Archive for December, 2003

Manifold: Time

Friday, December 5th, 2003

I keep giving Stephen Baxter more chances. Manifold: Time wasn’t nearly as depressing as Evolution, but I wouldn’t put it up there with Raft. Like Manifold: Origin, Manifold: Space is populated with unsympathetic characters - in fact, the same unsympathetic characters. They’re balanced by cool science, including, as usual, other sentient animals - in this case, squid. All the science is real and annotated at the end.

While the science was good so far as it went, there are nine theories listed on the last page and they don’t mesh together in the plot particularly well. The elements are interesting individually, but it’s not clear how the “probabilistic doomsday prediction” was initially avoided in the main timeline, nor why the climactic event had to come as early in the evolution of the universe as it did. The whole squid thing seemed unnecessary as well, but you can’t really knock squid.


Thursday, December 4th, 2003

I knew I’d forgotten something when I did my updates list mailing. Liz made me a lovely new button:

Besides the button, there are three new Stargate drabbles up on the Stargate fic page. I wrote Ha’taaka back in October but didn’t put it up because it was supposed to be a companion to the new Harsesis. Things didn’t quite work out that way. The other new one is Brain Cramp - all three are based on Season 2 episodes.

Serials and Series

Thursday, December 4th, 2003

Jade wanted me to show off my hard screenshot work, so here’s the Khan of the Day at a convenient 100×100 size (click to enlarge, download if you want it):
Khan in Engineering

In her blog, Seema praised DS9 for “friction, continuity, war and angst.” DS9 was the least popular of all Trek series before ENT came along to wrestle for the title. Trek fans clearly don’t want continuity or angst - not because cohesion and plot are bad things in and of themselves, but because they’re bad television.

Television has to be episodic to succeed. You can do it without the annoying reset button - Stargate doesn’t suffer from the reset follies that Voyager did - but you can’t show a five year movie in one-hour bits and expect the audience to stick with you. Yes, rabid fangirls will come along for the ride, but rabid fangirls are not a large enough demographic for network TV.

A series is something you can drop into at any point, see an episode, understand more or less what’s going on, and want to see more. A serial requires you to go in order or you’ll miss, not the subtle details, but the main meaning of what’s going on. You see one episode and you’re hopelessly lost; you know you don’t have the time for this. You walk away.

The serial vs. series problem affects virtual seasons as well. I’m not the only one who had the best intentions of reading VS7.5 but fell off the wagon early on. It’s not always clear at the outset which one you’re dealing with - you might think Lois McMaster Bujold is a serial writer, but she writes series. For all I know, VS7.5 is a series - but if it smells like a serial, I run away.

It doesn’t matter whether serials are superior to series on some literary or fan-fodder basis. I’m willing to admit, sight-mostly-unseen, that Babylon 5 and DS9 were far, far better shows than Stargate or Voyager. It’s a purely economic decision on my part to watch the latter. I can miss entire seasons of VOY or SG-1 (and believe me, I have) and still follow the fandom and write fic. The barrier to entry on a show that has five-year plots, or even one-year plots, is too high for me.

Polygamy Now

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003

This took much less time than I expected: Utah Polygamist Invokes Ruling on Gay Sex. The defendant claims that the state has no compelling interest in what six people do in the privacy of their home. If he had been a Massachusetts polygamist, he could have invoked the ruling on gay marriage; then he and whichever of his wives are of age could go to Cambridge and get married.

Sea Green

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003

you are seagreen

Your dominant hues are cyan and green. Although you definately strive to be logical you care about people and know there’s a time and place for thinking emotionally. Your head rules most things but your heart rules others, and getting them to meet in the middle takes a lot of your energy some days.

Your saturation level is higher than average - You know what you want, but sometimes know not to tell everyone. You value accomplishments and know you can get the job done, so don’t be afraid to run out and make things happen.

Your outlook on life can be bright or dark, depending on the situation. You are flexible and see things objectively.

the html color quiz

Years Without Summer

Monday, December 1st, 2003

Cool Apple link of the day: predictions about the iPod from two years ago

There was a cool article in the December Analog about years without summer. The author didn’t mention 1816, but did go into some detail about 540 C.E. Other really bad weather years included 44 B.C., 207 B.C., 1159 B.C., 1628 B.C., 2354 B.C. (the Flood?), and 3195 B.C. The data came from tree rings.