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Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Madness… oh, come ON!

So it’s now week 4, at least for me. And yes, it’s getting ugly – but I still think the ugly has more to do with the mandatory lock up than with anything else. I mean, the last time I looked my state has 1/6 of the estimated workforce having applied for unemployment, and that money has to come from somewhere.

Unlike some folks seem to believe, money always has to come from somewhere. When governments are involved, the somewhere is invariably taking it from someone else because governments do not produce.

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The Well Loved World


Imagine you were born with a suit of clothes attached to you.  It grew with you. it never needed washing. And in such a way, you imagined it a part of you, part of who you were.  “I’m so and so, and my suit is yellow with a frill around the middle.”

It wouldn’t be so much that you loved the suit, as that it was a part of you. People who decided to buy new suits were just enough to keep a garment industry growing, and people would gossip “Look at Jane, that’s her THIRD suit. Why does she keep changing?”

Okay, you’re saying, that’s silly.

But the truth is there is a strong temptation among writers to stay with the first world they create. Read more

Dispatches From the Front

Welcome back to your 21st Century Manufactured Crisis! According to many, mostly those in power, the world is quickly sliding into the nether regions of the 831st Hell dimension, where palpable, icy darkness fights endlessly with scorching fire, where the food fights back, all stomachs are empty, and children form bands of feral, semi-barbarians and sacrifice their elders to new, dark gods. Should be fun, really, and the Wee Horde are halfway there, already. Read more

Twice upon a time

Yes, well, we’d all like a do-over, especially knowing what we know from the first time, the second time.  My life would be less fraught with disasters and bad decisions.

Of course, I’d be someone else. They say all this shit is character building and if that is true I now have a large enough character to launch low orbit satellites by dropping them off the top of it. Well, whatever. It may be that there an infinity of alternate universes just a hairbreadth of a dimension away (part of the foundation for the Karres books, which may be supposed to be pure space opera, but bits of science kept sneaking in), and given enough iterations, one where my chaos-prone nature didn’t result in character building. I’m not sure if it is nature or nurture, but it does seem to be me.

So: time and again. Time travel has been a staple of sf since… well, Mark Twain, I guess.  I mean traveling to the future is in a couple of myths and of course the like of Rip Van Winkel – but traveling into the past (and changing it) seems to be later idea. I can’t offhand think of any earlier ones, but I may well just not know it or have thought of it. Some books have been fairly successful, but it is a cow for paradox (the old you went back in time and killed your own grandfather, so you didn’t live go back in time, so your grandfather lived, so you went back in time… I have this mental images of versions of the universe winking on and off in an endless loop.

There tend to be two versions of ways to get around this: either the past reflects the effect of the time travelers (Spoiler: See Harry Harrison’s ‘Technicolor Time-Machine – and that’s the punchline to the whole book) or, more popularly the time traveler changes the future…  but it is not his future (the multiverse concept, with breakpoints engineered in this scenario, by the activity of time traveler. Of course the latter has the fascinating dichotomy – can one person change future history, or is history ‘self-healing’ (you travel back in time to stop Archduke Franz Ferdinand being assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, to stop World War 1… and because that was merely a trigger to an unstoppable chain of events, something else promptly triggers the same chain, and, looked at from 500 years hence, ye Time Police arresting the time-traveling perp, discover that actually there is almost no difference as consequences.)   It’s the sort of stunt you can pull once as short story, but really most time-travel sf tends towards the former. I have a feeling that the best scenario (for the writer, because it allows you to ‘borrow’ the plot from history) is that one person can make changes – but that history would trend slowly back to what we know. YMMV.

Of course the idea that we can see the past but not change it has been used too – as has the fact the past is a microsecond ago. (I am trying to remember the name of that story. Anybody help?)

Of course, there is travel into future (and sometimes back again, a la DOOR INTO SUMMER).

Or stopping time for everyone but the character (A favorite of mine: THE GIRL, THE GOLD WATCH AND EVERYTHING, and as part of various DISKWORLD novels.)

And then there is the idea in James White’s TOMORROW IS TOO FAR with travel in time being also, obligatorily travel in space (a fascinating idea I toyed with, once again in one of the Karres books, but I haven’t seen elsewhere).

Time travel does however seem to have largely been displaced by Alternate History.

But, because sf trends are rather like fashion, recurrent if not absolutely circular, maybe its time is coming again.

Image by annca from Pixabay

A Linguistic Trip through Time

Without going into the boring details, it’s been a rough month. Not that I’m complaining. After all, unlike pretty much everyone else in the country, I planned to be stuck at home for all of March. So, no gripes there. And while everyone else has been going stir-crazy, I’ve been going passive. Lacking the energy and concentration to do anything worthwhile, I’ve mostly been lying around like a damp rag, listening to audiobooks. Mostly to various German tutorials, because unlike novels, they don’t have a plot which requires my attention. Well, not much of one anyway.

Wandering among different tutorials produced at different times has given me a mild case of temporal whiplash. Read more

Ye Madness Continueth

Here in PA life continues to be nuts. Supermarkets are… interesting. Items just drop out of stock seemingly at random – with the exception of toilet paper, which I’ve yet to see in stock. Thankfully we at Casa Paulk are well stocked right now.

The Husband is back at work, although we don’t know how long it will last. Shipping management isn’t exactly amenable to working from home, so obviously he doesn’t.

Meanwhile, the numbers being reported continue to resemble “flu season” rather more than “black death” (you can tell I’m surprised by this, right? (Yes, that is sarcasm)). Honestly, if I were an evil ruler, something like this would be an absolute delight.

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A Last-Second Post

I thought I had a post on historical house construction all ready to go for you guys, then I read through it and realized that it’s at least three posts, and I don’t have enough time to do justice to the subject, in between the zillion other errands I need to do today. I had rolled room layout, windows and glassmaking, and lighting technology all into one little article. Entire books have been written about each subject, and I wasn’t writing concisely; I was leaving out half the information. So that’ll be a series for another day.

But all is not lost; I do have something for you. Read more