Oh Brave New World, That Has Such Nerds In It. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Pilot”
Curgoth: I have now googled on Chitauri + Merovingian, and I see what you mean. Woo. Aiieee. Anthony Pero: Hi!
Oh Brave New World, That Has Such Nerds In It. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Pilot”
Curgoth: I have now googled on Chitauri + Merovingian, and I see what you mean. Woo. Aiieee. Anthony Pero: Hi!
Oh Brave New World, That Has Such Nerds In It. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Pilot”
Which is why I distinguished it later in the same sentence from something in the show.
Oh Brave New World, That Has Such Nerds In It. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Pilot”
LazerWulf: Thanks. Chi Tauri sounds plausible. stevenhalter: Hiya! Long time no. Coulson having a fully-aged clone would be the same thing as an identical twin, which is not so much fun. I twitched at the mention of Thor's hair for the same reason I twitched when the show referred to Mike Peterson as an unregistered superhero. A possibly explanatory dialogue between me and my husband a while back:
PNH: The basic plot for Avengers II is now known. TNH: What are they doing? PNH: The bad guy is something called 'Ultron'? TNH: Oh, thank god. PNH: Thank god, it's an especially good storyline? TNH: Thank god, it's not Civil War.
Oh Brave New World, That Has Such Nerds In It. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Pilot”
Have there been any speculations about the possibility of an etymological relationship between Shi'ar and Chitauri?
Oh Brave New World, That Has Such Nerds In It. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Pilot”
There were lots of great, deep Marvel comics universe shout-outs in this episode. It added an extra layer of fun to the whole proceeding without distracting from the story. I hope they keep it up.
Same here. It helps that Joss Whedon is brilliant at exposition. Speaking of which: what I liked least was the semi-inaudibility of Fitz&Simmons. It's not that I can't see the use of audio blurring on the handwavey science stuff. Among other things, the mental delay required to reprocess the signal dissipates its impact, reducing the chance of the kind of bad-science Abrams Moment that makes Fringe watchers yelp out loud. On the other hand, for some of us that blurring is enough to make Fitz&Simmons' dialogue collapse into noise and chaos. I'm hoping for subtitles.
Mike Peterson isn't Rage, or the Patriot, or Luke Cage. He's just Mike Peterson, and he got dosed with a mixture of Extremis, gamma radiation, super soldier serum, and Chitauri technology.
Possibly my favorite moment of the evening was watching the longtime Marvel fans in the #AgentsofSHIELD tweet stream add up the references to super soldier serum, gamma radiation, and Extremis, and conclude that AIM must be behind it.
There was probably a locket of Thor's hair in there, too.
I call No Clones.
Drawing Wire, Wikis, and Smiting: Epic Fantasy War at SDCC
S.M. Stirling @8: Steve, Mordicai is unambiguously one of the good guys. Play nice.
I go to science fiction and fantasy for places and people who -aren't- like me.
Why, so do I.
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln and the Future of Alternate History in the Mainstream
Like fantasy itself, alternate history has no starting date. For example, in Joanot Martorell's late-medieval Catalan epic Tirant lo Blanch (a.k.a. Tirant lo Blanc), which was published in 1490, there's a substantial section about Tirant defeating the Turks and raising the siege of Constantinople. Given that the Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453 and everyone in Europe knew it, that surely has to qualify. When you're dealing with premodern literature, you have to distinguish alternate history from forgeries and errors. Alternate history is fiction which intentionally departs from the known historical record, and is presented as such. Stuff like the Donation of Constantine and Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae don't count.
This Case is Gonna Kill Me (Excerpt)
Advance excerpt, Ulrika. The book's still in production.
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 8
ValMar, emoticons are best for clarifying which is the preferred reading when two hang in the balance. They have limited power to override apparent meaning. I would never call this thread a debate. It isn't focused on a sufficiently clear, polarized yea-or-nay proposition, no one's paying attention to the order of speeches and rebuttals, and we haven't even established which side has the burden of proof. What it is, then, is a friendly discussion, and should be conducted as such.
The Four Questions Everyone Asks at Conventions
Sometimes an audience member really does know something significant and interesting that the panelist isn't aware of. What I noticed many years ago was that really smart people like Chip Delany or Joanna Russ or John M. Ford weren't fazed by it. If someone had a genuinely good point, their reactions were more like "Oh, that's interesting -- this is the first I've heard about it. Go on?" or "Oooh. Talk to me after the panel." (I won't say it happened very often. Noticeably bad questions are commoner than noticeably good ones.) A panel is a conversation. So is an interview. The best audience interpolations respect and build on that. Interrupting or breaking it in order to demonstrate the importance of one's own opinions, without considering how they'll fit into the conversation, just comes off looking clueless. For a real ten-car pileup, though, nothing beats a panel where one of the panelists keeps breaking the conversation that way because he or she can't follow the discussion or isn't comfortable with it. Those are awful. (Useful tip: if you ever find yourself on a panel where you're in over your head, or you just have nothing to say, the trick is to listen alertly while doing unobtrusive reaction shots to what the other panelists are saying. It makes you look like you're in command of the material and part of the conversation, and in the meantime gives you something to do so you don't nod off.)
Michael Whelan’s Cover for A Memory of Light Revealed
The only trope I can think of that's associated with him is working his signature-glyph into the image, well in from the edges, so it can't be cropped or removed.
