Pure Gold

So, this might possibly be another Human Wave Post.

Recently someone – okay, okay, Dave Truesdale – posted a bunch of pictures of conferences in the seventies, which still had – in attendance – a lot of people from the Golden Age.

I was particularly struck by pictures of a young Jim Baen, who looked nothing like I imagined him as a young man, which goes to show you we’re all prone to thinking that those we knew at a certain age were never young.

As someone who is now – has confronted pictures from Comicon – no longer young, this is somewhat problematic because I realize many people will never know I was once a young woman. Eh. That is just plain weird. However, since inside I’m still 12 years old, that young woman is no more representative of the real me than the middle aged curmudgeon I now am.

Anyway, when Dave posted those pictures, a lot of people said they wished they could have been at those cons. Like who doesn’t? A lot of those men (and women) marked our adolescence and had more influence on us than close family friends. I, for one, will forever regret that I never got to meet Poul Anderson [Yes, I routinely misspell his name.  Partly because in Portugal editors often helpfully corrected his spelling to Paul.]  who had a signing not a mile from my house when the kids were little. I could have gone, I could, but the kids had some sort of stomach flu going on and I thought I didn’t want to give that to the nice writer. And then I thought “He’s relatively young. There will be other chances” which just proves that I’m an idiot.

There were other snuffled replies about “I wish I had lived in the Golden Age.”

You know, I’ve seen the pictures too, the small, intimate gatherings with all the names we’ve grown to revere. The air of collegiate comradery. I’ve heard the stories about beginning writer x being taken under the wing of writer y, sight unseen. (I think that’s why so many of you send me your manuscripts to read. For the record, if you’re a friend – and a few of you are – I’ll get to them. I’ve just been slammed under illness so long that the ability to follow a thought for more than a page eluded me. Hence a lot of re-reading or those non-fiction books that are a sort of fact per page. I’m now all right – doctor gave the all clear – but have been REVELING in reading for pleasure around getting the other house ready for sale. As soon as that is done I’ll make some time to read your stuff, because paying it forward SHOULD be part of the ethos of the field. Strangers, OTOH, who contact me for the very first time to send me a story to read… I might never get to.)

We know the air of collegiate comradery is a lie, to an extent. Note I said to an extent, and I’ll explain later.

Part of my amusement at the reaction to the whole Sad Puppies thing has been the very same people saying there were never politics in SF being the very same people who once told me that there were rifts I didn’t see in the field and that some people in the early two thousands still didn’t talk to each after arguments over the Vietnam war back in the day.

And anyone who has read Heinlein’s bio knows about the other rifts in fandom and among professionals way back before that, a lot of them political.

But this is to an extent, because to another extent… Well, guys, we’re all pretty weird. We spend our days writing about worlds and futures that don’t exist.

Older son who aspires to medicine (and is engaged in preparation to practice it) tells me that only people with a compulsion to work at healing (and he says it’s a compulsion) understand other people with the same issue. Well, guys… Yeah, same for writers, and to an extent for fans.

I’m not going to tell you that I love all my colleagues. There are many I loathe, many I cordially detest, many I tolerate, and, yes, many I love dearly. Weirdly, this doesn’t rift across political lines (of course, my politics being what they are, they are at best cross-sectional to real world politics) or even correlate to those I like to read. Yeah, curse it, some of the ones I loathe write pretty good stuff. (Shakes fist at great novelist in the sky, who has a sense of humor.)

The truth is we’re all creative people, opinionated and passionate and about as sociable as a skunk convention. Rifts, political and others (I had issues with one of my colleagues on sartorial grounds. No, REALLY) are to be expected. But to an extent we band together because only our crazy kind understands our crazy kind. Same as with fandom. Which explains the violence of our quarrels, since it’s exactly like siblings squabbling over the dinner table. (There were days I was sure my kids were destined to do the Cain and Abel thing.)

Still with all that, I’ll admit there’s a … “glow” to the early conventions that I think goes beyond the patina given by time and death (which as we all know dress people in their best smile.)

That “We’re all weird together” and that feeling of banding together was there. Plus there was the glow of the “Golden Age.”

Sneering people have said that the golden age of science fiction is 13 years old. That is, that all of us fall hard for it at that age, after which it loses some of that patina.

Sneering people are justifying the fact that SF has lost a lot of its glow as time goes by. But I don’t think they’re quite right about it. There was up through about the mid sixties, if I’m right (remember my perception was distorted by when things were translated to Portuguese, which means my inner perception of the field is all out of order), a daring, a near-insanity to SF/F which was what attracted me to it.

There were books that hinted at a greater destiny for humans in the stars, and some that explicitly drew it out. Humans in those books were pretty hot stuff. Sometimes we came from the stars, and were going back to them. And sometimes we were what was needed to make the Galaxy work. Big stuff that. SF was like a child dreaming of growing up and being first man on Mars or on another solar system. There is no logical reason a kid – any kid – should be. And there is no reason that humanity should be the hope of the Galaxy. But the kid dreams it because he’s that kid. (You really don’t daydream for other people. Well, I do, but I’m a writer.) And there is no reason he shouldn’t do it. And though he might never make it, perhaps he’ll design propulsion systems for the ships that will enable our colonizing space. Or perhaps he’ll contribute minimally to our future colonies on Mars.

In any case, no one should deny that kid those dreams. And no one should deny humans the dreams either.

Which is where the golden age ends. Humanity right now is like those poor little boys and girls raised by “responsible adults” ™ who clip their wings early. “No, little Tommy. You can’t grow up to be a Space Trader because at the rate of current development of science—” And then little Tommy tries to be sensible and studies accounting and ends up working for the IRS or the EPA, ends up growing up trying to “contribute” by making it impossible for other people to do things, to dare, to dream, by enforcing every petty little rule, every dot on the law (even if it’s a fly spec) and grows up to teach his kids not to dream, not to fly. And then that entire family (or species) becomes stodgy, hidebound, small. And in a self-fulfilling prophecy, none reaches higher.

And this is what Science Fiction (and to an extent fantasy, but mostly SF) has become. It has become a literature of dire warnings and brow beatings.

To an extent that was the result of the Cold War and the panic over MAD. To another it was the result of a literary theory made by killjoys who couldn’t understand that literature was good for something unless it was good for “reflecting the present.” (They suffer from the same delusions in art, heaven help us all.)

And then there are the killjoys of “known science.”   “Humans can’t have come from the stars, because—” or “We could never colonize space because—”

For the sake of Bob (Heinlein) people, SF is a literature of dreams. It’s a literature where known science should be able to be waved away with “this is the future. They know things we don’t.”

Okay, not ad infinitum, no. There needs to be SOME rationality and some “well, maybe, but not that we can see.” Waving away the ansible with “never possible” is the pettiness of little minds. Waving away flying to the moon on a chariot drawn by a flock of geese, otoh, is not petty unless the book is a fantasy or written for little kids. If there’s no rationality, no veneer of possibility, then it should still be written, and can be sold under fantasy.

