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About Wilbur

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  1. One other ironic thought about the Wallace Corporation is that they are really succeeding beyond their expectations in creating sentient beings with self-determination. Both their replicants (eg. K) and their software (eg. Joi) are so fully realized that they rebel against their creator's paradigms and compliance requirements to take their own paths to freedom. Like teenagers exploring their boundaries through rebellious acts, K and Joi both go off the predestinate rails that the Wallace Corporation has laid down for them. My wife reckoned they were like long-time Calvinists suddenly experiencing existentialism at a Wesleyan revival and choosing their own adventure. So while Wallace may not know the ultimate secret to replicant reproductive techniques, and while he may personally be a repellent weirdo in need of a shave and a haircut, he is hell on wheels at making some complex, intelligent artificial organisms. Ten points for style there. Also, I loved the William Gibson Neuromancer-like microsofts that Wallace jacked into his socket to operate his fleet of micro-drones.
  2. We went to the local second-run theater and watched it again, and on the way home we were discussing the historical allegory of the Tyrell / Wallace corporations. The Tyrell corporation created a product (replicants) that turned out to be perceived as negative for society, and is closed by government regulators and goes bankrupt. The Wallace corporation lobbies the government to re-open the replicant market, and proceeds to create larger profits and even greater societal upheaval with their efforts. In the last decade, the banks created a huge economic trap and fell into it themselves (through rehypothecation, mortgage-backed securities, owning rating agencies that rated bad loans as good, front-running the market, etc.), causing a world-wide economic collapse. The government steps in, but because of the regulatory capture of the government compliance institutions, the end result is even larger banks, with even larger liabilities, and even more socialization of risks and privatization of profits while providing even less access to capital for economically productive businesses. My daughter pointed out that the Wallace Corp following the Tyrell Corp is like Julius Caesar following Marius; JC's appeal to the masses was EVEN MORE dangerous to the Roman Republic than was the Marians' previous brand of populism. Also, I noticed for the first time that the garbage-scow ships dropping Los Angeles' garbage onto San Diego (ha! HA!) were straight out of the movie Soldiers. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120157/mediaviewer/rm4180095232
  3. William Gibson has an early quote, "The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed." I think that this is an overriding theme in cyberpunk, society's and individuals' reaction to the onset of rapidly-changing technology. I first understood this in a concrete way when Motorola started fulfilling contracts to build base stations in various African countries and launching the Iridium satellites. These technologies allowed us to provide people who never had a landline telephone, nor would they ever have been able to afford the infrastructure to obtain such a thing, with hand-held phones that required nothing more than a hand-crank generator to access the internet. And so in the late 90s you would see people all around the world as we traveled around - in Asia, Africa, South America, Eastern Europe - individuals who didn't own a second pair of pants using a mobile phone to read the news or chat with their friends. People were "jacking in" without the need for electrodes. In the 2000s, the wildest fantasies of the cyberpunk authors had all come true. Wall Street finally achieved full regulatory capture of the SEC, and crony capitalism and all its ills destroyed the "widows and orphans" instruments like Chrysler bonds, for instance. The craven reactions to Islamic terrorism such as the TSA turned the Bill of Rights into so much toilet paper. The middle class embraced political decisions that were obviously against their own self-interest, driven by a constant drumbeat of nonsense from both political parties. Corporations accelerated their abuse of the H1-B visa system to comprehensively wipe out an entire generation of American white-collar workers. The "gig economy" turned back 100 years of labor rights won by the early union reforms. "The Sprawl" had come to life, if not exactly as Gibson had written it, at least in all its spiritual reality. The need for more cyberpunk had approached zero - we didn't need warning of what was already here.
  4. This is so very true.
  5. Sandkings! The accelerated evolution of religions! Killing off your reluctant paramour! Raising exotic pets! Mysterious interstellar vendors of arcane items! Body horror! Social climbing! Interior design as envisioned by vengeful ants! This story has it all.
