Discussion:
Questions about S.M. Stirling's Change Trilogy
(too old to reply)
septithol
2007-01-08 11:51:14 UTC
Permalink
A question has occured to me about SM Stirling's change Trilogy.
According to the books, elctricity beyond a certain magnitude (that
necessary for nervous impulses in living creatures) no longer works,
having been magically abolished by the 'Space Bats'.

Question about that: Is there still lightning during storms? If so, how
can there be. If not, this is going to have quite an effect on the
Earth's ecology.

Another question about that: Is the Earth still generating a magnetic
feild? If so, how can it be? If not, why hasn't everyone died of
radiation poisoning due to it being absent and no longer protecting us
from large quantities of radiation?

Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground. In which
case I would expect some groups in the book to attempt bringing
generators on board gondolas, or down the biggest holes and valleys
they can find.
Jordan
2007-01-08 13:16:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
A question has occured to me about SM Stirling's change Trilogy.
According to the books, electricity beyond a certain magnitude (that
necessary for nervous impulses in living creatures) no longer works,
having been magically abolished by the 'Space Bats'.
... as far as the few surviving scientists, using equipment mostly at a
13th-century tech level to try to analyze an effect far beyond anything
even the _theories_ of the late 20th century could explain, can tell.
Yes.

Keep in mind that one possible explanation for the effect would be
"self-replicating femtotechnology." In other words, an artificial life
form that used the quantum foam as a working fluid and altered the
local laws of physics by creating exotic particles. Now, how would you
go about detecting _that_ without a modern physics lab?
Post by septithol
Question about that: Is there still lightning during storms?
I'm guessing "yes."
Post by septithol
If so, how
can there be. If not, this is going to have quite an effect on the
Earth's ecology.
The effect may be able to distinguish between static electrical
discharges and long-term current flows.
Post by septithol
Another question about that: Is the Earth still generating a magnetic
field? If so, how can it be? If not, why hasn't everyone died of
radiation poisoning due to it being absent and no longer protecting us
from large quantities of radiation?
It's already been discovered that the effect works on the basis of
energy _density_ -- the Earth's magnetic field is very diffuse.
Post by septithol
Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground. In which
case I would expect some groups in the book to attempt bringing
generators on board gondolas, or down the biggest holes and valleys
they can find.
First of all, the effect _must_ only extend outward so far, unless it
embraces the entire Universe (which sounds improbable). Secondly, the
problem is that once you brought the power down to the ground the
effect would fizzle it out.

- Jordan
Wayne Throop
2007-01-08 16:01:37 UTC
Permalink
: "septithol" <***@yahoo.com>
: Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
: Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
: electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
: height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground.

Why not "affect electricity in metals" but not elsewhere?

Wayne Throop ***@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw
Richard R. Hershberger
2007-01-08 18:14:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
: Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
: Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
: electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
: height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground.
Why not "affect electricity in metals" but not elsewhere?
Better yet, why not accept it as a fantasy, in which a set of
technologies defined by the author cease to function. That's what it
is, after all. (And, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with
that.) Attempts to rationalize this are at best a distraction and at
worst threaten to send one into flight, what with all the hand-waving.

Richard R. Hershberger
Peter D. Tillman
2007-01-09 03:03:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Post by Wayne Throop
: Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
: Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
: electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
: height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground.
Why not "affect electricity in metals" but not elsewhere?
Better yet, why not accept it as a fantasy, in which a set of
technologies defined by the author cease to function. That's what it
is, after all. (And, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with
that.) Attempts to rationalize this are at best a distraction and at
worst threaten to send one into flight, what with all the hand-waving.
A sensible approach. Especially since it turns out that the first book
was the only one really worth reading.

Cheers -- Pete Tillman
Jason Maxwell
2007-01-09 05:31:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter D. Tillman
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Post by Wayne Throop
: Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
: Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
: electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
: height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground.
Why not "affect electricity in metals" but not elsewhere?
Better yet, why not accept it as a fantasy, in which a set of
technologies defined by the author cease to function. That's what it
is, after all. (And, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with
that.) Attempts to rationalize this are at best a distraction and at
worst threaten to send one into flight, what with all the hand-waving.
A sensible approach. Especially since it turns out that the first book
was the only one really worth reading.
I'm about 200 pages into book 3, and I'm starting to get the feeling that
it's going downhill. Actually book 1 was the best, by far, but book 2
wasn't bad, it just wasn't as entertaining. Book 3 feels like its got too
much padding in it for the story so far though. Perhaps it gets better.

Jason
Richard R. Hershberger
2007-01-09 12:49:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jason Maxwell
Post by Peter D. Tillman
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Post by Wayne Throop
: Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
: Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
: electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
: height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground.
Why not "affect electricity in metals" but not elsewhere?
Better yet, why not accept it as a fantasy, in which a set of
technologies defined by the author cease to function. That's what it
is, after all. (And, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with
that.) Attempts to rationalize this are at best a distraction and at
worst threaten to send one into flight, what with all the hand-waving.
A sensible approach. Especially since it turns out that the first book
was the only one really worth reading.
I'm about 200 pages into book 3, and I'm starting to get the feeling that
it's going downhill. Actually book 1 was the best, by far, but book 2
wasn't bad, it just wasn't as entertaining. Book 3 feels like its got too
much padding in it for the story so far though. Perhaps it gets better.
Actually, it comes to an abrupt halt, in much the same way the third
Nantucket book did. It is an odd pacing problem, with padding at the
front end and everyone pretty much deciding to pick up and go home at
the end, looking suspiciously like the page limit had been reached, so
that is that. But yeah, I found myself skimming pages at a time. As a
rule of thumb, any bit where someone is speaking Gaelic can safely be
skipped.

Richard R. Hershberger
Jason Maxwell
2007-01-09 14:56:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Post by Jason Maxwell
Post by Peter D. Tillman
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
Post by Wayne Throop
: Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
: Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
: electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
: height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground.
Why not "affect electricity in metals" but not elsewhere?
Better yet, why not accept it as a fantasy, in which a set of
technologies defined by the author cease to function. That's what it
is, after all. (And, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with
that.) Attempts to rationalize this are at best a distraction and at
worst threaten to send one into flight, what with all the hand-waving.
A sensible approach. Especially since it turns out that the first book
was the only one really worth reading.
I'm about 200 pages into book 3, and I'm starting to get the feeling that
it's going downhill. Actually book 1 was the best, by far, but book 2
wasn't bad, it just wasn't as entertaining. Book 3 feels like its got too
much padding in it for the story so far though. Perhaps it gets better.
Actually, it comes to an abrupt halt, in much the same way the third
Nantucket book did. It is an odd pacing problem, with padding at the
front end and everyone pretty much deciding to pick up and go home at
the end, looking suspiciously like the page limit had been reached, so
that is that. But yeah, I found myself skimming pages at a time. As a
rule of thumb, any bit where someone is speaking Gaelic can safely be
skipped.
I figured that much out already. Now I'm skimming through any description
of the Willamette Valley. I read the first two books, I don't need more
descriptions of an area that was covered pretty well in Book 2l.

Jason
Peter D. Tillman
2007-01-10 01:14:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jason Maxwell
Post by Peter D. Tillman
A sensible approach. Especially since it turns out that the first book
was the only one really worth reading.
I'm about 200 pages into book 3, and I'm starting to get the feeling that
it's going downhill. Actually book 1 was the best, by far, but book 2
wasn't bad, it just wasn't as entertaining. Book 3 feels like its got too
much padding in it for the story so far though. Perhaps it gets better.
Nope.

Cheers -- Pete Tillman
--
"Who could have predicted a harmless gasoline fight
could end in tragedy?" -- Zoolander
Wayne Throop
2007-01-09 05:51:08 UTC
Permalink
::: Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
::: Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
::: electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
::: height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground.

