Honey, they shrank the science fiction! — a blast from the past post 8/2011

Honey, they shrank the science fiction! — a blast from the past post 8/2011

*Not only was I — at this time — still trying to be in the political closet, I THOUGHT I was succeeding.  (Shakes head.)*

As we all know the ticket to fame, fortune and er… whatever it is we get from writing is to write fantasy. At least I was told as far back as the early nineties that science fiction didn’t sell.  As well as being told as soon as I broke in that ladies wrote fantasy. (No use telling them I wasn’t a lady. At that I escaped only lightly insulted. My friend Rebecca Lickiss was told she had the heart of a fantasy writer. She says she has the keys to that drawer and she can’t figure out how her agent knew.)

My clue to why science fiction isn’t selling came both with a review that insisted there was nothing new and no big idea to Darkship Thieves and therefore it wasn’t “important” and when a reader at Mad Genius Club – Hi Synova! – told me that she liked Darkship Thieves because it was science fiction as it used to be “before we made ourselves small.”

Before I proceed – and because this isn’t about me – the big idea in Darkship Thieves is that laws can worsen the problem they’re trying to control. Yes, I know the idea of growing someone as a spare body or spare parts isn’t new. You think I’m stupid? But I got sick and tired onto nausea of this being portrayed as an evil of OPEN and free market societies and “there ought to be a law” being recommended as a remedy for it.

Quickly – I’ve been told by no smaller authority than my son that these posts run way too long – laws don’t stop things. They certainly don’t stop technology. They just make it go underground. And in an open, free market society growing a full human being for parts or as a replacement body is insane. Humans are EXPENSIVE to grow. No matter what you do, you still have to feed them, clothe them, educate them at least enough to control them. In a society that doesn’t restrict science with stupid laws, ways will be found to grow the needed organ. Probably a lot faster, too. And anyone trying to grow a whole human as a replacement body will at the very least get shunned. (It is still murder!) OTOH in a society in which the IDEA of cloning has been forbidden for so long it’s literally unthinkable, people with money and power can have an “heir” grown as a spare body.

Unfortunately science fiction – excepting Baen, of course, (though that gets dismissed as “mostly military sf”) and a few non baen books that managed to get through the gauntlet – has devolved to a state in which two types of science fiction are accepted: 1- Hard science fiction in which the “new idea” has to be something startling, different and never used (this btw, is insane when it comes to readers. Readers don’t demand that every fantasy novel come up with a new, startling, totally different form of magic. The exploration of tropes happens incrementally, not by startling, totally new, never before voiced ideas. All of us, as readers, like the familiar with a new twist.) And 2- sociological science fiction.

For some reason to count as the second you have to pile on some social “issue” or danger that has been discussed to death in liberal arts courses in the last forty years. The anomie of modern society say. Or the aching pain of gender differences. To my knowledge the only reason the heartbreak of psoriasis hasn’t been mentioned is that liberal arts professors have yet to take it up. (And why should they? Eczema is a much more achy breaky hearty thingy. I mean, I have it, and this is ALL about my belly button, right?)

So, how was it different, before we made ourselves small? Well… Heinlein wrote about slavery and its social consequences in Citizen of the Galaxy. You don’t get much bigger social issue than with a young man being sold at the very opening. Stripping it of the racial overtones it has mostly in the US allowed him to analyze the institution in its full peculiarity (and irrationality) as well as the conditions that allowed it to occur. Ditto in one of the stories in Green Hills of Earth, whose name escapes me now.  Starman Jones?  A society controlled by guilds and unions.  Podkayne of Mars? Treat your children as commodities and see the results. Stranger? What the meaning of being human is. Is it genetic or inborn? The Lazarus Long cycle? What happens when our taboos meet life that’s prolonged beyond our wildest dreams.

Let’s take someone else – Clifford D Simak. They Walked Like Men. The big idea? Is fiat currency a good idea? City? What happens after Man and what is unique to Man? Way Station? Can a man live on out of his time? The werewolf principle? Can star travel change us to the point where we can’t be human on Earth anymore?

Other big idea books and series: A canticle for Leibowitz; the World of Tiers; anything A E Van Vogt wrote (the man threw out three big ideas per page,) Foundation and a ton others which I’d tell you if I weren’t too lazy to walk over to my science fiction bookcase this early in the morning.

What do all those have in common? Shout louder, I can’t hear you!

Oh, yeah, I KNOW! They were fun.  People enjoyed reading them.  They sold.  The ideas were wrapped around an adventure, something that made it fun. And they were written in such a way that people in hopeless situations knew they could get out, if they worked hard enough and had just the right breaks.

Polyanish, you say? Oh, sure. It’s so much better to pound into people’s heads, over and over again that they’re victims, can’t escape and are ultimately doomed. What are you? The guardian of Hades? “Abandon all hope ye who enter here?” Or do you abrogate to yourself the power of pulling people out of their hopeless situation through your “art” or perhaps the power of “advocacy” so “government” can intervene and save them? (Flash – government is composed of people too. If the individual can do nothing, government can do nothing too – only they do it faster, harder and with somebody else’s money.)

At the end of this we’re seeing science fiction which SERIOUSLY advocates that all our destiny and actions on Earth are set by our genes (oh, I kid you not) and that this is a “good” thing, and science fiction in which good aliens come to save us from ourselves (because they have nothing better to do with their time?  Save two humans and get an interest rate of a human per millenium.)

And then people are astounded – shocked, shocked, I tell you – that this stuff doesn’t sell well. Because you know, people are a) dying to hear again all the sad stories that were pounded into them in college. b) people like to be told they can’t do anything and are without the ability to save themselves. c) hard luck sob stories that don’t end well always are good sellers. This is why people stop to read the cardboard of beggars by the side of the road. “Homeless; parents died in a fire; dog got run over; have seizures; child has the gnats; can’t work.” Riveting stuff that. And totally plausible.

Will the future bring us big problems? I should hope so. The past had big problems too. Will we be able to solve them? I should hope so. After some truly horrible interregnums we have by and large solved the problems thrown at us.

To face the future we need to think about the future. (I have nothing against fantasy. I’ve been known to write fantasy. But a different muscle gets used for that. And it prepares for different things.) To have the confidence in what is right, we need to know what is right and not continuously berate ourselves and doubt our judgement because of what distant ancestors did before our grandparents were born. But to solve big problems, we need to be big.

Training a telescope on one’s own belly button will only reveal lint. You like that? You go right on staring at it. I prefer looking at galaxies.

273 responses to “Honey, they shrank the science fiction! — a blast from the past post 8/2011

  1. Gee, I recently mentioned that I tracked down the first post that brought me to this blog, and here you go and re-post it!

  2. Also, I just found out about this, they made a movie of All You Zombies.

    • Now why am I completely certain they’ve sucked all the subtle out of it?

