"Keepers? You Tell Me," or, "Too Many Books, Too Little Space"

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Michael P. Kube-McDowell

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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It's time for that annual end-of-the-year ritual, deciding which of
the publishers' comps get to stay and which go to enrich the
collection at the township public library or the local high school. I
have little to no pleasure reading time at the moment, so _anything_ I
hold back is shelved for the future (same ethic as canning peaches).
However, shelf space in my office is at a premium--I'd like to keep
everything, but I'm obliged to be choosy.

Focusing mostly on authors not already represented in my library, does
anyone have anything good to say about:

. Kim Antieau (THE GAIA WEBSTERS)
. Elisabeth DeVos (THE SERAPHIM RISING)
. W. Michael Gear (STARSTRIKE)
. Gayle Greeno (MINDSNARE)
. Jan Clark (EARTH HERALD / PRODIDY)
. Catherine Wells (MOTHER GRIMM)
. A.A. Attanasio (the DRAGON/WOLF/EAGLE trilogy)
. Paul Cook (FORTRESS ON THE SUN)
. Felicity Savage (the EVER trilogy)
. Sean Russell (THE COMPASS OF THE SOUL / BENEATH THE VAUNTED HILLS)
. James Thayer (MAN OF THE CENTURY)
. Greg Egan (DIASPORA)
. Susan R. Matthews (AN EXCHANGE OF HOSTAGES)
. Robert Holdstock (GATE OF IVORY, GATE OF HORN)
. Valerie Freireich (BECOMING HUMAN / TESTAMENT / THE BEACON /
IMPOSTER)
. Ann Marston (the Rune Blade trilogy)
. Jim Aikin (THE WALL AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD)

Since you likely don't know my tastes, comparisons of the form "If you
like _______, you'll probably like ______" are permitted (even if they
end up sounding like so many spare cover blurbs).

Thanks in advance for sharing your opinions.

Best,

K-Mac

Nancy Lebovitz

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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In article <367ce162...@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
Michael P. Kube-McDowell <K-...@sff.net> wrote:

>. Greg Egan (DIASPORA)

Utterly spectacular--it's space opera with lots of intellectual
underpinnings. I loved it, though I'll grant that other folks
here have found it too dry.


Jo Walton

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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In article <367ce162...@netnews.worldnet.att.net>
K-...@sff.net "Michael P. Kube-McDowell" writes:

> . Greg Egan (DIASPORA)

I was very surprised to see this on your list.

If you have any interest in where SF is, and where it is going, you
ought to be aware of Egan, whether you like him or not.

--
Jo - - I kissed a kif at Kefk - - J...@bluejo.demon.co.uk
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
http://www.bluejo.demon.co.uk - Blood of Kings Poetry; rasfw FAQ;
Reviews; Interstichia; Momentum - a paying market for real poetry.


P Nielsen Hayden

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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In <367ce162...@netnews.worldnet.att.net> K-...@sff.net (Michael P. Kube-McDowell) writes:

>Since you likely don't know my tastes, comparisons of the form "If you
>like _______, you'll probably like ______" are permitted (even if they
>end up sounding like so many spare cover blurbs).

Well, I do know a little about your tastes, just from various comments
you've made over the years, so I'd suggest you at least try the Egan before
giving it away.

--
Patrick Nielsen Hayden : p...@panix.com : http://www.panix.com/~pnh

Michael P. Kube-McDowell

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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On 18 Dec 98 05:52:13 GMT, Barbara Robson
<rob...@octarine.itsc.adfa.edu.aus> wrote:

>>. Greg Egan (DIASPORA)
>
>You'll like this if you like Greg Egan's work in general (I generally
>do). There are plenty of nifty "gee-whiz" sf ideas in it, as you'd
>expect from Egan.

Egan is one of the folks who've come into the field since I last had
the opportunity to read widely in it, and I'm unfamiliar with his work
at any length.

Best,

Michael


Brendon Towle

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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> . Susan R. Matthews (AN EXCHANGE OF HOSTAGES)

If you either:

A. really, really liked Donaldson's Gap series; or

B. liked Donaldson's Gap series, but wished it was much shorter;

you'll probably like this.

B.

--
Brendon Towle <to...@earthlink.net>
"Think of it as evolution in action" - Tony Rand, _Oath of Fealty_


Michael P. Kube-McDowell

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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[CC: to E-mail]

On Fri, 18 Dec 98 09:38:25 GMT, J...@bluejo.demon.co.uk (Jo Walton)
wrote:

>
>> . Greg Egan (DIASPORA)
>


>I was very surprised to see this on your list.
>
>If you have any interest in where SF is, and where it is going, you
>ought to be aware of Egan, whether you like him or not.

That sounds a little bit like a rebuke, Jo, so let me set the context.
At an age when we really ought to be somebody's grandparents, Gwen and
I have Committed Family--having two children fourteen months apart.
Amanda is now three, and Gavin two. Alas, with two 40-something
parents and two bright, energetic children, they have us badly
outnumbered. Now throw my 15-year-old son (with us half the time) into
the mix, sprinkle lightly with Gwen's four hospitalizations in the
last two years, and you have a very full table.

Also, in part because of two tremendous opportunities and in part
because of my new obligations, I've written more in the last
three-and-a-half years--some 500,000 words--than I did in the
preceding seven years. Since I am not a particularly _fast_ writer,
however, that has meant a lot of 10-hour days and 6-day workweeks.

Though I know I'm hardly alone in this, especially among two-earner
families, the reality is that I go to bed every night (rarely before 2
AM) with a long list of unfinished business, both professional and
family. (The wholly personal has almost vanished from my days--I used
to have hobbies, I think, but I'm no longer certain of that.) Cruising
from minor crisis to major crisis and back again, I'm reminded of the
folksy epigram, "When you're up to your ass in alligators, it's hard
to remember that your original intention was to drain the swamp."

So you see that my interest in "where SF is, and where it is going"
has, as a matter of necessity, taken a back seat to a plethora of more
mundane concerns. It's nigh on impossible to keep up with the field
when most of your available reading time involves a very small room
with an oddly-shaped cold, white chair. The reason I keep _any_ new
books is my unreasoning optimism that someday my life will again allow
me to read a couple of books a week, for no reason other than
pleasure, as I did when I was younger--before I became a parent, and
before I turned to writing full time. Either one of those activities
is a potential timesink--I've found the combination of the two to be a
virtual black hole, sucking up all available time and energy.

Best,

K-Mac

Michael P. Kube-McDowell

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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[CC'd to e-mail]

On 18 Dec 1998 07:53:09 -0500, p...@panix.com (P Nielsen Hayden) wrote:

>>Since you likely don't know my tastes, comparisons of the form "If you
>>like _______, you'll probably like ______" are permitted (even if they
>>end up sounding like so many spare cover blurbs).
>
>Well, I do know a little about your tastes, just from various comments
>you've made over the years, so I'd suggest you at least try the Egan before
>giving it away.

I'm working with two boxes here, one I might label "inclined to keep,"
the other "inclined to find a good home." The Egan has been in the
former box, probably mostly on the strength of its cover and general
aura.

