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Author Topic: EP153: Schwartz Between the Galaxies  (Read 43972 times)

birdless

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Reply #75 on: April 20, 2008, 12:10:30 AM
:'( 

Anyone else think of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by Thurber or am I just showing my age. 

Really didn't like the story.  Seemed like an update and expansion of Thurber's story.  Original was better.

We're slower than I'd like getting of this Rock, but we WILL go to the stars. 

 :-[
It's been a loooong time, but I seem to remember some parts of Walter Mitty to be humorous... Maybe i'm getting it confused with some other Thurber piece, though.



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Reply #76 on: April 20, 2008, 08:55:58 AM
The whole way through, the nagging thought that spoiled the whole story for me was:

It didn't happen that way.  He's wrong.

Culture wasn't destroyed, it was transformed.  Instead of Californians and New Yorkers and Londoners and French and Liberians, you have Republicans and Veterans and Furries and Soccer Moms and Unitarians and Fetishists and Podcasters.

The fact that the world's many varied cultures can't be pointed to on maps anymore doesn't mean they don't exist, and it doesn't mean they don't exist in as much variety as they used to.  You just can't go looking for them by flying around.
Hmmm, yes, there is that. The variety of adopted life-styles and belief systems you come across on the intarweb is sometimes more strange and wonderful than, say, Victorian-era non-Western cultures.
But then all of the "ethnic" restaurants will be serving macaroni casseroles. Meatloaf for the adventurous.
Quel dommage.

The Mars Rovers are cool and having scientific robots cruising Mars is quite an accomplishment but I was expecting bigger things by now.
How about this: A modem used in one of the first Mars Rovers was an off-the-shelf commercially-available item, not a prototype from some Skunkworks lab.

"The Future ain't what it used to be." Or, today's speculation on future technology will be tomorrow's steampunk.

Was I the only one who read this story as "Schwartz is on an interstellar ship with a wild array of aliens, and is dreaming the whole 'archaeologist on a homogenous' planet while tripping on orange fungus"?  Sure, the narrator tells you where Schwartz's physical body is located and all... but you don't have to accept that, you know.
It had worried me for a while, but I'm pretty sure that's covered in lists like Stories We've Seen Too Often, in section 9:f.
Oh, wait, the trope goes back much further than 1974:
Quote
Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.
- Zhuangzi (c. 369 BC - c. 286 BC)


It did remind me a little bit of Billy Pilgrim in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, "coming unstuck in time", in that I wasn't absolutely positive that one setting was any more real than the others. A bit of fallout leftover from the '60s, I guess.

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Nobilis

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Reply #77 on: April 20, 2008, 12:47:57 PM

But then all of the "ethnic" restaurants will be serving macaroni casseroles. Meatloaf for the adventurous.
Quel dommage.


No.  Just as people are constantly creating culture in other areas, they will continue to create culture when it comes to food.




ChiliFan

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Reply #78 on: April 25, 2008, 03:17:56 AM
You've got to remember this story was written in 1974. There are still lots of different cultures in the World and by no means everything available in any one country is available in all other countries. I'm really depressed by predictions that we'll never go to other planets in our solar system or to the stars. I read that NASA planned a manned mission to Mars to take place in the mid 1970's, but it was abandoned. Even now, people with enough money can book flights just into space with Virgin Galactic.

 



Loz

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Reply #79 on: April 28, 2008, 05:54:52 PM
I only listened to this this morning and would appear to be exactly as blown away as everyone else is. I did get the point that, while awake, Schwartz longs for earth cultures to remain 'alien' but, in his dream world, his brain presents him with literal alien cultures which not only prove impenetrable to him but also reflect back to him how little he understands his own culture, but he doesn't learn from this, just slips into maudlin self-pity and, we have to guess, is dead at the end of it.

It's not exactly Walter Mitty, he at least is the hero of his little fantasies, I suppose that Schwartz is living up to another of the stereotypes of 'his people', self-hatred...



birdless

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Reply #80 on: May 01, 2008, 08:00:50 PM
I only listened to this this morning and would appear to be exactly as blown away as everyone else is.

I'm not sure how that math would work out...something like:
If (Loz's blown awayness) = (everyone else's blown awayness), where (everyone else's blown awayness) is a partial derivative of (birdless's blown awayness) and (birdless's blown awayness)=(not at all (in fact the opposite of blown awayness, which is to say so not blown away as to actually have been pulled forward in time a little so that where (birdlessª)=the birdless in present time while listening to this episode and (birdlessƒ)=the birdless in future time after listening to the episode, then (birdlessª)sin(birdlessƒ)≈(birdless)/∞)), then what is (Loz's blown awayness)?