:: Why not "affect electricity in metals" but not elsewhere?

: "Richard R. Hershberger" <***@acme.com>
: Better yet, why not accept it as a fantasy, in which a set of
: technologies defined by the author cease to function. That's what it
: is, after all. (And, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with
: that.) Attempts to rationalize this are at best a distraction and at
: worst threaten to send one into flight, what with all the hand-waving.

Sure, but there's a difference between trying to handwave how it
works, and trying to categorize what's been described. Looking for
common factors that distinguish artificial use of electricity and
so-called-natural instances, metals seem to stand out as an obvious hook,
and altitude a somewhat less obvious one.


Wayne Throop ***@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw
Richard R. Hershberger
2007-01-09 13:00:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
::: Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
::: Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
::: electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
::: height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground.
:: Why not "affect electricity in metals" but not elsewhere?
: Better yet, why not accept it as a fantasy, in which a set of
: technologies defined by the author cease to function. That's what it
: is, after all. (And, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with
: that.) Attempts to rationalize this are at best a distraction and at
: worst threaten to send one into flight, what with all the hand-waving.
Sure, but there's a difference between trying to handwave how it
works, and trying to categorize what's been described. Looking for
common factors that distinguish artificial use of electricity and
so-called-natural instances, metals seem to stand out as an obvious hook,
and altitude a somewhat less obvious one.
The category is straightforward: revert to an idealized fantasy
version of medieval tech. (Idealized because of course the real later
medievals did use gunpowder, but that doesn't fit with the fantasy, so
you tend not to see it in things like D&D or the SCA.) I doubt that
many readers don't get this. Talk of metals and altitude or whatnot
adds nothing to understanding the premise, and is irrelevant to the
course of the story.

Richard R. Hershberger
septithol
2007-01-09 13:21:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
The category is straightforward: revert to an idealized fantasy
version of medieval tech. (Idealized because of course the real later
medievals did use gunpowder, but that doesn't fit with the fantasy, so
you tend not to see it in things like D&D or the SCA.) I doubt that
many readers don't get this. Talk of metals and altitude or whatnot
adds nothing to understanding the premise, and is irrelevant to the
course of the story.
Well, the problem is, that if I were one of the characters in the book,
and noticed some sort of groteque logical problem: For instance,
electricity being generated by the metal in the earth's core, but not
by a precisely identical man-made process, the most likely conclusion I
would come to would be that I (and everyone else around me) had either
died and gone to hell, or had our consciousness's uploaded into a very
sophisticated computer operated by highly advanced aliens, or was
otherwise in the hands of a malevolent omnipotence/diety of some kind
that could arbitrarily control reality such that it no longer operated
by fixed rules.

My next act after coming to this conclusion would most likely either be
to commit suicide or go insane. Human beings, having evolved in an
impersonal universe that makes strict logical sense, really can't exist
in a malevolent universe where the physical laws are constantly
shifting, depending entirely on what is most personally inconvenient to
human beings.

Anyway, there is no such thing as 'magic', in the sense of supernatural
or un-natural forces. Any force that exists is, by definition, natural.
This distinguishes fantasy from sci-fi, I think. It is a point that is
going to be made in a story I am writing, about a wizard who operates a
'magical' teleportation based shipping company. Except the 'magic' in
question is simply a highly advanced form of technology. Later on in my
story, this wizard will come to our world where some evil baddies, in
an effort to turn people against him, will make some nasty statements
about him to the effect that he is 'disrespectful' to the forces of
magic, that he treats magic like a utility, the way one would a
screwdriver, and that basically he take 'all the wonder out of life,
and all the *magic* out of magic'.

Which is utterly bogus of course. When he gets word of this, he's
rightfully contemptful and asks what else he should do, get down on his
knees and pray to an electrical generator?
Keith F. Lynch
2007-01-10 03:14:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
Well, the problem is, that if I were one of the characters in
the book, and noticed some sort of groteque logical problem: For
instance, electricity being generated by the metal in the earth's
core, but not by a precisely identical man-made process, the most
likely conclusion I would come to would be that I (and everyone
else around me) had either died and gone to hell, or had our
consciousness's uploaded into a very sophisticated computer operated
by highly advanced aliens, or was otherwise in the hands of a
malevolent omnipotence/diety of some kind that could arbitrarily
control reality such that it no longer operated by fixed rules.
My next act after coming to this conclusion would most likely either
be to commit suicide or go insane.
In all fairness, many of the people in the trilogy do exactly that.
They're outnumbered only by the ones who don't have time to do so
before they die in terrible city-wide fires, die of thirst or hunger,
die of disease from bad water and unburied corpses, die from dam
failures, freeze to death, or are buthered and eaten by desperate
cannibals. Obviously the trilogy mostly follows people who survive
for a while, with their sanity mostly intact.

If Stirling ever becomes God, I do *not* want him mad at me.
--
Keith F. Lynch - http://keithlynch.net/
Please see http://keithlynch.net/email.html before emailing me.
Richard R. Hershberger
2007-01-10 15:24:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
The category is straightforward: revert to an idealized fantasy
version of medieval tech. (Idealized because of course the real later
medievals did use gunpowder, but that doesn't fit with the fantasy, so
you tend not to see it in things like D&D or the SCA.) I doubt that
many readers don't get this. Talk of metals and altitude or whatnot
adds nothing to understanding the premise, and is irrelevant to the
course of the story.
Well, the problem is, that if I were one of the characters in the book,
and noticed some sort of groteque logical problem: For instance,
electricity being generated by the metal in the earth's core, but not
by a precisely identical man-made process, the most likely conclusion I
would come to would be that I (and everyone else around me) had either
died and gone to hell, or had our consciousness's uploaded into a very
sophisticated computer operated by highly advanced aliens, or was
otherwise in the hands of a malevolent omnipotence/diety of some kind
that could arbitrarily control reality such that it no longer operated
by fixed rules.
My next act after coming to this conclusion would most likely either be
to commit suicide or go insane. Human beings, having evolved in an
impersonal universe that makes strict logical sense, really can't exist
in a malevolent universe where the physical laws are constantly
shifting, depending entirely on what is most personally inconvenient to
human beings.
I am sitting contemplating the idea that you could deal with sudden
unexplained changes to the laws of physics, but an inability to
accurately categorize the changes would send you over the edge.
Wouldn't a more likely conclusion be that you simply haven't figured
out the pattern yet?

But that is from the perspective of a character. My point is that as a
reader I realize that I am reading a fantasy novel. Any hand-waving
does not change that. I personally have no problem with fantasy novels
as a genre, so this presents no difficulties to me. I know there are
people who reject fantasy on ideological grounds, so I suppose such a
person would require the hand-waving to satisfy himself that he isn't
slumming. But to me the hand-waving is a silly distraction.

Richard R. Hershberger
John Schilling
2007-01-12 01:07:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
Post by Richard R. Hershberger
The category is straightforward: revert to an idealized fantasy
version of medieval tech. (Idealized because of course the real later
medievals did use gunpowder, but that doesn't fit with the fantasy, so
you tend not to see it in things like D&D or the SCA.) I doubt that
many readers don't get this. Talk of metals and altitude or whatnot
adds nothing to understanding the premise, and is irrelevant to the
course of the story.
Well, the problem is, that if I were one of the characters in the book,
and noticed some sort of groteque logical problem: For instance,
electricity being generated by the metal in the earth's core, but not
by a precisely identical man-made process, the most likely conclusion I
would come to would be that I (and everyone else around me) had either
died and gone to hell, or had our consciousness's uploaded into a very
sophisticated computer operated by highly advanced aliens, or was
otherwise in the hands of a malevolent omnipotence/diety of some kind
that could arbitrarily control reality such that it no longer operated
by fixed rules.
My next act after coming to this conclusion would most likely either be
to commit suicide or go insane. Human beings, having evolved in an
impersonal universe that makes strict logical sense, really can't exist
in a malevolent universe where the physical laws are constantly
shifting, depending entirely on what is most personally inconvenient to
human beings.
How do human beings differentiate between living in a universe where the
physical laws are constantly shifting, and living in a universe whose
unchanging physical laws produce constantly-shifting affects according
to an underlying sensible logic that they haven't figured out yet? And
for that matter, how do they distinguish between your "impersonal" and
"malevolent", when the observed result in both cases is, "That thing
you were really counting on and desperately need, isn't going to happen,
tough shit, The Universe"?