I try to hold onto all major award nominees, new books by old friends,
highly-praised books by promising newcomers, and the occasional
slightly trashy beach-book-quick-read-guilty-pleasure. OTOH,
fantasy-quest trilogies routinely go in the latter box.

BTW, I just finished John Barnes's MOTHER OF STORMS, which I believe
you edited. I found it well worth my time, even taken in five-to-ten
page sips over most of a month. I tip my cap to both John and you.
(Let's see, that means I'm only four years behind the curve...)

Best,

K-Mac

Damien Neil

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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On 18 Dec 1998 17:19:05 GMT, Michael P. Kube-McDowell <K-...@sff.net> wrote:
>Egan is one of the folks who've come into the field since I last had
>the opportunity to read widely in it, and I'm unfamiliar with his work
>at any length.

While you are permitted to dislike Egan, I'll have to beat you over the
head with the collected works of Robert Jordan if you don't at least
give him a try before giving away the book.

I believe your list contained _Starstrike_ by W. Michael Gear. My memory
fuzzily recalls this as being tolerable fluff. I found other books of his
rather less tolerable...I stopped reading him thirty pages into (title
forgotten) after the painstaking description of how what the Female
Scientist really wanted was a Manly Savage to subjugate and dominate
her.

- Damien

Mary K. Kuhner

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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In article <367ce162...@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Michael P. Kube-McDowell <K-...@sff.net> wrote:

[snip list of books looking for opinions]

>. Susan R. Matthews (AN EXCHANGE OF HOSTAGES)

Despite some first-novel flaws I thought this was worth reading.
I don't think I can give a good "If you liked X you'll like this"
analogy, though. Maybe _Clay's Ark_ by Octavia Butler? Or
_The Conscience of the Beagle_ by Patricia Anthony?

It's a definite no if you don't like graphic violence, intensely
dwelt on, committed in large part by the protagonist. Having said
that, though, I don't generally like anything of the sort; this
book was an exception.

The sequel _Prisoner of Conscience_ was, I thought, significantly
better, though it probably won't work as well as a stand-alone. (I
read them in reverse order and, while the body of _Prisoner_ was
comprehensible, the opening felt very flat.) The main flaw of
_Hostages_ was a tendency for the protagonist to be an archetype
rather than a person. In _Prisoner_ he is more three-dimensional.

It's a book that gets extreme reactions from a large proportion of
its readers, often leading to the accusation that the only way to
enjoy a story with so much sadism in it is to be a sadist. I don't
agree, personally, but I can certainly understand and sympathize
with finding the book impossible to stomach. I was rather expecting
to have that reaction myself.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Henriette Kress

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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On 18 Dec 1998 17:44:05 GMT, ne...@acm.rpi.edu (Damien Neil) wrote in
rec.arts.sf.written:

>On 18 Dec 1998 17:19:05 GMT, Michael P. Kube-McDowell <K-...@sff.net> wrote:
>>Egan is one of the folks who've come into the field since I last had
>>the opportunity to read widely in it, and I'm unfamiliar with his work
>>at any length.
>
>While you are permitted to dislike Egan, I'll have to beat you over the
>head with the collected works of Robert Jordan if you don't at least
>give him a try before giving away the book.

Look! It's the Incredible Hulk!

(...nobody else would be able to hit anybody over the head with the collected
works of Jordan, much less -lift- them).

Henriette

--
Henriette Kress Helsinki, Finland http://metalab.unc.edu/herbmed
H...@hetta.pp.fi FTP: go to metalab.unc.edu or sunsite.sut.ac.jp and cd to
/pub/academic/medicine/alternative-healthcare/herbal-medicine/
Medicinal and Culinary herbFAQs, pictures, database, neat stuff, archives...

athol-brose

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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In article <367d960e...@netnews.worldnet.att.net>, Michael

P. Kube-McDowell wrote:
>BTW, I just finished John Barnes's MOTHER OF STORMS, which I believe
>you edited. I found it well worth my time, even taken in five-to-ten
>page sips over most of a month. I tip my cap to both John and you.
>(Let's see, that means I'm only four years behind the curve...)

I rather liked "Mother of Storms" both times I read it (re-reading is
becoming a rare event for me). I would have passed it off to a
weather-nut friend of mine, except I think she would be rather
distressed by the (almost seemingly out-of-place) explicitly violent
sex scene(s). Other than that, she would adore it, but with it it
would become a nightmare factory book for her, I think.

--
r. n. dominick -- cinn...@one.net

Very very very very very very good!

Lawrence Person

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Dec 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/18/98
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> It's time for that annual end-of-the-year ritual, deciding which of
> the publishers' comps get to stay and which go to enrich the
> collection at the township public library or the local high school. I
> have little to no pleasure reading time at the moment, so _anything_ I
> hold back is shelved for the future (same ethic as canning peaches).
> However, shelf space in my office is at a premium--I'd like to keep
> everything, but I'm obliged to be choosy.
>
> Focusing mostly on authors not already represented in my library, does
> anyone have anything good to say about:
>

> . Greg Egan (DIASPORA)

Though not perfect, much of DIASPORA is absolutely brilliant. Egan has a
staggering imagination, and parts of DIASPORA made my mind hurt in all the
right ways.

Like much of Egan's work, this is one of the essential SF novels of the 1990s.

--
Lawrence Person
lawr...@bga.com

New issue of Nova Express Now Available!
Nova Express Website: http://www.delphi.com/sflit/novaexpress/

Michael P. Kube-McDowell

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
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On 18 Dec 1998 17:44:05 GMT, ne...@acm.rpi.edu (Damien Neil) wrote:

>On 18 Dec 1998 17:19:05 GMT, Michael P. Kube-McDowell <K-...@sff.net> wrote:
>>Egan is one of the folks who've come into the field since I last had
>>the opportunity to read widely in it, and I'm unfamiliar with his work
>>at any length.
>
>While you are permitted to dislike Egan, I'll have to beat you over the
>head with the collected works of Robert Jordan if you don't at least
>give him a try before giving away the book.

I think we can safely say that a consensus has formed around my
keeping the Egan. <g>

Best,

K-Mac

P.S. All too soon, I'm going to be having to simultaneously decide
which title to _remove_ from my shelves. Egan for Blaylock? Savage for
Silverberg? Attanasio for Asimov?

Nancy Lebovitz

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
to
In article <913973...@bluejo.demon.co.uk>,

Jo Walton <J...@bluejo.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>
>If you have any interest in where SF is, and where it is going, you
>ought to be aware of Egan, whether you like him or not.
>
Is SF going somewhere? Ghu knows I can't keep up with the field,
but I don't get the impression that there's anything drastically
new in sf in terms of prose, politics, or subject matter in the past
ump years. I don't mind the lack of change so long as there's good
SF--but am I missing something?

I like/love a lot of what Egan's written, but I don't see any evidence
that he's influencing the field. He's emphatically a part of SF, but
he isn't getting it to go anywhere. (If he's inspiring a movement
toward strange physics hard sf, please let me know--I'd love to
read more of it.)

