e does have a new system: spellcasters can cast spells much more freely, though they still (mostly wizards) need to decide their selection of spells in the morning. However, they can cast for example the Magic Missile as long as they have any spell slots left. Many spells gain more power when cast with a higher spell slot than strictly necessary - this is a change from the old "caster level determines the spell level".

I like the 5e quite much, in its context, though its feeling is much more "heroic" than AD&D, in my opinion. I also quite like the Old School Revolution clones: they are remakes of some form of the original D&D, usually with some changes. Compared to the 5e D&D they have in my opinion a marked difference: in 5e the characters adventure because they can, but in (at least some) OSR games the characters adventure because they have to. (Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Dungeon Crawl Classics at least adhere to the latter principle.)

224:

That rather reminds me of Discworld magic; your "no problem" examples are similar to the kinds of things the witches do (and the methods they use), while the others call to mind the danger faced by a wizard trying to move a heavy object, of the principle of leverage flicking his brain out through his ears. (Of course, they work around the limitation by moving some other object of comparable mass on a reciprocal trajectory, and letting an inelastic collision take care of any remaining imbalance.)

There's always going to be some kind of workaround. High speed personal transport may be limited to the horse, but it may be possible to do better in an emergency by temporarily flipping into a near-equivalent universe which is geographically coincident, but sufficiently displaced along a probability axis to allow motorcycles to exist. Or creating such a universe to order by means of Zarniwoop's briefcase.

225:

Re: 'The question was about whether antigravity and FTL technologies would let you do it at will. The plausibility of FTL and antigravity wasn't mentioned.'

My poor phrasing ... found your response interesting - thanks!

What I meant was that if your universe allows you to handwave FTL, antigrav, and other currently known/thought not-feasible tech, then such a universe should also allow for other handwave-y tech such as black-holes to order.

Did not intend to say that one is a prerequisite for the other. Curious at why you'd allow 'unbelievable X & Y' but not allow 'unbelievable Z'.

Is black-hole FTL still in vogue in SF? Reminds me of Dune: because black holes bend spacetime, then it is possible to manipulate them into bending from here (origin) to there (destination). More contemporary usage would have to give a nod to black holes emitting Hawking radiation as well as discuss what-all this might mean to the ships/travelers.

226:

Have played RPGs only a handful of times but am curious about whether any of these games consider the ability to tap into and redirect or alter/transform energy as a 'power'?

Seems that this would be the best way of saving one's backside - you don't get fried from having to carry around to much power, nor do you collapse because you just ran out of juice. To make it interesting (i.e., impose some limits), you might be restricted into the types of power conversions you're able to do within a set time-frame, i.e., allow for discharge, etc.

Could probably even make this into a physics teaching module by playing around with all of the different transformations.

227:

That varies from game to game. Some games use the concept of personal power (mana in some cases) which slowly replenishes over a day or so, and is drained by casting spells - although there are usually power batteries available. D&D (at least in early editions) explicitly states that nearly all the energy is being summoned from elsewhere, with personal energy being used as a sparkplug, so to speak.

Given the gigantic amounts of energy involved in some D&D spells (lightning bolt is a 3rd level spell, and they go up to 9th) that seems reasonable.

Unfortunately, that system allows for some abuses even with a strict referee. (The zeroth rule of that game is that what the referee says, goes.) As an example, I concocted a combo that caused a minor seismic event. Two spells involved. One was the spell "passwall" which creates a tunnel by temporarily warping whatever material it is, out of the way. Stone, steel, whatever - doesn't matter. The tunnel can be vertical. And the other was "wall of force" which stops everything (except harmless levels of light) from going through it.

So: Cast the passwall spell straight down into granite. Cast a cylindrical wall of force inside it. Walk away. It so happens that the passwall runs out first. What do you think happened when it ran out?

228:

Cast the passwall spell straight down into granite. Cast a cylindrical wall of force inside it. Walk away. It so happens that the passwall runs out first. What do you think happened when it ran out?

We can't reason about that using physics since for those spells to work our physics must be invalid. The spell to temporarily compress granite and create a tunnel would require either phenomenal energy to shove the relevant atoms closer together or move huge amounts of rock around. Since there's typically no sign of those things in D&D, it follows that their materials behave differently.

Or you could simply look at it as a "irresistible force meets immovable object" problem and let the DM deal with it. The latter seems risky to me, and DMs often favour solutions that discourage the survivors from repeating the experiment.

229:

Even archaeologists ... lesser technologies ... partly because the materials are often non-durable and there are no records.

What interests me about the edges of archaeology is the esoteric physics stuff that pushes the boundaries of credibility when it comes to stuff like dating and reverse engineering materials. If you told a C18th bone hunter that it was possible to describe the diet of the creature from stuff stuck to the teeth I reckon they'd laugh at you. And dating a sample by essentially counting and weighing single atoms to work out atmospheric composition at the time the sample was isolated? Be serious, people, we're trying to do science here.

My expectation is that that progress will be ongoing, and eventually we will be able to do even more astonishing things. I hope that future archaeologists benefit from our inability and unwillingness to dig up the coastal seabed, so there's a huge amount of untouched material from the last 15ky or so that's been preserved by sea level rise in that time. And so on.

230:

Actually, do archaeologists deliberately leave parts of sites untouched so that someone can come back later with better tools and techniques to extract more information? I've never really thought about it, but it seems like an obvious thing to do. But against that is the pressure to publish or perish, and the more you dig the more data you get right now.

231:

Hmm, you think?

Fifty thousand years ago, a Neandertal relieved himself in a cave in present-day Belgium, depositing, among other things, a sample of his DNA. The urine clung to minerals in the soil and the feces eventually decomposed. But traces of the DNA remained, embedded in the cave floor, where earth falling from the cave’s ceiling and blowing in from outside eventually entombed it. Now, researchers have shown they can find and identify such genetic traces of both Neandertals and Denisovans, another type of archaic human, enabling them to test for the presence of ancient humans even in sites where no bones have been found.

No bones? No problem: DNA left in cave soils can reveal ancient human occupants Science, 27th April, 2017


And you wonder where my mocking tone comes from on such matters...

232:

Yes, 100% they do.

Either for pragmatic reasons (X time, Y budget, site is huge), geopolitical reasons (c.f. Masada where Israel 100% saved excavations for the next time the American Zog / Magogs got excited, or for other reasons like, I don't know, an actual revolution kicking off in the country while you were doing it - no spoilers, it's a joke for the actual science bods) or just plain "Our tools are lame and destructive, we'd better leave some of this for later, more capable science".

Rare, but has happened more than a few times.


So, no: it's actually mostly the opposite (due to, in large parts, the early 'tomb robbing' stuff and Elgin Marbles etc).


Source: Know some Tomb Robbers. Er. Indian Jones types.

233:

Oh, and @host, 'cause we're still fighting for this little shitty mud ball with its Apes to still exist post-Wild Hunt:

(from Twitter)

"The alt-right is going to meme themselves right out of having an open internet to build their brand & recruit idiots with. It’s poetic."

https://twitter.com/catvalente/status/859902406850686976

No, that's part of the plan: top tip, DEAR, they use sports (football etc, might like a little film called ID), the use Prison (have you no fucking idea that American History X wasn't just a fucking Avatar film, but something a little bit more Ken Loach?)...

You slam net controls (especially the kinds that cheat, Mr Scalzi) onto these types, you get the Hikikomori mixing with the Burakumin.


Holy Fuck: I thought there were adults in the room. Apparently not.

234:

And yes, we did just do a tie-in, you're just too slow to see it.

c.f. Host's re-tweet about Yakuza splitting 3 ways (hello a film called Ran).

According to David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro in Yakuza: The Explosive Account of Japan's Criminal Underworld (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1986), burakumin account for about 70 percent of the members of Yamaguchi-gumi, the biggest yakuza syndicate in Japan.

I'll give you a free-bie.

Unlike most of the toads watching Tee-Vee and stuff like "Breaking Bad", whelp.


You're gonna hit a decent % who can massively be of use to criminal gangs.


Oh look, it's DOTA2 and Russians all over again.... (and EvE - largest % of spooks in the world playing it, and they're all sociopaths, RIP VileRat).

~

ZZZZ


Too. fucking. Slow.

235:

Meaningless twaddle.
Can we have that in English, please/

236:

Ok, for your age group, since your brain is not coded for this stuff and you're lazy:

GOP’s “Internet Freedom Act” permanently guts net neutrality authority Arstechnica, 2nd May, 2017


Note: SOPA, etc etc, mass protests, EFF, lobbying, even Reddit shutdowns etc.

Nope: USA proves that if you buy a member of Congress / Senate, literally they get paid to re-introduce Bill after Bill after Rider after Rider until it gets through.

They're literally Zombies.

~

If you want more help, ask fucking nicely, I'm allllll out of fucks for your generation and the death of the planet you fucking sociopathic ugly minded fucking Apes.

237:

Pro-Tip: You're not cognitively able, apparently, to do Self-projection / Empathy / Mind-of-Other thinking.

We've been treating it as Art, so far, but: This makes you a sociopath.

The Irony, it Burns.

238:

OH, and fun fact.

The "Internet Freedom Act", sponsored by Zodiac Killer / Dominonist / Evil little cunt Mr Cruz proves 100% that The Republic is dead.


Have fun. Brain Eating Zombies? Weaponized H.O.Bs?


Yeah, you've no fucking idea. Some of us are immune, 95% casualty rate on H.S.S subjects.


#Wild Hunt.


And no, you don't get spared because Jesus / Moloch / etc, how fucking dumb are you?

239:

It is often stated, not least by posters on here, that the evolution of the human mind has been such as to make it particularly good at exactly that kind of thing.

That may well be true as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. It doesn't go far enough to get away from using the human mind itself as a frame of reference. And if you do use a wider frame of reference, it is apparent that the performance is, as you say, quite spectacularly unspectacular, with much the failings that you might expect from an accumulation of random chances kludging together a sophisticated functionality on top of an architecture that is fundamentally unsuited to handle it. Obvious ones being that it succeeds only at a very superficial level (while that is not apparent to the minds doing it), trying to take it to a less superficial level tends to result in breakage and anomalous operation (This Function is Not Thread Safe), and the existence of the kludged functionality gives rise to serious vulnerabilities. (Wordpress.)

240:

Actually, do archaeologists deliberately leave parts of sites untouched so that someone can come back later with better tools and techniques to extract more information?

That's been standard practice since at least the 1980s (when I studied archaeology). Do the minimum disturbance necessary to gather information, always being aware that digging a site destroys evidence. And when you refill the holes, leave something in the bottom from your time period so any future archaeologist knows that the site is disturbed, and about when. :-)

The exception is rescue archaeology, where the site will be destroyed anyway, in which case you gather as much data as you can in the limited time/budget you have, knowing that there will be no second chance. Sometimes samples will be gathered and preserved for when better/more affordable analytical techniques are available in the future, but this requires enough budget for a place to keep them. A rescue site was the only one I've been on where the entire site was stripped (as in the old-fashioned movies of a dig, like say Raiders of the Lost Ark). We got through the settlement, mapping the buildings and artifacts as best we could, and then the bulldozers came in and built a subdivision.

I no longer keep up with dig techniques, but I'd be very surprised if this has changed. If anything, I'd expect less disturbance and better sample collection protocols.


Getting (peripherally) back to the original topic, the remote sensors available in many science fiction settings would be an archaeologist's dream. Get all the information of a dig without disturbing the site.

One of my favourite Traveller characters was an archaeologist. We were using the Digest Group Publications rules from their Scouts expansion for the sensors, as well as their research rules. (So a flavour of MegaTraveller, IIRC.) Investigating one of the original Sword Worlds settlements looking for evidence of a lost SW colony… It was great — 'digging' without disturbing anything (even if it was all fictional)!

(Thinking back, I think some of the background we worked out for that campaign ended up in the GT Sword Worlds book.)

241:

Do the minimum disturbance necessary to gather information, always being aware that digging a site destroys evidence.

That said, there is a need to produce a report to satisfy your grant, so you do need to gather enough evidence for that. And you don't know what's there until you look. In many cases you need to dig (and thus destroy) to prove that there's something worth preserving, so it's a bit of a Catch-22…

242:

Thanks. Sorry, got caught by the "timeout and discard your reply" feature again, so my longer reply is gone.

Short version: remote non-physical manipulators (force fields, whatever) plus nanotech makes remote DNA editing possible. Either for "genetically engineer this adult" stuff, or "he died of space pox" rather than being assassinated. Plus invalidates most dating techniques and probably every single forensic technology - without continuous recording of everything everywhere it would be possible to trivial to craft fingerprints and DNA evidence from whole cloth. Or add evidence of a nuclear explosion to an ice core, for example.

243:

...an accumulation of random chances kludging together a sophisticated functionality on top of an architecture that is fundamentally unsuited to handle it.
One fascinating thing about human minds is the variation, and in particular the outliers. The meat(brain) substrate is quite clearly tunable and flexible, even given limits imposed by personal genomes, and environmental influences, some needlessly human-caused like lead exposure, though we mostly end up with no tuning, and collections of bodges due to random upbringings within broken (or actively malevolent) societies. Remediation is hard, though rather more possible than many think, and probably more possible in the future. Better to do it well all through upbringing(and personalized, with variation, to tie back into world-building); that would be transformative and would seriously advantage societies that did so over randomized-upbringing societies. Common sci-fi theme (including dystopian versions) but still quite possible, likely even.
FWIW, on some speed dimensions, might be worth looking at something like this Clocking the Mind: Mental Chronometry and Individual Differences (cough a search will find a pdf). Some (not all) of what can be measured can be trained. (Piles of literature, some recent. Some from China.) Some of this was hashed out in an older thread, encouraged by a previous incarnation of JLM.