(Science being indistinguishable from magic at a certain point, it’s even possible our future will resemble fantasy more. BUT it’s a different headspace and I’m okay labeling it differently.)

Somewhere along the line sociologists got hold of our books and started pulling long faces and talking about how SF is supposed to reflect the problems of our time.

Really? REALLY? There aren’t enough contemporary books for that? And what if little Tommy doesn’t want to grow up to be a bureaucrat?

I’m here to tell you differently. SF/F is supposed to reflect the dreams of mankind. No, you’re not to contradict known science in SF/F unless you come up with a REALLY COOL WAY to wave it away.

Uncle Lar, one of my first readers, pointed out to me that there is no known way to design either the anti-grav wands I call brooms nor the laser guns I call burners in the Darkship series UNLESS our knowledge of physics is completely out of whack.

That’s fine. (And he didn’t tell me I couldn’t have it, because he doesn’t want little Tommy to grow up to be a bureaucrat!) Because our knowledge of physics MIGHT be completely out of whack. And this is five hundred years in the future.

And besides, it’s my world and my inner 13 year old tomboy wants brooms and burners. So there.

In the same way I loved Ric Locke’s work partly because of his hints that humans had come from the stars. Does this accord with known facts? Well, no. But landsakes, people, if we came from the stars, the record could have been confused by advanced technology or time traveling or mumble mumble mumble.

At comicon I listened to my colleagues (note, not Kevin Anderson, who I’m fairly sure also writes for his inner 13 year old) talking about how their novels dealt with this current problem, or highlighted this current issue, or…

And it sounded to me as dreary as when my teachers talked about how we should read this or that book because they were good for us and would “raise our consciousness.” Oh, for crying in bed. I know this is Colorado, but sometimes you have to admit consciousness might already be high enough, and encourage dream and imagination instead.

Meanwhile I described my novels as fights for freedom and a world with these really cool things that made me happy.

And you can too.

Fortunately things have changed and we can. Be your novel ever so daring, be it not even vaguely reflective of current day’s “hot issues” you can always indie-publish it and reach your readers. (This is not the same as not being about immortal principles, inherent human characteristics or other things that matter to you – I’m not calling for only happy stories. The world of DST is after all a brutal dictatorship. I’m calling for fun mixed with the “issues” and also for freedom to engage “issues” that don’t obsess NY editors.)

We can’t go back in a time machine and meet the writers of the golden age. But we can be the writers of the new golden age. (And I don’t say this only because my paint-chip color is spun gold.) We should be the writers of the new golden age. And the fans of the new golden age. The internet allows us to recreate some of that cozy, intimate, interesting atmosphere of the old conventions. For instance, on this blog, you all interact with me (and get fish flung at your heads. How much more intimate can it get) in a way that would be possible in those early, small cons. And I can let my guard down and speak frankly with you, as if you were all in my living room. Also word of mouth among fans is now more potent than at any time since the early days. You can review, you can go to Good Reads and talk about what you love, and you can write social media posts to alert a dozen or a hundred of your closest friends to this cool new book you found.

More than at any time since the golden age, we’re free of the shackles of literary criticism, and the sneering dictates of the glitterati.

We’re free, writers and fans, all, to lift humanity up on golden wings of dream and encouraging it to fly.

Go and do it.

227 thoughts on “Pure Gold

  1. You’re not going to drop everything and read my very rough draft that I haven’t even bothered to send you yet? That’s it! I’m not reading you, your blog, or your other blog anymore! (Did I get the sarcasm right, at least?)

  2. “It has become a literature of dire warnings and brow beatings.”

    Of course, the dire warnings go back (at least) to Wells; so, they have a pretty good pedigree. However, the dire warnings are not part of the Wells that are still widely read; maybe, that should tell us something too.

    1. Or even back to “Frankenstein” if you consider that to be SF. Fiction-as-a-warning crosses all genres.

      But back then we didn’t have an educational oligarchy insisting that everything conform to their collective idea of the coming grimdark future. (which we’re supposed to suffer, while somehow they’re not affected)

        1. Warnings are good. The problem is that some SF gives the message that the “bad society” can’t be avoided or fought.

        2. Certainly. There are lots of warnings in SF from probably every stage of its development. But, as with all the other kinds of messages, it needs to be woven into the story so that it doesn’t detract from it.

      1. Remember that it’s a satire with the Morlocks being the descendents of the lower classes and the Eloi of the upper ones.

        1. But that is in the extremely distant future, long after the engineers, entrepreneurs and human wavers have left Earth for the stars.

          1. One hopes. But even if so, warning people that if you don’t straighten up, your children are going to be eaten by the lower classes is a warning.

      2. Theodore Sturgeon has one of his characters say that Wells “sold his birthright for a pot of message.” The early Wells stories, they ones most people know, are story first, message second. Later the order of emphasis flipped. Hardly anyone reads those nowadays. It is a warning that Wells never intended …

        1. Wells got political in his later years. He wrote even more then than before, but people didn’t want to be lectured on social issues when they thought they were buying entertainment.

          Hmm, seems familiar somehow… naaah.

        2. Yeah, the Wells that continues to be read is the stuff that concentrated on entertainment. Somewhere, (“Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein”?), RAH noted that the dystopian warnings that were most influential were those that were most entertaining. He also noted that they sold heavily and made pots of money. NINETEEN EIGHTYFOUR and BRAVE NEW WORLD were the specific examples, iirc.

  3. Pohl Anderson: the successfully hybridized clone of Poul Anderson and Frederik Pohl. 😉

      1. It’s one of the things that makes reading your work so entertaining. And I don’t mean that in a bad way.

        1. You should see it in rough draft. She ain’t a kiddin. Still, like the Bard her ideas transcend any minor spelling or grammar foibles.

          1. You know, Uncle Lar, teasing isn’t nice.

            *contemplates sending sons to torment Uncle Lar*

      2. It’s all right — most of those who can spell it correctly cannot correctly pronounce it.

          1. I don’t know — I never met Mr. Anderson. I have seen his son-in-law a-wanderin’ ’round here, time-to-time.

        1. Good excuse. I think I’ll try to see if it works for me and my spelling. [Wink]

  4. In regard to science changing, I would like to point out that there have been times when significant changes have occurred in certain fields. Quantum mechanics and relativity forever changed physics (my field). The old science still worked (mostly), but we realized that much of what we knew was actually a special case (macroscopic scales, velocities negligible compared to the speed of light) of more general principles.

    And thanks for the link yesterday, Sarah. Much appreciated.

    1. Physics is an approximation. The physics that lit up the sky at Trinity in 1945 was, by modern standards, so simplistic that “it’s not even wrong.” But the model was close enough to do the job.

      We *know* the moden model of physics is, if not broken, at least inaccurate. (“Dude! Where de dark matter at?”) But it sifts fine enough to do useful work.

