Happy Ent

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About Happy Ent

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    Godfather of the Weirwoods
  • Birthday 07/01/1968

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  1. I have to admit that I’m still confused about the Anubis, Canterbury, Donnager, etc. What happened in which order? Which faction did what, when, and for which purpose? It’s a relatively complicated set of events (with deliberate obfuscation thrown in by some of the factions), but when I read the books, I felt no confusion. I just let the well-told story unfold, discovering connections when I was supposed to discover them. Seeing the show now, some years later, leaves me more confused. I am actually unable to explain the chain of events today! (I feel frustration about that.) But I was able to after reading the books. (I felt no frustration then and just enjoyed being along on a good yarn.) This can’t be a good sign. —— Another missed opportunity: Sense of place. The great thing about the Expanse universe is that it gets place right. Things actually happen somewhere, and these somewheres are real places, and their distances are taken into account and sometimes are important for the plot. This is in stark contrast to normal SF, in particular on film and TV. There, place is wrong. The most recent blockbusters (Star Wars and Star Trek franchises, re-warmed) are actually extra guilty of this. Spock can see his planet explode, the Millenium Falcon just happens to be there, orbital mechanics at all times are on the intellectual level of a 5-year old. Space ships just hang there, and give battle as if they were naval ships. It’s plain insulting. Now, with the Expanse, you could have Miller actually take his time looking at one of the cool holographic maps of the Solar system. We can point to Ceres, and Mars, and the Jovian moons, because they really exist. There could be long, establishing shots that zoom into the tiny, tiny rocks that we all inhabit (including Earth) to give us science nerds a real feeling of this actually happening. In a place. Whenever the Roci crew or Miller looks at a map, or the next scene is on Ceres of Phoebe, we could help the viewer locating these things using dirt-cheap CGI maps and zooming out and in from solar-system wide maps. That gives an immense sense of atmosphere (in particular, the constant dread of inhabiting incredibly tiny objects of rock or metal that orbit the sun amidst a huge vacuum). We are not used to see this, because normal SF is just wrong and would never survive those maps. But the Expanse gets it right. This is a wasted opportunity, both thematically and for building a fan base. Also, it’s cheap. Every video game has this today. Instead, the TV show treats the locations as “just hanging there”, separated by “time spent in the spaceship set” for the “duration required by the plot.” It’s as if the set designers don’t trust the solidity of the setting. (And in all other SF, they would be right.) Grumble-grumble.
  2. Finished season 1. Very mixed feelings. Casting, acting, etc. are fine. Shame about Chrisjen not being foul-mouthed, she could have been a real hit. World-building: There is very little belter physiology. This is probably both for budgetary reasons, but also for identification: I think we’d all be grossed out by belters. Imagine giving Naomi a weirdly long head. There are many, many avoidable mistakes with basic physics enumerated above, which just annoy me. It’s just as expensive to do this right. This is a production error. Adaptation: I’ve read the books and had a very hard time understanding what was going on. This is a very, very confusing adaptation of an already-plot heavy book. That makes no sense to me. I can’t understand now anybody could follow what is going on. The writers seem to assume that we can stay interested by just following interesting characters and get absorbed by micro-conflicts with random NPC X or superfluous side-plots. I don’t think that works. The characters in the Expanse are quite flat in the first place, and even flatter in the TV adaptation. And the attempts to make episodic TV by introducing minor characters or inconsequential dialogue between others don’t work for me at all. Tell the story, and tell it in a way that can be understood.
  3. Babylon's Ashes: The Expanse Book 6 (Spoilers)

    OK, back to the mystery. This is the man eventually arrested for communicating with the 15-odd colony ships. Who is this? I’m quite sure that the attentive reader should be able to recognize him, and there is an earlier Medina chapter that load a lot of information off on us. Sounds like an Earther, but that’s all I’ve got. ETA: Oh, I see there is actually a chapter for each of the Medina characters. Jakulski, Salis, Roberts, and Vandercaust. Very lazy of me to not realise this.
  4. Babylon's Ashes: The Expanse Book 6 (Spoilers)