244:

Remediation is hard, though rather more possible than many think, and probably more possible in the future. Better to do it well all through upbringing(and personalized, with variation, to tie back into world-building); that would be transformative and would seriously advantage societies that did so over randomized-upbringing societies. Common sci-fi theme (including dystopian versions) but still quite possible, likely even.


Your societies are largely based on the subjugation of the Mind and Spirit and Being. Especially those ones who don't mirror your personal rhythms.


Your Species Does Not Survive. This is the actual Fermi Paradox. Sorry, G_D lied, the Covenant is a total fucking joke.


*shrug*

I could put into words the vast and heinous amounts of pain and suffering and general disappointment felt with this entire process, but hey.

Nope, you're cunts.

p.s. Hello Steve. No, you're not going to Hell, you just condemned H.S.S to extinction. Quite the thing, to be a slave, isn't it?

245:

You forgot to take your medications, again, didn't you?

246:

{like}

"Tac Nuke" was only able to be cast with the DM's agreement, and then its usual field of effect was 1 powergamer or 1 noisy and annoying hobbit (this does not mean "all children"; some that I've met at cons are amongst my favourite people).

247:

Your para #3; that's pretty much correct still yes.

To the extent that I've had a serious conversation with archaeologists about whether or not they should dig down through the "viking" longhouse to an underlying Neolithic roundhouse, said conversation being conducted in the knowledge that the coastal sand dunes they were both in are receding.

248:

Yes, but it's subject to the same failure mode. Much of the accepted wisdom is predicated on the available data being both representative and the most important. But quite a lot of fields can be damned on similar grounds - Sturgeon's law applies as much to most sciences as it does to fiction!

249:

Current evidence is that 'intelligence' is largely developmental - i.e. the genetics controls the plasticity, and how that is used depends on the environment and experience (starting in the womb, natch). I have a little experience of people from incompatible cultures, and it definitely IS a matter of being unable to think outside the concepts we/they know; Sapir and Whorf may be out of fashion, and theissue is not prely linguistic, but they definitely had a point.

Most science fiction and fantasy gets this COMPLETELY wrong, and their characters think like modern northern Americans (or whereever the author comes from), irrespective of incompatibility with their world. However, having had to live in an alien world all my life, I know how fiendishly hard it is to think in or even learn alien concepts. No, I am not imitating the multinominal one - think (fairly extreme) Aspergers. But a few books do tackle the problem, creating a variant 'mindset', and they are seriously disturbing to read.

250:

Interesting factoid about the cost of ships. Just read a news story in which the reporter described the budgeted cost for a series of new U.S. Navy ships (guided missile cruisers and littoral combat ships). Based on the reported budgeted value, the cost per ship averaged US$3.5 billion. If my barely post-coffee math brain is working, that's equivalent to 35K times a really good annual salary for most of the U.S. (US$100K to make the calculation easy). Alternatively, you could think of this as meaning it would take the annual salary of 35K well-paid workers to afford one such warship. If you're funding the ship based on a 10% income tax rate, increase that to 350K workers.

It's hard to know where to stop listing the questionable assumptions and oversimplifications underlying this estimate: different costs for different ship types and kits, inaccuracies in reported costs, near-certain cost overruns, huge variation in what constitutes a good salary (e.g., Silicon Valley vs. rural Alabama), the effects of monopoly pricing vs. true competitive bidding, numbers chosen for simplicity rather than accuracy, and so on.

But the calculation still gives one a visceral sense of the magnitude of the costs of a modern warship that you could extrapolate (with great caution) to the Traveller universe or that of any other RPG. The cautionary note is because it's highly unlikely the socioeconomic environment of the RPG universe would be sufficiently close to that of the current U.S. that you could draw such a close parallel.

251:

So, a big part of first-generation cyberpunk that bled into early steampunk (as well as dieselpunk) & may apply to other *punk genres is not merely that the characters have agency outside of some existing political structure but that their agency is limited by that political structure by having that structure being opposed to them in some impersonal way -- i.e., this is what is punk about cyberpunk: the protagonists are opposed to a world that marginalizes them, and their praxis is realistic in a way that forces cyberpunk stories to remain incapable of delivering the kind of power fantasies that other forms of spectulative fiction (even in otherwise subversive genres like new wave or new weird) are very good at delivering. In other words, cyberpunk (and steampunk, and dieselpunk, etc.) is necessarily about *losers* (or, at least, people who are under society's bootheel).

In this way, your explanation of starpunk seems to fit: there are no dark lords or saving the galaxy, and that's sort of necessary for any *punk genre in my eyes. But, it's not fully sufficient either. To the extent that starpunk protagonists are plugged into existing structures I would expect them to be low-level or otherwise outsiders -- Lister is a suitable starpunk protagonist, and Rimmer in all incarnations is not; Ford is, but Zaphod is not; no named character in Crest of the Stars is suitable for starpunk while every named character in Cowboy Bebop is.

If this set of restrictions is *not* what you intend to codify, I would avoid the -punk suffix -- it already has gotten so much semantic drift that it gets applied to stuff like Ghost in the Shell (about a super-empowered cyborg swat team in a near-future police state who work for the prime minister) and Girl Genius (which, outside of the protagonist, is mostly about pampered aristocrats with infinite budgets who have their obsessive urges indulged in by a fearful populace).

252:

You wrote:
High speed personal transport may be limited to the horse, but it may be possible to do better in an emergency by temporarily flipping into a near-equivalent universe which is geographically coincident, but sufficiently displaced along a probability axis to allow motorcycles to exist.

Or, um, let's see, maybe into another universe where you can buy a ticket on a train or plane, get where you're going, and then flip back.

Is that too unreasonable? And you never see real commerce in most books, unlike, say, moving opiods into that other universe to make money....

I trust OGH is having a chuckle over this.

253:

Forgot to add a note about the origins of "punk" as an epithet: the original use was to represent an explicit rebellion against the established norms (mainstream rock and roll in the case of "punk rock"), and its adoption was a deliberate subversion of the conventionally derogatory use of "punk" (worthless person) and appropriation of the term in an inclusive sense ("us punks 'gainst the world").

"Cyberpunk" seems to have been a deliberate attempt to invoke that esthetic in the context of computation and a word in which computers were the dominant form of socioeconomic power and control. (It's not a coincidence that the term was coined shortly after punk rock had reached its peak popularity and become socially acceptable.) Subsequent "[noun]punks" seem to have largely abandoned that usage. For example, steampunk tends to be more about the brass and steam and clockwork esthetic rather than it is about rebellion against SFnal norms. (Of course, there is also rebellious steampunk. It's a broad subgenre.) As others have noted, this has led to a certain drift or dilution of the original meaning.

I have no objection to its shorthand use to mean "subgenre", though it would have been nicer to retain the rebellious part of the concept. But it can get a bit silly if you take the whole thing too seriously, as in the example of music critics who consider bands such as "Green Day" to have sold out rather than sticking to their punk rock roots. What comes next: "punk punk" to describe true punk rockers? *G*

254:

SF in a stone age setting: rock punk.

255:

Enjoyed your discussion/summary of 'punk'.

Outliers at both ends of the curve provide the necessary comparison of societies: what happens to those that benefit too much as well as too little from whatever the cultural mode happens to be. Better than using ET-type space aliens to analyze a society provided that your for-comparison characters are in fact 'human', i.e., mosaics of both 'normal' and 'abnormal' features/traits/characteristics.
Recall that such an exercise was done with human vs. alien society in LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness. (Think LeGuin used only one type of human civilization/set of customs to define gender/power roles - read this a very long time ago.)

The SF stories that endure and become genre classics are often about trying to tease out what is necessary (bare minimum) from what is trivial about people, cultures and species to better help us determine whether to call them civilized/sentient or friend-or-foe, whether to aspire to become like them or use them as a warning. Unfortunately from what I recall reading most such exercises tend to completely forget about the middle-road - possibly in the interest of creating dramatic tension - with the result that all of a potential tech or cultural tendency identified in that story as the bogey-man is thrown out.

256:

Interested by this I dug out my old traveller books and ran the numbers on what it would cost to produce such a weapon using the Traveller ship design rules.

On idea was you find a suitable planetoid in the ort cloud and build it into a weapon in place – how you avoid the systems defences whilst you build such a planer killer is another matter as typically you would have SDB (system defence boats in the ort cloud)

I have designed a PS (Planetoid Strike) 10kT using book 5 for two scenarios one where the platinoid is built in system and one where it has some Jump (FTL) capability allowing the weapon to be built at a distance and move to the target system (though it would need supporting tankers if it had to make more than three jumps)

The ship is based on the Mistel concept from WW2 with a second jump capable star ship being used to control the ship on the final run and separating at the last moment to jump away with the crew.

Option 1 No FTL Built in system
This option is where the ship is built in secret in the ort cloud and sortied directly from the target system assuming a month of acceleration at 6g you get close to 0.3 c. A second-hand type S is used to control the final run in and to allow the skeleton crew (I have assumed 10% of the normal crew is required for a one-way trip. This ship costs 4715 Mcr.

Option 2 FTL
This option is where the ship is built in another system with minimal jump capability 3x Jump 1 in the case a second-hand type A I used to remove the crew I have assumed 20% of the standard crew in this case to cover the extra requirements for FTL. This option can sortie from up to 3 jump ones away or from further way provided tankers are available to refuel.

The ship would jump into the target systems ort cloud and start accelerating for a month which should get you to around .3c

This option Costs 5535 Mcr

Note that this is built using the average tech level in the imperium and build time using high guard is from 24-60 Months for a ship of this size and neither of the ship have any armament at all a system that had any relatively modern defences would easily detect and engage this sort of attack.

With a cost for 4 to 5 Billion Credits for a single use weapon that only works against much lower tech I don’t think this is a viable weapon

You Can see the designs using book 5 on my blog at https://hauntingthunder.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/planetoids-as-planet-killers-in-traveller/


257:

Re: ' ... fairly extreme) Aspergers. But a few books do tackle the problem, creating a variant 'mindset', and they are seriously disturbing to read.'

Apart from Elizabeth Moon's Speed of Dark, don't recall any SF titles tackling this topic seriously and compassionately. So, if you could provide a book list ...?

258:

Well, quite. A significant part of the appeal of Charlie's work for me is that a lot of the ideas he likes to play with are very similar to ideas I find attractive myself. Though also, paradoxically, it gives me reason to fear reading the Laundry series - from the few snippets of Laundry material I have read, and discussions of it on here, I can be pretty sure there is a lot of stuff in it which is just too close to aspects of my own thought to allow me, were I to read it, to navigate my own route through such areas with the necessary independence.

259:

I spent 15 years working for British Telecom when I read the first laundry files I thought my kind of people :-)

Though hopefully I am less whiny than Bob

260:

Though I suspect that I might be closer to the dungeon master IRL but as proper wargamer I would have had a MRLS battery pre registered on that exit node with 666 squadrons TSR2's on QRF for a possible laydown attack.

261:

Is anyone still discussing Rayguns & Rocketry, Harolds new settings and piracy?
I skippedtha last 100 or so comments, but I have sort of an idea how to fit it all together.

In Harolds setting (he described his world-building hack elsewhere) interstellar travel depends on people and may even be labor intensive. It might stand to reason that at least some (mercahnt or military) navies treat their flight crew pretty badly.

Now historically, during the golden age of piracy (when the Jolly Roger was invented), you had working conditions on many ships close to slavery, dangerous environment, sailors would get stiffed for theirpay etc. While piracy is as old as boat building Ä(hello Argo!) and the golden age piracy started with ecological collapse (really, read up on Buccanners) and royal free booters, piracy was also a labor conflict. Bear with me.

May (certainly not all) pirate crews where organized in a quite democratic way, with every decision outside combat beein up for vote. Discipline in the sense of hard corporeal punishment for minor infractions was often non existant (Discipline in the form of deadly duels happened, and OP explained how stupid an idea that is a while back). Pirates where willing to take up sailors of defeated ships into their ranks, and many where willing to join despite the high risks, because it was a way to escape the harsh discipline of the ordinary navy. In "Unter dem Jolly Roger" Gabriel Kuhn estimates that a typical pirate career lasted two years before and end in battle or at the gallows, that many pirates new or guessed as much but still choose this life over a marginally longer one full of mistreatment by their officers.

It's likely that pirate crews where far more forgiving of men having sex with men, which may have also been an attraction.

In "The Many headed Hydra", Rediker and Linebaugh show that at least some pirate constitutions have been influenced by social revolutionary christian groups.

So, depending on how starflight works out exactly in Harolds universe and more crucially on wehter de-facto slavery is as much a backbone of his economy as it was during the age of sail, there could be a way to fit piracy in spaaace!

262:

I'll try to remember, but am having increasing difficulty in retrieving memories to order :-(

263:

I recall Stuart Peachey complaining about how he'd seen 17th century and more modern archaeological stuff being chucked by archaeologists more interested in the medieval or Roman stuff underneath.

Elderly Cynic #249 - the question is more, how to balance attempts at giving a proper different view with the desire of publishing companies for sales and customers for familiar things in the work? I recall have real difficulty understanding Frank Herbert's "Whipping star", which made a good attempt at showing miscommunication due to different understandings of the universe.

264:

Is that the genre where outcast characters secretly arrange microliths in circles in hidden clearings to predict eclipses and advise farmers when to plant crops, while evading the attention of agents of the druid high priests?

Hey, it's *punk spec-fic, so I can have druids in my megaliths if I want to :-)

265:

To be fair to the US Navy (for Pork gobbling values of fair) I think that price is some hand wavey estimate based on the failed Zumwalt Class Missile destroyer (2 built out of 30 odd) before cost overruns (4.1bn per ship) the LCS (fragile but over-armed frigates for taking out Iranian speedboat swarms) $650m per ship. Both programs have been legendary for their cost overruns,

On the plus side the Zumwalts are proper SciFi-cool looking and are rumoured to be slated as test beds for the USN Rail Gun prototypes. The non flying part of USN think rail guns are heralding the return of the Battleship and so have a major hardon for them. The trimaran LCS's are quite cool too.