Because most of the human beings who have ever lived, lived in a reality
where such basic and critical bits of physics as "Water does/does not
fall from the sky" and "Human skin does/does not break out into festering,
painful, perhaps lethal boils", kept varying in a manner that defied any
sense or logic available to them.

Somehow, the vast majority of these human beings not only refrained from
committing suicide, but managed to function quite well. So I'm skeptical
of the claim that an actual malevolent/inconsistent universe will incite
mass insanity and suicide when the extremely convincing imitation of a
malevolent/inconsistent universe our ancestors lived in, did not lead to
such an end.

And really, it's only a matter of faith on your part that we presently
live in an impersonal and consistent universe, sustained by the recent
and perhaps temporary development that science has been finding answers
somewhat faster than you've been able to think up new questions.
--
*John Schilling * "Anything worth doing, *
*Member:AIAA,NRA,ACLU,SAS,LP * is worth doing for money" *
*Chief Scientist & General Partner * -13th Rule of Acquisition *
*White Elephant Research, LLC * "There is no substitute *
****@spock.usc.edu * for success" *
*661-951-9107 or 661-275-6795 * -58th Rule of Acquisition *
sharkey
2007-01-12 05:17:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by John Schilling
Because most of the human beings who have ever lived, lived in a reality
where such basic and critical bits of physics as "Water does/does not
fall from the sky" and "Human skin does/does not break out into festering,
painful, perhaps lethal boils", kept varying in a manner that defied any
sense or logic available to them.
Somehow, the vast majority of these human beings not only refrained from
committing suicide, but managed to function quite well.
Apart, of course, from such symptoms of insanity as belief in invisible
beings out to help or damn us, and in the power of ritual to encourage
or dissuade them from doing so, and death to anyone who says otherwise!
Post by John Schilling
And really, it's only a matter of faith on your part that we presently
live in an impersonal and consistent universe, sustained by the recent
and perhaps temporary development that science has been finding answers
somewhat faster than you've been able to think up new questions.
I think that that faith has calmed us down considerably :-)

-----sharks
septithol
2007-01-12 20:39:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by John Schilling
Somehow, the vast majority of these human beings not only refrained from
committing suicide, but managed to function quite well. So I'm skeptical
of the claim that an actual malevolent/inconsistent universe will incite
mass insanity and suicide when the extremely convincing imitation of a
malevolent/inconsistent universe our ancestors lived in, did not lead to
such an end.
Our ancestors did not, and have NEVER lived, in any sort of imitation
of an irrational/malevolent universe. The fact that there were things
in that universe they did not UNDERSTAND did not make them malevolent,
any more than the fact that we do not fully understand, say, what
happens to time and space inside a black hole, makes our universe
malevolent. Our universe would ONLY be malevolent if the rules of
physics in a black hole suddenly changed if we sent a space probe or
space ship into the black hole (say, to try and utilize some wormhole
we had discovered inside), and crushed the space ship, rather than
sending it through the wormhole as happened with every other object
other than a space ship that went through the black hole.

A *malevolent* universe is not one where you don't UNDERSTAND the
rules, it is one where the rules constantly switch, depending on what
would be inconvenient for you. Take steam, for instance. In a universe
which is rational, but which you don't understand, you don't know why
geysers appear in certain areas but not others, why they explode so
violently, etc. Etc. When you learn to understand the universe better,
you learn about the nature of geysers. In a *malevolent* universe,
however, you can observe the built up of steam in a geyser. You may
even observe this steam moving objects, say a tree trunk which happened
to fall, at random, on top of the geyser. You may observe it moving
more than one object, say two trees, or trees and boulder. The boulder
may even be metal, if it is a meteorite.

Then, if you put a wood shaft onto the tree or boulder, to try and
harness the steam from the geyser to operate, say, a saw.... suddenly
and inexplicably the steam pressure goes POOF! For no better reason
than that it's existence suddenly becomes convenient to you.
Wayne Throop
2007-01-12 20:50:19 UTC
Permalink
: "septithol" <***@yahoo.com>
: Our universe would ONLY be malevolent if the rules of
: physics in a black hole suddenly changed if we sent a space probe or
: space ship into the black hole

I do not think that word means what you think it means.


Wayne Throop ***@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw
m***@earthlink.net
2007-01-14 04:20:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
: Our universe would ONLY be malevolent if the rules of
: physics in a black hole suddenly changed if we sent a space probe or
: space ship into the black hole
I do not think that word means what you think it means.
If you think the series has been weird before, you ain't seen nothing
yet.

http://hem.bredband.net/b104699/books/sunrise/sunrise_cv.html

I was going to e-mail Stirling that something that shows up at the end
of chapter 3 couldn't possibly still exist by the time of "The Sunrise
Lands" but what happens at the end of chapter 5 may be the explanation.

And in that last chapter, I think I might know what building is being
described and who was in the portrait.

On the other hand, I've made other predictions about the future of this
series that haven't panned out yet.
septithol
2007-01-14 12:12:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by m***@earthlink.net
On the other hand, I've made other predictions about the future of this
series that haven't panned out yet.
Actually, what might make more sense in the context of 'The Change' as
it has been written, is not a change to the laws of physics, but rather
a change to *human brains* in some fashion that the presence of a
living brain witihin a certain radius either gives off a feild of some
sort which prevents various electrochemical reactions from working, or
else absorbs a large percentage of that energy. Which might ALSO
explain why 'magic' seems to be starting to work, for some people in a
few parts of the book.
m***@earthlink.net
2007-01-15 18:24:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
Post by m***@earthlink.net
On the other hand, I've made other predictions about the future of this
series that haven't panned out yet.
Actually, what might make more sense in the context of 'The Change' as
it has been written, is not a change to the laws of physics, but rather
a change to *human brains* in some fashion that the presence of a
living brain witihin a certain radius either gives off a feild of some
sort which prevents various electrochemical reactions from working, or
else absorbs a large percentage of that energy. Which might ALSO
explain why 'magic' seems to be starting to work, for some people in a
few parts of the book.
The only problem I see with that is just how large the radius is.
Purely mechanical timers are still possible and you'd think they would
have tried to set up experiments that tested some of these things in
the absence of nearby humans.

Like a timer causing black powder to be dumped on a flame long after
the humans have left. When they return, it would have had a different
effect on its surroundings depending on whether it had fizzled from the
Change or burnt rapidly as it did pre change.
septithol
2007-01-15 22:22:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by m***@earthlink.net
The only problem I see with that is just how large the radius is.
Purely mechanical timers are still possible and you'd think they would
have tried to set up experiments that tested some of these things in
the absence of nearby humans.
Like a timer causing black powder to be dumped on a flame long after
the humans have left. When they return, it would have had a different
effect on its surroundings depending on whether it had fizzled from the
Change or burnt rapidly as it did pre change.
That's assuming two things:

1. That they would even think of the possibility that the *change* was
caused by a change in humanity, rather than a change in the laws of
physics.

2. That the presence of a human being within X radius of a material
prevented certain electrochemical reactions not only while the human
being was present, but also for a certain amount of time after the
human had left the radius. Thus, unless your mechanical timer was set
for a couple of days, nothing different would happen with the
blackpowder.

