Human Wave Dreaming

This is not – exactly – about Neil Armstrong.  The truth is that I knew very little about him as a man.  I did watch the moon landing.  I think I’ve told before – you have to remember I was a BAD girl – that there were two televisions in the village at the time, one in the coffee shop, where it wasn’t quite all right for little girls to go even with their ten-years older brothers, and the other in my aunt’s home.

I have no idea if this is the true story, or if I’m conflating it from some other event (look, I was six!) but the way I remember it, my aunt was on vacation and so we broke (without damage.  Most houses in the village were easy to break into.  Yes, I knew this.  No, I didn’t have a career as a cat burglar.  I had a career as the resourceful kid in a family who often forgot their kids inside.) into her house to watch the moon landing.  I know my memories are somewhat scrambled, because the room I remember us being in is her living room in the house she moved into a year and a half later (next door to my parents.)

HOWEVER the story fits well into my personal mythology and gives my fans warning that I was ALWAYS a bad girl, (now semi-reformed.  Well, I try to be.) So I’m sticking with it.  To paraphrase from Stranger in A Strange land, because I’m too lazy to go find the book and look up the passage (which I haven’t read in ten years, since it’s not one of my favorite books) “When I was six, my mom wouldn’t let me sleep with my junior space explorer’s helmet on.”  – that sort of personal mythology.

Now let’s move past me, a topic all too likely to focus my attention and make me go on for pages, and instead go to what the moon landing meant.  What we thought it meant at the time was new frontiers (it’s interesting that growing up in Portugal I devoured books about Daniel Boone, David Bowie   Crockett — Bowie knife got in the way and damn it, not enough coffee — and Little House On The Prairie.)  The chance to go where no man had gone before and to forge new ways of living among the stars.  As a kid, that’s what resonated with me, I think, and it resonated very deeply because there’s something instinctive about it.  Humans want to go forth.  Humans want to conquer.

Or we did, once.  We did.

As an (amateur) historian, as far as I can tell the cycle goes like this: the mainland spawns the colony.  The colony is originally populated by the odds – those who don’t fit in well in the motherland.  Not just the eccentric but also those with odd ideas of how society ought to be organized and those who just don’t conform well.  In the normal way of things these aren’t survival-enhancing for the individual, but they are for the species, because they cause the species to send forth (as it were) pods to colonize new lands.  Overtime the colony ossifies and it sends out its odds to colonize…  And this way we came from the savannah to everywhere in the world that our ingenuity and work can carve a way for us to live.  Well done.  Pat yourselves on the back.  And what now?

It was no coincidence it as the US that sent a lander to the moon.  It would have made sense to then have sent out a colony.  Instead…  Instead we sat on our hands and became Europe.

This is no disparagement of Europe which is, in general, a fine place and has very good food.  But Europe is what is known as a “mature” civilization.  In the way of nature, you really can’t mature before you start to become senescent.

We in the US turned that corner at a screeching pace from brash adolescent to seeming senescent in ten seconds flat, going from the sixties to the depressed seventies in no time.

The thing is – and the reason I use “seems” – that I don’t think it’s real.  It’s a cultural pose, an idea imposed from above that “Europe knows best, and we should be more like her.”  It might be a good enough pose to fool the elites who go abroad and meet with Europeans in controlled circumstances.  It wouldn’t fool for a moment anyone who has lived there and who knows Europeans in private life, when the pant crease comes undone.

Comparing nations and their development to individual development is a violation of taste and metaphor.  Guys, I write Space Opera.  The intellectuals would say I violate taste for a living.  What is more, I ENJOY it.  So, here it is, what the US is going through is not true senescence but that rather trying time in which a thirteen year old affects the world-weary pose of its elders and meditates on the crimes it imagines it has committed, inflating its pecadillos not only to the same level as its elders’ sins but to world-staggering violations.

The key to this is the “affects” and “immitates” (Thomas Bailey Aldrich in Tom Bailey, story of a bad boy – a book I recommend everyone who can find it read – refers to this time as “when I was an unfortunate being” – which is how we called it as each of our boys went through it in turn.)  Underneath the world-weary pose and the drooping airs (it’s worse for girls.  No, really.  We usually fancy ourselves in hopeless love.) lies all the vitality of a young person.  Either a crisis that forces them to drop that pose, or an interesting enough project, and they forget they’re unfortunate beings and turn joyfully to the new thing.

I think that’s what annoys most Europeans about us, and why they can’t articulate it.  They approve of our unfortunate being intellectual elites, but our vitality shocks them and confuses them.  They never had any time for our pulp fiction.  Our glorification of colonization and expansion has horrified them since about the time they stopped colonizing and expanding, too.  And our tastes are crass and brash, and we find way too much enjoyment in life.

The problem is that Europeans and European tastes rule “real literature.”  The bigger problem, too, is that our well-educated elites wanted to be accepted by them.  When they took over science fiction, they too were appalled at the brashness, the boldness, the polished tin spaceships, the men who were the best thing among the stars, the simple codes, the frontier values.

They recoiled.  Their recoil brought us mannered Science Fiction which “held a mirror” to today’s problems, as their college teachers had told them it should.  The college teachers said it was the only reason that people read it and that it was so popular, and the well educated young writers (most of the pulp writers were well educated too, after a fashion, but not in the literary arts) obeyed.  Enter the involuted novels, gazing at the present through the navel of a future that could never be unless everyone in it were on prozac.  (No, really, seriously.  Thought experiment.  Drop a Heinlein character into 1984.)  Enter the tooth sucking – and please, keep in mind I actually like some of these – novels where we go to the past and try to remake it, a pastime of old age, not of a young, vibrant colonizing civilization.  Novels of going out to space and starting colonies were right out, unless there was some feminist moral and all the men died at the end or another approved political just so tale.

Turns out, though, that the college literature professors were wrong.  (yes, I know.  Who would have believed it?) and that SF sales plummeted right along with the introduction of “relevant” themes.  People moved on to fantasy, which was, of course, just colonization novels under a new guise.

Unfortunately fantasy does not point in the right direction.  I firmly believe literature is how we dream, and science fiction is how we dream about the future.  It points us in a direction; it tells us “this is how we’re going to be when we grow up.”

