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Author Topic: Binge-watching
Denevius
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So I'm binge-watching 'Seinfeld' right now. In my mind, the show isn't aging well. The characters are shallow and petty to an extent that's somewhat sad, especially when you get a chance to watch shows back to back.

I recently watched two episodes that was interesting, mainly because today, a little more than twenty years later, the situations just wouldn't happen easily. In THE CHINESE RESTAURANT, George is trying to make a call to his girlfriend...on a public phone, and of course the comedic situation is that someone else is always on the phone, so he can't get to it.

The second episode was THE BUBBLE BOY, where Seinfeld is following George, who drives too fast, and Seinfeld, falling behind, gets lost and can't find the house of the Bubble Boy.

Two scenarios that my 13 year old niece probably could not understand. Like, she'll get the gist of it, but a public phone? No one in the restaurant has a smartphone? Or getting lost? You don't have a dashboard navigator, or Google Maps?

And it occurred to me that this is where science fiction tends to fall short. Usually, a scifi writer stipulates where current technology will go, but they aren't so good at figuring out the details of how this will affect social interaction. Case in point: Star Trek and the communicators.

Anyone who watched the old Gene Roddenberry know that he's credited with predicting the cellphone. I always think the argument behind that is a bit flimsy, but the communicator is like our "modern" day cellphones (which are basically old-fashioned now). But if you look at the old Star Treks, you realize that the characters are basically using communicators in the same manner we'd used telephones, except communicators are mobile. The communicator's primary use is to call people.

What you don't see on Star Trek are crewmen yapping away on their communicator annoying everyone else around them, or crewmen almost walking into each other because they refuse to look up from their communicators. You don't see them texting instead of calling because texting requires less interaction. You don't see them taking pictures of every little mundane thing they pass. There are no selfies, and this is even in the current incarnations of Star Trek.

Scifi writers pen new technologies that basically have the same effect on characters as current technologies, except they're more flashy.

One of the themes of scifi is traveling between the stars. In some cases, there's lightspeed, so ships can travel from one star to another in a matter of hours or days. In the case of something like ALIEN, with cryogenic sleep, we have humans put in suspended animation during the duration of their spaceflight.

But if you think about ALIENS, we have Ripley pining to see her daughter. This makes a nice character motivation, but realistically, would that be the case? Would someone with a young daughter take a job on a space freighter that's almost a two year mission? If they can freeze humans, wouldn't it make more sense for maybe the daughter to just be frozen for the duration of time when her mom is gone? To our mind, it sounds strange, probably as strange as having to look for a payphone to make a call.

But scifi generally doesn't follow how advances in new technology will change completely how humans view the world. I've read a lot of cool scifi, but I can't think of a book right now that not only came up with an innovative new tech, but also an innovative way in which the new tech changes human social interaction.

There are some standard themes we see, like humans never leaving their rooms because of immersion into some virtual world or another. I never read the book, but in the movie SURROGATES with Bruce Willis, we see a world where everyone lives life through, well, surrogates. But inexplicably, Bruce Willis's character is married. Even today in modern societies, the marriage rate is at historic lows. But for some reason, in a world where you can exist through your own personal robot and do whatever you want without consequence, Bruce Willis' character is married?

Ten years ago, did the phrase binge-watching even exist? Before, people scheduled their lives around their favorite television shows. Being able to watch an entire show's series in three days has had social changes like eradicating the family space of the living room. A scifi writer can predict the cyberspace, but they seldom predict how humans in their universe will be different from humans in our current reality as a result of cyberspace. Cage in NEUROMANCER may ride the waves of cybernet, but in the book, the only people we're ever introduced to through him are those he meets in real life.

Anyone who uses the internet for any length of time today know that that's just not how human relationships work anymore. Of course, scfi writers aren't sociologists. Coming up with the ansible is cool, but realizing that the most common use of the ansible will be for sexting is a bit more difficult to project.

And I just did a Wikipedia search to try and verify how long Ripley's mission was, and found this:

quote:
Ellen Louise Ripley was born on January 7, 2092 at the Olympia colony on Luna, a United Americas colony. After gaining a Masters in engineering from the New York Aeronautics University, she served with the US Merchant Navy aboard the Zelazny, where she acted as co-pilot.[4] Following this, she was posted to the Nostromo. During a layover between trips, Ripley violated Weyland-Yutani regulations by allowing a natural pregnancy to come to term, eventually resulting in the birth of her daughter Amanda, although she was not disciplined for this indiscretion.
So Weyland industries, which, without a second thought, will have an entire crew slaughtered so that it can bring back an extremely hostile alien, just kind of shrugged its shoulders that Ripley, who in 2100 couldn't figure out a more effective method to motherhood, goes against company protocol?
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rstegman
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The big problem the Later Star Trek series had, was trying to keep ahead of existing technology. In the original star Trek, about the only things that are not invented is the Warp Drive and Teleporter.

One big problem with near future science fiction is that one quickly finds out how wrong you were, and they do so quite soon.
I read Heinlein's MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS in the early 80s after the original personal computers came out. The guy's having to type in each coordinate to launch a strike was already so,,, so outdated.

One also finds other sciences and technologies don't happen as fast as expected. We are still not regularly visiting space, have large wheeled space stations and are not visiting the planets yet.

Staying ahead of technology and society is one reason I love to place my stories in future centuries, and far, far away. One can do just about anything with society and technology. Consider a planet that lost its technology and rebuilt it on a different path. You create the conditions of the future as you see the need.

Four years ago, one had to buy videos of the shows, if they were available in order to see them. Now Netflix allows you to binge watch nearly anything that is made.
There was a time when Major movies, when they were realized to be a flop before release, would be sent direct to disk.
In the future, entertainment might not even go to the theater or networks but go directly to something on the idea of netflix where you just access the show you want to see at the moment as soon as it is available.

For personal computers, cell phones, and the internet, one can easily see a unit implanted in a person at birth and they would have access to all the internet by thought. One might get replacements or additions of capabilities as they get older. Instant communications with anyone at any time and able to find any data at a thought.
it would be like E.S.P. or telepathy.
Then consider machines operated by that chip, thinking and it does it.

gets like the song IN THE YEAR 2525.

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Robert Nowall
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I'm binge-watching "NewsRadio" right now...I probably do it a little different than the usual...I'll spend a month or so going over the episodes two or three at a time, working 'round my life, more or less...then I'm tired of it and something else grabs my attention.

Never much liked what little I saw of "Seinfeld"...for every joke that was funny, there were a dozen that struck me as stupid...and like Denevius said, the characters are shallow and petty and so on.

Usually SF, or at least the printed form, will sometimes tab onto some specific detail of how it will affect society. A story by Arthur C. Clarke (I can't remember the title) mentioned, in passing, the introduction of personal carry-it-everywhere music machines...as well as their being banned for causing public noise pollution. That's the saga of the boombox and the ghetto blaster in miniature.

On the other hand..."selfies" have existed as long as there have been cameras, it's just the technology of the camera that changed.

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extrinsic
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The Seinfeld Show and every television situation comedy, every popular humor film entertainment's formula follows a sequence espoused from The Poetics of Aristotle: agonists' cause their dramatic complications, struggle to satisfy the complications, and satisfy the complications; start, middle, and end.

Name the situation comedy; The Bickersons, The Honeymooners, My Three Sons, Leave it to Beaver, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Lucy Show, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, M*A*S*H, Friends, The Simpsons, I could go on, name every situation comedy across eight or nine decades, a hundred years, and likely for the foreseeable future, comedy films too, stage play comedies now and before back to Aristotle's time, if not earlier. Every one follows that self-inflicted, self-struggled, self-satisfied formula.

Aristotle considered comedy a vulgar entertainment for the masses, an opiate for the masses. Though the comedy opiate had been turned to social reform and exploitation purposes long before Aristotle's time.

The Seinfeld Show takes several Postmodern departures from the conventional formula. An ensemble cast follows their personal self-involved, self-absorbed, selfish desires that cause their dramatic complications, every character no matter how small a part is self-involved.

The show ends at a poetic justice overall outcome: the show actually ends, the trivially wicked people trivially punished for their trivial misdeeds though no the others receive poetic justice for their equally wicked self-involvement. Forerunner situation comedies and subsequent just lose steam and are cancelled, overall complication outcomes left unsatisfied. The show's end expresses Postmodern self-aware social commentary about society, a moral human condition, and each episode, for that matter, expresses an overall Postmodern self-aware social commentary about how self-involved society and individuals are.

The characters are meant to be shallow, superficial, vein, etc. The show's episodes and end also left complications largely under- or unsatisfied, the cast just move on with their unrrealized self-involved lives after self-justifications for their selfish lives, wants, and desires' harms to others, who also virally spread the self-involved social harm plague.

Why? To shed light on Western society's self-involved culture, on the surface. A deeper purpose is to show viewers how to cope with their self-involved, self-created life complications. Deeper yet, to find life meaning amid routine self-involvement crises. The Seinfeld Show rigidly avoids any scenario where cooperation, compromise, or noble self-sacrifce satisfies complications. Patently, a social commentary irony about the ideals of human social interaction's absence from contemporary social life: the opposite is the ideal, cooperation at least, if not codetermination, and compromise and self-sacrifice for those ends and for a common good.

A core essential of situation comedies is a situation where amusement is obtained from the mishaps of others: schadenfreude.

In the alternative, situation tragedies and situation dramas, likewise, the agonists cause their dramatic complications and life crises of moral human conditions. Selfishness is the root of all social evil. That's the point, for the sake of social reform.

The Star Trek situation drama, for examle, Gene Rodenberry's vision is to comment on the human condition. Each episode examined a condition related to the seven fatal vices: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony, each a self-involved want portion of a dramatic complication.
----
Star Trek communicators were partly inspired by Chester Gould's Dick Tracy newspaper comic strip, the two-way wrist radios with video feed used by the police force in their official duties. Likewise, Star Trek communicators are used only for official purposes. Intership communications use intercoms. They are MacGuffins that are extrinsic to the plot, used for the purpose of dialogue between cast members separated from each other by distance to give audiences information unavailable through other dramatic techniques. Again, the devices are extrinsic to the plot.