A better example might be the Ford Class Super Carriers - these are about $10Bn a pop according to Wiki - alternatively 2 of the new QE Class UK carriers. Basically frikkin Nuclear Powered Airfieds - capable of fielding an entire First World Airforce. (90 aircraft) for comparison purposes that's more than 50% of the entire U.K. Typhoon fleet, so for sheer bang for buck they hard to beat.

War porn digression over - as you were,

266:

With a cost for 4 to 5 Billion Credits for a single use weapon that only works against much lower tech I don’t think this is a viable weapon

Thanks for running the numbers. I admit to not ever doing that, because I somehow never found a place in the plot where that would be useful. It's more "inevitably you have this problem". North Korea would n doubt be thrilled to spend the money, for example.

267:

Np wasn't expecting how expensive it would be.

Would make a good plot point for a traveller or snapshot adventure board and take over an incoming planetoid and save a world from destruction.

268:

Current evidence is that 'intelligence' is largely developmental - i.e. the genetics controls the plasticity, and how that is used depends on the environment and experience (starting in the womb, natch).
Yes, and with adjustments to the genetics, a given given CRISPR/Cas9[1] or similar technologies, and many independent actors (e.g. nations), HSS is gone over time.
(There are several ways to parse JLM's comment, and that's a more benign one. Still fuzzy on Wild Hunt though. Was tentatively assuming that it was a mapping to the Witcher 3 game, but perhaps not.)
[1] Non-human Primate Models for Brain Disorders – Towards Genetic Manipulations via Innovative Technology, eww, short survey, March 2017. (Skimmed only; did a quick search for something recent out of curiosity.)

But a few books do tackle the problem, creating a variant 'mindset', and they are seriously disturbing to read.
...
I'll try to remember, but am having increasing difficulty in retrieving memories to order :-(
Seconding SFreader's request; would appreciate anything you can come up with.

269:

Stereotypy (non-human)

(You may wish to research the domestication issue as a subset of this and then ponder on schools. It's all a web).

#Wildhunt

And no, well kinda: it's much older than that. Greek Titans and Chains type old, only less written records.

Do the LOAs ride you, or do you ride the LOAs?

~


Actually, that's a really interesting question. In defining the ----- & ------- term, finding the antithesis. I'll skip the usual suspects (Asim, Rajaniemi etc) and head for my 'really weird' selection (coda: have you read Kant's 3 critiques? If so, then others then some physics and math. Then mainline some Indonesian Shadow Theatre. Were we're headed, English is not the primary language).


Oh, so you get the point: http://paradoxa.com/volumes/25/introduction

Where we're going, that little lot will seem familiar...

270:

Worth a look, OP, just to see how the genre is being developed:

http://www.afrocyberpunk.com/

271:

(We should be calling this "Mind Punk", yes?)

(You may wish to research the domestication issue as a subset of this and then ponder on schools. It's all a web).
Tx for the link. (from some random drilling) I dare anyone(other than JLM perhaps) to read (warning depressing, sorry in advance, never looked before at subject) Environmental Enrichment and Refinement for Nonhuman Primates Kept in Research Laboratories: A Photographic Documentation and Literature Review
and not think about the limits that structured their (human) developing mind and continue to structure their current life. (Another: Enrichment and Nonhuman Primates: “First, Do No Harm")

read Kant's 3 critiques?
Just CoPR, probably enough physics/math, need more number theory and some logic reading beyond the very basics, and newer philosophers. Smile. Need to crack open the books (and Kindle for Kant). Tx for the excuse.

Where we're going, that little lot will seem familiar...
Good.

272:

With a cost for 4 to 5 Billion Credits for a single use weapon that only works against much lower tech I don’t think this is a viable weapon

While I'll agree broadly with the final conclusion, I'd like to quibble with the details. (Because, you know, that's the kind of people we are.) The answer may depend on exactly which version of Traveller is being used, but for the second variant why do you assume that the acceleration phase must happen in the target's system after the FTL insertion?

Should it be possible there are tactical advantages to running up to speed over weeks or months and only then engaging the jump drive to show up near the target only a few hours from impact.

I've also given this some thought, relative to semi-independent worlds in the Traveller galaxy, and as far as I can see the only use for this is as part of a mutually assured destruction deterrence strategy. (Hm, NAFAL weapons as take-that gestures against attackers? Didn't some guy named Stross use that in a book?) It seems plausible to park the deterrence weapons not in your home system but some secret and empty part of interstellar space within one jump of it, and allow potential enemies to know that it will not be used as long as the homeworld periodically sends the no-go codes.

The variation that doesn't bother with the jump drive at all but impacts at 0.3c a century or two later is obviously only useful against regimes with stability and an interest in the future.

273:

And where 2 commensal species change each others sterotypy?
I am, of course, thinking of Humans & Cats, but, even so ....

Oh yes:

Initially,
She’d had to claw the panelled door and yowl,
To drag him from those slack-jawed dogs
She only wanted out.
But he learnt fast.

In weeks, a month perhaps,
She’d but to brush his leg,
And – leaving pad and bell aside –
He’d stand and fumble for the latch.

( Pavlov's Cat )

274:

Taking a look through books I can see, the nearest approaches are James Tiptree Jr "Up The Walls Of The World", Donald Kingsbury "Geta" and Greg Bear "Songs Of Earth And Power". But they aren't really the ones I was trying to think of, which I vaguely recall were more in the fantasy area.

275:

Designed using book 5, not sure if there are limits to what speed you can engange the J drives at might be tricky jumping at say > .3 C ill have to check my collection of LBB's

276:

IIRC the jump limit was 100 diameters, with no speed constraints. You kept the velocity you entered Jump with (which ignored stellar and orbital velocities). My house rule for that was that the velocity you had relative to the closest large mass when you jumped what what you had relative to the closest large mass where you emerged.

If you started calculating jump distances you discovered that some inhabited systems with large stars had the jump points well outside the habitable zones, so much so that it would take a week (or more) to cover the distance at 1G using constant boost. Which would have made them eminently defensible, but TNS articles had them falling within a couple of days in the FFW.

Yet another case of contradictory Traveller canon.

In many ways, Traveller resembled large software project, with innumerable different versions and local hacks to keep it working.

277:

Apart from Scalzi's Old Man's War, can't think of any recent oldsters-in-space stories.

Alastair Reynolds often has very old characters. The most extreme example is "House of Suns", where most protaganists are six million years old, and one of them actually experienced all of it (most have "only" few tens of millennia of subjective time).

But "House of Suns" is so far removed from today's reality that empathizing with the characters is all but impossible. In the "Inhibitors" series people routinely live for 100-200 years, but a few are significantly older -- and their age has changed them, often quite drastically. My favorite is Captain John Brannigan; he was already an old man when humanity first ventured outside Solar System and when the books take place, at the age of 500-600, he no longer has a human body -- his brain is merged with this spaceship. Consequently Brannigan has a very hard time communicating with "normal"* humans -- since he is a spaceship, his perception of reality is very different.

*I am putting the word "normal" in quotations because most people Brannigan struggles to deal with have perception of reality very different from ours -- they all have Augmented Reality implants, which allow for basically whole new set of senses. Yet Captain Brannigan's sense of reality differs from theirs far more than theirs differs from ours.

278:

Cast the passwall spell straight down into granite. Cast a cylindrical wall of force inside it. Walk away. It so happens that the passwall runs out first. What do you think happened when it ran out?

That one is easy. Passwall spell does not actually move anything -- it creates an extradimensional tunnel. Anything inside the tunnel when it runs out, such as wall of force, remains in that extra dimension. The granite is not affected at all.

For a more interesting example, substitute witch spell Pit, which actually creates temporary pit in the ground. It is only second level spell, so it probably shoves dirt aside instead of transporting it elsewhere. (Pit can only be cast on dirt, not on solid stone, wooden floor, etc.) If I were a DM and had to rule on "large hard object stuck in pit", I would say the spell lowered the ground like an elevator floor, and when the spell expired, the ground comes back up. Anything in the pit comes up with it.

Obvious player retort: I lay Wall of Iron (or just a really heavy boulder) on top of the pit!

My response: In that case, anyone still in the pit when it rises, gets crushed. But if you can cast Wall of Iron or throw multi-ton boulders around, you don't need the measly Pit in the first place! Just drop the thing on their heads.

279:

The Old Captains, Reifications and various Uploaded entities in Neil Ashers Polity universe spring to mind some approaching 1k yo - cant really remember if any of them felt distinctly old though, although boredom and ennui with their life is a fairly recurring theme. None of them fit the Grumpy Old Men in space meme though. Most of them are just killer sociopaths.

280:

Appreciate these titles! No pressure - but if/when you happen to remember the fantasy titles, please post.

BTW, Donal Kingsbury's Geta was titled 'Courtship Rite' in North America. Search shows it picked up quite a few awards including the 2016 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, therefore likely still in print. Intriguing, bizarre, taboo and scary world-building premises and limitations including a mix of old and rapidly encroaching new tech and the two power-hungry priests conniving their society into its first war. (The preceding description is based on a quick read of just a handful of Goodread reviews. Nightmares anyone?)

281:

James Tiptree Jr "Up The Walls Of The World"
Thanks for the titles. I see I've not read some of her work, including this one(ordered); she had a gift for the hauntingly weird.

282:

Re: 'Alastair Reynolds ... "House of Suns" .. Captain John Brannigan'

Thanks for this! Looked it up and sounds very interesting - will be adding it to my buy list along with Elderly Cynic's titles.

283:

Good book. I liked both it and Psychohistorical Crisis.

Very interesting world building. Not a pleasant read in that the world of Courtship Rite is a nasty place, but I've re-read it a couple of times and it's one of the few SF books that I kept when culling the collection.

284:

Re: Article 'Non-human Primate Models for Brain Disorders ... March 2017'

Thanks for this!

Read quickly and the first scare was that these lentivirus techniques are rewriting the germ line as well therefore passing any lab-initiated changes onto future generations. Shades of Planet of the Apes!

Hopefully these researchers will take extra time in double checking their results such as looking at all of the genome and not just the targeted gene(s) as well as getting the best advice possible re: their stats testing. Below is a recent article on what happened when good wet lab work met crappy research design/stats testing methodology. This study is on which genes are associated with autism - a very lucrative ($$$) pharma target market.

https://spectrumnews.org/news/researchers-correct-statistical-flaw-high-profile-paper/

285:

Um, y'all *do* know where "punk" came from, before it was punk music?

Look at any cop movie or whatever from the fifties or sixties: who do you think you are, punk? - said by an older man to someone usually younger who thought they were tough, but were obviously not about to go up against, say, John Wayne....

Not someone admirable, on the darker side of grey, or liked to think they were.

mark

286:

Two things that seem to be missing from your discussion: first, why would coming out of FTL leave you with negligible velocity?

And second, to call up Doc Smith... you pick an asteroid in another solar system at the right time of orbit, so that it's relative motion to the target planet is 180% off... then you just let it come out in front of the planet.

mark

287:

It's not entirely successful, in my view, but it does go beyond the usual tropes - as one might expect from her.

288:

Smaller targets: I enjoyed Tensor's floating disk. Could carry up to 10k gold, and floated off the floor 10' behind you.

So, a 1 spell point higher level of the spell: it's 10' between you, the disk, and the floor.

Orc charges you, and is about to swing his sword through you! Tensor's floating disk... under his feet, 2' in front of you. Tunnel ceiling is 10'. Orc is now 2' high....

mark

289:

It's a lot less of a horror story than that sounds. It's science doesn't entirely hold water, but the society it portrays is definitely not like anything on earth!

290:

Polity universe... killer sociopaths

Redundancy

291:

Re: '... secretly arrange microliths in circles in hidden clearings to predict eclipses and advise farmers when to plant crops, while evading the attention of agents of the druid high priests?'

The combination of your post and the current weather poked this idea into my head as a new spin on crop- and/or fairy-circles. For someone who wants to have the last laugh, arrange for their funeral service to include that a pre-specified floral arrangement on a pre-designed wooden frame be buried just a few inches below the ground, well above their casket. Eventually, after a heavy rain, a lovely crop of mushrooms emerge in the shape of the wooden frame, in this case, a smiley-face. Can only imagine how a groundskeeper or visitor would react. Could also bury a bunch of raw wooden planks (shapes) just a few inches/cms under the turf in front of a gov't or other institutional building with an appropriately creepy/ominous message.

Background: Whenever we get lots of rain (like the past week), I get a crosshatch of mushrooms sprouting on my front lawn. This is most likely because the builder's sod-laying crew didn't clear all of the construction lumber off the site before sodding (off).

Anyways - back to work!

292:

'Punk' superseded 'juvenile delinquent' sometime in the '60s, I think. It's shorter, catchier. And, makes it easier for someone to claim he/she said 'punk' rather than some other '...k' word that wouldn't make it past the '60s censors.


293:

It's definitely on my buy-list. Thanks again!

294:

Read quickly and the first scare was that these lentivirus techniques are rewriting the germ line as well therefore passing any lab-initiated changes onto future generations. Shades of Planet of the Apes!
Yes, that was the point; humans are primates that are not non-human primates. :-) They're mostly focused on "disease models" ATM[1] but that will not continue to be the case. And once "uplift" techniques are devised for non-human primates, variations of the techniques will probably be applied to humans.

[1] I haven't thought enough about the ethics so no comment; will spend a bit of time in google scholar starting with an easy primate-related google hit: The Ethics of Using Transgenic Non-Human Primates to Study What Makes Us Human and papers that cite it. Any reading suggestions (about the general case, not just primates and research) welcome.


295:

Alastair Reynolds
I expect that you'll enjoy the Inhibitor stories.

296:

I love that idea. I think I'll have mine done with puff-balls in the shape of a biohazard symbol.