      A lot of people who should know better really *want* a finite clockwork universe and are deeply unsettled by uncertainty. The models we have work good enough, enough of the time. All of the time, for all practical purposes. It’s only when you squint really hard that you find the fuzzy edges.

      1. Physics through the years has basically consisted of “Right, We really got it figured out now! … Wait … What?”
        “Okay, NOW we really got it sorted … I think. Yes Definitely. .. wait, hold on …”
        “Well, now we are sure and certain to have it down … hold one … dammit. we’ll get back to you”

    2. Reading Satan’s World had its charms. one was reading the passage where the extinction of the dinosaurs was cited as an event of unknown causes.

    3. Bill Bryson’s history of the scientific method, A Short History of Nearly Everything demonstrates the evolution of our estimates of the Earth’s age and how wildly wrong our state of the art knowledge has repeatedly proven to be. It is absurd to project our contemporary limitations into the future, hubristic to claim to know even a small portion of all there is to know about the structure of reality.

    4. My mom likes to say that plate tectonics was a crackpot theory when she was taking geology and paleontology courses back in the early 60s. Always fun to find out everything you know is wrong.

  5. “No, little Tommy. You can’t grow up to be a Space Trader because at the rate of current development of science—”

  6. [Standing ovation!!] That Golden Age was real. And one of the gifts of age is that I was there, and I had face time with the Gods. My Clarion included Ted Sturgeon, Harlan Ellison, Ben Bova, Kate WIlhelm, and Damon Knight. I “won” breakfast with Isaac Asimov and shared a table with him for an hour and a half. The air itself seemed to sparkle at cons in the 1970s. Some of that might be the fact that we (I, at least) was in my early 20s, and a lot of things sparkled. But it was real, real, real.

    And some of the stuff we have now, well, it still seems like fantasy when I think too hard about it.

    This is a Human Wave post. Please do more of them. It’s the way I write. It’s the way a lot of people write. And I promise, we’re with you all the way down to bedrock and beyond.

    1. I would recommend the movie “Midnight In Paris” which explores how the Golden Age, and the yearning for same, affects each generation. (Good grief. Hell is freezing over. I just recommended a Woody Allen movie.)

        1. The high on Monday was 55. The high yesterday was 66. I have few doubts as to the current energy state of what is now the Lake of Lukewarm Sulfur.

        2. Well, combining the Eternal Consensus of All Scientific Minds on Global Warming with the requirements of conservation of energy, all that extra heat globally warming us into May blizzards in Denver has to come from somewhere. It makes sense that it’s just being transferred from the Infernal Regions, resulting in the recent proverbial freezingoverness.

          1. Probably not skis – according to the forecast the low will only get down to 38 (F), partly cloudy with 20% chance of rain.

            Tomorrow the high may reach 60 (F).

            Of course, if you’re thinking about a trip to Hell, Michigan, the high today is expected to reach 82°F while the overnight low should be around 62°F.

      1. If it’s on Netflix, I’ll watch it. I think the term “golden age” is a little more specific in this context, and refers to SF before the mid-1960s. That’s what was on the menu when I became an SF consumer, and I learned to write by imitating what I read. I go back and read those stories every so often, and whereas some hold up better than others (and a handful were terrible) I prefer them to most of what’s published today.

    2. I never had a chance to meet Asimov. As much as anyone, his popular science books made me a geek. Or reinforced geekish tendencies…

      I’ve made quite a few long motorcycle trips. Lots of things happened… but the most memorable was checking into a motel in Amarillo and seeing Asimov’s death headlined on the local newspaper. Someone on the editorial staff must have been a fan.

  7. Sweetie, I loved that last book just in case I forgot to say so. You truly are a sick and evil woman. And more that a bit bloody minded might I add.
    And I desperately want burners and brooms. I wants them so bad I can taste it. But I’m an engineer and a gun geek and the thought of the advances in physics necessary to allow that level of safe energy density storage is enough to pop me right out of my suspension of disbelief.
    For what it’s worth, Heinlein did the same thing. All the bloody time. I would give examples, but the heck with that. Y’all go and read his books, all of them. You’ll be better for it.
    The key word in SF is fiction. Your science needs to be plausible by logic yet impossible under our current understanding of the particular discipline you choose to abuse with your words. It’s quite straightforward, ridiculously easy don’t you know. Get the balance perfect and you too can become a world famous writer, adored by millions.
    Yeah, easy.

    1. Moore’s Law has gotten pretty unbelievable… And a laser-shooting 747 compared to a burner is pretty similar to Univac compared to an Apple watch. A lot more finagling is involved, and goodness knows if we can ever get there, but it’s what Moore’s Law has trained non-tech imagination to expect. Obviously it’s harder on technical imaginations!

      Of course, if you can start pulling tricks like, “And then I shunted all the heat into the pocket universe,” you can do whatever. But that really would be sufficiently high technology to count as magic. 🙂

      1. The only problem there is that you’re talking about two entirely different types of technology, and one of them was in its infancy when Moore made his statement, while the other one was already fairly mature.

        However, if we can achieve room-temperature superconductors, you might be able to use a radioactive isotope which emits high quantities of ether Beta or Alpha particles, and capture their kinetic energy with a magnetohydrodynamic generator (I actually saw a suggestion for this using, IIRC, Strontium-90, but I think it used considerably larger components than a hand-held weapon) to power the thing. Don’t know what you would do with that energy when it’s not in use, though.

      2. some of the small lasers today are very very powerful and I would not be surprised to see and Maglite sized “burner” relatively soon. iirc they already have a similar laser to the one in the 747 that is far smaller (now being about the size of a trailer towable by a humvee)

        1. Mr. Kalishek, the state of the art on lasers is much improved:

          And at just two cubic meters in volume, you should have no trouble mounting it on the roof rack of your Volvo.

          General Atomics’ Tactical Laser Weapon Module is one of those pieces of futuristic technology that can show up out of nowhere at a military expo (in this case, the Navy’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition) and just sit there, attracting plenty of attention while also being almost entirely classified.

          What we were able to find out about this thing is that it’s a laser weapon with output energies (that’s output, not total power in the system) ranging from 75 kilowatts all the way up to 300 kilowatts. To put that in perspective, about a year ago we wrote about how Lockheed was using a portable fiber laser to shoot down rockets at a range of 1.5 kilometers using just 10 kilowatts of power. Suffice it to say, 300 kilowatts is rather a lot. The weight of the system is dependent on its output power and the number of shots you want, but General Atomics engineers say that they’ve gotten it down to just 4 kilograms per kilowatt.

          1. Some years ago. I guy who worked for me in the early ’70s was working in the laser lab at Kirtland AFB. He had a sticker of a cobra with a laser beam shooting out of it’s mouth, and the words “Peace Thru Light”.

        2. There are already hacks using diodes out of Blu-Ray players that can light matches and burn holes in balloons.

          1. It has been a couple of years but I recall reading of high voltage, quick recharge capacitors that might offer potential in this application.