The saga isn't about the technology, it's about moral human conditions. The saga is not even about space exploration; it's about human moral conditions, likewise, again, complications caused by the seven fatal vices.

How might Rodenberry have used communicators to socially comment about moral human vice and virtue? Gossip, rumor, or legend tales used as vices, for setting a self-involved individual wickedly above others' stations at others' expense. The information matters, not the communication device. Gossip over the back-yard fence or by drums or smoke signals is little different from subspace, faster-than-light communication.

Virtue might be expressed through poetic justice's reward accomplished from selfless cooperation, compromise, and sacrfice. Punishment then is levied from self-involvement, self-absorption, self-indulgence, selfishness. Yet society is addicted to self-involvement and individuals are not readily self-aware of self-involvement.

On the other hand, though I've not seen this in prose: a narrative could be constructed that expresses social commentary about how scandalous and controversial gossip travels faster than light, spans the cosmos nearly instantaneously regardless of communication device technology.

Look to the aesthetics needs for tech motifs, not the tech in and of itself. All motifs fulfill an aesthetic need, not just a surface or superficial content or organizational need.

[ November 16, 2014, 02:00 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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quote:
Staying ahead of technology and society is one reason I love to place my stories in future centuries, and far, far away. One can do just about anything with society and technology. Consider a planet that lost its technology and rebuilt it on a different path. You create the conditions of the future as you see the need.
Narratively speaking, this is a good idea. ALIEN takes place in 2092, according to Wikipedia, and I guess there's a chance that we'd have figured out cryogenic sleep and interstellar space travel in 80 years. But when you see that we can barely get a probe to stick a landing on a comet (which is an amazing feat, but still), I wonder if we'll be able to successfully freeze humans and send them off mining asteroids for minerals in 80 years.

quote:
For personal computers, cell phones, and the internet, one can easily see a unit implanted in a person at birth and they would have access to all the internet by thought. One might get replacements or additions of capabilities as they get older. Instant communications with anyone at any time and able to find any data at a thought.
it would be like E.S.P. or telepathy.
Then consider machines operated by that chip, thinking and it does it.

This is where I think scifi writers will write a cool story but still miss important marks. They'll write a society where people have instant access to cyberspace to a point where there's basically E.S.P., but then in the narrative it'll simply work like really fast talking.

What they won't bother to stipulate upon is how humans would *actually* use such technology. How will it affect human interaction when the first time you meet someone, you can search their name and see a video of their birth, their first day at schools, the first time they had sex, their first job interview, all within moments?

But it would be difficult for writers to make those kinds of guesses, and probably wouldn't be relevant to whatever plot their working on. The ansible was an important tech in THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, but Ursula K. LeGuinn wouldn't even know where to begin working in what humans actually use a cam for. MMORPGs and sexting.

I've been teaching for five years in one of the most technically astute modern countries, and still the webcam is very rarely used in educational environments.

quote:
A story by Arthur C. Clarke (I can't remember the title) mentioned, in passing, the introduction of personal carry-it-everywhere music machines...as well as their being banned for causing public noise pollution. That's the saga of the boombox and the ghetto blaster in miniature.
Which is what scifi writers do. They make a flashier version of existing technologies, because what Arthur C. Clarke is really describing is the iPod. And yeah, though in earliest version of earbuds, I remember complaints of music leakage, when I ride the bus or train now and everyone is in their own world listening to whatever, it's not very often I hear anything, and it's definitely not loud enough to be banned for noise pollution.

quote:
To shed light on Western society's self-involved culture, on the surface. A deeper purpose is to show viewers how to cope with their self-involved, self-created life complications. Deeper yet, to find life meaning amid routine self-involvement crises. The Seinfeld Show rigidly avoids any scenario where cooperation, compromise, or noble self-sacrifce satisfies complications.
This is a good analysis. I tend to stay away from new television except for rare occasions, so I stick to old programming that I enjoyed. I just finished binge-watching ALL IN THE FAMILY and THE JEFFERSONS, and the contrast with those socially conscious comedy shows and SEINFELD is startling.

quote:
The saga isn't about the technology, it's about moral human conditions. The saga is not even about space exploration; it's about human moral conditions, likewise, again, complications caused by the seven fatal vices.
So is STAR TREK science fiction?

quote:
The information matters, not the communication device.
But if you can remove the tech from the narrative and still get the same outcome, are you writing science fiction?

The communicator is extrinsic to the plot, but as a means to push forward the plot, or make the story work. You're right, how else are these characters going to talk to each other. But is that really science fiction? In scifi, doesn't the plot have to revolve around the tech, not just be there to prop up the story and move it from point A to point B?

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extrinsic
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Education requires plain old written word rhetoric for maximum education and society benefit outcomes. Visual and aural rhetorics are too conveniently delivered and too easily ephemeral to serve the social function and purpose of learning: think consciously, critically, responsibly for one's self and the common good's best interest.

Visual and aural rhetorics, though, are part of contemporary existence; learning to critically receive and process them is equally as crucial as learning to critically receive and process written word rhetoric. Technological savvy and advancement is not a marker for critical savvy and responsible social advancement, only a convenience for existence in and of itself. Garbage data in, garbage data out.

All in the Family and The Jeffersons are no more or less socially conscious franchises than The Seinfeld Show. Different social eras, different cultural eras, different cultural and social issues, similar social commentary for social reform and exploitation purposes.

Is Star Trek science fiction? Yes and no. Media science fiction -- film -- uses visual and aural spectacle to greatest appeal advantage. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror benefit from film's spectacle appeals and ease of receiver gratification. Written word benefits appreciably less from spectacle and requires more receiver participation in reality imitation creation. However, written word possesses a potential intimacy degree film cannot accomplish.

The matter of whether a motif is intrinsic or extrinsic to a plot is a kernel feature for all narrative: visual, aural, or written word. For science fiction, any given motif may be extrinsic or intrinsic. If one or more motifs influence plot, they are intrinsic, though lack of plot influence doesn't per se make a work more or less fantastical science, fantasy, or horror.

If a motif existent: idea, event, setting, or character; influences plot, its intrinsicallity is essential. If not, its extrinsicallity is still essential at least for narrative authentication purposes if not starting, keeping, or gap-spanning plot motion.

A test is whether another nonfantastical motif may as well substitute for a fantastical one. Star Trek communicators could as easily be any kind of wireless communication method, though the motif fits the setting milieu for narrative authentication purposes.

The spaceships could as easily be horse-drawn wagons or square-rigged sailing ships. Replicators could as easily be shipboard workshops, kitchen mess, or so on. The mission could as easily be Magellan's circumnavigation or another exploration, survey, military, diplomatic, or trade voyage. Opposition forces could as easily be terrestrial country contentions, territorial ambitions, resource aggressions, etc.

However, the MacGuffin motifs all add up to a fantastical future milieu, science fiction at its core criteria. Star Trek's core intrinsic motifs are less often influential fantastical physical sciences and technologies than they are fantastical social science motifs. Occasional "hard" science fiction motifs do intrinsically influence an epsiode here and there; the "soft" social sciences fantastical motifs, though, take precedence.

Hard science fiction appeals are challenging enough in written word, exponentially harder for visual and aural rhetorics. Social science motifs just appeal more broadly -- apropos of film's costly production budgets -- than physical science motifs. A writing principle offers guidance in either case: regardless of a motif's influence of lack thereof, contemporary social relevance appeals to contemporary audiences. Timeless appeals relate to timeless moral human conditions.

The overly self-involved character behavior and nature of The Seinfeld Show is potentially timeless as a universal moral human condition. The show's relevance has faded though, because the message is unappealing, now that the message has had time to sink in. No one likes to have their noses rubbed in their moral failings and frailties, not when the human condition instinctive moral initiative is self-involved satisfaction at others' expenses, not when film industry movers and shakers are as much if not more superficially self-involved in social exploitation as the Seinfeld cast.

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Robert Nowall
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I feel the need to add...I have never used GPS to find my way about. Partly 'cause I almost never go anywhere I'm not familiar with...partly 'cause I'm confident of my ability to get by with a street address and possibly a map. (I have used MapQuest and such...) But most likely 'cause I'm older and learned my getting-around skills old school.
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extrinsic
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GPS . . . We live in the future science fiction era Golden Age science fiction writers, futurist magazines, and futurist expositions like the World's Fairs and theme parks expressed the future would hold. A Post Futurist world.

A few years ago, chatter about a technological "Singularity" nexus taking place consumed the public attention for a short few months. The idea behind it was, due to an exponential curve of technological advancement, computer system hard drive and RAM memory were cited, a threshold point of runaway artificial intelligence would exceed human capacity to manage technology.

A flaw of the Singularity theory, one I realized then and now, was technology or most any progress or advancement or discrete circumstance, has an aysmptote barrier at each end of a discrete system. The Continuum is bounded, for example, by the speed of light and absolute zero, the fastest and slowest -- non-motion -- velocites possible for information transfer and physical time and space.

Neither asymptote is surpassable by Newtonian physics. Absolute zero is an impossible state of the Continuum to begin with. Zero value variables for polynomial or factorable equations are nondetermined. Any number multiplied or divided by zero equals zero, for example.

However, quantum physics indicates other realms exists outside and apart from the bradyon realm, Tachyon space, for example, where particles travel faster than light and approach infinite velocity when they approach a massless and energy-less state. Another has yet to be scientifically, theoretically, or mathematically modelled; that is, a realm beyond absolute zero at the other end of the Continuum.

Star Trek's "subspace" scratches at the edges of that latter idea. Einstein's special relativity equation allows for both realm possibilities, though only the tachyon model has been mathematically theorized at this time.

The other may explain exotic dark matter and exotic dark energy.

I too function suitably without GPS, have used and know how to use it though, and maps paper and digital, and my travels are into unknown territory. I go places maps only show how to get too, and are at times off the charts. There be untold treasures and adventures Here, maps' shortfalls imply. "To go where no [human] has gone before." Even mapping has yet to reach a singularity of total modeling.

