So I, being in Tucson for the Feast of Gorging on Birds, discovered not one, not two, but three Niven books in their Bookmans'-es-es. If you don't have Bookmans' in your (shamefully benighted) area, it's a used bookstore that's organized the same as new bookstores (it also sells used games that actually work, unlike Game Stop). See, I'd (to buy...something) sold my Known Space books a while back; I'd been having trouble with my own writing, the style of authors I was reading sneaking into my prose, but I'm over it now and wanted to give LN another chance. It reminded me of just how great some of that Old Skool stuff can be, and also of several thoughts of my own.

Praise the Lord and pass the bulleted lists.
  • So Niven's actually got a lot more good characters than just the ones in World of Ptavvs; Beowulf Schaeffer, Eric Donovan (the brain in a jar), and a couple of the others are pretty good. And some of them were after Ringworld; I think it might just be that and its sequels that aren't too good.

    But I stand by my criticism of the Kzinti: no hunter would despise prey like that. I mean, getting kicked by a Puppeteer is like getting gored by a rhino; its diet doesn't change the fact it can kill you. Zulus practically are Kzin, down to it being considered inappropriate for men to show fear, but they'll be the first to tell you, stay the hell away from the big gray herbivores in Africa.

  • Neutron Star, At the Core, Becalmed in Hell, and Eye of an Octopus are, pretty much, science fiction par excellence. And it's a damned, criminal, hopefully executable offense that A Gift from Earth isn't on the high school reading lists. Hell, if I had my druthers I'd stick World of Ptavvs and Protector in too.

  • Niven, unless I grossly misread the man, is a Goldwater conservative, so I can't endorse many of his views. But his "Cloak of Anarchy" should be required reading for all high school students or college freshmen, since so many of the twits think they like the idea of anarchy.

    Similarly, how about we start calling people who don't understand how dangerous this universe is, "flatlanders"? Bey Schaeffer says it, how people from Earth don't understand the real meaning of the word "danger", because of how comfortable they happen to find their pet gravity well. I could give you a list as long as my arm of people in today's world who show that mindset.

    Speaking of which, I've thought of it in connection to the Joker, and Chesterton's thing about how comedy is the only poetry of compromise, but has anyone else noticed that our culture's obsession with comedy might be designed to deaden the defensive reactions? That's why Puppeteers don't like comedy, remember: humor is an interrupted defense mechanism, and no sapient species interrupts its defense mechanisms.

  • Off of Niven for a moment, has anyone noticed how easy it'd be to turn Halo into fantasy? A knight with haunted armor having to team up with an exiled monster commander to defeat an undead plague: didn't World of Warcraft have something like that?

    And I still say the Forerunners' "Mantle" is simply the Protector instinct applied to more than one species. So maybe not off Niven, actually.

  • So Niven apparently realized that Ringworld is an SF version of the Wizard of Oz (I myself have toyed with such a thing, along with an SF Journey to the West and an SF Peter Pan). But John C. Wright actually gave Speaker-to-Animals a song:

    I would like to stab and slaughter
    Mankind and his daughter
    Without scruple or reserve --

    [do DOOT dolootle to-doo!]

    But Kzin has lost four stellar wars
    I'd claim it was a long lost cause

    I'm given to understand it has a pleasing metrical structure, though it doesn't rhyme, in the Hero's Tongue. If you don't mind setting a catfight to 40s-era showtune music.

  • Seriously, what is with Niven and single-sex species? The Kzinti, the Grogs, the Puppeteers...okay, actually, the Puppeteers have two sexes, their third "sex" is just their preferred host for their parasitoid larvae (though I never heard of herbivores practicing parasitism).

    All the really advanced species on earth have fairly even development and intelligence between the sexes; anglerfish aren't high on anyone's list of nonhuman intelligences, now are they? Then again we now know dolphins aren't really all that bright (they're probably not as smart as ravens), so maybe that lopsided gender thing was some theory at the time that's been shelved since.

