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#21 [url]

Aug 19 09 11:45 PM


Has anyone read (or for that matter, even heard of) A Secret History of Time To Come by Robie Macauley (1979)? Last weekend I came across a hardback copy at an Anchorage yard sale and picked it up; have never heard of the book before but the cover art shows a fellow in buckskin leading a horse up a path between trees and bushes between skyscrapers and city buildings with cracked windows, covered with trees and bushes growing on the roofs and out of the windows. The dustflap blurb makes it sound like maybe a cross between between The Postman and some of Edgar Pangborn's quite good post-collapse novels like Still I Persist in Wondering, In the Company of Glory, and Davy.

A copy of Into the Forest is now on its way in the mail ($2.75 for a hardback, via ebay -such a deal) so I'm dithering between starting The Memoirs of a Survivor or reading A Secret History of Time To Come now. Maybe A Secret History of Time To Come and then Into the Forest. Recalling how excellent Doris Lessing's writing is in general (the Canopus in Argos: Archives, for example) perhaps I'll save the Memoirs for quaffing last from this currently overflowing literary cup, as it is likely to be the sweetest in terms of quality.

Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. JA

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#23 [url]

Aug 20 09 7:41 PM


During the three and a half years I spent living in Ecuador one of the engineers at the laboratory virtually was the same bright nutball as the guy from Mosquito Coast. Talk about a charismatic pain in the ass! Say hi to Loki. I really felt for his kids, and spent as much "sane person quality time" with them as I could. In my years of experience in South America the two books Mosquito Coast and At Play In The Fields Of The Lord are more accurate than not and go a long way toward an accurate description of the place and paradigm. There really are points and places at which reality, mainstream literature, and science fiction all merge so fully as to be indistinguishable one from the other.

Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. JA

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#25 [url]

Aug 20 09 9:15 PM


City is epic (I especially loved Jenkins and the ants), but my all-time favorite Simak is his story "The Thing In The Stone." Lyrical, that, with remarkable visual images.

Was it Simak who wrote the classic tale about the millionaire who built a spacecraft with a new type of catalytic drive (something to do with iron) and launched it, against the objections of concerned scientists, initiating a chain reaction which basically turns the Earth's surface into continents of mineralized ash between sterile oceans? He returns after things cool off and lands, with the only other living creature on the planet at that point: his dog, a great Dane. I will not describe any more of the haunting tale as it really should be read for full flavor and effect. I think it might have been Simak who wrote it.

In the same class with Simak and of a somewhat similar style was the late great J.G. Ballard. Like Simak, J.G. Ballard also has some remarkable collections of stories, notably Chronopolis: And Other Stories. His story "The Terminal Beach" in particular is quite remarkable.


Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. JA

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#26 [url]

Aug 31 09 11:43 PM


Economics and social organization figure significantly in the science fiction of several authors in particular. Jay's recent mention of this quite good article on anarchism (http://www.blackcrayon.com/library/britt1910.html) prompts me to wonder about the economic and social organization context presented in the novels of Jack Vance, Vernor Vinge (at least in Fire in the Deep and Deepness in the Sky), and Edgar Pangborn. Anarchism seems to be the framework inherent to those universes, but perhaps I am a bit unclear about where boundaries differentiate between anarchism and laissez faire.

Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. JA

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#27 [url]

Oct 9 09 3:28 PM

Finally finished reading Robie Macauley's novel A Secret History of Time to Come (1979, Knopf) -life has been so busy I've not made it to the gym on a regular schedule and so since I read SF&F on the exercise machines this one has taken awhile to get through. A strange yet in some ways quite good book. The strange part stems from the first couple/few chapters having almost nothing to do with the rest of the book (which is a good thing, since the first couple chapters lack a bit but the story subsequently becomes very interesting).

The first couple chapters have much in common with Levar Burton's horrifically racist novel Aftermath (1997)
http://www.amazon.com/Aftermath-LeVar-Burton/dp/044651993
about race wars sweeping America after the first Black president is killed. I disliked Burton's poorly written book on several levels; add to the list of reasons to dislike Burton's Aftermath the near certainty he built his novel by expanding the first couple chapters of Macauley's earlier 1979 work without any acknowledgment of having done so. They are virtually identical, too much so for random chance. Anyhow, I hope Burton is wrong about everything (but rather doubt we are so lucky).

In places A Secret History of Time to Come flirts a bit with the same sort of quasi-metaphysical weirdness seen in Starhawk and S.M. Stirling's books but not so much so that this aspect messes up the story. The main characters are living in different eras (immediately before and long after the collapse) yet seem to sometimes see and communicate with one another in dreams, though their paradigms are so different that communication would barely be possible even if they were sitting at the same table instead of seeing each other through a blurry dream state.