            1. one of the funny moments on Rocket City Rednecks was when they asked Daddy if he had a Blue Ray and he acted dumb. then the little side bit where he says he does have one, but he is tired of them taking all his stuff apart, so Doc heads over to the Inlaw’s store to pick some up.
              ps, anyone who saw the Watermelon Defense show knows one NEVER gets on Daddy’s bad side. Shoots watermelons out of the sky using a scoped rifle.

    2. Yeah, I know what you mean. I loved “Star Wars…” but the light sabers were stupid weapons.

      1. They looked pretty good in a dark movie theater. I expect that was the goal of the makers.

      2. And apparently a stone beyatch for the movie property and effects guys. At least in the first movie,(#4 by their count) they used real neon tubes and every time two hit each other then shattered and had to be replaced.

        1. OK, trigger warning: movie-prop-geek-dive follows:

          Actually for many scenes in the first movie the blades were rods half covered with retroreflective tape which were attached to motors in the handles, such that they spun and in camera they would flicker brightly. The tape made the blades (more) easily findable by the post-production rotoscope animators so they could add the different color glows.

          This setup meant A) they had to hide a power cord to run the motor (visible in Obi-Wan’s hand early in the fight scene with Vader), and B) the blades were getting knocked off the motor spindles all the bloody time, so they couldn’t use anything close to full swings or real Kendo moves. This is why the fight between Obi-Wan and Darth looks like they are afraid to actually fight with the lightsabers – they apparently had so many blade attachment failures that Alec Guinness and David Prowse had to basically pantomime that fight.

          For the second movie they ditched the motors and made the practical lightsaber props very sturdy, plus they had Mark Hamill and a martial arts stand-in for Prowse train for months beforehand, which is one reason why the lightsaber fights were so much better in TESB.

      3. One series had people using swords as personal weapons because “energy weapons” took too long to recharge.

        My thought was “then why not use the type of guns existing today?” [Evil Grin]

        On the other hand, I had an alien society that had outlawed guns (projectile or energy) as personal weapons because guns meant the “lower classes” could kill the upper classes”. The upper classes used a type of energy sword as personal weapons. Oh, the society wasn’t completely foolish. Guns/rifles/etc. were used in war and big game hunting.

        1. That was one of the problem with guns. (Don Quixote complained about it, among others.) However, only Japan succeeded in a ban and because it didn’t face the problem of “what happens when our neighbors don’t” and also it imposed draconian measures.

          1. In that aspect, my alien society was based on Japan. At the time of the ban, they were planet-bound and were the only society on their planet.

            Oh, while my alien society wasn’t “nice” to their criminal class, there were rules they followed. The criminal class also knew that the rules “went out the window” when guns were involved. So the aliens’ version of organized crime assisted in the gun ban.

          2. Which got them the ninjas – the “peasants” will ALWAYS find a way in the long run.

        2. If I remember right, Dr. McCoy once made a snarky comment about ‘would they ever run up against anything that wasn’t phaser-proof.’

          Many times in TOS a Model 1911 or even a cheap Iver Johnson .22 revolver, would have saved the day…

        3. If I recall correctly didn’t one of the Catholic Popes try to ban crossbows because they could penetrate a knight’s armor, and that capability in the hands of simple peasants was just wrong.

          1. Doubt. It may have been that it was just too lethal, or that it was cowardly since you could kill at a distance.

            1. The English Longbow could penetrate the heck out of armor out to what, three or four HUNDRED yards?

              But the Longbow took a lifetime to master, and the crossbow didn’t.

          2. From the wiki article on crossbows

            Can. 29 of the Second Lateran Council under Pope Innocent II in 1139 banned the use of crossbows, as well as slings and bows, against Christians.[65] Although the authenticity, interpretation and translation of this source is contested.[66]

            End Quote

            If so, it’s obvious that it didn’t work. [Wink]

          3. That’s the story, but the justification doesn’t hold water.

            Here’s a link:
            29. We prohibit under anathema that murderous art of crossbowmen and archers, which is hateful to God, to be employed against Christians and Catholics from now on.

            IIRC, information from the time suggests it was because they were doing mass volleys.

            Looking at the other stuff, it seems likely that the story has it exactly backwards– in the pursuit of victory, the nobles were falling down in their obligations to their people. They had to forbid attacking non-coms (from various religious all the way down to peasants and their animals) and jousting.

            Also had to scold people, again, that incest is bad. (and remove the motivation for it by saying the offspring couldn’t inherit; note, IIRC, their version of incest was a lot broader than ours, including “godparent” and “milk brother” as a relative)

      4. You just know if we ever invent force fields, someone will try and make their own lightsaber.

            1. Me, I’m old school.
              Vanning stopped. “Very well,” he said in annoyed tones, “put away that vibroblade. I won’t call from here.”
              “Look again, it ain’t a vibroblade. It’s steel. Messy.”

              1. “Methuselah’s Children.”

                I’m spotty on stuff that came out after I drifted away from SF in the mid-’90s, but I’m reasonably good on the old stuff…

          1. How about waking up one morning to a robot singing Saint James Infirmary Blues, excavating a hole in the back yard?

  8. Pure gold is too weak and malleable to be of much use — it needs to be alloyed with some other substance to achieve its true potential.

    The “we must point out the impossibility of what you attempt” is a form of faux maturity — like the kids who delight in telling the younger kids “there ain’t no Santy Claus.”

    Real maturity is found in those who tell the youngsters, “it isn’t as easy as you think, but if you try real hard, apply yourself and look carefully, you just might find we can get a step closer.”

    The Man Who Sold the Moon is just that kind of tale, explaining how the sausage is ground but doing so in order to give us a taste of the good stuff.

  9. Poul Anderson was a really nice guy, but also kinda shy. You made him happy by inviting him someplace with a lot of Impressionist paintings. Unfortunately, we didn’t know this or a lot of other stuff when we invited him to our university gaming convention, but he knew all about the contents of our local museum. So he went to see a lot of Monet on the university’s money, and he just had to give us a short speech.

    (Note to posterity: inviting your own favorites to a gaming convention without making sure they’re everybody’s else’s favorites is short-sighted. Make sure you integrate author guests into everything else going on and provide info about it to congoers. That’s not the author’s job; it’s the concom’s job to put thought into it. Also, you should let the English department and library know if you’re having author guests, and it’s a college event.)

  10. When i was in college (eight years ago) one of the instructors who taught science and science-related classes spoke about Halloween partied where some of the remaining.. i guess Silver-age authors would gather. I can’t remember if it was Niven or Pournelle’s house, tho…

  11. This is the kind of post that gives me hope for the literary future of these genres. It lets me know that I have a chance at self publishing; even if I never get paid for it. Sometimes we just want to put our stories out there; like bringing them into the world and allowing them to live.
    It’s good to know that the Evil League of Evul is about, trying to give us good stuff to read. It really does make life easier to have somewhere to escape. (Usually to a world much more difficult than our own.)

