mindstalk: (Earth)
Do we live in a time of accelerating progress, or one of slowdown and diminishing returns?  I used to think the former, for years have thought the latter.  It seems to boil down to whether you pay attention to computers or to everything else, like speed or energy use or the general conditions of life.

Krugman reviews a book arguing most of the big transformation happened between 1870 and 1940.

For support, I add Tom Murph's old post, comparing 1885 to 1950 to 2015.

And finally, a 2013 article talking particularly about America's great slowdown.  It invokes both the 1700s first industrial revolution and the late 1800s second revolution, saying the second happened to pick up right as the first tapered off, so by sheer luck we had an extended run of rapid growth.

Edit: I'd note this isn't a claim that there'll never big transformation. True AI could well be big, though not necessarily positive for most of us. Advanced biotech could be cool. But they're also distant. I'm not seeing anything analogous to electrification of the home, people moving off the farm and then out of the factories, etc. LED lights are neat, but they just lower electricity bills a bit, they're nothing as radical as going from candles and oil to the electric bulb.
mindstalk: (Homura)
I don't know how choate these thoughts will be, but let's try. So, there's urban fantasy, a genre I am aware of but not steeped in. Fairies or wizards or vampires, usually living in the dark corners of something like the modern world. "Buffy", Neverwhere, The Gypsy, Agyar, most magical girl anime (Sailor Moon et al.), World of Darkness RPGs, etc. Sometimes the supernatural comes into the open, like Anita Blake or Sunshine.

I know of one example of 'urban fantasy' of the past: the series starting with Midnight Never Come, with a faerie court living under Elizabethan (and later) London.

But how about the future?  If we can have vampires lurking around the modern era, why not in a future society?  Captain Kirk and Vampires ('real' ones, not the salt kind).  Captain Janeway and magical girls.  Well, there are some practical problems, like anticipated future surveillance, but still, for a lot of beings with access to some sot of Otherspace and/or camera-fuzzing magic, that's not that big a problem.

So now I'll list what I know that sort of fits this, in various ways.

The most obvious is "To The Stars", set around 2450 CE of the Madoka universe, where magical girls have been covert until the last 20 years, and the fic is heavily about both magical girl society and the SFnal society they live in.

Sailor Moon itself has that Crystal Neo-Tokyo that Usagi rules over 1000 years in the future.  I don't know much about it though.

There's a fanfic I didn't read much of, blending Fate/stay night with Macross Frontier, and Emiya Shirou on the Frontier shortly before it runs into the Vajra aliens.  He's a mage in secret, so it fits.

"Buffy" had Fray, the Slayer of the year 3000 or maybe 2200, vampires mistaken for just another mutant, and genuine 100% magical demons not being as weird as the mutant fish-boss Fray works for.

Vampire Hunter D is kind of like this, though post-apocalyptic in feel.  Vampires existed, came out, took over the world and ruled it as Nobles, then got overthrown?  and D runs around killing monsters for the sake of farmers who are homesteading it with solar panels and force fields and laser home defense systems.

Nanoha takes place in our time, but achieves a similar feel by switching place: we start in Tokyo as another secretive magical girl thing, and end up in a sort of magical Starfleet in other dimsnesions? worlds?  Instead of To the Stars' immortal MGs living into the future where they work in the military, our heroines simply emigrate to a more advanced and technomagically open world where they work in the military.

Vampire Winter is in my notes, though a bit different: WWIII happens, nuclear winter happens, a vampire discovers he can go out in the attenuated daylight (yay!) but that this puts the sustainability of his food supply at risk (uh-oh), and acts on that.

Part of the interest is in magic and high tech interacting, so I'll mention Sunshine, which has a hilarious line about master vampires who can't go out any more using kickass VR rigs instead.  And using e-mail a lot.  There's also Shadowrun, at the tail end of what I'm thinking of.

mindstalk: (Witch)
Speaking of Star Trek novels... I had a thought. Fanfic's reputation is of heavy dominance by women, as both writers and readers. F&SF published authors in general tend to be male, especially in SF. James Nicoll has a f/m tag bean-counting this for various publications.

