On Oct 2, 12:55 pm, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)"
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor) Post by Wayne Throop
FWIW, I note that Grand Central Arena has similar issues,
but handled a bit better imo. Or at the very least, the
handwaving raises a more pleasant breeze.
Well, the handwaving mostly amounts to "BECAUSE THE ARENA SAYS SO". I
do have a sort of scientific-handwavy explanation for how The Arena can
DO what it does, but it's got nothin' behind it but handwaving. And some
pleasant-smelling smoke in front of the mirrors.
Maybe it's easier to take because GCA is explicitly a nod to old-style
Space Opera, and so the "scientific explanation via buzzword" is more
acceptable in that context?
For me, it was easier to accept for two reasons.
1) You were telling a story I wanted to read. From what I've
heard of the Ember-verse, Stirling just wants to have modern
era humans fight with old-time weapons. I think it was when
he said his characters didn't particularly care about rebuilding
whatever tech base they could that I lost all interest.
That would kick me out, too. I can't imagine people used to 20th/21st
century technology deciding "ahh, it's not worth figuring out the new
rules to get what we can out of them, let's just go back to ancient times."
2) The Arena's very existence strengthens my WSOD.
Whatever the hell is going on there is clearly very big juju.
They can fiddle with as many laws of physics as they want,
as far as I'm concerned. Changing physical laws on boring
old everyday Earth sets the bar higher, I think. For me, at
And possibly 3) You sent the humans to the weird place,
rather than changing their location into the weird place.
Related to 2, I guess, but for instance, I was perfectly
willing to accept the premise of Stirling's Island In The
Sea Of Time since it was happening elsewhere, or in
that case elsewhen. Somewhere other than normal Earth,
I can see that. A big change in the world itself forces you to look at
the familiar and keep changing it in your head, while taking you to an
inexpressibly strange place just has you construct the place as you go
along; as long as the writer in that case doesn't dump things on you
that make no sense INTERNALLY, you're okay.
ISOT also brings up rule 4), which has no real bearing on
Grand Central Arena or the Ember-verse. Just to be thorough,
though, if you're going to make a huge change to the way things
work, make your one change and move on. So ISOT and 1632
and Lest Darkness Fall and other stories like that don't bother
me, because once the modern-folk are moved back in time
the world works the way it normally does. Sure it's absolutely
impossible, but only for a short time, and then we get back
to our regularly scheduled laws of nature.
That's related to the Standard Rule of Science Fiction: One Big/Strange
The Arena of course either IS the One Big Idea, or else it's busy
violating that rule so often that the rule's just sorta gotten used to
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