I suppose I could make a case that we're seeing some of the older
types of sf being superbly well done (Egan, Bujold, Vinge)--I don't
know if that's a direction for the field. Another possible direction
is integration with other genres, especially mystery.

Excuse me if I'm answering a point you weren't making.

Otzchiim

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
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K-Mac asks:

>
>Focusing mostly on authors not already represented in my library, does
>anyone have anything good to say about:
>
Would second (third, whatever) the statement that the Susan Matthews
book is worth reading.
Jim Aikin's THE WALL AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is depressing, ugly, and
well done. If you liked his WALK THE MOONS ROAD, and loved it as I did, you
may find it disappointing for not being the same sort at all.
While I have read some Greg Egan, I find that I can't remember him.
Probably I read too much.
Mark Owings


Aaron Bergman

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
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In article <75f83r$m...@netaxs.com>, Nancy Lebovitz wrote:
>
>I like/love a lot of what Egan's written, but I don't see any evidence
>that he's influencing the field. He's emphatically a part of SF, but
>he isn't getting it to go anywhere. (If he's inspiring a movement
>toward strange physics hard sf, please let me know--I'd love to
>read more of it.)

I'm not sure if it's direct inspirations, but Baxter's stuff is
quite similar, really.

Aaron
--
Aaron Bergman
<http://www.princeton.edu/~abergman/>

Aaron Bergman

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
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In article <367aff55...@netnews.worldnet.att.net>, Michael P. Kube-McDowell

wrote:
>On 18 Dec 1998 17:44:05 GMT, ne...@acm.rpi.edu (Damien Neil) wrote:
>
>>On 18 Dec 1998 17:19:05 GMT, Michael P. Kube-McDowell <K-...@sff.net> wrote:
>>>Egan is one of the folks who've come into the field since I last had
>>>the opportunity to read widely in it, and I'm unfamiliar with his work
>>>at any length.
>>
>>While you are permitted to dislike Egan, I'll have to beat you over the
>>head with the collected works of Robert Jordan if you don't at least
>>give him a try before giving away the book.
>
>I think we can safely say that a consensus has formed around my
>keeping the Egan. <g>

As the (AFAICT) lone _Diaspora_ detractor on this group, I think
that _Permutation City_ or _Axiomatic_ is a much better place to
start with Egan. Both of these books were utterly spectacular. My
opinions on _Diaspora_ have been recorded elsewhere.

James Nicoll

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
to
Aaron Bergman wrote:
>
> In article <75f83r$m...@netaxs.com>, Nancy Lebovitz wrote:
> >
> >I like/love a lot of what Egan's written, but I don't see any evidence
> >that he's influencing the field. He's emphatically a part of SF, but
> >he isn't getting it to go anywhere. (If he's inspiring a movement
> >toward strange physics hard sf, please let me know--I'd love to
> >read more of it.)
>
> I'm not sure if it's direct inspirations, but Baxter's stuff is
> quite similar, really.

Well, except for quality and I've caught Baxter in a lot
of howlers, physics and otherwise. *How* far can you go in a millenium
of 1g acceleration?

BTW, folks would better off dipping their heads in a bucket
of liquid N2 and battering them against a tree very very hard than
reading Baxter's _Titan_. It would not surprise me if reading that
book causes birth defects.

James Nicoll

Elisabeth Carey

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
to
James Nicoll wrote:

<snip>

> BTW, folks would better off dipping their heads in a bucket
> of liquid N2 and battering them against a tree very very hard than
> reading Baxter's _Titan_. It would not surprise me if reading that
> book causes birth defects.

I think you're being far too kind.

Lis Carey

Jo Walton

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
to
In article <367c8c59...@netnews.worldnet.att.net>

K-...@sff.net "Michael P. Kube-McDowell" writes:

<snip>

> So you see that my interest in "where SF is, and where it is going"
> has, as a matter of necessity, taken a back seat to a plethora of more
> mundane concerns. It's nigh on impossible to keep up with the field
> when most of your available reading time involves a very small room
> with an oddly-shaped cold, white chair. The reason I keep _any_ new
> books is my unreasoning optimism that someday my life will again allow
> me to read a couple of books a week, for no reason other than
> pleasure, as I did when I was younger--before I became a parent, and
> before I turned to writing full time. Either one of those activities
> is a potential timesink--I've found the combination of the two to be a
> virtual black hole, sucking up all available time and energy.

Nobody has any obligation to read everything, or even to try to.

I'll even avoid asking how you have time for usenet, because I know it
takes a different sort of time entirely.

But I thought that you were writing a series, on your web-site, of
"how to write SF". I got this impression from your advertisements
for it here and on rasfc. That, and not reading for pleasure or
writing SF, was why I assumed you would be aware of the field -
teaching SF without knowing of the existence of Egan seems like a
very strange thing to be doing at the end of 1998.

Aaron Bergman

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
to
In article <367B7C13...@home.com>, James Nicoll wrote:
>Aaron Bergman wrote:
>>
>> In article <75f83r$m...@netaxs.com>, Nancy Lebovitz wrote:
>> >
>> >I like/love a lot of what Egan's written, but I don't see any evidence
>> >that he's influencing the field. He's emphatically a part of SF, but
>> >he isn't getting it to go anywhere. (If he's inspiring a movement
>> >toward strange physics hard sf, please let me know--I'd love to
>> >read more of it.)
>>
>> I'm not sure if it's direct inspirations, but Baxter's stuff is
>> quite similar, really.
>
> Well, except for quality and I've caught Baxter in a lot
>of howlers, physics and otherwise. *How* far can you go in a millenium
>of 1g acceleration?

Pretty far. I'm way too lazy to work it out, though. I'm fairly
surprised that Baxter would have serious howlers, though, because
I believe he's either a mathematician or a theoretical physicist.

Dennis L. McKiernan

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
to
MKM:
When I moved to Tucson, I had to pack books. I am sorry that I didn't take the
time
to cull. Now I have lots of books still in boxes, and my bookshelves are full.
One of these
days, eh?
---Dennis

"Michael P. Kube-McDowell" wrote:

> On 18 Dec 1998 17:44:05 GMT, ne...@acm.rpi.edu (Damien Neil) wrote:
>
> >On 18 Dec 1998 17:19:05 GMT, Michael P. Kube-McDowell <K-...@sff.net> wrote:
> >>Egan is one of the folks who've come into the field since I last had
> >>the opportunity to read widely in it, and I'm unfamiliar with his work
> >>at any length.
> >
> >While you are permitted to dislike Egan, I'll have to beat you over the
> >head with the collected works of Robert Jordan if you don't at least
> >give him a try before giving away the book.
>
> I think we can safely say that a consensus has formed around my
> keeping the Egan. <g>
>

> Best,
>
> K-Mac
>
> P.S. All too soon, I'm going to be having to simultaneously decide
> which title to _remove_ from my shelves. Egan for Blaylock? Savage for
> Silverberg? Attanasio for Asimov?