However, you are right, if this were the case, I would have expected
there to be some hint of it, by rumours of explosions in old gasoline
storage tanks in abandoned cities, abandoned fireworks factories, etc.

Anyway, the people in the book are not doing enough by looking for
loopholes in the Change. For instance, they ought to be emulating the
Krakowski Brothers in the Crosstime Engineer series, and putting pigs
inside giant 'hamster wheels' to power equipment. A pig is a REALLY
strong animal for it's size, all that meat on it is muscle. And unlike
water and wind power, you aren't dependent on location or weather for
pig-power. You could probably do quite a lot with enough pigs and
hamster wheels hooked up to something powered by hydraulics.
m***@earthlink.net
2007-01-15 23:48:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
Anyway, the people in the book are not doing enough by looking for
loopholes in the Change. For instance, they ought to be emulating the
Krakowski Brothers in the Crosstime Engineer series, and putting pigs
inside giant 'hamster wheels' to power equipment. A pig is a REALLY
strong animal for it's size, all that meat on it is muscle. And unlike
water and wind power, you aren't dependent on location or weather for
pig-power. You could probably do quite a lot with enough pigs and
hamster wheels hooked up to something powered by hydraulics.
Thanks for reminding me of that. I seem to remember that the pig wasn't
happy. :)

The same engineering can also be adapted economically to people power
where the use isn't constant, say in a freight elevator.
Jason Maxwell
2007-01-16 00:52:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by m***@earthlink.net
Post by septithol
Anyway, the people in the book are not doing enough by looking for
loopholes in the Change. For instance, they ought to be emulating the
Krakowski Brothers in the Crosstime Engineer series, and putting pigs
inside giant 'hamster wheels' to power equipment. A pig is a REALLY
strong animal for it's size, all that meat on it is muscle. And unlike
water and wind power, you aren't dependent on location or weather for
pig-power. You could probably do quite a lot with enough pigs and
hamster wheels hooked up to something powered by hydraulics.
Thanks for reminding me of that. I seem to remember that the pig wasn't
happy. :)
The same engineering can also be adapted economically to people power
where the use isn't constant, say in a freight elevator.
very small SPOILER
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Arminger has made slave-powered elevator by the end of the 3rd book.

Jason
septithol
2007-01-16 01:15:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jason Maxwell
Arminger has made slave-powered elevator by the end of the 3rd book.
Arminger is a very interesting case. On the one hand, his actions have
probably actually saved a lot of people's lives, and also a number of
valuable works of art and other pre-change cultural accomplishments.

On the other hand, he is a complete IDIOT. Why make a 'slave powered
elevator' and un-necessarily make enemies when you can run pigs in a
circle to pump water, and make a hydraulic powered elevator? And when
your elevator is not in use, the hydraulic power can be used for other
things.

For the same reason, most of the characters in the book are rather
stupid to adopt a medieval lifestyle in terms of becoming subsistence
farmers. Given the drastic reduction in population, their lives would
be a great deal easier, not to mention having a far more nutritious
diet, by becoming hunter/gatherers, with a medieval level technological
base.
p***@yahoo.com
2007-01-16 03:19:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
For the same reason, most of the characters in the book are rather
stupid to adopt a medieval lifestyle in terms of becoming subsistence
farmers. Given the drastic reduction in population, their lives would
be a great deal easier, not to mention having a far more nutritious
diet, by becoming hunter/gatherers, with a medieval level technological
base.
Well... one of the problems with living the easy, nutritious
hunter/gather lifestyle is that you actually have to eat what
hunter/gatherers eat. And, while it may be possible to acquire a
week's worth of protein in a few hours by gathering dead dried
grasshoppers off a particular lakeshore at a certain time of year,
it's a lot harder for modern civilized people to _eat_ a week's worth
of protein in grasshopper form. Or lichens, fir needles, or goosefoot
seeds. It's a big shift in what you consider edible.

Rebecca
--
I've moved!
Formerly ***@thevine.net
James Gassaway
2007-01-16 08:41:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@yahoo.com
Post by septithol
For the same reason, most of the characters in the book are rather
stupid to adopt a medieval lifestyle in terms of becoming subsistence
farmers. Given the drastic reduction in population, their lives would
be a great deal easier, not to mention having a far more nutritious
diet, by becoming hunter/gatherers, with a medieval level
technological base.
Well... one of the problems with living the easy, nutritious
hunter/gather lifestyle is that you actually have to eat what
hunter/gatherers eat. And, while it may be possible to acquire a
week's worth of protein in a few hours by gathering dead dried
grasshoppers off a particular lakeshore at a certain time of year,
it's a lot harder for modern civilized people to _eat_ a week's worth
of protein in grasshopper form. Or lichens, fir needles, or goosefoot
seeds. It's a big shift in what you consider edible.
Rebecca
There is also the small matter of hunter/gatherer societies really only work
in an ecosystem that hasn't been trashed by an industrial society occupying
the area.
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own."
"Now, quack, damn you!"
p***@yahoo.com
2007-01-16 15:04:09 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 00:41:13 -0800, "James Gassaway"
Post by James Gassaway
Post by p***@yahoo.com
Post by septithol
For the same reason, most of the characters in the book are rather
stupid to adopt a medieval lifestyle in terms of becoming subsistence
farmers. Given the drastic reduction in population, their lives would
be a great deal easier, not to mention having a far more nutritious
diet, by becoming hunter/gatherers, with a medieval level
technological base.
Well... one of the problems with living the easy, nutritious
hunter/gather lifestyle is that you actually have to eat what
hunter/gatherers eat. And, while it may be possible to acquire a
week's worth of protein in a few hours by gathering dead dried
grasshoppers off a particular lakeshore at a certain time of year,
it's a lot harder for modern civilized people to _eat_ a week's worth
of protein in grasshopper form. Or lichens, fir needles, or goosefoot
seeds. It's a big shift in what you consider edible.
Rebecca
There is also the small matter of hunter/gatherer societies really only work
in an ecosystem that hasn't been trashed by an industrial society occupying
the area.
This all got me to pondering... say at some time in the future, some
colonists wanted to establish a hunter/gatherer society. How would
you go about that? Or, to make it easier, lets say you buy up some
untrammeled wilderness somewhere and want to start such a group. How
do you learn what you can eat? In a traditional h/g society, you'd
learn that by watching the adults, but that obviously isn't going to
work in this situation. I would think that you'd have to start off by
figuring out what grows in the area, and then doing a lot of research
to figure out what of that was edible. But it's not going to be an
easy task.

Rebecca
--
I've moved!
Formerly ***@thevine.net
Mike Schilling
2007-01-16 15:20:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@yahoo.com
On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 00:41:13 -0800, "James Gassaway"
This all got me to pondering... say at some time in the future, some
colonists wanted to establish a hunter/gatherer society. How would
you go about that? Or, to make it easier, lets say you buy up some
untrammeled wilderness somewhere and want to start such a group. How
do you learn what you can eat? In a traditional h/g society, you'd
learn that by watching the adults, but that obviously isn't going to
work in this situation. I would think that you'd have to start off by
figuring out what grows in the area, and then doing a lot of research
to figure out what of that was edible. But it's not going to be an
easy task.
You need to include an internet connection, so that after you catch
something, you can Google it.
p***@yahoo.com
2007-01-16 16:57:05 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 15:20:46 GMT, "Mike Schilling"
Post by Mike Schilling
Post by p***@yahoo.com
On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 00:41:13 -0800, "James Gassaway"
This all got me to pondering... say at some time in the future, some
colonists wanted to establish a hunter/gatherer society. How would
you go about that? Or, to make it easier, lets say you buy up some
untrammeled wilderness somewhere and want to start such a group. How
do you learn what you can eat? In a traditional h/g society, you'd
learn that by watching the adults, but that obviously isn't going to
work in this situation. I would think that you'd have to start off by
figuring out what grows in the area, and then doing a lot of research
to figure out what of that was edible. But it's not going to be an
easy task.
You need to include an internet connection, so that after you catch
something, you can Google it.
Catch? I seem to recall reading somewhere that something like 80% of
h/g food is plants. And that there are something like 20,000 edible
plants in the world. So you'd really need that Internet connection!

