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Thread: Don't you just hate... {science fiction topics}

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by fullstop View Post
    I believe it was in the 1980s that I was dealing with someone who had the price for something, and needed to determine how much a 10% initial payment was. So he reached into his desk to pull out the calculator to perform this difficult calculation. He got the right answer.

    Even a calculator will not help some people. When they are convinced that 2.12 is more than 2.7, because, after all, 12 is more than 7, they need something more fundamental than a calculator.
    It is astonishing the number of uncomprehending looks I get from young whippersnappers when they say "Anyone got a calculator?" and I respond with "I do." while tapping my temple.

    On the other hand, my older sister makes the sign of the cross at me when she wonders how to calculate a 15% tip, and I say "divide by ten and add half again."
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2018-Nov-27 at 03:10 AM.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I'm actually more disappointed when the obvious social ramifications of technology aren't mentioned.

    In Ringworld, they start off with a party with the guests teleporting around the world to make the party last "all night/day". The idea sort of fizzles and the characters get bored/tired with the obviously gag. We got a social component of the use of high tech gadgets. As mentioned before, they still have phones which is another social convention, communication without contact. Perhaps like many people texting over calling today.

    In Star Trek, exactly zero people are "prank transported to Tibet". They missed an obvious problem with the tech. Pranksters will always exist and gravitate towards the most horrible and dangerous stunts with easy access. Apparently, you don't even need a license to operate a transporter.

    They did circle back and showed that it was nearly impossible for people to get homesick. Jake in DS9 gets "homesick" all the time and transports home a ridiculous amount of times. His family tries to put him off doing it, perhaps as good parenting, but allows it anyway. A good catch on a social convention because of the same technology. The problem wasn't the technology, the problem was a child accessing it at will just because they can.

    They also lampshaded the fact that money is nearly valueless in the series. They kept stating the exorbitant costs of Jake transporting home, but then really couldn't say much about it because money was meaningless. I'm not exactly sure how that works, but they were trying to drive a point. Someone was keeping tabs on Jake, on a couple of different levels and scales.
    At the Intrepid Museum, they had a Star Trek exhibit a few years ago, and one of the tie-ins was that visitors could take a tour of both the exhibit and the normal museum in-character as Starfleet cadets, with the guide describing everything from a futuristic perspective. I didn’t take the tour, but I was visiting ona day a group was doing it, so I listened in whenever our paths crosssed. In general, I thought it was a really clever and fun twist on a normal museum tour, but my favorite part was the guide saying “Now, I’m sure you all beamed over to Italy to have a spaghetti dinner with your parents to celebrate once you got your assignments, but back in the mid-twentieth century, many of the men serving onboard Intrepid during World War II had never previously left their hometowns!”
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    It is astonishing the number of uncomprehending looks I get from young whippersnappers when they say "Anyone got a calculator?" and I respond with "I do." while tapping my temple.

    On the other hand, my older sister makes the sign of the cross at me when she wonders how to calculate a 15% tip, and I say "divide by ten and add half again."
    I have a friend who's into astronomy, and a friend who's into phone apps.
    They produced a marvellous bit of dialogue in the pub one night.
    AppBoy (excited tone): "Look, you'll be interested in this. I have an app on my phone so that if I point it at something in the sky it tells me what it is."
    AstroBoy (bored tone): "Yeah, I've got something like that. It's called my head."

    Grant Hutchison
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  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I have a friend who's into astronomy, and a friend who's into phone apps.
    They produced a marvellous bit of dialogue in the pub one night.
    AppBoy (excited tone): "Look, you'll be interested in this. I have an app on my phone so that if I point it at something in the sky it tells me what it is."
    AstroBoy (bored tone): "Yeah, I've got something like that. It's called my head."

    Grant Hutchison
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    On the other hand, my older sister makes the sign of the cross at me when she wonders how to calculate a 15% tip, and I say "divide by ten and add half again."
    That's how I do it! And then I'll drag out the phone to see how close I am. More than a couple cents off is disappointing. Unfortunately a significant number of people don't understand percent in the first place.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  6. #36
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    I would say that one of the SF writers most capable of taking a new development and completely integrating it into human culture from top to bottom, just running it into the ground, was Alfred Bester in The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man. He could grasp the good and evil in a new twist in human society, he could squeeze and twist it and come out with something rare and real that made you gasp.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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  7. #37
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    I don't know that I hate it but I prefer science fiction stories not go completely off the rails trying to explain how some impossible-given-the-laws-of-physics-as-we-know-them-today futurist thing or technology works, particularly if it's repeated. I'm perfectly willing and capable of suspending disbelief. Star Trek is a positive example. I don't really need to have warp drive and FTL travel explained ad nauseam.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    But when I see a RPG from the 1980s depicting computers today as neural implants, I feel cheated out of something I was "promised".
    Yeah, I don't think that way, but that's how I feel.
    Woe, woe is me, my brain can't be hacked by an anonymous cyberspace cowboy living in a shady cylinder in the L5 archipelago.
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  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    Woe, woe is me, my brain can't be hacked by an anonymous cyberspace cowboy living in a shady cylinder in the L5 archipelago.
    Oh, that's just what the brain hackers want you to believe.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  10. #40
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    Aliens who learned perfect English by listening to our radio broadcasts as they approached earth but know nothing about our laws and customs.

