What have you been reading lately?

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AuthorTopic: What have you been reading lately?
Councilor
Member # 6600
Profile Homepage #275
Originally by Andraste:

quote:
The Zombie Survival Guide isn't as funny as I thought it would be. Some stuff is good, but it gets an overall rating of Eh.
Did it have any useful information for average citizens like how to survive a zombie attack with just a towel or with only a snickers bar and a roll of toilet paper in the dead of winter, or was it only stuff that would be useful to a cleric or a paranoid redneck with a shotgun?

Dikiyoba is now on The Concise Dinosaur Encyclopedia by David Burnie.

Edit: Added quote for new page.

[ Thursday, January 11, 2007 13:04: Message edited by: Dikiyoba ]

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Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Agent
Member # 1934
Profile Homepage #276
quote:
Originally written by Dikiyoba:

Did it have any useful information for average citizens like how to survive a zombie attack with just a towel or with only a snickers bar and a roll of toilet paper in the dead of winter, or was it only stuff that would be useful to a cleric or a paranoid redneck with a shotgun?


More of the shotgun thing. Several shotguns actuality. The book suggests that you have at least 500 rounds of ammunition for each weapon and to have at least 3 gun-type weapons per person.
There was little mention of toilet paper sadly.

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Agent
Member # 2210
Profile #277
I read the God Delusion and found it rather disappointing. He successfully attacks the bible and other written works but has no real answer or challenge to deism or scientific rationalizations for god. He mainly is arguing against theism, but once again fails by only focusing on western theism. He calls buddhism and eastern religions a personal philosophy which is not quite accurate and pontificates a lot. It was an interesting but lukewarm book.

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Shaper
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Profile #278
Planiverse: Computer Contact with a Two Dimensional World

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Lt. Sullust
Quaere verum
Posts: 2462 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Shaper
Member # 7420
Profile Homepage #279
Still reading the Thrawn Trilogy, but I must disagree with what Dintiradan said earlier. Thrawn may be a genius, he may even be an excellant character, but I don't get his motive. Palpatine had every motive, power, revenge, destiny, but what's Thrawn's deal? What does he have to gain by seeing the Empire return to power? Doesn't the Empire hate aliens? Isn't he an alien? I don't get it.

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Posts: 2156 | Registered: Thursday, August 24 2006 07:00
Law Bringer
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Profile #280
Thrawn is a loyal cog in the Empire that no longer exists. He continues to destroy rebels as that was the last order of the Emperor. Maybe the Emperor used the Force to make that order stick a little more than usual so that Thrawn will continue doing so until the order is changed by the Emperor or his clone.

Besides he's an alien and you are trying to ascribe human motives to his actions.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
...b10010b...
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quote:
Originally written by Randomizer:

Besides he's an alien and you are trying to ascribe human motives to his actions.
Alien psychology is the last recourse of a bad writer.

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Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Shaper
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I disagree Thuryl. Creating a whole new psychology is an even greater task than creating a whole new world. Only a great writer can develope one effectively

Thrawn's, however, must not properly developed.

[ Tuesday, January 16, 2007 01:45: Message edited by: Emperor Tullegolar ]

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Posts: 2156 | Registered: Thursday, August 24 2006 07:00
Law Bringer
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Profile Homepage #283
I think you misunderstood Thuryl's point.

Creating an alien psychology is not the mark of a bad writer.

Using "he's an alien, they have a different psychology" as an excuse is.

By analogy to fantasy, it's the "it works with magic" blunder of Science Fiction.

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Shaper
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Oh, you mean like "a wizard did it." Yeah, alright, fair enough.

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Posts: 2156 | Registered: Thursday, August 24 2006 07:00
Electric Sheep One
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Profile #285
Hmmm. How many good examples of alien psychology are there? I guess a few occur to me.

-- The Pilgrim, by Gordon R. Dickson, has a surprising ending that turns on alien psychology, and that pretty much works, I thought.

-- The Tines in Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep are pretty cool. I guess I'd have to say that this is the best example of alien psychology that I know.

-- With the possible exception of Stanislaw Lem's Golem XIV, who is a supercomputer rather than a natural creature from another planet.

-- The Moties of Larry Niven's and Jerry Pournelle's The Mote in God's Eye have a couple of psychological quirks that are not very credible a priori but that are reasonably well developed in the story. The plot turns on them, in fact.

Any others?

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Law Bringer
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I'm not much for alien psychology... but then again, it's somewhat prominent in what I'm reading now: Learning the World by Ken MacLeod. Half of the action takes place on a planet populated by avian humanoids... and their psychology is a bit different, it seems. But the way it's handled is interesting... it's never explained directly.

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Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Guardian
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By SoT:
quote:
Any others?
The Conquerors trilogy, also by Zahn (though that had more to do with alien physiology than alien psychology).