297:

What's up with your DRM? I just bought your book via Lulu (as Amazon doesn't carry ePub), and now I can't open it because I appear to need an additional Adobe DRM ID? I do have an ID with Adobe, and it works fine with my epub reader e.g. for the local lending library (blocking access after 14 days or whatever). Now I am told I should "activate" my device for an Adobe ID when I try to read your book. I don't think I can get my ePub reader to store two Adobe IDs (it's a PocketBook reader), plus I don't want to.

Any recommendations how to read your book?

298:

Something else to consider is that sometimes one tiny error can have serious consequences. Meanwhile, for some other conditions, both sets of a gene have to have the same error/code. And, we already know that there's considerable within-group variation among humans (about 0.1% between any two humans*). So a side-by-side comparison of human vs. other primate by itself may not be enough.

'The gene responsible for HGPS is called LMNA (pronounced “lamin-a”). One tiny spelling mistake in the DNA sequence of LMNA is responsible for Progeria. This type of gene change is called a point mutation. The LMNA gene normally makes a protein called lamin A, which is an important protein for most cells of our bodies.'

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/LMNA#conditions

Excerpt:

'Specifically, the mutation replaces the nucleotide cytosine with the nucleotide thymine at position 1824 (written as C1824T). This mutation is also sometimes noted as Gly608Gly or G608G, which refers to the position in the lamin A protein affected by the mutation. Although the C1824T mutation is not predicted to change an amino acid, it alters the way the gene's instructions are used to make a protein. The C1824T mutation leads to an abnormal version of the lamin A protein called progerin, which is missing 50 amino acids near one end. The location of this mutation does not affect the production of lamin C. Other mutations in the LMNA gene have been identified in a small number of people with the features of Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.'


BTW, rapamycin is one of the most promising therapies for progeria. - Considerable buzz about its life extension possibilities as well as other functions. Good SF potential.

* Let's see ... 0.1% of 3 billion base pairs in the human genome is about 3 million possible differences that have to be accounted/controlled for. (Not including other types of errors.)

299:

Classically in Treveller you used boost mid point turn over decelerate and jumped with 0 Delta V - its the most cost-effective way and safer.

Military ships could jump with higher delta v's however managing to jump accurately enough so the you come out of the jump point aligned so you can hit the target might be a lot harder. You might end up pointing the wrong way and be unable to aply enough delta V to hit your target.

The JTAS did develop rules for multi object systems with multiple jump points which ones you can use depended on the quality of your jump drive with a J6 you had moor options.

300:

You might end up pointing the wrong way and be unable to aply enough delta V to hit your target.

A vector-agnostic FTL jump would certainly mean we'd have to do some re-thinking about what we think we know about physics and kinetic energy.

It doesn't sound like something that would fits Traveller, though; there the zero-speed jump seems more motivated by safety, as you can only see potential hazards after you've already arrived. The only edition I've studied in any detail is GURPS Traveller (which I don't have with me at the moment) and from memory in that one it was possible to do vector adjustments before or after the jump as practicality allowed. I seem to recall comments that a "running jump," arriving at B with high speed from place A, was perfectly possible just rarely a good idea.

301:

And once "uplift" techniques are devised for non-human primates, variations of the techniques will probably be applied to humans.

A more-or-less taboo topic in SF is "downlift" — instead of increasing sociability and language capacity of apes, dolphins, elephants, and so on, could CRISPR and other techniques be used to manufacture a slave race? Start with humans. Reduce time to physical maturity but put a lock on sexual maturation (needs a dietary cofactor or an injection of something to trigger delayed puberty). Tweak development in the nucleus accumbens to make them eager to please. Condition them for obedience to "real" humans. Add distinctive phenotypic tags — variant skin colour or something — to make them obvious on sight. Add a rapidly fatal degenerative condition that is triggered by withdrawal of a necessary dietary cofactor/artificial vitamin, and triggers automatically if the organism sustains excessive environmental damage or becomes inconveniently elderly and infirm.

Note that we're already on the slippery slope — talk of producing transgenic pigs with livers, kidneys and other organs suitable for transplant into humans is somewhere on the same spectrum (but closer to the Wright Flyer than to the Boeing 747, to use civil aviation as a metaphor).

Yes, this is utterly evil. But there seem to be enough people out there who think that chattel slavery was a good thing that there'll be demand for tractable bodies. And whereas historically chattel slavery was rationalized by so-called "scientific racism" (which wasn't), this version would be the real thing, and pretty much impossible to escape from as well because they'll be designed to want an owner.

I see this as a possible end-game for the stratified fascist dystopia some of the Owning Class seem to be pushing us towards this decade: a tiny elite of oligarchs, a small precariat (formerly "middle class professionals") to keep the machinery running, and then ... what do you do after you've downsized all the "useless mouths"? Oligarchs got to have someone to rule over, after all.

303:

Ah no

the Traveller jump system meant that you don't always come out at the same place having better computers/software allowed you to reduce the risk.


The risk would be that you end up pointing away from your target and be unable to manoeuvre in Time to hit it.

304:

Yes, that. (I have occasionally wondered just what was going through Larry Niven's mind; he seems to have been obsessed with sex-linked intellectual dimorphism in his alien species ...)

305:

It used not to be taboo, merely distasteful. Delaying or (even eliminating) puberty is easy - think Turner's syndrome, and several other such known mechanisms. A more likely project would be to increase the sex drive, for 'pleasure slaves'. But I agree with you that I am horribly afraid that even we may see it - oh! so illegally! - but with support and use by some people in our societies :-(

306:

The Kzinti is about the worst example that comes to my mind, the Puppeteers had very little dimorphism, but used a related species as a host as in Octavia Butler's "Bloodchild". Disturbing in a whole different way. Must say I look forwards to your take on genetic slavery, I expect you'll have a different sort of fun with it than David Weber & Eric Flint.

307:

A more-or-less taboo topic in SF is "downlift" — instead of increasing sociability and language capacity of apes, dolphins, elephants, and so on, could CRISPR and other techniques be used to manufacture a slave race?

The GURPS Transhuman Space (which is very much what it says on the tin) did go there on multiple occasions. It had both humans genengineered to be docile slaves and biological androids (in the game called 'bioroids') some of which were explicitly grown as slaves. The material did not explore the consequences of those that much, though, but they were there and could have been the basis for many campaigns.

Also the game had sentient AIs and uplifted animals, whose status in various jurisdictions differed quite much.

In the game world most of the people did have good living conditions, though. I still don't like that the nano-socialists in the setting were apparently created by the author (David L. Pulver) to be the bad guys - it would have been much more fun in my opinion if nobody was really right and good. This can be of course added to the game, but the official materials don't have much good to say about the dirty nano-Commies.

308:

Re: 'Downlift'

This is what makes Zika so scary: this virus eats/targets neural cells indiscriminately (for now). Add CRISPR tech and it might be possible to create a Zika that targets more specifically any one of the 100+ brain regions. Can't think of anything that more closely resembles the SFnal Zombie virus. Okay, I get that not every Zika-exposed fetus has suffered harm, because if this were the case, the numbers of affected newborns would be much higher. Even so - no matter how you look at things - this virus is a serious wake-up call for the world because mosquitoes are going to be thriving in even more geographies thanks to GW. And, whether you decide to tame this virus or obliterate it, you're going to have to learn much more about the human brain and be confronted with some very serious decisions whose impact will be passed on through generations.


Delayed adolescence - hormone therapy has been used since the late 50s for developing winning Olympic teams of female gymnasts, shot-putters, weight lifters, etc.

309:

There are examples of downlift breeding in some stories such as Jack Vance in The Brave Free Men and the Dragon Masters, Also some which come close - The Time Machine, A Deepness in the Sky. Maybe the house chimps in Peter Hamilton's books.

310:

The onset of puberty has fallen drastically over the last 150 years, from 16.6 (1860) to 10.5 (2010) in Germany. In some industrial settings English girls in the earth 19th century might have waited until 19 for menarche. So in a way, modern society has had a project to unintentionally accelerate puberty.

311:

S.M. Stirling's "Draken" universe. Homo servus are genetically engineered to be non-violent and to love their masters. No delays on sex maturation, and frankly I am puzzled as to why you brought it up. Both servus and their masters use birth control as needed (obviously, the decision is master's).

312:

As I recall it, servus and drakensis are infertile with each other, this was one of the first things they designed in.

313:

You guys seemed to have missed this:

In 2013, Dr. Eugene McCarthy announced that Humans were the result of pig and chimpanzee hybrid, so if they start making human pig chimera we should expect to make new cousins that are people.

When I saw the first announcement I thought of the great Spencer Tracy movie, _Inherit the Wind_, would now be called _Inherit the Swine_. I read all the information, watched the fun Jimmy Kimmel skit, then went to Sam's Club to shop. Standing there, looking at the vast crowd standing in line, I thought, Yes, what a bunch of pigs, and wanted to start calling, sooey, sooey, pig, pig, pig, and see if people would come over to see me. HA!

A chimp-pig hybrid origin for humans?

Human hybrids: a closer look at the theory and evidence

Here is the website if you want to go direct.

Biology, hybrids, human origins and more

This is a fun Jimmy Kimmel skit that shows the theory. So true.

Humans evolved from male Pig and Chimpanzee

I now return you to your regular programming.

314:

Back in the 70s I took an overview course "The Biology of Sex". The professor said late puberty was more a Northern Europe ting, the result of eating cornmeal* mush and not much else all winter. Fresh food all year is a big part of it**.

He said that while median age at menarche was 16+ in Northern Europe it was 12.5 and had been since Roman times.

* Or equivalent local grain.

** Percentage of body fat comes into it also.

315:

In Brave New World they downlift the lower classes via intentionally induced birth defects. Including poisoning them with alcohol, presaging Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

I think they also do some breeding level eugenic selection in choosing which cultured gametes to assign to which class.

And of course it is one of the first examples of a dystopia where everyone is actually happy, or close to it.

316:

Two reasons spring immediately to mind, and there may be more...

One is for the side-effects on other aspects of development, to make them more suited to physical tasks.

The other is docility; it removes a powerful stimulus to undesirable behaviour. Standard humans fight about it a lot, and also find in it a potent motivation to devious behaviour aimed at private ends.

Compare the practice of neutering farm animals whose reproductive function is not desired - bullocks for beef, draught oxen, etc.

317:

I agree with Pterry on that one: if it was possible, people in some of the more remote farming communities would surely have found it out by now.

318:

One main character in Becky Chambers' recent "A Closed and Common Orbit" is an escaped downlifted slave. Sterile and marked by hairlessness, driven to be useful. A gifted mechanic because that was related to the functions she was created for.

319:

“My gift to industry is the genetically engineered worker, or Genejack. Specially designed for labor, the Genejack’s muscles and nerves are ideal for his task, and the cerebral cortex has been atrophied so that he can desire nothing except to perform his duties. Tyranny, you say? How can you tyrannize someone who cannot feel pain?”

— Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, “Essays on Mind and Matter”

From Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.

(The best part about the quote, I always thought, was that you didn't get it until *after* you'd built the damn thing, and were therefore complicit)

320:

OK, we've got examples from recent and not so recent books, tabletop roleplaying games, and computer games. Maybe not so taboo a subject after all?

321:

Look, I don't want to blow too many minds here, but the entire "Rockets and Rayguns" genre has some serious fans. In fact, it's almost the #1 genre for an entire country.

It's a little difficult getting translations, however:

Benoit Symposium: From Pyongyang to Mars: Sci-fi, Genre, and Literary Value in North Korea SINO NK, Sep 2013

창각단, or members of :

ON ESTABLISHING THE APRIL 15 LITERARY PRODUCTION UNIT NK Gov, 1965, PDF (er, and yes: WARNING: it really is from a NK gov source, so you know, you're on a list).

are kinda important.

Note: getting hold of genuine .PDFs / copies is extremely difficult, not to mention a decent / accurate translation. You'd probably have to poke the authors of the first piece to get anywhere solid (or, perhaps: send an email to the NK Embassy, you'd probably get free copies ^^).

Oh, and for the folks thinking that the West is just "so progressive" over gender / sex matters and get all cutesy 'awww, foreign author did AI spaceship pronouns using ze, look how we're spreading the light"... whelp.

This ideal combination of four people as a basic unit for reproducing all genders in Witanian society is known as a Kaiwanpandom. Translated, Teacher Lee decides on "온가시버시" (Ongasibeosi) which we might translate into English as "whole couple."

It's important here that they use "온가시버시"--i.e., combining the pure Korean "온" (on) with the pure Korean "가시버시" (gasibeosi) rather than the Sino-Korean 부부 (bubu). Somehow, this is a better translation of Kaiwapandom than one in Sino-Korean (or in English).

카이와판돔의 번역에 과하여 (Concerning the Translation of Kaiwapandom) All Tomorrow's Futures, Sept, 2009.

얼터너티브 드림 한국 SF 대표 작가 단편 10선 크로스로드 SF 컬렉션 1
복거일 , 듀나, 오경문, 이영도, 김보영 지음 | 황금가지
Original, 2007 - Publisher / AMZN / Goodreads equiv.

Yeah. Sorry Americans, they already are into far kinkier arrangements.


p.s.


Someone might have sent NK a sample of puppies to see if ideologically they can meet and be friends. *cough*

322:

OK, we've got examples from recent and not so recent books, tabletop roleplaying games, and computer games. Maybe not so taboo a subject after all?
(and others, including host)
Re "downlift", I've been wistfully/naively/pollyannaishly (sp?) hoping that (A) there will be multiple jurisdictions (e.g. independent countries) in the world (not necessarily geographical, though that's how we usually sort because we're made of meat) as the biotech becomes capable, and (B) that jurisdictions where most of the population are members of a large created lower-function slave class (perhaps with specialized subclasses) would be drastically less competitive than jurisdictions where the population is as high-function as achievable, and that this would matter in real-time. Can easily imagine plausibly-reached evil dystopias where this is not the case though, e.g. a genetically-created version of the Focused in Deepness In the Sky (mentioned by Mike Collins) . (Note that the 2117 thread broached the subject, JLM in particular.)