Rebecca
--
I've moved!
Formerly ***@thevine.net
Mike Schilling
2007-01-16 17:04:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@yahoo.com
On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 15:20:46 GMT, "Mike Schilling"
Post by Mike Schilling
You need to include an internet connection, so that after you catch
something, you can Google it.
Catch? I seem to recall reading somewhere that something like 80% of
h/g food is plants.
They're much easier to catch.
Peter D. Tillman
2007-01-16 18:33:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike Schilling
Post by p***@yahoo.com
On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 15:20:46 GMT, "Mike Schilling"
Post by Mike Schilling
You need to include an internet connection, so that after you catch
something, you can Google it.
Catch? I seem to recall reading somewhere that something like 80% of
h/g food is plants.
They're much easier to catch.
As [back on-topic] those ever-witty Kzinti like so much pointing out....

Cheers -- Pete Tillman
No 33 Secretary
2007-01-16 22:03:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike Schilling
Post by p***@yahoo.com
On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 15:20:46 GMT, "Mike Schilling"
Post by Mike Schilling
You need to include an internet connection, so that after you
catch something, you can Google it.
Catch? I seem to recall reading somewhere that something like
80% of h/g food is plants.
They're much easier to catch.
You are what you eat, and you eat what you can outsmart.
--
"What is the first law?"
"To Protect."
"And the second?"
"Ourselves."

Terry Austin
g***@sentex.net
2007-01-17 00:21:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@yahoo.com
On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 15:20:46 GMT, "Mike Schilling"
Post by Mike Schilling
Post by p***@yahoo.com
On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 00:41:13 -0800, "James Gassaway"
This all got me to pondering... say at some time in the future, some
colonists wanted to establish a hunter/gatherer society. How would
you go about that? Or, to make it easier, lets say you buy up some
untrammeled wilderness somewhere and want to start such a group. How
do you learn what you can eat? In a traditional h/g society, you'd
learn that by watching the adults, but that obviously isn't going to
work in this situation. I would think that you'd have to start off by
figuring out what grows in the area, and then doing a lot of research
to figure out what of that was edible. But it's not going to be an
easy task.
You need to include an internet connection, so that after you catch
something, you can Google it.
Catch? I seem to recall reading somewhere that something like 80% of
h/g food is plants. And that there are something like 20,000 edible
plants in the world. So you'd really need that Internet connection!
Rebecca
And I seem to recall reading that 90% of the h/g conversations around the
campfire are about great hunting trips the guys went on, even if they hadn't
caught anything lately.

Cheers

Gary
James Gassaway
2007-01-17 02:45:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@yahoo.com
On Tue, 16 Jan 2007 00:41:13 -0800, "James Gassaway"
Post by James Gassaway
Post by p***@yahoo.com
Post by septithol
For the same reason, most of the characters in the book are rather
stupid to adopt a medieval lifestyle in terms of becoming
subsistence farmers. Given the drastic reduction in population,
their lives would be a great deal easier, not to mention having a
far more nutritious diet, by becoming hunter/gatherers, with a
medieval level technological base.
Well... one of the problems with living the easy, nutritious
hunter/gather lifestyle is that you actually have to eat what
hunter/gatherers eat. And, while it may be possible to acquire a
week's worth of protein in a few hours by gathering dead dried
grasshoppers off a particular lakeshore at a certain time of year,
it's a lot harder for modern civilized people to _eat_ a week's
worth of protein in grasshopper form. Or lichens, fir needles, or
goosefoot seeds. It's a big shift in what you consider edible.
Rebecca
There is also the small matter of hunter/gatherer societies really
only work in an ecosystem that hasn't been trashed by an industrial
society occupying the area.
This all got me to pondering... say at some time in the future, some
colonists wanted to establish a hunter/gatherer society. How would
you go about that? Or, to make it easier, lets say you buy up some
untrammeled wilderness somewhere and want to start such a group. How
do you learn what you can eat? In a traditional h/g society, you'd
learn that by watching the adults, but that obviously isn't going to
work in this situation. I would think that you'd have to start off by
figuring out what grows in the area, and then doing a lot of research
to figure out what of that was edible. But it's not going to be an
easy task.
Rebecca
In short, nibble very small samples and hope for the best. And, yes, I am
serious. Don't do it with fungi, the odds are just way too bad. But for
everything else you basically have one person nibble a very small bite and
wait a day to see if they die or get sick. If they live, repeat with a
larger portion. If they survive that, its probably safe to eat.

Also, I understand the technique works better if your "volunteer" is not
squeamish or a hypocondriac and at least has heard of bio-feedback (so they
can accurately recognize any symptoms).
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own."
"Now, quack, damn you!"
Jasper Janssen
2007-01-18 14:37:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@yahoo.com
This all got me to pondering... say at some time in the future, some
colonists wanted to establish a hunter/gatherer society. How would
you go about that? Or, to make it easier, lets say you buy up some
untrammeled wilderness somewhere and want to start such a group. How
do you learn what you can eat? In a traditional h/g society, you'd
learn that by watching the adults, but that obviously isn't going to
work in this situation. I would think that you'd have to start off by
figuring out what grows in the area, and then doing a lot of research
to figure out what of that was edible. But it's not going to be an
easy task.
Hire Ray Mears. Presto. If he's dead by then, there may well be surviving
books or TV programmes from him or others like him, or for that matter the
Global Discovery Channel may well have people like him making tri-D videos
of the same kind.

Jasper
septithol
2007-01-17 18:13:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@yahoo.com
Well... one of the problems with living the easy, nutritious
hunter/gather lifestyle is that you actually have to eat what
hunter/gatherers eat. And, while it may be possible to acquire a
week's worth of protein in a few hours by gathering dead dried
grasshoppers off a particular lakeshore at a certain time of year,
it's a lot harder for modern civilized people to _eat_ a week's worth
of protein in grasshopper form. Or lichens, fir needles, or goosefoot
seeds. It's a big shift in what you consider edible.
I can't conceive that anyone sane would rather adopt a lifestyle
requiring them to push a plow 14 hours a day and die early of
malnutrition than deprogram theirselves of their personal food
prejudices.

I also can't conceive that a tribe composed of people who pushed a plow
14 hours a day would exist for very long, since the tribe of people
eating grasshoppers over in the next valley would have a hell of a lot
more time on their hands to do other things like oh, say, forging
weapons, and their most skilled warriors would be, on average, several
inches taller, from not having suffered from vitamin deficiencies
throughout their childhood.

As for the area being 'trashed' by industrial society, that 'trashing'
ceased the moment 99% of the population died off right after the
Change. And there is actually a great deal of game and edible plants to
be found even in a pre-change city, if you know where to look and what
to look for. For instance, partial list of edible plants I know off
hand to be found within a mile of my house: Apples, pears, mulberries,
raspberries, strawberries, cherries, butternuts, hickory nuts, acorns,
clover, dandelions, puffballs, morels, burdock, wood sorrel,
crabapples, ground nuts, plantain, wild mustard, chicory, Jerusalem
artichoke, ground cherries.