      • Not completely. It’s surprisingly good. And I watched the extras on the dvd I rented here. One of the makers, possibly he was event the director, said that he had read the short story and thought it was one of the best science fiction stories ever, or something along those lines. 🙂

        That was the feel I got from that movie. The makers respected the source story. Whether you agree with their interpretation or not, that seems to come through. They didn’t go and make their own story inspired by some of the ideas they got from Heinlein’s (and most likely something contradictory to the original), they had actually tried to make – All You Zombies – as a movie.

    • I’ll watch that!!
      Thanks

    • Australian production, released there last year, due for US premiere on January 9 according to IMDB.
      I’ve already watched it and it is, for a movie, quite faithful to the original short story. They do add a twist or two, but creative license yadda yadda yadda.
      Coolest bit to me was that they managed to preserve the 50’s feel of the story line much like it felt when Heinlein wrote the original.
      Should they even deign to notice, I expect this flick to explode some SJW heads.

    • [happy dance] The review I saw appears to indicate that they tried to stick to the original story. (I stopped before I got too far into the review)

      This is going to the top of my “must see” list.

      Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

    • IMHO, best Heinlein movie ever.

      Which, since they’ve only made that Puppet Masters thing, isn’t hard. But it’s worth some time.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I must check this out. Heinlein’s screen presence has been lacking, apart from Destination Moon, Project Moonbase, two adaptations of The Puppet Masters and . . . that other thing.

    • Have you seen “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra”? A seriously funnily bad homage to the B&W (no B&D then) Grade B SF movies. How they managed to make the movie without everyone laughing while trying to speak their lines is just way beyond me.

    • And I should have watched it last night, because they blocked it today. Don’t bother looking for other copies, every other thing that turns up in a Youtube search is just a redirect to some skanky site.

  3. Moving to Escobar to avoid technological slavery and working on life extension medical technology is a better long term solution than trying to kill the cloners retail, or so I”ve been told.

    (And I was thinking that I about how insulted I was when my sister with the English degree told me, with the under-used BS in engineering, that I had the SAT / GRE scores of a liberal arts major. Now I’m one course away from a BS in religion; it wasn’t my idea, but I really, really didn’t want to take ship to Tarshish.)

    • It does seem to give you much more room to run trials, especially when you’ve got so very much of Kibou-daini interested and willing to participate.

    • OTOH, there can be certain issues in letting the current victims go hang while you research — and helping the current victims has more certain payoff than research.

      Fomenting abolitionist sentiment in the US certainly helped lead to the Emancipation, but those who actually helped slaves escape on the Underground Railway were also doing Good Stuff.

    • BS in religion

      Oooh, what exactly goes into that?

      I’ve got a 9/11 GI Bill, plus the signing bonus GI bill that I paid to pump up, burning a hole in my pocket– got over seventy credits, but most of them are (duh!) technology related.

      • Lots of writing; reading; occasional insight; commuting; online classes (which always included mandatory discussion boards), and journaling. We read N. T. Wright and Holland, for example.

        Wait, did you mean like the course of study? overview class (REL 400) whose name I don’t recall (we did a Myers-Briggs and a spiritual biography and resumes for that class); OT & NT survey classes; Hebrew prophets: Spiritual Formation (includes a retreat); Life and Teachings of Jesus; Life and Teachings (or maybe letters, I forget) of Paul; World Religions; Church Ministry; Hermeneutics (preaching class); Christian Ethics; Systematic Theology; Church history; stuff that transferred; pick one from a list of these three (still need to do that); and Senior Research Project I & II–write five chapters over two semesters relating to a book your professor suggest or approves–I did mine on George Fox (founder of the Society of Friends, the Quakers) and his Journal (which I got from, I think, Steven’s bookstore, in Raleigh, NC).

        I went as an adult student and started in a modular program–four hours, one night a week for one class; the classes lasted 6 (I think) weeks. I think I transferred 70 some semester hours.

        I should point out that my university was founded by my denomination and is a “Christian faith-based, values-centered private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition” (http://www.umo.edu/about/mission-and-covenant), which doesn’t mean that you’d have belong to our denomination or even be a Christian to go there. A more secular university (eg., http://www.unc.edu/ugradbulletin/depts/reli.html) would have a different perspective, naturally.

        • *rubs hands eagerly*
          Oooh… poking around related, now I’m thinking about a “BS General Studies.” Yeah, it’s generic, but I’m doing it as a backwards way of actually GETTING a degree that will help me teach, since teaching degrees are worthless.

    • Professor Badness

      Bujold is indeed awesome.
      I have seen very few moral/practical concerns that haven’t been addressed by someone in sci-fi. I used more sci-fi novels as references in my college philosophy class than I should really admit too.
      (Though they were the best sources available.)

  4. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I found myself in a project that involved some cyberpunk tropes. I felt that I also wanted people to also look at the stars. I’m still working out the logistics of the payoff, but a guy can look.

    • I could never buy into cyberpunk; my fundamental reaction was always “A society this f*cked up, run by overbearing a55holes? Oh, yeah, the commons are totally going to put up with THAT. That’ll last maybe two weeks.

        • This is what the “beautiful people”malways seem to forget. There are a LOT more,of us than there are of them. As in “It doesn’t matter if you have machine guns and they are disarmed, they are STILL going to trample you into a red smear. And, in any case, you failed to disarm them. Oops.”

          • They take their cues from North Korea and Stalin era Soviet Union.

            Whether that could happen in USA is… okay, doesn’t seem likely, unless things there go a lot more south than so far first. But even when it does happen it’s not a permanent solution, not anywhere. Anything might tip the scales when it happens at the right point.

            Which makes most cyberpunk seem kind of… well, that they have missed the interesting times of that society. When it comes to an end. Anything that happens before that is just an interlude, not the real story, even when that interlude does last through several generations. And even during those interludes – no damn way it’s like that everywhere at the same time. So there might be interesting stories even then. Of those people who do escape.

            • BTW, that was the worst offense of the Matrix trilogy. The first movie seemed like they were going to tell a story of change. Which would have been interesting. But the next two, the same old same old, things maybe had a few more layers than had been obvious in the beginning, but in the end nothing changes. It all turned out to be just one big swamp. And that is NOT interesting, no matter how much ‘cool’ one tries to stuff in it.

              • What bugged me about THE MATRIC (and AVATAR, and several other recent SF movies that got chattered about) was that the chattering classes seemed to think these ideas were NEW. NEW?!?! Try “So old and tired out that no reputable SF author will touch them anymore”.