We lost that.  There are other problems, that might or might not be related.  We lost our birth rate, which in turn lost the needed “expendable genetic investment.”  (No, I’m not being evil.  But when you only have one child, or even two you’re more careful of each of them than if you have six.)  Some of our elites seem to outright hate mankind.

This might be because Earth Species, such as we are, have only two modes.  Expand and die.  If you’re not expanding, you’re dying.

Our literature has been dying.  Our dreams of have been dying.  But there is no way in h*ll I’m going to say we should go quietly into that good night.  Nor would most Americans and for that matter a significant minority of Europeans.  There’s life here beneath the mock-seriousness and the die away airs.

It’s time we stop being unfortunate beings and learn how to expand again – how to get out there and colonize the stars.  And we should start, first, by stopping putting all our thoughts and dreams into how bad we are and how we should die.  Stop with rewriting the past (literally or by default.)  Stop sucking your teeth.  Stop sitting by the fire wrapped in a shawl.  You’re barely a teenager, and you’re not sick.  Get out there in the universe and discover some new places, invent new things, go forth…

Write awe, courage, risk, endurance, survival, strength.  Dream Human Wave.

And choose to live.  There is a future out there.  And it’s ours.

214 responses to “Human Wave Dreaming

  1. I devoured books about Daniel Boone, David Bowie and Little House On The Prairie.)

    I think you meant Davy Crockett, but I will treasure this sentence forever.

  2. the boldness, the polished tin spaceships, the men who were the best thing among the stars, the simple codes, the frontier values

    Which is odd because all of the Europeans, northern at least, LOVE American westerns and the whole idea of the Wild, Wild, West. Could be the difference between EU elites and the average Johann.

    • Yeah, I was going to mention Karl May’s Winnetou.

      • When I get the German translation of my Adelsverein books out there, I am hoping to clean up from all those Karl May fans!

        About the European intellectual’s studied dislike of Americans? I’ve always thought it was because (roughly speaking) the original immigrants from Europe to America were the poor and disposessed, the political and religious non-conformists, the losers in ethnic strife, the fed-up and outcasts, the crackpots and those with ideas and goals above their so-called station. So they went bustling off to America and the stay-behinds thought “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” dusted off their hands and went about their business, assuming that all those departed would all come to sticky and well-deserved ends.

        Only they didn’t. In the main, those non-conformists and their children became prosperous, happy and successful. And this fries the European establishment no end. Especually the intellectual establishment.

        • When I lived in Germany (Reagan was inaugurated the day I moved there) it struck me that people kept telling me about how awful the US was, and then asking me if I knew how they could get a job there.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          There’s some movie – I don’t know what it was or exactly when it came out, but it was at least 25 years ago – main character was a brash, pushy American (largely stereotypical) going to college in England. At one point, he’s drinking with a bunch of other students, and one of them says something like, “You know what the problem is with Americans? They think nothing’s impossible!” Naturally, the American replied that of course nothing was impossible. I can’t remember the result, but I think it turned into a drinking contest from those goofy “yard” glasses, rather than a fight.

          The main point, though, is the different viewpoint that that highlighted. When you think nothing is impossible, fewer things are.

          • Sounds like a scene from Whit Stillman’s Barcelona. I have never (sigh) managed to see the film, but recall such a scene from reviews. A quick check of IMDb turns up these quotes; perhaps one rings a bell:

            Marta: You seem very intelligent for an American.
            Fred: Well, I’m not.

            Ted: Here in Barcelona, everything was swept aside. The world was turned upside down and stayed there.
            Fred: Has it ever occurred to you that maybe the world was upside down before, and now it’s right side up?

            Woman (Shootings in America): You can’t say Americans are not more violent than other people.
            Fred: No.
            Woman (Shootings in America): All those people killed in shootings in America?
            Fred: Oh, shootings, yes. But that doesn’t mean Americans are more violent than other people. We’re just better shots.

            Fred: I think it’s well-known that anti-Americanism has its roots in sexual impotence, at least in Europe.

            Ted: Maybe you’d like an analogy. Well, take… take these ants. In the U.S. view, a small group, or cadre, of fierce red ants have taken power and are oppressing the black ant majority. Now the stated U.S. policy is to aid those black ants opposing the red ants in hopes of restoring democracy, and to impede the red ants from assisting their red ant comrades in neighboring ant colonies.
            Ramon: That is clearly the most disgusting description of U.S. policy I have ever heard. The Third World is just a lot of ants to you.
            Jurgen: Those are people dying, not ants.
            Ted: No, I… I don’t think you understand. I was reducing everything to ant scale, the… the U.S. included. An ant White House, an ant CIA, an ant Congress, an ant Pentagon…
            Ramon: Secret ant landing strips, illegally established on foreign soil.
            Fred: Where are the red ants?
            Ted: [pointing to an ant hill] There.
            [Fred crushes the ants]

            Fred: Maybe you can clarify something for me. Since I’ve been, you know, waiting for the fleet to show up, I’ve read a lot, and…
            Ted: Really?
            Fred: And one of the things that keeps popping up is this about “subtext.” Plays, novels, songs – they all have a “subtext,” which I take to mean a hidden message or import of some kind. So subtext we know. But what do you call the message or meaning that’s right there on the surface, completely open and obvious? They never talk about that. What do you call what’s above the subtext?
            Ted: The text.
            Fred: OK, that’s right, but they never talk about that.

            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109219/quotes

            • Wayne Blackburn

              Doesn’t sound right, from the perspective of a partially-viewed movie seen more than 15 years ago.

              Whatever it was, there was a large amount of it devoted to the sport of Rowing, which was big there. The American was trying to steal the girlfriend of the head of the Rowing team, whose name was Coll.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              I think it was probably Oxford Blues:

              http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087866/

              Yeah, it’s Rob Lowe. Don’t judge me. :-)

        • It’s sort of like a parent who constantly tells his/her children they’ll never amount to anything, then finds them millionaires in their thirties. They just can’t STAND it, so they’ve got to tear them down.

