Sierra Foxtrot 12

Post #600, SF thoughts.
  • I know I've mentioned (what is incontrovertible) that Rey is easily as much a Mary Sue as Korra (or, before you embarrass yourself, as Ender Wiggin, Harry Potter, Kirigaya Kazuto, or Alucard). And that The Last Jedi was mean-spirited in its treatment of Luke—and Snoke. But I haven't mentioned how it makes the previous eight movies completely incoherent.

    If Force-ghost Yoda can lightning Luke's shrine, why couldn't Force-ghost Qui-Gon lightning Palpatine? If you can use hyperdrives to kamikaze capital ships, why does anyone ever do anything else? This is a setting where droids are cheap, plentiful, and generally considered less-than-persons; every battle would just come down to who mobilizes their droid Tokubetsu Kôgekitai first.

    Also seriously those bombers at the beginning: where are your Y-wings and B-wings? The Rebels Pirate Monkeys Resisty already have bombers that aren't sitting ducks while they attack.
  • Absolutely the champ of this anime season is Cells at Work, which has no business being as educational and entertaining as it is. About the only way it could be better is if viruses looked like Angels from Evangelion, and then vaccines were giant robots for fighting them, made from the same material. (I don't know if moe anthropomorphisms of cellular biology count as SF, and I don't care, either; I just needed to mention how great Cells at Work is.)
  • I was thinking that maybe the widespread gun-control in (the human parts of) my SF setting might not be possible with things like 3D printing of weapons, although doing that in such a way that the weapons are worth a damn is likely to remain relatively expensive. The "Liberator" (which can't actually beat metal detectors) has been compared to "holding a centerfire cartridge with a pair of vice grip pliers and hitting the firing pin with a leather punch".

    But then I realized that, given their firearms use caseless ammunition, and non-caseless isn't much good against their armor, they can enforce gun control by requiring a taggant in all caseless propellants, as we now require it in plastic explosives. It's likely to be very hard to make your own denatured octanitrocubane, after all. Presumably the high-end black-market gunrunners make their own taggant-free propellant, as do assassins.

    Of course, just because all the firearm propellant involves taggants doesn't mean they'd be stupid enough to stop using metal detectors. My future UN is an oppressive regime, not a straw dystopia.
  • Zledo don't have any gun-control; it's technically legal for their civilians to own artillery, up to things designed for taking out fortresses. It's never an issue, though, because they aren't allowed to store the ammunition in residential areas. (All their arms manufacturing takes place outside population centers, to reduce collateral damage in wartime—their Weaponeer Sodality all live outside of "city limits".) Even if they own isolated land where they can stockpile ammunition for their legally-owned artillery, the costs are still prohibitive. Aside from how artillery shells ain't cheap (one standard round for the M109 howitzer costs about $650), the liability and other forms of insurance would quickly outstrip any private budget.

    Technically speaking, the Second Amendment in our constitution applies to artillery; privately-owned cannon were once commonplace. About the only weapon it doesn't actually apply to are WMDs, because those can be used to overthrow a constitutional order, including the one the 2A is a part of, whereas the Confederacy wasn't even able to use artillery to quit this constitutional order. (And nowadays, just like zledo, it would largely be moot if we did legalize it, because of the insurance and liability costs involved—like, tens of thousands of dollars in premiums per month, if fire-codes actually allowed you to have it in a residential area at all.)
  • My NotUsingTheZWord approach to SF writing—where I say "volumetric display" instead of "hologram" and "fighter with prosthetic enhancement" rather than "cyborg"—might have some research to back it up. Apparently, interpreting that study with the appropriate sodium intake, reading words that indicate something is science fiction causes readers to read less carefully.

    That other study mentioned in that article, claiming lit-fic made its readers more empathetic, is utter nonsense, of course. People who read lit-fic can't even get inside the heads of the inhabitants of "flyover country"; SF readers can get inside the heads of Kzinti. Did the study get a false positive because lit-fic involves so much more silent-film pantomimic emoting?
  • I was unsure how to have Zbin-Ãld express the concept "for themselves" or "their own", since my other reflexive involved putting both the ergative and absolutive particles on the same word (yes they mark the absolutive—Indo-European originally marked all of its cases, too, and so does Japanese when it's bothering to mark them at all). "For themselves" is benefactive (not a marked case in Zbin-Ãld, it's the oblique case and "for") and "their own" is genitive (that one is its own case).

    Then it occurred to me I can make a word for "self" from the word assigned to "nature" (as in "natural world") by the word-list generator I used, since zledo have no concept of "nature" in that sense as a distinct thing—where you say "naturally" they say "expectably". Basically the construction in "for themselves" is something like "for their same self", and then "their own" is the genitive of "same self". I don't think "self" inflects for its referent's number, though, unlike in English.
  • Decided to give Zbin-Ãld gendered pronouns for all three persons. Or rather to inflect all their pronouns for noun-class/paradigm: although male names are in one paradigm and female in the other, they're not exactly "masculine" or "feminine" grammatical gender (their names are respectively "blue paradigm" and "red paradigm", among zledo, after the moons and the two colors their markings come in). In the singular, when referring to specific people, you use the one that goes with their name, so it matches their "gender" in that sense, but when speaking of a common noun ("a child", "the noble") or in the plural ("zledo") you use the one for the word that goes with whatever noun you're referring to.

    Thus if you say "people" (or "mortal men"), sõ'ã, which is in the same paradigm as masculine names, you use the "masculine" pronouns, but if you say "zledo", which is in the paradigm for feminine names, you use the "feminine" pronouns. It gets counterintuitive for Indo-European speakers when they leave the referent implicit and use one or the other paradigm seemingly at random, based on what particular word they were thinking of people as. I was thinking I might get some rhetorical effect out of it—like when you count humans with the marker for "small animal" in Japanese, to add oomph to concepts like "just one man"—but with only two paradigms, roughly evenly distributed, you can't really do that.
  • Between Life having "thinking muscle" and Annihilation having a telepathic, reality-warping fungus, can we just make a rule that you're not allowed to have the damned Gravemind in your SF movie? I mean come on people. Come up with something else. At least rip off a different video game (although even video games—*cough*—rip off the Gravemind). You haven't tried zooplankton that learned to fly by Social Darwinist witchcraft as your totally-science-fiction-and-not-fantasy antagonist or plot-mover, yet. Or a space pirate who was born a bug-lizard and became an immortal dragon.

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