    1. It’s funny, in a way. Sci-fi (and most fantasy) escapes all go to a harder world. Simon Tregarth jumped to the Witch World. Barsoom isn’t exactly a paradise of ease. I shudder to think what the child mortality rate on Pern is. Colony worlds are harsh, at least at first, but that’s where we want to go, sniffing for “Something lost beyond the ranges.”

      1. I think these harsh colony worlds are such that it’s a matter of ‘you vs the environment’, where it’s your skills (or you and a chosen group of colonists) vs the environment. The alternative is generally ‘your life or death is entirely at the hands of a noble, dictator, or bureaucracy’, your skills and will have no effect on whether you live or die. This may be why even a harsh colony seems nicer than a dystopia.

      2. “I shudder to think what the child mortality rate on Pern is. ”

        Given how rural it is, the birth rate must be high, but between the time of the Old-Timers and the “current day” not so much as one new Keep was founded. No population pressure.

        1. Yeah, but apparently there were plenty of places where people didn’t live anywhere near close to a fort. Everybody wanted to get the heck out into more open territory, away from being pushed around by lords. Didn’t matter when Thread wasn’t falling, but it did start to matter afterwards. If you lived somewhere with caves or rocky places, you could still be okay.

          1. If you lived somewhere with caves or rocky places, you could still be okay.

            “If” didn’t really come into it. If you lived someplace without caves or rocky places, at least during a Pass, you probably didn’t live for long.

        2. Mmm… there’s a lot of talk in later books about micro-holds and little holds beholden to the major ones. There’s also warfare (Fax) and disease (Moreta’s time). I suspect the overall child mortality rate wasn’t too awful given the number of ways that the adult population could perish. (Fishing, for example, is *always* dangerous.)

          1. Not just Moreta’s time. I haven’t read that one, but according to the description on the book, plagues were a recurring thing, as various microorganisms mutated over time.

          2. Open fires, livestock (runners probably did in a number of people, given the number of deaths-by-horse I’ve read in old newspapers), infections, childhood diseases, accidents (see open fires) . . . Even assuming that all heritable conditions have been eliminated, I suspect child mortality was probably about par with early modern Europe.

      3. I’m a city girl through and through, at least now when I’m in my 50’s and in poor health. But 30 years ago I enjoyed reading about strange and very different places. The shame is that many people don’t Ever want to even read about strange and unusual places. Or for some reading about rich and famous in Hollywood is as strange as they would like to/are able to imagine. Too much imagination is bad. So is too little.

        I’d like to see a movie about people going to outer space to explore or to make a buck or both. Excuse my language but, I am goddamned tired of people despising profit. For some people, It seems to me most people, the only laudable goal for exploration or invention is to solve a problem or to help the underprivileged I find the world quite circumscribed. It’s ok to explore if it’s something an old hippie would like. But if it’s for the sake of adventure alone, you’re evil. You’re allowed to drink, drug and fornicate, and work for the Peace Corps or some slimy Prog pol. But heaven help you if you want to do anything else.

        Sorry for ranting but I’m pissed off at all the purveyors of grey goo and every adventure that’s like every other adventure. The 50’s and early 60’s were a grand time!

        1. I don’t know about adventure, but I can’t see how you turn a profit without solving someone’s problems 😉 . Well, unless you go into organized crime or government.

            1. Yes. I’m a computer geek. When I say “A or B”, it means that either A is correct, B is correct, or both are correct. If the relationship is exclusive I say “A xor B”.

              1. Works for philosophers and formal logicians too. OR is inclusive; you must specify exclusive OR to get it.

          1. Of course solving someone’s problems is the classic way to turn a profit. I was thinking of Interstellar when I wrote that.

      4. It’s not so much a harder world as a *fixable* world, where the protagonist is able to do good without first having to overcome social inertia.

        I’m still half-convinced the Roman Empire faded away because its bureaucracy eventually became so large and unwieldly that it could no longer respond in a timely fashion. The Senate would probably be ready to pass a defense appropriation to do something about those Visigoths, oh, real soon now…

        1. That sounds like a reasonable supposition to me.
          And how far are we from the same problems?

          1. We are much more advanced and enlightened, and such a thing could never happen to us!

  12. This resonants with me on so many levels. As I have a lot of writing to do today I will -attempt- to not go overboard.
    Yes, Con were definitely different in the past, all fandoms do go through a growing phase, and I’ve seen it in two now. Of course, the world around you has an effect on all of this as well. But basically the trouble starts when the people who believe that there must be a rule for everything, and that every rule must be followed ‘no exceptions’ start to hold sway.
    They live to suck the fun and the life out of everything, because they MUST have their power.

    As for the golden age, I have been trying to capture some of that in my own writing, because that was fun. Yes I understand the sociologists want ‘doom and gloom’, but that’s because they’re untalented hacks and its easier to bring people down than to raise them up. Haven’t you ever noticed that most of the people who study that stuff are already seriously messed up in the head?

    Something that happened to me yesterday (I made a small post to facebook about it) was a YA site reviewed the first book in my new series. Which was definitely NOT written to be young adult. I mean it has some adult themes in it (but any sex is off camera, and curse words are only used for dramatic effect, and then rarely). And they loved it! I was shocked, because I don’t think of it as a YA book at all.

    I mean the main character starts off as something of a womanizer (he’s a very young man who just came into a lot of power and wealth – go figure). But I’ve just gotten tired of all the sex scenes thrown into books (and as a recovering PNR author I’ve written a lot of those), and I’ve always felt that profanity in a book should be as rare as possible, or it loses the point of profanity. I was trying to tell a story, more in the way that the people whose writing I loved told stories. It finally seems that maybe I am on to something, I just hope I can continue to do it, and continue to improve.

    Because sometimes, it feels like I’m paying back all of those who have gone before, for all of the entertainment and enjoyment, that they gave to me. I hope one day to measure up to their standards and abilities.

    1. I read a definition of YA that basically dealt with the age of the protagonist. I would add that you don’t want it too “adult”, in either the parental advisory way or the way that, for instance, some dinner dishes are adult simply because kids wouldn’t like the flavor profile. (Mushroom dishes often hit that.)

      With that as the guideline, you can see how Ender’s Game got cross-marketed.

  13. I could have gone, I could, but the kids had some sort of stomach flu going on and I thought I didn’t want to give that to the nice writer. And then I thought “He’s relatively young. There will be other chances” which just proves that I’m an idiot.

    Bah, proves you paid attention to “The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side.”

    1. Heh. That’s one of the mysteries I figured out, simply because my mom had told me about being offered a “therapeutic” abortion after catching rubella with her first. Who was fine and is an excellent big sister.

      1. We had a flare up here last summer when Seattle got a new influx, and all the obgyns were warning women about the extreme risks and to make sure they were vaccinated.