--
Dennis L. McKiernan ~ http://home.att.net/~dlmck

Latest release:
The Hel's Crucible duology: Into the Forge; Into the Fire
Other recent Books: The Dragonstone; Caverns of Socrates

Michael P. Kube-McDowell

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
to
On 19 Dec 1998 17:46:26 GMT, "Dennis L. McKiernan"
<dl...@worldnet.att.net> wrote:

>MKM:
> When I moved to Tucson, I had to pack books. I am sorry that I didn't take the
>time
>to cull. Now I have lots of books still in boxes, and my bookshelves are full.
>One of these
>days, eh?

Indeed.

When we moved from the apartment to this house three years ago,
probably 70% of my library was already in boxes, because there simply
wasn't room for them in my office. It's probably down to 25% in boxes
now, but the wall space is all occupied--the only way to shelve more
books on these shelves is with a hydraulic ram. <g>

Best,

K-Mac


Michael P. Kube-McDowell

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
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[CC'd to e-mail]

On Sat, 19 Dec 98 09:32:14 GMT, J...@bluejo.demon.co.uk (Jo Walton)
wrote:

>But I thought that you were writing a series, on your web-site, of

>"how to write SF". I got this impression from your advertisements
>for it here and on rasfc. That, and not reading for pleasure or
>writing SF, was why I assumed you would be aware of the field -
>teaching SF without knowing of the existence of Egan seems like a
>very strange thing to be doing at the end of 1998.

I'm completely mystified as to what you might be referring to here,
and I can only conclude that you've confused me with someone else. I
don't read rasfc, much less post there--in fact, I would have to go
look at the unsuscribed groups list to try to figure out what the
acronym stands for. I haven't taught SF since I was a Clarion
instructor in 1990, and I have no such project underway on my Web
site.

Best,

K-Mac

Matt Austern

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
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James Nicoll <jdni...@home.com> writes:

> Well, except for quality and I've caught Baxter in a lot
> of howlers, physics and otherwise. *How* far can you go in a millenium
> of 1g acceleration?

Earth time, or ship time? If ship time, then anywhere in the visible
universe and then some. (But I'd expect the universe to collapse, or
go into heat death, or do whatever universes do, well before that
millenium was up.)


Zara Baxter

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Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
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Brendon Towle (to...@earthlink.net) wrote:
: In article <367ce162...@netnews.worldnet.att.net>, K-...@sff.net wrote:
:
: > . Susan R. Matthews (AN EXCHANGE OF HOSTAGES)
: If you either:

:
: A. really, really liked Donaldson's Gap series; or
: B. liked Donaldson's Gap series, but wished it was much shorter;
:
: you'll probably like this.


I have only one thing to say.

Ouch. You got me pegged beautifully.

I can't see the similarity between the two, though. Except in general
terms of "nastiness" or "darkness". Perhaps that was what you meant?

either way, here's my two cent description..

An Exchange of Hostages[1]:

The protagonist is hoist on the petard of his unflinching principles
(which makes him different to a Donaldson protagonist, IMO) and faced with
an internal moral dilemma of some repugnance. Some nicely
political/manipulative wrangling, and some very dodgy[2] co-protagonists
(who bear fleeting resemblance to Donaldson nasties..).

Significant amounts of agonising. And gore. Mild sex, but I don't think
Ailsa would like it anyway, somehow.

=)

Zara

[1] Last time I wrote things about Susan Matthews books she emailed
me, I wonder if it will happen again.

[2] Oops. Just gave away that I'm an ex-pat pom in Australia.

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
to
In article <367decdd...@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Michael P. Kube-McDowell <K-...@sff.net> wrote:
>
>When we moved from the apartment to this house three years ago,
>probably 70% of my library was already in boxes, because there simply
>wasn't room for them in my office. It's probably down to 25% in boxes
>now, but the wall space is all occupied--the only way to shelve more
>books on these shelves is with a hydraulic ram. <g>

You just might want to calculate the load that your floor
will have to bear first...

--
March 20, 1999: Imperiums To Order's 15th Anniversary Party. Guests include
Rob Sawyer [SF author], Jo Walton [game designer and soon to be published
fantasy author] and James Gardner [SF author]. DP9 is a definite maybe.
Imperiums is at 12 Church Street, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
to
In article <fxt4sqr...@isolde.engr.sgi.com>,
Ship time. This is from _The Ring_ IMS, where they want to
traverse a wormhole which connects to a few thousands years into the
future.

Bill Woods

unread,
Dec 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/19/98
to
James Nicoll wrote:

> In article <fxt4sqr...@isolde.engr.sgi.com>,
> Matt Austern <aus...@sgi.com> wrote:
> >James Nicoll <jdni...@home.com> writes:
> >
> >> Well, except for quality and I've caught Baxter in a lot
> >> of howlers, physics and otherwise. *How* far can you go in a millenium
> >> of 1g acceleration?
> >
> >Earth time, or ship time? If ship time, then anywhere in the visible
> >universe and then some. (But I'd expect the universe to collapse, or
> >go into heat death, or do whatever universes do, well before that
> >millenium was up.)
>
> Ship time. This is from _The Ring_ IMS, where they want to
> traverse a wormhole which connects to a few thousands years into the
> future.

2 2
c a c (a/c)tau
D(tau) = - ( Cosh{ - tau } - 1 ) ; D(tau) -> __ e
a c 2a

where D is distance measured in Earth's rest frame
tau is ship time
a is ship's acceleration

for tau = 1000 yr, a = 9.8 m/s^2 = 1.03 ly/yr^2

447
D ~ 10 ly

--
Bill Woods

"And then I lull myself to sleep at night
with fantasies of learning to teleport,
so that I can appear in the offices of
the spammers and the telemarketers and
RAM A BLOODY GREAT BROADSWORD INTO THE
MOTHERBOARDS OF THEIR COMPUTER EQUIPMENT."

-- Andrew Plotkin

Lawrence Person

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
In article <91410800...@watserv4.uwaterloo.ca>,
jam...@ece.uwaterloo.ca (James Nicoll) wrote:

> In article <fxt4sqr...@isolde.engr.sgi.com>,
> Matt Austern <aus...@sgi.com> wrote:
> >James Nicoll <jdni...@home.com> writes:
> >
> >> Well, except for quality and I've caught Baxter in a lot
> >> of howlers,

<snip>

> March 20, 1999: Imperiums To Order's 15th Anniversary Party. Guests include
> Rob Sawyer [SF author]

<snip>

If you want to talk howlers, Robert J. Sawyer's STARPLEX provides
excellent examples of them...

Aaron Bergman

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
In article <91410800...@watserv4.uwaterloo.ca>, James Nicoll wrote:
>In article <fxt4sqr...@isolde.engr.sgi.com>,
>Matt Austern <aus...@sgi.com> wrote:
>>James Nicoll <jdni...@home.com> writes:
>>
>>> Well, except for quality and I've caught Baxter in a lot
>>> of howlers, physics and otherwise. *How* far can you go in a millenium
>>> of 1g acceleration?
>>
>>Earth time, or ship time? If ship time, then anywhere in the visible
>>universe and then some. (But I'd expect the universe to collapse, or
>>go into heat death, or do whatever universes do, well before that
>>millenium was up.)
>
> Ship time. This is from _The Ring_ IMS, where they want to
>traverse a wormhole which connects to a few thousands years into the
>future.