  11. #41
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    Aliens & Earthlings - With few exceptions both see to be evenly matched technologically +/- 100 years in many SF stories, esp TV series. Well, at least it seems that way.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I have a friend who's into astronomy, and a friend who's into phone apps.
    They produced a marvellous bit of dialogue in the pub one night.
    AppBoy (excited tone): "Look, you'll be interested in this. I have an app on my phone so that if I point it at something in the sky it tells me what it is."
    AstroBoy (bored tone): "Yeah, I've got something like that. It's called my head."

    Grant Hutchison
    Lol!
    Solfe

  13. #43
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    I hate it when I realize we are living in science fiction. Today, I read my students a story about going on a trip. One of the characters takes pictures and the fact appears in one of the questions.

    "What does Molly take [while] on her trip?" Answer: "Pictures." Because of the one missing word "while" in the question, none of the students could guess.

    I made a motion of taking a picture with a camera. No one understood. One of the students questioned me on it: "Your phone takes pictures when you put your hands up to your face and wiggle a finger? My phone takes a PHONOgraphs when you twist your wrist and press the icon."

    So, we've change the motion, the device and the name of said device.
    Last edited by Solfe; 2018-Nov-28 at 12:19 AM.
    Solfe

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by geonuc View Post
    I don't know that I hate it but I prefer science fiction stories not go completely off the rails trying to explain how some impossible-given-the-laws-of-physics-as-we-know-them-today futurist thing or technology works, particularly if it's repeated. I'm perfectly willing and capable of suspending disbelief. Star Trek is a positive example. I don't really need to have warp drive and FTL travel explained ad nauseam.
    Hang on that's a completely different kettle of fish.

    Suspension of disbelief is a staple of science fiction. No sci-fi buff has a problem with it.
    Suspension of reason is completely different.

    An example from the TV show Orville:

    "We made a gadget that creates a field wherein time passes much faster than outside - like a century per second".

    OK, cool gadget - don't know how it works but it's plausible enough that I don't care.
    : Suspension of Disbelief :

    "We put an acorn in the field and threw it at the bad guys. Wham! A century old 100-foot-tall oak tree just ventilated their bridge. Win!"

    OK, no. An acorn sitting in a petrie dish - even for a century - does not magically grow into a 100-foot-tall tree. How did it grow?

    : requires Suspension of Reason :


    The first plot point gave us a rationale for why we could suspend our disbelief.

    The second plot point was created by some school kid who thought:
    Step 1: Acorns.
    Step 3: Oak trees.
    Step 2: Magic I guess.
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2018-Nov-27 at 11:36 PM.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Hang on that's a completely different kettle of fish.
    Different than what?

    I think you may have missed an important aspect of my post. I said I prefer they 'not go completely off the rails' in explaining stuff like warp fields, or gadgets that create temporal effects, as you suggest. My post had nothing at all to do with stuff like fast-growing acorns, which I would characterize as magic. And yes, I recall what Clarke said about advanced technology and magic.

  16. #46
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    OK, granted. I thought you were attempting to equate Suspension of Disbelief with Suspension of Reason.

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    How I wish I had a time telephone and could call up Murray Leinster in 1946 and tell him "You did it! A Logic Named Joe was the only Golden Age Science Fiction story to get it right!"
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

  18. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    How I wish I had a time telephone and could call up Murray Leinster in 1946 and tell him "You did it! A Logic Named Joe was the only Golden Age Science Fiction story to get it right!"
    Of course if you had a working time telephone, it would be several more SF stories that would be correct...
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  19. #49
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    Was 1984 an SF novel, social commentary, or a how-to book? Apparently it was the latter, but for beginners. It's not worth the time to be paranoid anymore.


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    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  20. #50
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    In "1984", George Orwell took Stalinism to grotesque extremes, and rather contrived extremes at that. Isaac Asimov did not find it very convincing, except for one thing: there being multiple hostile powers with continually-changing alliances. As he notes, George Orwell came from the Left, and he understood very well that left-wingers were not some unified and indistinguishable villains. He had fought in the Spanish Civil War, and he was in a left-wing faction that was attacked by a rival left-wing faction. Monty Python's "Life of Brian" has a well-known satire of rival revolutionaries, and it was inspired by similar squabbles in the New Left of the 1960's and 1970's.

    One thing IA found unconvincing was the continual rewriting of history. He thought that that was overthought and contrived, and that it usually isn't necessary. But then again, during Stalin's rule, disfavored officials were not only written out of history books, they were painted out of official pictures. There is a book about this photographic fakery called "The Commissar Vanishes".

  21. #51
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    Isaac Asimov in "Future? Tense!" (From Earth to Heaven, 1965) had some rather funny send-ups of bad science fiction, in the form of what someone in 1880 might write about the car.

