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Author Topic: EP346: Hawksbill Station  (Read 3682 times)
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #40 on: June 15, 2012, 11:47:18 AM »

The one major plot flaw that glared at me after thinking about the story is, once the spy reported what he found, why would the folks "up front" not send him or others further back -- to rescue the political prisoners sooner -- before many of them snapped?

That seemed to entirely make sense based on their description of time travel.

To reach a particular point in time, there needs to be an anchoring station at both ends of the time tunnel.  If the other end is not anchored, then things passing through will end up more or less in the right place and time, but with some random swings.

In this case, once both ends were established, then you can think of the two time-periods moving in step with each other.  If one year passes at my end, one year also passes at the other end.  So the time tunnel doesn't lead to a fixed destination time (which would be impractical anyway because everything you sent through would arrive simultaneously) but to a time which is at a fixed interval from this end's time.

So it took some time for the political climate to change.  During that duration, as much time has passed at Hawksbill.  At that point, the new regime decides to send somebody.  They have three choices:
1.  Build a new time tunnel beginning, which may be prohibitively expensive, and just send a person through without the end established.  I would not want to be that guy because they could end up centuries off target too early or too late, might end up appearing a mile in the air and falling to their death, etc.  When they built Hawksbill they sent all the parts through this way, knowing that some would be lost, but sending people that way would be too cavalier.
2.  Build a new time tunnel beginning AND the destination at the other end, but aim for an earlier destination.  If the timeline is fixed, then you already know that you failed at this because there is no other station.  If the timeline is not fixed, then at the very least there would be very unpredictable results by trying to build the two stations instead of just the one.
3.  Send someone through the established time tunnel to the same station.  This requires no extra building expense, and although it is dangerous in that they don't know how the people at the Station will react, at least they're not just chucking a person through to a random variation of the desired destination to a probable death.

So, I don't think there would be any other reasonable way to approach it.
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Scatcatpdx
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« Reply #41 on: June 15, 2012, 03:45:29 PM »

I like this one. Something I never care for in left tilting political tinged SF is how they push and brow beat their political ideas into the story. It almost like putting  the ideas or making aware of one's political pet project over good story telling. This is fan example were good story that transcends ones political view.
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #42 on: June 22, 2012, 02:51:54 PM »

This was a fun listen, one thing I particularly enjoyed was exactly how being political-partisan was just what people where, its was they thought about, discussed designed things as but that was the point, in fact it was almost a point in passing, since there were political prisoners of a certain regime they were all kind of the same and it was almost a point of joking between them, even if they had been deadly serious about it up front.
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #43 on: July 04, 2012, 09:53:38 PM »

I did enjoy the story, but being a planetary geologist, there were a few science gaffs that kept bugging me.

1) The Cambrian period only started 540 million years ago, and (as someone already pointed out) trilobites first appeared about 525 million years ago. So, Hawksbill Station can not have been set up 1 billion years in the past, as was repeated several times in the story.

2) Most of the bombardment that formed the Moon's craters was done by 3.6 billion years ago, so the Moon's surface could not have been featureless 1 billion years ago.

Now, my first thought was that this story was written a while ago; maybe that was the state of knowledge on these subjects at the time. But, according to Wikipedia, the story was written in 1967. By then, the start of the Cambrian period was known to be well under one billion years and probably less than 600 million years ago. Also, by that point, it was fairly certain that the Moon's craters were caused by impacts (the last dregs of the Solar System's accretion disk striking the planets) and not volcanoes. So, I am kind of disappointed that Silverberg didn't get these details right.

But, I am sure almost no-one else noticed. And I did enjoy the story otherwise.

 
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Listener
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« Reply #44 on: July 05, 2012, 07:32:18 AM »

I did enjoy the story, but being a planetary geologist, there were a few science gaffs that kept bugging me.

In other news, one of EP's listeners is a planetary geologist. I just thought I'd call attention to that, because... well, it makes my work as an advertising designer seem pretty small-time, for one thing.
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #45 on: July 05, 2012, 01:43:08 PM »

I did enjoy the story, but being a planetary geologist, there were a few science gaffs that kept bugging me.

In other news, one of EP's listeners is a planetary geologist. I just thought I'd call attention to that, because... well, it makes my work as an advertising designer seem pretty small-time, for one thing.

