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Author Topic: The other direction of Anton's Key
Duke Leto
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There are a lot of things to fault in the Shadows series as opposed to the Ender books.

Card clearly moved from basing his description of non-American cultures on his firsthand missionary experience to material drawn from books. There's the hamfisted way early 21st century political relationships have been somewhat frozen in time throughout the ensuing decades of the Formic War. There's the character of Achilles, who's just childishly one-dimensional, and the character of old Anton himself, whose "I'm gay but I got better" subplot is nothing but an authorial soapbox.

But one of the most ridiculous things about the extire sub series to my mind was Anton's Key, which just struck me as a ludicrous oversimplification of genetic engineering. Surely getting more intelligence out of human beings couldn't just be a matter of upping cranial growth by making the growth patterns of infancy permanent, right?

Then I read about Brooke Greenberg, the anti-Bean. Brooke is a 16 year old girl who stopped growing and developing as a toddler. It's exactly what Anton said: "You can remain a child in the garden, never aging or"

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AchillesHeel
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Utterly interesting, being myself born deformed I can only imagine what else the double helix has to show us. And as far as the idea of Anton's key being simplistic, didnt we all pay money to watch three movies about a nerd who was bitten by a radioacitive spider?

As the character flaws you mention, Achilles was seemingly one-sided because he was psychotic and focused, written as a third person character view narration we only met Achilles from the opinion of those who knew he was a sociopath. Im sure he would appear to be an entirely differant and even be seen as personable if shown from a less knowledged and more impressionable character. While I do agree that it is silly to think that sexuality is disease, Anton's homosexuality being cured may be the way the old man looked upon parts of his life. Looking at the rest of that story it is obvious that he is no longer the same man he was, taking a wife, calling himself the father of her children and taking responsibility for them. No longer obsessive, antagonistic, and lets not forget that he tried to make a nun blush atleast once that we know of.

Although the idea that America had stopped trying to learn or gain without losing anything they had doesnt seem kosher. As if a country can cut as many strings as possible with the world at large but not lose the benefits of an interconnected and involved world.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Surely getting more intelligence out of human beings couldn't just be a matter of upping cranial growth by making the growth patterns of infancy permanent, right?

If course it's not just a matter of that. In that universe, it's one was that was found to increase human intelligence. A different method was used on the people of Path.
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Duke Leto
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Well obviously in OSC's universe there's more than one way to skin the Genetic Engineering cat. I was talking about whether it would actually work in reality.

My original thoughts on the feasibility of Anton's Key in the real world were that if Bean's brain got bigger at a constant rate along with the rest of his body, his intelligence would go up faster than normal but there'd be an upper limit after which the human brain's natural ability for self organization would break down completely and he'd sink into Schizophrenia, long before the square cube law of scalability killed him.

The second thought was that no single gene if turned off could shut down the inhibition of infant growth. With Brooke implemented in reality, that onjection is a lot less valid.

(Incidentally, the people who created Path were doubly idiotic in their assumption that they'd be able to keep their GE tinkering from planet full of hobbled geniuses. Anyone with the most fundamental understanding of evolution would know that someone like Si Wang Mu would be statistically certain to appear in a few dozen generations and she and her descendants would then rapidly outbreed the OCD suffering Godspoken.)

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
I was talking about whether it would actually work in reality.
I reckon that since OSC's credentials as a geneticist are about the same as a physicist, Anton's key would actually work about as well as the ansible or Dr. Device.
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Clumpy
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Y'know, Achilles' behavior is pretty consistent in my opinion throughout the Shadow series, but inconsistent with the chapter told from his point of view.

And regarding the genetic stuff - the idea of DNA as a "code" or Lego blocks to mess around with has been a cliche for long enough that I'm gonna cut OSC some slack on this one (not that my opinion matters), especially since he handled it with a bit more subtlety than I'm used to seeing.

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AchillesHeel
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I always figured that OSC used the fact that baby's become smarter at an amazing rate. They grow constantly and are alway's making new neurons and connections, just like that new system at www.yourbabycanread.com just playing on the dynamic way baby's grow and learn and the fact that we have no clues as to what the limitations are yet.

But as pointed out by another poster, I do not take medical advice from OSC, nor do I use his cookie recipe's. Because both are purely speculative.

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kassyopeia
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quote:
There's the character of Achilles, who's just childishly one-dimensional
In a way, I find the characterization quite enjoyable. His ability to outperform in months what it takes governments decades to accomplish supercedes even that of James Bond supervillains, which are something of a benchmark for me.

But, yes, realism does suffer somewhat.