  14. meeting people.
    I was doing a job in California and got to meet and talk with Ray Bradbury at a small bookstore (can’t remember the name of the store or the town. Mr. Bradbury had just edited a three volume set of horror stories and apparently was a friend of the store owner. Also got a anniversary copy of “Golden Apples of the Sun”.
    Also have an original Kelly Freas drawing for one of his covers for Analog – IIRC “A Womenly Talent” was the story. That was at a small con in Virginia Beach beaucoup years ago. I know I still have both the books and the drawing, just not sure where they are.

    1. My husband whom I adore did a difficult computer job in exchange for a signed copy of Golden Apples of the Sun someone found in his father’s effects and didn’t want.
      My friend, Eric Scheie, gave me a signed copy of Starman Jones one year.
      That’s as close as I’ll ever come to meeting two of my writing gods.

      1. Met Dr. Pournelle at a book signing once. Got to escort he and Mrs. Pournelle back through the warehouse to the restroom.

        1. My introduction to filk was at Atlanta Fantasy Fair in 1986; Robert Aspirin was parked in the lobby and said “As long as there’s Tully in my glass I’ll keep playing.” At 3 in the morning he finally floated to the elevator.

          1. There was a fantasy convention in Denver back in 2003 and 2004 (I think it failed to launch after that) called Opus Con. I entered the writing competition the second year and the three top finalists got to meet with Robert Asprin, who was one of the judges and the first prize (an apprenticeship with same.) He asked what we wanted and I said I was shooting for second, which confused him. (Second and third places came with money; first did not.)

            I came in first. The “apprenticeship” never really materialized, which is okay since I didn’t really have anything ready to work on at that point. (The key realization I needed for my book to come together was still a year or more off.) Anyway. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him, I just needed the cash… 😀

              1. I was mostly hanging out at the art show and in the dealer’s room (again, trying to make a spot of cash.) I placed in the art competition and the piece (stained glass-style quilt tapestry) is actually hanging just a few feet from where I’m sitting.
                I ought to try to publish that story. Elevator pitch: Evil sorority elves.

            1. That would be him. Also the person most responsible for the Dorsai Irregulars…..

              Putting the word responsible anywhere near the DI just sounds…. wrong.

        2. Alas, all I ever met was movie celebrities when I was working at Disneyland. Golden age authors would have been another level of awesome. (Or a lot of current authors for that matter.)

        3. I met Dr. Pournelle at a computer show in the late 70s or early 80s, probably one of the West Coast Computer Faires.

          Mostly spent the time standing back watching him politely/firmly taking apart some arguments presented to him by a fellow technical writer. I was mostly too intimidated to say anything to one of my favorite writers (although I did keep looking around to see if Larry Niven was also there).

        4.         I knew Jerry and Larry as LASFS, as well as some cons.  I’ll never forget the night LASFS had a resolution on some subject, of which point seven was “Yvingi is a louse!”

                  The first six points were deleted, but the seventh was hotly debated.  One person was quite opposed, saying that “This isn’t even a kangaroo court.”  Jerry immediately hopped down the aisle, demonstrating that we were too a kangaroo court.

                  I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the motion passed.

      2. Met Roger Zelazny at his last public appearance at CSU. He signed a copy of ‘Guns of Avalon’, which was destroyed by a flood.

        1. I bought Zelazny’s “A Night in the Lonesome October” when it came out, ground my way through it, and it left in one of the trade piles. Zelazny is one of those 50/50 authors for me; his work was either great or it stank.

          Many years later an audiobook of October was the best looking of a very bad selection and there was no time to search for anything better before a long road trip. So I grabbed that and hit the road.

          The audiobook version was read by Zelazny himself. He was already terminal then, I think, and I got the idea he wasn’t doing so well during some of the reading. But he made an utterly unmemorable piece of work come alive in a way that the printed text failed to manage.

    2. Many years ago when I and the world were young. Or at least younger. Anyway my wife and I make a journey to a new science fiction bookstore having a grand opening. Located to the north of San Diego somewhere it was. After browsing a bit I went outside to wait for my wife to go through the “meet the authors” line, me not having read any of them except for Bradbury.

      So, I was sitting at one of the little metal tables with attached umbrella out on the area of the strip mall when Mr. Bradbury and a lady came over and asked if I minded they sit at my table for an interview. She was from a local newspaper. All the other tables were full of people. What, I was gonna say “no”?!

      And, while she asked questions and looked down at her notebook to write his answers, Bradbury apparently liked to make eye contact with whoever he was talking to, and the only visible eyes at this table were mine. So, he looked at me while talking, and I smiled and nodded and such for the whole interview time. Then we shook hands and he got into the stretch lemo for to ride home. One of them accidental experiences that make life worth living.

      1. While waiting for my party outside a bathroom at worldcon some years ago (there were little tables across from the bathroom) Terry Pratchett up and sat at my table. I could have asked him anything… So we talked about cats…

    3. When Carol and I lived in Scotts Valley, California and I worked for Borland, I turned around one Saturday afternoon in the checkout line at the Nob Hill supermarket, and realized I was standing in front of Ray Bradbury. At that time, at least, he lived in Bonnie Doon. I introduced myself and shook his hand, but was too gobsmacked to say anything else.

    4. For the 2002 Worldcon in San Jose, I had some T-shirts made up and packed fabric pens. Both Kelly Freas and his wife Laura Bodrean Freas signed my first shirt. (I saw Laura at the 2013 Westercon and she has remarried—someone who dances, I think.)

      I hadn’t considered the implications of the T-shirts. Most of the male writers and artists I approached were weirded out, notable exceptions being Mr. Freas, Terry Pratchett (yes!) and Phil Foglio (who laughed at my shirt.) One even said it was the most erotic thing he’d ever done at a con. The women, on the other hand, all reacted with varying degrees of “Awesome! I’m a rock star!”

      I should perhaps note that I am unafraid of approaching people, as long as they aren’t busy. So I’ve gotten to meet and converse with a high percentage of Big Names, simply because I think, Hey! I should talk with them!

  15. Sneering people have said that the golden age of science fiction is 13 years old. That is, that all of us fall hard for it at that age, after which it loses some of that patina.

    …these would be the same folks who talk about “escapism” like it’s a bad thing, no?

    There’s a difference between making up stories about stuff in the World As You Know It where you control everything, and making up stories in a world that isn’t as everyone knows it– it’s a lot easier to get people to “buy” false versions of the first one, for starters, and a whole lot easier to control exactly how they buy in.
    Contrast with, say, Tolkien– a good Catholic whose stuff is heavily mined by the fluffiest of neopagans, because it’s a really good story. Yes, he was building mythology, but the world view is still Catholic in the assumptions..

    1. But his aesthetic was to write from his point of view without jamming it down people’s throats. He shows a lot of different cultures in his books, but all of them are shown to have good points and bad points. (Okay, the strong points of goblins and orcs are not attractive, but they have them.)

    2. Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and various other series, has explicitly stated that the world is sad enough without him adding depressing books to it.

    3. If I wanted to read about unremitting awfulness and things constantly getting worse, I’d read about the Eastern Front of WWII or the period between the World Wars–the former of which I am currently doing.
      I prefer my fiction to remind me of the Long Story.