But what about tie-in stuff? It's basically officially approved (not necessarily canonical) fanfic that's been contracted by a publisher. It's also lower status, which could mean "we let women do it because it's low status" or "it's low status because women do it". So, if I count lots of authors, will I find demographics more like fanfic, original fic, or something in between? I see no point to making a prediction, since I'm about to go count.

Methodology: so there's two variables of interest: number of unique authors of either sex, and books by either sex. I'll give both. For the record, it's easier to count books. If co-authorship was split between a man and a woman I counted it as half for each.

Star Trek novels


Bantam original 1970-1981:
Authors: 3 f, 8 m. Doesn't include the New Voyages collections. f/t 0.375
Books: 4 f, m 9, f/t 0.31. (0.40 if we counted the mostly-female story collections:)
New Voyages: stories authors 8 f, 0 m, f/t 1.0
New Voyages 2: stories authors 8 f, 2 m, f/t 0.8

Wanderer + Archway 1982-1984:
Authors: 1 f, 3 m. f/t 0.25
Books: 0.5 f, 5.5 m. f/t 0.0833

Pocket Books 1979-present:
Authors: 34 f, 45 m. Not counting ST:TMP by Roddenberry. f/t 0.43

So majority male. But what I noticed going down the list is that there's been a huge surge of men in recent books. The most recent 26 books are all by men, and the last one by a woman is Unspoken Truth in 2010. That period contributes ten new male names; before it, the ratio is 34 f, 35 m. f/t 0.49

I picked the 20 year period from 1981 to 2001 as a likely breakpoint. There was apparently some editorial change: most of the books before 2001 are numbered, only the first one after it is.

Authors -2001: 33 f, 25 m, f/t 0.57
So there's been only one new female author since 2001, and 20 male ones.
Authors 2002-: 1 f, 20 m, f/t 0.04
Books -2001: 67.5 f, 42.5 m, f/t 0.61
Books 2002-: 11.5 f, 44.5 m, f/t 0.20

Yeaaahhh, that's a pretty big change.

E-books: Mere Anarchy (2006–07)
Authors: f 1, m 6. f/t 0.14
Books: 1 f, 5 m; f/t 0.17

The Next Generation 1987-present:
Authors -2001: 21 f, 31 m, f/t 0.40
Authors 2002-: 3 f, 11 m, f/t 0.21
Books -2001: 26 f, 59 m, f/t 0.31
Books: 2002-: 4 f, 35 m, f/t 0.10

Deep Space Nine (1993-present)

Authors -2001: 11 f, 22 m, f/t 0.333
Authors 2002-: 5 f, 8 m, f/t 0.38
Books -2001: 15.5 f, 23.5 m, f/t 0.40
Books: 2002-: 11.5 f, 19.5 m, f/t 0.37

Not much change here, and better than the other lines in the 2002- period.

Voyager 1995-present:

Authors -2001: 11 f, 12 m, f/t 0.49
Authors 2002-: 2 f, 2 m, f/t 0.50
Books -2001: 19.5 f, 12.5 m, f/t 0.61
Books 2002-: 14 f, 2 m, f/t 0.88
Worth noting that 12 of the later books are "post relaunch" and by two authors.  But, not surprising that the series with a female captain gets -- or is allowed -- more female attention.


Enterprise starts in 2001 so I'll just count it as one.

Authors: 3 f, 6 m, f/t 0.33
Books: 3.5 f, 14.5 m, f/t 0.19

There's also New Frontier, 21 books by Peter David, and the Titan (2005-) series following Riker, which is 14 books entirely by male authors, and Vanguard (2005-), 9 books by male authors, and Seekers (2014-), 4 books by male authors.