And THAT is plants growing only in empty lots and ditches, and off the
top of my head. If I checked my reference books or included plants from
people's gardens, there would be a hell of a lot more.
Michael S. Schiffer
2007-01-17 20:23:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
I can't conceive that anyone sane would rather adopt a lifestyle
requiring them to push a plow 14 hours a day and die early of
malnutrition than deprogram theirselves of their personal food
prejudices.
I also can't conceive that a tribe composed of people who pushed
a plow 14 hours a day would exist for very long, since the
tribe of people eating grasshoppers over in the next valley
would have a hell of a lot more time on their hands to do other
things like oh, say, forging weapons, and their most skilled
warriors would be, on average, several inches taller, from not
having suffered from vitamin deficiencies throughout their
childhood.
...
Consider the relative fortunes of agricultural vs. hunter-gatherer
societies over the last 10,000 years or so. The hunter-gatherers
may be healthier individually, due to their more varied diet and
(due to their lower population densities) decreased exposure to
endemic and epidemic disease. (And to the fact that people who
aren't healthy are likely to rapidly become dead; there are niches
for the blind or the lame in some agricultural societies-- cf. Homer
and Tiresias-- but supporting more than a very few, if any, is going
to be beyond a hunter-gatherer band.) But agriculture produces a
lot more calories in a given space, and also lends itself to staying
in one place to store them, which supports larger population
densities and more opportunities for division of labor.
Agricultural surpluses can be used to support specialized soldiers,
smiths, etc. that hunter-gatherer cultures tend not to have (or to
have to the same extent), which becomes a disadvantage for the
latter if they have something the agriculturists want.

That said, the world's a big place, and after a massive die-off
there are probably a lot of places for hunter-gatherers to withdraw
to for quite a while as the agriculturists expand. Long term,
though, most people are likely to be agriculturists regardless of
the size of the founder populations (due to those greater available
calories per acre), unless the Change gives hunting and gathering an
advantage that it didn't have the first time around.

Mike
--
Michael S. Schiffer, LHN, FCS
***@condor.depaul.edu
p***@yahoo.com
2007-01-17 21:04:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
As for the area being 'trashed' by industrial society, that 'trashing'
ceased the moment 99% of the population died off right after the
Change. And there is actually a great deal of game and edible plants to
be found even in a pre-change city, if you know where to look and what
to look for. For instance, partial list of edible plants I know off
hand to be found within a mile of my house: Apples, pears, mulberries,
raspberries, strawberries, cherries, butternuts, hickory nuts, acorns,
clover, dandelions, puffballs, morels, burdock, wood sorrel,
crabapples, ground nuts, plantain, wild mustard, chicory, Jerusalem
artichoke, ground cherries.
And THAT is plants growing only in empty lots and ditches, and off the
top of my head. If I checked my reference books or included plants from
people's gardens, there would be a hell of a lot more.
Ok... how many people do you estimate can live off the food sources
you just named? And, when is that all growing... spring, summer,
fall, at the same time or different times? And, is that going to be
a balanced diet? (There's a reason h/gs eat some of the more esoteric
plants that they do. Fir needle tea is an excellent source of vitamin
C, for example, even though it does apparently taste a lot like pine
trees smell.) And are your h/gs (who have, remember, not grown up
with this lifestyle) going to know what they need to store for winter,
how to store it, and where they need to be when in order to gather
what they need? I will also point off that, if you are relying on
things growing in people's gardens, it's probably going to make the
group want to settle down and farm more than it's going to make them
think that h/g is a good option.

Plus, as many people will point out to you, the advantage that the
farmers have over the h/gs is that there are going to be more of them.
They may not be as healthy, but there will be more, and they will be
settled, which means that your h/g tribe is going to find some of
their prime gathering grounds being turned into farm land.

Rebecca
--
I've moved!
Formerly ***@thevine.net
Jasper Janssen
2007-01-19 00:11:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
I can't conceive that anyone sane would rather adopt a lifestyle
requiring them to push a plow 14 hours a day and die early of
malnutrition than deprogram theirselves of their personal food
prejudices.
I also can't conceive that a tribe composed of people who pushed a plow
14 hours a day would exist for very long, since the tribe of people
eating grasshoppers over in the next valley would have a hell of a lot
more time on their hands to do other things like oh, say, forging
weapons, and their most skilled warriors would be, on average, several
inches taller, from not having suffered from vitamin deficiencies
throughout their childhood.
Ah, *that*'s why nearly every tribe that came into contact with farming
started doing so, (at least *after* they invaded as barbarians), rather
than the hunter-gatherer thing. For that matter, most of the latter day
invading barbarians were herdsmen, which isn't fully on the
hunter-gatherer side of the equation either.

Jasper
Kurt Busiek
2007-01-19 00:22:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jasper Janssen
Post by septithol
I can't conceive that anyone sane would rather adopt a lifestyle
requiring them to push a plow 14 hours a day and die early of
malnutrition than deprogram theirselves of their personal food
prejudices.
I also can't conceive that a tribe composed of people who pushed a plow
14 hours a day would exist for very long, since the tribe of people
eating grasshoppers over in the next valley would have a hell of a lot
more time on their hands to do other things like oh, say, forging
weapons, and their most skilled warriors would be, on average, several
inches taller, from not having suffered from vitamin deficiencies
throughout their childhood.
Ah, *that*'s why nearly every tribe that came into contact with farming
started doing so, (at least *after* they invaded as barbarians), rather
than the hunter-gatherer thing. For that matter, most of the latter day
invading barbarians were herdsmen, which isn't fully on the
hunter-gatherer side of the equation either.
Isn't the tribe in the other valley spending all their time chasing
grasshoppers anyway, since it's a time-intensive way to feed yourself,
while the plow-pushers can have one segment of their tribe raise food
for the whole bunch, leaving people free to make weapons and train?

And when the armed, trained weapons-bearers aren't fending off starving
grasshopper-chasers, they can go out and bring down larger animals to
eat, dividing labor, improving their diet and strengthening the tribe...

kdb
Jasper Janssen
2007-01-19 15:57:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kurt Busiek
Post by Jasper Janssen
Ah, *that*'s why nearly every tribe that came into contact with farming
started doing so, (at least *after* they invaded as barbarians), rather
than the hunter-gatherer thing. For that matter, most of the latter day
invading barbarians were herdsmen, which isn't fully on the
hunter-gatherer side of the equation either.
Isn't the tribe in the other valley spending all their time chasing
grasshoppers anyway, since it's a time-intensive way to feed yourself,
while the plow-pushers can have one segment of their tribe raise food
for the whole bunch, leaving people free to make weapons and train?
Don't forget that the farming tribe lives in a small, well-defended and
easily-defensible valley, while the hunter-gatherers roam across the
entire plains without fixed defenses or natural defenses. Great for
offense, not so hot for defense.


Jasper
Jason Maxwell
2007-01-16 04:59:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
Post by Jason Maxwell
Arminger has made slave-powered elevator by the end of the 3rd book.
Arminger is a very interesting case. On the one hand, his actions have
probably actually saved a lot of people's lives, and also a number of
valuable works of art and other pre-change cultural accomplishments.
On the other hand, he is a complete IDIOT. Why make a 'slave powered
elevator' and un-necessarily make enemies when you can run pigs in a
circle to pump water, and make a hydraulic powered elevator? And when
your elevator is not in use, the hydraulic power can be used for other
things.
Yes, well, Arminger being an idiot is in character for him. All through the
trilogy he's brought down by his blind spots. It's his wife that's the true
dangerous one.

Jason
Jasper Janssen
2007-01-18 14:34:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
Anyway, the people in the book are not doing enough by looking for
loopholes in the Change. For instance, they ought to be emulating the
Krakowski Brothers in the Crosstime Engineer series, and putting pigs
inside giant 'hamster wheels' to power equipment. A pig is a REALLY
strong animal for it's size, all that meat on it is muscle. And unlike
water and wind power, you aren't dependent on location or weather for
pig-power. You could probably do quite a lot with enough pigs and
hamster wheels hooked up to something powered by hydraulics.
Funny how the OTL equivalents invariably used donkeys, horses, oxen, or
the like, rather than pigs.