    • Yep. there’s life in the old gal yet. The mind just refuses to admit it. The “mind” being the elites. They’ve be better off if they lost their minds.

      • Off with their heads! … er, minds!

      • Maybe that is the problem – they have LOST their minds.

        • after world war one? I’ve often thought that.

          • It started with WWI and WWII finished the job, from what I can tell. Between the loss of a generation of males, the civil wars (Germany, Spain, Russia), the reverence for nihilism in art (See the books “Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age” and “The Great War and Modern Memory”), and the cultural destruction of war in general, the intelligentsia in Europe and the US apparently wrote off the idea of human progress being a good thing. Add a slug of Marx and Mao and you get a truly toxic brew.

            • In France, it started with the French Revolution – look at the great minds that were slaughtered there, or who fled the country. France was never the same.

              • Inverse natural selection. Unnatural selection. This is why communism collapses of its own, eventually, but reconstruction might not happen for generations if ever.

                Which is why we must NOT fall.

                • If the Nazis don’t take over in Germany, look at the brains that don’t leave.

                • It’s all right if the United States falls, Sarah, as long as the ideas that formed it remain in the hearts and minds of its citizens. We’ll just rebuild. The problem is, rebuilding would begin in the “heartland” — the Mississippi River drainage — while the rest of the nation, with minor exceptions, would wallow in their depression and despair for a long, long time. Too few citizens of places like the east and west coasts would be able to work with one another to regain what they had. Their petty squabbling would keep them in a constant turmoil. Once you get past the California/Oregon/Washington nexus, or the New England/New York/Beltway nexus, people can, and will, work together toward regaining what we had, and moving ahead from there. The so-called “left” will spend so much time and energy screaming at each other, trying to place blame, they’ll never get anything constructive done.

                  • Weirdly, part of that just repeats my conclusion in A Few Good Men — if you hold up the flag of freedom and it falls, you still held it up, and it will be recorded, and someone down the line will pick it up.

                    OTOH the time between is lost time and lost lives. ALWAYS lost lives.

  3. Thanks Sarah – I like that David Bowie comment too. ;-) After I get those pesky errands done, I will be back on the horse (ummm writing I mean). Pesky means taking the poop to the lab. ARG don’t ask.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Been there, done that, with #2 son. He had digestive problems for a long time. Turns out a lot of it was caused by stress and depression, because once he got some help it improved dramatically. Not completely better, but enough that he’s not demanding to stay home from school once or twice a week, like he did for a while.

      • Sorry to hear about #2 son. I think mine was a combination of chemo and stomach flu. The rest of the lab is to make sure I don’t have another physical problem with my poop (bacteria, etc).

        • Well, as long as you don’t think it doesn’t stink we’ll all be fine.

          • Oh it stunk bad. I was not happy that I was supposed to put the poop in vials. I thought that it should be done by the lab techs. UGH. They should pay me for doing the dirty work. UGH. Don’t get me started…

            I warned you!

  4. All this from the woman whose GPS is trying to kill her.

    I read this blog for the writing advice, the Portuguese background, the Americanisms – and the incredible variety of subjects our hostess comes up with.

    And I just got rid of my teenagers – you are absolutely right about them.

    I tell myself the same thing: I am not dead yet, and I have an obligation to go explore new lands, even if virtually, as long as I have a breath in my body, and to report back to the tribe on places they haven’t been. This is called writing, and we odd ones owe it to the tribe, whether they appreciate it or not. Maybe just for not killing us when it became obvious how very different we were, and they still tolerated us: “What are you going to be when you grow up, little girl?” “A physicist and an astronaut.” “Oh, isn’t she cute!” (To the mother: “Can’t you do something with her?”)

    Mwa ha ha for the crazy genes.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Now that would be an interesting thought: writing something from the perspective of being a reporter. Could be reporting on events happening, and the backdrop is the (future/fantasy/alternate) world, or could be reporting on new, exciting events on the frontier.

    • Mother-in-law, looking at sleeping infant The Daughter, her first granddaughter: Look! She just smiled. She must be having a good dream about her Prince Charming.

      Me: Maybe she is dreaming of being on the first Mars landing team.

      M-I-L: Oh no! That could be dangerous.

      Me: So can dreams of Prince Charming.

      • CACS best joke ever ;-)
        You gotta watch for the Charming prince. MARS landings, we are starting to get the hang of those…

        • No, it this really happened…really. It took some time for M-I-L to decide that The Daughter was probably too smart to find be able to find a husband and therefore resigned herself to The Daughter having a career.

  5. My first space memories are of looking through our family telescope, of worrying about where SkyLab would fall, and of being pulled out of class to watch the first Space Shuttle launches and landings. I wanted to be a star pilot more than an astronaut, if memory serves. And if that fell through I wanted to be an archaeologist. Or an opera singer, or a fighter pilot.

    Remaking the past is a bit of tooth sucking and culturally old-ageish? Hmm, what if it is a colony world that got bad advice? As in “no, really, that star is very quiet and coronal mass ejections are rare and only as strong as Earth.” A few surprise Carrington Events later . . . and some little Odd shakes her head and says, “this is why you read the fine print and the back page of the contract. You know, the one with the ‘Act of G-d’ clause that says we are on our own now because Colonies Inc. can write us off for a tax deduction. You can wail, I’m going to see what I can see. And see if that cute guy who plays blacksmith and his sister with the pet sheep have any ideas.”

    • I meant all the time travel books. While I love them — they were the freshest thing in SF in the last two decades, you have to admit it smacks of old people’s habit of dwelling on “what went wrong” (or right.)

      • Yea – I quit reading time travel books when I was that age. ARG!!! Where was the EE “Doc” Smiths? It wasn’t the greatest, but he should tell a space opera.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          One o’ my favorites! Big! Expansive! Good over Evil! Good use of increasing technological capability, too. Lots of series are pretty static.

          • Just so long as you don’t mind a little genocide on the side. “The Eddorians? Gone, no longer a problem, First Lensman sir.”

        • I have been favorably compared with Doc Smith AND Heinlein, which is kinda generally scary when you think about it. At least I find it so. Them some big-@$$ shoes to fill.