    I asked myself exactly that question, which is why I started to obsess about it. As far as I can tell, there is no way to do what you describe. You can disguise your drive (presumably by making mechanical alterations or changing mixtures of chemicals) in order to make the signature anonymous. But you cannot hide the signature itself. At least I cannot find any indication of that in the books. (I’ve looked for the word “stealth” in most of them and read the passages around that word.) I’m not even convinced you can use chemical propulsion, because how would you hide the heat? Of course, a rocket thruster would be much less detectable than an Epstein (which announces your presence to the entire solar system.) But if I’m following your ship using telescopes or other sensors I will see you turn on your thruster, unless you are behind a moon. A better way to change course is to shoot things away from you using a rail gun. That does not produce heat (?) and moves you away from the projectile. Martian stealth technology (at the time of Leviathan Wakes) is able to hide asteroids or even the heat dissipation from space ships on the float. (For instance by having incredibly good insulation, painting it black, absorbing various pinging technologies such as LADAR, etc. All very useful.) Of course, we have no idea what Duarte’s people are able to do. Finding a new propulsion technology would be a winning move.
  5. Babylon's Ashes: The Expanse Book 6 (Spoilers)

    Something like that. To “disappear,” you shut off your Epstein and then make a lot of small course corrections over a long time using other means (use your rail gun to shoot stuff away from you, chemical propulsion, etc.) Of course, if I try to track you, and point a lot of sensors on your ship, I’ll be able to follow you pretty well (hell, I could do that using an optical telescope, apparently) because of heat dissipation. But, given a few weeks, I can probably disappear, especially in the Belt, where I can “slingshot”—very small course corrections would change my vector a lot. Still, being a pirate pretty much sucks in such a world.
  6. Babylon's Ashes: The Expanse Book 6 (Spoilers)

    Done with it. Not as happy as with the previous books (which I thought were great.) Plot question and universe question. 1. Am I supposed to have figured some conspiracy at Medina out? Somebody at the station has helped coördinating an attack from 15 different colony worlds. Duarte’s people have investigated. What was the result of that investigation (for the attentive reader)? There must be a lot of plot on the other side of the ring gates that we aren’t privy to: Behind the Laconia gate, Duarte’s faction builds crazy alien technology, and (until recently) kept some control on the Sol system through his collaboration with Inaros. Sol seems pretty ignorant of most of what is going on, and does very little to react to the looming threat. So how come 15 other systems have sufficient data about Duarte that they are able to pool their (probably very limited, clinging-to-survival-on-a-tiny-thread) resources and commit to a 15-ship attack on Medina? This attack must constitute an enormous investment, far higher than Sol’s attack on the Free Navy in BA. (The 15 systems have very few ships, very few people, and live in ecosystems far more hostile than post-rock Earth.) So how come the 15 systems are willing to risk this? What do they know about Duarte that Earth doesn’t? And how did they coördinate? Who is the mole? 2. True of false: Any movement of any ship in Sol is known to the entire system, provided it uses the Epstein drive. There is no secret space travel using the Epstein, because its incredible energy release announces its presence at light speed all over the system, and there are a bunch of various observatories that constantly synchronise their observations. Basically, every school child in the Solar system has access to a dynamic map of all ships (or rather, all turned-on Epstein drives) in the system—position and vector, so you can predict fairly well where many ships will be in a few weeks. Moreover, ships have “drive signatures,” so you can look up the ship in a shared database of drive signatures. Of course, the drive can be slightly changed, giving your ship a “fresh” signature (which is then updated as soon as you dock somewhere and get identified). If you fly on chemical propulsion, without the Epstein, you stand a far better chance of not being detected, because it needs far better sensors to pick you up (say, the heat radiated by your propulsion, of just your bodies), or the light absorbed by the hull. In the extreme, you are as “invisible” as a rock. Stealth technology allows you to become difficult-to-detect even for various radar-like “ping” sensors. Ways to kill stuff: (A) Accelerate non-explosive mass and point it in the right direction. Very hard to detect, very high kinetic energy. ( B ) Disengage your ship from the station. Use manoeuvring thrusters to turn aft towards the station. Turn on the Epstein. Station is now molten metal and ceramics. The first attack we have orbital defences against (though I don’t know how effective they can be. Better not go into the scale of the problem of defending against, say, having thrown the asteriod belt against Mars). The second attack (we see this happen in the tv show, when the Rocinante should slag Tycho Station in S1E4, last scene, but magically nothing happens) is mentioned as a military tactic in BA, but how is this generally defended against? I assume every station has PDC and torpedo locks on a leaving ship, and as soon as the Epstein fires up (which we can claim takes half an hour to become effective), the ship is shot. I think that would work.
  7. Bakker XLVI: Make Eärwa Great Again

