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Subject: "Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"     Previous Topic | Next Topic
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Terminus Est
Member since Nov-5-04
560 posts
Sep-22-21, 04:48 AM (EDT)
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"Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
 
   So, I've just happened upon the Deathworlders/Jenkinsverse stuff, and I'm about ten chapters into what I assume to be the core. Which is when I started noticing a notice that I should really go read this other thing first, and that leads to a whole list of other stuff that should be read between chapters... and I've already skipped a LOT of it.

So, I have two questions. Well, three, but two are related. One: Is the whole thing worth finishing? Two: Are there problems regarding the author(s) I need to know about which may influence the answer to One? And Three: Should I stop where I am and go back for the stuff I accidentally skipped?

I apologize for bringing up stuff from offsite, but I'm a datavore who's been starved of fresh input (my usual supply of books dried up on me; such is the unhappy fate of a very poor man's shoulder parrotry).


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading [View All] Terminus Est Sep-22-21 TOP
  RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading The Traitor Sep-22-21 1
     RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading Terminus Est Sep-22-21 2
     RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading Gryphonadmin Sep-22-21 3
         RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading mdg1 Sep-23-21 4
             RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading The Traitor Sep-23-21 5
             RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading Gryphonadmin Sep-25-21 12
     RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading StClair Sep-24-21 6
     RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading zwol Sep-24-21 7
         RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading Gryphonadmin Sep-24-21 8
             RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading zwol Sep-25-21 10
                 RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading Gryphonadmin Sep-25-21 13
                     RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading zwol Sep-25-21 14
  RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading Peter Eng Sep-25-21 9
     RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading zwol Sep-25-21 11
  RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading zwol Sep-30-21 15

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The Traitor
Member since Feb-24-09
1135 posts
Sep-22-21, 06:00 AM (EDT)
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1. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #0
 
   It stops being about the stated premise completely after a while. Instead it's just The Adventures Of Gigantic Space Gym Bros. Indeed, it goes out of its way to not be about how Earth just makes people into badasses by the galactic reckoning, but instead about how eugenics Works And Is Good Actually. Also, don't get attached to how the Gaori act in the early chapters. They get swept up in the testosterone meathead military-fetishist ramblings of the primary author, just like the humans... and the Corti. I binged the primary archives over the summer and it is just not worth the effort.

If you're gonna read something long, and you happen to be into Pokey Men, I recommend Ashes Of The Past instead. In my view it's much more interesting of a story, and it features far less sweaty gym bros.

---
"She's old, she's lame, she's barren too, // "She's not worth feed or hay, // "But I'll give her this," - he blew smoke at me - // "She was something in her day." -- Garnet Rogers, Small Victory

FiMFiction.net: we might accept blatant porn involving the cast of My Little Pony but as God is my witness we have standards.

This has been yet another Traitor Has Opinions Theatre, but I have a postgraduate degree in this shit so I can at least claim some kind of expertise in the matter. =]


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Terminus Est
Member since Nov-5-04
560 posts
Sep-22-21, 10:56 PM (EDT)
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2. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON Sep-22-21 AT 10:57 PM (EDT)
 
Hmm. I'm not a long way into it, but what I've seen so far was entertaining and had decent worldbuilding. Knowing that it tapers off into meatheadery is a definite downer. I had hoped that the early take on eugenics - that it was Bad, and produced Bad Things, would prevail longer term. I guess I'll try to pick a dropping point, when I start seeing it taking that turn.

As for the Pokey Mans recommendation, I must admit I'm only an extremely casual fan. Played part of one game and watched some youtube parodies type fan. But I'm willing to give almost anything a shot.

ETA: Also, I'm glad to see you're still alive and kicking after your brush with the 'rona.


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Gryphonadmin
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21517 posts
Sep-22-21, 11:29 PM (EDT)
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3. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #1
 
   >it goes out of its way to not be about how Earth just makes
>people into badasses by the galactic reckoning, but instead about how
>eugenics Works And Is Good Actually.

This reminds me that the overarching plotline in the Lensman books is about a successful galactic eugenics program. You can't even call it subtext, because it is explicitly the point of the Arisians' Lensman project. It even has a blithely executed human supremacist twist, becase the Arisians were doing the same thing to several different species, and got one individual in each of three of them as far as Second Stage Lensman status--but only the human makes it all the way to the end, marries the right female, and sires the first of the new superspecies the Arisians have been trying to create the whole time.