                The same thing goes with some of the “Magical Realism” stuff that was supposedly the Hot New Thing in intellectual Literature a short while back (Tom Wolfe skewers this wonderfully, BTW, in HOOKING UP). I mean, really? The Autobiography of Jesus Christ? THAT’S your big exciting idea? Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t there a period ’round about 1970 when you couldn’t throw a rock in a paperback bookstore without hitting three SF takes on Christ? Starting with Moorcock’s BEHOLD THE MAN? I mean, what exactly IS “Magical Realism” in Literature supposed to be that Ray Bradbury wasn’t doing a hell of a lot better back in the 1950’s? Also Theodore Sturgeon? Not to say Cordwainer Smith, Lewis Padgett, and a bunch of others?

                The SJWs are trying to poison SF, at the same time that the Literary Twits (like Updike) are tying to claim they INVENTED IT JUST NOW?!?

                Really, these people have the intellectual capacity of a boiled potato. They out to go watch BLACKADDER GOES FORTH and enlist in the WWI German Army.

                • That too. The only thing new in those lately has been the level where special effects can now be taken. The eye candy part is nice.

                  Admittedly they may seem new and even smart to all those people who have never read any of the old stuff, or read anything and are just now getting acquainted with these ideas in movies and games. Know your audience, I guess.

                  • “That too. The only thing new in those lately has been the level where special effects can now be taken. The eye candy part is nice.”

                    Finally able to do scifi and lack the brains to tell the story.
                    I keep hoping though.

                    • Well, Jackson did OK with LOTR, which I would have bet was unfilmable. A big partnof the problem is that you really can’t film a modern novel without cutting a BUNCH and sucking a lot of the subtle out simply because subtle takes time. You can film a Victorian novel because Victorian novels spend most of their pages in description. Thr camera does description fast. Modern novels spend most of their pages in conversation, introspection,, or action. The camera does those slowly, compared to reading.

                      LOTR is an Edwardian novel.

                    • LoTR wasn’t too bad, so I had hopes for Jackson’s The Hobbit. Too bad all the prints were destroyed before it could ever be shown in the theaters.

                    • LOTR is a medieval epic that deploys a lot of novelistic writing conventions

                • Go check out the kids’ books at the library– the really little kids ones.

                  Try to find one that’s more than five years old and not the kind of thing that they’d face pitchforks for not having.

                  My eldest grabbed what– from the artwork and very basic “hello, city” storyline– I assumed was from the 70s.

                  Nope. 2012. Not a reprint, that’s when it was written.

          • Birthday girl

            “malways”

            Great term.

          • As in “It doesn’t matter if you have machine guns and they are disarmed, they are STILL going to trample you into a red smear.

            Rock beats gun if I’m behind you with the rock….

          • You know, for most of human history it was possible by denying most people access to training and tools,to disarm the citizenry. Technology has changed that. From the 17th Century and being able to blast iron, disarming the population is a lost cause. But the “beautiful people” keep dreaming. At least until their heads get cut off. Somehow it never seems to occur to them that what happened to earlier groups of “beautiful people” can happen to them. One would think that they would be the ones working the hardest for free, stable, and wealthy societies with strong private property and rule of law, but instead they are the ones trying to tear it all apart. Insanity.

            • 17th century?

              Machiavelli says in The Prince that you should not disarm conquered populations. They need those arms to defend themselves. They will be grateful for your not doing it, at least enough to offset the trivial advantage of making it marginally more difficult for them to revolt, because if they really want to, they WILL get weapons.

      • One reason why I never really got into the science fiction fan scene in my country: when I tried to look into it, in my city, that was the 80’s and it seemed to be all cyberpunk. And I was never into that, mostly the characters – in the few early stories I read – were ones who made me want to shake them, or hit them with a plank or something because they weren’t looking outside, they always seemed to be all wrapped in trying to find a niche just in their own all fucked up society. Looking just inside, not even aware that there might be something outside the walls of that small cell they were living in. Well, in that type of society perhaps that might be the only route they could realistically use, but at least some hint of awareness that there might be or might have been something else?

        And then the local fan scene seemed to keep on being stuck in the fashionable… there has to be others like me, people who like the energy of the ‘old fashioned’ stuff, but finding them… difficult, even now. Maybe they are mostly my age or older and have given up looking for others around the existing watering holes, and there aren’t that many younger ones and they aren’t trying either. Maybe because you do see lots of SJWs. They are loud, and they are visible, and they do have the skill to suck the fun out of anything. Maybe we are all scared we’d just draw a lot of those if we tried to dig a watering hole of our own in this neighborhood, where there aren’t all that many with our stripes – any variety, SJW or Heinleinian – to start with. It’s probably easier for you guys to start something moving because with your size of population you can get together a big enough group of like minded people easier.

        (Plus your whole society is originally based on the ‘fun’ ideas, mine has a lot more of the wrong kind of baggage, like ‘obey the authorities’, stuck to us from the old times, our idea of freedom tends to be more something along the lines of ‘mind your own business and lie low while paying lip service when you meet one of them’. Which probably worked a lot better way back when half of the population lived hidden in the forests and the occasional too busybody crown officials might easily get lost there and be devoured by wolves or bears or something, with nobody the wiser… only that strategy does not work all that well with all the technology of nowadays. Unless you hide with and inside that technology… okay, I think I may just have figured out why lots of people here still like cyberpunk. 🙂 )

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I’ve read a lot of VR stuff, because I am a sucker for it. Cyber punk has always had stuff that doesn’t hold me. I’ve not read defining works.

        The people, the society is close enough to post WW1 or post WW11 anglosphere. There are corporations, but not in the cast, and while there are more cyborgs than cannibals and cinematic mutants(of which there are none), if there are any in the cast, their being a cyborg is not significant.

        I just decided to dial the VR back, so I could work in some sensawunda, and have some machinery that interests me.

        Nuclear powered aircraft. Naval vessels being constructed under heavy security. Maybe a neat spaceship.

      • William O. B'Livion

        You mean like Detroit?

        Chicago?

        San Francisco?

        New York?

  5. But, but Sarah, with no government control of everything, how are we supposed to achieve Nirvana. We all know that it is only through big government that we can achieve Utopia and end all wars, famines and diseases and raise our children to be loving and tolerant, unlike those uneducated, backwoods, God praising, ammunition passing, racist, sexist, homophobic, inbred, hillbilly Republicans. Marx save us all from those people.

    I man, honestly haven’t you seen the latest? Talk about Social Justice! The professors at Harvard (HARVARD!) are complaining about increases to their healthcare costs! WE WIN!!! Those are college professors at HARVARD! They make money! We get to take it from them. Granted, it’s all going to fatten some insurance company executives pockets, but hey, we took it from their privileged selves! And yeah, they supported our side, but whatever. We got what we wanted, we don’t need them anymore.

    *SIGH*

    Yup. Clearly, you are mistaken. I mean, look what Obama has done with the economy. It’s almost back to where it was when he took office. It only took him six years! Now _THAT_ is proof in the pudding.