  • Not in connection to Niven, for real this time (except tangentially), apparently the Kzinti are like birds, in having ZW chromosomes (males have two full sex chromosomes, females have a full and a partial, the reverse of XY animals like mammals). And, me being me, I did some looking, and decided: the felinoids in my book are now Z0 (the male has two sex chromosomes, the female only one). Like a small minority of butterflies, and absolutely nothing else. Of course, it's not actually DNA, but it is genetic material and it undergoes mitosis and meiosis, so, yeah, "chromosomes".

    I wonder how come nobody uses the sex-selection system crocodiles do (the temperature of the nest determines the sex of the young). Couldn't be because the writers didn't research any alternatives to the mammalian system, of course. Perish the thought.

  • Another decision I made just a few weeks ago, one that's now blinding in its obviousness: give the aliens an odd number of teeth in their lower jaw. That is, they've got six teeth between their top canines (like a cat, find one and count 'em, I'll wait), and five between their bottom ones.

  • So I actually got the d20 Future book, and, um...did anyone else notice huge chunks of it are just lifted wholesale from the Alternity books? And whatever isn't just feels sorta slapped together; I mean, when your space travel rules say ion engines and fusion torches give the same acceleration, you've officially failed space travel forever.

    Let's review, using a maxed-out fusion Orion rocket as the type of the fusion torch found in writers like Niven, and a standard ion engine (figures from Project Rho). "Launch" refers to whether its Thrust-to-weight ratio is greater than 1 (meaning you can use it for orbital launch). "Mg" means megagrams, AKA metric tons.

    SystemThrust Power(GW)Exhaust velocity(m/s)Thrust(N)Engine mass(Mg)Launch?
    ORION MAX39,0009,800,0008,000,0008yes

    I'm just a layman, but I'm pretty sure an engine that gives you a meganewton of thrust for every ton of its own mass, is just a smidgen more powerful than one that gives you 25 newtons. But what's a forty thousandfold difference in power between friends?

    Oh and incidentally, I will personally run down and devour the next person who says it'd take centuries to get to another star with realistic technology. If you're at Alpha Centauri, you've done interstellar flight (admittedly mostly just as a gesture). And we've got the technology now—we've actually lab-tested a few nuclear rockets—to get there in a few decades. Nuclear rockets can get you up to 10% c in a respectably short amount of time, and at that speed Alpha Centauri is only 45 years away.



Yeah, this isn't actually about technobabble, which is something I generally find mildly abhorrent (unless it's actually good technobabble). It's just a few thoughts I had, concerning tech and science...and it's sorta random, so, yeah, technobabble. Technoramble? Hm.
  • So I don't like teleportation; I just think it'd be too much trouble to pull off. Anyone else remember that one Niven story where the guy accidentally teleports to a booth that's not on the network, and he wonders why it's so hot inside it? And it turns out it's an old booth, missing some parts; and, since it was on a different latitude, the difference of angular momentum meant there was a bunch of residual energy that had to be bled off as heat? Yeah, Niven's got his moments, he sure does.

    Maybe the difference of angular momentum is why Nightcrawler always has the fireball, but I doubt it. In general though, I tend to just think teleporters really ought to have their legs broked the second they materialize—since, unless you're teleporting to the same latitude, the difference of angular momentum is like jumping from a moving train. I only like magic teleportation.

  • So my brother gets Game Informer, and they had a review of the Iron Man 2 game that said War Machine "has more weapons than an aircraft carrier". Nice turn of phrase, but no, an aircraft carrier has, just to go by the Nimitz class, 3 or 4 gatling-type guns (each of which, in the Phalanx CIWS, is bigger than the one War Machine has). Plus it's got 16-24 Sea Sparrow missiles, each of which is bigger than War Machine. To say nothing of the 85-90 aircraft the Nimitz class has, each of which can equip dozens of missiles warheaded with anything up to a nuke.

    So yeah, any given aircraft carrier is probably capable of stripping a continent of life...which is a somewhat sobering thought.

  • Speaking of Iron Man 2, I had thought that the way Tony creates the new core for his arc reactor involved a particle accelerator...which would make what he does with it suicide (to put it mildly). But then I realized no, it's a laser; he's just forming a new element via laser inertia-confinement fusion. Eight feet from his face. Because that could never be dangerous.

