Wednesday’s Forum

You don't have to isolate in the open forum!

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Latest sign that the world will end soon: Amazon to suspend non-essential shipments to UK and US warehouses

    Online retail giant Amazon is stopping sellers from sending non-essential items to its UK and US warehouses until 5 April, to make space for vital items needed by its customers during the coronavirus outbreak.

    Amazon wrote to its third-party sellers, some of whom use the company’s logistics to store and dispatch their products, to inform them that stocks of medical supplies and certain household items are running low due to increased demand from online shoppers.

    The US company is prioritising five categories of goods which it calls essential products, and which shippers can continue to send to its warehouses – these include baby products, health and household; beauty and personal care; groceries; industrial and scientific; and pet supplies.

    Amazon said it is prioritising these categories in order to “quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers”.

    Credit where credit is due. Good on them.

    ReplyReply
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Freedom is in the air! Cuba faces squeeze on food production as US oil sanctions bite

    Justo Rodríguez mashes through the mud, whipping the two oxen that guide his iron plough as it slowly carves a furrow in the dry soil. In normal times Rodríguez, 60, uses a tractor to plough these fields. But for months, the farm where he works 12 miles east of Havana, hasn’t had any diesel.

    “It’s something to cry about, but we find ways to laugh,” said Rodríguez, pulling a wet cigar from his mouth. “We Cubans are like that – even with a bullet in the neck we keep laughing.”

    Cuba is short of oil. In an effort to strangle its most indefatigable and intimate communist foe, the US has since April sanctioned tanker companies delivering petroleum to Cuba from Venezuela, its closest ally. Last September, with the island running on just 30% of petroleum deliveries, President Miguel Díaz-Canel announced emergency energy-saving measures. Diesel quotas in the countryside were slashed.

    They’ll really be screaming for the bounties of capitalism now.

    On a recent Saturday, plantains, cassava and muddy lettuces were stacked high at a market stall in Centro Havana. But black beans – which together with rice form the mainstay of the Cuban diet – have been out of stock all season.

    “There’s been less fuel assigned to the lorries so we’ve had less stock coming in,” said one vendor who didn’t want to give his name for fear of reprisals.

    Others remained defiant

    “The crisis doesn’t affect me,” said Beatriz de la Caridad Domínguez, 23, at the same market stall. “If there’s no tomato, I eat plantain – I find a solution for everything.”

    I just don’t get the feeling this is going to endear the US to them.

    ReplyReply
  3. Gustopher says:

    In yesterday’s forum, Kathy claimed:

    Again IMO, Star Wars is a science fiction fantasy story.

    I would ask where the science is?

    It uses the setting of science fiction (lasers and spaceships) but is really just fantasy.

    Ok, the prequels edge into science fiction slightly, with the midichlorians, but no one likes to think about tiny bacteria changing people’s personalities and powers even if it does have parallels in the real world (the parasite that makes you like cats, and gives you the superhuman ability to scoop their litter box without just tossing the box and the cat outside)

    Ahem.

    The sequel trilogy should have been about vaccinating everyone in the galaxy to break the cycle of infected people dominating global politics and destroying planets.

    ReplyReply
  4. sam says:
  5. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Why are we even doing this? What geopolitical goal does it accomplish? Do even the remaining first generation Cubans in Miami want this? Who gets richer if we starve Cubans?

    ReplyReply
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08:

    Why are we even doing this?

    Because, Obama. SATSQ.

    ReplyReply
    7
    1
  7. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Sadly, you’re probably right.

    ReplyReply
    2
    1
  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: The only other thing I can come up with is Republicans knee jerk hatred of anything remotely connected to a Castro, up to and including castor oil (same letters, doncha know).

    ReplyReply
    2
    1
  9. mattbernius says:

    My probably all-to-on-the-nose streaming movie recommendation:

    2016’s Shin Godzilla

    This is a spiritual callback to the original (serious) Japanese Godzilla film. In the first film, Godzilla was an allegory for Nuclear Weapons. In this version, it stands in for the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

    Basically the creature is a slow-moving, constantly evolving disaster that Japan’s equally slow moving government initially denies and then cannot get out of its own way to address.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shin_Godzilla

    You can stream it on Amazon.

    ReplyReply
  10. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I would ask where the science is?

    Luke takes out the Death Star with torpedoes, not with a spell or with magicky energy flowing out of him. Likewise, Vader, and Palpatine, need to construct this “technological terror” even if it is insignificant “next to the power of The Force.”

    ReplyReply
  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy:

    Luke takes out the Death Star with torpedoes,

    With magic torpedoes. I use to read a lot of sci-fi. There was always a dose of fantasy in all of it. Just ask “How?” If the answer isn’t right there, it’s magic.

    ReplyReply
  12. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    If you restrict SF to known science and technology, it’s no longer SF.

    ReplyReply
  13. Liberal Capitalist says:

    An opportunity to review:

    Jan 20: “I know more about viruses than anyone.”

    Jan 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

    Feb 2: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

    Feb 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

    Feb 25: “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”

    Feb 25: “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”

    Feb 26: “The 15 (cases in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

    Feb 26: “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

    Feb 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

    Feb 28: “We’re ordering a lot of supplies. We’re ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this. But we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”

    Mar 2: “You take a solid flu vaccine, you don’t think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?”

    Mar 2: “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”

    Mar 4: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”

    Mar 5: “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”

    Mar 5: “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”

    Mar 6: “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down.”

    Mar 6: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”

    Mar 6: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it … Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”

    Mar 6: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”

    Mar 8: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus.”

    Mar 9: “This blindsided the world.”

    Mar 13: “National emergency, two big words.”

    Mar 17: “This is a pandemic…I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

    ReplyReply
    22
    1
  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: If you don’t inject handwaving to explain all the unexplainable things it’s not sci-fi either. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with a little/lot of fantasy to make a sci-fi novel work either.

    I am reminded of the fact that in 1900, a TV would have been considered magic. Of course, I’m still waiting for my flying car.

    ReplyReply
  15. Mikey says:

    @Kathy:

    Luke takes out the Death Star with torpedoes, not with a spell or with magicky energy flowing out of him.

    The torpedoes are guided by Luke’s invocation of the Force. While the Force may not itself be “magicky energy,” it’s pretty well established that one needs to be some sort of mystic to access it directly.

    ReplyReply
  16. Teve says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    6,519 confirmed cases in the US right now, probably 50,000-500,000 in real life.

    ReplyReply
  17. Mu Yixiao says:

    Referring to yesterday’s request for “hard sci-fi”:

    It seems that a lot of the hard SF I had were victims of one of the floods I’ve been in (I’ve lost more books to flooding…)

    But a couple recommendations.

    Greg Bear
    * Darwin’s Radio
    * Blood Music

    Mark Bailey
    * Saint

    Peter Watts
    * Starfish

    And an odd one to toss in…

    John Varley
    * Titan trilogy

    ReplyReply
  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have a question for the more medically astute: why don’t we just isolate the most vulnerable, old people, people with compromised immunity, and let the rest of the population run wild and free, getting Covid, then, hopefully at least, beginning to form herd immunity? Then, when a vaccine is available we prioritize the quarantined population.

    ReplyReply
  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Thankyou sir, I took the liberty of reposting it over at Balloon Juice, with proper credit to you of course.

    ReplyReply
  20. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: good question. I’m going to ask some biology and epidemiology friends.

    ReplyReply
  21. Mikey says:

    @Michael Reynolds: How old do you start? 60? 50? Even at those ages the fatality rate is many times that of the seasonal flu. Millions could die.

