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amusement (half-inched from jwz)

I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

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amusement (half-inched from jwz)

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If All Stories Were Written like Science Fiction Stories.

Please do feel free to use comments on this entry to dissect the errors of logic involved in the exposition of the basic premise: I can see quite a few myself.
  • “Trains are too slow, and the trip by steamship around South America would take months,” replied Roger.

    They hadn't heard of the Panama Canal, right?
    • I'm of the suspicion that the parodist grabbed a story from years back and tweaked it- no idea what. The Panama Canal lack (and indeed, the use of a steamship) was much of what made me think that.
      Haven't identified the story, though.
  • Maybe when I stop laughing.
  • Well, rather than dissect the logic errors internal to the story, I've decided to pick on the logic of the thing itself. Which isn't to say it isn't amusing - it is. It just happens to make an assumption or two that I don't cotton to.

    Take the following as an example:
    'I suppose it's time,' Yuri thought to himself. He was always nervous up until five minutes before a job actually started. He closed his eyes, inhaled deeply, and held the breath for thirty seconds before slowly letting it out. Thus calmed, he opened his eyes and reached out to the control stick. The drives roared as he opened the throttle to thirty percent. Fifty percent. Seventy percent. At the edge of his vision, he saw the Arasaka ship; it was still seventy thousand kilometers away, but its' drives shone at several million lumens. He adjusted the ship's guns by several tenths of a degree, and prepared to fire two fifty pound shells from the wing guns and a burst of three fifty-kilojoule shells from the main gun."

    Granted, I didn't spend much time on thinking up that particular paragraph, but through the use of that very action-movie, pulp-novel style there are a number of things you're not learning:
    1) What the hell kind of craft Yuri's in - it can be extrapolated that he's in a spacecraft, due to the distances involved, but it's never states.
    2) Why the thrust of his craft's drives are important. I haven't told you that he's strapped into a tube of metal with four 2 terawatt fusion drives on the back, hence '70 percent thrust' having a very high accelleration.
    3) I haven't told you that he's rigging the ship through a neural interface, and is thus connected to its' mass sensors, cameras, radiation meters, et cetera - hence his ability to 'see' a ship at 70,000 km.
    4) I haven't told you what the hell kind of guns he's got on his wings, and why they're capable of travelling 70,000 km - two rail guns and a plasma cannon.

    In short, there's a lot of things one can assume in a conventional literature - a continuity of sign that most everybody can interact with at the same level of efficacy. In science fiction, because the style, technology, look, smell, feel, et cetera isn't extant in the real world, you have to explain things. That's what always bothers me about people saying 'Science fiction over-explains things, and always talks about how things work! I don't care!' I mean, shit, reader A doesn't care, that's great - but I wanna know what I'm supposed to be imagining.
  • "What if all stories were written like particularly bad science fiction from the '40s-and'50s-era pulps?"

    I've recently re-read a few of Heinlein's juveniles, which actually were from the '40s and '50s. He didn't go into nearly so much detail about technology, except where it was relevant to the plot. The short story "Space Jockey" is one good example - the main character is a pilot, and some explanation of his job is necessary. But a modern-era story concerning an airline pilot would also need some exposition...

    This writer also (repeatedly) commits the elementary blunder of having characters tell each other things they already know. You'll find precious little of that in Golden Age SF.

    Of course, the entire thing is a dinosaur; the sorts of SF we've seen since, say, about 1970 have been little-to-nothing like this. No, not even the cyberpunk stuff. Take a quick glance at some of Gibson's seminal stuff; he hardly even explains how you operate it, never mind the internal workings. There are occasional mentions of "mimetic polycarbons" or whatever, but none of the extended rambling about operating principles and technical specs that we see in this piece. So if it's aimed at modern SF, it's a complete and total straw man.

    All of this should, of course, simply be added to dgenerator's major points (with which I agree).
  • Naturally science fiction authors wrote parodies of gee-whiz stories like this ages ago. I have this painfully niggling recollection about some golden-age story which was an enormously dramatized account of someone getting up, having coffee, frying an egg, using a toaster, etc. "The Lord of the Electric Kitchen" or something like that.
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