Discussion:
Question about S.M Stirling's Emberverse.
(too old to reply)
Bill J.
2010-10-02 14:46:32 UTC
Permalink
I'm having a suspension of disbelief issue with S.M Stirling's
Emberverse series. If anyone can answer the question I am about to
pose satisfactorily, I might be able to enjoy the series more.

My issue is that the properties that let metals conduct electricity
are what allow metals to be tough, ductile, and resilient. If the
conductive properties of metals are reduced measurably, they would
likely become very brittle.

Is this contradiction (metals not conducting electricity, but steel
still being as strong and tough as ever) specifically resolved in some
way during the series? If you could answer that question with just a
yes or no without otherwise spoiling the series, I would appreciate it.
Will in New Haven
2010-10-02 15:16:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill J.
I'm having a suspension of disbelief issue with S.M Stirling's
Emberverse series. If anyone can answer the question I am about to
pose satisfactorily, I might be able to enjoy the series more.
My issue is that the properties that let metals conduct electricity
are what allow metals to be tough, ductile, and resilient. If the
conductive properties of metals are reduced measurably, they would
likely become very brittle.
Is this contradiction (metals not conducting electricity, but steel
still being as strong and tough as ever) specifically resolved in some
way during the series? If you could answer that question with just a
yes or no without otherwise spoiling the series, I would appreciate it.
Yes.
I still have massive WSoD issues with the series but that's not one.

--
Will in New Haven
Wayne Throop
2010-10-02 18:07:13 UTC
Permalink
:: Is this contradiction (metals not conducting electricity, but steel
:: still being as strong and tough as ever) specifically resolved in
:: some way during the series? If you could answer that question with
:: just a yes or no without otherwise spoiling the series, I would
:: appreciate it.

: Will in New Haven <***@taylorandfrancis.com>
: Yes.

Really? That issue specifically?
Hm. Any explanations must have occured after I stopped reading them.
(He seemed to be taking the series in an uninteresting direction imo.)

: I still have massive WSoD issues with the series but that's not one.

Yes, the whole concept isn't all that SoD-friendly from the git-go.
Most efforts that even come close to an effective S of D involve the
installation of active measures with pretty obscure algorithms.

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.


Wayne Throop ***@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw
Bill J.
2010-10-02 19:22:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
:: Is this contradiction (metals not conducting electricity, but steel
:: still being as strong and tough as ever) specifically resolved in
:: some way during the series?  If you could answer that question with
:: just a yes or no without otherwise spoiling the series, I would
:: appreciate it.
: Yes.
Really?  That issue specifically?
Hm.  Any explanations must have occured after I stopped reading them.
(He seemed to be taking the series in an uninteresting direction imo.)
: I still have massive WSoD issues with the series but that's not one.
Yes, the whole concept isn't all that SoD-friendly from the git-go.
Most efforts that even come close to an effective S of D involve the
installation of active measures with pretty obscure algorithms.
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.
Yeah. I tend to prefer the type of setup used in Souls in the Great
Machine, for example.
Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
2010-10-02 19:55:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
:: Is this contradiction (metals not conducting electricity, but steel
:: still being as strong and tough as ever) specifically resolved in
:: some way during the series? If you could answer that question with
:: just a yes or no without otherwise spoiling the series, I would
:: appreciate it.
: Yes.
Really? That issue specifically?
Hm. Any explanations must have occured after I stopped reading them.
(He seemed to be taking the series in an uninteresting direction imo.)
: I still have massive WSoD issues with the series but that's not one.
Yes, the whole concept isn't all that SoD-friendly from the git-go.
Most efforts that even come close to an effective S of D involve the
installation of active measures with pretty obscure algorithms.
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?
--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;
Website: http://www.grandcentralarena.com Blog:
http://seawasp.livejournal.com
PeterM
2010-10-03 05:53:40 UTC
Permalink
On Oct 2, 12:55 pm, "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.

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
least.

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,
at least.

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.
Brian M. Scott
2010-10-03 06:38:13 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 2 Oct 2010 22:53:40 -0700 (PDT), PeterM
<***@gmail.com> wrote in
<news:3aa75167-8b97-49f4-9990-***@g21g2000prn.googlegroups.com>
in rec.arts.sf.written:

[...]
Post by PeterM
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.
Just? Hardly. Examination of what sorts of people would
best handle the transition and what sorts of political and
cultural systems might arise after such a catastrophe seem
to me noticeably more salient even in just the first novel.

[...]

Brian
PeterM
2010-10-03 19:01:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brian M. Scott
On Sat, 2 Oct 2010 22:53:40 -0700 (PDT), PeterM
Post by PeterM
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.
Just?  Hardly.  Examination of what sorts of people would
best handle the transition and what sorts of political and
cultural systems might arise after such a catastrophe seem
to me noticeably more salient even in just the first novel.
That definitely sounds more interesting than my impression
of the books. They still just don't seem like my cup of tea,
for a variety of reasons, but I acknowledge that my description
was overly simplistic.
Richard R. Hershberger
2010-10-08 15:53:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brian M. Scott
On Sat, 2 Oct 2010 22:53:40 -0700 (PDT), PeterM
[...]
Post by PeterM
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.
Just?  Hardly.  Examination of what sorts of people would
best handle the transition and what sorts of political and
cultural systems might arise after such a catastrophe seem
to me noticeably more salient even in just the first novel.
I agree that an interesting series could be built around new political
and cultural systems. I just don't think that this is what we got.
Everyone seems to default into some sort of pseudo-medieval fantasy
society. I quit reading the series after the one where whatshisname
was traveling across the continent. I mostly quit because it took an
entire volume to get from Washington to Idaho. Yes, I get that the
journey can be the point of the book, but only if the journey is
interesting. I was also disgusted that we saw a society which
consciously attempted to preserve 20th century American culture. So
what happens? it inevitably reverts to the default. Because that is
the only option, apparently. At that point I realized that I didn't
care.