    What we should have done is what Korea did, but instead Trump dithered and minimized and lied for two months and now the only solution with any hope of slowing the spread and keeping care available to COVID-19 sufferers is what we’re doing now.

    ReplyReply
  22. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Nice timing. Ars Technica has an article out today about a study discussing just that (UK has been using it to shape their response, apparently).

    I haven’t read all of it yet, so I can’t comment. But the graphs tell a story.

    ReplyReply
  23. KM says:

    @Michael Reynolds :
    Because of community spread. Isolating the vulnerable in your scenario would only work if it was *total* isolation – like, boy in the bubble, scrub down everything sent in, air on a separate circulatory system with no outside access, nobody within 30ft of the building isolation. If you want to go full plague-mode for the rest of us, then you need to essentially have a clean room environment for them to inhabit safely. Having that many people together who are very likely to catch it means introduction of *any* possible vector exponentially increases the chance you just created a death trap. Since we’re starting to see people get infected with no known direct contact with another infected, it means we’re past the point that would be a feasible idea. Not to mention whatever else they’ll all catch crammed together in whatever spaces we’d be able to carve out that fit those criteria…..

    Additionally, we don’t have enough data on post-infection health to make that kind of call. Concepts like shedding means that just because you are not actively sick doesn’t mean you aren’t sharing the love. We’re pretty sure COVID-19 sheds early and that recovery has limited-to-none but we’re not sure enough to risk that. Being wrong would invalid the premise of your scenario and bring us back to phase one. Finally…. what’s “vulnerable”? Asthma, diabetic, high blood pressure? We keep thinking of the obvious ones like cancer patients and the extreme elderly but this thing has killed healthy 30yrs. What medical issues do most Americans have that they don’t consider a risk that in this case might be?

    ReplyReply
    10
  24. 95 South says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Watch the first five minutes:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0WnxUpwPVU

    ReplyReply
  25. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher: @Kathy: It goes back to the Orson Scott Card quote I mentioned in the other thread: “If you have people do some impossible, magical thing by stroking a talisman or praying to a tree, it’s fantasy; if they do the same thing by pressing a button or climbing inside a machine, it’s science fiction.”

    I disagree with the implication that Star Wars is some kind of impostor pretending to be sci-fi; it encompasses a particular tradition that’s no less valid than any other. Let’s say you decide to call it a fantasy. Is it really in the same genre as Lord of the Rings or Conan the Barbarian? It still takes place within a sci-fi setting filled with robots and spaceships and laser guns. Just because it isn’t scientifically rigorous and includes things that are more in the realm of magic, mysticism, and religion doesn’t change the fact that the overall world is still a sci-fi one—a futuristic space-faring civilization with loads of advanced technology.

    ReplyReply
  26. Kathy says:

    @Mikey:

    I think he just aimed them with the force.

    But that’s beside the point. In the third movie, Lando and Wedge take out the New, Improved Death Star with regular torpedoes and no force magick, just with Industrial Light & Magic 😉

    I’m not saying Star War isn’t fantasy. it is. But it’s also science fiction.

    ReplyReply
  27. Teve says:

    Maybe it’s like science and pseudoscience, there is no single demarcation criterion between them.

    ReplyReply
  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @KM:
    KM thanks for that thoughtful response. I wasn’t thinking in terms of herding old people together, more extrapolating from my own situation where I have a home, and delivery services, etc…, so it’s irritating but pretty do-able. We treat food deliveries like we’d treat plutonium deliveries, everything is untouched but the food itself – can’t do much about that – hands washed, counter where the bags sat sprayed down, door knobs sprayed, etc…

    Yes, of course this presupposes a couple things, the biggest being that once a person survives an infection they don’t develop a second round. Not proven, obviously. And it presupposes an end point in the form of a vaccine or an effective medical intervention.

    @95 South:
    Yeah, basically that. The problem with lock downs is that we don’t seem to have an end point. Lock down until when, exactly?

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Yeah, the Imperial College report surfaced yesterday. It does not make for encouraging reading.

    ReplyReply
  29. Kari Q says:

    Star Wars is space opera. The term started as an insult but the subgenre is respected today.

    ReplyReply
  30. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    To some extent, yes.

    Consider two popular energy sources in SF: fusion and zero-point energy sources.

    We know the former one exists, and we think we’ll have fusion reactors eventually. The latter is highly speculative and we don’t have anything like an example of it.

    It may be fusion reactors are impossible to build. But until we know that for sure, their use in SF is about on a level with solar sails or ion engines. Zero-point sources are magic crystals.

    Also, remember Clarke’s Law: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

    ReplyReply
  31. Jen says:

    @Michael Reynolds: That assumes that building immunity will act as a preventative. This has not been the case with other coronaviruses, and indeed with this one there have been a few reported cases of re-infection.

    Also, completely isolating that age cohort isn’t possible. The report out of the UK that finally spooked the president into taking this seriously looked at a similar scenario and it still resulted in 1 million-plus deaths here.

    ReplyReply
  32. Teve says:

    What exactly is the difference between dilithium crystals, and Gwyneth Paltrow crystals? 😀

    ReplyReply
  33. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod: Lord Of The Rings has castles and catapults. Star Wars has Death Stars and lasers.

    Is the only difference between science fiction and fantasy the level of technology in the background of the story? Or does it have to do with the story itself?

    I think science fiction really needs a focus on the science — here’s a technological advance or change, now tell a story that shows how it changes society, or brings a moral dilemma to the forefront.

    A lot of so-called science fiction is just adventure with lasers. Or fantasy with lasers. Or allegory (the aliens are just like us, but making them aliens allow you to look at them more closely without preconceived notions). All fine things, mind you.

    ReplyReply
  34. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: That’s the “mitigation” scenario in the Imperial College report discussed under the theater closing post. In their simulation it produces only one million dead in the US and the hospitals overwhelmed by only one order of magnitude, much better than the do nothing scenario. I don’t know if this is accurate, but you go to war with the data you’ve got. And apparently this scared Boris Johnson out of being a total twit about “herd immunity”.

    ReplyReply
  35. grumpy realist says:

    @Teve: One of the Star Trek movies (the one with the whales) had as its McGuffin the need for them to go get some magic special photons out of a nuclear power plant in order to reconstruct the decaying dilithium crystals.

    You can imagine what those of us from MIT thought about that. From the audience came the heckling: “shine a flashlight at the bloody thing!”

    ReplyReply
  36. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    why don’t we just isolate the most vulnerable, old people, people with compromised immunity…

    Isn’t that what we do with old age homes? And that hasn’t worked out so well with our first known outbreak.

    ReplyReply
  37. gVOR08 says:

    @Kari Q: I believe “space opera” was derived from “horse opera”, which came from “soap opera”. My understanding would be a standard issue schlock plot, set in the stereotypical West, or in space.

    ReplyReply
  38. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod:

    Just because it isn’t scientifically rigorous and includes things that are more in the realm of magic, mysticism, and religion doesn’t change the fact that the overall world is still a sci-fi one—a futuristic space-faring civilization with loads of advanced technology.

    It is perfectly consistent to take the position that what makes science fiction is the trappings — how things are presented. Lasers, space ships, nanotech? It must be SF. Magic, werewolves, demons? It must be fantasy.

    If you take that position, though, the claim “___ isn’t really science fiction” cannot ever be meaningful. Either it has the trappings, or it doesn’t. Lots of people seem to want to be able to claim that ___ isn’t really science fiction. That implies they’re working from a definition that isn’t about trappings.

