Re: A Weekend Travelogue, With Product Placement

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No Native Americans in sight.

They were transitioned.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 11:36 AM
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Hmm. I always assumed people were talking about the next president when they say they are looking forward to George W. Bush transitioning.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 11:45 AM
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To be fair, Drake the English hero did destroy an awful lot of Latin American cities.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 11:57 AM
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The Irish and English also have diametrically opposed views on Oliver Cromwell.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 11:58 AM
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my ass hurts, but the views were great.

There's a prison rape joke in there somewhere.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:06 PM
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Oh, Sifu.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:08 PM
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There's a prison rape joke in there somewhere.

I'm sure you'll get to the bottom of it.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:13 PM
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The Irish and English also have diametrically opposed views on Oliver Cromwell.

I once accidentally sent an ms meant for the Hellenist Oliver T*plin to the Romanist Oliver L*ne. I wrote L*ne a quick email apologizing for my mistake and suggesting that he just throw it away when he received it. A scholar and a gentleman, L*ne wrote back himself apologizing, insisting that it was really his fault for being named for "our dread regicide."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:14 PM
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You messed up, ogged—there's a trace of a human in one of your pictures.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:16 PM
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There's a prison rape joke in there somewhere.

I thought that the cowgirl line would work in there better, myself.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:25 PM
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Huh. Here in the provinces, "transitioning" is used to describe a transgendered person's, um, transition from living as one gender to living as the gender he or she has chosen to be.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:32 PM
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Yes, the grammar in 11 is all wrong.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:33 PM
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Yes, the grammar in 11 is all wrong.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:33 PM
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And I double-posted. Can't stand up for falling down, I guess.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:34 PM
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11: yeah, that's the meaning I'm familiar with.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:34 PM
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I have been to that very same Cowgirl Creamery in Pt. Reyes!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:34 PM
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No BPL tease. Not even in silhouette or shadow. Ogged doesn't know how to play the game any more.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:35 PM
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No BPL feet in high heels. I'm disappointed.

"Transitioning" also means gender transitioning here, just not to West Marin hippies.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:37 PM
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45 minutes north of the Golden Gate: middle of nowhere physically, smack in the middle of the Bay Area spiritually, if you will.

I forgot to mention when I did my little "Pittsburgh, not as bad as you might think" write-up during the over/underrated cities discussion, that when I do visit friends in the Bay Area (where the natural trajectory of a previous job would have landed me) I find that I spend a fair bit of effort choking back the gorge of my envy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:48 PM
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19: Yeah, it's pretty rough. Having lived at various places on that coast I'd have to say the bay area isn't quite as beautiful as vancouver (which is, as far as I can tell, the most beautiful city & surrounds on the continent) area, but the weather is milder so it's a difficult trade off. There are things I never miss about living in the bay area, but point reyes and highway 1 up around there aren't one of them


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:53 PM
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Pittsburgh: 3 beds, 2 baths, nice 'hood = $270,000

Bay Area: 3 beds, 2 baths, nice 'hood = $1,270,000



Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:55 PM
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And yes, having lived in Vancouver, it boasts the finest urban environs that North America has on offer. But the Canadians are a persistent problem.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:57 PM
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21: That's would be one of the things I don't miss.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:57 PM
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Ari, you're on crack. Even my parents' house in Marin isn't worth that much.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:58 PM
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Not to mention the football teams out here stink. But if you're in certain career fields, it really is the place to be...


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 12:59 PM
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Maybe Ari doesn't think Marin is particularly nice.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:00 PM
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45 minutes north of the Golden Gate: middle of nowhere physically, smack in the middle of the Bay Area spiritually, if you will.

Am I the only person who finds this absurd? Sigh, flatlanders city folk. I mean, I know I'm not the only person here who grew up or now lives in a rural area. 45 minutes north of the Golden Gate is a lot farther from the middle of nowhere than where I'm sitting, 45 minutes south of Burlington, Vt.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:00 PM
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3 beds, 2 baths, elite Elgin neighborhood, $99,500.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:01 PM
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Am I the only person who finds this absurd?

No.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:02 PM
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28: That's Elgin, Texas, not North Dakota.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:03 PM
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30: True. You can get reasonable places for not much more than that in Houston for that matter.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:05 PM
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That's Elgin, Texas, not North Dakota

I thought that seemed mighty high.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:09 PM
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I have a 3 bed 2 1/2 bath house in a nice 'hood in Pittsburgh. If Ari wants to give me $270,000 for it, I'll be up about a hundred grand.


Posted by: JWP | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:11 PM
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Why I declare. $55,000, 3 Bed, 2 Bath, 1,920 Sq. Ft., Elgin, N.D.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:12 PM
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Ari, you're on crack. Even my parents' house in Marin isn't worth that much.

His numbers are a bit off in both cases, but his point isn't.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:14 PM
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Why I declare. $55,000, 3 Bed, 2 Bath, 1,920 Sq. Ft., Elgin, N.D.

The "features" section confirms it's got a sewer and everything.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:14 PM
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21: [Relative house prices]

Yes, I know, but despite that, the folks I know who took the alternate trajectory ended up OK as far as their housing in the Bay Area. I, through the judicious exercise of Transcendental Material Incompetence™, have managed to end up with a relative shitpile (though admittedly with more sq. ft in house and yard) in a lower-cost area of the country.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:15 PM
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I am not immune to the charms of Bay Area living, having snacked on oysters at that open-air yuppie mall in Oakland, and knowing how the Cowgirl Creamery's products sit on the tongue. But on my last visit, I learned what people mean when they say that San Francisco has turned into a "playground". It's like year-round camp!

In no other city are there always activities like there are in San Francisco. "Are you going to the bunny party?" "No, I'm going to the Big Wheels drag race" was a conversation that was repeated by sets of completely separate acquaintance during my last visit.

But not with gentle w-lfs-n, with whom I spoke about the Wittgenstein on his T-shirt, and about his youth.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:15 PM
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A problem with the bay area in particular (rather than n. cali in general) is that for every one living in a beautiful place up on the ridge or round half moon area or up in the city, it seems there are 300 engineers working 100+ hour weeks in the butt ugly sprawl along the bay, and never having enough time to fight the traffic out ... paying the penalty to get little benefit.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:18 PM
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open-air yuppie mall in Oakland

Is this new?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:23 PM
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Please tell me that Cowgirl Creamery's logo is a woman on a horse facing backwards.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:28 PM
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38: A little interest of mine is California utopias. One might fruitfully examine by Pat Murphy and A Mask for the General by Lisa Goldstein. Both are rather poorly plotted but kind of interesting as regional literature about city-as-summer-camp. They precede some of the novels I see written up on Boing Boing with all the sort of Bruce Sterling/flashmob wackiness that seem to be in the contemporary CA utopian mode.