Richard R. Hershberger
Brian M. Scott
2010-10-10 16:34:51 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 8 Oct 2010 08:53:02 -0700 (PDT), "Richard R.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Post by Brian M. Scott
On Sat, 2 Oct 2010 22:53:40 -0700 (PDT), PeterM
[...]
Post by PeterM
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.
Just?  Hardly.  Examination of what sorts of people would
best handle the transition and what sorts of political and
cultural systems might arise after such a catastrophe seem
to me noticeably more salient even in just the first novel.
I agree that an interesting series could be built around
new political and cultural systems. I just don't think
that this is what we got. Everyone seems to default into
some sort of pseudo-medieval fantasy society.
I don't think that this is an accurate description.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
I quit reading the series after the one where whatshisname
was traveling across the continent. I mostly quit
because it took an entire volume to get from Washington
to Idaho. Yes, I get that the journey can be the point
of the book, but only if the journey is interesting.
I do think that volumes 4-6 drag things out more than is
really necessary.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
I was also disgusted that we saw a society which
consciously attempted to preserve 20th century American
culture. So what happens? it inevitably reverts to the
default.
I'm not even sure which one you have in mind.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Because that is the only option, apparently.
I don't agree that there *is* a default. Apart from that,
Steve's take is certainly a bit pessimistic, but I don't
think that it's ridiculous, and I've no trouble buying it
for the sake of the story.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
At that point I realized that I didn't care.
Can't argue with that.

Brian
Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
2010-10-03 12:45:30 UTC
Permalink
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
least.
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,
at least.
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
Idea.

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
it. :)
--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;
Website: http://www.grandcentralarena.com Blog:
http://seawasp.livejournal.com
Par
2010-10-03 15:25:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by PeterM
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."
Possible explanation: do they have the resources and population left to
do much more than medieval or renaissance level tech?

/Par
--
Par ***@hunter-gatherer.org
[Procmail] software that by and large does work exactly as advertised, as
long as you don't actually look under the hood, realize that it's in fact
an ancient Lovecraftian horror, and go messily insane. -- Russ Allbery
Dimensional Traveler
2010-10-03 20:23:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Par
Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by PeterM
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."
Possible explanation: do they have the resources and population left to
do much more than medieval or renaissance level tech?
Sorta yes, sorta no. There is a huge population crash but there are
also other factors. The survivors do do some things based on 20th
Century knowledge and would have liked to do more but don't have the
industrial base to do them anymore, don't have the time (growing food,
etc.) and/or can't because of the Change. The early books have some
characters doing tests and experiments to find out the new laws of
physics and basically getting pissed off because it becomes clear that
the Change _is_ specifically aimed at high-energy technology. Its also
kind of implied that The Change also meddled with the behavior and
mental states of the survivors, both in terms of surviving the end of
the world (PTSD anyone?) and some direct tweaking by the ASBs (which
seems to me even more likely once we found out who the ASBs were and why
they did it).
--
"There's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go and poke it with a
stick."
Wayne Throop
2010-10-04 00:11:38 UTC
Permalink
: Dimensional Traveler <***@sonic.net>
: The early books have some characters doing tests and experiments to
: find out the new laws of physics and basically getting pissed off
: because it becomes clear that the Change _is_ specifically aimed at
: high-energy technology. Its also kind of implied that The Change also
: meddled with the behavior and mental states of the survivors, both in
: terms of surviving the end of the world (PTSD anyone?) and some direct
: tweaking by the ASBs (which seems to me even more likely once we found
: out who the ASBs were and why they did it).

Hm. Google, google. Ah, well, looks like my assessment of before I got
to that point (of "he was taking the series in an uninteresting-to-me
direction") was mainly accurate. Sigh. Though I may follow up when
the whole trilogy of trilogies is safely in paperback or in my local
library, and skim it.

But... I also don't see a specific account of why metals can't conduct,
but still have their normal physical properties, strength, ductility, etc.
Other than "the ASBs wanted it that way, and they gots mysterious tech
beyond human comprehension", which to me is "no specific account".

Indeed, from what I google, the motives of the ASB's don't even really
make sense of the physical effects they caused. But eh, mebee it's
covered in the works themselves.