---
Newish, and local to our host (School of Geosciences, University of Edinburg, and others):
Could consumption of insects, cultured meat or imitation meat reduce global
agricultural land use?
(22 April 2017)
(Plenty of refs.) Haven't personally come to grips yet with eating insects in bulk due to upbringing (tofu/soy works for me, and crustacions, so should be easy) but it's probably in our future.
Figure 1, Soy, Mealworm lavae, Adult Crickets are the winners in both Calorifica yield and protein yield. (Big uncertainty bars though).

323:

(*cough* Persona off, have a Msc or more in this field)

Insect protein is never an end product (per se) like the worst TedX talks on vat cultured meats etc.

It's a replacement stage, one that has some very interesting biological properties (mostly the inability for the subject species to transfer pathogens to the next tier up, as host is aware with his penchant for parasites). i.e. Waste - Waste safety (heavy metals, chemicals, pathogens) - insects - feed - chickens / fish.

You can do the entire split market of 'Master Chef' insects, but this is so minute, it's only PR. And yes, you can make it direct into a paste / feed for burgers etc, which ultimately will save your ass when the Oceans go blurp.

The problem is simple economics.

Externalities simply aren't a consideration for global markets (nor labor, e.g. if you're looking at slavery in the shrimp / fishing industry etc, which is why it's cheaper to fish shrimp in Thailand, ship it to the Scottish Young's processing plant then ship it back to Thailand for packaging. No, really. True fucking story, go look it up).

Insects are extremely cost effective in terms of feed weight to output: but they don't have production chains that aren't protected. i.e. If you built a factory X producing Y mn tonnes product you run into two major issues: 1) the market isn't BIG enough and 2) the market isn't SMALL enough (niche enough). This is notable in the pet-food industry, where mass replacement of fish would be of massive importance to global safety.


I could go on. I might even know the economics of it. I might even know the geopolitical UN papers on it. But, nope: talk to GS, dem boys are set on hitting dat 455,000,000 tonnes produced angle.

And snorting coke out of hooker's assholes while the world burns for that extra 2%.

324:

The Young's fiasco is so old I might have missed a stage.

Thailand - Scotland - Thailand (shelling etc) - Scotland (packaging).


It's basically the #101 lesson in why you don't know anything about supply chains and economic costs for undergrads. I'd have to check if it still holds true (shipping costs are lower, so who knows? Young's might have taken a stage out from Scotland for somewhere like fucking Peru. No. I'm not joking, this is how the world works).

325:

Oh, and (persona off), next time you see a Hacker News breathless piece on solyent (hello the entire fucking medical / diet industry of such products that have far bigger scaling / better quality controls) on 'vat meat', know this:

About 5-10 years ago a serious ($1-5bil) project was put forward, fully scaling, full due diligence (i.e. unlike Hacker News, had actual professionals onboard) with UN backing to put insects into the animal food chain. i.e. pet food. With returns ~4-8% over comparative feed sources, without counting externalities (such as boats, fuel etc).


Let's just say: they're still using fishmeal, and it's running out.


Bitter?

Nope.

But you're fucked.

326:

Oh, and bonus round: Based in SA / Africa (lessening labor costs and also contributing to investment outlooks in said countries), could have had major impact on Chinese geopolitical influence, c.f. investments etc with major trans continental trade implications for the 21st C.

*cough*


Nope. People like Ted Cruz run your world. And they're fucking idiots.

327:

Oh, and before we get a large invasion of the Young Randians / Trumps, please don't think that you're the only people who understand economics.

The essential fall-down point of the project was scale: yes, you could scale it into the X mn tonnes (with a lot of infrastructure costs, less in EU/US/CN) but the issue was giga-tonnes. i.e. at what point could you ever replace ocean born protein sources, even with the most efficient / networked models.


Hint: You're fucked.

Basically it worked out that even if the globe (hello USA, $29.69+ bil / annum spending on just pet food now? (http://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp) switched to insects and so forth...

YOU COULDN'T SUPPORT EVEN YOUR FUCKING PETS.

At which point we all laughed, got drunk and giggled. Literally your oceans can't support your pets anymore, fucking finding Nemo.


~


Sponsored posts off - Persona[tm] is now activated. That was an extremely jaded young investment banker (ex-not-GS-one-of-the-other-ones) who is now crying.

328:

Oh, and HEXAD.

It's always strange to us when MEN find out what their actual ideologies mean. This poor sap is sobbing over his dog (not even his, his family dog). I mean, yeah: Fenton is a lovely good boy dog, but he's not the key to your heart... oh. Wait. [Viewers: yes, he's British, nabbed him in Singapore].


It's progress, so we won't point out what the fucking definition of genocide is, quite yet. He might vote Democratic Party and the world will be rainbows and joy.

329:

Oh and to tie this into OP's position, SF and economics:

Unicorns (aka the 'special band of buddies who have the right spunk to take down the big regime and make the big bucks doing it') have a certain place. They're romantic. They're cheap. If they don't work out, there's always another couple of bands of them in the bar. They kinda count on an Imperial stability and galactic trade networks and so forth to actually function, however. (We'll all just ignore the Star Wars prequels and American misunderstanding of what actual trade deals entail for a moment of the next 50 years- oh, but thanks Trump watched them *throws spaghetti in the air*).

There are times when you need a fucking horde that wipes the slate clean and begins again. This is kinda one of them. Hint: Unicorns, my friends, even with silly $$$ over them, are dead fucking meat. You got 5 yrs, tops.


Nothing Else Matters YT: music, Metallica, 6:25.

p.s.


Intel today: they're loading people into buses to kill them in stadiums again (US buses) along with UK police doing knock knock to arrest / detain our kind and in their words "Eliminate them".

Note: this is an atemporal message. But it happens.

330:

Yes. I was aware that other cultures and times had different outcomes. We tend to think of modernity and Northern European type modernity in particular, as the apex of human development; so results that show the process degrading us are more surprising. If I remember correctly age of puberty onset actually rose in early industrialization and was higher in urban areas than agricultural.

331:

Nutrition is the answer to that ( I think )

332:

and (B) that jurisdictions where most of the population are members of a large created lower-function slave class (perhaps with specialized subclasses) would be drastically less competitive than jurisdictions where the population is as high-function as achievable

It can be argued that our current world is the antithesis of your desires; yes, we have multiple nations, but the term "wage-slave" is so widely recognized by the populations of the most economically productive nations that it's not even funny any more; we live to work, rather than working to live.

There are polities out there with zero unemployment but a 10-hour work week where everyone has as much unstructured time to fill as is compatible with doing the minimum necessary to feed themselves; unfortunately we call them "hunter-gatherer tribes" and they didn't so much lose the race as not even realize there was a sporting event in progress until the missionaries/illegal loggers turned up and started evangelizing/shooting them.

Yes, thanks to medical care and less inter-tribal violence we have a much greater life expectancy. But I suspect if you compared actual self-determined non-sleeping and non-working hours between a hunter-gatherer life and a wage slave, the hunter-gatherer might come out on top.

TL;DR: it's possible that in the abstract, civilization (from the first settled neolithic farming communities onwards) might have been an epic fail.

333:

Yes. Something that has long been ignored is the time taken for ancillary activities - commuting, shopping, bureaucracy, house maintenance etc. I have long pointed out that many modern developments (including 'labour saving' ones) are counter-productive in terms of delivered output per hour, when the total time is included.

One example is the reliability of modern cars. Yes, older ones were unreliable, but the time lost was often under an hour; get the toolbag and materials out of the back, fix/kludge it up, and carry on. With modern ones, even a trivial failure that cannot be ignored often loses tens of hours (and, no, I am not ignoring roadside assistance schemes). My estimate is that I do lose less time nowadays, but it's only a factor of about two, not the usually quoted factor of five or so.

334:

Re: 60 vs. 10-hour work weeks


60-hour week:

Believe that the 40-hour week came in right after WW2 and was the norm for just over one generation. I blame the dotcom revolution for the 60-hour weeks that we now consider a given. First - because the guys who launched said dotcoms were all college age kids who were physically able to stay up insane hours without feeling wiped out or guilty that they weren't doing their share re: marriage/family responsibilities. You'll note that although these early founders retired several years ago, their insane college-year work hours remain entrenched mostly because 'we've always worked these hours'. (No, your founders only worked those hours because they were a small group cobbling together something, anything in time to show their client/sponsor/funder that they could deliver on their promise.) Second - these dotcoms also launched the tech we're all using today, and because they decided that the only way to get people to use a completely new tech was to bundle it (give it away), they pushed the interweb out to the masses.


10-hour week:

Society needs to get reacquainted with and preferably seriously invested in the arts, crafts, hobbies, sports, etc. via continuing education before we can as a society consider a 10-hour work week. One way to build in a reason/excuse for reduced work hours is: compulsory re-certification programs. E.g., If you want to stay in your field/job, you have to update and re-certify every x years. And, you take as long as you need to get the new knowledge down pat. No more treating education like it's a stopwatch race. It isn't; it's a process of discovery. Also, the tuition etc., would be free/universal single-payer program because that's better and less expensive than having folks get depressed, commit crime, suicide, etc. Too much free time is not a good thing for many/most folks. When the compulsory retirement concept first started, most of the first batch of retirees were absolutely miserable because they no longer had any purpose, nor identity. I don't care how people choose to spend their personal time as long as they're not hurting anyone. Adequate free time away from the usual daily grind is also a common theme according to the bios of gifted scientists/geniuses that I've read. This is even among those considered completely obsessed with their area of study: they'd work a solid 3 hours max then take off for a walk, climb, strip club, etc. Also - this means getting rid of the idea that people can have only one competency or interest. It isn't true and is counterproductive because it makes people feel that they have only one chance at being successful at something or, worse, they end up placing an arbitrary limit on their interests themselves which feedback to being more willing to work excess hours and so on. (And I do think such a system could work. It shows up in several cultures as the way that the upper/ruling classes live. )


Lastly, I believe someone previously mentioned (in an earlier topic thread), that a few hours of eager competent help is preferable to overtired, error-prone incompetence or even workplace sabotage.

335:

Regarding hunter / gatherer lifestyles , this was covered pretty well and accessibly in "Sapiens" by Yuval Noah Harari. The problem is late Stone Age hunter gathers tend to overshoot existing food supplies with leads to both war and agriculture. There is no doubt early agricultural societies delivered inferior quality of life but they also out competed hunter gatherer neighbors due to greater population density and organization

Regarding downlift (or in this case i guess it would be sidelight) I've lately been wondering whether pure strains of Homo sapiens genetic neighbors are recoverable ? Neadathrals and Davidians should, based on the amount of their DNA still in modern humans.

336:

Alternative take on that ...
Now I am "retired"
How THE HELL did I find time to go to "work"?

See also UhG @ 335.
Hunter-Gathering was not sustainable - look at the megafauna crashes in "America", Australia & NZ when people turned up, consumed all the resources & then had to work out what to do next ....
( Sound familiar, incidentally? )

337:

Regarding civilisation as a retrograde step:

Well, maybe. However, one thing about civilisation (at least potentially; we have wasted at least 50 years on Cold War posturing instead of real progress) is that it offers the possibility of protection against extinction level events - at least one type, anyway.

If we got hit with a Chixculub-style event (spelling?) anytime from the dawn of humanity until maybe twenty or thirty years from now, it would be game over. The dinosaurs went extinct because they didn't have a space programme.

Fast forward a couple of hundred years more, and we get protection against various other disasters simply because there are humans in other places than Earth.

338:

I never read "Deepness in the Sky", but the moment I got to your jurisdictions where most of the population are members of a large created lower-function slave class (perhaps with specialized subclasses) would be drastically less competitive, my instant thought was:

Who said genetically engineered slaves must be dumb? What you really want is something like directed Asperger Syndrome: brilliant individuals fully obsessed with their field of expertise, whether it is copper alloys or ladybug breeding. As long as you supply them with life's necessities and interesting problems, they will never rebel because they do not care about anything else. A society of such specialists would be far more competitive than the society where most people see "work" and "entertainment" as separate.

You still need "synthesists" -- people with talent for looking at seemingly unrelated fields and seeing hidden connections, -- but such synthesists are incredibly rare even among "normal" Homo sapiens, so the gengineered caste society will likely run rings around "normals" in that area too.

339:

Your second paragraph describes PRECISELY what Deepness in the Sky does :-)

340:

Ships as weapons: "A Dagger At Efate", Amber Zone in an early JTAS. Fun scenario: Bad Guys point ship at planet, smash drives and boobytrap ship.

341:

Targeting people with Aspergers to hire in corporations is starting. This is a PBS Newshour report. Look starting around 5 minutes to see the mention of Ernst & Young hiring people with Aspergers.

The transcript is here.

Why is job opportunity still lagging for people with disabilities?

This is the YouTube video

342:

To the multitude of exdamples for downlifting i want to add Ishiguro's "never let me go", while no geneticall downlift happens the protagonists are conditioned in a very scary way and similar to what host described upthread.
Also, in awa, the cow from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe from the hitchhiker trilogy.

I don't know half of the examples mentioned upthread, but I think (/not onlyfor me) the idea of conditioning someone to want to exploited feels severely yucky when we recognize it. Hmm ...

343:

Couple of other examples

Black Man / Thir13en (us title) by Richard Morgan - protagonist is uplifted but there's a Downlifted female sub species spliced to behave as Bonobo's.

Also Piers Anthony short story rejected from Dangerous Visions aledgedly called something similar to Cattle or Down on the Farm (sorry OGH). Downlifted human cattle.

344:

A
It's actually IN Dangerous Visions.
It's called: "Down on the Farm" IIRC
And is Anthony obviously preaching his vegetarianism, as well as other things.