What exactly is the "howler" here? I remember reading that and as
far as I could tell it was pretty well grounded in
science-as-we-know-it.

Mike Scott

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
On Sat, 19 Dec 1998 23:42:09 -0800, Bill Woods <wwo...@ix.netcom.com>
wrote:

>James Nicoll wrote:
>
>> Ship time. This is from _The Ring_ IMS, where they want to
>> traverse a wormhole which connects to a few thousands years into the
>> future.
>

> 2 2
> c a c (a/c)tau
>D(tau) = - ( Cosh{ - tau } - 1 ) ; D(tau) -> __ e
> a c 2a
>
>where D is distance measured in Earth's rest frame
> tau is ship time
> a is ship's acceleration
>
>for tau = 1000 yr, a = 9.8 m/s^2 = 1.03 ly/yr^2
>
> 447
>D ~ 10 ly

You're forgetting that the Great Northern travelled outwards from Earth
in an arbitrary direction for 250 years, turned around, decelerated to
rest and then spent the next 500 years travelling back and decelerating.
Tau is 250 yrs, not 1000 yrs. Of course, that still produces an
infeasibly large distance.

--
Mike Scott
mi...@moose.demon.co.uk
PNN has frequently updated news & comment for SF fandom
http://www.plokta.com/pnn/

Jo Walton

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
In article <367eedee...@netnews.worldnet.att.net>

K-...@sff.net "Michael P. Kube-McDowell" writes:

> On Sat, 19 Dec 98 09:32:14 GMT, J...@bluejo.demon.co.uk (Jo Walton)
> wrote:
>
> >But I thought that you were writing a series, on your web-site, of
> >"how to write SF". I got this impression from your advertisements
> >for it here and on rasfc. That, and not reading for pleasure or
> >writing SF, was why I assumed you would be aware of the field -
> >teaching SF without knowing of the existence of Egan seems like a
> >very strange thing to be doing at the end of 1998.
>
> I'm completely mystified as to what you might be referring to here,
> and I can only conclude that you've confused me with someone else.

I'm terribly sorry. I must indeed have confused you with someone else
- I can't even work out who it is, but it's another author whose
name is Michael McSomething and has a web site called SciFi Arizona
that gets advertised here and on rasf.composition, a group you might
like. I do apologise for this confusion - to both of you for that
matter.

OK, now you can get on with not reading :Diaspora: in peace. :]

Jim Tinsley

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
On Fri, 18 Dec 1998 09:11:31 -0800, to...@earthlink.net (Brendon
Towle) wrote:

>In article <367ce162...@netnews.worldnet.att.net>, K-...@sff.net wrote:
>
>> . Susan R. Matthews (AN EXCHANGE OF HOSTAGES)
>
>If you either:
>
>A. really, really liked Donaldson's Gap series; or
>
>B. liked Donaldson's Gap series, but wished it was much shorter;
>
>you'll probably like this.
>

I really couldn't get through the Gap series, but found An Exchange of
Hostages interesting, if ook-making. In contrast to the Gap series,
where you need a computer to keep track of the moral and political
score, the protagonist in AEoH has an uncompromised ethical compass,
which the system he serves as a torturer doesn't follow. There are
certainly a lot of pages - maybe too many - dedicated to torture
scenes, and AEoH on its own is unbalanced by this.

A Prisoner of Conscience, the second book in the series, is more
assured and more outward-looking, and builds on the conflicts in the
first book to set up a satisfying confrontation with the system... but
there are more and bigger Bad Guys out there, and the ongoing question
for subsequent books is how much difference the protagonist will make,
and how his struggle will change him. While the nastiness certainly
compares to the Gap series, the confrontations feel more like Weber,
and the protagonist is more like a genuinely compromised Nick Seafort
who is actively seeking a path to redemption instead of obsessing
about being damned.

I'm interested to see where the author is going with this.


James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
In article <slrn77p0c4....@treex.Stanford.EDU>,

Aaron Bergman <aber...@princeton.edu> wrote:
>In article <91410800...@watserv4.uwaterloo.ca>, James Nicoll wrote:
>>In article <fxt4sqr...@isolde.engr.sgi.com>,
>>Matt Austern <aus...@sgi.com> wrote:
>>>James Nicoll <jdni...@home.com> writes:
>>>
>>>> Well, except for quality and I've caught Baxter in a lot
>>>> of howlers, physics and otherwise. *How* far can you go in a millenium
>>>> of 1g acceleration?
>>>
>>>Earth time, or ship time? If ship time, then anywhere in the visible
>>>universe and then some. (But I'd expect the universe to collapse, or
>>>go into heat death, or do whatever universes do, well before that
>>>millenium was up.)
>>
>> Ship time. This is from _The Ring_ IMS, where they want to
>>traverse a wormhole which connects to a few thousands years into the
>>future.
>
>What exactly is the "howler" here? I remember reading that and as
>far as I could tell it was pretty well grounded in
>science-as-we-know-it.

If you accelerate for 1000 years ship time, you will go so far
into the future that the stars will have died even *without* photino
birds killing off the stars. My calculator chokes on the exponent to
which 10 would have be raised to represent how far you would have gone.
Not sure what would be around in 10^500 years or so but it likely wouldn't
be useful to humans of this era.
--

March 20, 1999: Imperiums To Order's 15th Anniversary Party. Guests include

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
In article <367BC473...@mediaone.net>,

You know, when I read your review I think it was after one
of the Obscure Fuss of 1812 arguments and I thought 'Ah, well, no
doubt he just needled the US some and Liz Carey is overreacting
because surely no book could be as bad as all that.' I think I
had just read _Voyage_ which was pretty good imo.

If anything, you were too kind. This is the sort of book
that justifies fatwahs. If WWIII occured right now, we could die
happy knowing Baxter would never write again. If a dinasaur killing
asteroid was headed for Earth and I knew Baxter had another book
coming up, I would campaign for letting the rock hit, since it
is obviously the work of a benovelent deity trying to save us
from another _Titan_.

Someone one another group said that the characterization
of the young people in _Titan_ was possibly due to a run in Baxter
had with the Imperial College's SF club. Boy, I would like to know
more details.

Nancy Lebovitz

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
In article <91417102...@watserv4.uwaterloo.ca>,

James Nicoll <jam...@ece.uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
>
> If anything, you were too kind. This is the sort of book
>that justifies fatwahs. If WWIII occured right now, we could die
>happy knowing Baxter would never write again. If a dinasaur killing
>asteroid was headed for Earth and I knew Baxter had another book
>coming up, I would campaign for letting the rock hit, since it
>is obviously the work of a benovelent deity trying to save us
>from another _Titan_.
>
Anyone care to explain what's so bad about the book so no one's
tempted to read it and find out?


wall...@kmsi.net

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
Matt Austern <aus...@sgi.com> wrote:

>James Nicoll <jdni...@home.com> writes:
>
>> Well, except for quality and I've caught Baxter in a lot
>> of howlers, physics and otherwise. *How* far can you go in a millenium
>> of 1g acceleration?
>
>Earth time, or ship time? If ship time, then anywhere in the visible
>universe and then some. (But I'd expect the universe to collapse, or
>go into heat death, or do whatever universes do, well before that
>millenium was up.)