My first novel is going to be a Minneapolis radical utopia, believe you me. Of course, radical for Minneapolis will be someone somewhere daring to say directly, "No, actually I don't want to watch your child this afternoon" rather than seething in silence. Bartleby is be some kind of crazy hippie-dippie anarchist in Minnesota terms.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:31 PM
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That "city as summer camp for very special boys and girls" thing started to bug me after a while when I lived there. LA has all kinds of problems but, y'know, so does the world. SF is so insular and self-satisfied; it almost seems dishonest.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:36 PM
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thinking of n. cali. cheesmakers, this is really good.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:37 PM
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Boy do I ever miss working in Marin, though. My god that was an unrealistically wonderful place to have a job.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:37 PM
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insular s/b peninsular


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:38 PM
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mmmm cheese is good. Gotta give those goats credit.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:41 PM
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46: Yeah, because you can't spell (or look like a) peninsula without "penis". (Though SF is more of a fist on the end of an arm.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:42 PM
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47: I hate that it's good enough you don't care about the pretentious artisinal bullshit.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:43 PM
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There was Wittgenstein on my shirt?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:46 PM
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My local Whole Foods advertises "artisanal water." I pray that this is because someone misread "artesian" on the Fiji label, but I could be wrong.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:46 PM
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In no other city are there always activities like there are in San Francisco

It's important not to interact with, or photograph, any humans in the Bay Area. Partial exceptions can be made for English transplants.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:46 PM
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51: hard-working, sweaty artisans personally handcrafted that water. Occasionally you can find one of their hairs in it as a guarantee of authenticity.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:49 PM
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sweaty artisans

where else do you think it came from?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:50 PM
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The stork? Heaven? The phlogistonic aether?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:53 PM
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That Fiji water is the most ridiculous thing ever. Far worse than Evian, which I actually dislike.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:54 PM
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50: By Wittgenstein, I mean Gunter Grass. Sorry.

(Also acceptable: "By Wittgenstein, I mean a pile of poo.")


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:54 PM
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From the links in 42:

Five years after the economic collapse of the United States, the masked tribespeople of Berkeley retain a precarious hold on individual and intellectual freedom until two women, Layla the maskmaker and a newcomer called Mary, take an unprecedented risk to bring down the totalitarian rule of America's dictator,

and...

After a deadly plague sweeps the world, toppling governments in its wake, a few surviving artists who have claimed San Francisco as their home wage an unorthodox war against an invading army intent on bringing the blessings of law and order to a community that has discovered a better way of life. The author of The Falling Woman , a Nebula Award winner, evokes a haunting vision of life after society's collapse, as art becomes magic and combines with the power of love to defeat the engines of war.

All hail the masked tribespeople of Berkeley! NorCal is gonna be AWESOME after the apocalypse! Everyone in groovy costumes, and none of that boring law and order shit!

Post-apocalypse Minnesota will just feature bulky winter garments and regular old social order. Nowhere near as good.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:55 PM
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I bet you could make big money selling Whole Foods locally sourced small batch artisanal water, hand poured from your very own faucet.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:57 PM
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40: Actually it was the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I was staying with East Bay friends, but we ventured across for the yuppy delights.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:58 PM
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Jack London Square in Oakland could be fairly described as an open-air yuppie mall. And there's a Cowgirl Creamery shop in the Ferry Building.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 1:59 PM
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art becomes magic and combines with the power of love to defeat the engines of war in an epic final battle in the stand mixer of metaphor.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:00 PM
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hand poured from your very own faucet

It turned out that the initial stories about contaminants in water were inaccurate, and Bay Area tap water was actually uncontaminated (seriously). So drinking tap water is probably your best bet in the Bay Area.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:00 PM
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Also, Frowner, speaking of California post-apocalypse novels, have you read the classic "Lucifer's Hammer"? One of the great right-wing books ever, the science fiction counterpart to Red Dawn, and a mighty riposte from the reactionary conservative engineering nerds of the Orange County denfese industry to hippies of Northern California.

An accurate summary from a review site:

Let me summarize this book for you: Catastrophe happens. The good guys [our heroes, complex and human, heir to loneliness of leadership] go off in the mountains to found a new kingdom. The bad guys [liberals, environmentalists, blacks, religious fanatics, cheap politicians] form a cannibal crusade to destroy every thing worthwhile. Astronauts return from space like shining gods. The cannibal horde tries to destroy the good guys. They also try to destroy the magic talisman of technophilic goodness, the Atomic Power Station. In the end the horde is defeated by the devices of the techie genius nerd.

Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:02 PM
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Post-apocalypse Minnesota will just feature bulky winter garments and regular old social order roaming survivalists


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:04 PM
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NorCal is gonna be AWESOME after the apocalypse!

Someone made a pitch to me recently that Chicago was the post-apocalyptic city par excellence. Something about abundant fresh water and other things. Apparently this is a not uncommon observation. The only thing I could think of was making the trek there after the apocalypse, arriving, and seeing a big sign: "Welcome to Chicago: The City that Works. Roachard M. Daley, Mayor."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:04 PM
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You really have to read Lucifer's Hammer to see how racist it is. Post-apocalypse, the black inner city gang invades the white suburbs, eating the men and enslaving the women, only sparing a few sufficiently craven liberal fellow travellers. Until they finally attempt to conquer our astronaut heroes in their survivalist encampment in the Central Valley...


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:05 PM
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As my daddy said, "Son, it's in the water. That's why it's yellow!" Bear Whiz Beer.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:06 PM
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drinking tap water is probably your best bet in the Bay Area. most places.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:06 PM
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I'm not really sure Chicago has your ideal post-apocalyptic climate.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:06 PM
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Six-paragraph snarks on popular literature. Neil Strauss's The Game seemed appropriate to post here.

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Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:07 PM
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67: Brought to you by the same halfwits who recently decided that a (the?) major problem with the health care system was illegal aliens who don't pay their bills.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:07 PM
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Maybe the idea was that the inhabitants are already inured to nuclear winter.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:08 PM
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64, 67: Speaking of Larry Niven: I feel the need to circulate this repellent story about him. (scroll down to "Science Fiction Mavens Offer Far Out Homeland Security Advice").