Wayne Throop ***@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw
David Johnston
2010-10-04 00:34:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
: The early books have some characters doing tests and experiments to
: find out the new laws of physics and basically getting pissed off
: because it becomes clear that the Change _is_ specifically aimed at
: high-energy technology. Its also kind of implied that The Change also
: meddled with the behavior and mental states of the survivors, both in
: terms of surviving the end of the world (PTSD anyone?) and some direct
: tweaking by the ASBs (which seems to me even more likely once we found
: out who the ASBs were and why they did it).
Hm. Google, google. Ah, well, looks like my assessment of before I got
to that point (of "he was taking the series in an uninteresting-to-me
direction") was mainly accurate. Sigh. Though I may follow up when
the whole trilogy of trilogies is safely in paperback or in my local
library, and skim it.
But... I also don't see a specific account of why metals can't conduct,
but still have their normal physical properties, strength, ductility, etc.
They can conduct. It's just that high voltages and pressures are
drained away.
Dimensional Traveler
2010-10-04 08:13:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
: The early books have some characters doing tests and experiments to
: find out the new laws of physics and basically getting pissed off
: because it becomes clear that the Change _is_ specifically aimed at
: high-energy technology. Its also kind of implied that The Change also
: meddled with the behavior and mental states of the survivors, both in
: terms of surviving the end of the world (PTSD anyone?) and some direct
: tweaking by the ASBs (which seems to me even more likely once we found
: out who the ASBs were and why they did it).
Hm. Google, google. Ah, well, looks like my assessment of before I got
to that point (of "he was taking the series in an uninteresting-to-me
direction") was mainly accurate. Sigh. Though I may follow up when
the whole trilogy of trilogies is safely in paperback or in my local
library, and skim it.
But... I also don't see a specific account of why metals can't conduct,
but still have their normal physical properties, strength, ductility, etc.
Other than "the ASBs wanted it that way, and they gots mysterious tech
beyond human comprehension", which to me is "no specific account".
Indeed, from what I google, the motives of the ASB's don't even really
make sense of the physical effects they caused. But eh, mebee it's
covered in the works themselves.
SPOILERS BELOW
























The "ASBs" turn out to be future Life/Humanity/Ascended Humans/<fill in
term of choice>. And ya, the Change is basically "because we willed it
to be that way". From what I gathered from the end of 'The Sword of The
Lady' their motive was to prevent the extinction of life on Earth by
irresponsible use of technology. This to be accomplished by stalling
human tech advancement until we had learned to live more in harmony with
nature. Basically future meta-humanity spanked its past self for not
being Green enough, as far as I can figure. (And yes, that was a
serious "You've got to be kidding me" moment when I read it.)
--
"There's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go and poke it with a
stick."
Wayne Throop
2010-10-04 18:22:15 UTC
Permalink
: Dimensional Traveler <***@sonic.net>
: Gur "NFOf" ghea bhg gb or shgher Yvsr/Uhznavgl/Nfpraqrq Uhznaf/<svyy
: va grez bs pubvpr>. Naq ln, gur Punatr vf onfvpnyyl "orpnhfr jr
: jvyyrq vg gb or gung jnl". Sebz jung V tngurerq sebz gur raq bs 'Gur
: Fjbeq bs Gur Ynql' gurve zbgvir jnf gb cerirag gur rkgvapgvba bs yvsr
: ba Rnegu ol veerfcbafvoyr hfr bs grpuabybtl. Guvf gb or nppbzcyvfurq
: ol fgnyyvat uhzna grpu nqinaprzrag hagvy jr unq yrnearq gb yvir zber
: va unezbal jvgu angher. Onfvpnyyl shgher zrgn-uhznavgl fcnaxrq vgf
: cnfg frys sbe abg orvat Terra rabhtu, nf sne nf V pna svther.
: (And yes, that was a serious "You've got to be kidding me" moment
: when I read it.)

Yeah. The problem being a disconnect between the method and the stated
goal (among many other problems of course). The only reason I can see
that a better method wouldn't be found (or a more reasonable intervention
point picked) (or even that the stated method would *work*), is pure
authorial fiat, without much of a figleaf of plausibility.

But eh. Whatever. I mean, *we* (as readers) know, the *real*
reason is to do whatever necessary to get an appropriate background
for storytelling, and the ASBs *are* pure authorial fiat. It's just...
a spoonfull of plausibility motive-and-method-wise might make the
scenario go down a bit easier. Or, put the way I originally put it,
he took the story in a direction that didn't interest me.