          • Them some big-@$$ shoes to fill.

            “Those are”

            signed, beta reader

          • Scary and probably not as complimentary as you think – yeah, they’re big shoes to fill, but if you go looking at the list of authors who have been compared favorably to any legend of the field you’ll find a lot of has-beens, wannabes and never-had-a-chances. As well as a handful of legends in the making.

            Advice from one of the certified weirdos? Keep mum about it (it sounds too much like empty boasting) and check back 50 years or so after you’re dead. By then, your work’s stood the test of time and might well be standing in those massive shoes.

          • Well the problem with that comparison, is every new writer on the block these days — particularly if they’re writing space opera — is compared to Heinlein and/or Doc Smith.

            Including our inimitable host.

            FLINT and SCALZI, who couldn’t be more opposite of the great one politically, have been compared to him.

            It’s not particularly hard to write like Heinlein in style — substance now, that’s another matter entirely.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        “The Return of William Proxmire” as an example?

        • :-)… I just don’t like time travel books… no offense? I don’t care if William the Conqueror pooped in a trench or an outhouse. (I got poop on the brain). I probably can guess. I would be more interested in the future… What if there are certain people with certain types of DNA who can travel through wormholes with no problems??? (trying to figure out how that would work).

          • Wayne Blackburn

            The story I referenced is one written about (Senator? Representative? – too lazy to look it up) William Proxmire, probably the Space Age’s biggest enemy. He was always trying to kill NASA. In the story, he tries to prevent Heinlein getting into SciFi by curing him of his tuberculosis. I was using that as an example of Sarah’s ‘people dwelling on “what went wrong”‘.

            • Yes. Heinlein becomes an Admiral, then he president and of course promotes space exploration. (If I remember it clearly.)
              It is in Requiem, right?

              • Wayne Blackburn

                He wasn’t President: “Admiral Heinlein doesn’t let the Russians have their own spaceships,” is an approximate quote I remember. But yes, it was in Requiem.

          • Susan Shepherd

            If you enjoy historical fiction, Eric Flint’s book “1632” is a neat romp. The premise is that a smallish American town is transported by cosmic mischance back in time to … Thuringia-Franconia? It’s been a while … during the Thirty Years’ War. It’s not exactly time travel (in the sense of people going back and forth trying to fix stuff) so it may not hit your pet peeves. But for me at least, the optimism of the American worldview in contrast to the incredible problems average folk were having at the time was very interesting to read about.

            • I tried this one from Flint, but I had already read SM Stirling’s Nantucketer series, the third book of which came out the same year as Flint’s. I felt like it was a direct rip-off and not nearly as well written, but that last bit is mostly because I had already convinced myself the concept was a direct ripoff. I enjoyed Stirling’s book so much my wife and I went there for our 10th and met quite a few people that knew Stirling personally from his time spent on the island. I only geeked out a little.

            • That would probably not get on my last nerve like some I have read. Mark Twain did Connecticut American in ??? gosh can’t remember the title. Grumble

              • Anyway that one didn’t twig my nerve meter.

              • Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court. I think I reread it a hundred times at age seven or so. I used to be able to recite it from memory. How bad is that?

                • Thanks for the title – I loved that book as a child and teenager.

                  • I took several important lessons from that, including the anti-inflation lecture about what you get paid matters less than what it buys.

                    Similar: L. Sprague deCamp’s Lest Darkness Fall. Both books are less about Time Travel to “fix” the past than about finding yourself jumped back in time and having to deal with the complications.

              • Flint’s 1632 series are some of the few time travel books I can stand to read. The only other book not in that series that I can think of that I liked I can’t remember the title of, but it was written by Linda Evans and Robert Asprin.

                • Robert Asprin is one of my fav. writers. ;-) Didn’t he write the Myth series?

                  • Yes, he did. As well as the Phule’s Company series.

                    • Phule’s Company series? I didn’t know there was more than one book now I’ll have to look around. I read one of the Myth books, and wasn’t that impressed, I had a whole box of them given to me and before I had gotten around to trying any of the others I traded them to a guy for a box of John Ringo books (every book he had written up until that time about three years ago) I called it a good trade.

                    • Oh yea – Phule’s Company was great too. I found that they put many of those books together in a history of Phule’s Company. ;-)

                  • Yes, he did. Sadly, he is no longer writing on this plane. May 2008.

            • What I remember about that one is the easy evangelism: no, actually religious freedom and democracy are not so self-evident that you have just to tell someone about them to convert them.

              • For so many those ideas are so foreign that they cannot begin to wrap their minds around the meaning of it — the full meaning of it. That includes too many who are raised in this country.

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  Some believe that there are many people for whom the idea of Freedom, especially as paired with its partner Responsibility, is simply too frightening to bear, and who prefer the shackles of nice, secure serfdom, where they only have to do what they are told, and let someone else take responsibility for them.

          • Well, Cyn, what if you have to be able to sense time in some fashion, and some people have that in their DNA? No one knew it until someone with the gene happened to get near a proto-wormhole generator or something and “poof” you now have people who can travel through time, because they can sense and avoid the rough spots and eddies in the temporal flow.

            • TXRed

              You’re scaring me. I’ve always said I “perceive time in the sense of sensing the past of any location”… I shall be vewy, very careful.

            • LOL – Oh wow I like that TX–
              I do have family who can’t where watches or some types of metal. The watches stop (digital or analog–hand wound). I can’t wear copper ever.

              And i can sense things that happened long ago– My hubby laughs when I say that I sensed men walking around with lumber in certain places (Bend, Oregon warehouse district). I kept looking back for the men walking behind me.

              Plus I can sense live people too. It is hard to sneak up on me unless I am absorbed in a book.

              • To this day I’m held responsible for breaking dad’s new watch. “You must have done something to it.” I did. I held it for about ten seconds while he washed his hands. Fortunately THAT and the electronics killing touch ONLY happened pre-and-immediately-after puberty. A return of this when I enter menopause will not be welcome~

            • Alternatively, what if somebody figures how to walk across Time the way they walk across a room. Not Her fault everybody else is stuck in a linear rut.

              It could make for some monstrous practical jokes for the kind of person who likes to arrange dominoes.