    As I noted earlier, if you look at discussions of fantasy you get a lot of people who can’t keep straight whether they are talking about the literary genre (defined by the presence of fantastic elements), the marketing category (defined by which shelf you could find it on back when there were brick-and-mortar bookstores), or the pop-culture trappings (werewolves and vampires, magic, dwarves with scottish accents, etc.) Science fiction discussions suffer from an analogous confusion.

    ReplyReply
  39. gVOR8 says:

    @Teve:

    What exactly is the difference between dilithium crystals, and Gwyneth Paltrow crystals?

    1.21 Jigawatts.

    ReplyReply
  40. EddieInCA says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Over at TheResurgent.com someone copied and pasted your comment, AND gave you a Hat Tip. Was not me, though. It’s rare to see the old school Hat Tip, but nice to see, so wanted to point it out to you.

    https://theresurgent.com/2020/03/18/american-deaths-from-covid-19-top-100/

    ReplyReply
  41. Mister Bluster says:

    Trump just called it the Chineese Virus.

    They are all standing on the podium shoulder to shoulder practicing anti-social distancing…

    ReplyReply
  42. Bill says:

    @grumpy realist:

    One of the Star Trek movies (the one with the whales) had as its McGuffin the need for them to go get some magic special photons out of a nuclear power plant in order to reconstruct the decaying dilithium crystals.

    ST hadn’t progressed to the point that something to do with the deflector dish would everything. ST opened the same year or the year before ST TNG began.

    ReplyReply
  43. Michael Reynolds says:

    The problem with all Covid scenarios is the lack of end point. What if we don’t have a vaccine in 18 months? Permanent lock-down is not feasible, and will eventually lead to people disregarding the instructions and taking their chances. We have an 8-week strategy for what may be a two year problem. What happens when the eight weeks are done? Extend to 12? If there’s no acquired immunity that may flatten the curve, but the curve will recur.

    ReplyReply
  44. Bill says:

    This morning I began that new virus story I mentioned yesterday. So I have been busy writing when self quarantining myself till my test results come in. Other than coughing, I feel ok.

    My next story contains something I did just two ebooks ago. A hermit like character. This book it will be Herman Jose* the hermit in the Canadian Rockies. Two books ago it was a hard butch lesbian in the Alaskan wilderness who went by the nickname Herbie.

    Which reminds me of a scene in the Herbie story-

    *****

    “The name Herbie always reminds me of The Love Bug.”

    “Do you know why nobody ever gave me that nickname?”

    “Because you don’t have a stick to shift?”**

    *****

    Between that scene and knowing I have written about dung beetles, I have probably scared everyone off.

    *- I had a very close friend 35 years ago by the those first and middle names. His father was German and his mother from Puerto Rico.

    **- VW beetles were manual transmission cars

    ReplyReply
  45. Sleeping Dog says:

    Left the house for the first time since Saturday and took the dog to the beach. Resembled a mild Saturday in March with the number of people walking around. A couple of dozen surfers out enjoying a nice long board day plus a body boarder getting tubed in a nice 4′ break. A bunch of teens hanging out and trying to keep their distance. Lots of families with little kids. More like a school vacation week than anything else. The calm before the deluge.

    ReplyReply
  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Magic (n): Technology that we don’t understand.

    ReplyReply
  47. Kingdaddy says:

    I have several recorded interviews with classic science fiction and fantasy authors — Asimov, Ellison, Leiber, Niven, and more. I inherited them from my mom, who used to own a bookstore specializing in the genre. She and my stepfather had a side business for a short time selling these interviews on cassette tape (it was the late Seventies).

    I have no idea what to do with these interviews. Suggestions? I’ve been sitting on them for several years, since she passed away.

    ReplyReply
  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    I never much liked Star Wars precisely because of the get-out-of-jail-free card of ‘The Force.’ It was mumbo-jumbo, a quasi-religious deus ex machina, a fictional device never fully-defined. Part of the reason they’re having a hard time keeping the SW machine running is that – sorry for the blasphemy – the world-building isn’t very good. It’s single-layer stuff, which is why they keep circling back to the whole Skywalker thing. Because apparently that’s the only family in the galaxy.

    Star Trek was built to last, but it’s been subverted over the years by mushy thinking, most noticeable with the Deanna Troi bullshit in TNG, and exacerbated by the endless re-routing of power and altering the deflector shield and sudden convenient scientific and engineering discoveries that acted as dei ex machina. The most recent ST stuff – Discovery and Picard – made a catastrophic error in abandoning the core ST brand, which is optimistic, utopian not dystopian. We’re ass-deep in dystopias, including some that I created.

    When I write speculative fiction, the dividing line in my head is secular vs. mystical. By secular I don’t mean that I have the physics worked out, but rather that my world assumes the physics have been worked out, rather than assuming we all have magic wands. In Animorphs we had the problem of where mass goes (or comes from) when a human morphs into something much smaller or larger. So we invented Zero Space or Z-Space. Displaced mass is essentially stored in Z-Space. Additional mass is borrowed from mass stored in Z-Space. It’s bullshit, but it’s quasi-scientific bullshit, not mystical bullshit.

    ReplyReply
    4
    1
  49. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    We have an 8-week strategy for what may be a two year problem. What happens when the eight weeks are done?

    My wife and I were gaming this out last night. I think what will end up happening if we don’t have a vaccine soon is that people will slowly return to “normal” and just accept the fact that we will have 1%-2.5% death rate with this virus as the cost of having a “normal” life. Per the CDC, here are the stats currently.

    Number of annual deaths: 2,813,503
    Death rate: 863.8 deaths per 100,000 population
    Life expectancy: 78.6 years
    Infant Mortality rate: 5.79 deaths per 1,000 live births

    Source: Deaths: Final Data for 2017, tables 1, 3, 13 pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB]
    Number of deaths for leading causes of death:

    Heart disease: 647,457
    Cancer: 599,108
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
    Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
    Diabetes: 83,564
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,672
    Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 50,633
    Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173

    So there will be another 1,000 to 2,000 out of every 100,000 added to the Influenza line.

    We know, based on S.Korea and Italy, that it’s not a plague, and that overwhelming numbers recover (98.x%+). So I don’t have faith in Americans staying inside for more than a few weeks, realities be damned.

    Thoughts?

    ReplyReply
  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Dilithium crystals are complete fiction where as Gwyneth Paltrow ascribes fictional abilities to actual inorganic crystals? 😀

    @Gustopher: Oooh, good point. You must have figured that out from living in Seattle. 😉

    ReplyReply
  51. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    Is the only difference between science fiction and fantasy the level of technology in the background of the story?

    A lot has to do with the setting. Let’s forget for a moment the fantasy elements to Star Wars. You could just as easily describe it as a Western or a war epic, if you were so inclined. (For that matter, the Western genre is itself heavily defined by setting, and plenty of Westerns could easily be transformed into a different genre just by altering that setting.) Much of the plot of the first film is taken from Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, which was neither sci-fi nor fantasy. But the change in setting makes all the difference as to how it’s commonly categorized.

    I think science fiction really needs a focus on the science — here’s a technological advance or change, now tell a story that shows how it changes society, or brings a moral dilemma to the forefront.

    But that’s a normative argument—you’re arguing how you think these categories ought to be, not how they actually are. I see these sorts of arguments among music fans all the time—e.g. what is or isn’t “true” punk—where some people are unwilling to define a category objectively, instead attempting to impose their own conception of “good” or “bad” on the definition.