I refuse to do the work to find the set of all the unique authors, but it's easy to combine books for the whole franchise:
Books -2001: 133 f, 152 m, f/t 0.47
Books 2002-: 45.5 f, 169.5 m, f/t 0.21

from here

Authors 4 f, 7 m, f/t 0.36
Books 6 f, 12 m, f/t 0.333

Doctor Who: Virgin New Adventures Source

The featuring the Doctor list:
Books: 5.5 f, 55.5 m, f/t 0.09

Welp.  And it's just one woman, Kate Orman.  "Featuring Bernice Summerfield" isn't much better, one other woman gets in as a co-author, out of 23 books.

mindstalk: (Mami)
Some articles on democracy (pluralist and feminist) among Syrian Kurds: NYTimes, FT, scribd copy of FT.

If we kept DST all year, or got rid of it.

A Madoka fanfic I'm reading. It's like Starship Troopers or Old Man's War crossed with Madoka crossed with transhumanism and Culture ship Minds. Kyubey said we'd go to the stars, and we did. Many fans think magical girls are potentially immortal, and here they are. I've been enjoying it a lot. Could have used some more editing passes, but generally fun to read, often funny, I'm engaged with the show characters and the original one. Downside: it's longer than Lord of the Rings and still ongoing, last update Oct 6.  I've read 34 chapters out of 44 and am thinking I should pace myself, maybe go read Ancillary Mercy while I still sort of remember what happened in Ancillary Sword.

Funny panel from the Fate/zero manga.

Japan is actually doing quite well per capita: low unemployment, very high employment to working-age-population ratio, inflation is back.  Abenomics, and Keynesianism, works.  GDP is shriking... because the population is, especially the working-age population.

James notes that Heinlein's first story is closer to Dickens' last novel than it is to us.  This will be more interesting when his *last* book is closer to Dickens than to us, but still.

Polio is judged to be even closer to eradication.

Portugal's Left Bloc, a party run by women.

Secret gardens and numinous fantasy

SF written in 1666 by Margaret Cavendish

Litany of Earth

2014-Nov-24, Monday 21:23
mindstalk: (12KMap)
Review (or not) of the (novelette by Ruthanna Emrys), which is almost interesting than the story itself: Petrarch and Diderot and internment camps and libraries, Kurt Busiek's _Marvels_, 'good' magic being traditionally spiritual or luminous, 'bad' magic bodily or fleshy...


I'd already read the story myself, and liked it.
mindstalk: (Nanoha)
"How would you reboot Doctor Who?"

Other answers:
Susan as abused survivor of the Time War
Time Lords genociding any threatening species
Time Lords trying to conquer the universe
Time-traveling chaos machines trying to destroy the universe
Shounen anime with many more regenerations, power-ups, and companions with special powers
TARDIS=Doctor, but has a humanoid avatar (that one's kind of cool.)

Aria/Yokohama Shopping Trip/Golden Sky Stories/Kino's Journey with time travel. Historical and SFnal slice of life and problem solving. No planet is ever endangered, let alone the universe, let alone the universe multiple times.

Clearly I'm not with the local zeitgeist.
mindstalk: (science)
Today I learned of a Stross story, Bit Rot, set between his robot novels Saturn's Children and Neptune's Brood. I read it, it's cool, if dark.

It also led me to learn about soft gamma repeaters and magnetars, which can have magnetic fields so strong atoms are deformed into a 200:1 aspect ratio. I may have heard of this before, but still, wow.

Further link following brought me to pair-instability supernovas. Stars of mass 130-250 Sols can have gamma rays so energetic they form electron-positron pairs, removing the pressure imparted by the gamma ray and causing a collapse leading to total fusion of the star's contents, and total disassembly. No black hole remains, the star literally blew itself up, like a Type Ia supernova.

In turn I learned you can get nucleosynthesis by gamma ray. Also that there are proton-rich nuclei whose origin is not well-explained. We know the reactions that can produce them, we just don't know where those reactions would take place.

