Putting the life back in science fiction

When you colonize a planet, what do you mine first?

Just a brief, science-fiction question.  The background is that I realized I didn’t know much about, but I suspect it turns out to be terribly, terribly important for designing colonies on other planets:

When you colonize a planet, what do you mine first? Continue reading


Repurposing Dwarves
August 28, 2016, 8:50 pm
Filed under: fantasy, science fiction, Speculation, Worldbuilding | Tags: , ,

Ah August, that wonderful time when I learn how to navigate selling used stuff on Amazon (pro tip: if it’s selling for much less than $3.00, don’t bother, because that’s about where Amazon’s fees per item tend to land, at least on the stuff I’ve looked at).  And while I’ve been inputting inventory, I’ve had time to think about language, and red dwarf solar systems, and the repurposing of words.

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Hot Earth Dreams and Space Opera

I was going to post this on Charlie Stross’ Antipope, where there’s another interesting discussion developing on space opera.  So as not to chunk 1,450-plus words onto that message board, I thought I’d post my thoughts over here, for those who are interested.

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News and updates
August 15, 2016, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Just a brief update and a few links.

As others have pointed out, we’re getting a bit of climate changed weather.  Not here in Southern California, where the Red Flag fire alert they just issued is normal for this time of year,  but climate change is nipping at Louisiana, where it’s flooding, the Persian Gulf, and elsewhere.  A couple of years ago I hoped that the climatologists would turn out to be wrong about weather systems getting both slower-moving and more energetic (more energy means more water goes into the air, and that water tends to come out rapidly too), but it looks like they were right, we’re coming into an era of kaiju-class weather systems.  Sucks that climatology is up there with evolution in terms of rigor.

OnThePublicRecord has two good posts out about the various hypocrisies that plague water use in California (here and here).  The Cadillac Desert rule that water runs uphill to money remains fully in force, although I agree with the OTPR desire for more populist use of water in California, at least while we still have it.   The second post is particularly interesting for any futurists out there who are confident that we can feed more people with less farmland.  This is the political side of that particular argument, and we can (and probably should) argue the moral utility of feeding the many to enrich the few and trash the poor who could also have used that water.  It’s a standard tactic, really: it’s easy to fight a morally black-and-white issue, so one standard defense by the bad guys is to make their systems as morally complex  as possible, so that even the good guys get entangled in the sleaze, ideally profiting a bit from it too.

Aside from getting sucked into dealing with a bunch of tedious land use issues, it being high season for new developments in this part of the world, I’ve also been learning how to sell used books on Amazon.  While I suppose it’s more efficient on the Bezos/systemic level to dump too-popular books at GoodWill (e.g., the ones that sell on Amazon for less than a dollar), and to hold onto the others in the (probably vain) hope that they’ll find buyers, I really miss being able to walk into a used bookstore with a box of used books, get some store credit, and walk out with a couple of newer books to enjoy.  Even though Amazon makes it easy to sell stuff, the chores of inventory, packaging, and taking boxes to the post office are tedious.  It’s basically a slow and random decluttering exercise, but unless I just want to donate a bunch of books and stuff, it needs to be done.

Still, it gives me time to think.  Two of the issues I’ve been contemplating are the psychological aspects of dealing with climate change (as in, how do you deal with a country that prefers denial to possible Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and what does that do to the people who actually care?), and whether it’s possible to close the gap between the permaculturalists, who see anything bigger than a village as unsustainable, and feeding a sustainable-ish civilization of billions?  That gap would have to be closed with some pretty sophisticated market design, at the very least.  I haven’t figured out enough to put it in an essay yet, but I’d welcome random thoughts and questions.

Happy Dog Days, all.