The law of diminishing returns sets an unreachable map asymptote boundary because maps are only models that can generally summarize territory. Time and space and influence can only be summarized an swubjectivly experienced. Actual experience varies too much to be modeled for everyone's access. This subjectivity principle is the substantive kernel for creative expression. An otherwise avoidable circumstance may offer a uniquely pleasant moment amid horror and heartache: the pleasant moment worth the burnt candle.

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Denevius
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quote:
I feel the need to add...I have never used GPS to find my way about. Partly 'cause I almost never go anywhere I'm not familiar with...partly 'cause I'm confident of my ability to get by with a street address and possibly a map. (I have used MapQuest and such...) But most likely 'cause I'm older and learned my getting-around skills old school.
More aspects of human's use of technology that you don't tend to see in scifi is generational perception of the tech. Generally in these fictional universes, everyone of a society will have the same comfort level with the tech.

Yeah, you may have a resistance force. A group of anti-tech, like in CONTACT, or the movie version of I, ROBOT. But you won't see older people simply uneasy at technological progress that younger people are at total ease with.

Robert and Extrinsic, you bring to mind a family trip I went on two years ago when visiting America. I was with my two older siblings who are 7 to 10 years older, placing them in their early 40s to almost 50, and we were in Florida. Since my smartphone doesn't work back home without wifi, I couldn't use it as we travelled down the highway. And boy was it frustrating, because like you guys, they don't like to use modern tech to find *anything*. They do it the old fashioned way of just waiting to happen upon a Starbucks, or a gas station.

One early morning we took to the road, probably around 4 a.m., and we realized we were low on gas but not quite sure where we were going. So they're just driving looking for a gas station, and I'm sitting there almost losing my cool until finally in a barely controlled frustration I ask my sister for her iPhone, ask Siri for the nearest gas station, and there's one right off the highway but not in *eyesight* of the highway.

So I'll take your word on it that you can find your way, though when you mentioned this I immediately thought of the joke women make of their husbands refusing to ask for directions when lost. But I know in personal situations I've been in where people who are lost who don't just go to google maps, seems like lots of time is wasted.

quote:
However, the MacGuffin motifs all add up to a fantastical future milieu, science fiction at its core criteria. Star Trek's core intrinsic motifs are less often influential fantastical physical sciences and technologies than they are fantastical social science motifs. Occasional "hard" science fiction motifs do intrinsically influence an epsiode here and there; the "soft" social sciences fantastical motifs, though, take precedence.

Hard science fiction appeals are challenging enough in written word, exponentially harder for visual and aural rhetorics. Social science motifs just appeal more broadly -- apropos of film's costly production budgets -- than physical science motifs. A writing principle offers guidance in either case: regardless of a motif's influence of lack thereof, contemporary social relevance appeals to contemporary audiences. Timeless appeals relate to timeless moral human conditions.

I agree. Film is difficult. I haven't seen either of them, but I've read about how much science movies like GRAVITY and INTERSTELLAR got wrong. But even in books like REALITY DYSFUNCTION, which is hard science fiction, it seems like the technology only effects the characters in a mostly familiar way.

How would the ability to easily travel between the stars change social interaction? Describe to someone a cellphone 30 years ago, and if the best they can come up with is that cellphones will just be used for mobile communication, they're really just assigning the current social norms of the telephone to a mobile communicator.

But guessing that people will make those around them uncomfortable as they discuss their private lives in public? Again, maybe it's just asking too much of the scifi writer.

quote:
Likewise, Star Trek communicators are used only for official purposes.
For the show, this is fine. But government employees only using official tech for official purposes at official times is definitely make believe.
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extrinsic
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Star Trek originated in an era when minders made sure official communication devices were used appropriately, like police radios and company walkie-talkies. A neighbor back when had a personal walkie-talkie set and used them for vain attempts to divert military airplanes that flew from a local airfield. Military police, local and state police, FCC, FBI, etc., stopped by the neighbor's house one day.

Taxi cab radios, company FM two-way radios, military radios, CB and marine radios all were closely monitored by minders until about the mid '90s when regulations relaxed. That was the way the culture was then. Nowadays, no minders, or fewer minders and less radio traffic, more cell phone and Internet traffic at work and anywhere: no communication etiquette. Wherever two or more people meet for more than a few minutes, a cell phone will ring within fifteen minutes. Guaranteed.

Road navigation is like anything else, some people are more adept than others. Masculine sensibilities tend to orient spatially by grids. Feminine sensibilities tend to orient by landmarks. Use of both creates an unparalleled spatio-temporal situational awareness that seems like magic to the uninitiated: lost-proofed to the point no one can get them lost no matter where. Part city lore and part wood lore -- such persons are operant in either or any ecosystem.

For example, most people see forests and cannot distinguish between a dry or wetland woodland unless they see standing water. Few can distinguish between a tree plantation and a natural forest. Some can tell the soil chemistry as well as other environmental factors with just a passing glance at the flora and know the fauna present too. The latter read the landscape like a body language reader, which many people cannot consciously do either.

Cityscapes are the same; roadways and developed areas express a readable rhetoric. A cityscape savvy person can tell more than the economic status of a community from little more than a sideways glance. Urban navigation follows more signals than the ones intended as signals, which can be a bewildering and confusing array of contradictions. Overhead utility lines, walkway constitution, footworn paths through vegetation, structure orientation by cardinal point or layout convenience, ad infinitum. Whether clean streets signal frequent streetsweeper passes or a conscientious community. Where young people congregate -- chewing gum stains on sidewalks and doorway aprons, for example. Litter generally signals identity matrices: scat in wood lore terms.

The time for a retreat may already have passed when an intuition arises a community is hazardous. Overlooked, misapprehended, or tardy situational awareness can be problematic for folk who journey outside their comfort zones. Better to see, read, and understand the unspoken though glaring-to-the-initiated signals before entering dangerous territory.

GPS navigation reliance blocks learning landscape language and rhetorics. A narrative's kernel premise or many lays within that circumstance.

In any case, as I said, a tech or science, even social science, isn't the point of prose: the moral human condition crisis on point is. Science, technology, fact, truth are convenient fictions, easily subjectivity conveniences for prose's sake. The tech, science, fact, truth, etc., are only narrative authentication motifs for ready reader rapport, emotional alignment, or close association with a narrative's reality imitation.

If Star Trek away teams communicated telepathically, might that be too abstract for '60s and '70s audiences? How about today? Probably. If they communicated with laser or microwave or lidar or radar or semaphores, also too abstract for audiences generally. Star Trek communicators are faster than light, instantaneous, no signal delay that we experience when even a transoceanic cable or satellite relay carries a telephone signal, let alone across cislunar space or farther. The device merely a convenient MacGuffin and narrative authenticator.

If a narrative made a moral human condition point about, say, cell phones as social polution, the message would be too obvious and direct to have any persuasion power though much alienation potential. Therefore, that social paradigm could only be a narrative authentication motif in such circumstances. Narrative authenticators develop events, settings, and characters' basic, relevant nature and behavior and personality identities -- their mythology-- and not per se plot or idea.

However, if a narrative ironically glorified cell phones and social antipathy -- zonbi-like public indifference toward strangers -- audiences might be closely engaged at first. A dramatic complication then might be a lost cell phone and unable to lay easy hands on a replacement. The surface action might then be efforts to reacquire a cell phone. The actual action might be temporarily accommodating to life without a cell phone. Providence forbid! The outcome at great personal cost might then be the cell phone rediscovered after great personal trials and a lesser dependence on cell phones for personal interaction: transformation then to a greater degree of meaningful and deep in-person personal interaction. That premise has about a short story's worth of dramatic complication magnitude: not enough magnitude for a novel or longer fiction.

I've read dozens of cell phone motif short stories and their attendant social circumstances, Each one, though, was mere anecdote: a narrative about an entertaining circumstance; none expressed a transformative outcome -- action incompleted.

For a story to be a story and a plot, not mere anecdote or vignette or sketch, which can comprise parts of a full and complete narrative, and often are billed as short stories in and of themselves, a transformation must take place, which is caused by a dramatic complication's antagonism. Causation and antagonism. Tension is in large part a reader effect, though well-crafted content and organization is a writer as a conductor of an emotional symphony.

[ November 17, 2014, 04:29 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Robert Nowall
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I remember being taken with the notion that, if such a thing as a love potion existed, that there would be a market for love potion antidotes.

In some ways, coming up with the device (the McGuffin) is easy. Coming up with the social changes the device will produce is harder---but not impossible---and also not necessarily connected with the device in question

I'm minded of some of Larry Niven's stories about teleportation devices. One thing he came up with was the "flash crowd." People would see some news story and go off in the teleporter and be there instantly---along with thousands of others.

Niven missed the device---it wasn't teleportation, it was the gadgets encompassed in "personal communication devices"---but he got the social change right.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
I remember being taken with the notion that, if such a thing as a love potion existed, that there would be a market for love potion antidotes.

In some ways, coming up with the device (the McGuffin) is easy. Coming up with the social changes the device will produce is harder---but not impossible---and also not necessarily connected with the device in question

I'm minded of some of Larry Niven's stories about teleportation devices. One thing he came up with was the "flash crowd." People would see some news story and go off in the teleporter and be there instantly---along with thousands of others.

Niven missed the device---it wasn't teleportation, it was the gadgets encompassed in "personal communication devices"---but he got the social change right.

Yes, flash crowds, today's real-world flash mobs assemble from cell phone prompts: the social agency not the tech. Another real-world consequence of cell phones and blogs is mercenary tourism. Many disenchanted folk are troublemakers looking for a cause. They change allegiances as readily as their clothes, so long as mayhem, pillaging, and rape are assured wherever their mercenary tourism travels take them.

Mercenary tourism is a potentially potent narrative premise. Let's see on the Internet where this month's trouble spots are and which ones promise the most thrills and predatory self-satisfactions.

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Robert Nowall
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Lots of details were "got" in the course of the saga of SF writing, sometimes in unexpected places and unexpected ways. Not necessarily accurately. (Computer theory was around a long time before the modern computers were built.) Lots of SF stories describe computers---Murray Leinster's "A Logic Named Joe" describes something that is clearly a search engine.