    • I feel so sorry for the sensible Black citizens; the first Black President and he turns out to be THIS BAD. First time out of the box and they get Jimmy Carter’s inability to do anything right combined with LBJs ego. The way society lumps all of any arbitrary “ethnic” groups together, that’s gotta be really embarrassing.

      • When I was working the phones for Sarah and what’shisname in 08 there were two black gentlemen manning the phones on either side of me. We were bonding over how much we hated our own candidate, but no, seriously, he was still the best of the two, and the one on the right said about Obama “Foo’ is gonna get us killed.” That’s about the size of it.

        • The wife and I, especially the wife, did a lot of campaign work for the Republican candidate for the Illinoisy state house (75th district) this year. He and his wife are very conservative, very religious blacks who detest what 0bama has done to the nation.

      • I do too – there was so much invested in him as First Black President by the entire black community, the solid citizens and the thug-class alike. And he has been a complete and total disaster. I wonder if a lot of the bubbling up black anger in the wake of the Zimmerman matter and the Ferguson riots is a weird kind of displacement. They absolutely can’t acknowledge to themselves that they were used, screwed and abused by the Obama administration generally, after supporting him almost %100 across the board … so best blame the white boogey-man.

        • Hey, that actually seems to make sense… way too much sense for comfort.

        • I think it’s more that the Obama failure is going to result in a huge loss of political capital by the black grievance wing of the Democrat party, and these antics are a way to remind the limousine liberal wing that they have stuff that can be broken.

          • One of the secondary or tertiary goals of importing more illegals is that they will handle the task of disposing of the old serfs. Gang warfare in South Central LA between Mexican and black gangs… and the black gangs are losing, big-time, and being forced to move.

        • 110% in some precincts. Many voted twice – they are twice as pissed off now.

      • The Press is working overtime to try to convince us that THIS BAD is actually the best possible outcome. but even some of them are coming to realized it’s not possible.

    • Hmmm. Either my sarcasm meter busted, or Jim’s computer’s been hacked and we’re got another dead rat masquerading as a Hun.

      • Eat some ginger snaps; that’s a first guess for re-setting your meter.

        • Alas, they’re off the menu until at least late February, unless I soak them in something to make them soft. No nuts, nothing that is hard or that shatters, crunches, or that I have to gnaw on (bagels, pizza crust, good pumpernickel bread). Maybe sucking on a piece of crystalized ginger would do.

          • Eamon J. Cole

            Wow. Doesn’t that sound like a pleasant diet.

            Got a blender?

            • I’ve gotten good at half-gumming things to death. There’s a semi-permanent retainer over my lower teeth in order to simulate where my teeth should be in order to take the strain off my jaw joints (TMJD repair). The gizmo is a little fragile and not glued fully into place, thus the no-fun, no-nosh diet.

              • For six months after I had my teeth removed, I gummed everything. I got to the point I could eat steak as long as it wasn’t TOO tough. Problem, however, which I didn’t realize at the time, was that by doing this, my gums were swollen. After I got my dentures, the gums slowly went back to normal, and now they’re loose. Oh, and if for some reason I eat without them, they swell again and my dentures are very uncomfortable the next day. I’m going to get them replaced soon, so they fit better.

              • Eamon J. Cole

                The bright side: Foods will be wonderful experiences when things return to normal!

              • You can have all the spices you want. Mush is not fun, but it can be delicious. (Yep, I did the TMJ thing too, a long time ago. The most heavily spiced baby food, yogurt, and pudding ever.)

          • Reminds me of the week after my wisdom teeth. Half-melted ice cream and applesauce diet. . . .

            and straight chocolate ice cream. nothing chunky.

            • I still don’t enjoy ice cream as much as I did before getting my wisdom teeth out and that was over a decade ago.

          • Put a slice of bread in the box with the Ginger snaps and leave it for a day or so. Bread dries out, and the cookies soften up.

      • Actually, I thought I was running past sarcasm to full smart-a$$ mode. I guess it didn’t come through as intended. I’ll try harder next time.

        (I need a determined looking emoticon… anybody got one?)

      • Why are blacks typically assumed to be poor and living in a horrible neighborhood? I’m sure that there are many blacks like the ones on the Cosby show: middle to upper middle class, nice neighborhood, he’s a doctor, well run home, good kids, etc.
        If I were Black I’d be irritated with. It’d be like portraying all Jews as skinflint evil businessmen, who used goy blood to make matzah with.
        It’s a disgrace and a disservice to portray Blacks as primarily ghetto dwellers, while highlighting Black achievements during Black history month.

        • Because otherwise rich black kids wouldn’t be able to get Affirmative Action.

          • Affirmative action is bad all around. It assumes people need extra help. Also since they are promoted beyond their ability they don’t do as well. Then people think that all people in their group are incapable. It is a tool of oppression. Whereas if they were treated like everyone else, they’d fail or succeed on their own merits. People would see them as individuals.

            My father grew up poor but worked hard his whole life. Where he had no inheritance but a good name, he left a considerable inheiritance to his children.

            • I keep thinking that if Michael Jordan had been shooting on a nine foot tall goal, he’d never made it to the pros; but one of my professors (see above comment when it comes out of moderation) told me to avoid too many sports metaphors as too many women wouldn’t get it (or words to that effect). (She probably had a point, but I was also thinking –hey my sister played softball in college and my mom played basketball in high school.)

        • This one depends on which black person you talk to. You do get the exact attitude you’re describing from some. OTOH, you also get an attitude about “The Cosbys weren’t black enough.” from some. I work for a company that’s sixty percent black. I’ve heard it all.

        • I worked with a number of black engineers. They were all respectable middle-class people.

          • Most blacks are middle class.

            • Exactly! I’ve known some poor black people and they didn’t act like the stereotype which oppresses them.

          • Who says Blacks need affirmative action? White liberals. Who runs the big cities? White liberals. Who runs the schools in the big cities? Black liberals. And they all claim Repubs are raaaaacists.

          • William O. B'Livion

            You have to have the sort of traits that boost one out of the lower classes and into the middle class (at least) to be an engineer. The two black families I knew best when I were a wee lad both produced children who are middle to upper middle class (well, one of them might have gone to jail, but if so it was for fraud, not drugs or violence).

            But I was raised in a middle class area in a college town. A place you moved to to *avoid* the sort of crap that you find in predominantly black neighborhoods–and I’ve *lived* in predominately black neighborhoods in Chicago and predominately minority neighborhoods in STL and SFO.

            The black families in the neighborhood I grew up in were school focused. The ones in Chicago not so much.