    Make this happen. Open the Twitter account and have fun for the next four years. #notAllMenAreDeceived
  8. Bakker XLVI: Make Eärwa Great Again

    Very nice observation about nostalgia.
  9. Bakker XLVI: Make Eärwa Great Again

    Thank you for quoting this. The choice of the words “leap” and “arms” are enough proof for me that the Kirkegaard analogy (leap of faith into the arms of God) is deliberate. The existentialist “That is his” clinches it for me.
  10. Bakker XLVI: Make Eärwa Great Again

    OK, maybe there is yet another layer of revelation. Fine by me. But our current understanding is that the gods/demons are pretty nasty.
  11. Bakker XLVI: Make Eärwa Great Again

    I don’t know what deceived means in this context, and haven’t used the word myself. The Survivor was mistaken. He follows a train of thought, reasons himself into Kirkegaard’s position, takes the leap of faith, and dies. (Because he, as well as Kirkegaard, are wrong about the metaphysics of Eärwa. There is no loving God in Eärwa. There might be one in our world, but there isn’t one in Eärwa. Kirkegaard and the Dûnyain are equally wrong about how the Absolute might be reached.) I have no opinion on what to call the nonexistent thingy that the Dûnyain or Kirkegaard strive to reach. Absolute, God, Nirvana,—it’s all same-same to me, and they are all equally mistaken (in Eärwa) about its existence, let alone how to reach it. In the Survivor example, I prefer the word God simply to echo Kirkegaard’s formulation “leap of faith into the arms of a loving God,” which is hinted at almost literally in the scene where the Survivor jumps (“… into the arms of nothing” or something.) I find the whole Survivor chapter cute but tangential. It’s merely yet another theory about Eärwian metaphysics that turns out to be false, much like when the Scarlet Spire dude (drunk) must admit that there is an afterlife and he is quite damned.
  12. Nooo! At the end of s1e5, the (disguised) Rocinante turns its aft towards Tycho Station and fires up the Epstein drive. This would destroy the station. (And more drinking problems of the type Dr. Pepper mentioned. Water bottles and soda cans. Also, how does the rock hauler work? It pulls a fragile net behind it? Right where the drive plume is?) I find these tiny mistakes insanely annoying. How many people are involved in such a production who should immediately see this? How does the production organisation work for such reported mistakes to not be taken seriously? There has to be monumental incompetence about sci-fi in set design paired active suppression of relevant feed-back from others. Fixing these things is not expensive and adds a lot of very satisfying detail. Grumble-grumble.
  13. Read the books, watched a few episodes now. Where is the mandatory bitch-and-moan thread? Avasarala is a big disappointment, of course. Why don’t they get space ships right? The book are very clear about this: forward is up, and spaceships are built like houses, not ships. Yet in the Donnager battle, we see the Captain and First Officer walk around during battle as if they are on the Enterprise, and there are long hallways. Instead, the ships should be narrow, full of ladders, and people in general should be lying on their backs, facing towards the ceiling. When Holden has his coffee, it seems as if the cupboards are filled with stuff, much like my own. But none of that stuff would be in place on a space ship. Everything needs to be bolted down, or in fixed containers. Otherwise it kills you, or at least gets damaged. This would be so simple to build for the production company, and add a lot of atmosphere and theme. Finally somebody who’d get basic physics of living in a space ship right. Cheap. Thematic. Cool. And it’s correctly done in the books. But instead, the people tasked with interior set design just built the Enterprise again, or the Millenium Falcon.
  14. Bakker XLVI: Make Eärwa Great Again

    For followers of the British Sherlock Holmes series Sherlock, there is some heavy Dûnyain-speak in the most recent episode.
  15. Bakker XLVI: Make Eärwa Great Again

    He grasped nothing. The Survivor made, literally, the Leap of Faith described by Danish existentialist philosopher Søren Kirkegaard. According to Kirkegaard, this leap will land you in the arms of a loving God, once you dare take the plunge. (And the plunge is a consequence of Faith, without any evidence—Kirkegaard is as far as can be from the Dûnyain in one direction.) This being Eärwa, we (as readers) should be unsurprised that reality is not inhabited by a loving God that embraces us, once we shed ourselves of our rational faculties. Not because the rational faculties prevent the love of God, but because God does not love. The Survivor rejects the Dûnyain part towards the Absolute (science, reason, evidence, etc.—the whole modern project) and tries something else (the postmodern project). He fails. Nice try. Background reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_faith