Category Archives: SF

Killing Gravity

Great SF book. Quick read.


Ursula K. Le Guin – RIP

I just learned that Ursula Le Guin has died at the age of 88. She was one of the shining lights of science fiction and fantasy, and will be missed. From The Dispossed to The Left Hand of Darkness to her Earth sea series, and essays on writing and other subjects, she brought a sharp mind and a way with words that were unparalleled. She will be missed, but leaves a great legacy, which I will be enjoying throughout the rest of the year.
NPR obituary

Beyond The Empire – K. B. Wagers

Beyond The Empire is the third book in a trilogy, and it’s just as good as the first two. I recommend the whole series, basically because you won’t know what’s going on in this one without reading the other two. You won’t be disappointed if you like space opera, military SF, or grand sweeping stories. I actually anticipated each book, luckily she writes faster than George RR Martin. Now I’m anticipating the new series with Hail and crew The Farian Wars, release date not announced. 🙁


Self Portrait (Astronaut)

self-portrait-astronuat-web

I always loved space, and Science Fiction. I’ve dreamed of going into space, or to different a different planet to live since I was a kid. I got my first science fiction book (that I remember) in 1967 or 1968: The Beyond by Jean and Jeff Sutton, and have been reading SF and advocating space exploration ever since. At 54 I’ve pretty much given up on that dream, for myself, but hope that humanity does make it. It’s our only chance to survive, really. This year, for my yearly self portrait I painted myself as an astronaut, to commemorate that dream. There it is: Acrylic on Canvas; 14×11 inches.

Samuel R Delaney’s Take on Information Gathering

Twelve years ago some public channeler had made a great stir because the government had an average ten hours videotaped and otherwise recorded information on every citizen with a set of government credit tokens and/ or government identity card. Eleven years ago another public channeler had pointed out that ninety-nine point nine nine and several nines percent more of this information was, a) never reviewed by human eyes (it was taken, developed, and catalogued by machine), b) was of a perfectly innocuous nature, and, c) could quite easily be released to the public without the least threat to government security.
Ten years ago a statute was passed that any citizen had the right to demand a review of all government information on him or her. Some other public channeler had made a stir about getting the government simply to stop collecting such information; but such systems, once begun, insinuate themselves into the greater system in overdetermined ways: Jobs depended on them , space had been set aside for them, research was going on over how to do them more efficiently— such overdetermined systems, hard enough to revise, are even harder to abolish.
Eight years ago, someone whose name never got mentioned came up with the idea of ego-booster booths, to offer minor credit (and, hopefully, slightly more major psychological) support to the Government Information Retention Program: Put a two-franq token into the slot (it used to be half a franq , but the tokens had been devalued again a year back), feed your government identity card into the slip and see, on the thirty-by-forty centimeter screen, three minutes’ videotape of you, accompanied by three minutes of your recorded speech, selected at random from the government’s own information files. Beside the screen (in this booth, someone had, bizarrely, spilled red syrup down it, some of which had been thumb-smudged away, some scraped off with a fingernail), the explanatory plaque explained: “The chances are ninety nine point nine nine and several nines percent more that no one but you has ever seen before what you are about to see. Or,” as the plaque continued cheerily, “to put it another way, there is a greater chance that you will have a surprise heart attack as you step from this booth today than that this confidential material has ever been viewed by other human eyes than yours. Do not forget to retrieve your card and your token. Thank you.”

Delany, Samuel R. (2011-03-01). Trouble on Triton (Kindle Locations 220-238). Wesleyan University Press. Kindle Edition.

Yeah the NSA etc. sucks. This is just one view of what a future society with very little, to no privacy, might look like. From Trouble on Triton first published in 1976 (I had it when it was just titled Triton)

One Small Step

armstrong
and now I’m depressed. Is there any government agency more fucked up than NASA? Seriously. Not returning to the moon until 2020? We did it the first time in less than ten years, and it’s going to take another 11 years from now to do it again–when we have the infrastructure already? Let’s not talk about why we don’t already have permanent base there.
Did I mention I’m depressed?

Kiosk by Bruce Sterling

A new piece of fiction from Bruce Sterling at F&Sf. Although I enjoy his non-fiction work, I love his fiction, and it’s good to see something new from him. It’s about technology, the internet, and revolution. Good stuff. Here’s an excerpt:

Ace lifted and splayed his fingers. “Look, tell me something I can get my hands on. You know. Something that a man can steal.”
“Say you type two words at random: any two words. Type those two words into an Internet search engine. What happens?”
Ace twirled his shot glass. “Well, a search engine always hits on something, that’s for sure. Something stupid, maybe, but always something.”
“That’s right. Now imagine you put two products into a search engine for things. So let’s say it tries to sort and mix together…a parachute and a pair of shoes. What do you get from that kind of search?”
Ace thought it over. “I get it. You get a shoe that blows up a plane.”
Borislav shook his head. “No, no. See, that is your problem right there. You’re in the racket, you’re a fixer. So you just don’t think commercially.”
“How can I outthink a machine like that?”
“You’re doing it right now, Ace. Search engines have no ideas, no philosophy. They never think at all. Only people think and create ideas. Search engines are just programmed to search through what people want. Then they just mix, and match, and spit up some results. Endless results. Those results don’t matter, though, unless the people want them. And here, the people want them!”

No natural harmony of interest in society, or, you’re less free than your granpa.

WendyMcElroy.com: No natural harmony of interest in society
Well I’m sure not every single one of us is lee=ss free than our grandparents (or great grandparents), but this short blog post from Wendy McElroy brings up the point that human civilization has tended toward more freedom, and the guarantee of our basic equal human rights, throughout history–until the 20th century, where rights are no longer guaranteed, but legal walls have been put up to separate classes of people–by race sex, what have you–and rights have been replace by state-imposed privilege, and entitlement.
I think that we’re definitely in Heinlein’s “Crazy Years”, he nailed that one just about right.