Check out "Tau Zero" by Poul Anderson. A ship with a Brussard Ramjet
that won't shut down does some rather interesting things. Its
effective mass becomes so great it goes right through stars without
damage, and... but I won't spoil it for you. Anyway, it's one of my
favorites.

/kenw
Ken Wallewein
Calgary, Alberta
wall...@kmsi.net

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
In article <75jdbg$e...@netaxs.com>,

Huge Spoilers

All of the characters are idiots. All of the characters
are unlikable except possibly for the space lesbians. The US is
taken over by a regime that rejects modern physics for Aristotelian
physics to make the populace feel better. As a result when China
desides to destroy the world to give itself more breathing space,
the US can't stop the deadly killer asteroid. All of the young
people are antirational and useless.

That's for starters.

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to

I really like TZ but Anderson knew at the time what the flaw
is in the power diving through stars idea is: in the ship's frame,
the material of the star has ungodly amount of kinetic energy. The
ship would evaporate the first time it tried it.

Elisabeth Carey

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
Nancy Lebovitz wrote:
>
> In article <91417102...@watserv4.uwaterloo.ca>,
> James Nicoll <jam...@ece.uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
> >
> > If anything, you were too kind. This is the sort of book
> >that justifies fatwahs. If WWIII occured right now, we could die
> >happy knowing Baxter would never write again. If a dinasaur killing
> >asteroid was headed for Earth and I knew Baxter had another book
> >coming up, I would campaign for letting the rock hit, since it
> >is obviously the work of a benovelent deity trying to save us
> >from another _Titan_.
> >
> Anyone care to explain what's so bad about the book so no one's
> tempted to read it and find out?

It's hard to convey the experience, and I _have_ been trying to forget
the details, but I'll take a stab at it.

There's this weird far-right politician who terminally stupid, whose
election as president is accepted by _everyone_ as inevitable from the
time we first see him, nearly four years before that election. He's
elected, of course.

Our rightwing nut president does the stupidest possible thing at every
turn--even when blindly following his own rightwing ideology [or at
least, _real_ American rightwing ideology, but we're never told in
what ways the character's ideology might differ from that] would have
accidentally produced a more intelligent response than what he did do.
It's never suggested, though, that there has _been_ any such deviation
from ideology; everything this character does is portrayed as being
the _result_ of such ideology, even when that makes no sense.

After this guy's election, the US splits up into several different
countries--with no serious fighting; I infer some minor border
skirmishes, but you have to infer them, as they're never clearly
stated to have occurred. Nevertheless, since it's necessary the USA
still be a major military power some five years after this split,
several of the larger pieces, the ones with the most divergent
ideologies, alas, are still conducting a unified foreign policy, at
least with regards to China. When China attempts to invade Taiwan, the
unified military forces of this splintered America go to war and stop
it.

What's missing from the war against China is Japan, which is never
menntioned.

There's a bio-engineered anthrax virus, which only infects Han
Chinese. _Han_ Chinese, mind you; their very close relatives in the
area are completely unaffected.

The young people: Think Gen-X, as most hostilely portrayed, muliply by
a zillion; you're not even close to imagining how passive, stupid, and
morbid the young people are.

The Communications Decency Act, and the Internet: Baxter apparently
read all about the passage of the Communications Decency Act, but
skipped all the articles about the Appeals Court blocking enforcement
before it ever went into effect. One can easily forgive him for not
knowing for sure that it would be struck down by the Supreme Court;
the Appeals Court ruling, though, came within days of the law
theoretically going into effect. It was in trouble from the moment it
passed. It was in trouble _before_ it passed. Baxter never hints that
there was any serious court challenge; he takes it for granted that it
remains in effect, and then has it extended, just after the turn of
the millenium, in ways that completely shut down the Internet in the
US until effective means of censorship are invented. The thing is, he
could have easily covered himself by having _new_ legislation shut
down the Internet, without ever committing himself on whether the CDA
survived or not. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The expedition to Titan is opposed by the rightwingers who take over
the USA because, you know, they're rightwingers, and Neanderthals. The
US military also opposes it because, you know, they're the American
military. A plot within the military attempts to shoot down, ah, I
think it's Endeavor, when it's taking Our Misfit Protagonists into
space to put the finishing touches on their Titan vehicle and get
ready to leave. The attempt fails. What's the PR effect of this
illegal attempted terrorism on a fairly popular space mission? Why, it
damages the reputation of NASA, of course, and boosts the reputation
of the military. Yeah, sure.

I can't even bring myself to discuss the stupid stunt he has the
Chinese engage in. And, truly, Nancy, these are the high points, I
sear they are. It's actually worse than this.

Lis Carey

Phil Fraering

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
na...@unix3.netaxs.com (Nancy Lebovitz) writes:

>I suppose I could make a case that we're seeing some of the older
>types of sf being superbly well done (Egan, Bujold, Vinge)--I don't
>know if that's a direction for the field. Another possible direction
>is integration with other genres, especially mystery.

I've never read Egan (but I suppose I will soon), but it might
be noteworthy that Bujold and Vinge sometimes seem to play with
the basic conceits of old golden-age space opera, rather than just
regurgitate them.

(Oh no. Now I have to read the whole thread.)

Phil

--
Phil Fraering "People living their lives for you on TV,
p...@globalreach.net they say they're better than you,
/Will work for *tape*/ and, you agree"


--
Phil Fraering "People living their lives for you on TV,
p...@globalreach.net they say they're better than you,
/Will work for *tape*/ and, you agree"


Elliott Oti

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
On Sun, 20 Dec 1998, Elisabeth Carey wrote:

> Nancy Lebovitz wrote:

> > Anyone care to explain what's so bad about the book so no one's
> > tempted to read it and find out?
>
> It's hard to convey the experience, and I _have_ been trying to forget
> the details, but I'll take a stab at it.

<snip spoilers>

I read Baxter's Ring, and don't dare read another Baxter book again,
because I was hypnotized by the way the characters kept referring to each
other by name in every sentence they uttered:

"Spinner-Of-Rope, how's it going?"
"Fine, Louise, fine"
"Spinner-of-Rope, I was thinking about getting a burger"
"Louise, that sounds like a good idea to me"
"Spinner-of-Rope, would you like to accompany me?"
"Louise, I would love to"

Still, if in Titan the US is portrayed as irrational, one-dimensional and
unrealistic, you can white-out all references to the US and replace 'em
with references to a Foreign Country. Canada, Germany, Russia or the UK
--ha ha, o irony-- come to mind. It may not increase the literary quality,
but it should at least restore the status quo.

Elliott Oti
http://www.fys.ruu.nl/~oti
Eh? Where's my sig?