It's important, too, to realize that a prediction sometimes has an effect on the eventual phenomenon. The communicators of Star Trek have been mentioned...it's important to keep in mind that the designs of the first cell phones were influenced by the look of these communicators---having a flip-open half and the buttons and such within was done because the Star Trek communicators looked like that. (Gradually they got away from that---say, the touch screens in later Star Trek shows---were well in progress by the time they appeared on the show.)

(Also, to the influence of these communicators, add the influence of the two-way wrist radios from the comic strip Dick Tracy.)

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Denevius
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quote:
In some ways, coming up with the device (the McGuffin) is easy. Coming up with the social changes the device will produce is harder---but not impossible---and also not necessarily connected with the device in question
I haven't read the Larry Niven stories, though if they're mostly recent, he is once again assigning current social norms, flash mobs, to his teleportation device. Now, odds are, this would probably happen if people could get to the scene of a tragedy with the flick of a switch, so it's not that this is a bad idea, or bad writing. It's actually quite interesting.

What I wonder, however, is what does being able to arrive to a location instantly change about human behavior in an unexpected but logical way. If mostly everyone has such a device, I guess that eliminates most forms of vehicular transportation. And it also shortens the time we need to do anything, which gives us even more time in the day to do, what? It would be nice to think that that extra time would be used productively, but all of our tech today and you don't exactly see productive man. You see, instead, obesity epidemics in modern countries, and first world problems, and the explosion of cat videos online.

Seems like it would also eliminate different cultures because borders no longer exist. You won't go to an Indian restaurant for Indian food, you'll just go to India. It's hard to hold on to preconceived notions and stereotypes when the other is a constant part of your daily life, right there in your face.

I guess if you keep extrapolating long enough, you'll get to potential human behavior modifications that a tech *could* bring about in your narrative, similar to how the cell phone changed human relationships in real life.

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Robert Nowall
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1960s and 1970s, at least the ones I read. Your third paragraph hits on two of the themes he invoked. Famous places were jampacked all the time---Easter Island had an unlisted number.

Also it wasn't just places, it was people, too. Everybody was "just next door" and some people---Niven used an ex-wife---wouldn't leave some people alone.

As for elimination of vehicles...well, as I recall, Niven had the airlines give up air travel, but buy into long-distance teleportation. (Some of the airlines he mentioned no longer exist, I think---along these lines, think of seeing "PanAm" in "2001.") And vehicles still had a market as sport toys---after all, this has happened in real life, with ATVs and other off-road things.

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Denevius
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quote:
1960s and 1970s, at least the ones I read.
Well, that's definitely impressive.

It really is about projections based on current human behavior. It may not be true anymore, but that's basically what stock brokers were supposed to be doing. How will humans react if...and fill in the blank to the best of your capability.

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extrinsic
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Isaac Asimov's planet Solaria is a world of extreme isolationists who mostly interact through a Skype-like three-dimensional analog: "telepresence." The people are extreme agoraphobes and socially and social-etiquette inept as a consequence of little in-person personal interaction. Solaria's social "rules" are based on noninteraction.

Asimov supposes a logical extension of cell phones and personal computers long before personal communication technology emerged; that is, inability and extreme intolerance for intimate personal interaction. Cell phones and similar technology are already impacting interpersonal interaction negatively, though such tech users are unaware of their social deficits. Mental health, penal institution, and sociology scholars recognize social isolation leads to madness or creative expression methods of social reattachment.

Rampant obesity is less a product of idleness for idleness's sake than more so a consequence of social blights: food marketing generally emphasizes comfort foods' fat and carbohydrate overindulgence and government and New Age nutrition programs favor those foods over more energy and resource-intensive nutritionally complete foods. Folk overeat because they are bombarded by conflicting messages and nutritionally and emotionally unsatisfied by comfort foods. Food addictions result.

Loss of skilled and physically demanding manual labor jobs sold abroad to the lowest bidder also contributes to obesity. Skilled heavy industry jobs migrated abroad because of lower labor costs and corporate avoidance of stricter domestic polution standards. The flight of labor capital began circa 1920, accelerated circa 1950, and continues to a runaway degree presently.

However, labor capital presently trends toward a domestic return, in part due to higher precision tool and more exacting product manufacture tolerances, returning in larger part due to advanced knowledge requirements, returning in largest part due to increasing global standard of living and labor payroll demands. The jobs that fled are less economically practical abroad than they once were.

Teleportation tech ostensibly might substitute in large part for vehicular travel, not and never completely, though. A relative served in recent wars as a working-animal veterinarian and sanitation inspector -- field kitchens, sleep spaces, personal hygiene, and latrines. Human medical doctors no longer do sanitation work. They value their services too highly to inspect and mind and monitor sanitary conditions that service personnel in war zones let lapse due to higher priorities.

The relative traveled by best available transport; at times passenger aboard advanced fighter aircraft, at times on the back of a donkey, at times in armored vehicles, at times on forced shank mare march: boats, planes, trains, automobiles, wagons and carts, a palanquin once.

One assignment left the relative dropped off at an empty bivouac tent in the middle of nowhere in the dark of night. A Nighthawk collected the relative there. The next leg after that was by A-10, then another helicopter, then a donkey ride to a primitive ferry. A dugout canoe collected the relative from the ferry.

Teleportation would not eliminate all other travel methods, only limit which type and quantity and quality of method. The masses would limit themselves to teleportation devices and destinations served by those. Others would go where they must by best available transport. What's best may not be fastest or safest, might be scenic, might be conventional methods due to teleporter phobia or agoraphobia, and any isolated destination may not operate a teleporter.

Asimov's Solaria people eventually develop self-teleport ability, though find satisfactions from actually walking in order to enjoy the sights, though not people.

Edited to add: Predictable consequences of technology and cultural progress are more the norm than surprises. Surprises are probably more appealing. What surprises does, say, advanced communication technology hold? Complications and negative emotional reactions are more apropos for prose than awe and wonder surprise delights. That's a packaging principle. Overly problemless and surrogate heroes and low complication magnitude are undramatic. Awe and wonder, however, that cause complications and negative emotional reactions . . . Venus flytrap on a halfshell.

Antitechnology motifs serve social functions, like coping with a bewildering array of technological glitz and sophistication, maybe cautions users against the hazards of technology, maybe delays change such that the time comes when a technology has matured.

The Digital Age has caused a manufacturer tendency to sell immature products to consumers and redesign after the fact based on consumer dissatisfaction reactions: software and hardware. The day might come as a natural extension when products must be refined from raw or concentrated ores, assembled, and tested and developed by consumers. The idea template would be the only "property" manufacturers create. A social function of science fiction is idea invention, right? The actual design and development and production processes are consumers of science fiction.

What new tech or existing tech is on the horizon or closer? Data management, mining, and productive exploitation application are currently trending. Near term though yet underrealized are space-based resource exploitation.

If past trends are an indication, humanity's farther reach will strive for valuable resource concentrations before home world oceans are fully exploited. Space-based tech developments will probably make home ocean exploitation more practical. Surprise social influences might develop from increased need for intimate social interactions and add on to a general deficiency thereof. Solaria, here we come. Social isolation also causes alienation and consequent hostility.

[ November 19, 2014, 02:26 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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quote:
Isaac Asimov's planet Solaria is a world of extreme isolationists who mostly interact through a Skype-like three-dimensional analog: "telepresence." The people are extreme agoraphobes and socially and social-etiquette inept as a consequence of little in-person personal interaction. Solaria's social "rules" are based on noninteraction.
Once again, I'm not griping that this makes for bad writing. It's very compelling. But I think it is a shortcoming of the scifi/fantasy genre.

I haven't read this book you're referencing, so I can only go from what you've written, but notice the society you've described of extreme agoraphobes. Then look at what you wrote below this:

quote:
Teleportation would not eliminate all other travel methods, only limit which type and quantity and quality of method. The masses would limit themselves to teleportation devices and destinations served by those. Others would go where they must by best available transport. What's best may not be fastest or safest, might be scenic, might be conventional methods due to teleporter phobia or agoraphobia, and any isolated destination may not operate a teleporter.
When creating fictional worlds, scifi writers tend to take the easiest way out. Everyone in Solaria is an extreme isolationists, when in reality, it'd be fractured. Yeah, most people may end up this way, but there are always pockets of resistance to whatever change brought this about. Most people are obese, but then you'd still have those who swear by a good work out. Most people are isolationists, but then you'd have the "freaks" who love face to face interaction. Even if the society has been like this for hundreds of years, you'd still have the majority, but then pockets of minorities who have maintained whatever belief their father's father father had.

We've discussed this at length, and I know that when I use the word 'literary', most responders here define it differently. But I think for many literary writers, it's this lack of the real that they condemn in genre fiction. Asimov is a brilliant writer, but that society is very unreal because it's too uniform.

To outsiders, the "other" tends to look uniform until you get a closer look. Live abroad for longer than a vacation and you realize, "Huh. A lot of my preconceived notions were quite incomplete, if not wrong altogether."

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extrinsic
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Solaria is a world that comes up in several Asimov Foundation and Robot novels and short stories, most featured in The Naked Sun.

Each Solarian episode differs, and is specific to varied events, settings, and characters, most importantly, how individual Solarians differ and how Solarian differences influence the dramatic action. In other words, Solarians, like any social society, are factional, not per se fractional.

Some Solarians are less agoraphobic and outsiders interact through them. Others are extremists and want no contact whatsoever with outsiders, though they may have kinship individuals who they will tolerate if they must. Some even refuse kinship interactions through telepresence. Solarians at times hire guest workers to do labors their ten thousand or more per capita servant robots cannot do. Some guest workers settle into Solarian enclaves that conduct relations separate and apart from Solarian society with outsiders.

Post Platimun Age science fiction develops "literary" features -- existents' mytholgies -- less than prior ages, instead, relying on established motifs as conventions a core audience already knows. Name exposition, both shorthand motif terms and motif introductions, expects readers to be familiar with recurring motif conventions.