Jasper
Keith F. Lynch
2007-01-20 22:18:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
A *malevolent* universe is not one where you don't UNDERSTAND the
rules, it is one where the rules constantly switch, depending on
what would be inconvenient for you. Take steam, for instance. In
a universe which is rational, but which you don't understand, you
don't know why geysers appear in certain areas but not others, why
they explode so violently, etc. Etc. When you learn to understand
the universe better, you learn about the nature of geysers. In a
*malevolent* universe, however, you can observe the built up of
steam in a geyser. You may even observe this steam moving objects,
say a tree trunk which happened to fall, at random, on top of the
geyser. You may observe it moving more than one object, say two
trees, or trees and boulder. The boulder may even be metal, if it
is a meteorite.
Then, if you put a wood shaft onto the tree or boulder, to try
and harness the steam from the geyser to operate, say, a saw....
suddenly and inexplicably the steam pressure goes POOF! For no
better reason than that it's existence suddenly becomes convenient
to you.
You're misrepresenting Stirling's novels. The new rules are
self-consistent, apply everywhere on or near the Earth's surface, and
don't depend on whether people are nearby or on what would or would
not be useful or convenient for people.
--
Keith F. Lynch - http://keithlynch.net/
Please see http://keithlynch.net/email.html before emailing me.
Keith F. Lynch
2007-01-10 03:42:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
Post by septithol
Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground.
Yes, Stirling has explictly said exactly that.
Post by Wayne Throop
Why not "affect electricity in metals" but not elsewhere?
He has said "in solids," so as to allow nerves to continue to work.
Then I annoyed him by describing how to build radio transmitters and
recievers all of whose conductors are liquid.

If I had more time, I'd be tempted to build one, if I had more money.
--
Keith F. Lynch - http://keithlynch.net/
Please see http://keithlynch.net/email.html before emailing me.
septithol
2007-01-10 08:20:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Keith F. Lynch
He has said "in solids," so as to allow nerves to continue to work.
Then I annoyed him by describing how to build radio transmitters and
recievers all of whose conductors are liquid.
Well, if you are going to be a *good* writer, you need to have a
universe which is logically *consistent*. The laws of physics in your
fictional universe can be vastly different from ours, indeed, they can
even vary depending on the sentience and motivations of the (fictional)
characters in question, however they cannot shift constantly based on
whatever would be most inconvenient at the time.

Case in point, let us hypothetically say that the laws of physics in
Sterling's universe have shifted in such a way that electricity and
explosives will not function in the presence of any sentient human
beings within a certain radius. This would account for much of what is
going on; however, you would then ALSO expect the author to give a hint
of this by there being certain documented instances of storage tanks
full of propane exploding in abandoned cities, when hit by lightning or
something.
Kevrob
2007-01-10 10:35:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
Post by Keith F. Lynch
He has said "in solids," so as to allow nerves to continue to work.
Then I annoyed him by describing how to build radio transmitters and
recievers all of whose conductors are liquid.
Well, if you are going to be a *good* writer, you need to have a
universe which is logically *consistent*. The laws of physics in your
fictional universe can be vastly different from ours, indeed, they can
even vary depending on the sentience and motivations of the (fictional)
characters in question, however they cannot shift constantly based on
whatever would be most inconvenient at the time.
Case in point, let us hypothetically say that the laws of physics in
Sterling's universe have shifted in such a way that electricity and
explosives will not function in the presence of any sentient human
beings within a certain radius. This would account for much of what is
going on; however, you would then ALSO expect the author to give a hint
of this by there being certain documented instances of storage tanks
full of propane exploding in abandoned cities, when hit by lightning or
something.
One trick SMS could use should some clever post-Change genius find a
workaround for the new limits the ASBs have engineered, would be an
"operating system update" that thwarts whatever innovation threatens to
allow the reintroduction of industrial-revolution civilization. An
explanation that makes a Change V. 1.5 unnecessary would be more
elegant, but as the survivors leave the old high-tech world farther and
farther in the past, the likelihood of their descendants having the
theoretical breadth of knowledge to explicate a more robust theory
seems unlikely. Minor spoiler alert:

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The fourth Emberverse book jumps ahead in time. Stirling has sample
chapters up on his site. http://www.smstirling.com/ Think I'll check
`em out.

Kevin
septithol
2007-01-10 12:36:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kevrob
One trick SMS could use should some clever post-Change genius find a
workaround for the new limits the ASBs have engineered, would be an
"operating system update" that thwarts whatever innovation threatens to
allow the reintroduction of industrial-revolution civilization. An
explanation that makes a Change V. 1.5 unnecessary would be more
elegant, but as the survivors leave the old high-tech world farther and
farther in the past, the likelihood of their descendants having the
theoretical breadth of knowledge to explicate a more robust theory
seems unlikely.
I think something else that Stirling hasn't dealt with, is that
existing in an *irrational/malevolent* universe is that in the long
run, it's going to be selecting for *irrational/malevolent* people.
There is simply no way around that fact. He has not created *Earth
forced back the Middle Ages*, he has created a live-in insane asylum,
in which there are two seperate laws of physics, in which X natural
process will work the same anywhere and everywhere EXCEPT,
inexplicably, when X process would happen to be useful to people, at
which point it mysteriously ceases to work, despite the fact that it is
the same identical process.

The scenario of third generation of post-change humans going on
Crusades is *extremely* optimistic. Because by the hundredth
generation, the majority of your population is going to be people who
make the Son of Sam (who was told by Satan in the form of his
neighbor's dog to go out and kill people) look friendly and normal. To
claim this won't happen is like claiming that cave fish won't lose
their eyes after a sufficient number of generations. A trait that isn't
useful is lost, and in an irrational/malevolent universe, sanity and
rationality are not only of no further use, but probably detriments.
Peter D. Tillman
2007-01-10 17:51:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kevrob
The fourth Emberverse book jumps ahead in time. Stirling has sample
chapters up on his site. http://www.smstirling.com/ Think I'll check
`em out.
Huh. Here I thought he was done. He sure as hell ran out of fresh
material back in Book #2, imo.

Cheers -- Pete Tillman
Keith F. Lynch
2007-01-20 22:45:28 UTC
Permalink
Huh. Here I thought he was done. He sure as hell ran out of fresh
material back in Book #2, imo.
I'd like to see him jump ahead a few centuries. What are the
theoretical limits to technology under the new rules? He has said the
Change only applies near Earth. Is space launch utterly impossible
under the new rules? If not, then our remote descendents can resume
progress under the old rules once they reach space.

If electricity still works in liquids under the new rules -- and if
it doesn't, how do nerves and neurons still work? -- it ought to be
possible to build liquid-state electronics.
--
Keith F. Lynch - http://keithlynch.net/
Please see http://keithlynch.net/email.html before emailing me.
James Gassaway
2007-01-21 03:35:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Keith F. Lynch
Huh. Here I thought he was done. He sure as hell ran out of fresh
material back in Book #2, imo.
I'd like to see him jump ahead a few centuries. What are the
theoretical limits to technology under the new rules? He has said the
Change only applies near Earth. Is space launch utterly impossible
under the new rules? If not, then our remote descendents can resume
progress under the old rules once they reach space.
If electricity still works in liquids under the new rules -- and if
it doesn't, how do nerves and neurons still work? -- it ought to be
possible to build liquid-state electronics.
Electricity in liquids works. As long as its generated organically and not
intended for use by humans. :P
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own."
"Now, quack, damn you!"
Keith F. Lynch
2007-01-21 19:28:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Gassaway
Electricity in liquids works. As long as its generated organically
and not intended for use by humans. :P
Nothing in the books, or in anything the author has said elsewhere,
implies that the rules change depending on what's convenient or useful
for people. There was a single Change, which applied to all of the
Earth's surface and at least as far above or below it as post-Change
people are able to get. The post-Change rules, like the pre-Change
rules, are self-consistent and don't vary with time (excluding the
single pre-Change post-Change instant), place (as long as it's on or
near the Earth's surface), or usefulness.
--
Keith F. Lynch - http://keithlynch.net/
Please see http://keithlynch.net/email.html before emailing me.
m***@hotmail.com
2007-01-25 06:43:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Keith F. Lynch
Post by septithol
Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground.Yes, Stirling has explictly said exactly that.
Why not "affect electricity in metals" but not elsewhere?He has said "in solids," so as to allow nerves to continue to work.
Then I annoyed him by describing how to build radio transmitters and
recievers all of whose conductors are liquid.
While such a thing it is possible, it would likely be very
expensive.