    Yeah. Comic book movies, why must you screw everything up?

  • I quite like Needless for reasons having nothing to do with tech or science; mostly it has to do with the hilarity (though the fact Adam never misses a chance to recombine his powers in more effective ways makes me happy). But did you notice Eve can only take the shape of things/people who are close to her own mass? Yeah. Hey, Odo, this chick from what's basically a filthy version of S-CRY-ed has more SF bona fides than you do.

    On the other hand the Simeon Shojo Squad, who appear to think you can just tie someone up when they can take the shape of anything with similar mass, should be fired. Out of a cannon. Oh wait, they were. While naked (because it's Needless).

  • So I was trying to come up with different types of liquor for my aliens; someone's mention of Milk Mead brought me to kumis, which is milk (traditionally from a mare) that has its sugars fermented. So that was cool (now my aliens consider wine to be a type of beer, since, to them, it's all fermented seeds).

    But alas! I thought, milk from their "mammals" is solid at room temperature! But then, no, it's okay; their kumis is fermented from the stuff (whey, I guess) that squeezes out of their milk when you press it.

    Late addendum: Further research indicates fermented whey is blaand, not kumis, a drink with nearly the same alcohol content as wine found in Scotland, Scandinavia, and Russia. 'Tis a guid auld nappy, ye ken?

    I think it is ethanol (maybe methanol?), but I don't think their metabolism uses glucose, since their genetic material is held together by sulfones instead of sugars and uses different nucleobases, so AMP-ADP-ATP isn't the sequence they use. I don't have the background to get into the specifics of all that, though, so I don't.

  • So, as you may have noticed just now, the fact they haven't got DNA means the aliens aren't animals at all, except in the Aristotelian sense (where all self-mobile lifeforms are animals).

    This, of course, also means that no pathogens will be able to pass between species, though it's possible something like anthrax (toxic because of the metabolic byproducts of the bacteria) might still be dangerous.

  • It's not precisely tech, but it's always funny to read a review of an SF story with psionics in it, written by hard-SF zealots. It's the exact same tone as this Mormon dude I read once who said (not without cause) that Firefly had too much sex: it's a religious veto.

    Personally the way I handle telepathy is, since it's a mental power, it's not directly subject to the laws of physics. Or do your thoughts have mass?


Pinch Yourself

Reality Check time!
  • Plainly the correct translation of "Kaibutsu Oujo" is not merely "monster princess" ('Princess Resurrection' was just the first chapter), but "Monster Infanta". "Oujo" means "king's daughter"—in Asia the king's children didn't usually have the title of a lower class of noble.

    It's not a reality check per se (though such works often get erroneously lumped into tsundere) but I think Deus X Machina (robot preacherman for the win!) has given us a really good term for the genre, utterly unremarkable youths being dominated by the lovely high-class ladies. Namely, Maiden Tyrant. It's a good name for a genre, huh?

  • Speaking of the title of the king's children, why is it that, after all Frank Herbert's work on his setting, he doesn't know the emperor's daughter who marries Paul should be a Grand Duchess, not a Princess?

    Interesting though, that, that the child of a monarch is two ranks lower—dukes are one above (sovereign) princes, who are two below kings. I have no idea why, but it does let you avoid the awkward situation of having an emperor's son being a king in his own right.

  • So I'm still flabbergasted by this myth of the "terrible" French Revolution, that mars such otherwise intelligent thinkers as John C. Wright. The fact is that the French Revolution killed a lot fewer people—possibly 50% fewer—than contemporary English liberalism, which, again, also instituted the first systematic terror-rape in Western history, a mere 5 years after Robespierre's Terror. And unlike Revolutionary France, England wasn't in imminent danger of being invaded by every other power on the continent, and so had much less excuse.

    I think a part of it is, Continental Romanticism was a conscious reaction against the (excessive) rationalism of the Revolution; there was no such literary reaction against English Liberalism, except in Ireland, and those writers were themselves Liberals, and so restricted their criticism to nationalist rather than ideological grounds.