Fantasy, horror, mystery, thriller, romance, western: convention-based genres, literary as well, are prone to reliance upon name exposition. Category romance is especially rigid in terms of conventions and name exposition without mythology development. The term "category" has also been applied to the other genres when they repeat conventional motifs that audiences expect.

Masterful narratives proportionately develop each motif's mythology -- the nearly invisible though crucial and artfully developed "telling details" that make even tired motifs fresh and lively.

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JSchuler
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quote:
Originally posted by Denevius:
[QUOTE]Seems like it would also eliminate different cultures because borders no longer exist. You won't go to an Indian restaurant for Indian food, you'll just go to India. It's hard to hold on to preconceived notions and stereotypes when the other is a constant part of your daily life, right there in your face.

Or the exact opposite: You learn different cultures really are different, they are more than silly hats, strange clothing, and exotic tastes in food, and actually serve a functional purpose that you might find abhorrent. Keep in mind, it was Sayyid Qutb's immersion in American culture that caused him to despise it, not some pre-conceived notion conjured thousands of miles distant.

So, imagine you're in Qutb's society, teleportation is a thing, and these people start popping up from half a world away and parade around the street in their immodest outfits and blaring jazz music while everyone is supposed to be attending to a call to prayer. What do you do?

Or what happens when some Australian high-school kids go to a party, get drunk, and dial up Singapore for some hooliganism? Heck, what happens if those high-school students are American and pop over to Germany for a beer or six before coming back completely tanked, or worse, one dies of alcohol poisoning. Human smuggling? Gun running? Think of the international legal headaches such unfettered access would create. Think of the threat to national security when an embassy becomes a secure means to move anything or anyone out of or into a country instantly. How do you control customs with an uncountable number of points of entry not bound by geography? What emerges to counteract any effort to control the technology? Can the state, even a world state, survive?

Another one that has gotten to me recently is the staple of space opera: the readily available interstellar craft, often privately owned and operated. Now, consider the kinetic energy they represent, and what someone who wanted to do damage with an unarmed vessel could do. We're talking about worlds where a significant portion of the population routinely pilot nuclear weapons as part of their livelihood. I haven't seen anyone really try to tackle that.

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Denevius
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quote:
We're talking about worlds where a significant portion of the population routinely pilot nuclear weapons as part of their livelihood.
I remember reading/hearing somewhere that this is the problem with the idea that aliens exist, know about earth, yet have decided not to interfere because we haven't advanced significantly enough.

Unless this is a really, really small alien civilization, you'd have to figure that *someone* would break the rules and find a way to reveal themselves in a manner that's irrefutable here on Earth. Enough people having access to interstellar travel, and even the harshest punishment or the most reasoned arguments wouldn't dissuade some group or another.

quote:
Or the exact opposite: You learn different cultures really are different, they are more than silly hats, strange clothing, and exotic tastes in food, and actually serve a functional purpose that you might find abhorrent.
They'd probably be a mix of both, with one side a majority, the other a minority. That's how society tends to work. But yeah, definitely you'd get the purists who simply can't abide the existence of the other. Which reminds me of Douglas Adams' last book, LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING (well, I refuse to count the others) in his Hitchhiker's trilogy.

quote:
Long ago, the peaceful population of the planet of Krikkit, unaware of the rest of the Universe due to a dust cloud that surrounded its solar system, were surprised to find the wreckage of a spacecraft on their planet. Reverse engineering their own vessel, they explored past the dust cloud and saw the rest of the Universe, immediately taking a disliking to it and determining it must go.
- Wikipedia
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JSchuler
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quote:
Originally posted by Denevius:
[QUOTE]They'd probably be a mix of both, with one side a majority, the other a minority.

I believe we disagree on which would be the majority. Take two populations that have expressed no desire to integrate with each other, and now have them live on top of each other, and you get conflict. The Balkans seem instructive on this point.

Consider what this would do to the cost of labor. You aren't simply competing with people in the area for that factory job: you're competing with people in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, China. Would First World workers accept competing on Third World terms? Would that engender understanding and dispel preconceived notions, or would that engender resentment and hatred? See the Great Migration of Southern blacks for a likely answer.

Technology changes, but human nature doesn't.

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Denevius
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quote:
I believe we disagree on which would be the majority.
Not really. It doesn't take a leap of faith to believe that humans would prefer their own over the other if given the chance to instantly travel anywhere in the world.
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Robert Nowall
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I'd like to discuss Sayyid Qutb's views on American society, but I fear the matter would devolve into a nasty political argument.

I would add that I considered Asimov's The Naked Sun a core work of SF when my influences were formed---but I guess the core has shifted some since I started and other works seem more important.

As for teleportation...some of what happens will depend on the nature of the technology. Niven's teleportation stories used the equivalent of "phone booths"---when "flash crowd" riots broke out, the booths could be set to (a) stop working in that area, and also (b) deliver the departing rioters straight to the local police station rather than where they wanted to go. Eventually that got too crowded and they built a big kind of a stadium where everybody got sent to while the cops sorted it out.

There's also Bester's The Stars My Destination, where, if I recall right, there was no technology, people just teleported where they wanted to go (though for most their range was limited.) Whole subcultures grew out of this, like the group of party-goers that teleported around the world always stopping where it was night (and a criminal subset of that group that used darkness to its own advantage.)

[Details may vary from my memory; been awhile since the last time I've read any of these.]

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extrinsic
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One area where prose and, more specifically, convention-based genre does globalize -- meaning stereotype -- are the generic grouping together of similar identity matrices. That claim is a global statement itself!? For economy of character numbers, lumping similar individuals together manages otherwise "population explosions," a shape type from Jerome Stern's Making Shapely Fiction. Stern partly disparages population explosions and partly offers how to manage numerous characters. He starts with a group dynamic then focuses closer into more discrete group dynamics, then individual dynamics. The organization method follows natural human selection instincts.

Journalism likewise uses an organization principle when reporting mass event impacts: report the event and then personalize the event from individual perspectives. A rhetorical scheme proportions personalization that favors the biases of the reporter or organization's position. Proponent positions are personalized in favorable, sympathetic, approval lights. Opposition positions are dehumanized and impersonal, faceless social-political-religious-corporate machinery. Villains are personalized when they represent such machinery and as symbols of the machinery's vices.

Asimov's Foundation premise is based on two congruent features, mobs in large part behave as a single entity and are more predictable than individuals; and psychohistory, a fad science of the time that implied the future could be predicted fom past mob psychology indicators. Asimov manages population explosions and expresses social commentary through those two features.

Factions exist in any group. Close insiders with a majority support are the "majority" opinion. Majority opinions come partly from agreement with a platform position, partly from apathy, partly from safely letting someone else express and test out a position and succeed or fail on the merits of the claim. One of the more delightful ironies I enjoy is when a misguided individual strongly believes in a platform and the outcome is the proponent is hoisted on one's own petard.

Give them enough rope and they hang themselves. If only the error of the ways were realized before sticking one's neck out. Humans will be humans though. The human tendency toward personality cults creates confident belief in a cause du jour and its initial consensus agreement. Humans find common cause with common peers, before the cause meets the "other" and the other factions dissents. Confirmation bias then digs in and drags heels from belief supported by a consensus reality's misguided perceptions regardless of the merits of the case.

A writing culture consensus, for example, expects any given narrative deserves its fifteen minutes of fame. A writer's personal cohort may support that notion, until the reality hits the fan. Statistically, the likelihood any given narrative may enjoy fifteen minutes of fame are worse odds than a pick-three lottery. Gambling on a narrative is a less than wise bet. Numerous writer platitudes support that position over the notion a lottery-like odds scheme favors publication success.

"Don't quit your day job," for example. If one house rejects a narrative, send it out again and again until it sticks somewhere. Perhaps a minority opinion somewhere favors the narrative's publication. If that proves an error, self-publish the narrative. Maybe it will enjoy success through that outlet, all prior evidence to the contrary.

I use writing examples to stay at least within general topical bounds and avoid overt political examples, though they are more specific. Politicians are a prime example of reality consensus and personality cults' confirmation bias errors.

The political geography definition for "nation" is a group with similar identity matrices: ethnic, social, political, religious, cultural, vocational, etc. Superpower countries comprise numerous nations with numerous dissenting factions. Individual nations bicker and squabble over topics internal, esoteric to the nation's factions. They decide a consensus that on its surface seems appropriate for wider application and are often surprised and miffed by external dissent and internal dissenters who still grumble.

Milieu development for a narrative relies on generalizations, globalizations. Otherwise population explosion vices predominate. Finding a balance between specificity and milieu authenticity comes back around to a first writing principle, personally specify individuals' mythologies.

Stereotypes and stock characters are suitable when they are personally held viewpoint perceptions. Kilgore Trout believes Tralfamadorians steal the matched item of pairs of objects: socks, gloves, booklends, etc.; and indispensable items: eyeglasses, pens, lighters, etc. That's his subjective, personal belief, a subjective truth. Subjective truths are fun from their comedy of errors. Not for the truth of the matter asserted. Subjective truths personalize individuals as allies or nemeses or villains and develop character mythologies, and events, settings and milieus, and ideas, re: a moral human condition crisis.

If travel were as easy and convenient as teleportation at little or no expense, a "border" checkpoint would crop up at every portal. A deep tiered informal filtering process would back up official checkpoints. After the official customs checkpoint, next comes predatory exploiters, pickpockets, grifters, retail outlets designed to separate rubes from their currency, an underbelly zone where life is cheap and hope is lost, before a desirable destination comes into view. Those natural human behaviors are an automatic border filtering process that keeps out casual undesirable competition, today, the past, and in any age when teleportation-like travel is possible.

[ November 20, 2014, 11:04 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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quote:
If travel were as easy and convenient as teleportation at little or no expense, a "border" checkpoint would crop up at every portal.
Like everything else, it would depend on the country, the government, and the ever fickle mood of the electorate. North Korea has some of the tightest border security in the world, but a couple of thousand still manage to escape every year. And as with all other forms of prohibition, try and make it illegal and it becomes more appealing, and a black market surges to supply the obvious demand.