Star Trek 2 Villain Actually Revealed This Time?
Tentatively titled "Five Things that Never Happened to Stephen Moffat."
Star Trek 2 Villain Actually Revealed This Time?
If that's true, how come my inside source says they're working on final adjustments to his Yeoman Rand costume?
Is it Magic or is it Mimetic? (Being a Review of Jo Walton’s Among Others
Neuralnet, the list of books she's reading is central to the story. They're like a rope ladder Mori is plaiting to get to somewhere better. They're also, unless I miss my guess, the books the real Jo Walton was reading at that time.
What Are Your Favorite Wheel of Time Quotes?
Travyl @113: He swiped that one from Chaucer's Wife of Bath. (Chaucer swiped it from an older source. Writers are like that.)
Ask Steven Erikson Your Bonehunters Questions!
A Rusty Nail is scotch, Drambuie, and a twist of lemon. Rum plus red wine is a hangover accelerant.
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 25
RobM: Irish ancestry is notoriously difficult to trace. Early New Englanders are dead easy -- most of the early Mormon converts were descended from them, so the work's already been done for you. That's my lot on my mother's side: John Parker of Lexington, Elder John Crandall of Westerly, Christian Kniep, Ethan Allen, and a passel of Mayflower people. My husband, far more amusingly, is descended from Basil Hayden, the guy on the Old Grand-Dad bourbon label.
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 25
Unless your more recent ancestors belonged to a population whose genealogical data either wasn't written down or didn't survive, it's hard to avoid being traceable back to French/English/Scottish/etc. nobility and royalty, because they're the ones whose lives got recorded.
How to Come to Terms With Ryan Reynolds as the New Highlander
Zorra @32: I wouldn't be surprised. Highlander is one of those unstoppable fictional universes that beget spinoff and follow-on narratives like litters of plot-bunnies.
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 6
Hawkido, pray don't drive yourself into a fatal infarction when there's so little time left. Think how silly you'd feel if you popped off the day before it came out.
How to Come to Terms With Ryan Reynolds as the New Highlander
Play nice. If Bolt_V3 enjoyed the movie, he or she enjoyed it. There's no such thing as illusory pleasure.
Wikihistory
Desmond @9:
[T]his story isn't really about time travel anyway...
True. Someday I'll stop having humor-triggered cataplexy every time I re-read this story -- but not yet. The moderator thanks you.
For Love of Art and the Education of A Critic: Ratatouille
Jaspax, I promise you that there are kids this movie is going to speak to. One of the reasons they have such a hunger for stories is because stories tell them how the world works. What does Ratatouille tell them? An artist can come from anywhere. But not everyone can be a successful artist. You have to learn your craft. After you learn that, talent matters too. Your real talent may turn out to be something you've never thought of. Successful art must succeed with its audience. What making it as an artist means is that you get to do a lifetime of work in that field of art. If baby artists don't grasp all the implications at the time they see the movie, don't worry -- they'll figure them out later.
Queering SFF — Pride Month Extravaganza: The Bending the Landscape Series
A general note: I'd just as soon not see any more comments explaining that the commenter doesn't read the fiction being discussed, has no plans to read it, and is nevertheless sure that none of it is any good. It's no way to start an interesting conversation.
Queering SFF — Pride Month Extravaganza: The Bending the Landscape Series
Kato, what you've said is valuable even when the comment it responded to is gone.
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 23
Faiz Imam, I respect your assumption of responsibility, but I don't think you were that careless. Different people have different senses of what's a spoiler. For instance, readers who have a gift for connecting the dots don't want any additional information, and they have a broader sense than most of what's included in the term "information". By contrast, readers who go through a book quickly, taking in the experience as it happens, may not see anything short of an outright description of events as a spoiler. There are other styles and variants, but I'm sure you get the idea. Commenters are sure to err once in a while. I've done it myself, and been called on it. Reminding each other where the lines are is one of the recurring themes of these threads.
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 23
Lsana @23, it's still unwelcome. One of your fellow readers flagged it.
Gaming Roundup: Are Massive Discounts and Sales “Bad for Gamers”?
What I don't know are the development, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution costs of these games. Are Steam's markdown priced at below cost? What's the markup on games sold at standard retail prices?
A Memory of Light: Prologue (Excerpt)
True. You can use flint, chert, agate, jasper, obsidian, chalcedony, and a few other stones for that, but not slate.
Sleeps With Monsters: Why Are Fantasy Films All About The Men?
Liz: Because if the writer isn't thinking about it, being male is the unmarked state, so male characters are about what they do, but female characters are about what they are. If the storyteller doesn't emancipate them from that near-stasis, there aren't many stories to tell about them that work at longer length. There's the one about the girl becoming the person she's supposed to be, and one about the spunky girl who saves the people around her, and the second round of the "becoming herself" story that involves marriage and babies. It's hard to make that fill an epic fantasy. It's also hard to set it in motion, especially the "becoming herself" variations, because the main character has to shlep her identity around with her. The minute you tinker with this scenario by adding a character who's free to move and act, he becomes the focus of interest -- movement will do that -- and thus the protagonist. It also becomes easier to tell extended stories, and there are a lot more of them to tell. wcarter4 @3: I'm all for cooking up theories, so good on you; but there are at least as many female fantasy authors as there are male ones, and the same goes for their readership.