The really striking thing about that in retrospect is that, although the series began in the 1930s when eugenicist views were still relatively mainstream, the later books that pay off that plotline were first serialized during World War II, and the last volume, Children of the Lens, started coming out in 1947. I would have thought that by then, American editors would have been a bit leery of a story that comes right out and presents its main characters as Superior Beings Created By Breeding the Best Humans Together, but then again, we are talking about John W. Campbell here.

--G.
-><-
Benjamin D. Hutchins, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & Forum Mod
Eyrie Productions, Unlimited http://www.eyrie-productions.com/
zgryphon at that email service Google has
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.


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mdg1
Member since Aug-25-04
1239 posts
Sep-23-21, 06:34 AM (EDT)
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4. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #3
 
   I'm not sure it counts as eugenics?

After all, the Arisians didn't cull failed species or anything like that. It wasn't even humanity as a whole, but selected individuals.

(Same with the Bene Gesserit, now that I think about it)

Not to say the books aren't horribly dated... but that's one criticism that may be unwarranted.

Mario


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The Traitor
Member since Feb-24-09
1135 posts
Sep-23-21, 12:00 PM (EDT)
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5. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #4
 
   >After all, the Arisians didn't cull failed species or anything like
>that. It wasn't even humanity as a whole, but selected individuals.

...

>It wasn't even humanity as a whole, but selected individuals.

...

>selected individuals

Emphasis mine.

But yeah, The Deathworlders gets way more explicit in its praise for eugenics and fascist military dictatorships - except with the token actual fascist space empire. Those guys are there, it seems, largely to make the fascist military dictatorship of look better by comparison.

---
"She's old, she's lame, she's barren too, // "She's not worth feed or hay, // "But I'll give her this," - he blew smoke at me - // "She was something in her day." -- Garnet Rogers, Small Victory

FiMFiction.net: we might accept blatant porn involving the cast of My Little Pony but as God is my witness we have standards.


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Gryphonadmin
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21517 posts
Sep-25-21, 02:26 PM (EDT)
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12. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #4
 
   >I'm not sure it counts as eugenics?
>
>After all, the Arisians didn't cull failed species or anything like
>that.

Human nature being what it is, brutality toward the unfavored does often find its way into eugenics movements, but it isn't an inherent part of the concept, as such. Heck, some eugenicists think what they're up to is broadly altruistic, since they reckon those "less fortunate" will benefit from the leadership of the superior.

The Arisians seem to be of that persuasion. This attitude is offensively paternalistic to modern sensibilities, but I would submit that it beats "exterminate the weak," which is more of a Boskone thing in this context. :)

--G.
-><-
Benjamin D. Hutchins, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & Forum Mod
Eyrie Productions, Unlimited http://www.eyrie-productions.com/
zgryphon at that email service Google has
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.


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StClair
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Sep-24-21, 02:34 AM (EDT)
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6. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #1
 
   > So, I've just happened upon the Deathworlders/Jenkinsverse stuff, and I'm about ten chapters into what I assume to be the core.

*opens mouth...*

>It stops being about the stated premise completely after a while. Instead it's just The Adventures Of Gigantic Space Gym Bros.

*closes mouth and nods unhappily*

You have identified precisely why I stopped reading.

(The actual specific point was a bit further on, when it started looking like they were setting up Earth to get taken out - but that's okay, because everyone who's cool and worth saving is on other planets now, so who cares right?)


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zwol
Member since Feb-24-12
285 posts
Sep-24-21, 03:18 PM (EDT)
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7. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #1
 
   I think I stuck it out for linger than you did, but I had basically the same reaction and for the same reasons.

Besides the primary author going so hard on violence as the solution to every problem, which made things awful repetitive after a while, I think he was stuck on the classic misconception of evolution as progression.

In a setting where Earth is a "deathworld" and most habitable planets have or more factors that makes them "easier" for complex biological life (lower gravity, weaker seasonal variation, less tectonically active, less aggressive microbiome, etc) humans, being well-adapted to the conditions here on Earth, are poorly adapted to the conditions on the "easier" planets. Which means there's no inherent biological reason for humans to be an existential threat to intelligent inhabitants of the "easier" planets.