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:08 PM
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Unfogged.....Come out to play........Unfogged......Come out to play...


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:09 PM
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My general theory on post-apocalyptic living is that it'll be doable, kind of, anywhere that had civilization before the industrial revolution. So, sure, I'll probably be among the 99.9% that get killed off, but if I don't, MA isn't fundamentally an awful place to be.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:09 PM
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70: I guess that depends how much warming the apocalypse involves. Washington state is probably a better bet.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:10 PM
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Those entering passing by post-apocalyptic present day Trenton are greeted by a sign saying "Trenton Makes, The World Takes.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:10 PM
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58, 64: Lucifer's Hammer, classic Niven, Pournelle juvenile wish fulfillment tripe.

On the other hand, a truly great Bay Area post-apocalypse novel is Earth Abides by George R Stewart. And yes the Bay Area has a great post-apocalyptic climate as long as your down to so few that you don't tax the water resources.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:10 PM
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see what happens when you take time to dig up a link, felix?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:11 PM
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Niven said a good way to help hospitals stem financial losses is to spread rumors in Spanish within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs for transplants. ... "Do you know how politically incorrect you are?" Pournelle asked.

I guess you can't you call a fucking bigot a fucking bigot anymore. Fucking bigot.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:11 PM
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Earth Abides by George R Stewart

So, so boring.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:12 PM
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great post-apocalyptic climate as long as your down to so few that you don't tax the water resources.

Hence further up the coast suggestion.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:12 PM
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82: There are no boring books by George R Stewart, only boring readers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:13 PM
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76: that's assuming pre-industrial MA wasn't awful, which I'm suspicious of.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:15 PM
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78: I grew up within walking distance of that bridge, and it's really a mighty neon claim, very true some years ago. Most of the Golden Gate Bridge was manufactured in Trenton. For my sister and I, it could only be "Trenton Poops, The World Scoops", not too trenchant in its political economy but for an eleven- and eight-year-old, quite so in its rhetoric.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:15 PM
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70: I'm not really sure Chicago has your ideal post-apocalyptic climate.

As far as I could make out the geography of McCarthy's The Road, they are making there way down from that part of the country across the Smokies (not sure why they were crossing the Appalachians at their highest point) down to the coast.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:15 PM
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I met Niven and Pournelle at a science fiction convention back in 1987. They were every bit the drunken right-wing assholes in person that their writing would indicate.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:16 PM
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88: Did you have a chance to tell them that?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:17 PM
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74: OMG, though, that description is completely hilarious. Wingnuts, meet your U.S. government. U.S. government, meet your wingnut constituency. The only thing missing was Steven Den Beste, who is my favorite member of the nerd sci-fi engineer winger demographic.

Lucifer's Hammer, classic Niven, Pournelle juvenile wish fulfillment tripe.

Have you not yet realized how central juvenile wish fulfillment is in the history of ideas and politics? I also though "Red Dawn" was a great movie...although to be honest it was better than Lucifer's Hammer.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:17 PM
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The first listed review of Lucifer's Hammer is captioned "A great story and not as racist as has been claimed." If you say so, pal.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:18 PM
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64: I have not read Lucifer's Hammer. Conservative books about the apocalypse are someone else's dissertation, not mine. Although it does sound horrifyingly fascinating. I am astonished that there is actual cannibalism. Have you read Gene Wolfe's "When I Was Ming the Merciless"? Repulsive politics (with some of the same themes--hippies and radicals go bad!), very nicely written.

Actually, both The City, Not Long After and A Mask for the General are somewhat better than the summaries given on Amazon would suggest...The City, Not Long After is quite spooky in parts and A Mask for the General is really interesting about being young and provincial and seeking out an activist mileu. It's also substantially about failure and awkwardness--the main character is kind of creepy and insecure and doesn't have any Character! Changing! Epiphany! either.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:19 PM
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I also though "Red Dawn" was a great movie

ow. I didn't need that much cognitive dissonance today, thanks. PGD.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:19 PM
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When I lived in rural California, in the eastern Sierras, I could never rent Red Dawn. It was checked out every time I tried.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:19 PM
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engineer

Hey now, none of these idiots are engineers. Literature types can keep 'em!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:20 PM
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91: re the Amazon page for "Lucifer's Hammer", I enjoyed the suggestion:

Buy this book with Earth Abides by George R. Stewart today!

They've been listening to JP!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:21 PM
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85: Awful, in that pre-industrial peasant kind of way, but liveable similarly. This is mostly a "Don't live in the desert of the Southwest" rule.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:21 PM
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90: Oh, I should add that all you coastal elites missed the recent Minneapolis five-minute theatrical version of Red Dawn. (It was actually more like ten minutes, but there was a dance number at the end.) That's worth a lot of yuppie cheese-purchasing opportunities, huh? Huh?


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:22 PM
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My local Whole Foods advertises "artisanal water."

They lovingly handstitch two Os to each H.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:22 PM
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89: I was seventeen, and mouthing off to convention guests was not on my agenda. I wrote an essay about it in freshman composition, though. Take that, Niven!

(In 1987, the wingnut sci-fi geek cause du jour was missile defense.)


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:22 PM
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"Don't live in the desert of the Southwest"

Tell that to the Anasazi.

Oh, right.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:22 PM
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95: Pournell has an engg degree, and polysci, iirc. I'm sad to say Niven did undergrad maths, I think.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:22 PM
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94: I love rural California loons. Jefferson forever!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:23 PM
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They lovingly handstitch two Os to each H.

Surely one of the Os would be between the H and the other O. That might conceivably work but be extremely unstable.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:24 PM
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Blood pressure currently 3,000,000 over 1,000,000 after reading the new New Yorker article on the N*di* *bu *l-H*j tenure battle at Columbia.
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Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:25 PM
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74 was great.
The 45-minute panel discussion quickly deteriorated as federal, local and state homeland security officials, and at least one congressional aid, attempted to ask questions, which were largely ignored.

Instead the writers used their time to pontificate on a variety of tangentially related topics, including their past roles advising the government, predictions in their stories that have come to pass, the demise of the paperback book market, and low-cost launch into space.

Apparently, science fiction writers are wingnuts without the grasp on reality. Well, it's not fair to generalize like that; Niven seems like Glenn Reynolds, but Pournelle and Brin only seem a little odd.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:25 PM
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104: Heh. That's how you make fizzy water.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:26 PM
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102: and they really can't write, come to think of it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:26 PM
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109

The Warriors is the only important movie on this topic.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:26 PM
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My god that was an unrealistically wonderful place to have a job.