Sleeps With Monsters: Why Are Fantasy Films All About The Men?
wcarter4, if you register an account you can edit your comments after you post them.
Life as a Video Game Called “Class”?
Apologies to those who've lost comments, or were in the middle of writing replies. If it makes you feel better, I've deleted some of my own. We cannot continue to devote this thread to a loud, sprawling, apparently endless argument that's unrelated to the original article.
Life as a Video Game Called “Class”?
JackJack @13:
Was it easier for me than someone else that didn't have sexuality, race, or gender to deal with? No. Absolutely not.
That's an unsupported assertion in the individual case, and the data is seriously not on your side in the general case. Also, you have repeatedly misrepresented the other side of the argument. No one has said that you, personally, have had it easy all your life. They've said that you belong to a class which consistently has it easier than any other. You've had this pointed out to you several times. It's taken up a good bit of space in this discussion. You keep ignoring it, and arguing with a point no one has made. Could you please address this? You're making a hash of this thread.
An exception makes a statement false. I learned this in first grade.
Not a rule, outside mathematics; and it wouldn't be applicable in any event. The pertinent rule here is that one anecdotal report (that's you) does not constitute a statistically significant refutation. And, as I said before, the data is seriously not on your side.
TNH: "And once again: for others, that's never been an option. Their lives have inescapably been configured by race, gender, and class. You've gotten to pretend that such things somehow, magically, shouldn't be an issue, because they're not an issue for you. People who have to live with those markers know they're always an issue. They can't escape them."
I didn't choose, either.
Nobody said you chose to be straight, white, or male. What I said was that you have the luxury, unique to straight white middle-class males, of choosing to pretend that race, gender, class, and sexual orientation don't matter, and can be ignored. And make no mistake about it: that is a luxury. No one else gets to pretend those issues don't exist. Just ask Henry Louis Gates, or Trayvon Martin.
I don't believe I should be judged on those parameters, and I don't think anyone else should.
Everyone else is judged on them. You belong to the only class that escapes it. Why does this confuse and distress you so much?
I didn't choose. No one did. The whole "choosing Easy Mode" is absurd. I didn't. Did you?
Again: no one chooses what they are, and no one has said they did.
Life as a Video Game Called “Class”?
Douglas:
class is the way we link appearance to function. It's the way we populate and play the game.
Can you unpack that? I can't make any sense of the way you've stated it. JackJack: Nobody said you had it easy. They said you belong to a class that consistently has it easier. Which you do. Big difference. As for the idea that you don't have the right to hurt, or to complain about it, nobody's said that either. You are called upon to notice that other people hurt too, and that their complaints have been given less attention and tolerance. Some of them hurt quite a lot. Odds are, you're far from being the most seriously wounded case on the triage list. Are you afraid that if others have the same right you do to say "Don't complain to me, I've got problems of my own," your sorrows will never get any attention? Which pretty much boils down to "you're afraid that they'll treat you like you've treated them"?
But if anyone looked at me as a human being, instead of my racial, sexual, or gender qualifiers, I hope they'd see that human beings should not be defined by such narrow parameters.
And once again: for others, that's never been an option. Their entire lives have inescapably been configured by race, gender, and class. You've gotten to pretend that such things somehow, magically, shouldn't be an issue, because they're not an issue for you. People who have to live with those markers know they're always an issue. They can't escape them. Here, watch this. Don't worry; it's Dave Chappelle. He's funny. He's talking about hanging out with his white friend Chip, and the amazing sh*t Chip gets away with. Chappelle lives in a universe of rules about what you can and can't do in the vicinity of police officers. You say people shouldn't be defined by narrow parameters like race? If I didn't know anything about you, I'd still know you were white when you said that, because for you, there are next to zero penalties for pretending that race doesn't matter. For someone like Dave Chappelle, there are serious penalties for pretending race doesn't matter. Henry Louis Gates is the most prominent black academic intellectual in this country. He's a Harvard professor, not young, walks with a cane, lives in a tidy house in Cambridge. More establishment than that, you do not get. He was nevertheless accosted by police in his own home, in the middle of the day. After he showed them his ID, they still arrested him for "disorderly conduct", put him in handcuffs, and held him at the police station for four hours. That's what I mean by only white guys getting to pretend that race shouldn't matter. Even Henry Louis Gates, in his own home, in Cambridge for pete's sake (which is practically a theme park for moneyed academics), never gets to forget he's black. The threat is always there. Only white guys get to pretend that gender doesn't matter, too. Women never get to forget they're women. On average, you still get paid more than we do for the same work, get promoted oftener, and rise higher. You don't have to think twice about staying late at the office with a co-worker. The world isn't full of jerks who'll sexually harass you any time or anywhere, who make it clear that there's only one thing you're good for, and who may assault you if they think they can get away with it. You don't have to live with that, either. You, being human, have some sorrows in your life. LGBT teenagers have an appalling suicide rate. Life occasionally disappoints you. No physiological reasons can account for the number of black men who have dangerously high blood pressure. You feel bad sometimes. 95%-98% of all victims of domestic violence are women. Being alive hurts? No kidding. You're surrounded by people who deal with all this heartbreaking sh*t day in and day out, and go on living and working; but you nevertheless feel massively sorry for yourself, because you might have to momentarily admit that you have it better than they do.