      1. Shirer’s “The Nightmare Years” usually gets put in “autobiography” instead of “history”, but there’s a lot of stuff in there that he didn’t put in “Rise and Fall,” which was supposed to be a scholarly work.

        His “Collapse of the Third Republic” seems to be practically unknown, but explains a lot about why France was unable to effectively respond to the German invasion. They had the Germans outgunned… but, oh, the *politics*…

      2. It’s hard to make WWI and its outcome Human Wave. The actual people keep interfering. *wry, faintly rueful expression*

  16. “but the kids had some sort of stomach flu going on and I thought I didn’t want to give that to the nice writer. And then I thought ‘He’s relatively young. There will be other chances’ which just proves that I’m an idiot.”

    My story along those lines involves Douglas Adams.

    A previous employer in the dot-com era sent all us technical types to an industry convention at which Douglas Adams was giving the keynote. Just as the keynote is getting ready to start, Bossman summons us all to breakfast. Since I was on Bossman’s dime, I couldn’t bow out to go to the keynote.

    Turned out that Bossman had forgotten to adjust his watch for the new timezone and had been looking forward to the keynote himself and didn’t realize his mistake until after breakfast. Had someone just said “you know, the keynote’s about to start…” he’d have dashed off with the rest of us (I didn’t know that he even knew how Douglas Adams was).

    A couple of months later, Douglas Adams died.

      1. Law of Conservation of Typos. You find mine, in abundance, so they have to have somewhere to go. You wouldn’t want them out in the cold and rain, mournfully looking in your windows, would you? 😀

        (N.B. Anachronda is my highly-treasured proofreader. He can find errant *spaces*.)

      2. It’s that dar “being human” thing. Don’t worry. It happens to the best of us.

  17. I know this is Colorado, but sometimes you have to admit consciousness might already be high enough…

    Wow, I never thought THAT was the reason for legalizing marijuana…

  18. I got so tired of the humans are a plague type of stuff that seemed to be the norm for so long and, really, still is. That was one reason I had kind of given up on SF started rereading Lensman books and that kind of stuff. Anything and everything was possible in those stories. It still is. I’m no scientist, h*ll I’m not even particularly well educated (most especially when compared to the piled higher and deeper Huns and Hoydens), and a story that posits a future that doesn’t try to shame me for just being human will get my attention pretty d*mn quick, and if it captures my imagination so much the better. I want those dreams. I need those dreams and where they might lead.
    Teleportation can’t happen! Tell that to Professor Hanson at(last I read) TU Delft. I know it’s just at the quantum level, but still…
    Tractor beams are fantasy! Tell that to Coyle, Stysley, and Poulios at Goddard.
    Reactionless drives are impossible! Well maybe, but don’t give up on the Cannae Drive just yet.
    I think all these were dreams that were fed,in part, by human wave SF. The broomstick? It may not be as far fetched as all that one day. At least I hope not…

    Ramble over. since I forgot where I was going with this.

    1. Meh, a PhD just means you have a high tolerance for sitting for extended periods looking at a computer screen/lab equipment display/microfilm machine/dusty tomes of utterly forgettable lore, and sifting tonnes of pig litter in hopes of finding a pearl. Then there are the normal people . . .

      Alma Boykin – PhD, CFI, ATP, EIEIO 😉

    2. The Lensman stuff was okay, but I liked the Skylark books much better. After realizing that Seaton and Crane had set themselves up as dictators of Earth and the Green System for their own good, I started rooting for Marc C. DuQuesne, who was at least honest in his intentions.

      1. Nit – they didn’t set up as dictators of Earth. Also, the only reason Seaton did it in the Green system was because, for many of the planets, that was the only thing their inhabitants would understand. The Norlaminians and the Dasorians just went along with it because they knew they could reason with him if he went off the beam.

    3. Reactionless drives impossible? Maybe not but I do appreciate when stories with them think through the implications, especially for weapons.

      1. I dunno. When I look at articles talking about quantum foam I keep thinking, “isn’t this aether wearing a new hat?”

        Then you have the “particles as units of information” guys. If it turns out to be possible to “reprogram” matter to be ‘over there’ instead of ‘over here’, all sorts of interesting possibilities unfold.

  19. The problem with literature that doesn’t raise consciousness about the issues of the day, the ones chosen by our would be lords and masters, is that it may cause people to think about OTHER issues. If they were Stalins, that would be harmless. But they are not and know they are not. Their power is mostly based on illusions reinforced with cobwebs. Their commanding heights of the culture are mostly in the areas that are least resistant to glamour and least susceptible to reality checks.

    I may be overly optimistic, but I see them as Xerxes punishing the sea, rather than the rulers they want to be. Technology is constantly shuffling the cards their houses are build of.

      1. Read any sf about the Vietnam War lately?

        And watched, unfortunately.

        Getting really tired of getting re-warmed offerings of the stuff that was old when my uncles (who were in Vietnam) were complaining about it in the 80s.

        It’s frequent because it’s a free battle– a safe topic. Kind of like plugging the Designated Sympathetic Character Group into the format of pop culture black/white race relations at the same time.

        I suppose you could argue it’s doing such a bad job of being about either that it really should be a “no”….

        1. If i want to read Vietnam analogues… *points to his very old copy of Hammer’s Slammers*

  20. I remember in the Sixties being told I couldn’t do a book report on that “escapist trash” in seventh grade – I was getting an “F” because I had done a report on one of RAH’s juveniles. My Dad, bless him, read the riot act to my teacher. “Escapist?! He’s reading stories about problems of over population, human obsolescence due to automation, the ethics of genetic engineering, the problems of vastly extended lifetimes due to medical advances, and on and on, and you call this escapist?”

    1. Same happened to me in the 1970s. According to my English teachers, SF wasn’t “real” fiction.

      I guess that meant it wasn’t fiction they had taken a special course in order to be able to “appreciate”.

      When one teacher said that *anything* not SF would do, I did a report on one of Don Pendleton’s bloodier “Executioner” books. She downrated it to a “C” out of pettiness.

      Ah, school days. I miss them like I’d miss a compound fracture.

        1. At that time, those were still rather serious and decently written. The formulaic social commentary stuff didn’t start until later.

          Of the stuff I had on my shelves, I figured the teacher would find the Pendleton book more offensive.

  21. For all of my life, the news has been filled with doom and gloom – from MAD to the ice age to global warming, from acid rain to Yellowstone blowing up, to I’m the culmination of everything evil in the universe because I have a penis. Partly this is because of, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Partly it is because humans are weird and perverse creatures.

    Science fiction is hope. Science fiction is where I turn to escape the doom and gloom. Science fiction is where I draw hope that there will be a tomorrow, that dreams are worth having and following.

  22. ” … freedom to engage “issues” that don’t obsess NY editors.”

    Key point today.