Joseph Askew

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to

>Check out "Tau Zero" by Poul Anderson. A ship with a Brussard Ramjet
>that won't shut down does some rather interesting things. Its
>effective mass becomes so great it goes right through stars without
>damage, and... but I won't spoil it for you. Anyway, it's one of my
>favorites.

This sounds as if I have to re-read it. After all there are some
obvious questions, like what does it matter what the ships mass
is if it goes through a star. Hot plasma is likely to ruin your
day regardless. And of course if the ship's mass is large then it
is not likely to leave a star, whether it passes through it or not,
without damage.

Joseph

--
Reason Why I'm Never Going to Get an Academic Job Number Three:
"[Monsanto] said that they had carried out 'extensive safety
assessments of new biotech crops' including tests using rats
that have results published in journals" (http://news.bbc.co.uk)

Elisabeth Carey

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to

Obviously I have failed to convey the true mind-numbing stupidity of
the book. Baxter spends the most time portraying a USA apparently
derived wholly from the British tabloids, but the single biggest act
of stupidity in the whole book is given to the Chinese. Other
countries don't come off well, either, when Mr. Baxter deigns to
notice them, which is not even on all of the occasions when the plot
absolutely forces him to.

Lis Carey

Steven Silver

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
Nancy Lebovitz wrote:
>
> In article <91417102...@watserv4.uwaterloo.ca>,
> James Nicoll <jam...@ece.uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
> >
> > If anything, you were too kind. This is the sort of book
> >that justifies fatwahs. If WWIII occured right now, we could die
> >happy knowing Baxter would never write again. If a dinasaur killing
> >asteroid was headed for Earth and I knew Baxter had another book
> >coming up, I would campaign for letting the rock hit, since it
> >is obviously the work of a benovelent deity trying to save us
> >from another _Titan_.
> >
> Anyone care to explain what's so bad about the book so no one's
> tempted to read it and find out?

I have a review on my website, but basically, the book is very
pessimistic, Baxter seems to have forgotten everything he knows about
American politics, NASA staffs an unlikely mission without any concern
for compatibility (sort of a "let's put on a mission to Titan in the
barn" approach. His other books are much better.
--
Steven H Silver
shsi...@ameritech.net
http://www.sfsite.com/~silverag

Bill Woods

unread,
Dec 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/20/98
to
Mike Scott wrote:

> On Sat, 19 Dec 1998 23:42:09 -0800, Bill Woods <wwo...@ix.netcom.com>
> wrote:
>
> >James Nicoll wrote:
> >

> >> Ship time. This is from _The Ring_ IMS, where they want to
> >> traverse a wormhole which connects to a few thousands years into the
> >> future.
> >

> > 2 2
> > c a c (a/c)tau
> >D(tau) = - ( Cosh{ - tau } - 1 ) ; D(tau) -> __ e
> > a c 2a
> >
> >where D is distance measured in Earth's rest frame
> > tau is ship time
> > a is ship's acceleration
> >
> >for tau = 1000 yr, a = 9.8 m/s^2 = 1.03 ly/yr^2
> >
> > 447
> >D ~ 10 ly
>
> You're forgetting that the Great Northern travelled outwards from Earth
> in an arbitrary direction for 250 years, turned around, decelerated to
> rest and then spent the next 500 years travelling back and decelerating.
> Tau is 250 yrs, not 1000 yrs. Of course, that still produces an
> infeasibly large distance.

112
Okay, D ~ 10 ly

(But "For distances bigger than about a billion light years
the formulas given here are inadequate because the universe
is expanding. General Relativity would have to be used to
work out those cases.")
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/rocket.html

gary gibson

unread,
Dec 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/21/98
to
At last! I have a modem. Can anyone tell me why there aren't any
sf-dedicated chat areas in the sf, or have I just not found them yet? All
the US ones seem to be in the middle of the night.
Apart from that, if anyone here in Blighty is interested - or most
specifically in Glasgow, Scotland ... I work in the Borders bookshop here
and I'm starting up a writer's workshop. With the backing of the Glasgow sf
writer's workshop, which has been going for over a decade now, except most
of us are either trying to write books or just, er, aren't writing ... most
days we just sit in the pub and drink ...
Anyway, say hello because I'm all excited with all this web stuff and it's
fun.

rangrrik

unread,
Dec 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/21/98
to
Steven Silver wrote:
>
> I have a review on my website, but basically, the book is very
> pessimistic, Baxter seems to have forgotten everything he knows about
> American politics, NASA staffs an unlikely mission without any concern
> for compatibility (sort of a "let's put on a mission to Titan in the
> barn" approach. His other books are much better.
> --

I would disagree. The man seems to love grand IDEAS, but in my opinion
his characters are about as wooden as Al Gore.

sel...@my-dejanews.com

unread,
Dec 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/21/98
to
In article <75juv7$akc$1...@news6.svr.pol.co.uk>,
Hi,
I am glad you are excited. It's about time I met someone who didn't feel jaded
at the whole superhighway thing.

The workshop you have in mind. It is online I assume. Were you think of some
public forum or perhaps a ring of email addresses who post crits and pieces to
each other?
I would definitely be up for the latter.

PS I am from UK as well, not Glasgow sorry

-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Discuss, or Start Your Own

mhsh...@my-dejanews.com

unread,
Dec 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/21/98
to
In article <367DF2...@leading.net>,
Sort of like Robert Forward, who has fantastic ideas (check out _Saturn Rukh_
for an example) but has a ton of trouble with characterization and dialogue.

Danny Sichel

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Dec 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/21/98
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Lawrence Person wrote:

> If you want to talk howlers, Robert J. Sawyer's STARPLEX provides
> excellent examples of them...

_Starplex_. That'd be... the one with the green stars, yes?

Charles Frederick Goodin

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Dec 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/21/98
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In article <367DC647...@ameritech.net>,

Steven Silver <shsi...@ameritech.net> wrote:
>Nancy Lebovitz wrote:
>>
>> In article <91417102...@watserv4.uwaterloo.ca>,
>> James Nicoll <jam...@ece.uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
>> >
>> > If anything, you were too kind. This is the sort of book
>> >that justifies fatwahs. If WWIII occured right now, we could die
>> >happy knowing Baxter would never write again. If a dinasaur killing
>> >asteroid was headed for Earth and I knew Baxter had another book
>> >coming up, I would campaign for letting the rock hit, since it
>> >is obviously the work of a benovelent deity trying to save us
>> >from another _Titan_.
>> >
>> Anyone care to explain what's so bad about the book so no one's
>> tempted to read it and find out?
>
>I have a review on my website, but basically, the book is very
>pessimistic, Baxter seems to have forgotten everything he knows about
>American politics, NASA staffs an unlikely mission without any concern
>for compatibility (sort of a "let's put on a mission to Titan in the
>barn" approach. His other books are much better.