You Can Own a Redshirts Shirt!
And I don't think the shirts are actually dangerous. It's not like they say ACME on them.
Game of Thrones, Season 2, Episode 10: “Valar Morghulis”
Joss Whedon, Stephen Moffat, and George R. R. Martin walk into a bar. Everyone you've ever loved dies.
You Can Own a Redshirts Shirt!
Xbob: You're marketing yourself as a billboard? Good luck with that.
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 22
RobM, how many times do you have to hear this before you hear it?
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Darmok”
Crzydroid @89, that one didn't bother me. I figure they picked up the data from a reference work compiled by an alien race that understands both Tamarian and hominid languages.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Darmok”
Christopher Bennett: You're right; it's a Poul Anderson story. I have high regard for his work in general, and didn't want to use him by name as a bad example.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Darmok”
CaitieCat @83, thank you for explaining. Alyssa @80:
Holy 80 comments!!!!
Yes. This is a good thread, with real back-and-forth engagement. Take a bow, everyone. Juliette @72:
as a linguist I have to take issue with a couple of your arguments.
Busted. I have no academic credentials. I'm just an editor.
The fact that a phrase has internal syntax doesn't necessarily mean that the people using the phrase actually understand its internal structures independently.
I'm aware that people can use a phrase without understanding it. I see them do it all the time.
It's conceivable that the Tamarians used to use the language more productively, but that though the situation implied by the phrase remained similar, the productive forms of the verbs may have been lost. Personally, I prefer the idea that the contexts for productive usage of the language are heavily circumscribed, and that productive use in other contexts is forbidden - which is why I went that direction when I revisited the language concept.
That would represent an anomaly in the world as I understand it. Before anything else, language is for use. It's the basis of civilization. The need for everyday communication does not go away. If one mode of language is too constrained to meet that need, people shift to another. There's a style of worldbuilding and storytelling in our genre that depends on arbitrary prohibitions. These are usually blamed on the local religion. For instance: "God is perfect, circles are perfect, therefore circles are sacred and belong only to God, therefore it's blasphemous to make a circular artifact, and that's why we use square wheels." (A real example.) A fair number of stories like that get published every year because they're relatively easy to construct, and at first glance they aren't obviously implausible. Thing is, they don't hold up well. In the case of the example above, a little thinking will tell you that when the next tribe over invents a schismatic sect whose doctrines approve of circular artifacts (which is neither difficult nor unlikely), they're going to out-fight and out-compete the orthodox Cornerists in nothing flat. If you take a strong position on the Tamarians having only figurative language, the episode turns into one of those narrative devices that come apart in your hands afterward. Major objections: 1. In what language are Tamarian children taught the requisite stories? 2. How do Tamarians of any age learn what "Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel" means? 3. If (as you suggest) the Tamarians are using these phrases without knowing what they mean, how can the phrases function as references to events? Are they not rather caesura'd single words that have inherited the forms of once-meaningful phrases? Social organization requires communication. This is known. If spoken Tamarian has become so ossified that Tamarians use it without necessarily understanding it, and they've abandoned (rather than elided) the use of verbs, my immediate reaction is to assume that formal good manners forbids them to manually sign in front of distinguished guests, and that whenever they're out of sight of the cameras and the Federation, they're signing away like a bunch of Gallaudet students. The business of language has to take place somewhere. However, I don't actually think that's what's going on. I think this episode is smarter and more sophisticated than that. Christopher Bennett has observed that Joe Menosky is a European history buff, but I think it's at least as pertinent that his co-author, Philip LaZebnik, took a degree in Classics at Harvard. Tamarian maps way too well onto the European Neoclassical enthusiasm for peppering their discourse with so many classical allusions that it can be incomprehensible if you don't know the background: Uzani, his army with fists open. Crassus, his mouth filled with gold. Temba, his arms wide. Odysseus, his bow drawn. Darmok at Tanagra. Caesar at the Rubicon. Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel. Hector and Achilles at Troy. Shalka, when the walls fell. Pyrrhus, victor at Asculum. If so, what the Tamarians have is a two-part language. The substrate is declarative, and is used for things small, precise, novel, or unreified: That'll be two pazoozles sixpence for a pound of butter and some plums. An armored column is stalled just short of the bridge at Kohl Berouk. Today's high will be 92, with a chance of thundershowers. Let the control unit warm up before you re-initialize it. Meanwhile, as we've been discussing, the language's more prestigious mode handles larger and more abstract and/or formal events and situations, which are conveyed via references to known stories. If we followed the same conventions in our own world, Bush at the Japanese banquet would either mean "I have a nasty stomach bug," or "Get out of the way, I'm about to barf."
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 22
I really don't want to have to explain again that identifying things that are going to be important later, or making meta-comments about cool episodes to come, can also be a spoiler. This is not just me kvetching. Your fellow readers complain about it. I know y'all're enthusiastic, and justly so -- it's a great series -- but could you please contrive to be happy in ways that don't interfere so much with others' enjoyment of it?
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Darmok”
I'm going to try this one more time. Consider these examples:
Uzani, his army with fists open. Uzani, his army with fists closed. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. Temba, his arms wide. Darmok on the ocean; Tanagra on the ocean; Darmok at Tanagra. Jalad on the ocean; Jalad at Tanagra. The beast at Tanagra. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. Darmok and Jalad on the ocean. Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel. Shalka, when the walls fell.