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Clumpy
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Well, for me at least there's no single moment that makes me go "Now, come on, that's just too much of a stretch!" As long as you accept that very intelligent people can accomplish incredible things either through diplomacy or subversion (something I usually have trouble accepting), the specifics aren't that much of a logical leap.
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Scott R
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You're going to bag on Achilles for doing his schtick, but you swallow the idea of two teenagers dominating the political and philosophical landscape through the internet?

And one of them becoming the leader of the free world before he turns 30?

[Smile]

Well, whatever floats your critical boat. I tend to look at science fiction as being "realistic" until it breaks the rules already established for its particular setting.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Well, whatever floats your critical boat. I tend to look at science fiction as being "realistic" until it breaks the rules already established for its particular setting.
Pretty much precisely my benchmark for liking or disliking fiction.

A book sets up its rules that pertain to its particular world, the reader accepts those rules as a sort of contract and commits to the book. When the author breaks their own rules, the book stops working for me.

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mr_porteiro_head
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OSC's science fiction has never been the strongest in the science department. Which is OK -- I read it for other things.

[ June 29, 2009, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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neo-dragon
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Indeed. There's "hard sci-fi" and "soft sci-fi". OSC works fall into the latter category. Which type is better is just a matter of preference. Hard is heavier on the science and tends to be more realistic in terms of technology, but I find that soft usually works better on a human level in terms of character interactions and development because it's not so concerned with explaining all the science.

"Dune", for example, is perhaps the ultimate soft sci-fi novel in my opinion. It's amazingly deep, but the "sci-fi" aspects of it are really more like fantasy since there's no real scientific basis for things like prescience and genetic memory. You just have to accept that in the world of "Dune" these things are scientifically possible and not magical.

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Duke Leto
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Heck, in Dune, Mendelian inheritance apparently doesn't work.

Just so we're clear on my complaints:

I dislike Achilles because he is a cypher character. Unlike almost all the rest of OSC's antagonists, there is no attempt to explain his actions from his own viewpoint. Achilles is just homicidally insane for plot purposes. That's it.

If more attention to his motivations as a character had been paid, I'd object less.

My realism objections to the series was that it is obvious that OSC just suspended the current geopolitical situation for a few centuries and rebooted early 21st century Earth. For one thing, it is now outrageous to believe India will remain economically backwards for 200 years compared to its neighbors. Moreover, he was clearly getting his cultural milieu secondhand rather than firsthand.

My complaint about Anton is that he was used to hamfistedly hammer home OSC's reproductive morality viewpoints, and OSC has gotten less and less subtle about this as he has gotten older.

We've completely lost track of the Original topic, which was to discuss this girl who doesn't age:

"Surely you're not saying that God had to choose between long life and intelligence for human beings!"
"It's there in your own Bible, Carlotta. Two trees knowledge and life. You eat of the tree of knowledge, and you will surely die. You eat of the tree of life, and you remain a child in the garden forever, undying."

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neo-dragon
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quote:
Originally posted by Duke Leto:


My realism objections to the series was that it is obvious that OSC just suspended the current geopolitical situation for a few centuries and rebooted early 21st century Earth. For one thing, it is now outrageous to believe India will remain economically backwards for 200 years compared to its neighbors. Moreover, he was clearly getting his cultural milieu secondhand rather than firsthand.


I believe that this is actually intentional, and it's addressed within the context of the stories. Geopolitical situations essentially froze for over a century after the buggers first attacked, as defending humanity became every nation's priority. In the Shadow books and even at the end of Ender's Game we see how as soon as the buggers are taken care of things pretty much pick up where they left off over 100 years ago. That's why things aren't radically different than they are today.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Duke Leto:
Heck, in Dune, Mendelian inheritance apparently doesn't work.

It doesn't in Octavia Butler's books either.
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Duke Leto
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quote:
Originally posted by neo-dragon:
In the Shadow books and even at the end of Ender's Game we see how as soon as the buggers are taken care of things pretty much pick up where they left off over 100 years ago. That's why things aren't radically different than they are today.

Even if that were logically possible, India by the time of a bugger invasion that devastates most of a superpower China, projecting forward from today's status quo, would be the equal of the US, not a comparatively poor backwater.

And you really can't tell me that ALL of humanity's resources were spent building starships because they clearly had time to build "solar farms in the sahara to reconstitute Lake Chad". It doesn't make sense for India to have become more of a ackwater while friggin' Rwanda advances to 1st World status.

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neo-dragon
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Okay, Hari Seldon [Razz] . Who's to say how a couple of centuries and an interstellar war would affect any nation's development? I don't see how Card's vision is any less valid than yours.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
"Dune", for example, is perhaps the ultimate soft sci-fi novel in my opinion.
You're right, except that it's actually a fantasy epic masquerading as sci-fi. [Wink]
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