[conspire] OT: Science Fiction, places to start

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Fri Aug 5 19:41:17 PDT 2011

On Fri, Aug 5, 2011 at 15:12, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Quoting Don Marti (dmarti at zgp.org):
>> Speaking of Stross (former Linux columnist and web
>> developer made good):
>>   San Francisco, Borderland Books
>>   Saturday August 6th at 3pm
>>   http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2011/08/atent-dead-yet.html
> I'm going to make every effort to be there.

Say Hi for me. He doesn't know me, but I and my children are
definitely fans. I and my colleagues and friends in One Laptop Per
Child, Sugar Labs, and related organizations are taking the shortest
way we know to the Singularity, by getting millions of children
education computers and Internet connections today, possibly a billion
at a time in the future.

>> If I had to put one Stross *novel* on an intro list it would be
>> _Glasshouse_, but if you can get a copy of the collection _Wireless_,
>> that has a bunch of his best shorter stuff in one place.

Thinking about the Stross I have read, I can't come up with one for an
introduction. They are all full of heavy-duty nasties, and I guess you
just have to take the plunge.

> I have to confess that, even though I did read _Accelerando_ (both in
> short-story pieces and as an eventual novel-length story), I haven't yet
> read _Glasshouse_.
>> (And Rick, great list, but _one_ Heinlein?  For those who like John
>> Scalzi, it's worth getting _Starship Troopers_ and _Friday_.)
> There's a hidden cunning plan behind my mentioning _one_ Heinlein, and
> specifically mentioning _The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress_.
> In part, it concerns some notoriously odd aspects of Heinlein that
> Should Not Be Raised Lest They Overwhelm the Internet Again.  The novel
> I mentioned is widely considered the most winning, most groundbreaking,
> best written one (not counting a number of his excellent juveniles, or,
> as they're called these days, novels for the YA market) with the lowest
> percentage of content calculated to motivate at least 60% of readers to
> throw the book against the wall in fury and then post to Internet forums
> the suggestion that Heinlein's body be dug up so we can kill him some
> more.[1]

I don't suppose that's where Lem got a similar idea for his robotic

This is not the least offensive Heinlein in my circles. TMIAHM has
some of the most vicious and elitist fantasy politics and revolution I
have ever read. OK, Ayn Rand is worse, but who else? And a truly
deviant AI.

> By naming the best, most accessible, least flamewar-shrouded Heinlein, I
> give people a way to see if they might be interested in more and other
> Heinlein.

Cardboard cutout characters, in sharp contrast with some of his
renderings of working craftsmen and professionals.

> If I had to cite _two_ Heinlein novels, the second would probably be
> _Starship Troopers_, or maybe _The Cat Who Walked Through Walls_ or
> _Glory Road_.  I'd have to think about it.

I would have recommended Tunnel in the Sky, or for intermediate
lengths, Waldo and Magic, Inc., or for short stories, 6×H.

> _Friday_ had many superb things about it, but central extreme
> psychological ugliness that goes right to the core of many people's
> Heinlein-hatred, and especially one early and critical scene that
> impelled yr. humble servant, among many others, to throw the book
> against the wall in fury, and then _briefly consider_ posting to
> Internet forumsthe suggestion that Heinlein's body be dug up so we can
> kill him some more, before thinking better of it.
> Deirdre and I often attend Bay Area Science Fiction Association
> (www.basfa.org) meetings on Monday evenings in Sunnyvale.  One of the
> features at every meeting is an auction of things people bring, and
> there's a standing gag of auctioning, over and over, a certain paperback
> copy of _Friday_ to members, so they can take it with them to run it
> over with their cars.
> Honest, I'm telling you that anecdote straight.  There is such a copy,
> and that's the purpose for which it keeps being re-auctioned.
> [1] The resulting flamewars are the stuff of legend, because of
> energetic Heinlein defenders who make Randroids look like pikers.
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Edward Mokurai (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) Cherlin
Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.

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