We've got regular grammar and regular syntax. We've got proper nouns, common nouns, possessive forms, participles (verbs acting as adjectives), adjectives, inflected verbs, prepositions, conjunctions, definite articles, and so forth. Classifying Shalka, when the walls fell as a single unit of meaning is not a problem. What is a problem is that the components that make up that unit are also functioning as meaningful language. The examples I've quoted are all conventional declarative statements. They only look exotic because in each case the speaker has left the main verb unspoken. The main verb is nevertheless understood to be present. As they're told in the show, the stories about Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra, and Gilgamesh and Enkidu, would make no sense unless each statement contained its implicit verb. Without that, there'd be no causality or consequence -- nothing to distinguish the stories from shopping lists. We know the Tamarians (Tamarinds?) understand verbs because they use them: open, close, fall. The components of the Tamarians' referential constructions are functioning as language. Tamarians are using those components as language, and that includes using them to make new language. One presumes that this is the linguistic mode the Tamarinds use to discuss calculus, ask to be handed a particular socket wrench, and teach their children the stories they'll refer to in their language's other major mode. If the Tamarians didn't speak and understand the language in which their stories are told, their elaborate verbal constructions would not convey any narrative meaning. They'd just be unusually long words. Furthermore, the Tamarians wouldn't be able to make new words when they needed them. If you don't speak the substrate language as language, you can't use it to encapsulate a new meaning you wish to refer to in the future. Does the hypothesis of inherited memory cover the question of how their children learn stories? It might, but in the process it brings up an even bigger question: where did the Tamarians pick up the concept of having to learn a languge, instead of knowing it from the start? That's a much bigger and hairier concept than figuring out how someone else's language conveys meaning. If the Tamarians don't have that concept, they and humans understand the universe in profoundly different ways. For example, there's no real way for Tamarians to learn that language isn't just an emergent property of the natural world. I must protest, Mark Z. @64, that inventing a history of alien invasion and the Tamarians' weird master/slave attitudes toward their declarative language mode is not an explanation. It's fanfic. If fanfic counts, I have a sonic screwdriver right here, I'm not afraid to use it, and that means I can prove that anything is right. But while that might be amusing, I don't think it's appropriate in this discussion. To sum up: I'm sorry, and I don't mean to step on anyone's toes, but the show's explanation of how the Tamarian language works is approximately equivalent to insisting that though UNIX lurks beind the Mac operating system, it's the Mac OS, not Unix, that makes the computer go. On the other hand, we can assume that Data and Troi misspoke. It's easy. It's clear. It's parsimonious. And best of all, thinking about it doesn't make my brain hurt.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Darmok”
"Psychic abilities" doesn't explain it. The problem isn't that story references don't communicate meaning. They do, and we ourselves use them that way. The problem is that their story-reference mode of communication is based on a more conventional language that does not depend on story references in order to have meaning. Here's another way to put the question: In what language are Tamarian children told the stories which they thereafter use as points of reference?
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Darmok”
Tamarian is not a complete language, and it doesn't function as one. Tamarians' metaphoric story-expressions are constructed out of declarative language. If "fist" is the same element in two expressions, and in both its meaning is understood to have some connection to a "a hand, clenched", then it's a word. By the same reasoning, "Uzani" is a proper noun which refers to an agreed-upon historical figure, "army" is a common noun, "his army" is a possessive, "closed" and "open" are adjectives derived from verbs, the stories/descriptions embedded in Tamarian expressions are language, and that component language isn't story-based. This is quite fixable. It requires only two assumptions, neither of which contradicts our knowledge of how the universe and its sophonts work. First: Story is one of the basic ways we humans organize information. It exerts a powerful force on the ways we think about and understand our world. If we assume that Tanarians have an even stronger tendency to organize and think about the world in terms of stories, then it's not unreasonable to assume that whenever they know an applicable story, their minds automatically jump to it. This is comparable to the situation where, if we have a strongly controlling metaphor for some event or situation, we have real trouble talking about that subject without referring to that metaphor. Second assumption (this one's dead easy): Troi and Data are either mistaken or being sloppy at the point where they explain that Tamarians communicate exclusively via references to stories from their myths and history. What they doubtless would have said if they were being more carefull was that Tamarian story references are a preferred and overriding mode of communication, but Tamarian language is that set of meaningful sounds you can use to say "my fist is open" and "my fist is closed." Are Troi and Data incapable of making errors? They are not. And since the language they describe doesn't match the language we've seen being used, it's reasonable to assume that this is one of those times when they err. Never send rubber science to do an unreliable narrator's job. The "scattering field" that disrupts communications but not sensors is unfixable. That one really doesn't make sense. What sensors sense is not some magical essential reality; it's signals of some kind, or of multiple kinds. If you can get a signal through, you've got communications, even if you're just switching it on and off in Morse code. === There's a precedent for the Tamarians' referential language. During the period when Neoclassicism was all the rage in Europe, anyone with class pretensions studded his or her language with references to Greek and Roman mythology and history. Feasts were Lucullan, educational institutions were Atheneums, uncomfortable situations were described in terms of Procrustes' bed or Scylla and Charybdis, slackers were lotus-eaters, big messes were Augean Stables, a soldier was an Ajax, and a handsome man an Apollo. References to stories like Horatio at the bridge, the Spartan boy and the fox, the Capitoline geese, or Alexander and Cleitus were used without explanation. It could be very hard to understand if you didn't know the background stories. References to the Bible and to the works of Shakespeare have also served a similar function. In modern times we have of course progressed beyond such things, which is why no one ever augments an explanation by saying "Use the Force, Luke," or "It's pining for the fjords," or "Say, I see you're not here for the hunting."
