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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 7:59 am 
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Alistair Reynolds writes some of the best Sci-Fi and he sticks pretty close to proper physics, great space operas really.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 2:36 pm 
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I've only read one book by Alastair Reynolds, "Pushing Ice"... and while it had some cool concepts and I really liked the science side of it - I haven't gotten back to that author again. I probably should. :)

Ax wrote:
Have you ever read a story where the author actually used that justification for the sound in a space battle? Because I think it's both plausible and kind of cool, but I don't recall running into it.

No, that's my own admittedly somewhat desperate rationalization. I *want* to suspend disbelief for the story, so I'll create elaborate excuses for the "errors". If I can't come up with *anything* it bugs me. Hence, this thread. I've explained away the thundering missiles to my own satisfaction-- but I can't get away from the misuse of terminal velocity. There's no way out of that box. *sigh*

It would actually be kind of cool if you could program your space ship's computer to announce incoming missiles with a screaming, thundering noise over a speaker that gave you the actual direction. Volume to indicate proximity, that sort of thing.

Don't get me started on Pride and Prejudice. :nono: One of my daughters insisted I see one of the movies and it was torture, so I read the book, thinking it had to better... REALLY not my sort of story. While I appreciate economy of phrase, the subject matter was not to my liking.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 3:33 pm 
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I think striving for some level of scientific plausibility makes sense. But if there's an opportunity for some good alliteration or wordplay that is in conflict with that scientific plausibility, I say go with the words!


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 12:33 pm 
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House of Suns by A. Reynolds is probably my favorite. Pushing Ice was fun, but trying at times. One thing I wish he'd do is revisit some of his stories and show us where characters or the story has gone. He's done that with some, but Pushing Ice is one I'd love to see expanded more


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 8:42 pm 
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I've never for some reason read any Alastair Reynolds, but based on your recommendation, Slavex, I just went and got House of Suns for my Kindle. I look forward to reading it!

PtB wrote:
I think striving for some level of scientific plausibility makes sense. But if there's an opportunity for some good alliteration or wordplay that is in conflict with that scientific plausibility, I say go with the words!


I think striving for some level of literary quality makes sense. But if there's an opportunity to bring some amazing aspect of the actual universe onto the page, one that would be diluted in its impact if you fudged the science, I say go with the science! :D

And I think I'm in pretty good company among SF readers. Physical reality is more varied and more interesting than my imagination, for the most part. The first time I set part of one of my books on a moon that actually exists (Triton, a moon of Neptune), the research I did on the environment there—the temperature, the gravity, the structure of the world, the ice geysers, what they would mine for there, how they would have to engineer their structures for stability—that work gave me more rich details than I was actually able to use, and I was very happy to know that what I depicted was as close to reality as I could make it.

The fact is, thrills and "sense of wonder" are more easily achieved with what's really out there than with old sci-fi movie tropes like thundering missiles. You just have to spend a few hours on the research. And the research is fun!

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:29 pm 
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Oh, I don't disagree that there's plenty out there in the wide universe that puts our rather parochial imaginations to shame. I'm just partial to linguistic choices in SF that inject a little poetry into the prose.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 3:26 am 
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I really don't see what the one has to do with the other. :scratch: Why would being accurate about scientific issues make it more (or for that matter less) likely that the language used would be literary, or even poetic? And would using poetic language make it more (or less) likely that the science is accurate?

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 3:34 am 
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I think he's just saying he's willing to trade a bit of poetic flair (eg. "thundering missiles") for a bit of literal realism. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 4:20 am 
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yov speaks my mind better than I do! :)


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 4:53 am 
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Well said, Yov.

I've just realized what I need in sci fi - consistency in the story. I am reading Riddle's origin series - Atlantis something, something & the other.

And after two books of harping on Atlanteans & humans, he refers to the "human genome" instead of Atlantean. Gaaaaah.
I think he meant hominid??


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 4:54 am 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
I really don't see what the one has to do with the other. :scratch: Why would being accurate about scientific issues make it more (or for that matter less) likely that the language used would be literary, or even poetic? And would using poetic language make it more (or less) likely that the science is accurate?


I agree with V, Pratchett does both splendidly. But the question is where are you willing to overlook little mistakes - prose or accuracy?


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:01 am 
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The typical science fiction reader is likely to happily accept scientific accuracy at the cost of literary quality. I would definitely prefer to deliver both. However, accuracy wins.

BUT, it's rarely necessary to choose between them. The instance I can easily think of is that the constraints of my version of star travel introduced huge delays into my plot. But I stuck to the constraints I introduced in Book 1, because anything else would be cheating. *sigh*

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:51 pm 
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It occurred to me recently that though I'm not all that finicky about the kind of scientific accuracy Maria mentioned, one area that does really, really bug me is how computers are often portrayed in movies. Now, I'm no computer expert but I have been around computers literally my whole life, have pretty much always used them, and I probably learned at least one or two things about them during my Computer Science degree (though likely no more than two). I have a pretty decent idea what computers can and cannot do but storytellers just love having them do ridiculous things that make no sense. Common sins are:

- oh no, the photo we got is really low res and blurry! I know, let the computer genius hit the "Enhance" button a few times and then it'll be perfectly sharp! Maybe if you keep hitting that button we can examine the molecular structures in the pic. (No. :x )

- oh no, how will we ever defeat these evil villains! I know, let the computer genius "make a virus" to take down their security systems! (No. :x )

- oh no, the info we need is within this highly secure database! I know, let the computer genius "hack into the system" for a minute or two and instantly find any data you want! (No. :x )

That kind of stuff makes me wanna :bang: :bang: :bang: .

The absolute worst example ever might be in Independence Day. Anyone remember that? How at the end of the movie they end up defeating the giant, unstoppable, killer alien motherships in part by "uploading a virus" to their computers to bring down the mothership's security shield. Thinking about that makes my head want to explode. It's almost as logical as saying "Let's defeat the aliens by giving them ebola!" :bang: :bang: :bang:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:40 am 
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My favorite was on Castle. "All digital files about this extremely dangerous criminal have been deleted!"

Big deal. Have your IT people restore them from the nightly backup. Or from the tapes in your offsite backup storage.

No one ever does backups in the movies.

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‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:12 am 
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Gawd I remember that Independence Day crap. We all laughed & laughed about how aliens also used Microsoft, and not Apple.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:36 am 
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Inanna wrote:
We all laughed & laughed about how aliens also used Microsoft, and not Apple. .


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:25 am 
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I pretty much figure that movies and TV will never get computers right. At least not until people who grew up using them climb far enough up the production ladder. I think a lot of people still writing and directing and producing films/TV have never touched one. They think of them as these powerful miracle machines the grandkids can get to play songs, and they saw this funny video about a cat once. Therefore, what can't those things do? ;)

(The Independence Day computer attack is completely hilarious, but I still love that movie. Go figure.)

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:48 pm 
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Hey Prim, did you notice that really pretty butterfly in the left side of your sig pic? It's really neat. Just enhance the pic 850% to get a good look at it.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:07 pm 
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I did, but once you get up to 4500% you can see that some of the color scales are flaked off toward the top of the left wing. Imperfect!

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:25 pm 
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But most of the time, these are representations of computers IN THE FUTURE, when they (and their operators) seem to be simultaneously far more powerful, and far more stupid. Whatever characteristic suits the particular plot point in question!


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