    Technobabble:
    There could be the excitement of a last-minute failure in the framistan and the hero can be described as ingeniously designing a liebestraum out of an old baby carriage at the last minute and cleverly hooking it up to the bispallator in such a way as to mutonate the karrogel.
    Naïve extrapolation:
    "The automobile came thundering down the stretch, its mighty tires pounding, and its tail assembly switching furiously from side to side, while its flaring foam-flecked air intake seemed rimmed with oil." Then, when the car has finally performed its task of rescuing the girl and confounding the bad guys, it sticks its fuel intake hose into a can of gasoline and quietly fuels itself.
    A lot of visual-media science fiction is rather laughable about spacecraft and spaceflight. I remember at a Star Trek convention long ago when Gene Roddenberry was asked why we don't see spacecraft upside down. His response was that it would be too confusing for an Earthbound audience. Silent explosions would make people ask what happened to the sound. Etc.

    Star Wars is especially absurd. Like its Star Destroyers having a lot of guns on one side and not the others, like some sea ship. Also its fighter spacecraft acting suspiciously like fighter airplanes.

  22. #52
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    Then there are outright absurdities like spaceships getting repeatedly shaken by hits and their controls shorting out. I once wrote a story where some characters fisk Star Trek about that:
    Then they came across Star Trek. It was yet more space-adventure science fiction, but some of its fans raved about what it represented, what a positive vision of humanity's future that it showed. Indeed it was, and some of the series seemed eerily familiar. But some of that series was just plain silly, like its poorly-functioning inertia dampers. They worked well enough when the Enterprise was running its engines, but not very well when it was hit by something. The two entertained themselves by heckling the screen when the Enterprise got shaken up.
    "Fix it already!"
    "What kind of a maintenance department do you have?"
    "You forgot something the last time you were at a base."
    "Scotty, get to work!"

    They made similar comments about all those shorting-out control panels. Comments like "What kind of circuit breakers do they have?"

  23. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    Isaac Asimov in "Future? Tense!" (From Earth to Heaven, 1965) had some rather funny send-ups of bad science fiction, in the form of what someone in 1880 might write about the car.

    Technobabble:


    Naïve extrapolation:


    A lot of visual-media science fiction is rather laughable about spacecraft and spaceflight. I remember at a Star Trek convention long ago when Gene Roddenberry was asked why we don't see spacecraft upside down. His response was that it would be too confusing for an Earthbound audience. Silent explosions would make people ask what happened to the sound. Etc.

    Star Wars is especially absurd. Like its Star Destroyers having a lot of guns on one side and not the others, like some sea ship. Also its fighter spacecraft acting suspiciously like fighter airplanes.
    Lucas actually stole action scenes from films like Dambusters move for move. Or so I've heard.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  24. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    How I wish I had a time telephone and could call up Murray Leinster in 1946 and tell him "You did it! A Logic Named Joe was the only Golden Age Science Fiction story to get it right!"
    He got part of it right, but my recollection (it's been a while since I read the story) is that he had a sophisticated AI that had developed on its own, among other things.

    In my opinion, many golden age writers got some things right, and other things wrong. Part of the fun for me in reading stories like that is thinking about those mixes of right and wrong, and why they might have thought that way at the time.

    There's also a lot of then current cultural aspects that are outdated today. For instance, I read a story recently set well in the future and on a spacecraft in microgravity, everybody smoked. Men and women smoking often with cigars, pipes and cigarettes.

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  25. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Was 1984 an SF novel, social commentary, or a how-to book? Apparently it was the latter, but for beginners. It's not worth the time to be paranoid anymore.
    IMO it is clearly the second. It’s a dystopian novel, like Brave New World.


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  26. #56
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    I wish I could read or watch sci-fi set on a livable Mars or Venus, or featuring interstellar travel with reasonable travel times, and have it still seem plausible. The fact that reality just doesn't work like that is depressing.

  27. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Lucas actually stole action scenes from films like Dambusters move for move. Or so I've heard.
    Dambusters is a 1955 movie set in World War II. That may explain a lot of the air-vehicle behavior of SW's space vehicles.

    He is also suspected of having plagiarized a lot of stuff from Frank Herbert's Dune series.

  28. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Lucas actually stole action scenes from films like Dambusters move for move. Or so I've heard.
    633 Squadron, I believe. That was the one in which the Mosquito squadron repeatedly flew along a heavily defended Norwegian fjord, attempting to drop a bomb precisely in the right place to bring down an overhanging cliff on a German installation.

    Grant Hutchison
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  29. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    IMO it is clearly the second. It’s a dystopian novel, like Brave New World.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I agree 1984, which he originally wanted to be 1948, is not SF but is political satire and prediction. The technology he called up was already known (microphones etc.) and their extended use in 1984 was a political extension. I cannot go further into its predictive judgements in this forum. He did not predict the mobile phone nor the internet, but in a way he did predict the way they might be used by governments.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    How I wish I had a time telephone and could call up Murray Leinster in 1946 and tell him "You did it! A Logic Named Joe was the only Golden Age Science Fiction story to get it right!"
    I hadn't read that, now I have. Great. Unfortunately there's more than just the one logic to shut down.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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