I will be in the Bay Area this summer! With very little money or free time, though, probably.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:27 PM
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There's plenty of techie sci-fi authors who aren't raging nutjobs, though, dangit. Who will speak for them?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:28 PM
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110: yeah I was talking about Marin specifically; other parts of the Bay Area can be pretty much gross.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:28 PM
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I suppose if it was written today, due to the demographic shift, they would have been Hispanic cannibals.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:31 PM
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Apparently, science fiction writers are wingnuts without the grasp on reality.

I think that's a bit broad, there are left wing nutjobs writing it too.

Also, techie sci-fi authors who aren't nutjobs (of whatever political stripe).

I suspect one salient aspect here is the increased ability of genre writers (relative to random fiction) to construct an impressive fan-base mainly of credulous teenagers (a renewable resource, luckily for them). This can possibly give you an entirely distorted sense of your own intellectual capabilities, and worth.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:32 PM
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111: Such as whom?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:33 PM
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112 is important (as alluded to in 39).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:33 PM
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113: well, there are people groups everywhere.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:33 PM
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114: "and worth" should have been "and insight", whups.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:34 PM
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111: John Scalzi, maybe. He seems nice enough.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:35 PM
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111: Pournelle was a defense industry engineer in SoCal for a while, talks about it a lot. I think that demographic -- postwar SoCal aerospace -- was totally different culturally than e.g. programmers today. Much more authoritarian bunch, and pretty important in the history of American conservatism.

There's an interesting question: how does the technology and organization you work in shape your political ideology? Or maybe I guess it's obvious.

Soup, have you ever seen Red Dawn? It really is very good. It has that deep, soulful craziness that creates fantasy worlds. It tells you much about the dream life of American conservatism too, which I find a fascinating subject. Unfortunately a highly relevant one too. It's also decent depiction of a nationalist rebellion...if you switch the sides you could kind of sort of see a parallel to the Iraq insurgency in there. Minus, you know, all the actual cultural specificity.

OK, I'll stop now.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:35 PM
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115: William Gibson, at least. Rudy Rucker has his head on straight... yeah, I dunno. I don't read sci-fi any more, really. But still.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:35 PM
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Jefferson forever!

With creameries on both sides of the OR-CA border, the state of Jefferson aims to be a world artisanal cheese power. A quixotic gambit for a would-be sovereign state, but it seems to be working so far. My, that's good cheese.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:36 PM
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112: The last time I was driving through Marin itself, there was an interview on the radio with Jared Diamond on Collapse. Found it an interesting counterpoint to the the Edenic surroundings. (Though per soup biscuit, I'd head up more Mendicino way for my own private apocalypse.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:36 PM
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120: Yes, I've seen it. It's not crap, but `great' ??? I'm remembering pacing problems, character problems, a slide into jingoism, etc (it was a long time ago I watched it). I'll agree it is interersting for the insight to `the dream life of American conservatism', as you put it, but that's not the same thing.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:37 PM
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110: what part?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:37 PM
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120.1 is an interesting point, and reminds me that the same culture gave us Jack Parsons and Scientology.

Vineland, of course, has this all figured out.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:38 PM
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115: David Brin. Kim Stanley Robinson. (Just naming two of my favorites, whose politics I know something about.)


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:38 PM
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124: Corntastic dialogue like "Things are different now."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:39 PM
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122: I forgot about the great pot, which would create further demand for the cheese. The Jefferson economic model is making more sense all the time.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:40 PM
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Ben is a predator, L.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:40 PM
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The problem with even non-political SF writers is that there's still the attitude of "I'm a rational thinker; I can look beyond the petty distractions of the present day and see the big picture; I can call for what's necessary even when it's unpopular." This can be a road to wingnuthood.

Full disclosure, this is one reason I could posit that "sterilize criminals" idea a few months ago.

I suspect it's a similar mental process that drove Glenn Reynolds over the brink, and simultaneously how he could protest political independence for so long.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:45 PM
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120.1 Reminded me that John McCarthy was and is quite the right-winger. He is at least interesting, here is his webpage on progress and sustainability.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:48 PM
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Jack London Square in Oakland could be fairly described as an open-air yuppie mall.

Only when the farmer's market is there. No place with this restaurant directly across the street fully qualifies as "yuppie".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:49 PM
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Been to the Bay Area in fricking August & Sepember, and that place is just too damn cold. Can't imagine Arctic Portland, Seattle, or rain-forest cold Vancouver. Tougher people than we Texans are needed. 80s this week in Dallas.

Cold. Wet. Windy. Why would anyone want to live where you can't shop in shorts & sandals?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:49 PM
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82: There are no boring books by George R Stewart, only boring readers.

Um, I know you are but what am I?

Anyway, I thought the set-up and early part of the novel was pretty interesting - if not "good" - but after quite a while of hoping the protagonist would come to grips with the situation I stopped hoping and started waiting; after waiting an unbelievable amount of time for the protagonist to come to grips with the situation I stopped caring; and then I finished the novel.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:49 PM
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And oh crapaud de Nazareth, Orson Scott Card. I remember looking at his Empire at the bookstore when it came out, thinking, "Oh, I've heard he's gone all wingnut, but there might be enjoyable parts to the book anyway." To test this, I flipped through to a random page to see what was there... and it was a rant about academic indoctrination.

So much for that.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:50 PM
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124, 128: Yeah, I guess I use different standards for "great" for different types of movies. You obviously wouldn't want to compare it to the Godfather or Truffaut or something. It's sort of like a piece of outsider art, eccentric and off the wall but in touch with this impressively deep vein of fantasy.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:50 PM
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Why would anyone want to live where you can't shop in shorts & sandals?

We don't have the legs for it.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:50 PM
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127: Poles apart! David Brin is a vapid twit -- albeit not of the wingnut variety -- while Robinson at least some depth, even if the Pacific Edge trilogy was just a rewrite of the Mars trilogy (or is that the other way 'round?).


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:51 PM
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No place with this restaurant directly across the street fully qualifies as "yuppie".

I don't know. I've been there (at, like, 3am). Am I a yuppie? I think I am.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:51 PM
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Emeryville Public Market - yuppie?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:53 PM
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Full disclosure, this is one reason I could posit that "sterilize criminals" idea a few months ago.

Wait, what?