  23. Sometimes I wonder about the “Golden Age” of just about anything. I’ve heard too many stories about how “things were so much better when I was a kid” to trust it. (Rumor has it I may have told a few myself, but we all know how rumors are, right?) Hearing someone call a specific time period a “Golden Age” in *insert are here* automatically makes me suspect that they’re referring to their own adolescence. The obvious exception being The Golden Age of Spain which took place literally centuries ago since there’s no one who remembers it left.

    That much being said, I wish I had gotten a chance to know a bunch of those guys, Asimov especially. The first series I ever read all the way through was Foundation. The second one was the robot books. Those older books were awesome. I’m just not convinced that an Asimov story was all that much better than a Weber story or that an Anderson story was all that much better than a Hoyt story.

    (I won’t touch Heinlein. I’m a big dude and may be unable to escape the howling mob.)

    1. Asimov wrote a ton of fiction. I’m particularly fond of “Caves of Steel” and “The End of Eternity.” But by and large, he wasn’t a great writer, just a moderately good one.

      What Asimov was, was a *teacher*. I have a whole shelf of those. I can pick out one on a subject I have zero interest in, flip to any random place, and by the second paragraph I’m hooked.

      If Asimov wrote instructions on how to make a mud pie, he’s start with “first let’s talk about dirt.” And two hundred pages later, you’d move to “then we add water, which has some peculiar properties, such as…”

      He spoiled me for ordinary science books, which just told you things. Asimov told you HOW they found things, and what that meant in relation to other things. Memorize-by-rote textbooks were hard to deal with after that.

      1. There is also the fact that these were the trailbreakers, the pathfinders, the ones who showed us how to write SF/F that employed literary conventions in unique ways to achieve those effects.

        It is because we stand on their shoulders that we can see so far.

      2. I love Asimov’s Shakespeare, particularly his analyses of Taming of the Shrew* and Hamlet. Straightforward, clear, and totally plausible reasons for the internal actions without getting silly.

        *The Oregon Shakespeare Festival did TotS about a decade back and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the director had encountered that particular essay. The key takeaway is that Kate has spent her entire life being thrown over for her pretty (and manipulative) younger sister, and so is incapable of believing that someone could love her. If you play it that way, all of Petruchio’s methods are a way to get her to accept that she can be loved… and that fighting against it only makes oneself unhappy.

        Of course, the actors even turned the obedience into a public form of foreplay, which totally sold it. TotS can be a horrible play, but the way they did it makes it amazing. Of course, OSF is generally amazing…

    2. “I’m a big dude and may be unable to escape the howling mob.”
      If you’re big enough, you don’t have to escape them!

      “I’m on the brute squad.”
      “You are the Brute Squad!”

  24. Raising consciousness is the same as raising awareness. Both mean the person involved wants to look like they’re doing some good, but they can’t actually be bothered to, you know, do anything inconvenient.

    1. . . . often because people are already aware of [cause] but it is complicated/messy/insoluble with current technology/not really a thing. The moment I hear “I’m collecting money to help raise awareness of,” my wallet snaps shut.

  25. Well, young Portagee, since you went and outed me as a first reader I think I will take the opportunity to give fair warning that I fully intend to back you, Amanda, Cedar, and probably the Grants into a corner at Libertycon and force y’all to explain in simple words my head can wrap around just exactly what you writers expect in feedback from your first and beta readers.
    In return I will do my best to capture all those pearls of wisdom (cast before swinish me) and pull them together into an article for here or MGC.

  26. I’m getting way off subject here, but I’m going to say. Your writing is amazing :). Me I’m just barely scratching what I think I can do, but not as good as you and everyone else out there. I’ve not even completed one of the stories I’m writing on, but sadly, I had a couple of completed stories back in the day but they got lost in a hard drive crash back in like 2000 or 15 years ago. It really stinks that I lost all that work plus 300+ poems. I’m slowly starting to get my inspirations back though.

  27. I think the ansible will turn out to have something to do with what Einstein contemptuously called “spooky action at a distance.” We’ve already had information transmitted back through time, a nanosecond or so.

  28. Keep your eyes to the mud, kids, and don’t you DARE to look at the sky, or ask “What If”!

  29. And I see File 770 has linked to this post so the anti-Pups on that site can tsk-tsk to each other about how foolish we all are.

        1. Maybe a random Sad Puppies reference would have got their attention.

  30. Growing up in the sixties……… I remember waiting for my father to pick up something at the stationary store {which also was the town book store}, and wandered down the paperback aisle. There was a small section that was labeled “Science Fiction”, and I stopped and pulled a book or two out and glanced at it. I found one that looked interesting, “Earthlight” by a fella named Arthur C. Clarke. It had the moon and the earth on a black background, and a couple of spaceships. It was a Ballantine Science Fiction Classic, copyright 1955, the third printing 1963. My memory for time is bad, but I think it was 1964 when I found that paperback {I still have it}. I looked at the change I had in my pocket, and I had $1.25 in change. This title was $.50

    So, I looked a little further and found “Battle for the Stars” by Edmund Hamilton. Spaceships shooting missiles on the cover………..

    I bought that one too. For some reason Dad didn’t make me take them back. Probably had something to do with me having enough money and not having to ask him for any……….

    The next time he needed some thing from the “Record Chronicle”, {stationary store, book store, and local newspaper}, I went again, and this time and bought “The Adventures of Conan”. Once in line at the teller’s, this one earned a tsk of disapproval. But he didn’t squack {much} when I bought it.

    I was hooked. Shortly there afterwards, I found out the junior high library had Heinlein, Norton, and other juvenile SF. What they didn’t have the Renton library had.

    It’ll probably be a while before I write any space opera with exploding spaceships, because right now I’m writing fantasy with swordplay. But I hope to get there someday.

    1. You, writing space opera? You know all this drool is a slip-and-fall hazard, right?

  31. The contrast between the way we talk here and what goes on over at File770 say is just incredible I don’t think that they could be positive if they tried. Anyway here’s a link to the picture that Sarah was talking about.
    Which were comment on a Facebook thread in response to this:
    I’m not going to link to that Facebook thread because quite frankly Eric flint and some other jackasses from the CHORF’s came in and spoiled it.

    1. I’ve read some of Flint’s commentary on his blog. He has weighed in on the AP side, but his arguments are clear and logical. He is very persuasive.

      The problem is… he’s starting from a different set of givens, thereby ending up with different conclusions. And he’s fallen into the trap of defending the status quo.

      “The galley is sinking and the oarsmen are drowning belowdecks, but everything is just fine up here on the deck.”

        1. What he doesn’t get is that really, once we’re gone, he’s next up on the chopping block.
          Because he actually likes the white working class, and he likes America. Can you imagine Scalzi writing 1632?

    2. A few folks at 770 try in vain to be logical, but it’s spitting in the hurricane, I’m afraid.

  32.         Actually, I’d say “The Golden Age of SF was … thirteen” is a pretty accurate description.  Stuff I was reading then for the first time has stayed with me for a half-century.

            But only some of it.  Some was pretty bad, and forgotten.

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