I didn't take trig, so "sin" may be the wrong term... feel free to correct at your discretion



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #81 on: May 02, 2008, 02:14:28 AM
I only listened to this this morning and would appear to be exactly as blown away as everyone else is.

I'm not sure how that math would work out...something like:
If (Loz's blown awayness) = (everyone else's blown awayness), where (everyone else's blown awayness) is a partial derivative of (birdless's blown awayness) and (birdless's blown awayness)=(not at all (in fact the opposite of blown awayness, which is to say so not blown away as to actually have been pulled forward in time a little so that where (birdlessª)=the birdless in present time while listening to this episode and (birdlessƒ)=the birdless in future time after listening to the episode, then (birdlessª)sin(birdlessƒ)≈(birdless)/∞)), then what is (Loz's blown awayness)?



I didn't take trig, so "sin" may be the wrong term... feel free to correct at your discretion

Oh, I'd say that was a big "sin" alright... some of us are "language people" here, ya know!   ;)

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Loz

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Reply #82 on: May 04, 2008, 08:46:08 PM
I only listened to this this morning and would appear to be exactly as blown away as everyone else is.

I'm not sure how that math would work out...something like:
If (Loz's blown awayness) = (everyone else's blown awayness), where (everyone else's blown awayness) is a partial derivative of (birdless's blown awayness) and (birdless's blown awayness)=(not at all (in fact the opposite of blown awayness, which is to say so not blown away as to actually have been pulled forward in time a little so that where (birdlessª)=the birdless in present time while listening to this episode and (birdlessƒ)=the birdless in future time after listening to the episode, then (birdlessª)sin(birdlessƒ)≈(birdless)/∞)), then what is (Loz's blown awayness)?

... Mornington Crescent?



birdless

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Reply #83 on: May 05, 2008, 04:54:49 PM
I only listened to this this morning and would appear to be exactly as blown away as everyone else is.

I'm not sure how that math would work out...something like:
If (Loz's blown awayness) = (everyone else's blown awayness), where (everyone else's blown awayness) is a partial derivative of (birdless's blown awayness) and (birdless's blown awayness)=(not at all (in fact the opposite of blown awayness, which is to say so not blown away as to actually have been pulled forward in time a little so that where (birdlessª)=the birdless in present time while listening to this episode and (birdlessƒ)=the birdless in future time after listening to the episode, then (birdlessª)sin(birdlessƒ)≈(birdless)/∞)), then what is (Loz's blown awayness)?

... Mornington Crescent?
Beautiful! Even though the answer is probably 42, I like the one you gave.



CGFxColONeill

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Reply #84 on: May 06, 2008, 01:54:04 AM
Oh, I'd say that was a big "sin" alright... some of us are "language people" here, ya know!   ;)

tad is that yet another attempt to derail a thread w/ a pun?

if so I like it lol

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Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #85 on: May 07, 2008, 01:15:14 AM
Oh, I'd say that was a big "sin" alright... some of us are "language people" here, ya know!   ;)

tad is that yet another attempt to derail a thread w/ a pun?

if so I like it lol


*sigh*   The curse of my superpower...  ;)

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tpi

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Reply #86 on: July 02, 2008, 05:39:13 PM
I am reading Barry Malzberg's book "Breakfast in the Ruins" (very fine, Hugo nominated, book - was my number one choise in its' category). He has very different take to this story. Silverberg was at the time disillusioned with science fiction, and didn't write any for at least seven years after this story. Malzberg's take on the story is that it tells about science fiction, and about writing science fiction. Direct quote: "It is, in fact, a castigation of the genre which perpetrated it and in which it appears, and as such it is devasting, a demolition of the genre...."
« Last Edit: July 02, 2008, 06:19:53 PM by tpi »



stePH

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Reply #87 on: July 02, 2008, 05:58:54 PM
I am reading Barry Malzberg's book "Breakfast in Ruins" (very fine, Hugo nominated, book - was my number one choise in its' category).

Not to be confused with the Michael Moorcock novel Breakfast in the Ruins[/i]]Breakfast in the Ruins, I'm sure.