        • I’d guess the reason blacks are always shown as living in da’ hood is because the cultural left is enthralled with gangsta’ culture. And because (as others have said above) the child of two professionals who together earn $$$ per year won’t qualify for federal/state/foundation money. And how many middle class blacks go along with the stereotype so they are left alone? Kinda like the wealthy cattlemen and southern businessmen and women who play dumb-redneck when the know-it-all outsiders waltz in.

        • William O. B'Livion

          Why are blacks typically assumed to be poor

          Because, compared to whites they are more likely to be:
          http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0104552.html

          http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-median-income-in-the-us-by-race-2013-9

          and living in a horrible neighborhood?

          Blacks make up 1/3 of the population (roughly). They tend to live mostly in the South and in large cities: http://xahlee.org/Periodic_dosage_dir/t2/race_distribution.html

          In both areas, for cultural reasons certain behaviors like drug use and promiscuity are tolerated and there is a *huge* percentage of births to unmarried mothers (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr62/nvsr62_09.pdf page 41). Other behaviors are frowned upon http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014391.pdf, page 7.

          I’m sure that there are many blacks like the ones on the Cosby show: middle to upper middle class, nice neighborhood, he’s a doctor, well run home, good kids, etc.

          There are in the “middle class”, but even then if you’re living in Chicago or NYC on a “middle class” income you’re *not* living in a nice neighborhood.

          I lived in Chicago for about 8 years, and towards the end was living in a middle class neighborhood. We would still get stuff stolen off our back “porch”, and someone broke into the basement and tried to burn the lock off my bicycle.

          • Adjusting for family structure, blacks are actually less poor than one would expect, though not as well off as “Hispanic” families.
            Marriage, Poverty, and Race
            Marriage substantially reduces the probability of poverty within all racial groups. For example, in the U.S., non-married Hispanic families are three times more likely to be poor than married Hispanic families. Non-married black families are five times more likely to be poor than married black families, while non-married white families are seven times more likely to be poor than married white families.

            http://www.heritage.org/childpoverty/united-states

            There’s also the effect of being a criminal (especially a violent one) that got caught on your future earning potential, and that is more common in single-parent families….

            ***********

            While yes, a “middle class” income in NYC won’t get you into a decent neighborhood, looking at the map reminded me of another consideration: you can live a lot better on the same income in the South. Right now my husband and I are working our tails off to live on an income that is actually above average, because it’s so far below average for those setting the prices on things like housing. Trying to buy a house, and it’s funny to listen to folks’ reaction when we tell them what we’re paying in rent….

          • Charts on the page you just directed us to show blacks as 12.9% of the population, less than one-sixth, not 1/3rd (or 33%)

    • If Nirvana means no memory, no hope, no self-interest and no ambition, government is JUST the tool to achieve it it.

  6. Something that hasn’t been used before? Hmmm. Generation ship, with a predominantly Irish background population?

    Why Irish? 1 – the Generation Ship (GS) would be built in Asteroid belt. (Way too big to build near Earth.)

    2. Therefore the crew of the GS would be self-selected by those who showed up to construct it.

    2a. The Irish tend (at least in the past) to pack up and move to favorable economic areas.

    2b. If economic conditions are favorable in orbit, they’re gonna make the jump.

    2c. The future belongs to those who show up for it.

    3. With the current sociological trends in the EU, the US, SA and the ME, extreme navel-gazing will probably have a lock on any sort of ‘progress’ regarding space in 2-300 years. It’ll be ‘icky’, and stuff the ‘right people’ simply wouldn’t do, you know…

    4. And how DO you construct a GS and sociological system that would last over a voyage of, say, 10,000 years – and not have a ship of drooling inbred idiots at the end of it?

    Hmmm…

    • One thing you can do is have a sperm bank and require every woman to have a least one child from that sperm bank.

      • Assuming every individual reproduces, a population of 50 adults is typically required for a species to survive short-term; 500 for long-term. Assuming we can put, oh, 5 or 10 thousand people on this ship, it would not be a problem, provided you selected hard for willingness to have children and fertility in your choosing.

        • …And willingness might only matter for the first generation. Probably by the second generation, and definitely by the third, there would be a cultural belief built that it was a DUTY to reproduce to help populate the new colony.

          Honestly, the biggest problem I see in a generation ship type scenario is what to do when the reproduction results in increases to the population base. Where do all of the extra people go? Although that problem might be solved when a slow build of radiation resulted in a decrease of reproductive capability…

          • Given a thousand years or so, and geneticists would likely be able to insert a kink into the genome to restrict fertility in a confined environment. (Have your light sources be deficient in UV A, perhaps. Keep the UV B for Vitamin D production, and when exposed to UV A fertility rates go up… hmmm)

            Yeah, definitely ideas…

      • Would that be a bank shot?

    • Assuming Earth 2015 technology, you build it freaking huge. With nuclear power and nuclear propulsion. I think you have to shoot for something between Troy from Ringo’s LFD series and Dahak from Mutineer’s Moon.

    • Trigger warning: the following is horribly un-PC, which made it fun to write.

      The Irish tend (at least in the past) to pack up and move to favorable economic areas.

      From a cultural perspective, groups (or sub-groups) that are willing to pack up and move to where there’s a better life, regardless of origin, are a hardy bunch. I know I’ve seen this directly or indirectly referenced a lot in SF. I could tell there was something to the ‘Irish Colony Ship’ idea when it immediately triggered a flood of similar story ideas, some of which took on a life of their own.

      1) The obvious Mel Brooks inspired ‘Jews in Spaaaaace!’ story.
      2) A story comparing a group that volunteered for colonization vs a group that was drafted, either in the same colony or separate colonies.
      3) A colony ship crew of various political refugees (‘Cubans and Vietnamese in Spaaaaace!’)
      4) A colony ship crewed by a group that’s hyper-academically inclined (say, predominantly by stereotypical Chinese-American Tiger Kids). You get a guaranteed admission and a full scholarship to a top university if you get top marks on a preliminary standardized exam, major in a STEM or other useful field and agree to enter into a lottery to be on the colony ship crew; you’d have kids of poor immigrants that don’t meet the affirmative action criteria lining up around the block.

      • “major in a STEM or other useful field”
        Be careful with that one; another reason for having a huge colony ship is that you could take a significant fraction of your tech base with you…. but you’d never take it all, and there’s almost certainly going to be areas you’ll drop back to earlier eras in. Tech manufacturing comes to mind….

        • History of Science and Technology.

          • The Engineering-and-business-heavy university I attended offered a cross-departmental minor in ‘Science, Technology, and Society’ (STS), classes on the impact of technology in shaping society, which was a decent source of classes for my humanities requirement for my engineering degree.

            The odd thing was that the ‘Society, Technology and War’ elective on the relationship between means of warfare and the evolution of cultures and nations (which was an awesome class) didn’t count as an STS elective until we pointed out how well it fit. It even had two of the same three words right in the subject!