Wayne Throop ***@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw
Dimensional Traveler
2010-10-04 19:41:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
: Gur "NFOf" ghea bhg gb or shgher Yvsr/Uhznavgl/Nfpraqrq Uhznaf/<svyy
: va grez bs pubvpr>. Naq ln, gur Punatr vf onfvpnyyl "orpnhfr jr
: jvyyrq vg gb or gung jnl". Sebz jung V tngurerq sebz gur raq bs 'Gur
: Fjbeq bs Gur Ynql' gurve zbgvir jnf gb cerirag gur rkgvapgvba bs yvsr
: ba Rnegu ol veerfcbafvoyr hfr bs grpuabybtl. Guvf gb or nppbzcyvfurq
: ol fgnyyvat uhzna grpu nqinaprzrag hagvy jr unq yrnearq gb yvir zber
: va unezbal jvgu angher. Onfvpnyyl shgher zrgn-uhznavgl fcnaxrq vgf
: cnfg frys sbe abg orvat Terra rabhtu, nf sne nf V pna svther.
: (And yes, that was a serious "You've got to be kidding me" moment
: when I read it.)
Yeah. The problem being a disconnect between the method and the stated
goal (among many other problems of course). The only reason I can see
that a better method wouldn't be found (or a more reasonable intervention
point picked) (or even that the stated method would *work*), is pure
authorial fiat, without much of a figleaf of plausibility.
But eh. Whatever. I mean, *we* (as readers) know, the *real*
reason is to do whatever necessary to get an appropriate background
for storytelling, and the ASBs *are* pure authorial fiat. It's just...
a spoonfull of plausibility motive-and-method-wise might make the
scenario go down a bit easier. Or, put the way I originally put it,
he took the story in a direction that didn't interest me.
Perfectly understandable.
--
"There's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go and poke it with a
stick."
Mike Ash
2010-10-05 01:59:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
Yeah. The problem being a disconnect between the method and the stated
goal (among many other problems of course). The only reason I can see
that a better method wouldn't be found (or a more reasonable intervention
point picked) (or even that the stated method would *work*), is pure
authorial fiat, without much of a figleaf of plausibility.
But eh. Whatever. I mean, *we* (as readers) know, the *real*
reason is to do whatever necessary to get an appropriate background
for storytelling, and the ASBs *are* pure authorial fiat. It's just...
a spoonfull of plausibility motive-and-method-wise might make the
scenario go down a bit easier. Or, put the way I originally put it,
he took the story in a direction that didn't interest me.
I haven't read the books, but this sounds like a classic example of a
case where *not* explaining something works much better. I could easily
deal with a book where high technology falls over in mysterious ways
that are never explained. A book where it falls over in mysterious ways
because of such silly reasons, much less so. Not everything *needs* an
explicit reason, especially if it's the One Big Thing that gets your
book/series started.
--
Mike Ash
Radio Free Earth
Broadcasting from our climate-controlled studios deep inside the Moon
Richard R. Hershberger
2010-10-08 15:45:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike Ash
Yeah.  The problem being a disconnect between the method and the stated
goal (among many other problems of course).  The only reason I can see
that a better method wouldn't be found (or a more reasonable intervention
point picked) (or even that the stated method would *work*), is pure
authorial fiat, without much of a figleaf of plausibility.
But eh.  Whatever.  I mean, *we* (as readers) know, the *real*
reason is to do whatever necessary to get an appropriate background
for storytelling, and the ASBs *are* pure authorial fiat.  It's just...
a spoonfull of plausibility motive-and-method-wise might make the
scenario go down a bit easier.  Or, put the way I originally put it,
he took the story in a direction that didn't interest me.
I haven't read the books, but this sounds like a classic example of a
case where *not* explaining something works much better. I could easily
deal with a book where high technology falls over in mysterious ways
that are never explained. A book where it falls over in mysterious ways
because of such silly reasons, much less so. Not everything *needs* an
explicit reason, especially if it's the One Big Thing that gets your
book/series started.
I agree wholehearted. My WSOD would have worked much better without
the handwaving. Kludging together an obviously-BS explanation merely
serves to emphasize the unbelievability of the premise.

Richard R. Hershberger
Brian M. Scott
2010-10-10 16:34:50 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 8 Oct 2010 08:45:12 -0700 (PDT), "Richard R.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Post by Mike Ash
Yeah.  The problem being a disconnect between the method
and the stated goal (among many other problems of
course).  The only reason I can see that a better
method wouldn't be found (or a more reasonable
intervention point picked) (or even that the stated
method would *work*), is pure authorial fiat, without
much of a figleaf of plausibility.
But eh.  Whatever.  I mean, *we* (as readers) know, the
*real* reason is to do whatever necessary to get an
appropriate background for storytelling, and the ASBs
*are* pure authorial fiat.  It's just... a spoonfull of
plausibility motive-and-method-wise might make the
scenario go down a bit easier.  Or, put the way I
originally put it, he took the story in a direction
that didn't interest me.
I haven't read the books, but this sounds like a classic
example of a case where *not* explaining something works
much better. I could easily deal with a book where high
technology falls over in mysterious ways that are never
explained. A book where it falls over in mysterious ways
because of such silly reasons, much less so. Not
everything *needs* an explicit reason, especially if
it's the One Big Thing that gets your book/series
started.
I agree wholehearted.
And I don't agree. It fits perfectly with the focus on
religion.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
My WSOD would have worked much better without the
handwaving. Kludging together an obviously-BS
explanation merely serves to emphasize the
unbelievability of the premise.
On the other hand, one who is perfectly willing to buy the
premise may find the explanation entirely satisfactory.