    Sci-fi without a focus on the science wasn’t something Star Wars invented, it’s something that goes back all the way to the birth of the genre itself; indeed, one could argue that hard sci-fi was more of a later innovation.

    ReplyReply
  52. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    We have an 8-week strategy for what may be a two year problem. What happens when the eight weeks are done?

    Americans are resilient, but aren’t going to put up with this for long.
    Gradually life will return to normal. And people will get sick. And we will accept it.

    ReplyReply
  53. Michael Reynolds says:

    @EddieInCA:
    See, that’s what I suspect happens. People will put up with a fair amount if there’s an end in sight. But if the early vaccines don’t test out, this becomes the new normal. The death rate goes up, the population drops a bit, the average age drops as well.

    I guess that’s one way to keep Social Security solvent.

    I’m realizing that this may be a serious, deep, long-lasting change, which makes me question projects I’m working on. I write for the world as it is, but that world may be over.

    ReplyReply
  54. Kathy says:

    Fry: People need Star Trek to be have hope about the future.
    Lela: But it’s set in the past!

    Uhura: …in the Star Trek Wars.
    Zap: Was that the mass migration of Star Wars fans?
    Uhura: No. That was the Star Wars Trek.

    ReplyReply
  55. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Well, my house is technically an old folk’s home. . .

    ReplyReply
  56. Kit says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Thoughts?

    Concerning that list, I’d like to know what the costs are for each item, both in terms of dollars spent and in terms of years lost. I suspect that we are setting ourselves up to spend an obscene amount for relatively little. The hit to GNP will later translate to less spent on infant mortality, suicide prevention, and countless other areas that would/could save lives but won’t.

    ReplyReply
  57. JohnMcC says:

    There was a brief mention of the DJIA numbers at the time of Mr Trump’s election on these pages yesterday. Just now noticed that we have ‘crossed over’ what the DJ was at the time of his inauguration. Boring with all this winning, wouldn’t ya say?

    Talking heads are saying just now that Ford is shutting down North American and European operations. Sounds like a bad moon on the rise.

    ReplyReply
  58. @Kingdaddy:

    I have no idea what to do with these interviews. Suggestions?

    Could you digitize them and release them as a podcast? Are there rights issues?

    (Makes me think back to Hour25–did you listen that back in the day?)

    ReplyReply
  59. Mister Bluster says:

    Coronavirus: Rand Paul holds up Senate vote on rescue package with doomed amendment
    Speaking on MSNBC as Mr Paul’s latest amendment was reported, his former senate colleague Claire McCaskill of Missouri minced no words about what is happening.
    “Mitch didn’t get around to calling the Senate into session, and Monday passed, and now Tuesday has passed, because Rand Paul wants to vote on ending the war in Afghanistan.
    “It is so outrageous that Rand Paul is being allowed to hijack the Senate tonight, and the bill that will include more testing – which we’ve all talked about all night as being so important – is gonna languish for another day to try to get Rand Paul to behave like a grown-up.”

    Just the other day his daddy was calling the Corona virus a hoax.

    ReplyReply
  60. inhumans99 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The flip answer is that after a month or so of lockdown/working from home for the lucky folks who have not lost their jobs we either let people roam free again or we transition to offering a UBI for a good chunk of working age people in the U.S..

    There is a point at which some, maybe not a lot, but definitely some social unrest will occur if too many folks are told to stay self-quarantined all the while deriving no income to keep the roof over their heads.

    ETA: Basically what Darryl already said.

    ETA 2.0: People are already saying instead of giving everyone a check for 1-2K, which is already kinda like the government giving folks a 1 month UBI, why not just give to those who need it and make it ongoing for a few months. I think we are going to end up here sooner than later anyway.

    ReplyReply
  61. Katharsis says:

    I’ve long thought that the Star Wars franchise has been fantasy with a veneer of lasers and spasming robots. For me, Star Trek was more science fiction, although when I’ve watched lately I’ve noticed more how often it deviates. Again for me, Science Fiction is about technology (being very broad here)* and its effect on society while Fantasy is about character archetypes and conflict. If the story quite easily fits into some Carl Jung type analysis it’s Fantasy; if it is more about exploring ideas it’s Science Fiction.

    *:I could see Orwell’s 1984 being Science Fiction as an example if one thought of political organization as technology.

    ReplyReply
  62. Mikey says:

    @EddieInCA: COVID-19 will very likely end up between accidents and cancer. It won’t take that much, actually–a 30% infection rate and 0.5% fatality rate would mean 480,000 deaths from COVID-19. We hopefully keep the fatality rate down by “flattening the curve” so we don’t have to choose who gets to breathe and who has to die.

    If we can’t do that and the fatality rate goes to 1%, COVID-19 becomes America’s leading cause of death. Ditto if infections go to 40% and fatality rate at 0.5%

    I do not want to consider what happens if infections go to 40% and fatality to 1%.

    ReplyReply
  63. Jen says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I read this article earlier today. Granted, it is now 5 days old so some of the data might have changed already, but it addresses what could happen.

    Bottom line, it is unlikely to remain *as deadly* as it currently is, mostly because of how diseases behave. It’s likely with us to stay, but won’t continue to be the killing machine it currently is.

    ReplyReply
  64. Mikey says:

    And I should note: it did not have to be this way. It was not inevitable that we would shut down huge chunks of America’s economy. It was not inevitable that millions of people would lose their jobs. It was not inevitable that schools would close for weeks. It was not inevitable that major, minor, and college sports leagues would stop playing.

    This happened because Trump dithered. Trump did not push for the necessary measures to keep us from reaching the point we’re at now. Trump delayed testing because he believed increased numbers of infected would make him look bad. Trump spread misinformation that will kill thousands of people because he thought telling the truth would hurt the stock market, which he has consistently held up as a measure of his own success. Now the number of infected is skyrocketing, the deaths are climbing, and the stock market has dropped below where it was when he took office.

    Every unnecessary death, every lost job, every dollar added to the national debt, every student unable to complete his or her studies, every retiree who will have to scrape to survive because their retirement account is now wiped out…Trump owns it all. His utter incompetence and manifest failures of leadership are what got us where we are today.

    It did not have to be this way.

    ReplyReply
    10
    1
  65. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: To quote myself 2 comments later:

    I am reminded of the fact that in 1900, a TV would have been considered magic. Of course, I’m still waiting for my flying car.

    People seem to be really hung up on the “Sci-Fi isn’t fantasy!” bug. Considering the fact that SciFi is full of things that are presently impossible and not knowing whether they ever will be, we fantasize that yes these things will some day be reality, I find it more than a little amusing.

    ReplyReply
  66. Kingdaddy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Thanks for that suggestion. I don’t think I have the contracts that the authors signed for these interviews, which makes me wary of trying to make money from releasing them. I also don’t know what the IP rules are, if were I release them for free, and then someone else were to try to make money from them.

    My inclination is to just release them for free, perhaps as a podcast (good idea). Maybe I would ask for donations to offset the cost of hosting the files…? Not trying to make money, in that scenario, but also don’t want to lose a bunch of money either.

    I just want to find some way to get these interviews out there. They’re pretty good, and some of them feature one science fiction writer interviewing another.

    ReplyReply
  67. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @EddieInCA: Pretty much, tho I have hopes that in a couple of months they will perfect some effective treatments.

    ReplyReply
  68. Kingdaddy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Yes, I was a regular listener to Hour 25, not surprisingly. In fact, when my mom and step-father used to have the bookstore, Mike Hodel came in every once in a while.

    [For everyone other than myself and Steven, Hour 25 was a Los Angeles-based public radio show that covered SF&F.]