              Anyone else here recall Ian (John Wallace Pritchard) Wallace’s Croyd stories?

          • Bathe. You’ll feel much better.

  6. Two things terrify me. Heights and the ocean. Going into space would be like having both at the same time. Shudder . . .

    I think, for all that some governments are still trying, true space exploration will happen through commercial means. Because, when it comes right down to it, they are more motivated to get into space than any country. Once the cold war was over, the US lost interest in moving forward and NASA has become less than important in the budget these days.

    I was a little kid when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. My parents didn’t watch it, so neither did we. (No TV in our house except on weekends, and then only what my Dad wanted to watch.) But I do remember it being a big deal. My husband can tell you every single nuance of the event. (Just like he can bend your ear for days about Star Trek – from the original onward – and Star Wars (but he hated the last three).

    I love the idea of space travel, but the thought of actually doing it makes me feel kind of sick with fear. Maybe if they knocked me out until we got there, it wouldn’t be so bad. . . . maybe.

    • I have problems primarily with bridges, secondarily with heights. I can’t stand the idea of a cruise ship — it feels like a bridge unmoored at either end.

      • Oh, I don’t like big bridges at all! I used to sweat buckets when we drove over the SF Golden Gate Bride, the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, or the Bay Bridge when we lived in Marin County CA. Absolutely terrifies me to be stuck on a bridge.

        Cruise ships don’t really bother me, because they seem like big floating resorts. I love sailing, but I am terrified of what is IN the ocean – they tend to eat people . . .

  7. Space colonialization didn’t work out because it didn’t have a business case. “Rob gold from the natives” is a business case. So is “raise tobacco and sell it back in Europe” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamestown,_Virginia#Rising_fortunes_.281610-1624.29).

    However, in both of these cases while the journey was expensive, living at the destination was not. Environments that require constant life support, such as the surface of the oceans, are not usually colonized. Also, while there are profitable things we should do in space. But other than the dramatic needs of a story, most of them can be done by remote controlled robots.

    • As technology advances, these things change Ori. I remember when it wasn’t feasible to buy a computer unless you were one of the Odds that loved the thought of playing with it. Now they are in every home, every school, and every business. I think if businesses had been allowed into space, there we would be finding all those safety procedures cheaper and cheaper. I would prefer a good space suit than a plasma TV. Just saying.

      Besides my generation was gypped. We saw the first space man step on the moon (Neil Armstrong) and we believed with all our hearts that by the time we were in college we would be out there taking samples too. I can’t tell you the disappointment I have felt for decades.

      • Why don’t we have cities on the oceans(1)? That environment is a lot more hospitable than space. The ocean floor is full of mineral wealth, and I’m sure something can be done with aquaculture.

        (1) With the exception of military aircraft carriers, which don’t have permanent residents but only people on a tour of duty, without their families.

          • BTW – I was trying to look it up so I could get my facts straight, but in my personal opinion, we will live on land until we use every bit of it. We have a lot of land still. Besides there are other problems such as pressurization, claustrophobia, etc. I seem to remember (I have been on chemo so I could be wrong). That in my youth people were talking about living in the oceans. I don’t remember why it wasn’t feasible then… probably our technology wasn’t in the same category. You have to have structures that are light and strong. —

          • Ori Pomerantz

            A few specialists for a few days. It might be a start, but no more than the moon landing was a start.

            • Ummm… moon landing was an event… and then they did a few more to the moon flights. But it was never a start. Not imho.

              • You’re right, I was too hasty. It could be a start, just as the moon landings could have been a start.

                • Compare and contrast with the rate of European colonization of the “New World” — then contemplate the fact that numerous European and Chinese sailors had visited and left, uninterested.

                  • Oh yea – and Vikings apparently. When I was young, the Vikings coming to the “New World” was a myth. Now they are finding evidence. (Gotta plug my peeps.) ;-)

                  • Heck, the Portuguese knew about Azores for fifty years before they went to stay.

                    • LOL – :-) Yep… I have been having fun watching Alien Astronauts. Now what if that is true? What if we are actually a terraformed planet and the need to colonize is in our genes? Not sure I agree with some of these guys… but it is an interesting concept.

                  • Remember, too, that most of the settlements in North America were people either trying to get away from persecution, or were people the rest of the country didn’t want around, so they shipped them to America to get rid of them. We might even do the same thing in space.

                    • It is one thing to pay for a one way ticket to Georgia or Australia. It is quite another to pay for that, and for their life support into the indefinite future.

                      For people fleeing persecution, they need to be rich enough to afford the life support – but not so rich they’d be able to fight the persecution.

        • BTW aircraft carriers and their people do not live IN the ocean. They live ON the ocean. A big difference. ;-)

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Actually, the primary difficulty of creating off-Earth habitats is the travel expense, far more than the difficulty of building something that will protect people and provide for their comforts. It just takes horrendous amounts of energy to lift things from Earth to where it can be used above the atmosphere, and consequently they are left with building things that are made of aluminum foil covering a few structural members to house the important parts.

          Admittedly, the Shuttle was somewhat more sturdy than that, but look what it took to launch the darn thing. The main focus today is lowering the cost of making the jump safely. Once we can get manufacturing facilities on the Moon, construction costs plummet, because it’s at least 100 times cheaper to launch things from there into orbit. Or to build them there. Then all we have to lift are specialty equipment and people.

    • Ori, the big issue is space law. We can and should mine asteroids and we’ll always need humans on site — trust me — but space law right now forbids private ownership of anything in space. No, I’m not joking. Hippy dippy seventies bs.

      • Who enforces that law, and what’s stopping anybody from using a flag of convenience that didn’t sign that treaty?

        • Those space treaties will last only as long as nations *able* to put men into space don’t think it’s worth going against those treaties. Once nations think there’s something worth claiming out there, the treaties will be replaced with ones to prevent “fights” over space resources.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          That’s why the bigger story that I am trying to work on (thanks, Sarah, and I’m not sure whether that’s sarcasm or not :-)) is going to have, “F— you and the horse you rode in on. Come do something about it.”