Brian
Keith Soltys
2010-10-10 23:35:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brian M. Scott
On Fri, 8 Oct 2010 08:45:12 -0700 (PDT), "Richard R.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Post by Mike Ash
Yeah.  The problem being a disconnect between the method
and the stated goal (among many other problems of
course).  The only reason I can see that a better
method wouldn't be found (or a more reasonable
intervention point picked) (or even that the stated
method would *work*), is pure authorial fiat, without
much of a figleaf of plausibility.
But eh.  Whatever.  I mean, *we* (as readers) know, the
*real* reason is to do whatever necessary to get an
appropriate background for storytelling, and the ASBs
*are* pure authorial fiat.  It's just... a spoonfull of
plausibility motive-and-method-wise might make the
scenario go down a bit easier.  Or, put the way I
originally put it, he took the story in a direction
that didn't interest me.
I haven't read the books, but this sounds like a classic
example of a case where *not* explaining something works
much better. I could easily deal with a book where high
technology falls over in mysterious ways that are never
explained. A book where it falls over in mysterious ways
because of such silly reasons, much less so. Not
everything *needs* an explicit reason, especially if
it's the One Big Thing that gets your book/series
started.
I agree wholehearted.
And I don't agree. It fits perfectly with the focus on
religion.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
My WSOD would have worked much better without the
handwaving. Kludging together an obviously-BS
explanation merely serves to emphasize the
unbelievability of the premise.
On the other hand, one who is perfectly willing to buy the
premise may find the explanation entirely satisfactory.
Brian
I'm about one chapter from the end of The High King of Montival and I'm really
enjoying where he's going with this series. It's not just a straight thud and
blunder fantasy - he's looking hard and deep at the roles that religion and
myth play in people's lives.

Regards
Keith
Dimensional Traveler
2010-10-10 23:57:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Keith Soltys
Post by Brian M. Scott
On Fri, 8 Oct 2010 08:45:12 -0700 (PDT), "Richard R.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Post by Mike Ash
Post by Wayne Throop
Yeah. The problem being a disconnect between the method
and the stated goal (among many other problems of
course). The only reason I can see that a better
method wouldn't be found (or a more reasonable
intervention point picked) (or even that the stated
method would *work*), is pure authorial fiat, without
much of a figleaf of plausibility.
But eh. Whatever. I mean, *we* (as readers) know, the
*real* reason is to do whatever necessary to get an
appropriate background for storytelling, and the ASBs
*are* pure authorial fiat. It's just... a spoonfull of
plausibility motive-and-method-wise might make the
scenario go down a bit easier. Or, put the way I
originally put it, he took the story in a direction
that didn't interest me.
I haven't read the books, but this sounds like a classic
example of a case where *not* explaining something works
much better. I could easily deal with a book where high
technology falls over in mysterious ways that are never
explained. A book where it falls over in mysterious ways
because of such silly reasons, much less so. Not
everything *needs* an explicit reason, especially if
it's the One Big Thing that gets your book/series
started.
I agree wholehearted.
And I don't agree. It fits perfectly with the focus on
religion.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
My WSOD would have worked much better without the
handwaving. Kludging together an obviously-BS
explanation merely serves to emphasize the
unbelievability of the premise.
On the other hand, one who is perfectly willing to buy the
premise may find the explanation entirely satisfactory.
I'm about one chapter from the end of The High King of Montival and I'm really
enjoying where he's going with this series. It's not just a straight thud and
blunder fantasy - he's looking hard and deep at the roles that religion and
myth play in people's lives.
Yabut he's doing it in a setting where the Gods and Powers aren't just
beliefs. They exist and are directly meddling in human affairs.
--
"There's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go and poke it with a
stick."
Brian M. Scott
2010-10-11 03:13:56 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 10 Oct 2010 16:57:31 -0700, Dimensional Traveler
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Post by Keith Soltys
Post by Brian M. Scott
On Fri, 8 Oct 2010 08:45:12 -0700 (PDT), "Richard R.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Post by Mike Ash
Post by Wayne Throop
Yeah. The problem being a disconnect between the method
and the stated goal (among many other problems of
course). The only reason I can see that a better
method wouldn't be found (or a more reasonable
intervention point picked) (or even that the stated
method would *work*), is pure authorial fiat, without
much of a figleaf of plausibility.
But eh. Whatever. I mean, *we* (as readers) know, the
*real* reason is to do whatever necessary to get an
appropriate background for storytelling, and the ASBs
*are* pure authorial fiat. It's just... a spoonfull of
plausibility motive-and-method-wise might make the
scenario go down a bit easier. Or, put the way I
originally put it, he took the story in a direction
that didn't interest me.
I haven't read the books, but this sounds like a classic
example of a case where *not* explaining something works
much better. I could easily deal with a book where high
technology falls over in mysterious ways that are never
explained. A book where it falls over in mysterious ways
because of such silly reasons, much less so. Not
everything *needs* an explicit reason, especially if
it's the One Big Thing that gets your book/series
started.
I agree wholehearted.
And I don't agree. It fits perfectly with the focus on
religion.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
My WSOD would have worked much better without the
handwaving. Kludging together an obviously-BS
explanation merely serves to emphasize the
unbelievability of the premise.
On the other hand, one who is perfectly willing to buy the
premise may find the explanation entirely satisfactory.
I'm about one chapter from the end of The High King of
Montival and I'm really enjoying where he's going with
this series. It's not just a straight thud and blunder
fantasy - he's looking hard and deep at the roles that
religion and myth play in people's lives.
Yabut he's doing it in a setting where the Gods and Powers
aren't just beliefs. They exist and are directly
meddling in human affairs.
Apart from the Change itself and the influence on the
Cutters, the meddling is pretty restrained and does not
appear to account for the role of religion in most of the
post-Change societies.