No One Watches the Watchmen: The Authoritarianism of The Avengers
Lightbringer, that was one of my favorite moments too. I especially liked that it was an older guy. He knew what he was seeing, and how dangerous it could be to stand up to it.
Titles from Poetry: Blake vs Marvell
Oh, good -- Ozymandias and Ginsberg have now been dragged in by the scruff of the neck, so we have a quorum and can play.
This is just to say that I have eaten the lamb you were keeping as a pet. Forgive me. I know it was probably an aspect of your god, but the chops were delicious. Stay for dinner?
Googling around earlier, I found that Blake is used more often in our genre, but Marvell gets more of a workout from travel writers. The line from "To His Coy Mistress" that really racks up the hits is "A fine and private place." I count at least fifteen books that use it as their title, by Anne Atkins, Peter S. Beagle, Morley Callaghan, Freda Davies, John Drummond, Mary Fitt, Erik Haagensen & Richard Isen, Ann Hebson, Christobel Kent, Brian Matthews, James E. Martin, Alan Morgan, Ellery Queen, John Simpson, and Joanna Trevor. I'm sure that's not a complete list. I was pleased to see that the Sunday Times used "Desserts of Vast Eternity" -- cake and death! -- but my favorite find was "Steeped in Misery As I Am," a song by Atrox, which is an avant-garde metal band from Trondheim. (They originally called themselves Suffocation, but changed because so many other bands were using that name.) They get extra credit for referencing both Blake and Marvell:
Steeped In Misery As I Am Deserts of vast eternity from which I cannot escape Oh, woe be upon me The pain of solitude Choirs of damnation Chanting in my dreams 'Life shall be no more Life - thou shalt die' Nor shall the knife Sleep in my hand I lament and bewail As my soul withers Alone I wander This be the fate I choose An inner, desolate void I shall fear no more
My only fear is that that may not be a translation.
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 2
Dsolo: Pretty please, don't re-start that argument. All it will accomplish is to get this thread shut down.
Sleeps With Monsters: Mass Effect and the Normalisation of the Woman Hero
Gerry Quinn @39:
This was the least evasive of a number of responses. (Though I am baffled that you felt it necessary to add the rider that you don't want people to see you agreeing to something that is pretty obvious to everyone. Are you afraid to speak freely?)
You will be more polite, please.
I was referring to human sexual dimorphism which is observable, and no reasonable person would claim that it is entirely a product of culture.
No person here, reasonable or unreasonable, has made that claim. Meanwhile, I'm sure that no reasonable person would claim that sexual dimorphism is unaffected by culture. However, the really pertinent question would have to be either "How much is it affected?" or "How much does it matter?" That is: there are differences. They aren't well-defined, and many of them aren't well-understood. Insofar as the question can be asked at all, in a situation of highly mechanized warfare, what differences do they make? Are those differences significant? For instance: men on average have greater upper-body strength. Back when warfare consisted of hitting each other with sharpened metal bars, it was an advantage. That's been changing ever since gunpowder came in. Meanwhile, women have greater endurance, greater cold tolerance, and cope better with zero gee. Those haven't gone out of style. As for real-world weapons, I can fire an M15 just fine, but I really prefer the Thompson submachine gun. I like its engineering. Achilles, Beowulf, and Lancelot would be dead long before they got close enough to use their upper-body strength on me.
I would note that aside from birth canals there are many other differences in male and female musculo-skeletal structure and body composition,
Again: what are they, how significant are they, and what exactly do they change or affect? It's not enough to simply assert that there are differences. We know that there's a great deal of physiological variation between one man and another. If we're comparing a man and a woman of similar ancestry, age, social background, upbringing, and inclinations -- as alike, say, as Cersei and Jamie Lanister -- is there less difference between that man and woman than there is between that man and another man who's of the same age but shares nothing else? Quite possibly it is. Genitals and reproductive organs are significant features, but god knows they aren't magic. They certainly aren't the only physical fact about us that matters.
along with whatever differences in mental composition that have co-evolved with them
Oh, no you don't. Last I looked, there wasn't a single mental characteristic that had clearly and unambiguously been established to be a function of gender -- and that's not for lack of trying.
(the latter are undoubtedly real too, although their entanglement with culture is greater).
They are still very much in doubt. Gender, it seems, is a much more complex and nuanced continuum than the simple bipolar schemes imagined in earlier times.
When we talk about action heroes, we are not talking about average people; we are talking about extremes, tested against other extremes. Suppose we took a sport such as soccer as an analogy to battle, and attempted to objectively determine the best soccer players in the world independent of gender.
They would still be men, of course. But we're not talking about games where the player's first-person character is a soccer player -- or a prima ballerina, for that matter. You put a great deal too much faith in the underpants-gnome proposition that there are certain physical differences between men and women, and therefore some vast number of assumptions and consequences must necessarily follow. So many of these immutable laws have evaporated on close examination that you really must forgive us for taking a skeptical attitude toward the rest.