LOL!
Advertising designer seems pretty cool to me. Your work influences millions!! And you are a published author too. My work, I'm lucky if 3 people read it Wink
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TheFunkeyGibbon
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« Reply #46 on: July 06, 2012, 10:59:37 AM »

I loved this story. It showed to me that the best Sci-Fi is more about the Fi than the Sci. The concept here is an amazing idea but it works because that is a framework for the real story which is about humans and how they deal with extreme situations, like being stranded so far in the past.
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Gamercow
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« Reply #47 on: July 17, 2012, 02:47:53 PM »

I did enjoy the story, but being a planetary geologist, there were a few science gaffs that kept bugging me.

But, I am sure almost no-one else noticed. And I did enjoy the story otherwise.

I'm not a planetary geologist, and both of those things struck me as wrong. I didn't have the hard dates that you mention(3.6 billion and 525 million) but I knew that during the time of the trilobites, the moon would have craters and look just about like it did today, minus some bright Copernican craters.  It didn't hurt the story for me, as those were just side-referential mentions to point out that "This is not today's Earth". 
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #48 on: July 19, 2012, 01:29:30 AM »

I did enjoy the story, but being a planetary geologist, there were a few science gaffs that kept bugging me.

But, I am sure almost no-one else noticed. And I did enjoy the story otherwise.

I'm not a planetary geologist, and both of those things struck me as wrong. I didn't have the hard dates that you mention(3.6 billion and 525 million) but I knew that during the time of the trilobites, the moon would have craters and look just about like it did today, minus some bright Copernican craters.  It didn't hurt the story for me, as those were just side-referential mentions to point out that "This is not today's Earth". 

Yay! So glad to hear I was not the only one Wink.
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Umbrageofsnow
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« Reply #49 on: August 16, 2012, 01:52:10 PM »


Now, my first thought was that this story was written a while ago; maybe that was the state of knowledge on these subjects at the time. But, according to Wikipedia, the story was written in 1967. By then, the start of the Cambrian period was known to be well under one billion years and probably less than 600 million years ago. Also, by that point, it was fairly certain that the Moon's craters were caused by impacts (the last dregs of the Solar System's accretion disk striking the planets) and not volcanoes. So, I am kind of disappointed that Silverberg didn't get these details right.


I was thrilled in reading this comment by the thoroughness to check the "Science Marches On" explanation before declaring that Silverberg didn't do the research. Sadly it turns out that Silverberg didn't do the research, but it was nice of you to give him the benefit of the doubt. Reading the EscapeArtists forums, I could almost believe the internet was civilized.

I was surprised by how much I liked this story. At the length it is, and being late 60s SF by an author who I admittedly haven't read much of, but don't think of as being generally my cup of tea, I was expecting to hate it and switch off half an hour in. I somehow got through the whole hour and a half or whatever without noticing how much time had passed. The writing just really grabbed me in a way most very long stories never do. And thinking back, I can't remember enough things happening to account for the length, it was just so much world building, but done very smoothly and interestingly. It all really added to the sense of place and gave a nice feel to the story.

I can't believe I'm saying this, as I'm usually among the first to get angry over inaccurate science, bad math/logic, unintentional anachronism or incompatible timelines in stories, but I honestly think the story is better for getting some of the details wrong about the moon and the geology of the world. You need to have some kind of big life in the oceans to feed the people besides supply drops, to get the feel the story is going for and to make the drops not a regular thing, but the world needs to be sufficiently alien. Not saying our friendly neighborhood planetary geologist couldn't have come up with accurate alien descriptions of a cambrian-world, but I don't begrudge Silverberg this one, thinking about it, although I'm surprised that I don't.  Maybe it helps that it isn't a field I know much of anything about.
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hardware
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« Reply #50 on: August 24, 2012, 11:10:04 AM »

Great story, liked how it mirrored Solschenitzyns stories about dissident intellectuals in communist Soviet, and the almost tender portrait of these weary men determined to create a somewhat bearable life in a truly fringe environment. It's nice with a story that doesn't adhere to closely to the Hollywood dramaturgy. As a non-geologist, I didn't care too much about the temporarily misplaced geological markers, specially since they were not really essential to the main points of the story in my eyes.
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