Brian
Dimensional Traveler
2010-10-11 05:07:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brian M. Scott
On Sun, 10 Oct 2010 16:57:31 -0700, Dimensional Traveler
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Post by Keith Soltys
Post by Brian M. Scott
On Fri, 8 Oct 2010 08:45:12 -0700 (PDT), "Richard R.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Post by Mike Ash
Post by Wayne Throop
Yeah. The problem being a disconnect between the method
and the stated goal (among many other problems of
course). The only reason I can see that a better
method wouldn't be found (or a more reasonable
intervention point picked) (or even that the stated
method would *work*), is pure authorial fiat, without
much of a figleaf of plausibility.
But eh. Whatever. I mean, *we* (as readers) know, the
*real* reason is to do whatever necessary to get an
appropriate background for storytelling, and the ASBs
*are* pure authorial fiat. It's just... a spoonfull of
plausibility motive-and-method-wise might make the
scenario go down a bit easier. Or, put the way I
originally put it, he took the story in a direction
that didn't interest me.
I haven't read the books, but this sounds like a classic
example of a case where *not* explaining something works
much better. I could easily deal with a book where high
technology falls over in mysterious ways that are never
explained. A book where it falls over in mysterious ways
because of such silly reasons, much less so. Not
everything *needs* an explicit reason, especially if
it's the One Big Thing that gets your book/series
started.
I agree wholehearted.
And I don't agree. It fits perfectly with the focus on
religion.
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
My WSOD would have worked much better without the
handwaving. Kludging together an obviously-BS
explanation merely serves to emphasize the
unbelievability of the premise.
On the other hand, one who is perfectly willing to buy the
premise may find the explanation entirely satisfactory.
I'm about one chapter from the end of The High King of
Montival and I'm really enjoying where he's going with
this series. It's not just a straight thud and blunder
fantasy - he's looking hard and deep at the roles that
religion and myth play in people's lives.
Yabut he's doing it in a setting where the Gods and Powers
aren't just beliefs. They exist and are directly
meddling in human affairs.
Apart from the Change itself and the influence on the
Cutters, the meddling is pretty restrained and does not
appear to account for the role of religion in most of the
post-Change societies.
There are also the visions and influences on various Williamette Valley
groups. Stirling has also hinted (in earlier books) that who/what ever
caused The Change also meddled with people's minds, making them more
pliable to accept a more primitive life.

Given that this universe is also the one that Nantucket from the "Sea Of
Time" series came from it seems pretty clear to me that the ASBs are
running multiple experiments and this one is the "what if the primitive
superstitions were real" experiment.
--
"There's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go and poke it with a
stick."
Brian M. Scott
2010-10-11 05:20:36 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 10 Oct 2010 22:07:06 -0700, Dimensional Traveler
<***@sonic.net> wrote in
<news:4cb29b78$0$1660$***@news.sonic.net> in
rec.arts.sf.written:

[...]
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Given that this universe is also the one that Nantucket
from the "Sea Of Time" series came from it seems pretty
clear to me that the ASBs are running multiple
experiments and this one is the "what if the primitive
superstitions were real" experiment.
That's certainly a possibility, but it's not at all clear
that it's as simple as multiple experiments. For example,
it doesn't seem to be out of the question that the end
result will be determined by the combined outcomes of all
interventions.

Brian

William December Starr
2010-10-05 02:44:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dimensional Traveler
SPOILERS BELOW
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Post by Dimensional Traveler
The "ASBs" turn out to be future Life/Humanity/Ascended
Humans/<fill in term of choice>. And ya, the Change is basically
"because we willed it to be that way". From what I gathered from
the end of 'The Sword of The Lady' their motive was to prevent the
extinction of life on Earth by irresponsible use of technology.
This to be accomplished by stalling human tech advancement until
we had learned to live more in harmony with nature. Basically
future meta-humanity spanked its past self for not being Green
enough, as far as I can figure. (And yes, that was a serious
"You've got to be kidding me" moment when I read it.)
Wow. "What a pack of assholes" seems woefully inadequate.

-- wds
Wayne Throop
2010-10-05 02:47:53 UTC
Permalink
: ***@panix.com (William December Starr)
: Wow. "What a pack of assholes" seems woefully inadequate.

Heh. Yes, you want even-more-advanced ASBs to pull the same trick on them.