You do make a valid point about push-button combat, which obviously depends much less on musculo-skeletal structure. But most action heroes/heroines don't depend too much on this.
Which game were we talking about?
As for the mad Scotsman, you resolved it without violence, and if you were a woman you could have resolved it as well, and in much the same way, leaning on calmness and getting it through to him that you were not afraid of him and also considered him capable of returning to rationality. (Though it wouldn't be exactly the same in every nuance; gender relations play a part in any such interaction.)
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that the nuances of such interactions are different for everyone. Unless you're dealing with a gender-obsessed crazy -- that is, with someone who's determined to make gender an issue -- it's not that big a factor. Styles of communication matter more.
Now I don't have the slightest objection to fantasy action heroines, and I think it's fine that people who want to play them (as some posters have pointed out) have that option.
Thank you. I recognize that that's a generous concession.
What I object to is the implication that they are somehow asserting radical truths about human nature that our culture conspires to deny.
Insofar as anyone can be said to have asserted that, you're more than welcome -- encouraged, even -- to engage with the idea and argue with it. The thread's young yet.
They do assert the truth that women can be very capable in any situation. But equally they deny the truth that men and women are not, in fact, completely interchangeable.
Once more into the breach for hairy England: no one has said that women and men are completely interchangeable. They have questioned whether the ways in which men and women are not interchangeable have any relevance in this matter.
Sleeps With Monsters: Mass Effect and the Normalisation of the Woman Hero
Gerard Quinn @21:
hawkwing @ 9: "Are you saying that the female action hero is inherently unrealistic?" Pretty much all genre action heroes are inherently unrealistic. For a fact, though, female humans dedicate a good deal more biological capital to things necessary for the propagation of the species, which leaves less over for things necessary for kicking butt.
Since we're talking about virtual butt-kicking, I believe my activities qualify. I moderate more than one forum. There isn't much of that at Tor.com, but I certainly do it elsewhere. On the other hand, I spend zero time or resources propagating my species. Which conclusion do we draw -- I'm not human, I'm not female, or your model leaves a lot to be desired? Liz @27: Blockquoting, like whiting out, only works properly if you apply it after cycling through "Preview Comment", just before you post. Doing multiple previews after you apply the blockquote format adds extra blank lines each time you do it.
Rothfuss Reread: The Wise Man’s Fear, Part 23: A Real Person
"Art owes nothing to politics, and politics owes nothing to art" is (a.) a political statement; (b.) a novel and radically artificial reading protocol; (c.) a denial and/or exclusion of vast tracts of art, literature, history, and criticism; and (d.) a decidedly odd opinion to be coming from someone who calls himself Hagbard Celine.
Sleeps With Monsters: Mass Effect and the Normalisation of the Woman Hero
Liz @6:
A lot of the time, when we have a heroine, she's an Exceptional Woman - a singular woman - whose heroism is tied to the Exceptionality of her Womanness, rather than of her personness.
Which, by emphasizing how exceptional she is, deprecates all other women, because they're defined as the class to which she's the sole and glorious exception. Edgewalker @10:
I disagree entirely with this. The problem I have with FemShep is that her gender doesn't matter at all. She could be a man, could be a woman, everything is the same. That isn't a strong female hero or even a strong female character. That's a blank slate. A true strong female hero would use the qualities inherent to women as her strengths. I understand such a thing would be almost impossible with Mass Effect's design of picking male or female and all the other choices you make. But regardless, FemShep isn't a strong female character, merely a strong character.
What exactly are these "qualities inherent to women"? Can you list them for us, please? Why is it that the inherent qualities which men attribute to men and to human beings are so nearly identical, but the inherent qualities they generally attribute to women have so much less overlap with those of human beings?
How Batman Got You Interested in Architecture. Batman: Death By Design
Yessss. All this and Chip Kidd too, and a storyline that borrows heavily from the history of Penn Station. Of course Batman works well with architecture. He always has. He and Superman both date from the period in which the roman noir pulp novel and early scientifiction were dividing the known universe into the World of Tomorrow and the City of Dreadful Night, mirror images of one another. Superman is native to one continuum, Batman to the other. In Gotham, history piles up in grimy layers, and no problem ever completely goes away. Elaborately ornamented building fronts are matched with dirty alleyways out back. On the outskirts, there's an entire asylum devoted to criminally insane supervillains. It's Batman's home turf. Can you imagine him operating in Metropolis -- or worse, in the suburbs? It's impossible. Batman is practically an emergent property of Gotham City.
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 3
Faculty Guy @6:
There are "small" things like this strewn throughout the novels, and they increase my fascination with the saga. MANY of them are later resolved in brilliant ways that I really like. SOME of them are "never" (i.e., not yet) resolved, and there are enough of these that I despair of having a complete resolution, yet remain fascinated by their inclusion. Why include them if they are never resolved?
I can answer this one: it's a genre technique. Those things are there because you're fascinated by their inclusion. Because you know there's something interesting or beautiful or logical lurking in that unseen space. Because a book that spelled out and nailed down every one of these flickering marginal illuminations would simultaneously be glutted with exposition, yet be smaller overall because it would take place in an entirely known and finite universe. There'd be no roads diminishing to pinpoints in the distance, no further mountain ranges disappearing into bluer and bluer haze, no rooms half-glimpsed through a momentarily open door, and no unread histories on the bookshelves. As we say at the workshop where I teach every autumn, "if your beta reader says 'That's fascinating, I'd love to know more about it,' the appropriate response may well be 'Good!'."