One of the things I disliked about LOOPER, a movie I was originally amped to see, was the idea that *every* government made time travel illegal. There's absolutely no comparison in real life of every government making one thing in particular illegal. That's just not how world governments work, and there's always a rogue country or a failed state that does whatever the heck it wants to. What's probably more likely is that a coalition of governments would make time travel illegal while still, secretly, having agents travel back in time.

One strange thing that might come out of teleportation is the question of what happens to the soul during the process. I remember reading about this with the STAR TREK teleportation. What's exactly going on in this process? Is this a replica of you, and the former you is destroyed each time? Can you break something apart, put it back together, and still consider it the same thing? When you step into one of these devices and energize, exactly where are you when you're at neither point A or point B?

New philosophical questions arising with all these humans ceasing to exist for moments of travel. We use the word "instant" travel, but some time must pass in that instant in which the individual is no longer around.

And lets not even get started on the horrors of technical malfunctions. A flash mob becomes a flash blob because of a glitch in the system.

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extrinsic
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Business and government abhor vacuums, like nature. Whether a border has an official filter checkpoint or informal ones, they still emerge. Whether a border is porous is more matters of degree and custom and policy than an absolutely open or closed border.

Natural geophysical boundaries, like waterways and mountain ranges and deserts, even absolute distances, naturally impede border crossings more effectively than borders that are relative, like lines on a map. Smaller countries are more porous than larger ones to the extent an interior location is a destination. However, larger countries are more prone to immediately proximal porous borders when the borders have non-geophysical boundary gaps.

The concrete aspects of a teleportation technology raise all sorts of ontological, teleological, theological, and philosophical questions; they don't in and off themselves dramatically support prose. For that, a MacGuffin motif needs to influence the plot motion in more ways than mere ideology and have a plot in the first place. Or be intrinsic to a plot's action and thus not be a MacGuffin.

One or two aspects governments and society do universally proscribe at least since first civilizations are non-state sponsored and internal violence, theft, and fraud.

[ November 20, 2014, 11:00 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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JSchuler
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
If travel were as easy and convenient as teleportation at little or no expense, a "border" checkpoint would crop up at every portal.

Completely disagree. If teleportation is cheap and easy, then it is easily reproducible and easily transportable. Heck, in such a world, you could probably find the equivalent of a YouTube video telling you how to build it in your garage, or schematics of one on Pirate Bay for your 3D nanoprinter.

And really, even if it's not easily reproducible, consider the resources of a drug cartel; they go through the trouble of digger miles-long tunnels and constructing submarines to evade border patrols. How much effort would they go through to obtain their own teleporter?

All that you need is one to slip through government control and it's all over, as that unlicensed teleporter becomes a point of entry for other unlicensed teleporters. At best, customs becomes something that only harasses the well-behaved.

As for the moral implications, I'm reminded of a short story where a form of teleportation is a means of traveling across the galaxy introduced by an alien species. It involves creating a clone at the other end and copying the mental state of the subject, and then destroying the original to "balance the equation," I think the term was. The main character is a human technician paired with an alien overseer of this technology, and the human's job is to push the button that kills the original right after the transfer is confirmed. Well, there's an error at one point and they don't get the transfer confirmation until several hours later, after the subject has left the kill-chamber. Dramatic complication ensues.

Edit: The story's name is "Think Like a Dinosaur" by James Patrick Kelly.

[ November 21, 2014, 04:04 AM: Message edited by: JSchuler ]

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extrinsic
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Perhaps we differ due to literal-minded "officialdom" and figurative-minded informality. If a teleportation device itself is prohibitively costly yet cheap and easy to ride, various formal and informal checkpoint and obstacles or impediments or chokepoints and gatekeepers are natural "borders." Checkpoints and chokepoints are also natural attractions of wraparound boundary layers: theives, exploiters, skimmers, opportunists.

If a teleportation device itself is cheap and easy to assemble and use, the things would be as ubiquitous as doorways and windows. Perhaps the only limiting factor of substance would be no two devices paths may overlap. "Don't cross the streams!" Much hilarity and trauma will result if departure or arrival points touch each other. Two objects cannot occupy the same space and time. That to me is a limiting factor akin to a checkpoint or similar impediment to willy-nilly anywhere, anytime teleportation travel.

If teleportation requires no device or only a device at a departure point or arrival point, a controlling factor would be needed to prevent unintended overlaps. Prose generally glosses past possible overlap complications by hand-waved self-limited preventions. Intended overlaps might be weaponized practices. Teleport an activated teleportation device to an active teleportation device and annihilate a region, maybe warp the continuum and create a discontinuity.

Fixed location installations will have a revenue stream that requires "official" and informal checkpoints and chokepoints and self-limited overlap exclusion if for no other reason than control and exploitations of a revenue stream.

Willy-nilly non-fixed installations will have attempts at control and a degree of self-limited control regardless.

Call me a cynic. I am. I believe a best practice is to hope for best outcomes though prepare for worst outcomes, optimism and pessimism in proportion, part Polyanna, part Cassandra. The human condition capacity to do wickedness in all and any self-involved motivations to me is fertile ground and ripe fruit as yet under-realized by science fiction and fantastical genre and prose generally.

[ November 21, 2014, 10:58 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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JSchuler
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If a teleportation device is prohibitively costly to build, that cost needs to be passed down to the user at some point. Teleportation, in that sense, can only be cheap if it has high-throughput, which also causes problems for customs. And even here, we have to ask what "prohibitively" means (is this a great work of a nation, and so limited to maybe a dozen in the world, or is it within the means of a Fortune 500 company), and would this condition realistically persist, or are we just looking at a temporary stage along the technology's development.

If it's cheap and easy to use, but subject to horrific mishaps due to interference, then because of the lack of control that limits its practical, legal use to commodities, not people. (Human traffickers will still use it as long as there is a high enough probability of success) Even here though, it's not an insurmountable technological barrier; interference by its nature, is detectable beforehand. It would create an interesting dynamic of pirate teleporters flipping on just in time for use and then moving to stay ahead of any enforcement agencies that are looking for them.

If all that's needed is a means to prevent two people from showing up in the same location at the same time, then, as long as a device is required at each end, we have that capability already. In fact, our current conversation relies upon it.

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extrinsic
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We've raised a number of mechanical teleportation motif considerations and each perspective relative to subjective creative visions. I propose considerations for how a teleportation technology might transcend MacGuffin status, its conventional use.

For example, H.G. Wells' time machine is a MacGuffin that facilitates the agonist's travel to future eras. In and of itself, the machine is a plot movement facilitator; however, the machine is not in and of itself intrinsic to the plot. The machine gets the agonist to the destinations yet doesn't affect the complication satisfaction struggle and outcomes.

Likewise, teleportation devices in science fiction facilitate travel yet don't affect the complication action. The 2011 dystopia film by Andrew Niccol In Time uses time intrinsically to the plot action. The motif also acts as a MacGuffin, though is a secondary motif of the film's principal action; that is, social-financial stratification based on life time span as currency.

Travel is the mechanical influence of teleportation. How might travel be intrinsically influential, if not primary, to a plot like time is for In Time?

An answer lays in social-financial mobility, as that motif does for In Time. Car culture is a prime mover for Jack Kerouac's On the Road. Kerouac's novel's primary plot engine and action influence is automobiles and physical mobility related to the human condition of geocentric bias caused by permament habitation in close and limited communities.

Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty's road adventures seek financial gain and intellectual-spiritual enlightenment from far horizons. The road ventures compare to Star Trek's spaceships and teleportation devices yet intrinsically to the plot. Car culture is an intrinsic motif for On the Road.

The autos in and of themselves are MacGuffins; however, the car culture influence of long-distance travel away from close-knit "home" cultures is a prime influence on plot motion and complication outcomes. Paradise and Moriarty could not have satisfied their personal complications without long-distance travel away from their home communities. The MacGuffin aspect comes from realization of the autos as airplanes instead. International jetset lifestyle has yet to be portrayed fully realized in prose, mostly used as a MacGuffin influence in narratives and films.

The Steven Spielberg film The Terminal almost uses jetset lifestyle intrinsically, though is more MacGuffin than kernel influence motif. Another ripe and fertile motif.

[ November 21, 2014, 05:03 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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A science fiction novel about how people have adopted to a significant advancement in technology would be interesting, though who would be the audience for it?

I haven't read much of the earliest Nebula Award winning novels, those stretching back to 1960s. The first book on that list that I've read is DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP. But as fantastic as this book is, it's not a narrative about how society has changed as a result of a new technology. This book could have just as easily been about slavery and the bounty hunter enlisted to hunt down runaways from a plantation. And the question is, "Is the bounty hunter actually a mulatto?" And do the slaves have souls like the slave holders?

Larry Niven's RINGWORLD comes much closer to a book written around the technology. The only problem is that the Ringworld takes place on a mostly desolate constructed planet, and so we can't see how it affects society because the society that's found on the planet never knew anything else besides the Ringworld.

And I'm not even sure Ursula K. LeGuinn's writing should be called science fiction. There's almost no science in either THE DISPOSSESSED or THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS.

But a book specifically about how a significant advance in a tech alters human interaction in unexpected ways. Actually, Paolo Bacigalupi's THE WINDUP GIRL, as well as his collection of short stories PUMP SIX AND OTHER STORIES, does a good job of doing this. And though I never read the genre, Steampunk I think does the same, though that's alternate reality fiction. Once again a society that never knew anything else beyond their current levels of tech.

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extrinsic
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An ideal is to have a fantastical motif intrinsically influence events (plot), ideas, settings, and characters. More often for science fiction, a fantastical motif may only intrinsically influence one, setting more often than the others, for narrative authentication functions.

A mid twentieth century school of thought labels narratives that use fantastical motifs that do not influence plot speculative fiction. Fan fiction writers circa 1990s started use of the term to span any science fiction, fantasy, and horror narrative regardless of a fantastical motif's intrinsicality. Turkey City Lexicon's "Abyss Phone Home," inspired by Steven Spielberg's film ET the Extraterrestrial, describes a narrative with fantastical motifs "tacked on" from a vein attempt to see a narrative already rejected by mainstream publishers published by a science fiction house. As if science fiction publishers are trash buckets. A cynical view.