"Oh, I've heard he's gone all wingnut

That's like saying "I heard Marlon Brando gained a bit of weight towards the end of his life." I mean, I think Card started sort of wingnut, and then veered right off into nutspace.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:54 PM
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Tougher people than we Texans are needed.

Well sure, but that's setting the bar low.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:54 PM
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141: dunno but it sure is awesome.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:55 PM
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Am I a yuppie? I think I am.

There is absolutely no doubt in either of our minds as to whether or not you're a yuppie. Same with me. Doesn't mean we don't stick out like sore thumbs there. Contrast with the Ferry Building.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:56 PM
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Emeryville Public Market

Never been.

Doesn't mean we don't stick out like sore thumbs there.

Indeed, indeed. I and my friends were the only white-ish people there. Surprisingly, the other patrons were eating with utensils, just like white people. Amazing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:57 PM
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144: You clearly haven't been there in a while. It's gone downhill, accentuated by the fact that the video arcade has gone out of business. Now I don't know where to go to play air hockey.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:58 PM
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L. can take care of herself, and I am not, ogged.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 2:58 PM
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Earth Abides by George R Stewart ... So, so boring.

I still say it's the apocalyptic novel most suited to the Unfoggedtariat.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:00 PM
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He's not a predator, L. Of, if he is, he's a totally incompetent one; nothing to fear at all. You two should hang out. Then dish to the rest of us.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:00 PM
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142-1: It was in November. Find it yourself, I don't want to talk about it and I suspect my view is shared by many here.

142-2: Yeah, I know, but I enjoyed the Homecoming Saga despite its nigh-incomprehensible religious content, so...


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:00 PM
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139: I'm curious - what makes you say Brin is a "vapid twit"?


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:01 PM
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147: really? That's depressing. I used to go there all the time. Bookstore + cheap ethnic food + video arcade = a trinity of awesome.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:01 PM
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I and my friends were the only white-ish people there.

You can't dunk, either. It's time to give up this charade.

Surprisingly, the other patrons were eating with utensils, just like white people. Amazing.

I've listened to too much smooth jazz in cars from the Oakland casual carpool to not realize the existence of buppies.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:02 PM
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Ben is a perfectly wonderful predator, L. The best you'll ever be preyed upon by, ever. Pay the naysayers no heed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:02 PM
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151.1: in any case, the supreme court ruled long ago that sterilizing chicken stealers is unconstitutional unless you snip the dirty pols, too, and nobody wants that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:05 PM
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Never been.

Yuppie.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:08 PM
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156: Interesting, that was never mentioned.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:09 PM
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139: I take nerdish issue with you, DS. The Pacific Edge "trilogy" is three novels (all of them quite good, actually; more engaging than the Mars books) with very different themes and totally unrelated characters. Now, yes, the whole "terraforming Mars and having revolutions" thing is a way of discussing political change on Earth, in California, etc, but still, those books share very little with the Pacific Edge ones. Even formally--the Mars books are all about a collective subject; the Pacific Edge ones are more with the individual feels and psychology and nonsense like that.

Or are you thinking of the post-Mars trilogies which I haven't read but which look much more similar to the Mars books?


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:10 PM
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I really liked KSR's most recent trilogy. He lost control, a bit, but quite a good read.

Other semi-rational SF writers: Charles Stross, Greg Egan, Richard K. Morgan.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:15 PM
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Also, Brin is about as self-satisfied and smug a fellow as you will come across, but I do enjoy his Uplift books. Worldbuilding par excellence.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:16 PM
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who are the far-leftish SF writers?

All I know is Miéville and Iaini Banks. Seems like there are lots lots more right-wing ones.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:16 PM
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160: Stross doesn't count, he's British.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:16 PM
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162: There's also Ken MacLeod (not surprisingly, a friend of Banks's).


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:19 PM
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DS must be pretty far left to have written The Handmaid's Tale.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:19 PM
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164: I didn't know we were limiting ourselves to Americans. That makes it a lot harder. Egan is Australian.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:20 PM
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135, 149: Did not know that Earth Abides had come up here before. I will admit that it is probably not for everyone. A good test is if you liked Stewart's Names on the Land (placename etymologies ... talk about boring), you'll be OK with Abides. For me it was great to see one of my juvenile wish fulfillment narratives (what happens if everything stops) handled competently. (And Populuxe's point is a good one as well.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:23 PM
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I believe Stross is a Scot.

As for Richard K. Morgan, the rapid decline of the Kovacs novels and the shooting-fish-in-a-teacup style of Black Man/Thirteen left me pretty cold.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:23 PM
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ANd Morgan's a Brit.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:23 PM
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162: My question! You've asked my favorite question! Or at least a question I can answer in mind-numbing detail:

Left-wing science fiction authors (I include a few who are borderline fantasy writers but no one who isn't at least sort of SF) include:

Feminist writers such as Joanna Russ (hi-LAR-ious), Suzy McKee Charnass, Suzette Hayden Elgin, Jane Candas Dorsey, Nicola Griffeth, L. Timmel duChamp, Gwynneth Jones (wildly uneven), Eleanor Arnason...

Other left-wing writers: Samuel Delany, Paul Park (the Sugar Rain ones are seriously under-rated), Alistair Gray...gosh, that's enough to be going on with, I suppose.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:23 PM
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165: Have you hit every author mentioned in this song yet? (Lyrics here.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:24 PM
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Asimov had a sort of generic science-y leftishness.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:25 PM
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Stross lives in Edinburgh, but is a native of (I think) Leeds.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:25 PM
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I believe Stross is a Scot.

Yorkshireman. He just hangs out with Scots.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:25 PM
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168: "British" encompasses Scots, I thought?

And Ursula Le Guin hasn't been mentioned yet.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:25 PM
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171: I'm not just picking names randomly. I'm pretty sure he's Margaret Atwood.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:26 PM
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re: 162

Ken Macleod. Lots of in-jokes about lefty splinter politics. Trotskyists take over the solar system, etc.

His most recent one, is set pretty much now, and is not so much with the epic space opera and, I think, better for it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:26 PM
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170: I read one of Nicola Griffith's books a few years ago. I remember the affect being flat in a way that was obviously purposeful but not very well controlled. Are they all like that?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:26 PM
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I like Vernor Vinge.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:26 PM
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165: Haven't you already done Atwood? You're slipping. And I'm not done with you re. NOLA. (Or maybe I am. I'm tired again today. The downtrodden of the Lower 9 will have to fight their own battles.)


