Originally posted by: utzoo!decvax!ucbvax!sf-lovers
Posted: Wed Dec 15 04:45:18 1982
Received: Fri Dec 17 01:30:00 1982
>From SFL@SRI-CSL Mon Dec 13 02:41:19 1982
Reply-To: SF-LOVERS at SRI-CSL
SF-LOVERS Digest Saturday, 11 Dec 1982 Volume 6 : Issue 103
Books/Stories - Vinge True Names and Anderson's The Saturn Game,
Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun, Varley's work
and why are Titan/Wizard tiresome?
Themes - Shrinking, reality alternation
Misc - SF media, decompression, Hitch-Hiker's Guide
to the Net (part 1)
T.V. - Star Trek
Date: 10-Dec-82 15:24:21 PST (Friday)
From: Pettit at PARC-MAXC
Subject: True Names and The Saturn Game
In regard to csin!cjh at CCA-UNIX's statement in V6#99, "I happen to
think that 'True Names' was better than the winner, Anderson's 'The
Saturn Game'; that may reflect my dislike of tSG's subject":
What does csin!cjh see as "tSG's subject"? It seems to me that "True
Names" and "The Saturn Game" had very nearly the SAME subject, to wit,
an extension of the Fantasy Role Playing idea to where the fantasy
world actually feels real to the player (or at least as real as a
dream does to the dreamer). In True Names, the fantasy world was the
way a human experienced direct neural IO linkage with a computer; in
"The Saturn Game" it was the result of genetic and other enhancements
to the imaginative capabilities of people sent on long space missions.
Both stories played off the advantages of this enhanced experience
against the dangers of being unable to respond properly to the real
world while living in the fantasy one. This conflict was the major
theme of "The Saturn Game"; it was a minor one in "True Names", whose
main theme was the implications of machine/human symbiosis.
I too preferred "True Names" to "The Saturn Game", though I liked them
both a lot. My preference is partly because I'm a programmer (not an
astronaut or geologist), and Vinge did a very good job of
capturing/extrapolating the culture of the programmer. I think Vinge
also did a better job than Anderson at capturing the flavor of the FRP
culture, and he was even quite good at representing the police-officer
mentality. The characterization in "The Saturn Game" was weaker. But
my main objection to "The Saturn Game" was that I could never really
suspend my disbelief in the notion that a fantasized ice castle
setting would have more emotional pull than the actual experience of
walking about on Saturn's moon, no matter how altered the imaginations
of the explorers were. In "True Names", the programmers were seated
in consoles, with almost all their sensory input coming from the
computer (near the end, it becomes a sensory overload, in fact), so it
is much easier to believe that the fantasy world could become real
than when it is an entirely internal construct competing with the
astounding and demanding real experience of exploring a beautiful and
dangerous new world.
Anderson probably won the Hugo not for the main theme of his work, but
for the subplot of clever people in dire straits figuring out an
ingenious way to rescue themselves. This plot has been a sure winner
for SF short stories and novelettes ever since Asimov's first
published story, "Marooned Off Vesta". In the same vein, I can recall
a story about a couple "walking" a bubble-tent back to a moon base
after a picnic in the nude, and getting a bad sunburn in the process.
I don't remember the name or author. And one of Varley's stories with
the clinging-mirror-spacesuits had a similar subplot ("Retrograde
Summer", I think it was). How many others can you think of?
-- Teri Pettit at Xerox OSD
Date: 9 Dec 82 22:11-PST
From: mclure at SRI-UNIX
Subject: Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun
I have now twice read the first volume (THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER) in
a vain attempt to convince myself that it is the beginning of an
earth-shaking effort or "the best SF I've read all year (Le Guin)".
It would appear to be the beginning of just another quest story and
having just finished LORD OF THE RINGS for the first time, I don't
think I can handle yet another of these. Could someone out there who
has read the entire tetralogy and admires it please explain what
he/she thinks is so marvelous about it? Mike "the Monk" Urban, are
you listening? I'll admit that Wolfe handles his language better than
most SF authors I've read but the story itself seems extremely drawn
out and the characters don't catch my fancy. Maybe it's just that I
don't much care for sword and sorcery and quests.
Date: 10 Dec 1982 13:34-PST
Fritz Leiber's "The Swords of Lankhmar" has Fahfrd (or the Grey
Mouser?) shrink down to rat size. The extra mass was shed at the
time of shrinking, leaving a pool of pinkish tissue. When the effect
wore off the hero absorbed mass from surrounding objects, with amusing
Date: 10 Dec 1982 1:52:07 CST (Friday)
From: Mike Meyer
Subject: short dump
~= FtG claimed that "SF is the last refuge of the MCP" or some such
(oh, for a real mailer...). I remember seeing somewhere tht SF had the
HIGHEST imply that you would have trouble as a writer. Just look at
Alice Sheldon in all her avatars.
Finally, the Grand Master himself tends to make his female characters
much more intelligent/competent/etc. than his male characters I have
lots to say about the womens movement & ERA, but this isn't the place.
FtG (whoever s/he is) can contact me personally if she wants to hear
Paul Fuqua mentioned changing reality via massed believe. He failed
to mention a GOOD story that uses this idea, and a mediocre
The story is the Amber series by Zelazny, wherein the inhabits of the
`base reality,' Amber, can move at will from one `reality,' or shadow,
by moving, and thinking about what the want the universe to be like.
Good stuff - when Good stuff - but I like reality-warping stories
(probably has something to do with having a warped view or reality...)
The mediocre novel is `The Lathe of Heaven,' by LeGuin. The writing is
up to LeGuin's usuall standard, but the solution is obvious from very
early in the thing.
Almost forgot - Laumer has something using a concept similar to the
Amber trick in `The World Shuffler,' and it's sequel, `The Time
Bender.' This is Laumer with his tongue in his cheek, and I enjoyed it
as much as I do the Retief stories.
Since short stories have been introduced in the time travel topic, I
have to mention the classics:
`All You Zombies' has the most convoluted plot knot of anything I have
ever read. For example, our hero is her own mother and father, and he
inroduced himself to herself.
`By His Bootstraps' is another tale wherein the protagonist meets
himself coming, going, and trying to stop himself from going. This is
also mind-warping stuff.
Both by Heinlein (The Grand Master).
Subject: Science Fiction Media
I noticed something in a non-big-three media that might be of
Namely, the discussion in SFL shows an interesting warp. Movies and TV
both have a high concentration of discussion in a small area. Movies
tends to stick be almost entirley Dr. Who/Star Trek, with some
comments on other things. [Of course, there's no mention of my
favorite - Lost In Space - the best sitcom of the bunch.]
Books, on the other hand, tend to wander all over the landscape.
Occasionally, some particular topic will generate a lot of verbiage,
but not to the degree that SW dominates movies.