Also, there's a unit called the foe, a unit for 1e44 Joules, or 1e51 ergs. 'The word is an acronym derived from the phrase [ten to the power of] fifty-one ergs.[2] It was coined by Gerald Brown of Stony Brook University in his work with Hans Bethe, because "it came up often enough in our work".' as it does if you study supernovas.

And that reminds me of the later Heechee novels, which had energy-based aliens from the early universe known only as the Foe, as they genocided any species that might interfere with their project of returning the universe into a dense hot plasma, which one might say would involve many foes...
mindstalk: (Nanoha)
I could talk about some of these in more detail at some point, but figured I'd dump for now. Also, this my first table of text and images, because I thought I'd try more images and wrapping text in HTML seems hard. Images are mostly HTML-scaled (to 150 pixels high) and larger if you 'view' them in your browser.
(Edit: I discovered the Livejournal version of this looks like shit in chromium. If you're reading this there in that, might try Firefox or the Dreamwidth link.)
Table of text and images )
If you want a blind recommendation out of all this, I'd go with RSG, because it's good and pretty short so what do you have to lose? and FMA:B, because it's awesome. Or the original FMA manga, also awesome. I have no opinion on the first FMA anime, I just know the story diverges massively. Oh, and the opening/ending of Mahou Shojoutai, because it's only 4 minutes total, and so pretty and weird. I wish I had someone to share the rest of the series with, but I can't make it a high priority cold recommendation.
mindstalk: (bujold)
The stereotypes:

Frankenstein's monster is a shambling moron; Conan is a mighty-thewed violent barbarian in a loincloth; and Tarzan is an ape-man whose great intellectual accomplishment is "Me Tarzan, you Jane."

The realities:

The Creature is a brilliant and eloquent autodidact; I'm told Conan is a mighty-thewed barbarian who wears as much armor as he can get, is fairly smart and cunning, and becomes something of an intellectual as King of Aquilonia in his later life; and Tarzan teaches himself to read and write English solely from books (bootstrapping from children's primers and an illustrated dictionary) despite having no human spoken language at the time, his first one of which will be French, learned as an adult. He also becomes an intellectual omnivore when finally dragged off to civilization.

On the flip side, I'm not sure people remember Sherlock Holmes's physical side: he was quite athletic and a master of I think jiu-jitsu.

Seems as if up into the early 1900s heroes (or even interesting villains) were accepted or even expected to be well-rounded if not superhuman in both brains and brawn, but after that separation occurred, with rare exceptions like Khan Noonian Singh -- but his very well-roundedness is a threat, that of "eugenics". Or Batman, but he both has old roots and isn't that strong in a superhero context. Or Adrian Veidt, but he's a deliberate throwback.

If you're wondering what brought this on, the answer is that I followed A Princess of Mars with Tarzan of the Apes by the same author.
mindstalk: (Earth)
A friend notes that of the 24 seasons of Star Trek, and something like 12 movies, there's basically no Chinese or Indian main characters. Maybe Khan, if you count a villain. Harry Kim is said to be Chinese, despite the stereotypically Korean last name. That's it.

Of course, Firefly showed no Chinese people, despite the vaunted 'influence', and Babylon-5 is pretty lily-white. Franklin gets a bit more character time than Uhura, I think, but is definitely a second-tier black character. We get the occasional Japanese or black visiting character. But mostly white. Including the aliens not buried in makeup, the Centauri or Minbari -- they're all pale too. Imagine a black Minbari. Imagine all black Minbari. But nope. Star Trek's actually ahead on this front, with a black Vulcan (along with the woman captain and Native American first officer and allegedly Chinese navigator... Voyager's pretty good here, actually. And Kes is played by Jennifer Lien.)

Stargate SG-1 did have a 'black' main character in the main 4, though once again Teal'c got fewer lines than others. Still, he's not just background or token.

Edit: for DS9's Julian Bashir, ' Ronald D. Moore commented "In my mind, Julian was of Sudanese (like Sid), Indian, or Pakistani extraction, but that the family's roots were probably in England, hence the accents."'
mindstalk: (Default)
On the Lois Bujold list, a perennial argument about the conquest and treatment of Komarr saw someone suggesting Hawaii as a model of successful integration. After only 70 years it was a state, and a year later a future President was born there! "Um" I thought and I went to look at Wikipedia.