        • Oh, I know that. And it might be interesting to tell the story where the planners of the colonization mission didn’t think things all the way through, or something completely unexpected happened, and the group has to make do. There’s not usually much of a story if everything goes according to plan.

          Although the hyper-stratified space mandarinate where your position in society is entirely determined by a series of competitive exams makes for an excellent evil empire for your Scotch-Irish-Jewish-Cuban-Vietnamese hardy plucky refugee colony. The mandarinate probably has better cuisine, though.

          I think I just ended up welding all four of my original ideas into one completely solid story idea, even if it is a trifle cliche.

          • I think that a colony ship with poor planning should be set in a culture where regular spaceflight (I don’t consider what we have now as “regular” spaceflight, it’s still in the research phase) had been around a while, though. Otherwise, the planners would have gone over everything that every one of a couple thousand people could think of, and replanned and replanned, with test groups and such inside the solar system, before leaving.

          • You might like Helm by Steven Gould. things go very badly with plans, there.

        • Tech manufacturing? hell we’d build a low-geee fab on board…

    • How about Scots-Irish from West Virginia? They know mining, after all…

      • That’s an interesting idea… mine out the asteroid you’re using to provide reaction mass?

        Hmmm.

        • C’mon now – it’s mine the asteroid to provide construction material, then go out to the Oort cloud and snag a comet for fuel (the comet also provides radiation protection for high speeds).

          • Unless you were continually mining the asteroid for building materials AS you were traveling… and using that to provide space for an expanding population.

            • Professor Badness

              If the asteroid was that big to begin with, and you could just continue to expand for thousands of years, what do you need a planet for?
              Couldn’t you just find a system with sufficient natural resources to continue surviving; i.e. a sun for power, gas giants for water and oxygen etc.
              Why would a people who had come to live inside a giant asteroid want to abandon it for the random uncertainty of a new planet?

              • Right – if you are good enough to do that, even if you flung the “That’s Not A Moon!” to another star system, why would the inhabitants at arrival want to dive down into a gravity well? They’d most likely just park in the local asteroid belt where the resources are easy to get at and start making baby Deathstars.

                This is why I’ve always thought if anyone were serious about looking for Aliens In Our Midst, they should be looking our asteroid belt. The upcoming Ceres arrival should be a good opportunity to look for obelisks and such as well: “No, Blsrxnicks, there’s no reason to drop the thing down where those monkeys are capering about – put it on (Ceres) and wait for the monkeys to reach a reasonable tech level.”

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Nit Picking.

                  In the movie 2001, there was a hint that the obelisk set among the “monkeys” was intended to “start the monkeys” onto the road to intelligent life.

                  On the other hand, in the movie 2001 the obelisk on the moon was “hidden” so the “monkeys” couldn’t find it until they reached a certain tech level.

                  On the Gripping Hand, in the Clarke short story “The Sentinel” the alien pyramid was protected by a force shield and was transmitting signals to its makers until humans destroyed it. Of course, the idea was its makers would know that somebody had found the alien pyramid and destroyed it. Thus the makers would know that a high tech civilization existed in that star system or had visited that star system. In “The Sentinel” it was left unclear as to what the makers would do if one of their “sentinels” stopped transmitting. [Very Big Evil Grin]

  7. Sarah, if that was you trying to hide your true self, yeah, you sucked at it. You attacked the liberal olympic sport of navel gazing, actually supported free market ideas, and said that we should actually have hope in our future – that it won’t be a dead, dreary, depressing dystopia resulting from the destruction of our lavish, materialistic free market lifestyles ruled over by the evil patriarchy. AND you postulated the idea that more government is not always the answer to every problem, along with the idea that people don’t want to read boring, depressing, regurgitated litanies of how bad humanity is. HOW DARE YOU!!!!

  8. Re: The war on women
    What happens when you put a boy in front of a girl and ask him to slap her? Here is how children react to the subject of violence against women.

    • “No. Because I am a man.”

      Exactly. As an actual adult, the caveat for self-defense and defense of others is implied.

  9. Eamon J. Cole

    In the closet, was it? Hm.

  10. CombatMissionary

    What a bunch of ignorant bourgeois plebians we’ve become! We fail to buy the latest social commentary by our betters! Clearly we’re just a bunch of ignoramuses!
    Oh, and Bayou Renaissance Man just posted one of the greatest nonfic pieces ever by our intellectual superiors! I had to run out and find a boulder to beat my head against, because I didn’t want to demolish my desk. Behold the work of genius!:

    http://www.phyllis-chesler.com/249/refusing-to-rape-racism-if-you-are-an-israeli

    • (Blinks)
      Someone needs to get into the girl who wrote that little bit of nonsense;s brain. There is something very not right in there.

      • See from a couple days back the wise guidance passed down from generation to generation “Don’t stick it in crazy…” This also applies to mind-peering. Wouldn’t be prudent.

        • Not for peering, for fixing. Either she has gone so far down the rabbit hole that she only needs someone digging from the other side a couple of feet to get out into the sunlight, or she’s going to end up dead.

      • CombatMissionary

        It’s probably nothing to worry about. It DOES make me think of a story I once read. Something about calling EVIL, good and good, Evil, or something.
        Probably just a bedtime story.

      • CombatMissionary

        I don’t think I could achieve that level of enlightenment if I had two silverback gorillas pummel me in the cranium with shovels five times a day for a month coupled with a 5000% increase in my consumption of heavy metals.

    • Every time I think I’ve seen the depths of post modernism, something shows up that reaches an even greater deep dark.

    • Well, they have to do SOMETHING. the interracial rape rate in this country is not even-handed.

  11. Christopher M. Chupik

    Yeah, it’s depressing to read SF from the ’40s and compare it to today. E. E. “Doc” Smith had galactic scale battles, planets being used as weapons, aliens with post-binary genders and women who were partners with men, instead of embittered rivals. “Shrank” indeed.

  12. But I got sick and tired onto nausea of this being portrayed as an evil of OPEN and free market societies and “there ought to be a law” being recommended as a remedy for it.

    But of course it is!

    We all know that there is NOT ONE example of a totalitarian or totalitarian leaning society that treated human beings like they were objects, widgets to be interchanged, or resources with no moral value beyond how useful they are to the one deciding worth.

    *wide eyed nodding*

    • Seriously, though– you point to a very good, basic point: killing humans is already illegal, and so is human experimentation.

      Enforce those laws, and boom: 99% of all the problems folks have though up are illegal, and you’re left with people arguing “well, that’s a human with .135% non-human DNA, not a human!” or “That is a cloned human where we used a cow egg, so they’re not REALLY human!”
      (both of which should be covered by the human experimentation thing, but even rules like “you can add human codes to non-human organisms, but not the other way around” would probably just have people trying to replace every bit one chunk at a time. Or claim it.)