Michael
Keith F. Lynch
2007-01-28 20:25:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by m***@hotmail.com
Post by Keith F. Lynch
Then I annoyed him by describing how to build radio transmitters
and recievers all of whose conductors are liquid.
While such a thing it is possible, it would likely be very
expensive.
Certainly. I wasn't suggesting that it would be a consumer appliance
any time soon. But within 20 years after the Change, there ought to
be a handful of them for military use.
--
Keith F. Lynch - http://keithlynch.net/
Please see http://keithlynch.net/email.html before emailing me.
m***@hotmail.com
2007-01-29 03:00:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Keith F. Lynch
Post by m***@hotmail.com
Post by Keith F. Lynch
Then I annoyed him by describing how to build radio transmitters
and recievers all of whose conductors are liquid.
While such a thing it is possible, it would likely be very
expensive.
Certainly. I wasn't suggesting that it would be a consumer appliance
any time soon. But within 20 years after the Change, there ought to
be a handful of them for military use.
--
Keith F. Lynch -http://keithlynch.net/
Please seehttp://keithlynch.net/email.htmlbefore emailing me.
So how would you build a radio transmitter or receiver which all of
the conductors are liquid?


Michael
Wayne Throop
2007-01-29 03:40:25 UTC
Permalink
: ***@hotmail.com
: So how would you build a radio transmitter or receiver which all of
: the conductors are liquid?

Invent the bendy straw. Or of course, since this is post-poxy-clipse,
raid hospitals for surgical tubing.

Or, ignoring some of the problems with things like coils or capacitors,
carve the circuit as grooves in a non-conductive surface, and fill
with salt water or whatnot. Optionally put a lidon. Bob is now your uncle.

Do you have specific sticking points in mind that these methods wouldn't solve?


Wayne Throop ***@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw
Keith F. Lynch
2007-02-03 21:55:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by m***@hotmail.com
Post by Keith F. Lynch
Post by m***@hotmail.com
Post by Keith F. Lynch
Then I annoyed him by describing how to build radio transmitters
and recievers all of whose conductors are liquid.
While such a thing it is possible, it would likely be very
expensive.
Certainly. I wasn't suggesting that it would be a consumer
appliance any time soon. But within 20 years after the Change,
there ought to be a handful of them for military use.
So how would you build a radio transmitter or receiver which all of
the conductors are liquid?
Conductors, inductors, capacitors, and resistors are easy. Use
plastic tubing containing salt water. Make it long and narrow for a
resistor. Coil it for an inductor. Use a basin divided by a sheet of
gold foil dielectric as a capacitor. (Gold because it can be hammered
extremely thin. It is, of course, an excellent *insulator* in
Stirling's post-Change world.)

To generate the electricity, use an ordinary generator with the copper
wire windings replaced with more salt water tubing.

The hard parts are the active elements. What do you use in place of
vacuum tubes or transistors?

You could build a liquid transistor using an alkaline solution for
the N parts and an acid solution for the P parts, or vice versa. Of
course the fluids would have to be constantly replenished, lest they
mix together. I'm envisioning a tiny sponge, constantly dripping,
being fed by three eyedroppers.

You can get post-Change alkali from wood ashes, and post-Change acid
from animal stomachs.

If I had a year with nothing better to do, I'd build one.

My qualifications: As a teenager, I got an FCC Radiotelephone First
Class license and an Amateur Extra Class license, the highest level of
professional and amateur radio licenses. And I've learned a lot more
about radio, electronics, and physics since then.
--
Keith F. Lynch - http://keithlynch.net/
Please see http://keithlynch.net/email.html before emailing me.
Wayne Throop
2007-02-03 22:02:56 UTC
Permalink
: "Keith F. Lynch" <***@KeithLynch.net>
: You could build a liquid transistor using an alkaline solution for
: the N parts and an acid solution for the P parts, or vice versa. Of
: course the fluids would have to be constantly replenished, lest they
: mix together. I'm envisioning a tiny sponge, constantly dripping,
: being fed by three eyedroppers.

Would that really give you a transistor?
Or just a junction with some odd voltage gradients?


Wayne Throop ***@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw
Keith F. Lynch
2007-02-03 22:23:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Throop
Post by Keith F. Lynch
You could build a liquid transistor using an alkaline solution for
the N parts and an acid solution for the P parts, or vice versa.
Of course the fluids would have to be constantly replenished, lest
they mix together. I'm envisioning a tiny sponge, constantly
dripping, being fed by three eyedroppers.
Would that really give you a transistor?
Or just a junction with some odd voltage gradients?
There's only one way to find out.

If it doesn't work, there are alternatives. There was radio before
there were vacuum tubes or transistors. Post-Change, you could build
a "crystal" radio receiver using a semi-permeable membrane as a diode.
And you could build a spark or arc transmitter.

For that matter, you *could* have vacuum tubes, though you'd need
to keep a powerful vacuum pump running to keep the water vapor from
spoiling the vacuum. The cathode would consist of a tiny spray
nozzle. The spray would immediately evaporate and you'd be left with
sodium and chloride ions in a near-vacuum. Instead of a grid, use an
powerful electromagnet. Each tube would have two anodes, consisting
of pools of liquid at the bottom of the tube. Ideally you'd use some
polar liquid with a lower vapor pressure than water for the latter,
and you'd keep the tubes *cold*, not hot. (Stirling has confirmed
that refrigerators still work Post-Change. And even if they don't,
you can collect ice in the winter and save it through the summer.)

This tube has more in common with a TV picture tube crossed with a
car's carburator by way of a cavity magnetron from a microwave oven
than with anything Fleming or Lee De Forest ever dreamed up, but I
think it just might work.
--
Keith F. Lynch - http://keithlynch.net/
Please see http://keithlynch.net/email.html before emailing me.
m***@hotmail.com
2007-01-25 06:38:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by septithol
A question has occured to me about SM Stirling's change Trilogy.
According to the books, elctricity beyond a certain magnitude (that
necessary for nervous impulses in living creatures) no longer works,
having been magically abolished by the 'Space Bats'.
Question about that: Is there still lightning during storms? If so, how
can there be. If not, this is going to have quite an effect on the
Earth's ecology.
Another question about that: Is the Earth still generating a magnetic
feild? If so, how can it be? If not, why hasn't everyone died of
radiation poisoning due to it being absent and no longer protecting us
from large quantities of radiation?
Only thing I can think of to explain it, if both lightning and the
Earth's magnetic feild still exist, is that whatever has made the
electricity go bye-bye does not affect electricity above a certain
height in the sky, or below a certain depth in the ground. In which
case I would expect some groups in the book to attempt bringing
generators on board gondolas, or down the biggest holes and valleys
they can find.
In the book _The Protector's War_, Kenneth Larson speculated that
there is an upper limit to electrical voltages in SOLIDS.

Liquids still conduct electricity normally.


Michael
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