I liked TITAN. It definitely was a change from his other stuff (mostly
realistic until the very end), and "pessimistic" is definitely an
understatement. I found it quite a change from the recent run of
"everything will be great in the future" books that I seem to be seeing.


chuk
(who is now reading MOONSEED...mmm mmm good)


Jim Tinsley

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Dec 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/21/98
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On Mon, 21 Dec 1998 21:26:21 GMT, mhsh...@my-dejanews.com wrote:

>Sort of like Robert Forward, who has fantastic ideas (check out _Saturn Rukh_
>for an example) but has a ton of trouble with characterization and dialogue.

I think that Forward, of all writers, has _least_ trouble with
characterization, since it's simply beside the point. The final
interview of the political general in Rocheworld sums it up nicely -
this is the only scene in straight SF I can recall that made me LOL.


Lawrence Person

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Dec 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/21/98
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In article <367EAA...@umoncton.ca>, Danny Sichel <eds...@umoncton.ca>
wrote:

Yes, and the ship "swerving" to avoid a laser beam...

Elisabeth Carey

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Dec 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/21/98
to

How are you defining "realistic" ?

What in this book do you consider realistic?

SPOILERS AHEAD SPOILERS AHEAD


The bio-engineered anthrax that only kills Han Chinese? The
splintered-apart USA that nevertheless maintains a smoothly unified
military able to defeat China several years later? The "far-right"
American politicians who _always_ do the most stupid thing possible,
EVEN when that requires them to engage in left-wing idiocies rather
than right-wing idiocies? The Titan expedition that has the worst
possible crew mix? An an entire generation, not subjected to any
particularly horrible hardships, that's psychotically passive and
unable to focus? An American military plot to shoot down the Titan
expedition, that when it fails, damages NASA's reputation, boosts the
military's reputation, and doesn't more than mildly damage the career
of the officer most directly involved?

"Unrelievedly negative" is not a synonym for "realistic". "Realistic"
requires some checking in with reality occasionally, noting such
little details as real genetics, real politics, real human beings. The
genetics in _Titan_ is magic, the politics are too mind-numbingly
stupid and inaccurate for a propaganda cartoon, and you don't lose an
entire generation for no reason just because it happens to be
convenient for the author's mood-setting purposes.

Bad/sad/depressing endings need to be earned, just as much as happy
ones.



> chuk
> (who is now reading MOONSEED...mmm mmm good)

Thanks; I'll be sure to avoid it.

Lis Carey

Janet Cone

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Dec 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/21/98
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On Fri, 18 Dec 1998 18:51:31 GMT, H...@hetta.pp.fi (Henriette Kress)
wrote:

>On 18 Dec 1998 17:44:05 GMT, ne...@acm.rpi.edu (Damien Neil) wrote in
>rec.arts.sf.written:
>
>>On 18 Dec 1998 17:19:05 GMT, Michael P. Kube-McDowell <K-...@sff.net> wrote:
>>>Egan is one of the folks who've come into the field since I last had
>>>the opportunity to read widely in it, and I'm unfamiliar with his work
>>>at any length.
>>
>>While you are permitted to dislike Egan, I'll have to beat you over the
>>head with the collected works of Robert Jordan if you don't at least
>>give him a try before giving away the book.
>
>Look! It's the Incredible Hulk!
>
>(...nobody else would be able to hit anybody over the head with the collected
>works of Jordan, much less -lift- them).

Would that depend whether they are in hardcover or not?

I'm pretty certain I could manage to do it with a bag with of
paperback and I am a 165cm female.

Not that I would want to.

I might damage the books.

|\ _,,,---,,_ Janet (and Berelain) |
/,`.-'`' -. ;-;;,_
|,4- ) )-,_. ,\ ( `'-'
'---''(_/--' `-'\_)

Beth and Richard Treitel

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Dec 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/22/98
to
To my surprise and delight, K-...@sff.net (Michael P. Kube-McDowell)
wrote:

>. Valerie Freireich (BECOMING HUMAN / TESTAMENT / THE BEACON /
>IMPOSTER)

The first is a gripping story of power relationships between humans of
different ... races? (genetically engineered, though not supermen) The
second, set in the same universe, consists mostly of people double-
crossing each other; I've not read the remaining two.

Oh, and I'm halfway through _Diaspora_. If you like to read books like
_The Quiet Pools_ there's at least a chance you'll like this one.

-- Richard
------
I don't read Usenet as regularly as I used to. Please be patient.
See also http://www.sirius.com/~treitel/Mark/index.html

Nancy Lebovitz

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Dec 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/22/98
to
In article <367ff4bb...@supernews.sirius.com>,

Beth and Richard Treitel <tre...@sirius.com> wrote:
>
>Oh, and I'm halfway through _Diaspora_. If you like to read books like
>_The Quiet Pools_ there's at least a chance you'll like this one.
>
What is _The Quiet Pools_ about?

Gunnut

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Dec 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/22/98
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On Mon, 21 Dec 1998 20:15:05 -0500, Elisabeth Carey
<lis....@mediaone.net> wrote:


>> chuk
>> (who is now reading MOONSEED...mmm mmm good)
>
>Thanks; I'll be sure to avoid it.

I agree with the consensus on _Titan_; "unrelentlessly grim" doesn't
begin to describe it. I rather liked _Moonseed_. The ending seemed
very rushed, however.

Niall McAuley

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Dec 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/22/98
to
Elisabeth Carey <lis....@mediaone.net> writes:
>Obviously I have failed to convey the true mind-numbing stupidity of
>the book.

Don't feel bad, none of the reviews of _Titan_ I've read have managed
any better. This was without doubt the worst SF book I read this year,
and only morbid fascination kept me going to the end. Baxter's treatment
of his "characters" is an insult to cardboard cutouts.
--
Niall [real address ends in se, not es]


Rachel Brown

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Dec 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/23/98
to
> What is _The Quiet Pools_ about?

I'm sure K-Mac can do a better job of summarizing it, so I'll just say what
I liked about it. It's about why people want to go into space, and, by
extension, why we long for adventure, feel wistful when looking at the
stars, read sf...

I read it a while ago, and I don't recall the plot in detail, but the
atmosphere it evokes is strong, and has stayed with me.

Rachel

Pauline Barmby

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Dec 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/23/98
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Michael P. Kube-McDowell (K-...@sff.net) wrote:

: Focusing mostly on authors not already represented in my library, does
: anyone have anything good to say about:

: . W. Michael Gear (STARSTRIKE)

This one makes a good doorstop, and would probably be an excellent
firestarter.

As reading material it's rather lacking. The general idea is
OK, and the aliens are amusing, but the human characters are
so much cardboard. Example: the British character uses
"bloody" or "jolly well" in every other sentence, and this
is pretty much the extent of her personality.

Pitch it.


Pauline
pba...@fas.harvard.edu

Danny Sichel

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Dec 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/23/98
to
Lawrence Person wrote:

> > > If you want to talk howlers, Robert J. Sawyer's STARPLEX provides
> > > excellent examples of them...

> > _Starplex_. That'd be... the one with the green stars, yes?

> Yes, and the ship "swerving" to avoid a laser beam...

Wasn't there also a bit about directed evolution? Or is that too common
a screwup to be worth mentioning in this context?

Lawrence Person

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Dec 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/23/98