[ Yes, I have read it. ]

345:

How much time do women get for self development in these hunter gatherer societies with no contraception (Rhythm method? Hah!), no abortion, and no child care?

Or someone born with spina bifida?

I'll take civilisation thanks.

346:

Actually, most hunter-gatherer societies are OK with infanticide and/or butt sex as "contraceptive". But overall, I agree with you. As would all females I know.

347:

"Down on the Farm". Think it was the second collection, but can't check as both went to my nephew last year. Protein starved as babies, kept without stimulation with thumbs bound and tongues cut. Implied at the end that the rescued baby might grow up normal (except for the cut tongue). Written well before genetic tinkering became the magic wand it later was in SF.

Not a pleasant story, but obviously left an impression (remembered details a decade later). Not very subtle about the vegetarian (vegan?) message, though.

348:

It can be argued that our current world is the antithesis of your desires; yes, we have multiple nations, but the term "wage-slave" is so widely recognized by the populations of the most economically productive nations that it's not even funny any more; we live to work, rather than working to live.
No argument, was self-censoring a bit due to known proclivities of the local wage-slave-master.
Still, it's less evil (ATM) than something like the Focused in A Deepness in The Sky. (Still looking for a good way to copy/paste from a google books search result, Linux. Names redacted to reduce spoiling.)

They came out of the main vertical corridor, and started down the ramp to the taxi locks. The Focused murals were everywhere ceilings, walls, floors. In places, the diamond walls had been planed thin. Blue light - the light of full Arachna, came softly through the crystal, darker or lighter depending on the depth of the carving. Because Arachna was always in full phase from L1 and the rockpile was kept in a fixed phase relative to the sun, the light had been steady for years. There might have been a time when [redacted1] would have fallen in love with that art, but now he knew how it had been made. Watch after Watch, he and Trud Silipan would come down this ramp and see workers, carving. [redacted2] and [redacted3] had pissed away the lifetimes of non-academic zipheads to make this art. [redacted1] guessed that at least two had died old age. The survivors were gone now, too, perhaps finishing the carvings on lesser corridors.

---
JMB, thanks for that story about that insect protein proposal. Rather upsetting indeed. Is the 5 year thing related to the rise of tech-driven panopticons?

349:

No clue where JMB came from, meant JLM.

350:

Actually it was called "In the Barn" and you were right was in Again, Dangerous Visions.

I read in Anthonology (it is what it says on the tin) many many years ago and it stayed with me. As did "On the Uses of Torture" which was the one I think (again from memory) which was rejected from Dangerous Visions.

Never quite though of him the same after reading those short stories, far more varied than his novel output.

351:

If we got hit with a Chixculub-style event (spelling?) anytime from the dawn of humanity until maybe twenty or thirty years from now, it would be game over. The dinosaurs went extinct because they didn't have a space programme.

This is an idiotic concern.

Chicxulub level events happen roughly once every 50-100My.

The human species so far has triggered a Chicxulub-level mass extinction due to climate change after being around for roughly 200,000 years.( Or at most 5My if you count the entire hominin family that gave rise to us. Or 12,000 years if you count the time since the development of agriculture.) This mass extinction event looks, frankly, to be a 50/50 probability of killing us by rendering agriculture impossible at some point in the next 20-200 years; even if it doesn't, our type of tool-using life appears radically unstable in the long term compared to the mammalian year (species life expectancy on the order of 1-5My). So the probability of us wiping ourselves out due to ecosystem destabilization is somewhere between 20x and 5,000x higher than the risk of a dinosaur-killer doing the job.

As for The dinosaurs went extinct because they didn't have a space programme., that's oxymoronic. Do you believe that cats have a space program? Or wildebeest? They're mammals too, after all, and humans have a space program, so by extension do they. No, really: dinosaurs went extinct because they don't appear to have developed an intelligent species with a tool-using extended phenotype capable of producing technological artefacts capable of protecting them from a massive meteor strike. Of an order that we would be vulnerable to, too, at this point in time, or do you think we have the tech to deflect or destroy a 10km diameter comet in less than a decade? (Hint: estimated impact velocity: 20km/s. Mass; several gigatons. Let me remind you that the velocity there is of magnitude about 20% greater than the fastest direct ascent spacecraft ever launched from Earth, New Horizons. The tech to deflect a Chicxulub scale event is not ruled out by physics but doesn't currently exist and might not be possible to produce within the likely window of opportunity between discovering a new impactor and it arriving.)

Gaah.

This argument makes me angry these days, like the assertion that we need to vandalize the lunar regolith on a scale visible from earth in order to mine a ridiculously scarce fusion fuel to run through reactors we have no idea how to build in order to provide a marginal energy surplus while producing slightly fewer secondary activation isotopes in these unicorn reactors ... while an alternative fuel is sitting around in drifts on salt flats right here on Earth. It only holds up if you systematically ignore the sequence of logic flaws in it. (Actually, preventing a dinosaur-killer is marginally more plausible than a lunar 3He fusion economy ... but? The first step is to build and fund some relatively cheap telescopes, right here on Earth, just to check in case there are any rogue comets heading our way. But as it's several orders of magnitude cheaper than space colonization and doesn't push the Manifest Destiny button it's a lot less sexy, so gets no funding. Go figure.)

352:
that jurisdictions where most of the population are members of a large created lower-function slave class (perhaps with specialized subclasses) would be drastically less competitive than jurisdictions where the population is as high-function as achievable
Why would that matter?
A reminder that as the South was economically outcompeted they doubled down on slavery rhetoric may be apposite here.
353:

Like Trumps idiots & friends doubling down, right now, you mean?

354:

Actually, I think there are better approaches to detecting such objects - still outside our abilities, but nothing that a medium-sized project couldn't deliver in a couple of decades. I am thinking of a shell of unmanned probes with multiple, smallish telescopes that report on any apparent movement, as well as their relative positions and passage of time (very, very precisely). The latter would provide information on whether any of the purported gravitational anomalies actually exist.

But, as far as deflecting such an object - oh, dear - that clearly needs automated asteroid and outer planet moon mining, as well as fusion drives. Nothing we don't know how to do in theory, but I don't see it happening in a century, even if we manage to save ourselves from civilisational collapse.

355:

Re: 'The dinosaurs ... extinct ... space programme., ...'

Personally, think the lesson here is that any species that is overly reliant on easy access to tons of one form of energy risks extinction. Small, less finicky critters including dinosaurs survived.


356:

A reminder that as the South was economically outcompeted they doubled down on slavery rhetoric may be apposite here.

Is it reasonable to make a case that, although Fascism is essentially a 20th/21st century phenomenon, many or most of its psychological ingredients were first pioneered in the Deep South/Confederacy?

I'm thinking: eliminationist rhetoric, romantic lust for simplifying solutions to complex problems, "scientific" racism, violence as justification for power, masculinism, contempt for feminine/unmanly values, nationalism, blaming an external power for internal setbacks, obsession with national security, cronyism/corruption, and so on ...

Does this list look familiar from the 1850s/60s?

357:

Think this list would apply to almost any imperial nation.


Mentioned in the article but should be a separate item:

'Not for me' perception of politics and of the current political process whether because politicos are portrayed as universally stupid/corrupt (US) or because open participation in grassroots or mainstream politics is perceived as too risky to one's career (UK). Both these scenarios/perceptions are likeliest to distance those voters who consider themselves sane/idealistic/informed/honest/ethical from the political process thereby allowing politicos more freedom to do whatever they want, including introducing policy that would be most inimical to the segment who've been persuaded to not get involved in politics.


'For/describes people like me' is the most reliable indicator of/for branding success ... seriously.

358:

Nope it's actually not very reasonable based on my admittedly light understanding of the roots of Facism

The South was generally not very influencial in continental philosophy, especially. It once it got conquered and basically destroyed

Sorry Charlie you will have to find another bugaboo to pin that one on

359:

How 'bout "partial" uplift, rather than downlift?

Ballad of Lost C'Mell?

There's also doing things to humans as they are. For some reason, I'm reminded of Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness - one of the gods is using a sex-booth, which has an actual human in it, head enclosed in metal case. Being a god, he actually brings her off. And then when he does that, and wins the answer to a question, asks what *she wants... which frees her. Not the question the booth's owners wanted asked.... And I believe she'd indentured herself for economic/social reasons.

Actually, though, if you can build androids, they'd make far more sense then growing humans - they *are* manufactured. And then you can dump a lot of birth control/abortificants in the most fecund areas water supply - or bottled water - and get *rid* of so many of those pesky underclass people who think they should have the same rights as a billionaire.

And on that note, VIVE LA FRANCE! (#insert scene from Casablanca, when the French drown the Germans with Le Marseilles...)


mark

360:

Before WWII. Actually, though I despise the man, it was Henry Ford who instituted it... because he'd had studies done, and found that working people > 40 hrs/week resulted in more mistakes, accidents, and less production.

mark

361:

Commenting way outside my expertise, but I'd conceptualize the difference as that between conservative and fundamentalist believers - one wants to preserve what they feel they have, the other wants to recreate what they think they've lost.
The difference might be between shitting on people who've always been shat on versus shitting on people who've had a glimpse of daylight, but it feels like there is a difference in philosophy (if not effect).

OTOH Portugal's Estado Novo appears to be regarded as a straightforward fascist regime whose primary struggle was resisting decolonization, so what do I know?

362:

I'm going to partially disagree with you on this. There's a psychological aspect to this that you're ignoring. Some people don't want more leisure.

I work with people in a Silicon Valley setting, and have worked on several teams. A large minority didn't want to take vacations. Their argument was basically: I enjoy my work and I am bored at home. We got annoyed with them several times because they'd finish their projects ahead of time since they worked off the clock. At first, I thought they were being pressured. As I got to know them better, I realized that they simply hated having free time. They couldn't function if they weren't in a high stress environment.

Here is an armchair profile of Elon Musk
https://www.quora.com/What-motivates-Elon-Musk-Is-it-existential-depression-from-childhood-and-what-does-this-mean

I can't find the quote right now, but Musk says that "he invents to keep the sadness away"

People like this have disproportionate power in US society.

363:

You're describing a self-selected set of super-achievers, though. Yes, I've worked with such people as well. I agree, they exist. But I also believe they're a small anomalous minority.

364:

Yes, that list ticks almost (if not all of) the boxes for just antebellumS-States.
Especially including the violence, whilst shrieking that "the left"/"the North" was/is committing all the violence.

365:

Also, "true" conservatives tend to believe in noblesse oblige & common decency, even if they don't follow the rules properly, whilst the fundamentalists don't give a fuck on who they shit on, because they have the one true way.
Which brings us back to the Authoritarian/libertarian, rather than the left/right political split.
Maybe.

366:

I know they're a small minority, but I don't know how small they are? It doesn't help that they probably cluster in very influential industries: legal, tech, banking. I wonder if this describes the CEOs of Google, Zuckerberg, etc? Perhaps this is why they instituted the 60-hour work week initially?

367:

Yeah, I learned to have more than one hobby even if there's knowledge crossover! I even appear to be using different ones to respond to different unpleasant exes...

Then again, I'm way past "enough stress to work" and into "too much stress to work efficiently" and learned that one a long time ago. I actually believed it at one point as a kid, mind.

368:

Having managed engineers in Silicon Valley pressure cookers it's pretty important to understand that most if not all of their tendency to work themselves to death is internally motivated

It comes from a combination of desire to perform, not wanting to let their team down in the slightest way and genuine passion in their job

It's also true that the vast majority of such high achievers will burn out and crash if you let them continue down this path. Humans need a life outside of work or else
They are unable to cope with work going badly. They also need human interaction and variety

My job as a manager is generally to enable and encourage outside interests and pursuits (especially family) and to flat out force unplugging if needed. It's not as easy as it sounds

My suspicion is that if the human race is freed from most of the uninteresting busy work you might actually see an uptick in this kind of person, not a decrease

369:

Clearly, we need to do both. A detection programme would cost next to nothing, would probably yield other scientifically useful data in the process and would also encourage the training of various sorts of scientists and engineers - rather than useless degrees paid for by cripplingly expensive loans.

However, detecting a Dinosaur Killer does very little good if one has no means to do anything about it. And, of course, the really big objects aren't the only ones to be worried about, as the inhabitants of Chelyabinsk had rather forcefully pointed out to them a while back.

Equally obviously, a city-buster is much more likely than a continent-buster and in fact, three of them have hit Earth within a century. (Tunguska, Brazil and Namibia.) So far, they haven't hit anything important, but that was pure luck.

I suppose we might get really lucky with the next one, with an asteroid strike of a few kilotons equivalent hitting the City of London (or Wall Street) square on the nose. Net gain, IMHO, for everyone not employed there. Especially if the strike is at midday on a weekday.

About fusion, I completely agree. I would also add something else; even He3 fusion is fundamentally flawed in that it creates massive amounts of radioactivity and also needs gigantic units to work at all. Neither objection applies to at least two other approaches to fusion (the front runner appears to be DPF fusion) which could probably be made to work using a different reaction (p/B11) which produces no radioactivity at all, and in much smaller units. Which promotes decentralisation, which IMHO is a good thing.

Finally, large-scale space industry gives clean energy - not even as a byproduct; microwave power beams would probably be the first import from space. But the Greens don't like that idea, because it involves icky stuff like heavy engineering and some serious maths and science rather than singing kumbaya. Nimbys and BANANAs just love Green ideas.

370:

My suspicion is that if the human race is freed from most of the uninteresting busy work you might actually see an uptick in this kind of person, not a decrease

If I could make a living studying critters on a coral reef, I would put in 60 hour weeks no problem.

371:

Um.

This is hilarious. [For instances of "hilarious" when "hilarious" means Your Death Spiral just kicked in].