    Once, when I was a lad, I called Hour 25 to tell Mike and his co-host about this new Dungeons & Dragons game. What a neat idea, I said, giving everyone a part in telling a heroic fantasy story.

    Their reaction (paraphrased): “Balderdash! That ridiculous game has no future! Get off the phone, kid!”

    ReplyReply
  69. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Pretty much, tho I have hopes that in a couple of months they will perfect some effective treatments.

    Surprisingly, it appears chloroquine–a drug that’s been around for almost 70 years to prevent and treat malaria–has shown promise. Although true clinical trials have not started, chloroquine, both alone and in combination with the anti-viral drug remdesivir, has been administered to COVID-19 patients in China and Italy with very positive results.

    Chloroquine is no picnic itself–I’ve taken it, and I felt like hot garbage for days–but it certainly beats full-on COVID-19, especially among vulnerable populations.

    ReplyReply
  70. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: Speaking as a high risk individual, that’s good news. I’m sure they’ll find more old drugs that work in new ways but who knows if they will apply to Covid-19 or not.

    Necessity is the mother of invention.

    ReplyReply
  71. MarkedMan says:

    FWIW, in my mind the split between SF and Fantasy is as follows: Science Fiction is about the logical results of things that, however unlikely, could come (or could have come) to pass. Fantasy is about alternate realities.

    ReplyReply
  72. KM says:

    @EddieInCA @Mikey:
    I think it’s starting to sink in with people that we can’t prevent a ton of deaths anymore, that were just trying to stay afloat of the incoming tidal wave. All of this economic damage is going to not stop it, just buy us time and not over-strain needed resources. God forbid this thing become seasonal and we get “cold, flu and COVID season” because there’s no way we’d do this again. We accept all kinds of infectious, deadly illnesses as a society – this might just be the newest entry.

    I’m not sure why people keep thinking a vaccine is coming in time to do anything this year. Even if we bypassed all safety protocols and testing, it’s gonna take weeks / months to get enough to make a dent. The actual manufacturing process takes time and now we’ve got supply and resource concerns on top of that. As @Jen noted, re-infection seems to be on the table and mutations are always possible. We’d need a mass-produced, viable and safe vaccine within the next few weeks and that’s not happening.

    ReplyReply
  73. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The most recent ST stuff – Discovery and Picard – made a catastrophic error in abandoning the core ST brand, which is optimistic, utopian not dystopian.

    I think Picard ultimately is optimistic. The setting is a bit dystopian (almost everything there is set up by earlier series and movies, though), but it seems to be threading a “having hope in times of adversity” message throughout likely with a “and it’s all ok in the end” to wrap it up. Riker is making pizza — sure, one of his kids died years before, but he’s making pizza.

    I think saying it is dystopian now is like evaluating the Borg episodes when Picard is assimilated.

    Besides, have you looked out the window? Compared to reality, it’s pretty rosy.

    Note that if Picard fails, and then lingers on as his chronic disease progresses, and regrets everything… well that would be sad.

    ReplyReply
  74. Gustopher says:

    @KM: I do wonder what the world was like before the miracle of antibiotics. That thought just keeps coming to mind these days.

    ReplyReply
  75. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    When I write speculative fiction, the dividing line in my head is secular vs. mystical. By secular I don’t mean that I have the physics worked out, but rather that my world assumes the physics have been worked out, rather than assuming we all have magic wands.

    I think it ends up coming down to whether problems are solved using willpower and the power of love, versus a set of well-established rules.

    Which means Green Lantern is clearly fantasy, as is Interstellar. And I’m sure there are commonly-accepted fantasy novels that aren’t.

    ReplyReply
  76. NBH says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    For an end-game in a competent country, the lock-downs should buy time to ramp up testing and cut down the new infected to a level where it could go the South Korea route: check most anyone who may be infected and has been in contact with the infected and then quarantine the positives. This could choke down the virus’s ability to spread without ham-fisted approaches like national/state lockdowns.

    But I have no expectation the US can do that. It’s been incompetent with ramping up testing, the lock-downs too random and incomplete, and a health system that won’t encourage people to be tested. So I’m expecting us to suffer through long lockdowns (or a cycle of loosening and tighening the lockdowns) to try and keep the transmission from overwheming the hospitals with no good end-game any time soon.

    ReplyReply
    4
    1
  77. Kingdaddy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    FWIW, in my mind the split between SF and Fantasy is as follows: Science Fiction is about the logical results of things that, however unlikely, could come (or could have come) to pass. Fantasy is about alternate realities.

    I really liked that distinction, for a few seconds. Then I remembered The Dying Earth, and stories like it, in which the distant future looks completely fantastical. Is it just a thinly version of the Clarkean statement about sufficiently advanced technology looking like magic? Is the author saying that, in his or her setting, there always was something like magic, and it just took time for people to discover it? Is the author obliged to answer these questions at all, so that we can put the novel into either the science fiction or fantasy box?

    I think the effort to define the dividing line is wasted effort. What good does it do?

    ReplyReply
  78. Michael Cain says:

    @Mikey: We don’t know enough about the virus that causes COVID-19 to make accurate predictions. If being infected produces long-term immunity, there will eventually be an effective vaccine and it will go the way of measles. Completely eradicating a virus, even with an effective vaccine, is a long slow slog — see smallpox. If the vaccine is only so-so, it’s more likely to be like the flu. This first time around for the virus could end up being particularly nasty — a lot of people that are susceptible to it are going to die. The second time around, a lot fewer people die. Eventually we stabilize and settle for 30-70,000 deaths per year in the US, like influenza.

    If you asked me to bet, I would bet on an effective vaccine eventually, some semi-effective treatments before that, and somewhere around 50,000 US deaths spread over a year. The economy will take a decade for employment to return to the pre-outbreak level.

    ReplyReply
  79. Mikey says:

    @Michael Cain: I think that’s probably right. Hopefully an effective vaccine can reduce the fatality rate to that of seasonal flu (if not lower). Combine that with the promising drug treatments and we could end up with a good solution going forward.

    Gonna be pretty shitty until then, though, sadly.

    ReplyReply
  80. sam says:

    @Kylopod:

    plenty of Westerns could easily be transformed into a different genre just by altering that setting

    Or, re samurai movies, vice versa: Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven (speaking of Kurosawa).

    ReplyReply
  81. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I’d suggest looking at what has happened with SARS, MERS, avian flu, swine flu, and the 1918 Spanish flu.

    ReplyReply
  82. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    I have no idea what to do with these interviews. Suggestions? I’ve been sitting on them for several years, since she passed away.

    Did she (now you) hold the copyright on these interviews? If so, release them under a Creative Commons license (or put them in the public domain) so they’re available to the world. If you don’t hold the copyrights, contact each of the estates and ask permission to release them.

    They’re valuable cultural information. They need to be shared.

    ReplyReply
  83. sam says:

    And that reminds me, speaking of genre jumping, that Kurosawa’s Yojimbo was based on Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, and Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars was based on Yojimbo: American crime novel to Japanese samurai movie to spaghetti western (I really do hate that term).

    ReplyReply
  84. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Have you been watching “Picard”? It’s really good–because it’s all about the characters, not the trappings. I’ve always liked Star Trek–despite the technobable–because it was usually about issues and ideas. If it required reversing the polarity of the jelly baby to make a point, fine.

    “Picard”, however, is solid science fiction.

    ReplyReply
  85. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    I also don’t know what the IP rules are, if were I release them for free, and then someone else were to try to make money from them.