For a while, it seemed like the overarching plot would be about that. Why did the V'Straki go all colonial-imperialist despite being ill-adapted to the worlds they were conquering? Why did the Hierarchy misunderstand this as an inherent characteristic of deathworld-derived sapients in general? Why did they think that the only way to deal with this was not only to wipe out all deathworld sapience, but to take secret control of all other intelligent civilizations and periodically wipe them out too? And sure, humans may be better soldiers than the average galactic, due to bitter intramural experience, but what happens when we come up against problems that can't be solved with dakka?

I wanted to read that story, not the story the author wound up writing.


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Gryphonadmin
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Sep-24-21, 04:00 PM (EDT)
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8. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #7
 
   >Why did the V'Straki go all colonial-imperialist despite being
>ill-adapted to the worlds they were conquering?

I haven't read any of what y'all are talking about, so I don't really have a dog in this fight, but it occurs to me that this particular point has plenty of real-world historical precedent. Look at all the places on Earth that are absolutely unsuitable for English people, but which were part of the British Empire. :)

--G.
mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun
-><-
Benjamin D. Hutchins, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & Forum Mod
Eyrie Productions, Unlimited http://www.eyrie-productions.com/
zgryphon at that email service Google has
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.


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zwol
Member since Feb-24-12
285 posts
Sep-25-21, 10:18 AM (EDT)
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10. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #8
 
   >>Why did the V'Straki go all colonial-imperialist despite being
>>ill-adapted to the worlds they were conquering?
>
>I haven't read any of what y'all are talking about, so I don't really
>have a dog in this fight, but it occurs to me that this particular
>point has plenty of real-world historical precedent. Look at all the
>places on Earth that are absolutely unsuitable for English people, but
>which were part of the British Empire. :)

Oh, sure, empires gonna conquer.

To extend the analogy, though, imagine that the Aztec Empire not only kicked Cortez's butt, they proceeded to invade Europe and exterminate its entire population. And then they decreed that, in the interest of world peace, no one would ever again be permitted to live above 36⁰N, anywhere on Earth, on pain of immediate execution upon discovery, because clearly that was the conquistadores' problem.


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Gryphonadmin
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Sep-25-21, 02:28 PM (EDT)
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13. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #10
 
   >And then they decreed that, in the interest of
>world peace, no one would ever again be permitted to live above
>36⁰N, anywhere on Earth, on pain of immediate execution upon
>discovery, because clearly that was the conquistadores'
>problem.

Having lived most of my life at almost exactly 45° N, I can't entirely fault that sentiment.

--G.
winter is coming, as the young people probably no longer say
-><-
Benjamin D. Hutchins, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & Forum Mod
Eyrie Productions, Unlimited http://www.eyrie-productions.com/
zgryphon at that email service Google has
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.


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zwol
Member since Feb-24-12
285 posts
Sep-25-21, 03:20 PM (EDT)
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14. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #13
 
   LAST EDITED ON Sep-25-21 AT 03:20 PM (EDT)
 
> winter is coming, as the young people probably no longer say

Man, I remember thinking the first of those books was great, and then the second was a decent followup apart from a touch of Middle Novel Syndrome... but then the third was more of the same, the fourth was tedious, and the fifth sat on a shelf for months before I finally admitted to myself I wasn't interested anymore.

I'm honestly not sure how much of that was the author's fault and how much was just that it was a decade later and my tastes had changed.

The sentiment behind "winter is coming" and "night falls and now my watch begins" still resonates quite a bit, though. I grew up in Los Angeles but my family's all from the coldest parts of Poland and Romania and I feel a lot more at home in the killing winter than I ever did in SoCal.


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Peter Eng
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Sep-25-21, 03:37 AM (EDT)
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9. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #0
 
   As far as I know, it's unrelated, but there's only one "Humans come from a deathworld" story that really fits in around here.

Peter Eng
--
Insert humorous comment here.


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zwol
Member since Feb-24-12
285 posts
Sep-25-21, 10:19 AM (EDT)
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11. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #9
 
   Surely there's room for Stabby somewhere. Perhaps on Derek Bacon's command (WDF Tom Servo, iirc?) back in the Golden Age?


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zwol
Member since Feb-24-12
285 posts
Sep-30-21, 04:20 PM (EDT)
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15. "RE: Extracurricular Sci-fi Reading"
In response to message #0
 
   If you would like your "Earth is Space Australia" fiction with considerably more humor and considerably fewer space battles, the sample chapters of Humans are Weird: I Have the Data, by Betty Adams, amused me well enough. Not sidesplittingly funny, but plenty funny enough for a $2.99 e-book.


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