New high mark:: Ocean heat content 0-2000 meters, updated through March 2017. Larry Hamilton, Twitter, 29th April

Decades of Data on World’s Oceans Reveal a Troubling Oxygen Decline Horizons, 3rd May, 2017 (link in the text)

Early Greenland Melt Spike Possible as Forecast Calls for Temperatures of up to 50 F Above Average

Early Greenland Melt Spike Possible as Forecast Calls for Temperatures of up to 50 F Above Average Robert Scribbler Blog, May 1st, 2017

I mean. Don't take this wrong way.

But if you're spamming our MIND with pathetic level monetary shit? Yeah. I've a picture from 2078. It's like the bison skull pictures America is founded on.


But, yeah, no shocking reveal: it's people.


The irony is, of course, what they used the bison skulls for, and what they used your skulls for,

~


No, literally: Would Someone, ANYONE, Kindly take a little bit of fucking responsibility and understand what's actually happening here.

372:

Thanks for those links. Not arguing, just wondering about the following:
The "Oxygen Decline" link mentioned that the author (and others) had done an earlier study on East Asian air pollution as a Fe source causing oxygen depletion. An old theory, with a large body of literature (going by the citations), and these new works seem pretty solid. Wondering what your take is, considering that gross (e.g. Chinese) industrial air pollution is a solvable problem and also seems somewhat more amenable to political solutions than it used to be.
Acceleration of oxygen decline in the tropical Pacific over the past decades by aerosol pollutants (16 May 2016, access needed)
and also
Air pollution–aerosol interactions produce more bioavailable iron for ocean ecosystems
From the later,
It is also important to note that soluble Fe from anthropogenic aerosols (for example, coal fly ash) may have a disproportionately larger impact on marine ecosystems than dust—because they tend to deposit to the Fe-limited ecosystems (1, 2, 39) and their emissions are continuous throughout the year, in contrast to those of the dust (9, 31, 38–40).

(Felt some rare loathing today for Scott Pruitt and his staff.)


373:

I suppose we might get really lucky with the next one, with an asteroid strike of a few kilotons equivalent hitting the City of London (or Wall Street) square on the nose

FUCK RIGHT OFF
What about the OTHER hundreds of thousands of people in the strike zone & who live in the area - i.e. the 10 million people inside the M25?

Your "suggestion" is about as humane, useful & socially-acceptable as the "nuke Mecca" brigade.
i.e. What about the innocent bystanders?
And, of course, all the historic objects, art collections, museums etc as well - presumably they don't matter either?

You sure you don't want a job in the USAF?
[ Unless, of course, you are simply channelling W v Braun / Bomber Harris? ]

374:

Does S Pruitt actually believe the shit he spouts ... or doesn't he care - the world can crash & burn as long as he makes lots of moolah?
The first would be disastrous, but is, just about understandable.
The second is ... vile.

375:

So far, they haven't hit anything important, but that was pure luck.

Not pure luck but statistics. Work out how empty the earth actually is, and that's without considering the common locations and angles of incidence an asteroid comes in with. In fact if 3 (did you mean the 2008 Sudan one rather than the 80k old one in Namibia) in roughly a hundred years is any kind of guide, I would guess there have been another couple of mid-ocean impacts that no-one has noticed. Chelyabinsk was basically a pebble and not really worth of mention.

376:

No, luck. It may be more probable that an asteroid doesn't hit anything important, but only the probabilities (and hence the distribution) are the domain of statistics. Exactly which location gets hit is a matter of luck, or chance if you prefer.

378:

In this case, I agree with you.
The idea was that an higher "station" meant higher responsibilities & (supposedly) a higher "Moral tone" to which one was supposed to adhere.

The example you liked to is not only vile, it's amazingly short-sighted & parochial.
After all, it was obviously written in the US "South" & the date is given as 1837.
It completely ignores anywhere on the planet outside the USA.
After all, Britain had abolished internal slavery in 1772 (?), trading in 1807 & ownership anywhere under British control by 1833 ( By which time, IIRC, it was only prevalent in the W Indes & S Africa..... )

379:

80% of our planetary surface is water/ice cap, so my money would be on at least 12 low-megaton impacts that nobody has noticed.

Chelyabinsk was not a minor incident; it was roughly 400 kilotons, i.e. on the scale of one of the larger RVs mounted on today's ICBMs. It merely shattered windows within a dozen miles because it exploded in the high stratosphere—a different composition might have gone BANG a lot lower, creating a much deadlier shock wave. Worst case: the thick end of half a megaton going off on top of Snezhinsk might have caused a major radiological release, if not been mistaken for an act of war.

380:

Any major (sub-megatonne) water impact in the past forty or fifty years would have been picked up by underwater hydrophones listening out for submarine movements. They are VERY sensitive devices. Whether Joe Scientist would ever be permitted to trawl through the records looking for the sort of acoustic fingerprint an impactor might leave behind is another matter.

381:

It's that last which I reckon is a lot more worrying than damage from the actual rock. After all, rocks big enough to do global damage on their own are not common, but ones big enough to do a decent nuke impersonation are quite familiar, and it's only too easy to imagine one hitting somewhere in the US and Trump pounds on the nuke button and has an orgasm and tweets about it.

382:

I recall hearing a decade or two back that one of the benefits of the end of the Cold War was that marine biologists got to use old SOSUS tapes for whale song research.

383:

Any major (sub-megatonne) water impact in the past forty or fifty years would have been picked up by underwater hydrophones listening out for submarine movements.

Except virtually no substantial meteorites make it to ground level intact; they usually detonate 15-50km up in the stratosphere or low ionosphere. They come in fast, at escape velocity or even faster, and they're usually pretty cold, so the thermal stresses they're subjected to are staggering, and they're usually loose-packed snowballs with embedded grit or gravel. "Rocks" do happen, but they're relatively rare, especially at larger sizes.

384:

Interesting quote from the Wikipedia page on SOSUS.

The combination of location within the ocean and the sensitivity of arrays allowed the system to detect acoustic power of less than a watt at ranges of several hundred kilometres (The system is so sensitive that it can even detect the presence of Soviet/Russian Tu-95 Bear 4-engine bombers flying overhead; the tips of the bombers' long propellers exceed the speed of sound, creating sonic booms as they rotate. These sonic booms reach the surface of the ocean below, which then transmits the sonic shocks to the underwater hydrophones.[2])

If true it suggests at its peak it would have picked up any significant sonic boom.

385:

On meteor/bolide detection:

https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/fireballs/

I think that the data mostly comes from IR missile warning and/or intelligence satellites in GEO and HEO.

386:

Does S Pruitt actually believe the shit he spouts ... or doesn't he care - the world can crash & burn as long as he makes lots of moolah?

To attempt to answer your question, I forced myself to watch some video of him. Here's one (as American interviews go it's reasonably aggressive, just to level set for UK people) that embeds another, so it is a pretty good sample.
The left and right agree: Fox News destroyed EPA chief Scott Pruitt over climate change
At about 5.05 Chris Wallace plays the infamous Scott Pruitt denial video clip then questions him further.
I see a man who is comfortable with the idea that there is large uncertainty about the climate effects of GHG forcings, and that because of the uncertainty (and his emotional ties to the fossil fuel industries), the US should do as little as possible to reduce GHG emissions. Chris Wallace asks "what if you are wrong" and the Pruitt's answer is a rote repetition of the traditional (past 10 years) GOP canon party line, moderated a bit from pure denial (or "it's a hoax"). Maybe I'm missing some tells (watched it at 50% speed).
Another, if you can stomach it:
Video: Scott Pruitt gets grilled by Bernie Sanders on climate change, Oklahoma earthquakes (The earthquakes bit can be skipped; Sanders is just making a point.)

Anyway, I wish him apocalyptic nightmares about climate change. (Hey, just sharing.) And maybe, more constructively, some private consultations with the most effective communicators among the many many many many climate scientists who are terrified about the scarier outcome possibilities. Risk reduction is one of the excuses for small-c conservatism; he needs to realistically incorporate the possibility of severe outcomes into his assessments, and he is clearly not doing so.
(Elements of the US conservative press have started making these sorts of arguments; he needs to start paying more attention to them. And also to the scientific literature, directly or through a staffer.)

387:

Risk reduction is one of the excuses for small-c conservatism
Actually it's one of the reasons for small-c conservatism ...
But, then & so, even more & redoubled in Spades - why is the risk-reduction not taking place?
It's against their own political philosophy.

Wierd

388:

Reality ( well, supposed reality ) update.
A y'all probably know by now, Trumpolini has just sacked the FBI director, Comey, almost certainly because he was getting too close to DT's FSB/Kremlin links.
People are screaming "Nixon!" & "unconstitutional!"

Which brings me to a thought of a couple of days ago.
Is the US approaching its own version of 1831-32, when the electoral system was obviously broken & had to be reformed?
The gerrymandering, the rigging of eligibility to vote, the corruption, the voting machines etc ad nauseam.
Will they reform, even with faults ( women were deprived of the vote in 1832 ) or will they stagger on to disaster? [ I also note that protest is being heavily suppressed, by attempted "laws" that are plainly unconstitutional, f'rinstance. ]

389:

The NK-12 blade tips (larger prop) move at just under 19.5m/rev. This would make their speed for blade tip Mach 1 at STP just over 1_016 RPM. Quite aside from the noise consideration, this will also reduce blade tip efficiency and hence thrust. I'd suggest that the turbine reduction gearboxes run the props slower.

390:

Bits of a meteorite that explodes in the upper atmosphere still hit the surface, if not at re-entry speeds. I recall that parts of the Chelyabinsk meteorite impacting on land caused noticeable transients in seismic detectors locally and I'd expect large fragments of a big meteorite landing in open ocean to similarly cause noticeable transients in hydrophone networks, in part since water is a very good conductor of sound.

391:

Well if you were one of "those kinds of people" who make everything about repetitive cycles of history, then Nixon is Sulla and Trump is, umm, Crassus?* I am not one of those people, by the way, but it can be an amusing game to play. (Obama/Clinton as Cicero: people who talked the talk, but kept degrading the rule of law in the day to day, like Cicero's handling of the Catiline Conspiracy.)

*He's definitely not Caesar, but he could be one of the many jerks that paved the way for Caesar.

392:

The Tu-95 has very big props because it's a big aircraft hence the contra-rotating propellor system to get more thrust out of the constrained swept diameter, limited by ground clearance on runways. The alternative would be to fit more engines each with a smaller prop or go fully jet-engined.

The speed of sound of a gas such as air is not affected by pressure, only temperature. At high altitude the air temperature is noticeably lower than at sea level -- the TU-95's cruise altitude is about 10,000 metres and the air temperature at that height is typically 210K or so meaning the speed of sound in air falls to about 290m/s. It may be the blade tips don't quite go supersonic in takeoff and climb out but do go supersonic in cruise at altitude.

It also may be that contra-rotating blades create a supersonic shockwave between the blades as air moved in one direction at subsonic speeds by the first blade meets the second blade coming in the other direction with the total speed at contact being above the speed of sound locally.

393:

Come now Greg, where have you been for the last thirty years? The current republican philosophy has no small c conservatism in it​. It's all about greed and fucking over the poor. There is no risk perceived by their faction of the elite, therefore no need to do any thing.

394:

Lots of good background on the TU-95 on stackexchange, some of which links back to the SOSUS page on wikiP.

https://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/22229/why-is-the-tu-95-so-efficient-despite-having-propellers-that-spin-faster-than-th

395:

Based on Gordycoale's link (#394), the rotary speed of the Bear's props is only 750rpm, giving a tip speed of 247m/s which is comfortably sub-sonic.

However, whilst doing my own research I also found a report that the Avro Shackleton had a "distinctive noise that caused pilots to develop high-tone deafness". Now, the Shack also has contra-props but there is no suggestion that its blade tops exceed M1.

There is some nonsense talked on the subject though, for instance by the people who are apparently completely unaware of the North American Harvard/Texan, the blade tips of which DID EXCEED M1 AT SEA LEVEL!

396:

You missed the bit further down where you have to take the aircraft speed into account too which pushes it into the supersonic range.

"This allows a top speed of Mach 0.82, and now the tip speed comes out at 327 m/s or Mach 1.08 — mildly supersonic. This means that the outer 30% of the propeller experience supersonic flow." IE the import variable is the speed of the airflow.

397:

Re: 'There's a psychological aspect to this that you're ignoring. Some people don't want more leisure.'

Hmm ... not ignoring, and I agree that 'some people don't want more leisure'. Finding out what is work vs. leisure to different folks is key, as is knowing what they enjoy/hate about a particular activity and why.

Do feel that encouraging folk to try different activities is beneficial firstly because I believe that this provides their minds with a better/broader range of stimulation. And if a person is very sedentary, would encourage they try something a bit physical. [For the hard-sells: there's plenty of research showing that a good physical workout encourages neurogenesis regardless of age therefore making that person even brainier/better able to tackle whatever intellectual puzzle they're working on.]

398:

Re: 'No risk for the elite'

Idle curiosity given the new vacancy in the FBI: What protects elites from being charged with high treason? And, would a charge of high treason hurt any of them given that the $10,000 fine is equivalent to lunch for 4 in some DC restaurants. Will concede that being unable to hold office might hurt those who like to look important and personally rub elbows with others of their kind.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2381

18 U.S. Code § 2381 - Treason

Current through Pub. L. 114-38. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)

'Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.'


BTW, DC banned death sentences some time ago and because 'The President of the United States has sole pardoning power in the District.', any trials for high treason should start at the top.

399:

There seem to be an awful lot of people with this weird idea that certain things can only be done as work, and that leisure activities have to be chosen from a particular rather limited set of activities that are not done as work, of the nature of going down the pub or monging in front of the TV. This is, of course, nonsense, and all the more so the less physical the "work" activity is, as the above programmers example demonstrates: if you want to spend 60 hours a week programming then all you have to do is turn your computer on; there's nothing at all that says you have to do it for work, and indeed it's almost certain that the result will be of greater societal benefit if it isn't done for work, whether it's an open-source project of the Linux scale or just a purely personal programming equivalent of monging in front of the TV.