Wayne Throop ***@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw
PeterM
2010-10-05 05:12:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dimensional Traveler
SPOILERS BELOW
The "ASBs" turn out to be future Life/Humanity/Ascended Humans/<fill in
term of choice>.  And ya, the Change is basically "because we willed it
to be that way".  From what I gathered from the end of 'The Sword of The
Lady' their motive was to prevent the extinction of life on Earth by
irresponsible use of technology.  
Um, maybe I'm just not as smart as the future humans,
but if they exist at all, doesn't that mean that not all life
on Earth goes extinct? Or were they part of an off-planet
colony that later became humanity's last gasp?
Dimensional Traveler
2010-10-05 05:47:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by PeterM
Post by Dimensional Traveler
SPOILERS BELOW
The "ASBs" turn out to be future Life/Humanity/Ascended Humans/<fill in
term of choice>. And ya, the Change is basically "because we willed it
to be that way". From what I gathered from the end of 'The Sword of The
Lady' their motive was to prevent the extinction of life on Earth by
irresponsible use of technology.
Um, maybe I'm just not as smart as the future humans,
but if they exist at all, doesn't that mean that not all life
on Earth goes extinct? Or were they part of an off-planet
colony that later became humanity's last gasp?
The Ascended Life were mucking about with multiple universes. (We know
this because some of the characters get visions of themselves from this
other timelines.) Remember that the Emberverse is the universe
Nantucket came from in The Sea Of Time series, so for all we know they
are the Ascended Life from the universes next door spanking their
parallel past selves.
--
"There's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go and poke it with a
stick."
Wayne Throop
2010-10-05 06:03:04 UTC
Permalink
: Dimensional Traveler <***@sonic.net>
: SPOILERS BELOW
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
: The Ascended Life were mucking about with multiple universes. (We
: know this because some of the characters get visions of themselves
: from this other timelines.) Remember that the Emberverse is the
: universe Nantucket came from in The Sea Of Time series, so for all we
: know they are the Ascended Life from the universes next door spanking
: their parallel past selves.

Since they were all ascended and mucking about in time and all,
why not just go back a bit further, and change the rules before the
technology that supported billions was invented?

Yeah yeah, I can think of at least two reasons, too. But none that
really make me think kindly of the ASBs (Ascended Smug Bastards).

Hmmm. OK three or four reasons. Still... they can't come up with a
somewhat gentler method? Really? It is good to be an ASB. To be the
ants who's hill they are stomping on, not so much.