An Abysss Phone Home narrative is one extreme of speculative fiction. The other extreme is fantastical motifs that may not intrinsically influence plot, though may influence milieu or setting authentication or develop character or narrator identity.

Genuine science fiction intrinsic motifs, physical sciences (hard) or social sciences (soft), influence plot such that a narrative will not stand without any core fantastical motif. "Speculative" motifs are not per se fantastical and vice versa. A fantastical motif may be possible, unlikely, improbable, or impossible, the latter especially for fantasy and perhaps horror, though narratives labeled science fiction may use fantasy-like impossible fantastical motifs.

Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" is a noteworthy genuine hard and soft science fiction narrative. The kernel dramatic complication of a nuclear weapon detonation is probable though hopefully unlikely for the narrative's milieu. The secondary premise of an automated house is as yet still unlikely though probable. The nuclear detonation is a real-world event that inspired the short story. The automated house is possible though a fantastical motif. Both are physical fantastical science motifs.

Arguably, the automated house could instead be a servant-served house. That does not stand scrutiny though. The family perished from the thermonuclear heat effect; presumably, servants would too. Likewise, the disaster could be from, say, a conventional incindiary bomb. That doesn't pass scrutiny either. The heat has to be intense and instantanous so that the family's heat shadow silohuette is impressed upon the house. Only a thermonuclear blast will achieve that effect.

Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a social science fiction narrative. The social dramatic complication at the core of the novel is how empathy makes humans compassionate for life. Deckard's lack of empathy for near-total-human androids and not a few humans as well is a situational irony of the novel, not to mention inhuman, nonempathetic nuclear war devastated the world of the novel.

The film does not do the novel justice. Films rarely can do or do justice to their novels.

Arguably, again, the Nexus-6 androids could as easily be slaves. That does not pass scrutiny though. All androids in Dick's milieu lack any empathy whatsoever. No matter how depraved human slavery is and how much slave masters want little, if any, emotional connections by, for and between them and slaves, they never totally lost sight of slaves' empathy: their humanity.

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TaleSpinner
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“This is where I think scifi writers will write a cool story but still miss important marks. They'll write a society where people have instant access to cyberspace to a point where there's basically E.S.P., but then in the narrative it'll simply work like really fast talking.

What they won't bother to stipulate upon is how humans would *actually* use such technology. How will it affect human interaction when the first time you meet someone, you can search their name and see a video of their birth, their first day at schools, the first time they had sex, their first job interview, all within moments?

But it would be difficult for writers to make those kinds of guesses, and probably wouldn't be relevant to whatever plot their working on. The ansible was an important tech in THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, but Ursula K. LeGuinn wouldn't even know where to begin working in what humans actually use a cam for. MMORPGs and sexting.

I've been teaching for five years in one of the most technically astute modern countries, and still the webcam is very rarely used in educational environments.”


For me this is a big negative generalisation about the SF genre.I’ve been reading SF for 50 years precisely because writers like le Guin, Clarke, Bova, Heinlein, and Pohl, speculate upon the impact on humanity and culture of unknown alien races and technological advances. Please consider “Nexus”, “Altered Carbon”and “Dreaming Metal” as, variously examples of modern SF that examine society culture and sex in futures where new tech including universal connectivity is not uncommon.

Rather than speculate on what award-winning le Guin might be capable of( her body of work indicates the negative speculation isn’t correct and she is not here to defend herself) for me it would be more helpful to identify techniques for predicting what people will do. i do not think they exist, beyond using a strong imagination and looking to history for precedents, e.g. the history of the porn industry, always quick to exploit new tech. the Star Trek examples of the crew not using Communicators for sexting and bumping into people is for me the wisdom of hindsight missing the quasi-military discipline that pervades the show, and missing the point that such detail isn’t material to the stories, and could become a distraction; BTW the transporters can lock onto the communicators, and as extrinsic observes they are for me a useful dramatic device

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Denevius
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quote:
Rather than speculate on what award-winning le Guin might be capable of( her body of work indicates the negative speculation isn’t correct and she is not here to defend herself)
To each their own, of course, but I do disagree with this sentiment. Critical analysis of a established artist's work shouldn't be off limits because said artist isn't there to defend themselves. Nor do their accomplishments and awards make their writing infallible.

We obviously have a difference of opinion, which is cool. I greatly enjoyed THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, though I thought DISPOSSESSED wasn't very good at all. But I don't think in either book that LeGuinn builds her story around speculations of advanced technology. The ansible is just a telephone. She could have just called it a telephone. In the novel, it works exactly as a telephone. It doesn't work as a cellphone, it doesn't work as a smartphone, two devices which didn't exist when she wrote the novel. It works exactly as a telephone, except it has no cord. She made no logical leaps of how the ansible would be used beyond how people use the telephone at that time on Earth: to call people far away.

This, in my opinion, is not an ingenuitive use of a technology in fiction, whether she won the Neubla for the novel or not.

The other books you named, I haven't read, but I'll google them and check them out. Now, I just read another Ted Chiang story, and his narratives are definitely wrapped around the future tech. The only problem with his prose is that there is a *buttload* of telling. He has to explain the tech in minute detail in order for you, the reader, to understand the social changes that have taken place. His prose is as much essay writing as fiction writing.

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TaleSpinner
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I do not see how opining that an established SF author would not even know how to predict MMORPGs or sexting with her ansibles is 'critical analysis' but I would accept she possibly felt no interest in analysing the myriads of possible consequences of a handy dramatic device. Where is the value in negative speculation based on hindsight such as this? SF is somewhat about forecasting and forecasts are never 100% For readers they only need to be entertaining or thought provoking. Few readers have the forecasting and analytic capabilities of Arisians and we ain't in Arisia so we don't, methinks, need Arisian critical standards
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Denevius
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quote:
Where is the value in negative speculation based on hindsight such as this?
Looking back to see where previous writers fell short helps current writers avoid the same pittfalls. But in the end, it's fairly subjective and a matter of personal aesthetics. If one doesn't think that conjuring some of the details of future tech is necessary for readers to feel more engaged in the prose they're writing, then groovy. To each their own.
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TaleSpinner
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this is an aesthetic we don't share. Blish missed microminiaturization and the calculator in Cities in Flight. The engineers who tended his massive computers aka "The City Fathers" used slip sticks. I do not see how knowing this helps me or anyone else avoid a similar slip, if that's what it is.
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extrinsic
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Tech and science motifs that function to start or keep a plot in motion, as for Leguin's ansible's facilitation of long distance, instantaneous communication, are MacGuffins. In that sense they inform other, more substantive events. They may also inform narrative authentication in terms of reality imitation for setting and milieu, and character development. They typically are not pertinent to what a narrative is actually about; that is, a moral human crisis condition struggle. They do require as much unity function, though, as pertinent influences and their agency.

A signal fire, for example, one of the more ancient long-distance, relatively immediate communication methods, might be unsuited for a futuristic milieu, though not per se excluded. A signal fire is a rudimentary binary code communication: on or off, on meaning one signal, off meaning another signal. A signal fire is no less possibly a MacGuffin motif than an ansible, or possibly an intrinsic motif.

MacGuffins usually require less, if any, mythology development than intrinsic motifs. A MacGuffin usually is taken as given and for granted in a narrative's milieu and by its characters, like LeGuin's ansible and Tolkien's signal fires.

Intrinsic motifs require greater, stronger, and clearer mythology development because their influence agency affects action at least, and to emphasize they are signficant and to make them memorable for readers when their agency needs to be deployed. As motifs that develop unity, they need to be related to the action of the moral human condition crisis, as well as related to the moment of the action, the events, settings, and characters, and they need a meaning depth greater, and clear and strong, related to their symbolic representational signficance.

For example, Tolkien's One Ring is intrinsic to the action, an influence object, and symbolic representation of ultimate power related to a theme-conflict and complication of "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." The complication opposition forces are deny the One Ring to wicked leaders and avoid its corruption influences and wicked leaders' want for the One Ring's power.

The One Ring more than extrinsically sets and keeps the plot in motion. The ring has strong influence central to the action, if not the action of the whole and all its parts and meaning layers.

Whether a writer reasonably predicts a future milieu or not is moot, as is whether a writer deploys a motif as a MacGuffin or a fully developed influence motif or anywhere between extremes, though secondary discourses make much meaning out of such foresight or lack of vision. The substance that matters is the intangible and thus less accessible signficance of a narrative; that is, the moral human condition crisis struggle. That moral human condition crisis and its degree of reader access is perhaps one of the greater challenges writers confront or sidestep or ignore at their peril.

For ambitious struggling writers, moral human condition crisis development is complicated by social forces that insist we not make scenes in our private and public lives, that we lead morally responsible lives and not reveal or let temptation run our "dark side," by personal writer and audience resistance to overt message and moral expressions, by the very accessibility challenge such content creates for readers that writers experience; that is, overt moral pageantry preaches. Intangibles' accessibility needs be possible for the target audience and writers need resist it less so that readers' accessibility is likely, yet should be packaged so the pageantry tableau does not trump the entertainment.

In writing writers can let their hair down and run amok. Let loose the demons of the dark side where they may safely be ecountered, expunged, reconciled, understood, confronted, coped with, navigated, negotiated, resolved, satisfied.

[ December 06, 2014, 12:18 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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quote:
Whether a writer reasonably predicts a future milieu or not is moot...
Reasonably predicting what scifi in your narrative, based on how said scifi turns out if developed in reality, isn't the point. Whether or not LeGuinn successfully predicted that the ansible would be used more to record ones private parts by the general population than many other functions isn't important. The fact of the matter is that THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS is categorized as scifi, and it won a prestigious scifi award, but there is no *actual* science fiction in the novel.