      • Foxfier — you’re falling into their way of thinking. We’re not very good at stopping things once we know how to do them.

        • We’re not very good at stopping things once we know how to do them.

          We’ve been killing each others for all of recorded history. Being able to do it doesn’t make it any less wrong, and people have been killing or abusing those weaker than them for similarly long. Laws don’t stop all of it, but enforcing them equally can help.

          People have been raping for ages, even when it’s illegal, even when it’s really hard to manage– a massive violation of the mother, but also (less frequently mentioned, because they are so uncommon) of a child made in such a way. Dehumanizing the kid has been a traditional solution, but for obvious reasons I object to it. 😀

          Not new problems, and not ones that can be solved by just one thing, but definitely problems that scifi can help us thrash out. A lot of the fun of scifi is that it gives a brain something to chew on, a different way to look at a problem…even practice in seeing how someone else might see it, and practice identifying the problems/why you don’t share the view, without it being a life and death (or even just social discomfort) situation.

          • No. I meant science. You can outlaw nukes. We pretty much have. But it’s a full time job to stop people getting them.
            Cloning is a potential fountain of youth.
            It would be better to do a “this is severely disapproved of” — in fact the idea repulses most normal humans and let SOME amount of it (what we’re doing. Replacement organs, etc) be done, with the idea SOME things are beyond the pale, than to attempt to stamp all human-genetic-work out.

            • I didn’t say anything about outlawing cloning– I pointed out specific things that, if folks did, are already illegal. Doesn’t matter if they’re doing it with a rock or something scifi-ish.

              I really dislike the way that people are scared of all things nuclear, but the choices there are prudential, not objective. If you kill a human, you killed a human, even if you use different words; a breeder reactor being objectively more dangerous than storing half-used fuel, though, is a matter of judgement.

              • See, I think if clones are human too (There are reasons, like extreme infertility cases where I wouldn’t do it, but I can see people doing it. Or people who lose a child after they’re no longer fertile, or…. you know what I mean) and openly so, then yeah killing them is illegal.
                I know you didn’t — I was clarifying what I said. I think I’m starting a head cold, and things come out backwards and sideways.

                • *hugs* Hope you didn’t get the Stealth Flu that’s over here. Combine that with record breaking air pressure and even my computers seem to have caught the flu.

                  • Could you explain what you mean by, “Stealth Flu”?

                    • Patrick Chester

                      Slightly better than Ninja Flu…

                    • What next, Samurai flue?

                    • Naw, you catch the whole chimney, not just the flu.

                    • I’m flu shy, don’t bother me.

                    • It doesn’t make you hurl, it doesn’t even make you look sick, you’re warm but not extremely so, you just feel like utter crud and so tired a feather can push you over.

                      Not even any notable joint aching, and I’ve yet to find anyone who noticed the fever BEFORE they felt so tired that it was obvious something was wrong.

                      Some people have blinding headaches, too, but I think mine was the air pressure, mostly.

                    • That’s kind of what I suspected, but I always wind up being wrong when I don’t double check these things. Taking younger son to doctor today, because he’s exhausted, with nausea, but no fever, for three days.

                    • Until a friend started complaining about her Christmas being taken out by it, I didn’t even know you could have the flu without hurling. Apparently nausea is more of a junior thing, but most adults who go to the hospital for it are the sub-group that’s got stomach issues.

                      My temp never went over 101, none of the kids went over 102 (although with the Baron that might be just responding to the meds) and my husband hovered at 100, which is within half a degree of totally normal for him.

                      I don’t usually consider it really having a fever for an adult unless it’s at least 104, otherwise it’s just a bit warm…..

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      When I and my sister Ruth were growing up, Mom (a school teacher) wouldn’t let us take a “sick day” from school unless we had a temperature no matter how sick we said we were.

                      Years later, Mom learned that Ruth’s “normal temperature” was lower than average. [Smile]

                    • In my case, my temperature often plunges when I’m sick. Hypothermia not hyperthermia.

                    • From hanging out around more serious Catholic groups online, I got exposed to natural family planning… and found out that human temperature is really not standardized. I run cold– my husband runs hot. I just discovered this morning that, if they sleep in a cool room, our daughters drop down to almost my level, when they usually run more on his level. All of the loons are able to sleep comfortably in rooms that keep me awake all night.

                      I really wish that our “Physical Education” class had actually involved being educated on our bodies, instead of really boring “games.”

                    • Sigh. Same thing with me – I run ‘cold’ as it were. When my temp reads in the normal range, I am actually running a low-grade fever and feel quite ill. Not that this knowledge cut any ice with the first-line medical screeners over the years….

                    • Sheesh. If my temp gets above 102, I’ve got chills and shakes so bad, you can feel the floor vibrate in the next room. Then again, normal temp for me is 97, so 102 is higher for me than for the average.

                    • Eamon J. Cole

                      104 is a high-grade fever, above 104 is venturing into dangerous fevers.

                      Clinicians’ evaluations of significant fever varies, duration (and a host of other variables) is a factor, YMMV, etc. and caveat but — 104 is a bit high for a baseline.

                    • Over 107 for danger in an adult, actually– National Institute of Health. (Not even going to bother with the point-whatzit, I don’t trust home thermometers THAT much)

                      If it’s a “real” problem, then it’s time to call doctors.

                      Our current pediatrician is beloved because, after the second or third call about minor fevers, he figured out that I’m not one of those moms who takes a temperature and goes “oh…well, it’s only two degrees over what it’s supposed to be, I’ll wait another degree or three before I even consider doing anything.”

                    • Eamon J. Cole

                      Over 107 is heading toward brain damage territory, moving on to organ failure and death with moderate increases.

                      Above 104 is dangerous in adults because it’s symptomatic of potentially significant physiological problems.

                      Above 107 is dangerous because it’s after killing you.

                      Again, duration is a factor, location of assessment, etc.

                      I’d encourage you not to take my word for it, or the NIH’s, but ask your personal physician for their guidelines.

                    • Once upon a time, I ran a temp of 105 … and it was weird, because I actually felt fine … it was just that when I walked into an air-conditioned building, I suddenly came over all faint. I about passed out twice in an hour, running necessary pay-day errands. Walk into the PX – faint. Walk into the post bank – faint. Three months post-partum … it turned out to be an ovarian cyst, IRRC. Went to work, did an hour or so of my shift, went back to the OB-GYN as I had been told to do, and I was admitted at once and spent the weekend with tubes in my arms. My supervisor was pissed – he had to work my shift.

                    • THAT was when I did the post with all the GIFS. You know “My last post on SFWA pinky swear.”

                • “if clones are human too”

                  I know you’re not questioning this, but it baffles me every time I’ve seen someone seriously wonder about this, because we already have the world-tested answer to that: identical twins.