"By 1820, Eurasian diseases, famine, and wars among the chiefs killed more than half of the Native Hawaiian population."

Read more... )

Give Barrayar credit: even after applying an elite perspective bias, they seem to be treating Komarr better. Then again, all but the first five years since the Conquest have been under one of two would-be enlightened despots.
mindstalk: (robot)

I wasn't happy with the answer list, but he reminded me that his instructions define "likely" as >50%, so "unlikely for humans" means basically "1-49% likely ever", given the final option of "<1% likely". Still unclear if he meant for intelligent robots to be included in humanity's direct successor species, vs. just somewhat evolved biological descendants. Makes a big difference to a lot of the questions, IMO; I assumed they did count.

It's not designed to show you your results, so if you want to post your answers pay attention. I was like robot cars in 50 years, jetback never, aircars unlikely, teleportation never, robots in 500, longevity in 500, Moon and Mars in 5000, terraforming eventually, FTL never, black hole and astrophysics eventually (robots really matter here), synth food (assuming social use, not lab) unlikely.
mindstalk: (robot)
Inspired by a thread on plausible alien invasions.

As I think I've blogged before, in a sense we may be quite close to being technically capable of sending a ship to a nearby star. At the raw physics level, we already have the energy sources. The Newtonian kinetic energy of mass at 0.03 c is comparable to the energy density of fission fuels, and means getting to Alpha Centauri in 140 years. The tricky part is delivering the energy into exhaust of such speeds; thermal engines melt, mass drivers quench, ion drives I'm not sure about, plasma drives ditto, photon drives have too much exhaust 'velocity' to be efficient, fission fragment rockets would be just right but the atoms that want to fission aren't the ones in a good surface position to send fragments out the back.

Still, it's possible that an ion drive, or plasma drive, would in fact work. The extreme case is Project Longshot, where a fission reactor is used to force D-He3 fusion pulses, getting you the energetic plasma needed (and more, it's like a fusion afterburner) while ducking the problem of fusion power reactors being among the hardest things the human race has ever tried to do. (Here, plasma squirting out is a feature, not a bug.) And of course there's always Project Orion, another fission-fusion combination, and maybe one that could use the much cheaper D-D reaction. Or fragments.

Of course, then there's the matter of having something that lasts 95 (Longshot) to 140 (pure fission) years, in hard radiation to boot; this might well be harder than simply making something go fast. Even more so if you want to send live beings.

But... there's a common assumption that if you can send a ship like that, you don't need to invade, you can build space colonies and such. But it's not true. Leaving aside whether people want to live in space colonies, the problems are different. The ship 'just' needs to last over a century; air leaks can be replenished from ice supplies, breakdowns can be compensated for by redundancy, spare parts, and a portable machine shop; people need some combination of a few generations, stasis, or longevity (possibly including partial longevity through partial stasis, or slowdown.) While a colony needs to be more permanently robust, and to contain or have access to a complete industrial ecology.

So invading your neighbors with the desperate hope and need of taking them over, and using their labor and industry, may in fact be easier than a self-contained space colony, and at any rate is a different problem.

Another key note: the sort of "we could expensively build it soon" fission-fusion interstellar ship above does not include ground to orbit capability for Earthlike planets. Moon landers sure, Mars maybe, but for anything we could send, taking capsules down to the surface of an Earth would be a one-way trip. We don't know how to get off again without an army of thousands building the return vehicle.

And of course for any rocket a one-way trip is a lot cheaper than a planned round-trip without guaranteed refueling. And if you need lots of fissionables, refueling may be hard and chancy.