    It's especially egregious in Wright's case, though, since he likes the Stoics; "Stoicism" is an excellent shorthand for the entire Revolution, especially Robespierre. Oh, except Robespierre murdered a lot fewer people than Stoics like Marcus Aurelius.

  • What's really fascinating is when right-wingers sloppily identify Marxism with the French Revolution, when it was a product of the First Republic's mortal enemy, Prussia.

    Actually, the only commonality Marx has with the Revolution is that he, like Rousseau, studied England and believed the lies the English Liberals told about their state. It was just that there had begun to be a (simplistic, wrongheaded) backlash against capitalism by Marx's time, while in Rousseau's time they were still telling their lies about popular sovereignty and elections (while the wholesale theft of the English people's land continued unabated).

    It would not be wrongheaded to say that all the evil ideologies of the modern era are basically Whiggism, conducted by people a lot more intellectually consistent than the English. The other name, after all, for Marxism's Hegelian triumphalism is Whig History.

  • It is incidentally not true that Christendom is the only state that has ever enacted laws reflecting a belief in human equality. It's nearly true, but there's one exception: the Goryeo Kingdom (Korea between 918 and 1392) made some moves in that direction, recognizing the rights of women and abolishing slavery, due to the state being serious about its establishment of Buddhism. It didn't go anywhere near as far as Christendom did, but it deserves credit.

    Of course, just like the strengthening of Roman law (as against Common Law) in the late Middle Ages, followed by the pagan darkness of the Renaissance, the Joseon Kingdom imposed Neo-Confucianism, brought back slavery, and relegated women to nonentity status. Also, like the Reformation, it persecuted Buddhism and shamanism...mostly so the kingdom (and its ruling class of scholars and landowners) would have access to monastery/shrine coffers.

    Things are rough all over, huh?

  • The other example of how ideas can be much more dangerous outside their home is, the atrocities of the Imperial Japanese Army. See, when Japan was modernizing in the Meiji era, the most-copied Wesern power, militarily, was Prussia. And Prussian military theorists were agreed that one ought to terrorize the enemy's populace, to hurt his morale. It's just, as in all other things, when the Japanese decide they're going to terrorize your populace, they'd be ashamed to leave your populace half-terrorized. The Japanese work ethic makes Calvinism look like Epicurus, after all.

    You'll notice, the Japanese didn't do anything like that when they invaded the Joseon Kingdom under Hideyoshi; they behaved like any other contemporary Asian army (which, admittedly, wasn't great). Indeed, the Koreans' Chinese allies (being paid by the body count) killed more Koreans than Hideyoshi's men did.

  • I'm always curious, why do people call Hasidic Jews "ultra-orthodox"? Doesn't anyone know they were considered flat-out heretics right up until the Shoah? Properly "ultra-orthodox" ought to be restricted to non-Hasidic Haredi, and even then, Modern Orthodox are just as strict, so the label is misleading.

    Of course technically Jews who are strict about their Torah observance ought to be called "Orthopractic", not "Orthodox"; Judaism is not a creed, it is a practice. Now part of the practice is belief in God (and the practice makes no sense without such a belief), but any non-atheist beliefs that keep the 613 laws can be considered Jewish. It's conceivable for a perfectly Torah-compliant Jew to be pantheist (indeed both major schools of Jewish theology are, Maimonides identifying Ha-Shem with the formal part of the cosmos and Kabbalah being a type of Hermeticism) or even monist (which is what Hasidim are).

  • Another point is, many Jews say their religion is 6000 years old, because their religious calendar's year is 5 thousand something. Only, no, the best date we have for Moses is c. 1300 BC, so their religion is 3300 years old (or 800 years older than Buddhism, nothing to sneeze at—only Hinduism of organized religions is older, and only by a century).

    The date on the Jewish calendar is the count since the creation of the world as recounted in Genesis—yet, because they're a practice not a creed, nearly all Jews feel perfectly content to interpret the date symbolically, rather than being tied to Young Earth Creationism like the followers of Bishop Ussher (who got, I believe, a slightly different date).