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:27 PM
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Do Octavia Butler and Cynthia Kadohata count?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:28 PM
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Does Alasdair Gray really count as sci-fi, aside from half of Lanark?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:28 PM
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180: I totally want to talk about NOLA. The other thread awaits!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:29 PM
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176: Nah, he's clearly Robertson Davies.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:29 PM
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Pwned by 164.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:30 PM
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152: Pretty much all of his attempts at non-novelistic social or artistic commentary.

159: "Rewrite" is maybe a little harsh. I just remember the underlying structure of the two trilogies (progression from dystopia to utopia) being strikingly and eye-rollingly similar.

I haven't read the post-Mars stuff.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:31 PM
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178: Which one? Ammonite is terrific--a sort of pastiche of every exploring-a-strange-planet trope evar, but feminist and lesbian!...as well as being a response to those anti-feminist sixties books about planets inhabited exclusively by women--but that's the only one I've read.

Good heavens, what about Ursula Le Guin--she's as left as all get out? Or Marge Piercy? And all those California utopias are left. And the late, very much lamented Octavia Butler. And Nalo Hopkinson. And Nancy Springer.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:31 PM
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Sifu never guesses "Nalo Hopkinson," the racist. Not that he'd be right.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:32 PM
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A. There's a Cowgirl Creamery outlet in DC.

B. Marge Piercy.


Posted by: NĂ¡pi | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:33 PM
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187: It was about a woman somewhere in the American South and then in Scandinavia, and for the next month Amazon recommended novels about lesbians.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:34 PM
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182: I think he'd say he does. Poor Things is (in part) an extended commentary on Frankenstein, and The History Makers is very SF. Yeah, he's more "literary" than SF writers are supposed to be, but that doesn't stop people from name-checking Margaret Atwood or encourage "literary" people to read Dhalgren or The Mad Man. Also, the only place in town that stocks his books is our local SF bookstore. Which proves nothing, but I think it's amusing.



Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:34 PM
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I forgot about Poor Things, possibly because I hated it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:37 PM
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190: Never heard of it. (As my grandmother would always say dismissively about a broad range of things--things which would undoubtedly have included Nicola Griffeth's novels had I mentioned them) Now I kind of want to look at it, though.

And then there's that woman who wrote the rather difficult Mindscape...a novel which is certainly the Dhalgren of our era, at least in terms of the number of people who buy it and bog down in the first couple of chapters. It's actually rather neat, though.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:38 PM
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I remember Ammonite being a bit flat, and it didn't really engage me when I read it. But I was pretty sleep-deprived at the time.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:41 PM
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192: You would, I sneer unreasonably. I just reread it last week. Yah, okay, it's no Lanark, and the silly names get annoying in patches, but I'm very fond of the end-notes. Clydeside forever!

1982 Janine is much, much my favorite. Also much, much the smuttiest.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:41 PM
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If we're recommending leftish SF authors, Adam Roberts should go on the list. Usually good or at least interesting, with the exception of Splinter.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:42 PM
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The downtrodden of the Lower 9 will have to fight their own battles.

So this is what academic historians mean when they talk about giving people back their agency.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:42 PM
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Tangentially, it occurs to me that I seem to be losing my tolerance for books that fail to move something in me, or for books that deploy swaybacked old devices, or for books that betray the authors' politics and prejudices more readily than the authors tend to believe, such that, whatever the genre, I cast a lot more books aside now than I ever did when I was younger. Grizzled, experienced detective? Trash that sucker. Overworked metropolitan yuppie drone exposed to a hidden realm of crime/sexuality/wonder/fear? Fuck you. Medieval village youth dispatched on a quest? No, thanks. Bitter but soulful gourmet Navy SEAL veteran forced to do one last dirty job for the President? Seriously, please stop.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:48 PM
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198: Maybe you have read more books now than you had when you had read fewer books.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:49 PM
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Michael Moorcock has soundly left-wing politics.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:50 PM
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Michael Morecock would be a good name for a porn star.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:51 PM
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Grizzly bear exposes medieval seal to a hidden realm of sexuality?


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:53 PM
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198: it has clearly come time to write your own thriller. Or perhaps movie script.

Overworked metropolitan yuppie drone exposed to a hidden realm of crime/sexuality/wonder/fear? Fuck you.

No, please, wait! This really can happen, can't it? I've been waiting so long...


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:53 PM
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201: Not many streets named Morecock though. But there are a lot of "Morewood"s.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:54 PM
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Overworked President dispatched by grizzled detective?


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:55 PM
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199: But I seem to be reading fewer and fewer, as more and more disappoint me.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:56 PM
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198: Overworked metropolitan yuppie drone exposed to a hidden realm of crime/sexuality/wonder/fear? Fuck you

Little boy and his lovable stuffed bear and other animal friends have adventures in the woods. Stuff them all up your ass!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:57 PM
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207: all the animals?


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:58 PM
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208: Well two of each at least.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:00 PM
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Grizzly bares soulful gourmet Navy SEAL veteran to hidden realms of sexuality, wonder, and fear?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:02 PM
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Medieval village gourmet exposes himself to hidden dirty president, leading to bitterness?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:04 PM
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Secret muslim half-breed takes control of USA via force of cultish personality, precipitates apocalyptic war through missteps of his financial advisors. Billions die. Blog commenter had predicted every bit of it!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:09 PM
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CHIMPEROR EMPOWERED BY IGNORANT CHIMPECTORATE, EVENTUALLY CHIMPEACHED BY HOUSE OF REPRECHIMPATIVES.


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:10 PM
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Metropolitan yuppie exposed to dirty Dispatch Office?

(the horror!)


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:10 PM
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Yes, enjoy my alienation from the trash genres. It may happen to you, too, and then how will you get through intercontinental flights? Norman Mailer's Harlot's Ghost? Infinite Jest? Some tasteful pile of tree pulp by Michael Chabon?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:13 PM
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215: the very problem I'm having now. Last plane flight I dug into some light Heidegger, which worked, mmm, okay.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:15 PM
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216: I read a good chunk of Safranski's biography on my last flight back from Europe.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:17 PM
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Farley Mowat, barred from entering the U.S., is the only Canadian author who's any good. DS is him or nobody.