    Sorry… I’ve been replying as I see comments, rather than reading the entire backlog.

    You can release them under Creative Common NC (Non Commercial) license. This means anyone can share them, but they can’t sell them. You might want to add the BY license (requires you’re listed as the IP holder).

    As for contracts for the interviews: It’s a safe bet their publishers have a copy. Contact them.

    ReplyReply
  86. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    The publishers might not necessarily have a copy. For a planned collection, I did interviews with a number of authors. I have the only tapes and transcripts unless the authors made their own.

    ReplyReply
  87. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Kathy:

    Compare Star Wars to Star Trek to see the distinction:

    In Star Trek, we actually know quite a lot of detail about how the warp drive supposedly works because it’s constantly discussed in the show, and weird quirks with it not working as expected and figuring out why frequently drive the core story of an episode.

    In Star Wars, we know nothing about how hyperdrive works, because it’s only function is to get characters from one scene to the next. It could be replaced with a magic portal spell and absolutely nothing would changes about the movies other than the aesthetics.

    ReplyReply
  88. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    FWIW, in my mind the split between SF and Fantasy is as follows: Science Fiction is about the logical results of things that, however unlikely, could come (or could have come) to pass.

    Let’s see… how many classic/legendary works of SF are not ruled out by this definition? We’d have to give up on Dune, and Stranger in a Strange Land, and A Fire Upon the Deep, and the Lensman series, and John Carter of Mars, and Ringworld, and the whole Pern series, and …

    I don’t think a definition that says classic SF isn’t SF is useful.

    ReplyReply
    4
    1
  89. grumpy realist says:

    @Kingdaddy: There are TONS of science fiction clubs that would absolutely love to get their hands on your tapes. If nobody else, contact the MIT Science Fiction Society, which has the largest publicly-available science fiction collection in the US.

    ReplyReply
  90. Jon says:

    @DrDaveT:
    And the Morgaine Stories by C.J. Cherryh, etc. etc.

    I’d say let the author decide the genre in to which their tale best fits, because in general it seems like a pretty arbitrary distinction.

    ReplyReply
  91. mattbernius says:

    @Kingdaddy:
    If you don’t have releases, then I wouldn’t suggestion releasing them for money (i.e. pay to download). Doing them as a podcast with advertising is a gray area (I would consult with a lawyer about that).

    However, if you are willing to release them for free, then there are no issues (provided they knew they were being recorded) and you should look into a copyleft/creative commons license. Either of the commercial licenses would do the trick (the difference is one allows remixing and the other doesn’t):
    https://creativecommons.org/choose/

    [Edit: I see Mu Yixiao beat me to the creative commons suggestion. Great minds or something!]

    ReplyReply
  92. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I’ve watched Picard and I found it dull and of inconsistent quality. And I can’t agree that it’s optimistic. ST began with the premise of broadly utopian institutions – the Federation and Star Fleet. In Picard both are corrupt and both have abandoned first principals. If I want a future full of corrupt, failed institutions I can go to just about any other sci fi future. Or open a newspaper. The can-do, we’re on a glorious exploratory mission concept is swallowed up in Picard’s angst. He’s not exploring, he’s just trying to restore what was lost.

    ReplyReply
  93. MarkedMan says:

    @Kingdaddy: This is my sentiment for many things such as music and film and most genres. But I find it helpful to make the distinction with respect to science fiction vs. fantasy in that it helps me know how to react to certain parts of a story. I’ll give you a concrete example.

    I’m always looking for new good hard sci-fi which is much less common than new good fantasy. I came upon a book whose name I can’t remember and started reading it. But within the first chapter or so the whole story was set up thusly: far in the future, but ostensibly directly derived from us. Small group of people piloting a super large space ship going somewhere or doing something. Boarded by two space pirates, who they capture after bloody loss of life and proceed to lock together in a cell, apparently using the type of key we opened our cars with ten years ago. There ensue various snafus involving communicator failures, followed by the bloody escape of the pirates using a set of lock picks one had secured in the heel of the boots, I guess because scanning technology not being equal to today’s, much less having advance at all in a couple of centuries. At that point I gave up. Maybe there would have been something there but given the laziness and lack of imagination in a science fiction story, well, it was downright Dan-Brownian.

    But if that had been set in a fantasy world, one where people with roughly 19th century technology rode between the planets on giant ships, then I would have just marked it down as part of the universe. Given that it is fantasy, I don’t subconsciously try to impose real world logic or extrapolation on it.

    ReplyReply
  94. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Unless there’s a wormhole, or a magic portal, or a Q 😛

    But I’m glad you bring up the hyperdrive in Star Wars. Consider in Empire Strikes Back, our intrepid heroes, and C-3PO, depart from Hoth without a working hyperdrive. They then find an asteroid field, then tangle some more with the Imperial fleet, until Han manages to hide the Falcon with the rest of the garbage. Then they go to visit Lando Calrisian at the bespin system.

    Ok. Is Bespin orbiting the same star as Hoth, or did Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and 3PO take centuries to find Han’s friend?

    The handwavium answer is the Imperials jumped to hyperspace with the Falcon hidden behind the bridge, not dumping their garbage, and ended up near Bespin, even though that violates procedure and we never saw it happen.

    I was a Trekkie in a past life 😉

    Lastly: if you gather 100 SF fans and told them to come up with a definition of SF, they’d come up with like 500 different ones. The best might be one I’ve heard attributed to John W. Campbell Jr.: Science fiction is what science fiction editors buy.

    ReplyReply
  95. An Interested Party says:

    …American crime novel to Japanese samurai movie to spaghetti western…

    A good story/idea works well in many different genres…

    He’s not exploring, he’s just trying to restore what was lost.

    Like Joe Biden…

    ReplyReply
    1
    1
  96. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    why don’t we just isolate the most vulnerable, old people, people with compromised immunity…

    My first thought was people in cages at the southern border.

    (Bearing in mind who our current government is).

    My next thought was the Third Reich.

    I reallly really do not like that Michael Reynolds idea. No thanks.

    ReplyReply
    1
    1
  97. Kingdaddy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I use a different categorization for subspecies of “fantastic fiction,” or whatever we want to call it:

    Technical extrapolation. How might scientific and technological developments shape our future? A lot of hard SF falls under this heading.
    Societal extrapolation. How might human-centric trends or changes shape our future? Classic authors like Dick and Brunner wrote a lot of these sorts of stories.
    Allegory. How can we use fantastic settings, characters, as situations as stand-ins for current issues? Star Trek did this a lot (“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” for instance).
    Neat ideas. Wouldn’t it be cool if…? The first story that comes to mind in this category is “Yesterday Was Monday,” in which the protagonist discovers that reality is just a set, populated with actors, re-constructed each day.
    Cracking good adventure tales. Just tell an exciting story in an interesting setting.

    Obviously, these are not exclusive categories.

    ReplyReply
  98. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Besides that, we don’t need to go to futuristic fiction to have corrupt, failed institutions. Our present reality is doing better than I’d like it to already on that front.

    ETA: I should have read farther before snarking in. I would have seen the reference to newspapers, then.

    ReplyReply
  99. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Given that it is fantasy, I don’t subconsciously try to impose real world logic or extrapolation on it.

    Aaaannnnnnd we’re back to willful suspension of disbelief (the basis for what makes fiction [and theater of all sorts] work in the first place).

    ReplyReply
  100. @Kingdaddy: The hour that stretches!

    ReplyReply
  101. steve says:

    We arent going to quarantine our old and sick since old people are the ones who actually vote. Not sure about a vaccine, but a good, very quick, cheap test might be possible soon. If you had that you could potentially clamp down on outbreaks pretty fast.