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Reply #88 on: October 20, 2008, 10:31:51 PM
I think I liked the descriptions of the aliens most about this story. In particular, I always think the rich history of gender-less and multi-gendered aliens in science fiction is interesting, as there is on the whole far less acceptance of such identities in humans. It's a telling phenomenon.

I heard Nobilis' comment in the feedback summary for this episode, and I'm glad it was chosen. I agree. I don't think culture is necessarily less legitimate if it's not based on genetic or geographical ties.

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Unblinking

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Reply #89 on: March 19, 2010, 05:34:22 PM
I gave this one a chance, but couldn't take it any more after 15 minutes or so.  I've liked some of Silverberg's other work here, but this was my least favorite of the bunch.

For starters, the story started out by telling me that interstellar travel will never be possible.  And then spends half the time on a starship.  And then Schwartz gives a dissertation speech to the stewardess--doesn't she have other things to do?  Way to long a lecture, too dull, especially since I didn't really agree with his basis, or have any reason to give a crap about him as a person.

The homogenization of culture was an interesting idea, but pretty baseless.  I read another story, years ago, in which intra-racial marriages were illegal--supposedly to remove the basis of racism by attempting to homogenize physical characteristics after several generations of breeding.  The protagonist of the story was in love with a woman of the same race as he, and they were viewed by the general public as an interracial couple might've been viewed in the American south in the 50s.  There were also other major differences.  "Prok" was a swear work similar to the current f-word, stemming from "procreate" because the world's overpopulation was so rampant that those who chose to have kids were looked down upon.  Does anyone happen to know what book that was?




stePH

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Reply #90 on: March 19, 2010, 06:52:43 PM
The homogenization of culture was an interesting idea, but pretty baseless.  I read another story, years ago, in which intra-racial marriages were illegal--supposedly to remove the basis of racism by attempting to homogenize physical characteristics after several generations of breeding.  The protagonist of the story was in love with a woman of the same race as he, and they were viewed by the general public as an interracial couple might've been viewed in the American south in the 50s.  There were also other major differences.  "Prok" was a swear work similar to the current f-word, stemming from "procreate" because the world's overpopulation was so rampant that those who chose to have kids were looked down upon.  Does anyone happen to know what book that was?

Maybe The Wanting Seed by Anthony Burgess?  It's on my to-read list.

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Reply #91 on: March 22, 2010, 04:41:32 PM
The homogenization of culture was an interesting idea, but pretty baseless.  I read another story, years ago, in which intra-racial marriages were illegal--supposedly to remove the basis of racism by attempting to homogenize physical characteristics after several generations of breeding.  The protagonist of the story was in love with a woman of the same race as he, and they were viewed by the general public as an interracial couple might've been viewed in the American south in the 50s.  There were also other major differences.  "Prok" was a swear work similar to the current f-word, stemming from "procreate" because the world's overpopulation was so rampant that those who chose to have kids were looked down upon.  Does anyone happen to know what book that was?

Maybe The Wanting Seed by Anthony Burgess?  It's on my to-read list.

I don't think that's the one, though it does match my description.  Hmm...  will return after Googling.



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Reply #92 on: March 22, 2010, 04:44:45 PM
If I remember correctly it also involved a means of traveling through the stars that I'd never heard of.  Instead of moving through space, you move through time at a fixed location in space.  Because the universe is ever-expanding, the stars and galaxies within it are constantly moving.  So if you can move through long periods of time and somehow remain fixed in space, then the stars come to you instead of the other way around.



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Reply #93 on: March 22, 2010, 04:50:52 PM
Got it!  The story I'm thinking about is "Ghost" by Piers Anthony (1986).  I read it as a pre-teen and at the time I thought there were a lot of cool ideas in it.  I can't say what I'd think of it now--I'm much more picky these days.  Publisher's Weekly's review of it that I found online, with some plot summary:

"Anthony's latest novel is one of his most minor efforts, a mechanical working out of an absurd, rattletrap plot, overwhelmed by talk and introspection. The story is set in a future in which a law has been passed (the Miscegenation Act) forbidding the marriage of two people of the same race (this in response to ''savage race riots'' and the need to slow population growth). Kerr Shetland, captain of the Meg IIa ''timeship'' traveling beyond the farthest reaches of the universe in search of new energy sources for an energy-poor Earthand his crew of six spend the trip in a paroxysm of racial, sexual and psychological self-examination, finally reaching some sort of epiphany when the ship breaks up on the rim of a Black Hole, and they are transformed into pure spiritall to little effect."