Some claim that Mowat's books are factually not ideal, but fie on them!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:18 PM
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218: Native Canadians often call him "Hardly Know-it." In a story that may or may not be an outright lie, I whupped him in a drinking contest once.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:27 PM
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I prefer the version in which you are him. Canadians not banned from the U.S. (e.g. MC-Invisible) are all suspect.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:30 PM
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201: I always liked Hugh Mungus as a male porn star name.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:30 PM
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Goddamit DS couldn't you just e-mail me with your secret identity? I'm so fucking curious now. I bet you're Pierre Trudeau, or Manbot from Alpha Flight.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:30 PM
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I mean, I think Card started sort of wingnut, and then veered right off into nutspace.

I think he actually started out sort of left, and a combination of increasing social conservatism (by which I mean "gibbering homophobic madness") and TEH ISLAMIC THREATS!1! have driven him wingnutty. (This little Nostradamus turn by Dan Simmons' is both hysterical and likely to remove any desire you ever have to read another one of Simmons' books.) Also, from everything I've heard, Pournelle is the more wingnutty of the Niven-Pournelle tandem of Two-Fisted "Hard" SF What Doesn't Like Hippies or Chicks or Those Lazy Blacks.

Second the Pacific Edge recommendation; sorry I missed discussion of The City Not Long After, a pander-monium of a book that I still like very much.

Philip K. Dick was an American science fiction writer on the left (although, you know, crazy), and you could probably take a look at the people involved in the SFWA fight over condemnation of the war in Vietnam to get a list of '70s-era liberals.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:37 PM
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I mean, I think Card started sort of wingnut, and then veered right off into nutspace.

I think he actually started out sort of left, and a combination of increasing social conservatism (by which I mean "gibbering homophobic madness") and TEH ISLAMIC THREATS!1! have driven him wingnutty. (This little Nostradamus turn by Dan Simmons' is both hysterical and likely to remove any desire you ever have to read another one of Simmons' books.) Also, from everything I've heard, Pournelle is the more wingnutty of the Niven-Pournelle tandem of Two-Fisted "Hard" SF What Doesn't Like Hippies or Chicks or Those Lazy Blacks.

Second the Pacific Edge recommendation; sorry I missed discussion of The City Not Long After, a pander-monium of a book that I still like very much.

Philip K. Dick was an American science fiction writer on the left (although, you know, crazy), and you could probably take a look at the people involved in the SFWA fight over condemnation of the war in Vietnam to get a list of '70s-era liberals.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:37 PM
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In early and mid adolescence (say age 11 to 16) I read an astonishing amount of Larry Niven, and I never noticed the crazy politics. This is similar to all the children who miss the Christian imagery in The Chronicles of Narnia.

More interestingly, the politics didn't even effect me subconsciously. In fact, I have no recollection of plots, characters or messages behind any of the books. I only remember the technologies and the space aliens. And I still the the Pak Protectors are kinda cool.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:39 PM
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I mean, I think Card started sort of wingnut, and then veered right off into nutspace.

I think he actually started out sort of left, and a combination of increasing social conservatism (by which I mean "gibbering homophobic madness") and TEH ISLAMIC THREATS!1! have driven him wingnutty. (This little Nostradamus turn by Dan Simmons' is both hysterical and likely to remove any desire you ever have to read another one of Simmons' books.) Also, from everything I've heard, Pournelle is the more wingnutty of the Niven-Pournelle tandem of Two-Fisted "Hard" SF What Doesn't Like Hippies or Chicks or Those Lazy Blacks.

Second the Pacific Edge recommendation; sorry I missed discussion of The City Not Long After, a pander-monium of a book that I still like very much.

Philip K. Dick was an American science fiction writer on the left (although, you know, crazy), and you could probably take a look at the people involved in the SFWA fight over condemnation of the war in Vietnam to get a list of '70s-era liberals.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:39 PM
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I mean, I think Card started sort of wingnut, and then veered right off into nutspace.

I think he actually started out sort of left, and a combination of increasing social conservatism (by which I mean "gibbering homophobic madness") and TEH ISLAMIC THREATS!1! have driven him wingnutty. (This little Nostradamus turn by Dan Simmons' is both hysterical and likely to remove any desire you ever have to read another one of Simmons' books.) Also, from everything I've heard, Pournelle is the more wingnutty of the Niven-Pournelle tandem of Two-Fisted "Hard" SF What Doesn't Like Hippies or Chicks or Those Lazy Blacks.

Second the Pacific Edge recommendation; sorry I missed discussion of The City Not Long After, a pander-monium of a book that I still like very much.

Philip K. Dick was an American science fiction writer on the left (although, you know, crazy), and you could probably take a look at the people involved in the SFWA fight over condemnation of the war in Vietnam to get a list of '70s-era liberals.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:41 PM
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Comity.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:42 PM
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On sentence from the link in 74 needs to be emphasized:

"Niven said a good way to help hospitals stem financial losses is to spread rumors in Spanish within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs for transplants."

Holy shit.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:42 PM
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Yeah he's such a kidder, eh?

"It would totally work, though!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:43 PM
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Should I make time to finish reading Brin's Kiln People, or just stick with digging through Derek Parfit?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:44 PM
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229: I like how he specifies that the rumors need to be in Spanish.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:46 PM
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Leave Derek Parfit's internal organs alone.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:46 PM
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Yeah he's such a kidderasshat, eh?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 4:59 PM
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I'm going to take 226 and 227 as signs that I have Sifu and John's implicit support on future comments, particularly as regards the importance of procedural liberalism and rebuilding New Orleans. Also, on the Who being the best rock band of all time and Boston sports fans being more obnoxious than even New York's.

By the by, Pournelle/Niven/Barnes' Fallen Angels is available for free on the web, and it's highly illustrative (and hysterical). The plot goes as follows: environmentalists had it completely backwards on global warming and in fact glaciers are wiping out civilization, and only a loose coalition of freethinking, sexxxed up astronauts and filksinging SF nerds can save the world (particularly America) from the evil Fonda-ite hordes who are glad to see the glaciers win, those fuckers.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:39 PM
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In early and mid adolescence (say age 11 to 16) I read an astonishing amount of Larry Niven, and I never noticed the crazy politics.

Me too. I think it helps that I didn't read many of his collaborations with Pournelle (I think only Mote in God's Eye).

The politics were not overly didactic. Several of his stories make points that I'm very sympathetic to as a liberal. I take "The Jigsaw Man" to be about human dignity in some way. The Gil Hamilton stories are sympathetic the the fate of someone working in law enforcement who has to enforce that they don't particularly agree with and the fact that laws can be beneficial in the aggregate and unfair and problematic in the specific case. (Note, I never took Niven as advocating in his authorial role for something like the fertility laws, but just presented them as a logical, but deeply problematic idea).