                  • And the induced version was high level hobby science over a century ago– on of the Peter Wimsey short stories mentions you can induce identical twins in frogs with a horse hair applied at the right time.

                    It happens because people want to do something. If they recognize that the target is a human– in this situation meaning a moral being of equal worth with themselves– then they can’t do it.
                    So the solution to get the desired result is to change the facts.

                    The fiction version where you have clones that are visually identical or mostly identical is a dramatization….usually…. because it’s hard to dehumanize someone you’re looking at.

                    The other option is to deny that what you want could possibly be unwanted or harmful.

                • Clones are people two

            • “Cloning is a potential fountain of youth.”

              The problem is the brain ages like everything else. If you can prevent that, a la the Mules, you can prevent any other aging problem, too. If you can’t, what you get is to be senile in a young body.

            • Let’s say cloning organs looks better to me now that it did a year ago. But I don’t think the world is ready for two whole me’s and I have a feeling other-Me would not be that much of a sharer…

              • If we cloned me, there would probably be an epic fight. Individual organs? Meh. Why not? Better than cadaver tissue that can be rejected.

                • Eamon J. Cole

                  Remember the time machine we don’t talk about? Yeah — there was a cloning mishap in the future.

                  Fortunately we were able to convince other you to flitter off to Andromeda and conquer something. Last I heard she’d found a nice group of furry elephantidae-analoques with grand libraries and was a long way toward leaving them ruthlessly alone.

                  And I understand that in the future, the Springs recovers nicely.

                • It’s looking like culturing one’s own stem cells (clones will have different mido-watzit DNA, unless cloned in an egg from the same female line) is a really great bet for actually replacing organs. There’s some evidence that, if done right, you don’t actually have to grow a new organ– you can treat it with the building blocks early enough, and repair rather than replace.

                  Our government has decided that such a thing is a “drug,” not a therapy, and requires that each stemcell line be approved. There is a great deal of speculation that this is in order to favor existing stem cell lines and prevent those with moral opposition to use of lines from slaughtered children from coming up with solutions that work better and can’t be treated as a drug, with all the related protections/advantages.

              • I think cloning can be for making replacement organs for severely ill and dying people: hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys, pancreases etc. I don’t think you should clone entire people.

  13. Christopher M. Chupik

    I thought immediately of this article today when I read the blurb on an upcoming alternate history novel. Rome never fell and launches an invasion of the New World. But one Roman officer is taken prisoner by the Natives and begins to question what’s fighting for . . .

    Fer cryin’ out loud, it’s Dances With Wolves! I expect this kind of narrative laziness from Hollywood. You’re telling me that the author, with all the unknown possibilities of alternative universes, ended up with this rehash?

    • Too many of these idiots DON’T FRIGGIN’ READ. They have no idea what has been done before, because they haven’t read any of it.

    • Captive narratives do make money, and a suitably stoic Roman might do ok with running the gantlet. But I cannot see one being all that impressed with a Native American lifestyle; it was not Arcadian. He would want to bring tribes into the Empire and give them running water and toilets.

    • DWW: I watched it. I thought it beautifully done, but the dialogue and Costner’s narration ruined it for me. Woulda been better as a silent.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Rome never fell actually takes a big set of assumptions.

      What is there for Rome to loot in North America? (If Rome had never fallen, it isn’t all that plausible that they wouldn’t have quickly overrun, looted, and destroyed the south and central american empires.)

      If they can transport enough population to seriously invade in force, what have the Indians to offer that is worth engaging beyond genocide?

      As for the thing itself…

      If you can make that plausible, you can do the same for a senior Marine being captured by the IJA and coming to sympathize with their goals.

  14. Civilis said “From a cultural perspective, groups (or sub-groups) that are willing to pack up and move to where there’s a better life, regardless of origin, are a hardy bunch”.

    How about descendents of Alaska homesteaders?

  15. I posted the blog article on LinkefIn, with the following comment.
    Sarah gets it 100% right about what’s wrong with much F&SF today. I *grew up* reading Tom Swift Jr., and numerous Ace Doubles, and other “hack” F&SF. Just for laughs read EE “Doc” Smith, The Lensman series, Venus Equilateral, “Doc” Savage, Andre Norton (I got the trill of a lifetime meeting her at MagicCon in ’92), or early R A Heinlein, just to name a few. Compare it to most of the “award winning” stories, and be amazed at how political and pathetic today’s fiction is. The really good stuff, Ringo, Michael Z Williamson (Note, I’ve known Mad Mike for over 22 years, and I’m his daughter Morrigan’s adopted grandfather), Larry Correia, Misty Lackey, etc., and see how _big_ their ideas are. Their “ideas” are so big that they are barely contained in their books. MadMike’s Gwainne (A *planet* run on Libertarian Principles, fighting a _war_ with Earth and it’s colonies). Or David Weber’s Honor series, or his Safehold series, for mind blowing _big_ concepts. Elizabeth Moon, with her Paksenarrion series, and related books is another. Misty Lackey and her Valdemar series, is yet another example. Arrayed against that are the pathetic “ideas” like “non-binary gender, *message* fiction that isn’t even well written, much less well plotted. Non-Human, Non-binary gender was much better done in the Anne Mccaffery begun ship/city who sang books. There is a reason that RAH is *still* reprinted, _years_ after his death, and *sells well.* JK Rowling is a justifiably rich woman, because she wrote what people wanted to *pay money to _read_.*
    When I’m depressed, or lonely, I want to read “big ideas, with people doing BIG things,” not whiny babies, complaining about how bad their life is. When you plunk down money for a book, ask yourself one thing. “Am I going to read something that will make me feel good, or just depress me more?” If you read magazines (Analog, etc.), attend conventions, write LoC’s to fanzines, get the *message* out. “If you want my money/patronage, don’t belabor me with a ‘message.’ Don’t write boring, pointless, ‘message’ fiction, that has it’s head firmly implanted anally.”

  16. Got some seriously weird and weirdly funny commenters here. I can’t play in that league, so I’ll sit in the stands and eat hot dogs and popcorn.
    Have you seen this: http://vimeo.com/60139948 RAH on Set of Destination Moon
    Bujold: I’ve been impressed. One of the early novels, at the end Miles has been accepted into training and has a training exercise that struck me as true to trainer rides I’ve had and seen.
    Refusing to rape is racist: Thinking that is seriously crazed Marxist thinking.

  17. I’m glad the progs don’t know what goes on in a typical business park. I know what goes on in the ones I worked at, and some of that stuff is truly scary, even to me, who is a total technophile. I think the problems started in the early 1970’s after the green movement got it’s hooks into the entertainment community after that little oil spill in Santa Barbara.:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1969_Santa_Barbara_oil_spill