I said it once, I repeated it, and just for kicks, I'll say it again: LHOD is a great novel, but the ansible is just a telephone given a different name. If we want to list it as a McGuffin, like the suitcase in PULP FICTION, or the communicator in STAR TREK, groovy. But the ansible itself isn't speculation of future tech. Again, it's just a telephone. It's as complicated as ET using a payphone to "phone home".

Now, if some readers don't think writing a scifi novel that doesn't actually have scifi is problematic, so be it. Or writing a scifi novel where the scifi is underdeveloped and meant only to push forward the plot, then groovy. Neither of these attributes in the prose makes the story inherently bad. But to not see the tech as presented in these narratives as flawed motifs overall isn't something that I, personally, have done.

And it's also why I've stayed away from writing scifi, though couldn't really put my finger upon why until recently. I don't know science, and in my mind, despite the evidence to the contrary, I always figured that I needed to know something about biology, physics, electronics, chemistry, genetics, computers, etc, in order to write a convincing scifi narrative.

But really, it seems that I don't. I can write a story that takes place a 1000 years from now, give the characters LeIAHS that they use to communicate with each other, have the LeIAHS graced with the exact same function and usage as modern day smartphones, and call it science fiction. I can create VROCS that they use to get them from point A to point B (though point A and point B is worlds instead of cities), and the VROCS have no other difference in the lives of characters as modern cars. They'll fight with BEZES, which are just fancier guns.

Though I'm sure in most workshops, people will point out in a critical manner that all I did was give a strange name to modern day gadgets.

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extrinsic
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Gadgets and rivets and chrome science fiction "critics" often claim distinguishes hard science fiction from soft and from fantasy. Soft science fiction, again, is fantastical social science. A greater proportion of science fiction is soft regardless of whether "hard" or accessibly "soft" or fantasy because successful science fiction expresses commentary about a moral human condition.

Ursula K. LeGuin's writing to me and probably to others can be categorized as fantasy soft science fiction with a few gadgets and some rivets and chrome plus futuristic settings. The Left Hand of Darkness certainly fits that bill. A general theme-complication related to a moral human condition of the novel, though, is an individual and the future.

Like other theme-complications: an individual and nature, an individual and public society, an individual and private society, an individual and the "gods" or government, an individual and a nemesis or villain, an individual and between cross purposes, and an individual and the self, otherwise constituted as versus clashes; man versus nature, for example, from Arthur Quiller-Couch's early twentieth century critical analysis. An individual and the future may be categorized as parts of one or more of the seven common themes. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness reaches into an individual and public and private society, and nature, and parts of the others, expressly, though, an individual and the future as the theme-unity function.

Futuristic narrative is certainly categorical science fiction with fantastical social sciences an inherent component. Though LeGuin rhetorically uses a number of gadgets and other motifs as MacGuffins, the central motif is a future world where sexual politics have no overt influence. However, as like "refuse one rhetoric, another takes its place," the sexless androgyny of the first and most famous examination of new feminism science fiction substitutes epispodic (monthly), selectable sexual bacchanalia for recreation and procreation. One rhetoric substitutes for another.

Other social and physical clashes intrinsically drive the plot: sibling rivalry played out as world-centric bias, social stratification, Ai's internal doubts, clashes caused by distance and the natural, physical cosmos, and government authorities self-governed by petty, self-involved hubris.

On the other hand, if an ansible needs be intrinsic to a plot, that's another story. The question of the ansible's social influences as like present-day cell phone technology might imagine a lively, timely, relevant narrative. Isaac Asimov's Solaria, used in several of his narratives, featured in The Naked Sun, imagines a world's people socially isolated by advanced communication technology. The technology, though an intrinsic motif, is not a prime mover of the plot. The central action is a mystery puzzle, a whodunit.

So then, if that's the most artful example of underrealized communication technology's social influences, opportunities are ripe and fertile for narratives that rhetorically explore how cell phones shape society, culture, and technology and science.

Let's say a society doesn't know it wants communication technology for rapid and accurate diffusion of, what, data. Lo and behold, the technology develops after a struggle in which the developers realize they created a Frankenstein monster. The struggle is tangible -- superficial; technical complications thwart their progress, though related to the theme-complication of, say, social alienation so the tangible and intangible complications and outcomes are unified.

The developers become ever more detached from social interaction while they overcome tangible complications. In the end, they realize they intended to invent closer human relationships, spoiled theirs, and provided a means for all of society to socially detach.

Now that they have time, fortunes, and interest for social interaction, they forgot or never developed how and no one any longer cares to socially interact with them or anyone. Maybe a dissenter community arises and attempts to restrict or deny the technology, and sabotages the development all the while. In the end, they too fail, though their normative social attachment attracts the developers and like-minded folk. The bitter enemies, nemeses maybe, become best friends forever from their want for meaningful companionship and denial of cell phone-like technology.

An inventive and non-"rabbit Scmeerp" technology motif, though, requires elaboration and perhaps exaggeration. Say the technology transmits across long distances with little to no time lag or signal corruption. The transmission instantaneously target-casts vast quantities of data on demand. Users enjoy immediate and total access to any and all content they desire. Private and confidential information is secure from exploitation, though fully accessible to trusted acquantainces. Who can keep juicy secrets, though? Folk become increasingly isolated from social interaction by concern about secret revelations and instead find solace, if cold company, from data.

The technology could have a glitzy and tangible mythology development. Perhaps the technology relies on as yet undiscovered compounds, say two or more elements that do not ordinarily compound and also are problematic, perhaps dangerous if exposed to another compound. Boron, arsenic, and nitrogen would fit that bill. Boron arsenide could become a crystal chip matrix that allows for instantaneous and vast data read and write capability. The chip matrix also supports instantaneous subdimensional burst transmit and receive functions. If the matrix' surface is dope clad with, say, a near-impervious beryllium coat, nitrogen is kept away. Nitrogen contact might cause a runaway oxidation-like process that consumes a defined region's physical matter and any user nearby. The matrix could be required to grow on an orbital platform so that purity controls limit gravity distortion and nitrogen contamination and in an argon-doped mirco vacuum.

The cosmos is the limit for such imaginative inventions, the intangible social action what matters, not the science or technology tangibles, though.

[ December 07, 2014, 02:01 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Reziac
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And I just binge-watched (for the 2nd time) Stargate: Universe, and found it even better the 2nd time around. Talk about character-driven TV...
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Denevius
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I just watched 5 seasons of ROSEANNE in a week and a half, and the funny thing about it is that these television programs aren't meant to be watched back to back like this. You really see the machinations of the writing in these classic televisions shows.

Narratives exist on conflict, but I have to tip my hat to writers writing characters who are obviously wrong. When you can, with a serious face, pen a 15 year old girl who, with fury and passion, *insists* that her mom can't tell her what to do even as she's living under her roof, has no job, has no money, has no prospects of money, has no real concept of what it takes to make money, has to ask for an allowance just to buy *anything*, is completely not self-sufficient even as she bellows at the top of her lungs her independence.

And I'm watching this show with this teen who's giving her parents grief over something that any reasonably successfully adult realizes will only end badly for the teen, yet it works, and it's funny, and it's compelling TV (up until season 5 when Darlene leaves because, really, the dynamic between Roseanne and her daughters is what really made the show, otherwise you're just left with two overweight losers who can't hold a job to save their lives).

That's fascinating writing. Frustrating, but fascinating.

You don't see this type of thing in fiction too much, particularly genre fiction. Most characters people write are just cooler, more apt versions of themselves. In the show, Roseanne has this, obsession almost, to be seen as cool by her kids. She doesn't want to be like her mom, yet any reasonably successfully adults realizes that Roseanne's mom is right almost *all* the time.

It's complete madness watching this show 20 years later and older.

In most fiction, central characters aren't giving this type of glaring flaw, where they are *obviously* wrong. And the times that they are, they're often criticized as being unlikable. The average reader can't really relate, and it takes them too far out of their comfort zone.

Genre fiction more often uses the faceless character that readers feel they can wear as a mask. As we've discussed before, this is why we get the bland Luke Skywalker over the rouge Han Solo as the central character.

I only saw the movie STARGATE, but here the focus is more on the stereotypical good-natured bumbling scientist than the psychologically damaged soldier figure, which would have made a more compelling movie, if not a more audience friendly movie.

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extrinsic
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A core kernel of situation comedy is self-involved agonists' self-involvements cause their complications that then want satisfactions. Their flaws and their coping mechanisms, if not complication satisfactions, are their appeals. Roseanne's self-appointed centralness to the Conner family reflects her codependent caretaking for self-involved importance promotion. Darlene does challenge Roseanne's supremacy, naturally, as young women challenge older women.

The women's group dynamic orients around central Roseanne; and Jackie, Darlene, Beckie, and Beverly compete for queen of the Conner family, each likewise self-involved and caretaker codependents.

The men too enact a power dominance cycle through masculine status competitions, Dan king of the Conner hill by right of marriage to queen Roseanne. The men, though, fulfill enabler codependent roles: enable the women's self-involvement and feminine status competitions for feminine supremacy.

The self-involvement complication formula is tried and true and near global in situation comedies. A social situation unique to Roseanne provides the series its strongest appeals; that is, a blue-collar working family with both spouses working as they will, their social mobility ambitions driving their fickle work history, in a social era of Postmodern fallout. Challenges and questions of traditional codependent social and family values are foremost features for the series' appeals.

[ January 18, 2015, 05:21 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Robert Nowall
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Long as we're sharing binge-watching again...I've been working through varuous favorite episodes of "Star Trek." Just The Original Series---I'm just not as entertained by any other incarnation of it, though I've watched quite a bit.

Curiously I caught a plot development point in one episode that somehow, despite seeing the episode oh, fifty or a hundred times, had eluded me. Something that happened about two-thirds of the way in was prefigured by a couple of lines between characters about one-third in---I'd just thought, all these years, that it happened unexpectedly.

Can't stand "Roseanne"...largely 'cause I can't stand Roseanne (whatever her last name is this season.) Just something that happened from the get-go of it all; can't recall catching her doing anything before the promos for the series started airing.

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Reziac
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I'm working through ST:Enterprise myself. Lots of good stuff, but lordy, do they abuse the handwavium...
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