      • More like UN communist aspirations. In their mind it is better that they get a piece of the action even if that precludes any action to get pieces of. The glory of free markets and private property is that it encourages people to take risks with their lives and capital to sell the rest of us stuff at ever-decreasing prices. Instead we stifle energies and pay ever higher prices.

      • Actually, the Outer Space Treaty forbids claims of sovereignty by nation states, not private companies. Specifically, Article II states “Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.” It does not forbid private ownership. There’s a lot of uncertainty about all of this, but no one disputes that private companies own the satellites they launch to orbit. Even academics contemplate the possibility of private ownership of materials mined in outer space.

        You may be thinking of the Moon Treaty, but we have not signed that.

        On Ori’s point, the constantly pending Law of the Sea Treaty, which we have yet to sign, make private ownership “confusing,” we will say euphemistically. The constant threat of it being signed makes the investment of private capital more risky than might be desired.

        • um… in the space law panel I attended — at fencon? — they said it also couldn’t be owned by treaty. It was a “resource for all mankind” (gags and chokes. “The tragedy of space.”)

          • Wayne Blackburn

            That may have been someone’s personal opinion or interpretation. I looked up the same law Laura brought up during some research on the subject.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              I meant to include – and I didn’t see any mention of private ownership, either.

              • There are academics who come up with complicated ways of claiming that “by any other means” means a country can’t recognize its citizens’ claims of ownership. The CEI proposal for recognizing claims of anyone’s citizens seems to be a neat way around this.

          • There’s a lot of disinformation out there. It sounds like your panel was talking about the Moon Treaty, which does attempt to limit private property rights. The U.S. is not a signatory, so we don’t recognize that.

            As for the Outer Space Treaty itself, there are still those of us who recognize that a private person or other entity is distinct from its nation, so when Article II says “not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty” it is not saying private people can’t own stuff, just nation states can’t claim something as their territory. There is some “all mankind” language in the OST, but it’s in the prefatory material, where everyone agrees that goodness is good, and badness isn’t.

            • All of which would become irrelevant in a heartbeat (maybe two) if the Earth-to-orbit cost dropped to, say, a buck a pound. Make it even more fun. Assume the reason that it drops to such a rate is due to the perfection of sustained fusion generators that consume He3 as fuel…which is literally just laying around in the lunar regolith. Obviously, some areas of the moon would be richer than others in the substance, not to mention the rush to secure in-place water.

              • And the costs are dropping with the use of other transaction authorities such as NASA’s Space Act Agreements instead of always employing cost-plus accounting. The latter has not proven a guaranteed way to bring costs down.

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Well, that would hardly lower the cost quite that much. I think that would require some sort of gravity modification field. However, the possibility of fusion power plants that could drive a ship implies that you could go wherever necessary to get water, including out to the cometary halo. A round trip that far at a mere 1/10th g is only 209 days (assuming you choose your cometary body before you leave), and you can send a large enough vessel that people won’t kill each other during the trip.

                Then again, if you’re not worried about possible contamination of them, Jupiter’s moons are a 38-45 day round trip at 1/10th g.

            • I just had an idea. Space pirates who are normal people with extraordinary skills running the blockades to mine in space. And then have only a few places to sell… because like gold a few years back, no one can own that much space mining ore.

    • Oh, yeah. The worst things to hit space travel were the realization of how bad the radiation problem really is and the lander pictures of Mars, which is far more like the moon than it is like Earth, and Venus, which makes Hell look like Disneyland. I keep picturing a half-dozen fifties SF writers coming here by time travel and I gently explain this and have to watch their faces… sink.
      One of the seemingly infinite number of things Heinlein got right was the idea that, oh well, why not just settle a moon of one of the gas giants that’s small enough to terraform in a few years.

    • Here’s the trick, folks. Invariably if you DO study history, you find that the EXPLORATION took place by GOVERNMENT FUNDED EXPEDITIONS. COLONIZATION took place under the auspices of the populace, whether in terms of disenfranchised or commercial ventures.

    • Of course, the folks at planetary Resources are trying to make a business case right now.

  8. At the moment Armstrong set foot on the moon, I was an unfortunate being of 15.

    My principle memory of the event is that the commentators talked to much and were very boring. I almost missed the actual first step because Walter Cronkite would just not shut up.

    M

  9. Thanks, loads. Now I have an image of America (or SF – same thing) sitting in streetside cafes in black turtleneck shirts and berets, drinking demitasses of coffee and smoking gauloises.

    I must do penance by imagining RAH had written Catcher in the Rye.

    • “I hate phonies. That’s why, when I skipped school, I ran off and joined the space merchant marine. Okay, so I had to forge a few documents and cuss a lot, but at least I wasn’t phony. I sent a radiogram to my parents once we were past the moon, because I didn’t want to be set ashore on Luna and shipped home. I found out later that the school hadn’t noticed I was gone yet, because it was a weekend, and my parents didn’t actually check their messages for about a month. But I did try.”

  10. When Sir Patrick Stewart joined the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, right before his first performance someone asked him how it felt to be entering the American mythology. It struck him as a very unexpected question: being British, and not much of a fan of science fiction, until he began that phase of his career he had no idea what things like Star Trek mean to us. They have sci-fi in the UK, of course, but there it has usually been what most people think it is here – the second-rate refuge of those who won’t accept Real Culture. In America, though, we turned our rejection of the past into computers and moon rockets. We wanted the future we dreamed and we built it. Science fiction was our Toynbee Convector, its authors our Time Travelers.

    Until fairly recently, aside from frontier tall tales, American mythology has been about the future, not the past, which is one of the things that makes us so different from almost every other significant culture in the world. Europeans say we ignore the past because we don’t have one. For all I know, they may be right, but it really doesn’t matter why. What matters is that we had, and many of us still have, the idea that the Great Mysteries of life can be understood by metaphors about what will be, not about what was.

    Unfortunately, as Bradbury observed, for whatever reason, we have lost our way. We’ve dug our graves and prepared to lie down in them. I really hope you’re right about this just being a mopey teenage phase, but it feels much deeper than that to me, more bitter, more cynical. I guess we’ll see.