Wayne Throop ***@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw
Gene Wirchenko
2010-10-08 04:56:06 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 04 Oct 2010 01:13:07 -0700, Dimensional Traveler
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Post by Wayne Throop
: The early books have some characters doing tests and experiments to
: find out the new laws of physics and basically getting pissed off
: because it becomes clear that the Change _is_ specifically aimed at
: high-energy technology. Its also kind of implied that The Change also
: meddled with the behavior and mental states of the survivors, both in
: terms of surviving the end of the world (PTSD anyone?) and some direct
: tweaking by the ASBs (which seems to me even more likely once we found
: out who the ASBs were and why they did it).
Hm. Google, google. Ah, well, looks like my assessment of before I got
to that point (of "he was taking the series in an uninteresting-to-me
direction") was mainly accurate. Sigh. Though I may follow up when
the whole trilogy of trilogies is safely in paperback or in my local
library, and skim it.
But... I also don't see a specific account of why metals can't conduct,
but still have their normal physical properties, strength, ductility, etc.
Other than "the ASBs wanted it that way, and they gots mysterious tech
beyond human comprehension", which to me is "no specific account".
Indeed, from what I google, the motives of the ASB's don't even really
make sense of the physical effects they caused. But eh, mebee it's
covered in the works themselves.
SPOILERS BELOW
The "ASBs" turn out to be future Life/Humanity/Ascended Humans/<fill in
term of choice>. And ya, the Change is basically "because we willed it
to be that way". From what I gathered from the end of 'The Sword of The
Lady' their motive was to prevent the extinction of life on Earth by
irresponsible use of technology. This to be accomplished by stalling
human tech advancement until we had learned to live more in harmony with
nature. Basically future meta-humanity spanked its past self for not
being Green enough, as far as I can figure. (And yes, that was a
serious "You've got to be kidding me" moment when I read it.)
Kids can be so ungrateful.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
Dimensional Traveler
2010-10-02 20:37:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
:: Is this contradiction (metals not conducting electricity, but steel
:: still being as strong and tough as ever) specifically resolved in
:: some way during the series? If you could answer that question with
:: just a yes or no without otherwise spoiling the series, I would
:: appreciate it.
: Yes.
Really? That issue specifically?
Hm. Any explanations must have occured after I stopped reading them.
(He seemed to be taking the series in an uninteresting direction imo.)
: I still have massive WSoD issues with the series but that's not one.
Yes, the whole concept isn't all that SoD-friendly from the git-go.
Most efforts that even come close to an effective S of D involve the
installation of active measures with pretty obscure algorithms.
The "answer" is ASB, just not the ASB you are expecting. Does that
help? :-P
--
"There's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go and poke it with a
stick."
Bill Snyder
2010-10-02 22:23:08 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 02 Oct 2010 13:37:59 -0700, Dimensional Traveler
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Post by Wayne Throop
:: Is this contradiction (metals not conducting electricity, but steel
:: still being as strong and tough as ever) specifically resolved in
:: some way during the series? If you could answer that question with
:: just a yes or no without otherwise spoiling the series, I would
:: appreciate it.
: Yes.
Really? That issue specifically?
Hm. Any explanations must have occured after I stopped reading them.
(He seemed to be taking the series in an uninteresting direction imo.)
: I still have massive WSoD issues with the series but that's not one.
Yes, the whole concept isn't all that SoD-friendly from the git-go.
Most efforts that even come close to an effective S of D involve the
installation of active measures with pretty obscure algorithms.
The "answer" is ASB, just not the ASB you are expecting. Does that
help? :-P
<handwave> These are not the Alien Space Bats you're looking for,
eh?
--
Bill Snyder [This space unintentionally left blank]
Mike Schilling
2010-10-03 01:29:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill Snyder
On Sat, 02 Oct 2010 13:37:59 -0700, Dimensional Traveler
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Post by Wayne Throop
:: Is this contradiction (metals not conducting electricity, but steel
:: still being as strong and tough as ever) specifically resolved in
:: some way during the series? If you could answer that question with
:: just a yes or no without otherwise spoiling the series, I would
:: appreciate it.
: Yes.
Really? That issue specifically?
Hm. Any explanations must have occured after I stopped reading them.
(He seemed to be taking the series in an uninteresting direction imo.)
: I still have massive WSoD issues with the series but that's not one.
Yes, the whole concept isn't all that SoD-friendly from the git-go.
Most efforts that even come close to an effective S of D involve the
installation of active measures with pretty obscure algorithms.
The "answer" is ASB, just not the ASB you are expecting. Does that
help? :-P
<handwave> These are not the Alien Space Bats you're looking for,
eh?
I was looking for a Betelgeuse Slugger.
Robert A. Woodward
2010-10-02 15:42:16 UTC
Permalink
In article
<ef25a6ae-f51c-4533-a4db-***@c10g2000yqh.googlegroups.com>
,
Post by Bill J.
I'm having a suspension of disbelief issue with S.M Stirling's
Emberverse series. If anyone can answer the question I am about to
pose satisfactorily, I might be able to enjoy the series more.
I have not read any, though I have read descriptions of the basic
premise.
Post by Bill J.
My issue is that the properties that let metals conduct electricity
are what allow metals to be tough, ductile, and resilient. If the
conductive properties of metals are reduced measurably, they would
likely become very brittle.
The same thought occurred to me (as did others; e.g., what about
volcanic eruptions?). BTW, Christopher Anvil once wrote a novel
where metals stopped conducting electricity (and metals did become
more brittle, but not brittle enough, IMHO). It is included in _The
Power of Illusion_; an October 2010 release from Baen (they have
been reprinting Anvil stories for several years; this one might be
the last).
Post by Bill J.
Is this contradiction (metals not conducting electricity, but steel
still being as strong and tough as ever) specifically resolved in some
way during the series? If you could answer that question with just a
yes or no without otherwise spoiling the series, I would appreciate it.
--
Robert Woodward <***@drizzle.com>
<http://www.drizzle.com/~robertaw>
David Johnston
2010-10-02 15:59:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill J.
I'm having a suspension of disbelief issue with S.M Stirling's
Emberverse series. If anyone can answer the question I am about to
pose satisfactorily, I might be able to enjoy the series more.
My issue is that the properties that let metals conduct electricity
are what allow metals to be tough, ductile, and resilient. If the
conductive properties of metals are reduced measurably, they would
likely become very brittle.
There's no evidence they changed the properties of metal. Seems more
like they are interfering with electricity.
Bill J.
2010-10-02 19:21:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill J.
I'm having a suspension of disbelief issue with S.M Stirling's
Emberverse series. If anyone can answer the question I am about to
pose satisfactorily, I might be able to enjoy the series more.
My issue is that the properties that let metals conduct electricity
are what allow metals to be tough, ductile, and resilient. If the
conductive properties of metals are reduced measurably, they would
likely become very brittle.
There's no evidence they changed the properties of metal.  Seems more
like they are interfering with electricity.  
That's kind of my point. The ability of the electrons to move through
the metal's Fermi gas is a large part of what makes the metal ductile
and tough. The behavior of electricity is part and parcel with the
properties of metals.
David Johnston
2010-10-03 06:21:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill J.
Post by Bill J.
I'm having a suspension of disbelief issue with S.M Stirling's
Emberverse series. If anyone can answer the question I am about to
pose satisfactorily, I might be able to enjoy the series more.
My issue is that the properties that let metals conduct electricity
are what allow metals to be tough, ductile, and resilient. If the
conductive properties of metals are reduced measurably, they would
likely become very brittle.
There's no evidence they changed the properties of metal.  Seems more
like they are interfering with electricity.  
That's kind of my point. The ability of the electrons to move through
the metal's Fermi gas is a large part of what makes the metal ductile
and tough.
They get to pick and choose what things they interfere with.
Quadibloc
2010-10-03 21:54:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill J.
That's kind of my point. The ability of the electrons to move through
the metal's Fermi gas is a large part of what makes the metal ductile
and tough. The behavior of electricity is part and parcel with the
properties of metals.
But rubber isn't brittle, and yet it doesn't conduct electricity. On
the other hand, unlike metal, it doesn't take a sharp edge.

John Savard
Bill J.
2010-10-03 23:22:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Quadibloc
Post by Bill J.
That's kind of my point. The ability of the electrons to move through
the metal's Fermi gas is a large part of what makes the metal ductile
and tough. The behavior of electricity is part and parcel with the
properties of metals.
But rubber isn't brittle, and yet it doesn't conduct electricity. On
the other hand, unlike metal, it doesn't take a sharp edge.
John Savard
That is true, but rubber's properties are based on its molecular
structure. Metal has no molecular structure, it has a Fermi gas of
electrons mediating its bulk properties.
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