Even "Cloak of Anarchy", say, is more fond of the idea of random hippie attempts at social engineering than dismissive of them.

So, yes, I was shocked and disturbed by that linked quote.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:39 PM
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By the by, Pournelle/Niven/Barnes' Fallen Angels . . .

Uggh, I really don't want to be defending Larry Niven today, because I know that's pretty limited ground to be standing on, but it seems worth mentioning that Fallen Angels is explicitly comedic. You may feel like the global warming satire is kidding on the square, but it's hardly equivalent to Michael Chrichton's book on global warming.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:44 PM
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Oh, I very much doubt it's serious-serious, but the ressentiment is real.

Tis a Proud and Lonely Thing to Be a Fan, they used to say, laughing. It had become a very lonely thing. The Establishment had always been hard on science fiction. The government-funded Arts Councils would pass out tax money to write obscure poetry for "little" magazines, but not to write speculative fiction. "Sci-fi isn't literature." That wasn't censorship.

Perversely, people went on buying science fiction without grants. Writers even got rich without government funding. They couldn't kill us that way!

Then the Luddites and the Greens had come to power.

It's two heh-indeeds from being a Glenn Reynolds post.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:51 PM
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You overplayed your hand with The Who. No, no, no!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:53 PM
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Aw, John, c'mon: Live at Leeds!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:55 PM
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You overplayed your hand with The Who. No, no, no!

I think it's pretty obvious that the Who are the best ever at what they did (listen to Live at Leeds), I just am not convinced that what they did is the ideal paradigm for rock music.

I'd love to call them the best ever in their genre, but I'm not sure what to call the genre other than "rock."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 5:56 PM
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Aw, John, c'mon: Live at Leeds!

Truly one of John Martyn's best.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 6:47 PM
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Blue Oyster Cult and Bachman Turner Overdrive were the best ever at what they did too. And Iron Butterfly iwa absolutely the best ever at what they did. We're entering analytic philosophy's closely-packed zone of death, where you can prove anything.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 7:12 PM
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It finally struck me what is so odd for me about Niven as racist -- he wrote one of simplest descriptions of the argument that SF, as a genre, is inherently sympathetic to "the other."

The only universal message in science fiction: There exist minds that think as well as you do, but differently.

It's notable that he would write that and also be racist. People are weird.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 7:43 PM
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Blue Oyster Cult and Bachman Turner Overdrive were the best ever at what they did too.

Don't forget Wolverine!

I could have added that the Who are also obviously not bad. They aren't boring, cliched, trite, or kitsch.

Really my only hesitations are they are overly fond of grand gestures, and they have a limited emotional palette, but there are easy counter-examples to both of those criticisms.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 7:48 PM
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I think he actually started out sort of left, and a combination of increasing social conservatism (by which I mean "gibbering homophobic madness") and TEH ISLAMIC THREATS!1! have driven him wingnutty.

Loath as I am to disagree with snarkout, Emerson, *and* Tweety all at once... how do you account for his opinions on The Satanic Verses? The wingnutty has been there for quite some time.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 7:57 PM
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I presume Sheri Tepper is left from the evidence of Gate to Women's Country.

Joanna Russ, while very funny, is a right-winger who's forced to be on the left by an accident of demographics. No, I cannot defend this statement, yet it is true.

Kiln People is good right until Brin tries to whip up some big dramatic finale. He's never been particularly good at endings.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:29 PM
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I presume Sheri Tepper is left from the evidence of Gate to Women's Country.

Have I mentioned my theory that Gate to Women's Country can be read as a working out of the political philosophy of Plato's Republic? I don't think I have.

Philosopher Kings (Queens) -- check
Invented Founding Mythology -- check
Republic which voluntarily appears impoverished so that it won't be a target for its neighbors -- check

I remember working through and thinking that, looked at from that perspective, it was very clever, and impressive how many of the ideas in the Republic were manifest in Gate to Women's Country


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 10:18 PM
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Philip K. Dick was an American science fiction writer on the left (although, you know, crazy),

He attempted to shop fellow sf writers to the FBI as communists; hardly leftist.

Old fashioned properly socialist sf/fantasy writers: Mack Reynolds, Steve Brust, W*ll Sh*tt*rl* (who has odd opinions on the late unpleasantness however).


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 5:22 AM
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He attempted to shop fellow sf writers to the FBI as communists; hardly leftist.

Didn't he attempt to shop himself to the FBI as Communist?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:44 AM
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In the end the horde is defeated by the devices of the techie genius nerd.

"devices" = "home made napalm and mustard gas" for heaven's sake.

But I will say this for Niven: in the 1960s and 1970s he was writing stories about transplantation, based on the thinking: "If transplant surgery goes on getting better, then there will be a stronger argument (in societies with the death penalty) for compulsory use of the organs of executed felons, as a way in which they can really 'pay their debt to society'; and, in fact, a strong pressure for the death penalty to be extended further and further, to provide more and more transplant organs; as well as a flourishing black market in the organs of those who have either died of natural causes or been murdered."

And then, sure enough, in the 1990s we reached that point, and now you can buy stolen human bone (as happened to poor old Alistair Cooke) or take a flight to China and come home with the kidney of a prisoner who's been executed to order. It's a pretty smart piece of prediction.
In a way, it's worse than Niven thought - he envisaged it happening in initially liberal societies, for high-minded motives; the Chinese do it for money.

"The Jigsaw Man", "The Patchwork Girl" and the Gil Hamilton stories are all more or less about this issue- and come across as extremely anti-death penalty and pretty liberal in sentiment. Don't forget that Jack Brennan, the human Protector, a superintelligent creature genetically compelled to care for his fellow humans, spends his time and money agitating for rehabilitation of criminals rather than (say) going round beating them up like a normal superhero would. Gil Hamilton and Jack Brennan make me think that Niven probably at least used to be a liberal.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:22 AM
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179
I like Vernor Vinge.
Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 3:26 PM

this is the greatest comment ever.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:08 AM
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252: Has Vinge (either one, for that matter) come up with anything remotely as objectionable as the Niven quote?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 11:03 AM
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"my ass hurts, but the views were great."

I don't think the one whose ass ends up hurting generally has that great a view, where you hanging over some sort of railing?

kinda different.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 12:01 PM
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no, no, there's nothing really wrong with vernor vinge; he's just a certain kind of techno-optimist writer that I would imagine shearer reading.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 1:45 AM
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