  • One more point about Jews: it makes me nuts when Jewish writers say "Jews don't believe in sin, we say 'to miss the mark.'" Huh. Well by that logic Catholics don't believe in sin, either, we say "to stumble" (literal meaning of the Latin word peccare), and Anglicans and Lutherans don't believe in sin, they say "to separate" (literal meaning of English "sin" and German sünde). Oh and by the way, the Greek Orthodox also say "to miss the mark," since that's the literal meaning of "ἁμαρτία". Other Orthodox say "burn with guilt", since "to burn" is the etymology of Old Church Slavonic "грѣхъ".

    Or perhaps we can all rationally discuss the fact that, no, we're all talking about sin. Indeed, even in terms of etymology they're probably wrong; the cognate term in all the other Semitic languages (possibly not Arabic?) means "to fail in a duty by not being on the same wavelength as the one who gave it to you" which, in terms of morality, is about as elegant a summing up of "sin" as anything I ever heard.



So I was reading one of John C. Wright's articles about how the sexual revolution hasn't exactly been good for women (stop the presses), and the comments were, as they always are, full of libertarians spouting nonsense and feminists asserting that being objectified is fine, if it advances the program of Marx. But, since one of the things Wright, and another author he was quoting, were saying, was that conservatives ought to be careful not to let the politicization of rape by feminists make them react into skepticism of rape accusations, the comments also contained another beast. Specifically, masculinists. These ones were concerned to deny the very existence of date-rape, and say that women should be shamed just as much as men should for sexual misbehavior (when, if anything, they're still shamed more, sorry). Masculinists are the same guys who object when men are still expected to be breadwinners and think it's just awful women don't have to register for the draft.

I got something to say to them. Man the fuck up. That's the first time I've used the F-word on this blog, and I don't intend to make a habit of it, but seriously: men cannot get pregnant, we're less susceptible to STDs, and we don't have a period. Also, sorry, but women have gotten the shortest possible short end of the stick for a vast amount of time—with the exception of the 3 or 4 High Medieval centuries and the partial exception of the 19th and part of the 20th Centuries, women's status hasn't been so much "low" as "N/A".

Seriously. You know why chivalry makes men the protectors of women, makes them open doors for women, makes them salute women whenever they see them and forbids them to attack women? Because for the first couple thousand years of Western Civilization, women were nonentities. I said it before but I'll say it again: Roman girls had no first names, just the feminine of their clan name, because they exposed all daughters after the first. Greeks were, if anything, worse: the reason they valued homosexual relationships was misogyny, pure and simple. Why, their thinking went, would I want to fall in love with a mere woman? Woman were for making babies, only. You find the same thing in Asian history—it's no coincidence that wakashudo and Neo-Confucian thought went hand-in-hand—and it's hard to see a difference between today's Indian and Chinese gendercide-abortions and Romans exposing their infant daughters. It's a similar story among many Native Americans, even the matrilineal and matrilocal ones.

So yeah, sorry, but the shrillest, most harpy-like feminists are right. Men suck, and the way they treat women sucks, and there's a debt there that needs to be paid. Where the feminists are wrong is how to fix men and their treatment of women, and pay the debt. Nobody can deny, without deliberate obtuseness, that proletarian capitalism is abusive; but Marxism is no remedy. Similarly the answer to men and their past and present (and potential future) misbehavior is not to feminize men or masculinize women, nor to erode gender distinctions. It is to recognize and value women's role in society—make "womanly" as firmly a term of praise as "manly" is—and also to recognize, value, and harness men's role.

And that's why chivalry is the answer. Fundamentally any attempt to reconcile the sexes has to take account of the fact men are, by nature, aggressive. Hate to break it to you but Homo is a genus in the Hominidae or Great Apes, and, attempts to draw parallels to bonobos notwithstanding, we appear to be the most aggressive of the lot. I'm reminded of an experiment that showed that dogs have a more similar learning pattern to humans than chimps do. Because humans may be omnivores, but their ecological niche is still "apex predator"—combine "gregarious apex predator" with "silverback" and, well, I'm pretty sure most people's mental image has a gravity hammer.