    • To extend a metaphor, It feels as if the black-turtleneck and poems-to-dead-trees crowd have rigged the votes for homecoming king, with the help of a few jocks and the cheerleaders. But the nerds, the band geeks, and the normal folks are getting tired of the phase and are starting to muster for a coup. The prom theme is not going to be “Farewell, Cruel World.”

  11. Charles
    “Space Oddity.” Meh. I was reading Barry Malzberg at the time, who, don’t get me wrong, is a wonderful writer, and it’s sort of emblematic that he was writing the same sort of despairing Mad Astronaut story that a hip rock star was.
    I am one of the few people in the Western world who did not see the moon landing. Me and the other Boy Scouts who were sent to Shiel Scout Camp in the Smokies that week. I noticed what week the campout was taking place but thought, surely they would set up a big TV and gather us around. Wouldn’t you think? No, I gradually got the point that they were going to stick to the “communing with nature, no electricity or conveniences” thing no matter what. I heard a rumor that one of the adults had a battery portable TV, but I could not work up the nerve to figure out where he was, barge in, and refuse to leave. Or hike to the nearest town.

  12. Charles
    Someone on the Internet pointed out that no one born after 1935 has walked on the moon

  13. I was 25 years old, living in Alamogordo, New Mexico (stationed at Holloman AFB, next door), with a 3-year-old daughter. We watched it together. I couldn’t get enough of the re-runs. I wanted to be on the next mission! I didn’t get the chance, so now I’m sending out other people to do it for me, through my books.

    As far as “no one can own anything in space”, I’m sure that will last only as long as no one is able to build a colony there. I also think that bit of silliness is what killed our manned space program. Why spend all that money when you can’t actually TAKE POSSESSION of the place you’ve landed on. I think the US should just declare the moon is ours, send people back up there, build a colony, and tell the UN (which has no armed forces) to screw themselves into the floor where they sit. To satisfy Russia and the rest of the world, say that the US will only declare a 250-mile radius around each place we’ve made a manned landing, and a 100-mile radius around any place we’ve sent an unmanned probe. The US would also recognize similar territorial claims for everyone else who’s ever landed there, or sent a probe that landed there. Establish as international law that no nation or company could cut communications and ground transportation routes between claimed sites. Stipulate that new nations or companies making attempts to land on the moon would have to make a soft landing or manned landing outside the boundaries of current claims. Also stipulate that any commercial company could also claim a radius of 100 miles for each soft landing, and 250 miles for a manned landing.

    By next Friday, three hundred companies and 100 nations would be building rockets to go to the moon.

    • Not sure about the hundred nations, but the companies? SURE.

    • The head of every anchor on MSNBC just exploded, Mike.

      • Tsk, tsk. First, causality is nearly impossible to prove. Second, you’re making the sweeping assumption that said talking heads had heads to ‘splode in the first place.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        That’s a feature, not a bug. ;-)

      • That’s a good thing, right? You can’t make omelets without breaking a few headseggs. Can you imagine what would happen if Space-X suddenly put 10,000 people on the moon in 90 days, with enough equipment and supplies (including military equipment) to sustain them? The cacophony from the UN would drown conversation in Baltimore.

        • Sigh. I used to think the people who said UN out of the US were insane. Over the last eleven years and with much reading I’ve come to the conclusion the UN are cooks.

          • Audrey Hepburn thought the UN was the salvation of mankind. What else could she think: she survived the Hongerwinter that killed 18,000 Dutch, the Nazis cutting off food supplies to Northern Holland in revenge for the resistance she took part in, and suddenly the UN was there with food. But there are fewer and fewer people in the world for which the UN did such good, there were millions who died while the UN stood by with their thumbs up their ——s. Uh, the UN are cooks? Would that they were, the UN showed up with rolling kitchens in the Netherlands in ’44, Hepburn got herself sick putting too much sugar in her oatmeal (she hadn’t tasted sugar in years) and she grabbed a can of condensed milk a UN cook was trying to use for bread and drank it whole.

          • I am a cook. (In real life and, apparently, in your dreams ;-) )

            To quote a former President: I am not a crook.

            At least for the present I prefer to keep the UN close, where we can watch them…

        • Can I have the popcorn concession? I’ll send Sarah 35% (hosting fee and all that), Mike gets 25%, and I’ll use the rest for good causes. Like buying more books.

    • Rand Simberg of Transterrestrial Musings did a study for the Competitive Enterprise Institute on recognizing homesteads on the moon as a way to spur investment and lower transportation costs. It’s an interesting idea: http://cei.org/issue-analysis/homesteading-final-frontier He proposes that governments recognize the claims of anyone meeting certain criteria. For example, ” the [proposed] law would require that the U.S. court system recognize the claim of, say, a corporation chartered on the Isle of Man35 with investors from Dubai. To say that such a recognition amounts to a “national appropriation” by the U.S. of the legal real estate established with such a claim is plainly absurd.” Simberg at 11.

      • I love Simberg’s work.

        • I read his blog, and it’s where I learned about you, and, I think, Darkship Thieves. That was the first book of yours I read. Loved it, and am waiting for the next two with bated breath.

      • I would have nightmares. What happens if something causes the supply line for the early settlers to be cut off for a length of time. For those who know the Little House Books think: The Long Winter.

        One thing that would have to be overcome is society’s present risk averseness. Even if individuals were willing to take the risks there is a good chance that the first real disaster would have people clamoring to have the whole thing shut down: This has been an expensive disaster, wasting limited resources and resulting in needless death. Remember, also, the mantra: There are starving people here on earth.

        There is positively something dissonant about our world. But that is a subject for a different day and a different explosion.

        • My answer to the “there are starving people” is– go forth, using your OWN resources and feed them. ;-) We were always hit with “there are starving people in Africa” from my mother when we wouldn’t eat certain vegetables liked canned peas. Still can’t stand them.

        • Risk perception is an interesting thing. As a society, we have yet to outlaw mountain climbing, cigarette smoking and bungee jumping. As of 2004, there were twenty-some states that had repealed laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. These are all activities where individuals knowingly take risks. We seem ok with that, just as an anthropological observation.

