Sean M

Sean M

  • Commented on Defining space opera
    The traditional name for stories like Burroughs' Barsoom stories or de Camp's Planet Krishna stories is "planetary romance." They differ from space opera in some fundamental ways, such as not taking place in space; if there is space travel, is...
  • Commented on Defining space opera
    Yes, I agree that there is plenty of fiction published today which uses tropes which conservative, science-oriented writers were merrily deconstructing in the 1950s. I could not get through one Culture novel. Like Douglas Adams, it just was not my...
  • Commented on Defining space opera
    The Culture novels feel completely different from the kind of American fiction that your list of tropes seemed to draw on: Star Wars, the Terro-Human Future History, the Lensman novels, Retief's world, Flandry's world, the Traveller RPG, ... Like Asimov's...
  • Commented on Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera
    Although back in the 1950s, many authors were perfectly well aware that many of the genre conventions of space opera were impossible, and others were contrived or unlikely. They wrote stories deconstructing them, or essays like "Language for Time Travellers"...
  • Commented on Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera
    Excellent point. Psychic powers are a staple of space opera (and other genres of Silver Age SF). Even L. Sprague de Camp, who did not enjoy playing with fringe ideas as much as Niven or Heinlein did, toyed with aliens...
  • Commented on Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera
    And that is your privilege as host ... just keep in mind that if they can't tell what you want and are not convinced you are interested in fact-based criticism, people who know more than you about a given point...
  • Commented on Tanks! Why tank stories make great tech myths
    Although that one also gets richer when you look at it closely. There is an old narrative which builds on Plan 1919, the handful of "tank advocates" in the UK in the 1930s, and the German conquests of 1939-1941 to...
  • Commented on Tanks! Why tank stories make great tech myths
    On the other hand, von Braun pushed for the rockets to be built underground by slave labour, and those underground factories became so horrible that there is a SS report questioning whether they are killing skilled inmates too quickly. Its...
  • Commented on They Took Our Myths
    Yes, but again, that is only an issue if you want to =make money= off someone else's setting. Thousands of gamers and fan-ficcers and fan-filmers tell collaborative stories set in other people's intellectual property, and as long as no money...
  • Commented on They Took Our Myths
    While the problems with long copyright terms have been gone over on this blog before, there is a fundamental difference between "not being able to access a myth" and "not being able to tell or film your own version for...
  • Commented on In defence of Traditional (Eurocentric Quasi-Medieval) Fantasy: #1 I'll read what I like
    Well, I grew up reading SF and fantasy and playing roleplaying games, computer games, and trading-card games, and I have not seen it. I have seen many geeky people complaining loudly that SF and Fantasy is a ghetto, but not...
  • Commented on On the lack of cultural estrangement in SF
    And anyone with a browser or a local library can test the claim that no rich country except Israel has a total fertility rate above 2.0 (cough, France, cough) and decide for themselves whether they should be scared of high-TFR...
  • Commented on On the lack of cultural estrangement in SF
    You could look at it like that, or you could also say that Taylor has deliberately left the sexual and romantic lives of most of his human characters a blank slate. Readers are free to imagine them as straight, cis,...
  • Commented on On the lack of cultural estrangement in SF
    I would observe two things there. First, Howard Taylor is a Mormon, so its no surprise that the handful of romantic relationships in his fiction are heterosexual and long-term. Second, some authors of fiction (including OGH and the author of...
  • Commented on An age-old question
    Many people in most countries don't want immigrants, at least not immigrants with the same rights as everyone else. Right now Canada, Australia, Israel, and a long list of industrialized European countries let in more immigrants as a share of...
  • Commented on An age-old question
    As the OECD observes, "The share of the foreign-born population in the total population is especially high in Luxembourg, Australia, Switzerland, Israel, New Zealand and Canada where it ranges from 21% to 42%. In a number of other European countries...
  • Commented on An age-old question
    Scholars debate why such large numbers of Romans became landless and drifted into Rome in the last two centuries BCE. What they agree on is that the people who counted in a Roman election were those who could be there...
  • Commented on Some rambling thoughts on region restrictions
    Simon, the problems with a novelist becoming a one-man press is that most authors are better being authors than managers, and that now the author has to spend money in advance in hopes of making it back later (the first...
  • Commented on Some rambling thoughts on region restrictions
    One essay which comes to mind is Orwell's “Books vs. Cigarettes” http://orwell.ru/library/articles/cigar/english/e_cigar Not counting novels (or web serials or blogs or ...) as "real reading" has a long history too....
  • Commented on Competition Time!
    Unauthorized use of PROJECT GRAVEDUST technology and material from the Bodleian Library to settle debate on the cannonical origin of orcs in Middle Earth....
  • Commented on Competition Time!
    Release of unearthly geometry and Enochian script to member of the public "Hosni Mubarak" in attachment "BankAccountDetails.zip" to email dated 2014/03/23 re: exciting financial opportunity....
  • Commented on Schroedinger's Kingdom: the Scottish Political Singularity Explained
    Well, the Proclamation of 1763 was a major colonial grievance in 1776, as it forbade the colonists to steal Indian land west of the Appalatians, and Britian did end slavery in its colonies in the early 19th century, even though...
  • Commented on We need a pony. And the moon on a stick. By next Thursday.
    Didn't the same article state that most rich countries were equally lax about eg. checking passports against the Interpol database of stolen ones? I don't recall anything more than my passport being checked when I entered the US or UK,...
  • Commented on We need a pony. And the moon on a stick. By next Thursday.
    Wasn't one of the few interesting things to come out of the tragedy in Malaysia that few airports actually check all the security features on '90s vintage passports, let alone experimental ones like fingerprint scanners? If there are plenty of...
  • Commented on The myth of heroism
    Its a bit older than Christianity: compare Virgil's Aeneas to the Odysseus of the Odyssey or the Achilles of the Iliad. For that matter, compare Homer's Hector with his Achilles. I agree that there is a great difference between the...
  • Commented on Yet another bad idea
    Be careful Mr. Stross. The last time a SF author had a horrible idea and posted it on the public Internet to be laughed at, he set forces in motion which made "Oh John Ringo no!" a meme. Ringo had...
  • Commented on Implications
    And some people like learning about different cultures (whether because they respect them, or because they like to feel superior to outsiders and their strange ways). They read history or anthropology or old literature or watch TV shows about subcultures....
  • Commented on Implications
    Harry Turtledove does this a lot, probably deliberately. Alternate worlds somehow recapitulate World War II or the American Civil War or Byzantine history despite much earlier change points. I suspect that he does it for the money, since he has...
  • Commented on PSA: Why there won't be a third book in the Halting State trilogy
    I felt that way when the "Guardian" et al. revealed large-scale government attacks on online banking data. If its not the potential for corruption inside the security services, its the results when non-state spies obtain their techniques. But "Halting State"...
  • Commented on Trotskyite singularitarians for Monarchism! A political speculation.
    Greg: In Bengal the British carried out a scorched earth policy then refused to allow food supplies to be shipped in once it was clear that the Japanese were not about to arrive. They had the shipping to do it,...
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