The book is uneven in its "grain size" with regard to focus; there will be passages of sweeping narrative on the big picture for awhile and then long plodding and detailed (tediously so) confusing passages describing the bunch of trees caught on a fallen bridge and blocking the passage of a river. Despite this, the characterization is so good and the vision of a World Without People so accurate (decades before Alan Weisman's excellent work on this topic http://www.worldwithoutus.com/did_you_know.html ) that A Secret History of Time to Come is still a page-turner and worth reading, imho.

Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. JA

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#30 [url]

Jul 5 11 11:26 PM

Nope, I'm ignorant and spend most of my time sucking on a pacifier.

It's pretty likely the forum is going to go underground in about 6 months. It has served its purpose, but only at a huge cost to me personally, and it's more important by the day. I have no interest in delivering information to have it ripped off, watered down to the point it's commercially viable, and, then catch hell for being a hard ass as some kind of marketing technique .  If the content is offensive, sorry, but don't blame the messenger. Reality is often difficult, does anyone disagree? All in all, the forum has been a 100 percent success, as the most important thing here is to figure out who can be trusted, and who can not, in a world of scarcity, and, well, the message has been very effective in chasing out the strange ones.

People: simply: DON'T: get it: on purpose. That's a lot of colons. A lot of ours are going to feel rectified and not in a good way, here, soon.

Good luck all around, we're hanging by a thread.

The fashion was, ecological, I wanted to advocate sustainability, as it's more reasonable.

The trend will be, survival ism, or despair--I wanted to advocate sustainability, as, well, that's nicer than either. I lost, so, well, you all get to choose between those two alternatives.

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#33 [url]

Jul 6 11 11:12 AM

Well said, folks-- sorry about the grim attitude. I hope nobody thinks it's directed personally, 'cause it isn't. Actually, the forest is quite the oasis from the insanity outside the front gate, which looks more like a waste land every day. Living in a society that seems hell bent on group suicide gets under your skin.

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#34 [url]

Jul 6 11 1:31 PM

Jay,

More of "denial" on a societal level; or "ignorance"; or "color blindness" to something they can't see because that don't understand it (define orange to a blind or color blind person, then try a fully capable person with out an example).  And, there is plenty to distract one's attention: all manner of gadgets and movies and money issues - not to mention family and friends and such.

BUT, more and more people are opening their minds to the coming changes: events and the future are out of focus for them, but they know something is a foot.

You sir, just saw it sooner and clearer than most.  A curse of sorts. 

Sam

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#35 [url]

Jul 6 11 5:40 PM

I just got another zadie smith book out of liabrary. I enjoyed her book "on beauty" that wasvery new England academia fir a family novel.

I have star trek on DVD for those sci fi craving:) my dorkiness knowsno bounds!! . To me it's fracking( allusion to BG) wonderful that sci fi network is @ the 6 th largest network!! There r people hoping, curious and endeavoring to believe in 'Other' rather than care about the size of the kardashians.... iQ?

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#36 [url]

Jul 6 11 9:21 PM

Apologies for once again not correctly posting my edited post. Thx all for patience in dealing with my
"mind- hand -type-appear" mis wired circutry.

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#37 [url]

Jul 6 11 10:11 PM

Jay, if you are trying to kill off the forum let me be the first to
tell you, you are doing a bang up job. At this rate it won't take 6 months.
I tried to start a little activity on the forum by asking if anyone had read
a good book lately. You went off into lala land on a rant. Why ?

The world has many problems: climate , economy, corrupt government etc.
These problems, at this time in history, are monumental. We are all worried 
about the future but kicking your friends in the shins won't solve or help  anything.

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#39 [url]

Jul 6 11 10:32 PM

Sorry June, pretty poorly spoken on my part, misunderstanding where you were going, and certainly didn't come across the way I intended in any way form or fashion. No excuses, just poor delivery. No intent whatsoever to kick anyone in the shins. Hope the apology accepted.

Rant mostly engendered by the observation that if anything, it seems we've less interest daily, either as a culture, or as a forum, or whatever, to address the issues facing us. Is that fear, disinterest, or apathy? I don't know. Sustainability has become so meaningless a term, and so effectively co-opted by exploitative interests that it's hardly constructive to even advocate it any more. It's definitely a conflicted moment all around, and I'm really wondering of other strategies are going to become more important. I'm afraid that sustainability is something only accessible before things really start to break down and after that it's pretty scrappy. That's what we've supposedly been trying to avoid, I guess. Frankly, I've no idea what to do about any of other than to put one's head down and try to preserve from damage as much as one can.

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#40 [url]

Jul 6 11 10:55 PM

Apology accepted.

I think many people realize the downward spiral our country/world is on
and have retreated into being more cautious. Many of us are more careful about
choosing our new friends and conducting tours for strangers. 

I hear lots of sad stories of families struggling to survive. A woman in the grocery line 
venting. " My husband was laid off , two  of our grown kids with families have moved in with
us and I am the only one working. "  These stories will not have happy endings .
There was a time when I would have suggested they try growing some of their food.
Now I just say , "yeah, times are tough."

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