It's been so long since I read the Thrawn trilogy that I don't remember much of his psychology other than a few tidbits, like determining a species' weak point by analyzing their art. Zahn wrote a book after the trilogy that dealt with Thrawn's species (don't remember the name... also a long time ago), but it doesn't deal with Thrawn per se as it mentions that they had him outcast for his penchant for pre-emptive attacks.

In any case, Thrawn never said anything inane like "because I'm trying to harm you and your friends, you should do an abrupt moral turnabout and ally with me." That puts him a notch above most other SW villains.

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Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
Agent
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quote:
Written by Ephesos:
But the way it's handled is interesting... it's never explained directly.
Never explaining things is Macleod's hallmark; I got rather fed up with it and stopped reading after struggling for a couple of months.

I'm currently reading Hyperion, which is rather more enjoyable.

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Shaper
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I liked I, Robot's take on robot psychology. That's a kind of alien psychology, and the best example I can think of.

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Posts: 2156 | Registered: Thursday, August 24 2006 07:00
Law Bringer
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quote:
Originally written by Micawber.:

quote:
Written by Ephesos:
But the way it's handled is interesting... it's never explained directly.
Never explaining things is Macleod's hallmark; I got rather fed up with it and stopped reading after struggling for a couple of months.

Okay, you're right... I just can't wrap my mind around that book. Any book that tries to go all fancy "we've-got-computers-in-our-brains" crashes...

Following this failure, I think I'll go for Jack McDevitt's Infinity Beach next. After all, I loved Eternity Road, though I don't believe the two are related.

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TM: "I want BoA to grow. Evolve where the food ladder has rungs to be reached."

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Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Agent
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Trying to explain how some things work in science fiction is really dumb sometimes. You have to think compared to many science fiction technologies we would be primitive, how do you explain how a jet engine works to an aborigine who has never seen technology without making an awful lot of euphemistic mistakes.

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Wasting your time and mine looking for a good laugh.

Star Bright, Star Light, Oh I Wish I May, I Wish Might, Wish For One Star Tonight.

Add your one star vote to my tally.
Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Guardian
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Any science fiction writer who uses sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a fantasy writer who uses magic. ;)

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Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
Agent
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That's no excuse for Macleod however: he doesn't make any effort to explain the politics, the plot or his characters either.

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Posts: 1104 | Registered: Monday, March 10 2003 08:00
Law Bringer
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Yeah, he just launched into the story. Didn't really explain anything, used tons of terms that only the characters themselves would understand, and did very improbable things. Come to think of it, it's kind of like looking at SW from the outside.

I felt more grounded when I was reading about life on the other planet.

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TM: "I want BoA to grow. Evolve where the food ladder has rungs to be reached."

Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.
Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Off With Their Heads
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Profile Homepage #295
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

Any others?
Well, if we're allowing for robot psychology also, there is of course Marvin from the Hitchhiker's series. Not that his psychology is particularly deep, but that it is effective. :P

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Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Agent
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quote:
Any others?
One example is Iain M Banks's The Algebraist, which gave a pretty good glimpse of the thought process of the Dwellers, but it does rather dominate the book at the expense of the ostensible plot.

Another example would be Orson Scott Card's Xenocide, for the dialogues between the Hive Queen and Rooter, which nicely counterpoint their respective races' psychologies against the human psychology. However it's only a passive commentary on events: we don't truly experience alien psychology in this book as we never see them act, with reasons for their action explained.

It's tricky because writers tend to concentrate on variant human psychologies rather than alien ones. TV SF writers in particular deal in alien stereotypes who can usually be labelled "the warrior race", "the robot/logical race" or "the spiritual race". Or most exotic, a combination!

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Posts: 1104 | Registered: Monday, March 10 2003 08:00
Electric Sheep One
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Profile #297
Sometimes not explaining is good, though. If it's done right.

quote:
They set a slamhound on Turner's trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair.
Reading Gibson the first time gives you this buzzy feeling of not having any idea what's going down, but it's okay, you're game to fake it. Just hustle quickly through the next few pages, and we'll pull it off, definitely. Which is a great effect because a main point of that trilogy is creating a world in which most of the characters, and most of the population, are hustling like that, all the time.

Re-reading him, trying to see how he achieved that effect, I was surprised at how much explanation there actually was. I concluded that a little non-explanation goes a long way.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
...b10010b...
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quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

quote:
They set a slamhound on Turner's trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair.
Reading Gibson the first time gives you this buzzy feeling of not having any idea what's going down, but it's okay, you're game to fake it.

Frank Herbert does the same kind of thing, but at least there's a glossary in the back.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Law Bringer
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Jack Vance does this all the time, and it's perfectly okay because you can figure out what you need to know. In the Dying Earth, at least, everyone else is just getting by too anyway.

—Alorael, who wonders if there's a genre or subgenre term for books that throw made-up terms and words around without any explanation. Maybe it could even be subdivided into those that do it well and those that do it to seem complicated (see technobabble).
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