Chivalry is the only code I know of (well, hwarangdo, but chivalry is a bit better at it) that takes masculine aggression into account without making any concessions to what might be called, well, "patriarchy". It came into being in a warlike time, but also a time when queens, duchesses, and abbesses wielded just as much power as kings, dukes, and bishops; apparently women bought more books than men, at least in France. The High Middle Ages is probably the closest this horrible ape-tribe of ours has ever come to a matriarchy. I've read things about women in medieval poets that make Joss Whedon sound like Dave Sim. I'll put it another way: the medievals were extremely fond, as indeed all Catholics are fond, of the story of the wedding at Cana. But oddly enough we often pass over it being the first miracle of Christ's public ministry, in favor of a little something else. Namely, Jesus Christ, the Incarnate God, takes orders from a woman. More than that, he amends the Plan at her say-so. Regina Caeli, Cihuapiltzin Coatlaxopeuh: you've come a long way, baby.

Also, though, chivalry offends masculinists and knee-jerk individualists whose view of gender is just bad Plato (or reheated Gnosticism), so that's a bonus right there.


It Occurs to Me

Random thoughts, again.
  • So I'm guessing I'm not the only one who wishes that people could write articles about crime policy without having to tell you a horror story.

  • Though he's doing the lord's work here in pointing out how much V for Vendetta sucks, John C. Wright does suffer the inherent biases of being an orc...um, Anglo (sorry, I get them confused). See, he said the French Revolution stood for the Terror, and that Parliament was "one of the most noble symbols of human freedom mankind has ever produced". Hahah.

    Well, actually, the French Revolution stood for Freedom, Brotherhood, and an Equal Law, and like all real Republics, it fulfilled its destiny by becoming an Empire (the American Founders, of course, realized this, that's why they delineated the Emperor's role in Article 2 of the Constitution). Parliament, on the other hand, is purely a symbol of oligarchy—the Hanoverian Succession was the Lords announcing that never again would the king prevent them from doing exactly what they liked. And what they liked was, of course, to loot monasteries and rape Irishwomen. Oh, and murder twice as many people as the Terror in the same amount of time, just for being members of Wright's own religion.

  • I forgot to mention this in my post about economics, but high taxes for the rich aren't socialism; they just make capitalism less efficient. Look at it this way: suppose your state's army restricts officer commissions to aristocrats. Now, if you want to reform this system, do you start promoting exceptional enlisted men and NCOs? Or do you simply make it harder for your nob-officers to get their supplies? Because that's what putting a bigger tax burden on the investor class of capitalism is.

    Amusingly, the longer Republican-style "capitalism" is in play, the bigger the investor class becomes—until soon enough, you're not really talking about capitalism, but about what Bush called an "ownership society" and the Chesterbelloc called "distributism". I'm sure that's quite galling to knee-jerk elephantophobes like Mark Shea, but it's how the stats play out.

  • I like Thomas Sowell, the conservative columnist; maybe it's just because he's quite old, but he manages to avoid the common condition of black conservatives, that of being a knee-jerk antitribu. What I mean is, a lot of them basically seem to think "so many black people are supportive of this welfare-state nonsense, I'll go to the other extreme and say it's good when the poor die in the gutter." He's a lot more thoughtful than that, though I disagree with him on a few things.

    But Mr. Sowell (he's over 70, he gets a Mr out of the deal) had an excellent line: "I believe in libertarian principles but not in libertarian fetishes." And that is why he's smarter than 98.3% of all right-wing thinkers, kids: because all too often, their views are just that, fetishes.

  • It is amusing to note that John 1:1 may be rendered, given all the things "logos" means, as "In the beginning was Reason, and Reason was with God, and Reason was God." It wouldn't be far off to say that was the official Dominican interpretation (since the Angelic Doctor identified the Second Hypostasis with the Divine Intellect). Rather a slap in the face to anti-rationalist Christians (mainly inspired by Luther), and also to those who charge Christianity with anti-rationalism.