          When a rocket fails, further launches are stopped until the cause is determined. Why? Is it because the customer is the government? Is it because NASA or the Air Force doesn’t want to risk an expensive payload on something that just failed? All the airlines aren’t grounded when one aircraft has an event.

          I suspect that if we view lunar settlers as individuals, we will have a different perception than if we are sending up government astronauts.

          • When a rocket fails, further launches are stopped until the cause is determined. Why? Is it because the customer is the government?

            Only indirectly. The real reason is the transmission time from here to where the real mission control is located, on Kepler-47c. Our new alien overlords, whom I, for one, welcome, let the wogs handle purely local events like uncooked airline chicken. By treaty, once we get outside our stratosphere, there are strict helmet laws that they alone are responsible for overseeing.

          • minor correction. When an airliner crashes, it’s not uncommon to ground all airliners of that type, at least in that airlines fleet, if there is any suspicion that it’s a problem with the aircraft that caused the crash.

            but I agree, the zero tolorence of risk is a major problem

            • I worked a stretch for an airline services business and had reason to observe an inventory of the repair/maintenance shop. Because each and every single part, down to the lowliest washer, must be tracked from manufacturer to plane, it is theoretically possible to track any failure to a batch of parts which all other users from that batch must check. Adds cost and complexity, but helps avoid multiple catastrophic failures.

  14. It little profits that an idle king1,
    By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
    Matched with an agèd wife, I mete and dole
    Unequal laws unto a savage race,
    That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

    I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
    Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
    Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
    That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
    Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades2
    Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
    For always roaming with a hungry heart
    Much have I seen and known; cities of men
    And manners, climates, councils, governments,
    Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
    And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
    Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy3.
    I am a part of all that I have met;
    Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
    Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
    For ever and for ever when I move.
    How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
    To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
    As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
    Were all too little, and of one to me
    Little remains: but every hour is saved
    From that eternal silence, something more,
    A bringer of new things; and vile it were
    For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
    And this grey spirit yearning in desire
    To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
    Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

    This my son, mine own Telemachus,
    To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle—
    Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
    This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
    A rugged people, and through soft degrees
    Subdue them to the useful and the good.
    Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
    Of common duties, decent not to fail
    In offices of tenderness, and pay
    Meet adoration to my household gods,
    When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

    There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
    There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
    Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought
    with me—
    That ever with a frolic welcome took
    The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
    Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
    Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
    Death closes all: but something ere the end,
    Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
    Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
    The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
    The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
    Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
    ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
    Push off, and sitting well in order smite
    The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
    To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
    Of all the western stars, until I die.
    It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
    It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles4,
    And see the great Achilles5, whom we knew
    Though much is taken, much abides; and though
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

  15. One key difference between the good SF and Fantasy is where the best times are.

    In good SF, there will always be improvement in the future (at least long-term), while too much Fantasy has the best being some time in the distant past.

    do you look for the best stuff in the most ancient scrolls, or in the most recent research?

    sometimes it’s Ok to have some great civilization at some point in the past that’s fallen, but the people need to be activly working towards imrpoving what they have, not just trying to gather more leftovers from the past or just holding off decline (although occasionally you can have a hero making a difference locally, the Flandry books are an example of that)

    • YES. I was in shock once at World Fantasy as someone about ten years older than I (I’m turning fifty in what remains of the dwindling year) went on and on and on about how Tolkien had taught her what the ideal world was. She wasn’t a panelist, but someone speaking from the audience, and I was a new author and shy and everyone was agreeing with this asshat er… lady so I didn’t say anything. If it were now I’d point out “living like Tolkien wrote about” WITHOUT magic would support 1/10th the world population and no most people wouldn’t make “their handicrafts with love” (I swear to bog!) most of them would have trouble making anything, as they’d be trying to produce enough food to eat, and oh, yeah, life spans would be maybe early forties.

      Since then I’ve been terrified this stupid idea is widespread amid fantasy readers. Is it?

      • Yes – many fantasy writers have this idea of a pastoral myth. You know Shakespeare speared that myth many times in his comedies. I don’t. But my fantasy is mostly in the modern world. One) I don’t have to world-build and Two) I don’t have to deal with cholera and other diseases. ;-)

        • Momma once observed, on seeing a group of hippies hanging out in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, that only people who had grown up in a world that had long had shoes would be so ignorant as to take up walking around a major metropolitan center with bare feet.

          • My dad had the same reaction.

            • In Portugal it’s illegal to take the train or indeed to walk in the city centers barefoot. The reason? Endemic tuberculosis and an habit of spitting on the ground. I don’t know if it’s possible to catch tuberculosis that way, but whoever made the laws thought it was, and you know what, I never felt like testing.

              • Free-range Oyster

                In Brasil we were taught always to wear footwear – to include wearing chinelos in the shower. The punishment for failure was a good chance of being invaded by a cobra de fogo: parasitic worms that could grow to a foot long or more and would burrow int- HEY LOOK LET’S GO FIND A HAPPY THOUGHT!
                Dang First Worlders don’t understand how amazing sanitation is. That said, I have a demi-hippie brother who eschews shoes whenever possible and practical, including backwoods hiking in bare feet, and his soles can handle anything short of broken glass. When he does wear shoes (mostly to church, to the congregation’s astonishment) he wears thin leather sandals he made himself. No mincing, patchouli-reeking urban hippie he! I blame the time he spent living in Colorado Springs… :D

  16. I’m optimistic about the future of space travel and settlement. When the rich start building rockets, like Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin, Elon Musk with SpaceX and John Carmack with Armadillo, instead of buying sports team, there’s got to be hope.

  17. Erich Schwarz

    “Thought experiment. Drop a Heinlein character into _1984_.”

    Heinlein essentially *did* that thought experiment! In _If This Goes On_. One of the best things he wrote, I think.

    That being pedantically noted: yes, I think the thought experiment’d be pretty explosive if you actually performed it on Orwell’s dystopia. I’d give the regime a few years before Lazarus Long single-handedly brought it down, while explaining to the reader that he’s normally too lazy to be a revolutionary but overthrowing Oceania’s the “easiest way to get out of this situation”. Along the way, he’d no doubt convert quite a few women from the Anti-Sex League…