So while the probability of having near neighbors to invade seems very low, and it'd be expensive, there's actually a certain plausibility to would-be conquistadors not much more advanced than us coming and trying to bluff/conquer/trade their way in, without any option to go back home, or even get back off the surface once landed without help. Not very plausible -- but the alternatives, that anyone crossing interstellar distances must be magically more advanced, are not clearly true. You just need fission, you don't need indefinite life support (if you're counting on another ecosystem you've observed with telescopes), you can't necessarily get off the planet, or zip around a solar system arbitrarily.
mindstalk: (kirin)
Sometimes people complain about the prolificness of monarchy in fantasy, or even lost-colony science fiction or space opera. Other people retort that you need monarchy or "feudalism" given the poor communications, and point at history. The democrats can point to various democracies, but Athens and Rome are city states, the 1200-1500 Estates-General little known and still under monarchy, and Poland-Lithuania and the Iroquois also little known, and the last probably disbelieved, despite being what seems a representative republic with roles for both sexex covering New York state. [Edit: I originally called that half the area of France, but this was based on a units faiure.] Generally a role democracies or at least republics will be conceded at the town or city level, but not beyond.

Rarely but increasingly, in these debates I belatedly remember the elephant in the room, one that doesn't require trusting any Wikipedia pages: the 1787 United States of America, covering an area definitely larger than France, and spread out to boot, with no more advanced technology than the printing press and newspapers. Which are helpful but don't seem necessary[1] and weren't exactly cutting edge. The ship of representative democracy was launched by a fairly primitive republic many decades before any hint of the telegraph...

[Edit: someone elsewhere argues that the colonies were in fact unified by advanced sailing technology not available to real medieval times, though he grants that there's no material reason medievals couldn't have used advanced riggings. I note that Kentucky joined the Union in 1792, nowhere near an ocean...]

So, yeah. It's not the tech, it's the social organization.

Granted, we don't know if the early and rural US would have been that militarily competitive with a monarchy; it didn't have that many neighbors. Did well later on, of course. And the Iroquois conquered an area the size of the Midwest in the Beaver Wars.

Relatedly, I wonder if one obstacle to Athens and Rome was that they were too democratic, in a sense. The official basis of power in both was the populace in full assembly, the Assembly of Athens and Tribal and Century assemblies in Rome, via plebsicites and elected magistrates and tribunes. (The Senate was both unelected and formally only advisory.) So the vast Roman Republic, shading into Empire, was ruled by what amounted to the municipal democracy[2] of Rome, much as if the USA were run by the New York City mayor and council. My point being that with direct democratic government like that, it's not obvious how you'd give colony or allied cities a voice in the metropolis even if you wanted to, compared to simply having more representatives.

[1] Scriptoria, town criers, public notices: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acta_Diurna

[2] Massive plutocracy in practice and even design, but shush.
mindstalk: (science)
So, there's a couple thoughts about realistic starships. One is that we can't do them and they're centuries of tech away. Another is what we could do them, or probably good with a decade or two of engineering research, but they'd be really expensive. Most people with a clue tend to think the first. But! The second might be more accurate, at least as far as the propulsion goes. The classic one is

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion) and variant http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_pulse_propulsion#Medusa

where you blow up nukes against a pusher plate. Advantage is that it utilizes the one kind of energy productive fusion we can actually do, fusion bombs. Disadvantage is people's nervousness about huge quantities of nuclear bombs, plus since a bomb has a minimum size, the vehicle has to be large. Which can be good if you're really out to send something big, but if you just want a probe, is problematic.

Mercy cut )

I guess the takeaway lesson is that you need nuclear energies to have even kind of crappy interstellar ships, but we *do* have nuclear energies, and throwing large but reasonable amounts of fission, and maybe explosive fusion, at the problem will suffice for automated probes, such that propulsion may well be the easy bit.
mindstalk: (CrashMouse)
Read recently: Children of the Sky, a proper sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep, set on the Tines world. I liked it, others haven't. The stars of such a book should be the Tines and explorations of them, and I felt it delivered. The villains... Vinge isn't big on subtlety. And there's an obvious hook, almost need, for yet another sequel.