    It may be that, as Aquinas said, his words were mere straw—but abandoning them forces us to make the bricks of the City of God without straw.

    I just thought of that, it's cool, huh?

  • Remember, aeons ago, how I said the existentialists were stupid in calling themselves atheists, since the thing they devoted their lives to essentially calls itself "I AM"?

    Well it's kinda awesome, but that's sorta the ending of the FullMetal Alchemist manga, and the second anime.



I have no idea if that's the French word for "randomicity" but it gets the point across, don't you think?
  • I think I might actually be enjoying "StarDriver Kagayaki no Takuto" more than the World God Only Knows anime, this season; the manga of the latter is better, and the former is just so weird. I daresay it was about time for an 18th-century dandy-themed mecha, and the Fish Girl's song is awesome. My only complaint is actually a joke, so that's pretty cool—plainly the bad guys should be winning, since their goofy outfits indicate they're much more committed.

  • Similarly, "Shinryaku! Ika Musume" is fricking hilarious, like Keroro Gunso with moe...and yet oddly enough I think it has no connection whatsoever to Plana-chan. It sorta freaks me out that those two concepts arose independently (de geso).

  • I am however very pissed off that Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo seems not to be coming out in the US. I want to be able to show my friends and family the utter egomaniacal hilarity that is Leopard! Plus, and this is really funny, even in this show where the laws of physics are more like guidelines, the orbit elevator's still at the equator (that's why the launch facility's in a jungle).

    Anyway though, did anyone notice that Leopard is basically King Julien, the lemur from Madagascar? Except with an antimatter cannon.

  • So another of the Take That's in my SF book is "ship that sucks", in the slang of the Chinese space stations one of the characters grew up on, is yíngkē—Mandarin for "firefly". The slang for "overrated self-important ass", similarly, is faht joehng.

    But I'm not content merely to snag loogies at Whedon; the latter term arose because, in my fictional future history, the colonization occurred during an era when the Neo-Confucian and Communist authorities were trying to discredit Buddhism. The phrase "image of a Buddha" is still used as an insult, though, despite there having been a Buddhist revival.

    It's called cultural setting, kids.

  • And yes, I'm aware Whedon's name is actually short for "Joseph". You know, like Stalin.

  • So apparently nothing nominated for the Hugo Award this time around involves space in any way. Rage, rage, rage. But then, of course it doesn't. When two of the three most prominent shows set in space completely ignore space in favor of their ill-thought out simplistic dystopias, why would lit-SF bother with space at all, when the simplistic dystopia is so much less labor-intensive? Why do you think we call it soft SF?

    I don't think I'm off-base in blaming Battlestar Galactica and Firefly for the woes of space SF, but I do think some of the blame must also be borne by certain policy shifts regarding NASA. The only time NASA should be involved in PR is when it's trying to drum up support for its own missions; it has no obligations to any other aspect of the politics of this dirt-water gravity well. Is it 60s-era idealism to hope that we might leave space exploration apolitical? Apparently it is.

  • On a lighter note, you know what's fun? Show someone the opening, probably on YouTube, of Soukou no Strain. Then have them try to guess what classic story it's based on. Give them a hint after a few minutes: two of the female leads are named Sara and Lottie.

    Yeah, "A Little Princess" with mecha. Ooooooookay then.

  • My sister once wrote a mecha/SF version of Peter Pan that rather rocked, and frankly, I'm forced to conclude, everything's better with mecha. Romeo and Juliet would be better with them, admit it—remember in the DiCaprio one how "longsword" became the name of a gun? Imagine if the next scene is them launching his Longsword mecha. Yeah, damn right. I honestly don't know if there are any exceptions to this rule.

    One that I thought of doing is a mecha Punic War, where each Carthaginian mecha has a child in its core, providing power—letting Hannibal angst about it, since we know he actually did have a third brother, whose name is rather notably not recorded—while the Roman mecha are powered by a thing called the Scaevola Drive. The way that works is, the pilot sticks his right hand into a flame while saying, "This is so you will see how negligible is the flesh to one who has great glory in view."

    Don't tell me that wouldn't rock out loud.