    Steve

    ReplyReply
  102. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Boarded by two space pirates, who they capture after bloody loss of life and proceed to lock together in a cell, apparently using the type of key we opened our cars with ten years ago […]

    My favorite example of this, in an otherwise excellent (even classic) novel, is from James Blish’s Earthman Come Home (1930s). The City Manager of a city that flies among the stars, controlled by gigantic computers, needs to do some quick arithmetic. So he whips out his slide rule and…

    ReplyReply
  103. grumpy realist says:

    There’s also the following questions (which we still have no answers to):

    What percentage of deaths from coronavirus are of people who, if they hadn’t died of coronavirus, would have been killed off by flu or one of the “common illnesses” we had running around?

    Even if we don’t get immune to COVID19 after catching it, what would happen the next time around? Is it going to be a Spanish Flu overreaction on the part of the immune system, which is what was so fatal in the second wave? Or are we going to discover that COVID19 has basically killed off most of those it would be killing off and for the rest of us it comes back as a sniffle?

    There’s also some tentative evidence that people with type A blood are slightly more susceptible to catching COVID19 and that people with type O blood are slightly less susceptible (although frankly I would want to see much larger data sets before making any further theories.)

    ReplyReply
  104. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    There’s also some tentative evidence that people with type A blood are slightly more susceptible to catching COVID19 and that people with type O blood are slightly less susceptible

    Pretty hard to change my blood type this late in life…

    ReplyReply
  105. Kathy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    When Asimov mentioned book-films in his Robot novels, and later in the new Foundation novels, it already seemed quaint by the time I read them (c.1985).

    Plus I never quite got how one “viewed” them. Were they like movies, with actors and narrators and action? Or did the text simply scroll slowly past the “viewer”? If the former, why book-films? If the later, why not just stills of each page one could turn at will?

    But current tech can cut in the other way, too. In Niven et. al’s first Dream Park novel, the effects and many characters in the role-playing games are holograms one interacts with in real time. In one of the sequels, the players must wear augmented reality goggles to see some of the effects and characters. So it feels like the in-novel technology has regressed.

    ReplyReply
  106. JohnMcC says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Thought of your comment when I noticed this from the Times:

    Younger Adults Comprise Big Portion of Virus Hospitalizations in U.S.
    New CDC data showed that nearly 40% of patients sick enough to be hospitalized because of coronavirus were aged 20 to 54.

    ReplyReply
  107. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT: I’d argue strongly about “Stranger in a Strange Land”. When that was written the Rhine institute seemed to be scientifically proving that telekinesis and ESP was real. (They weren’t, but they were legit, just not very sophisticated in their use of statistics.) Extrapolating from people who could do statistically valid things to people who could do materially significant things was totally within the bounds of legitimate exploration at the time. “Dune” was never science fiction to me but always fantasy. Same with “John Carter of Mars”. Or maybe both of them fall into Space Opera, depending on whether that is a separate genre. I’m not denigrating these, just putting them into a category that helps me appreciate them more.

    ReplyReply
  108. An Interested Party says:

    Speaking of science fiction, is anyone else interested in the genre of alternate history? Any suggestions? Is anyone familiar with the Drakia series? Talk about dystopian…

    ReplyReply
  109. Kathy says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Present 🙂

    I’ve read lots of Harry Turtledove, who more or less replays history on different setting, like WWI in North America, USA vs CSA and Canada and Mexico, then WWII eventually, after a hitler-like figure takes power in the CSA.

    His series of stories in a world where Muhammad becomes a Christian monk rather than a Prophet are rather good. Mostly they are the adventures of Basyl Argyros, a Byzantine spy/special operative, in a Byzantine Empire that isn’t ground down by various stronger Muslim empires.

    I’ve also read Silverberg’s Roma Eterna, which posits a Roman Empire going on through the modern age. Much is also repeating history with different settings.

    More removed, L. Beam Piper’s Paratime series. This is about the Paratime Police, who travel between time lines. One really good story is about a time line where reincarnation is proven scientific fact (I forget the title).

    Not AH, but regarding multiple time lines, there’s Niven’s “All The Myriad Ways,” which is intended as the ultimate parallel time line story.

    Also l. Spargue de Camp’s novel, Lest Darkness Fall, about an American tourist, Martin Padway, just prior to WWII who gets sent back in time to Rome at the time of Justinian I. Naturally he changes things, intent on preventing the Dark Ages. Pretty good.

    ReplyReply
  110. Kylopod says:

    Let’s recall how this entire conversation about sci-fi started. On the Tuesday forum, Kari Q talked about how the present crisis is not as apocalyptic as some people are suggesting: “People are starting to act like economically this is going to be a combination of the Black Death and the Great Depression. It’s going to hurt, but the recession will probably be v-shaped. It’s not the end of the world as we know it.”

    In response, I quoted a Stephen King tweet from the other day telling people to stop comparing the current crisis to The Stand. Then Bill commented that he’d thought of The Stand, but he added he’d never read any of King’s works because he doesn’t like horror. I then argued that The Stand isn’t really horror, and that a lot of King’s works get shoe-horned into horror because that’s what he’s associated with. DrDaveT then spun off from that to talk about authors like Ray Bradbury and Theodore Sturgeon whose works are all shoe-horned into sci-fi/fantasy even when they aren’t…and that’s what got the ball rolling.

    ReplyReply
  111. Kylopod says:

    And speaking of alternate histories, I’ve just started watching HBO’s The Plot Against America, based on the Philip Roth novel, whose first episode debuted earlier this week.

    I had a lot of problems with the novel, especially with the ending–though I won’t say more for those who haven’t read it. I wonder how the show will deal with it; I’m enjoying it so far. I will say that the casting of John Turturro as Rabbi Bengelsdorf was inspired. Turturro is an Italian-American from New York, but he has frequently played Jews, and for some reason he’s played Southerners quite a bit too. And his characters, no matter what their background, are almost always slimeballs. So he’s kind of perfect in the role of a very slimy rabbi from the South.

    ReplyReply
  112. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ve watched Picard and I found it dull and of inconsistent quality. And I can’t agree that it’s optimistic.

    Well… let’s agree to never recommend anything to each other. 🙂

    I found it to be refreshing–in that it’s all about characters rather than technobabble. The episode with the Riker family was wonderfully absent of action. SO much character. I could watch an entire season of that and be gloriously happy.

    As for optimism…. No, it’s not the blind utopia of TOS. But it is absolutely optimistic. Picard is the core of that optimism. He is sure he can save Soji, he brings in Rafi because he knows she’s capable of more than she is, and he is seeking to save an entire new race because of his love for a “machine” that sacrificed his life to save him.

    The entire premise is Picard saying “I can do more. I can do better.” The subtext is that we can.

    That it’s all couched in a reality that isn’t utopia makes it all the more poignant.

    ReplyReply
  113. Gustopher says:

    So, science fiction is just a setting, like early 1800s England, but with more lasers?

    What’s the minimal amount of future bits? If “Pride And Prejudice” briefly mentioned that everyone was an android or something, it would be science fiction?

    Is is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man, grown in a vat and in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife-bot.

    ReplyReply
  114. An Interested Party says:

    @Kathy: Thank you for sharing… 🙂

    ReplyReply
  115. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    So, science fiction is just a setting, like early 1800s England, but with more lasers?