400:

Five years' bang-up doesn't sound like much fun, though; or is the system sufficiently corrupt that they would be able to transform it into the equivalent of five years' luxury hotel stay?

401:

Re: ' ... the system sufficiently corrupt ... equivalent of five years' luxury hotel stay?'

While white-collar prison isn't as physically dangerous as regular prison, it lacks some of the finer amenities such as golf although according to the article below do have tennis courts.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2011-10-27/surviving-white-collar-prison

....

A few years back saw this prison youtube video (26+ million views to-date!) and wonder what musical number DT's WH gang would sing & dance to.

Michael Jackson's This Is It - They Don't Care About Us - Dancing Inmates HD

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKtdTJP_GUI

403:

What protects elites from being charged with high treason?

Aside from the obvious point that they're elites and hence are essentially immune from receiving a parking ticket much less a capital felony, treason is essentially unheard of under US law.

Due to well known abuses under English law where treason was essentially used as an arbitrary power to murder political opponents, in the US treason is strictly defined in the Constitution and convictions for it are extremely rare. Typical treasonous acts like overt spying on wartime for example are typically punished under various other espionage laws because treason is so hard to prosecute.

It would be difficult to prove legal treason here since, for example, Russia is not actually an enemy of the United States. They're not at war with the US and have cordial diplomatic relations.

If someone was literally convicted of treason, they'd most likely be sentenced to death.

404:

DC banned death sentences...

FYI: DC city rules are just municipal code and have no relevance to Federal law in the district.

There's actually a lot of antagonism between DC residents and the US government, so the city often makes protest regulations. For example they officially issue license plates reading "Taxation without representation" in protest of their status as a special capitol territory.

405:

That's what I suspected, but I have no experiaece of the USSA up close & personal, so I thought it might be worth asking

406:

Ask Adolf's ghost about Landsberg?

407:

The problem there is that any personal experience, unless you are a direclty involved in knocking on doors, involves the same distance from the great mass of people (over 300 million, I hear) as us here in the UK. So a broad reading of various online resources should give you a decent idea of how totally nuts the republican party leaders and a large chunk of their voters, actually are.

408:

why is the risk-reduction not taking place?
It's against their own political philosophy.

"conservatism" in the US was hijacked by the Big C "Conservatism". (OK, awkward metaphor) It is now as guthrie describes; basically an ideology focused on redistribution of wealth into the wealth piles of the wealthy, with particular focus on the growing the wealth piles of the very(very(very(very))) wealthy, and with some not-entirely-sincere mods and rhetoric to gain enough votes from others to win elections.
There is an increasing amount of pushback in the US among old school small-c conservatives that needs to be encouraged, IMO. Even in the event of a collapse, traditional conservatives can be an asset.
An example being commented about today is Jennifer Rubin ("If Trump fired Comey over Russia, he must go") who was pretty odious but has been surprising more recently. (Yeah, moods are fouler than usual in the US today. Expect a lot of leaks; for example a lot of people at the FBI are irritated if stories are to be believed.)

409:

Thanks for that.
I read the J Rubin piece ... she's a fairly right-wing US Repub, right?
Yet she says thsi:
Every single Republican must make a decision: Insist on full-throated, independent investigation of the firing, or be party to a possible cover-up. Every candidate for office in 2018 must be asked a question: If it is determined that Trump fired Comey to interfere with the Russia probe, would that representative vote for impeachment/senator vote to convict? Yes, it really has come to that.

"Interesting times"

410:

That's a good point, you couldn't allow them pencils and paper...

411:

Other than possibly "North Korea" (AIUI the 1953 Armistice is an ending of hostilities, but not a binding and lasting peace treaty) and the "Burgh of Berwick upon Tweed" (there are a few cases where it's formally named separately in a declaration of war but not in the peace treaty ending same) I can't think of anyone that the USA is presently "at war" with.

412:

Er, Syria? The fact that the USA hasn't declared war makes it unlawful, but it assuredly IS waging war against Syria.

413:

Is that a war, or just a "police action"? (no difference, except for not needing to be put before Congress)

414:

Oh, REALLY! There is a major difference in international law, not that the USA cares about that. A police action has to be in support of the legitimate authority which, in this case, is the Assad regime. Russia's actions are a a police action; the USA's (and its lackeys') are waging unlawful warfare against a sovereign state. None of that is affected by the fact that Assad is a total shit.

415:

I thought the snark level of 12 was obvious; apparently not.

416:

Sorry. I am not good at reading such things!

417:

Digressing slightly, how many proper wars have there been since WW2, whether or not the US was involved?

By proper war I mean one where a government, or something closely resembling a government, formally declares war before or at least soon after fighting starts. And ends with a peace treaty of some sort and the fighting mostly stops.

418:

Are we counting Israel vs neighbouring "Arab" states as 1 war or many wars? Similarly with the Vietnamese wars of independence?

419:

Good question. I'd be inclined to call it all one war, and still ongoing even though Egypt and Jordan have peace treaties with Israel. But I don't know the history well enough to know if there were formal declarations.

Of course, along with my concept of a "proper war" there is the question of what counts as a "proper peace".

420:

Falklands
IIRC The UK stated that "A state of war exists" after the junta's invasion.

421:

Russia's actions are a a police action; the USA's (and its lackeys) are waging unlawful warfare against a sovereign state.

If the USA (and its lackeys) (what, no mention of running dogs?) were attacking targets within the control of the Syrian Regime, then you're quite right. Use of cluster weapons in civilian areas by Russian bombers is indeed a "Police Action" (no surprise if you look at Grozny), while bombing a solely military airfield used to launch a CW strike against civilians was an act of war.

What is Legal is not necessarily Just, and vice versa.

However, if the USA + Lackeys are carrying out strikes against IS / Da'esh, then they may be waging war - but not against the sovereign state. And if you argue that IS are a de facto state, then it's difficult not to offer the other factions opposing the Syrian Regime that same legitimacy.

422:

Nope - afraid you're incorrect on this. DC is under presidential or congressional control depending on the issue.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_home_rule

423:

On a lighter note ... last year DC had one of its worst floods. This year is also looking pretty wet. With the EPA on life-support at best and the GOP in GW-denial mode, maybe they'll ignore the next flood forecast while everyone else packs up and heads to the hills.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/video-footage-shows-the-day-a-flood-turned-a-metro-station-into-cleveland-ark/2016/06/22/2e80c270-3894-11e6-a254-2b336e293a3c_story.html?utm_term=.72b0ffcae8fb

424:

I suggest that you look up the targets the USA etc. have attacked, which include a Syrian air force base. And they are also providing material assistance to Syria's enemies including, God help us all, an Al Quaeda offshoot.

425:

The US hasn't formally declared war since WWII, has certainly been conducting wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen...

In the context of "Treason" the law actually refers to "enemies" so presumably Daesh would qualify and Scotland would not.

426:

DC is under presidential or congressional control depending on the issue.

I think you misunderstand me, or we're just talking past each other. D.C. local government has a limited amount of power as Congress allows, but my point was that it has no relevance to Federal laws in the district. Whether they have the death penalty for local laws (e.g. against murder) isn't relevant to whether Federal crimes like Treason or Copying Cassette Tapes can receive the death penalty.

427:

In more US news, the US Cybersecurity executive order is out.
Presidential Executive Order on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure
Betcha DT didn't read it. :-)
Anyway, I'm looking at Sec 2 (e) Assessment of Electricity Disruption Incident Response Capabilities.
and (f) Department of Defense Warfighting Capabilities and Industrial Base.
and feeling twitches of paranoia (about the possibility of a formal setup for a false flag operation, from discussions in previous threads), e.g. from the (e):
(ii) the readiness of the United States to manage the consequences of such an incident; and

(iii) any gaps or shortcomings in assets or capabilities required to mitigate the consequences of such an incident.
and
The assessment shall be provided to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, within 90 days of the date of this order, and may be classified in full or in part, as appropriate.
Bold mine.


428:

You didn't actually address the 2 cases I cited in the message you replied to.

Of the 4 you cited, AIUI in Afghanistan and Iraq (and Kuwait) the USA (and others) were acting in support of UN resolutions, and therefore did not need to issue a diplomatic note saying "a state of war exists between the USA and $nation".

If we are going to treat Da'esh as "a nation" (which I'd have grave misgivings about doing BTW for all sorts of reasons) then where would we address the note to?

429:

Unless you are careful (hint) you can't read that WashPost article - you need a subscription, unless you know of a handy back door ....

430:

FWIW, the US has only declared war five times in its entire history: (1) War of 1812; (2) Mexican-American War; (3) Spanish-American War; (4) WWI; (5) WWII.

So every other time they have used their military to bang Johnny Foreigner's[1] heads together has been without Congressional approval. This is perfectly acceptable to the powers that be in Washington.

[1] Or the Johnny Reb - Billy Yank business of 1861-65. Also the various wars against the native peoples that had the misfortune to live within the borders that the US claimed.

431:

Huh? No prob, unless you've hit your monthly free articles limit.

432:

Not sure about (5) - does it count as "declaring war" if the other side declares it first?

The Japanese were the ones who declared war on the USA on 7th December 1941 (even if the bombs fell before the Japanese Embassy delivered its decoded message); and the Germans and Italians declared war on the USA on 11th December.

Granted, the US Navy and Kriegsmarine had been shooting at each other for few months by then...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Reuben_James_(DD-245)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Happy_Time

433:

True, but Wikipedia suggests that Germany and Italy were the ones who formally declared war on the USA (as a response to the formal commencement of hostilities in the Pacific, and using your cites as justification.

434:

I oversimplified when I talked about the US only declaring war five times.

The US declared war in five separate wars (as listed above). However, in WWI the US declared war upon Germany and Austria-Hungary, but not Bulgaria (although Bulgaria was allied to Germany).

In WWII the US declared war upon Japan, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, but not Finland (although Finland was allied to Germany at the time).

435:

Greg! Don't be a jerk! WaPo does great work and deserves your money for a subscription. I subscribed to the Guardian to help keep your democracy alive, so give a little back to help ours.

And not just because if we go down the tubes, one of the biggest blocks to keeping you all from going the same way will be removed.

Everyone here on this thread should go out right now and buy a subscription. Right now.

436:

Re: '... has no relevance to Federal laws in the district.'

Maybe we are talking past each other ... however, even though a crime is considered a federal capital offense, the punishment depends on the state in which the offender is tried/found guilty.

What I was getting at is that Congress specifically revoked the death penalty for DC some years back - this is a blanket 'no death sentence', period.

437:

The point I was trying to make, was that "declaring war" is rather redundant if the other side has already declared war on you.

Japan declared war on the USA on 7th December 1941; the USA responded by declaring war on Japan on 8th December.

German and Italy each declared war on the USA on the 11th December 1941; the USA responded by declaring war a few hours later.

;) ;) Only two years late ;) ;)

438:

The hydrophone networks weren't ocean-spanning; that would be rather expensive. AIUI, they were more of a tripwire across key choke points, allowing the triggering of other resources (ASW aircraft and ships). In the Atlantic, this was the GIUK gap.

Anyway, they did open up some of the older USN resources for research, under restriction; underwater volcanic eruptions and the movement of blue whales, in the examples given

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/technology/tools/acoustics/acoustics.html

439:

The use of 'punk' as an insult is pre-dated by its use as both slang for semen and jargon for one of the waste products of metal smelting. At certain points in the mid 20th century 'punk' was equivalent to 'prison bitch', as well. I suspect that the use as a generic insult, particularly in the context of cop shows in the 60s, was derived from the 'semen' and 'prison bitch' senses: i.e., the person is being compared with wasted genetic material / bodily fluid, and their ability to defend themselves against the sexual advances of criminals is being questioned.

440:

The hydrophone networks weren't ocean-spanning; that would be rather expensive. AIUI, they were more of a tripwire across key choke points, allowing the triggering of other resources (ASW aircraft and ships). In the Atlantic, this was the GIUK gap.

The US SOSUS system exploited the deep sound channel and could achieve long range detections, particularly against the earlier generations of Soviet submarines, which were noisy. Soviet hydroacoustic systems, because of their hydrographic situation and the quietness of US submarines, did tend to be short range and operated as local barrier systems.

http://www.public.navy.mil/subfor/underseawarfaremagazine/Issues/Archives/issue_25/sosus.htm

441:

I was about to quote the OED re. origin and definition of 'punk' but the NLS link to it isn't working properly. So anyway, I seem to recall that here in the UK it has an old meaning, of old rottten and brittle wood, or can also mean small bits of wood used to start a fire.

442:

old rottten and brittle wood, or can also mean small bits of wood used to start a fire

That's the only meaning of punk, aside from the pejorative one, that I ever encountered. Actually, both together: dry rotten wood used as tinder. (USA AZ middle C20)

444:

That's the "proper" meaning I know for it too. But viscerally it still carries the meaning under which I first encountered it, ie. someone with their hair in big luminous spikes and safety pins through their nose, and so while I quite understand the disintegration of the ship off the coast of Fourecks, it still feels peculiar to read it.

Never have I ever heard of it being used to mean "semen". We put an S in front of it for that, and nobody ever confuses the four-letter word with the five-letter one.

445:

Having got to this article after watching Dark Matter and reading the five thirty eight piece on Vin Diesel films as character based RPG I think the centrality of the character study is a major defining feature of the genre.
It's also a major feature of all the other good *punk like early Gibson and ribopunk like Holy Fire.
I also think that single books from other arcs that are more clearly space opera or military sci fi reinforce this. Eg winning colours is clearly military sci fi but with a junior main character and a single ship small world story arc it has a lot of the feel of the Vatta books.
But bring on a descriptor, any descriptor, as it will help me find a class of comfortable brain unwinding books I enjoy.

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