Leo Dillon 1933-2012
I'm so sorry to hear that Leo Dillon is dead. He and his wife Diane Dillon changed my life. Back in the 60s and early 70s, I noticed and bought a striking new line of paperbacks that all had the Dillons' beautiful, intelligent, dignified covers. After a while I realized that all the books with their covers were good, and then noticed that they were all edited by Terry Carr. That was how I found out that there's such a thing as a science fiction book editor. It's a nontrivial thing to create book covers that make people want to pick up books and read them. The Ace Specials weren't the only books I've bought because Leo Dillon was one of the cover artists. I've acquired a number of them over the years. It's a sure thing: they do tend to be good books, and the cover is worth the price all by itself. For many years now I've coveted a poster in David Hartwell's basement which Leo and Diane Dillon produced for the opening of an avant-garde NYC coffee house. It's still the only piece of luminously serene urban post-apocalyptic art I've ever seen. Words are never sufficient, but his art is still with us. If you're not familiar with it, go have a look. ===== A few more favorites: endpaper art, Ashanti to Zulu cover art, The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain cover art, John Brunner's The Traveler in Black wraparound cover art, Harlan Ellison's Deathbird Stories cover, Avram Davidson's The Phoenix in the Mirror cover, John T. Sladek's Mechasm
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 2
TickTockTick @227, one way to look at my job is that I'm trying to keep that from happening. I hate shutting down threads. When I rein in some incipient excess, it's because I'm hoping that if we work together, we can keep the conversation going, and have a good time doing it.
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 2
Zexxes @207, I think we're on the same page. Here's the deal: if one kind of person has "their place" or "their role" they're supposed to stick to, or there's some list of things they're supposed to be "naturally good at," then it almost doesn't matter what that place is, because what you've got is one kind of person whose place in the world and nature as a human being have been defined by someone else, and another kind of person who can be anything they can imagine, and do anything they can make a go of. If you're that the first kind of person, you're in a box. Even if it's the top of a pedestal, it's a box. If they tell you "Here, this box is your homeland, no one can ever take it away from you," or go on about how much better you are at standing inside it than they could ever be, it's still a box. It's never going to be a good place, or a safe one, because there are things you can do to people who are stuck in a box that you can't do to people who are outside it and have freedom to move. That's how they could take Reconstruction back: the box was still there. So imagine you're standing there in your box, trying to have a conversation with the people outside it, and you say "Let's talk about this box thing." You get maybe two sentences out before they start interrupting you to explain indignantly that they aren't personally, individually responsible for putting you in that box, or tell you how they're box-blind, not boxist, or complain that your box excludes them, or describe at length how boxes look to them from the outside, or gush about how much more spiritually in touch boxed people are, or gripe that their feet hurt, so everybody's got it hard, not just you, or say what we need to do is free ourselves first from the boxes inside our heads, or complain that you're talking about the unboxed in hurtful and unfair ways, or accuse you of trying to stir up box warfare, or tell you that you've had your say (those two measly sentences!), so now they're going to have theirs, or complacently say they already know all about it -- a lot of their friends are in boxes. You're smart. I'll bet I can stop here.
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 2
Can we please return to discussing whatever we're discussing in terms of the book? Because otherwise, what we have here is an escalating discussion of gender essentialism. It will not enlighten us. It will not make us happy. Been there, done that, not a good place.
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 2
Zexxes @192, how does it make you feel to be told that you have "your place" in the world? Ditto, when "evolutionary history" is used to justify it?
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 2
Faculty Guy: E. O. Wilson was a good biologist, but his evolutionary biology was guesswork, and later practitioners of the form quickly fell into parlor-game mansplaining. It's like Freud and psychology: he'll be remembered for inventing evolutionary biology as a field of study, not for the accuracy and applicability of the conclusions he drew from it.
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 2
Man-o-Manetheran, thanks for the good news. I'll pass that on.
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 2
Bawambi, I just did some experimental fiddling around. The greater-than [>] seems to be okay, but the site's got a hate-on for the less-than symbol. It disappears when you preview or post, and things in its vicinity tend to disappear as well. Anything you put between carets, for instance a standard HTML link, will disappear along with both carets. Links formed by the linking icon at the top of the comment box survive because they use square brackets. If you pretend the pointy brackets are square brackets, the syntax looks like this: {url=http://cuteoverload.com/}Teh Cute{/url} If you use the less-than symbol by itself, without any participation by greater-than, the site will eat the less-than symbol plus the next five characters to the right of it. This time, pretend the pointy bracket is a less-than symbol. If what you type is {abcdefghij, what you'll see in your post is fghij. I don't know how long this has been true. Anyone who can remember successfully posting a less-than, and if possible when you posted it, please speak up. I got strange results just now when I tried searching the message base for instances of it.
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 2
Zexxes @101, it would never have occurred to me to describe you as dislikable. Your behavior has on occasion been troublesome, but that's something you do, not something you are. Bawambi @108, what happened when you tried to post?
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 2
JackJack, I'm not seeing a double post from you, and you're not the only reader today who's reported a double post that wasn't there. We may have a new site bug.

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