Also, Snuff, the latest Discworld book. Also enjoyable, also not up to peak work. It's Vimes. And a bit of Watch, but mostly Vimes. I don't have non-spoilery comments. Do have some spoilery ones.

I had tabasco sauce once. Recently I bought some other sort of chili hot sauce. Having run out of that quickly, I bought some sriricha which I heard about only recently, sort of Thai hot sauce, and hot indeed. I also got some fish sauce, only later did I notice that it's 57% daily sodium for 1 Tbsp serving, which seems high. The sriricha is 8%, the previous hot sauce was saltless.

Trader Joe's Bibimbap was either good or so spicey quality doesn't matter. TJ vegetable samosas were decent, though not as good as what I can get at the Alewife T stop. TJ pork siu mai were better than expected, and a cross between proper dim sum siu mai and the tiny things Japanese restaurants have been passing off.

On Baen Books

2011-Nov-13, Sunday 22:59
mindstalk: (lizsword)
Interesting perspective here, arguing it's not so much Left/Right as Hard/Soft Politics.

I realize I have a rather skewed idea of what "Baen authors" are: Lois Bujold, unreformed humanist; Eric Flint, Socialist Workers Party; P. C. Hodgell, dark fantasist; Lee and Miller, space opera romances.

Haikasoru reviews

2011-Sep-17, Saturday 01:34
mindstalk: (robot)
Haikasoru is a line of translated Japanese SF and fantasy. James has been reading and reviewing them all. I get the impression he's run out of books, so here are the links. ++ indicates books that sounded particularly interesting to me.

All you need is kill
Battle Royale
Brave Story
Book of Heroes
Lord of the Sands of Time
Dragon Sword and Wind Child ++
Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince (related to the above)
Mardock Scramble
Next Continent
Ouroboros Wave
Rocket Girls
Slum Online
Stories of Ibis ++
Usurper of the Sun ++

As the previous post said I've read Usurper, and liked it; I've also read Lord of the Sands of Time, and Dragon Sword, ditto (the one I quipped affectionately was "Crystal Dragon Shinto"). For Rocket Girls I've seen the anime based on the two books; fun though unusually comedic and silly.

MITSFS has been slow in meeting its goal of collecting all SF published in English.

Edit 2011-Oct-25: I've read Stories of Ibis. It was awesome.

Edit whenever: I've read Next Continent too. Sort of The Girl Who Sold the Moon.

Museum and novel

2011-Sep-17, Saturday 01:28
mindstalk: (Default)
Finally checked out the Harvard Museum of Natural History near me. When I discovered $50 got a membership in it, the Peabody, and the Harvard Art Museum, I gambled on that. If I go twice to each it'll be worth it. This museum has a very large mineral collection, as well as the "glass flowers", very realistic glass models of plants and plant parts. One could spend a lot of time in either room trying to learn stuff. There's multiple rooms of animals, and some lighter rooms on color and the environment and New England forests.

Basil fried rice at a Thai place was really good. The crispy chicken part wasn't.
Chicken biryani tonight was good, and I think even dark meat. Service was very slow about bringing me a bill or giving change.

I just finished Usurper of the Sun, by Housuke Nojiri. Pretty much hard SF, and the characterization is somewhat Eganesque. Near-term in-Solar System SF, with an alien visitation of sorts, and an author who apologizes for his "unrealistic" nuclear space drives pushing the envelope of what's likely to be feasible, meaning delta-vees of tens of km/s.

http://james-nicoll.livejournal.com/3180744.html is a review though fairly spoiler heavy, outlining much of the plot though leaving out many details.

I liked it; as James said, has more strengths I care about than weaknesses I care about.

Main character is a woman scientist not quite as sexless as Susan Calvin. This seems a pattern for the author.

I've been keeping up with Doctor Who. Doesn't seem much to say. It's not like the episodes support much logical analysis, they're more like high-emotion fairy tales.

At singing tonight Paul E. put a stuffed echidna on his head. I asked "So you received echidna transplant?"

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