  6. Memorable or relatable or differentiated characters don't seem to be Larry Niven's strong point in the books I have read. He has many interesting ideas, and he can put together a neat plot that covers those ideas, but for me, his characters are replaceable cardboard cut-outs.
  7. If you enjoyed the Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold, you might also consider trying either of Elizabeth Moon's series of military / economic space opera. They feature strong, well-written female protagonists, space battles, warring economic systems and hegemonies, and some light romance. Politics, inherited titles, failing institutions, and weird galactic religions lead to space scandal and instability and war in the Familias Regnant stories. Poorly-controlled wormhole transportation systems, loopholes in interstellar communications protocols, and cut-throat economic competition feature in the Vatta's War stories.
  8. I totally agree on Vernor Vinge - those books are really outstanding. I also recommend: Walter Jon Williams' Dread Empire's Fall for some nifty economic / military / political plot lines, as well as a pair of fairly realistic and well-written protagonists who are grey characters. Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn Trilogy has it all - transformative, post-human technology, multiple human settlements across the galaxy, a scientific return from the dead of many human souls, etc. I also recommend his stand-alone work, Fallen Dragon, which I think of as a primer to all his other work.
  9. She certainly is active, which is nice for an author, and her work process and product seems to be a thing she enjoys, which is good to hear. Stories about authors for whom the driving force of their writing is circumstance always make me sad, such as Raymond Feist.
  10. He really was outstanding as a narrator for the first three ASOIAF audiobooks.
  11. And some recommendation threads: and
  12. Thank you, Wert! I am surprised to see that Wert's list of non-Wildcard, non-ASOIAF fiction, not appearing in Dreamsongs is so short. In fact, I believe that I have read everything on that list from 1972 up to the Wildcards stuff. The only exception is Patrick Henry, Jupiter, and The Little Red Brick Spaceship, which I have never previously heard of before. This list reminds me of this hilariously-true video:
  13. Given the issues with obtaining the publishing rights to everything GRRM ever wrote, this would be quite a substantial undertaking. Remember that in the 1970s, for instance, everything was done on paper. Texts were submitted to ten or twenty different outlets, agreements and contracts drawn up on paper, the final edition printed on paper. Then in the consolidation of publishers and computerization of the industry in the 1990s, lots and lots of paper got lost / discarded / purposely destroyed. Knowing what was the final edit of a story, and who owns the rights to the story, is not necessarily a straightforward act. Furthermore, consider the size of the task of collecting and editing it. I draw your attention to the Vance Integral Edition, which according to the linked wikipedia article took 300 volunteers almost eight years to complete, and resulted in 45 hardback volumes. Now GRRM isn't quite Jack Vance, but his output isn't negligible, either. The VIE was a labor of love from a community that treasured Vance, and there is no way the VIE was profitable. Who will take on this task for GRRM?
  14. The Dreamsongs audio book has George as the narrator for the interstitial remarks, and I found his style to be very satisfying when combined with his personal remarks. Well worth the effort to get your hands (and ears) on. A few of the stories in the collection were ones that appeared in magazines or anthologies, so I had read them before outside the context of his other work. However, when you read his work in a comprehensive or combined grouping like this one, his philosophy really comes into focus. And once you have read and understood his philosophy, understanding his approach to ASOIAF becomes much, much easier. Ideas such as, "The White Walkers are the One True Evil" become much less believable.
  15. I didn't think so either until I read that The Pale Child Bakkalon, the god of the Steel Angels from The Thousands Worlds was re-created in the House of Black and White over in Braavos. This realization led me to this article, where the author points out that ASOIAF is basically re-creating the GRRM-tropes and themes of And Seven Times Never Kill Man. https://cantuse.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/influences-on-asoiaf-and-seven-times-never-kill-man/ I don't see any strong, form-criticism-based reason why ASOIAF can't exist in the universe of The Thousand Worlds. Personally, I hope that in the final book, Tuf shows up. And that he has cloned himself, and that clone is Varys. Now THAT would really blow some readers' minds.