    I used the word “setting,” but I was trying to imply something broader than simply a particular time and place. Orson Scott Card uses the word “mileau.” Sci-fi can be set anywhere or at any time, but there’s still such a thing as a sci-fi setting, and while there may be gray areas, Star Wars isn’t one of them: it’s clearly set in a sci-fi world, even though there are some distinctly non-sci-fi elements to the story.

    ReplyReply
  116. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’d argue strongly about “Stranger in a Strange Land”. When that was written the Rhine institute seemed to be scientifically proving that telekinesis and ESP was real.

    If it were only telekinesis and ESP, I might concede your argument. But SiaSL also has the ability to vanish items into a dimension orthogonal to spacetime, an explicit afterlife (complete with archangels and a deity), and probably a few other tidbits I’m not remembering offhand.

    Not that I think it matters. I like my SF anywhere from rock hard to warm and squishy.

    ReplyReply
  117. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    What’s the minimal amount of future bits? If “Pride And Prejudice” briefly mentioned that everyone was an android or something, it would be science fiction?

    And now you’ve reminded me of one of my favorite parodies of all time. A discussion on the old rec.arts.sf.written UseNet group led to a couple of the professional writers in the group (Ryk E. Spoor and Brenda Clough) to collaborate on a brief excerpt from Terminators of Endearment: or, Pride and Extreme Prejudice.

    ReplyReply
  118. An Interested Party says:

    Wasn’t there a guy who used to post racist comments here but claimed he couldn’t be racist because his girlfriend was Asian or Hispanic? Look who else is getting defensive about racist slurs and trying to use the same defense…

    ReplyReply
  119. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JohnMcC:
    My wife found that earlier. Now we’re doing the parents of young adult (20 and 22) kids thing, not knowing how much to nag, how much to intervene.

    ReplyReply
  120. Kylopod says:

    @An Interested Party: There have actually been two commenters here that I can remember pulling that defense. The first one called himself bill (lowercase-b) and claimed to have a black girlfriend. The other is john12421423 who claims the “love of his life” is a Latina woman.

    There’s an old Daily Show in which Jon Stewart and Wyatt Cenac accuse each other of being racist. Stewart then pulls out a birthday card suggesting he’s married to Wendy Williams and has two Asian kids. Cenac then pulls out his birthday card showing him to be…one of the Osmonds.

    ReplyReply
  121. Gustopher says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Younger Adults Comprise Big Portion of Virus Hospitalizations in U.S.
    New CDC data showed that nearly 40% of patients sick enough to be hospitalized because of coronavirus were aged 20 to 54.

    I guess it is all relative, but I wouldn’t call myself a “younger adult.” At 49, I’m willing to believe that most adults are younger than me. But, I am younger than Joe Biden.

    ReplyReply
  122. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT: Hmm. I haven’t read it in probably 40 years or 45 years, so my memory is no doubt faulty. I was a huge Heinlein fan as a teenager but his later stuff was inferior and for the most part I have avoided going back, not wanting to be disappointed.

    Despite that, I recently reread “Starman Jones”, a young adult novel written decades before all YA fiction involved oppressive and distopian futures. And I have to say it was a very well crafted novel. Not art, nor probably not most people’s idea of literature. But the first few paragraphs lay out character and motivations in an efficient and pleasing way, as well as build a world. It probably helps a bit to be my age and remember the effects that the Great Depression and the mass migration of rural people to the cities had on all kinds of fiction at the time, but even without that background I think it holds up well.

    Max liked this time of day, this time of year. With the crops in, he could finish his evening chores early and be lazy. When he had slopped the hogs and fed the chickens, instead of getting supper he followed a path to a rip west of the barn and lay down in the grass, unmindful of the chiggers. He had a book with him that he had drawn from the county library last Saturday, Bonforte’s “Sky Beasts: A Guide to Exotic Zoology”, but he tucked it under his head as a pillow A blue jay made rude remarks about his honesty, then shut up when he failed to move. A red squirrel sat on a stump and stared at him, then went on burying nuts.

    Max keep his eyes on the northwest. He favored this spot because from it he could see the steel stilts and guide rings of the Chicago, Springfield, & Earth port Ring Road emerge from a slash in the ridge to his right. There was a guide ring at the mouth of the cut, a great steel hoop twenty feet high. A par of stilt-like tripods supported another ring a hundred feet out from the cut. A third and last ring, its stilts more than a hundred feet hight to keep it level with the others, lay west of him where the ground dropped still more sharply into the valley below. Half way up it he could see the power-link antenna pointing across the gap.

    Max kept his eyes fixed on the cut; the Tomahawk was due any instant. Suddenly there was a silver gleam, a shining cylinder with needle nose burst out of the cut, flashed through the last ring and for breathless moment was in free trajectory between the ridges. Almost before he could swing his eyes the projectile entered the ring across the gap and disappeared into the hillside – just as the sound hit him.

    ReplyReply
  123. In re: “Picard”–I have quite enjoyed it.

    As a card-carrying Trek nerd, I get the desire for the Federation to be utopian, but I also think a lot of people remember the show a bit more simplistically. In TOS almost every Admiral, Commodore, or bureaucrat from Starfleet was an asshole who caused problems. The plot of Star Trek VI was about corruption within Starfleet. Section 31 has it origins in DS9, not Disco.

    Disco, season one, had some rough bits. But, I would note that it ended with a lot of old-school Federation/Starfleet optimism. Pike in season two was pure ST awesome optimism at its best (except, of course, his ultimate fate, but that dates back to TOS, season 1).

    Quite frankly. some of the worst Trek was when Roddenberry wanted no interpersonal conflict in the early days of TNG.

    I find what Picard is doing is what TOS and other Trek often did at its best: tell stories set in the future about current problems.

    ReplyReply
  124. Liberal Capitalist says:

    So, SciFi…

    This one probably started me on SciFi as a kid:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus,_Robot_Fighter

    Magnus lived in NorthAm in 4000. Fought rogue robots that didn’t obey the 3 laws of robotics.

    SciFi is largly what caused me to drop out of Technical School in 1979. I knew the industry could do better… it just wasn’t where I needed to be. Yet.

    (Tech, global networks, AI… has been berry berry good to me!)

    Footnote:
    1) S.T. Picard rocks. Among others, Jeri Ryan has been outstanding

    2) Star Wars IX was great. Finally saw it at home. Good guys rally, bad guys lose, a nod to the previous generation, and a new Skywalker. Not bad for a couple of hours relief from reality.

    ReplyReply
  125. Tyrell says:

    @EddieInCA: The key to stroke is quick action. The signs and symptoms are not hard to see. Many young children have been taught to recognize them.
    A lot more research needs to be done for diabetes, Alzheimer, and cancer. Deaths from falls also have high numbers. 80, 000 – 130, 000 die yearly from poisonous snakebites, but few are in this country.
    We jump in our cars and head down the road daily, and not think one thing about the fatality rates. But cars are far safer now than when I started driving: no seat belts, and the kids sat in our laps. Crazy.

    ReplyReply
  126. DrDaveT says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Speaking of science fiction, is anyone else interested in the genre of alternate history? Any suggestions?

    It’s not classic alt-history, but I am addicted to the 1632 series by Eric Flint and a cast of thousands. The basic (absurd) premise is that a medium-small town from c. 2000 West Virginia gets scimagically plucked from our timeline and set down in Thuringia in 1632, in the middle of the 30 Years War. Alternate history ensues.

    The plots are a bit shaky at times, but the serious effort to be realistic about what modern (“up-time”) Americans could accomplish in that environment, both technologically and socially, is what keeps me reading. Plus a few fun characters and capers.

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*