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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:40 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Childhood's End is the first (AFAIK) in the transcendence genre, which ends with the human race, or at least a member or more thereof, being transformed into superior beings. 2001 is another. I slogged my way through an entire trilogy with interesting ideas throughout only to discover that I'd just read 1000+ pages for yet another transcendence payoff. I was not amused.


I don't think it was anywhere near the first of its kind, because CS Lewis, in 'Mere Christianity', mentions it as something that was already a science fiction cliche that writers speculate about what 'the next stage of human evolution' might look like.

By the way, 2001 et al is a tetralogy, not a trilogy, unless you mean 'a trilogy in four books' which is what Clarke called it, similar to Douglas Adams calling 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' a 'trilogy of 5 books.'


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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:45 pm 
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GKC wrote:




Clarke made a remark or two on that point. CHILDHOOD'S END was written (adapting the earlier short story "Guardian Angels"- early 50s) at a time when, as Clarke said, he still was quite impressed by evidence for what is usually called the paranormal. Later, life experiences made him, as he said, an almost total skeptic. See McAleer's authorized bio of Clarke, pp 90-91.

Have I ever mentioned my SF reference library?


That paranormal stuff didn't seem out of place in the story at all, but only because it is now common to mix science fiction and the occult in the same story, e.g. The X-Files. In 1953, it must have seemed odd.

At any rate, despite my many reservations about the plausibility of the story, it was very well written and at no point was I bored by it or uninterested in what might happen next. I finally now understand why Clarke is regarded as one of the 'greats' in science fiction. My only previous reading of him was '2001', and based only on that book, I would say that I was not impressed. In that book, very little happens and the story, in and of itself, is not really all that interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:54 am 
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Doom wrote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Childhood's End is the first (AFAIK) in the transcendence genre, which ends with the human race, or at least a member or more thereof, being transformed into superior beings. 2001 is another. I slogged my way through an entire trilogy with interesting ideas throughout only to discover that I'd just read 1000+ pages for yet another transcendence payoff. I was not amused.


I don't think it was anywhere near the first of its kind, because CS Lewis, in 'Mere Christianity', mentions it as something that was already a science fiction cliche that writers speculate about what 'the next stage of human evolution' might look like.

By the way, 2001 et al is a tetralogy, not a trilogy, unless you mean 'a trilogy in four books' which is what Clarke called it, similar to Douglas Adams calling 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' a 'trilogy of 5 books.'


Olaf Stapledon/FIRST AND LAST MEN. Icky stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:07 am 
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I wasn't referring to the 2001 series. But it was a tetralogy I had in mind: Otherland. So make it 1500+ pages.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:09 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I wasn't referring to the 2001 series. But it was a tetralogy I had in mind: Otherland. So make it 1500+ pages.


In which case, you probably missed a sentence in your post because you went directly from talking about 2001 to saying you were disappointed because you read ' 1,000 pages that led to another transformation', which definitely made it sound like you were talking about the 'Space Odyssey' series. The only thing interesting about 2001, the book or movie, is HAL.

But I do think that by the time Clarke wrote 'Childhood's End' (why I think was his first novel, after years of writing short stories) 'transformations' were already something of a science fiction cliche, the book was not popular, I think, due to its originality, but due to its overall quality, as being an excellent example of that kind of story. Whatever else might be said about it, it is a very well written book, even CS Lewis praised it for being an excellent science fiction novel, although I am sure he had many of the same reservations that I do.


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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:50 pm 
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I am now reading 'Rendevous with Rama', and I understand what you mean when you say that nothing happens. I'm about 1/3 of the way through, and I am going through it slowly for such a short book because it is kind of boring, every time I think something exciting is going to happen, the rug is pulled out from under me and it turns out to be an anti-climax. What kind of storytelling is this?

You guys didn't warn me that Arthur C Clarke was just as obsessed with 'free love' as Robert Heinlein, and this is a prominent theme in 'Rama', just as it was in 'Childhood's End'. I didn't think anything of it in 'Childhood's End' that all marriages were open and temporary because I thought he was painting a picture of an 'ideal society' that actually wasn't supposed to seem appealing, a utopia that is really more of a dystopia, but with it showing up again in 'Rama', it's clear that it was just his thing. Why are so many science fiction writers sex obsessed horndogs anyway?


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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:24 pm 
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I didn't recall that about CE.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:09 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I didn't recall that about CE.


He goes on for several paragraphs about how due to the invention of the birth control pill and the DNA test for paternity (keep in mind this was written in 1953 before either of these things was a reality, okay he didn't call it a 'DNA test' he simply says 'a foolproof way to test for paternity') sexuality changed and now everyone is free and open, marriages are temporary, open and people get divorced and remarried several times in life.

One of the main characters towards the end of the book, namely George Gregson, has a wife, Jean Gregson, and two girlfriends, whom his wife knows about, and when they got married, she was his sixth wife, and they agreed to be married for five years. These two are the parents of Jeffrey, who is the first to transform into the new species, so they are kind of important characters. And, during the description of what is going on with their children, Clarke tosses in a bit about how George is now losing interest in Jean and he is now more interested in and he then lists the names of three different women. Note, absolutely nothing is made of this tidbit about George losing interest in Jean, Clarke just tosses it in there for no apparent reason.

This sounded like such a perfectly awful state of affairs, and since it came right in the middle of a long discussion about how, since the arrival of 'overlords' who had created a utopian society on Earth, people were becoming shiftless and lazy, no science was being done and no art or books were being written, so I assumed it was just part of his attempt to paint a picture of a 'utopian' society that really wasn't all that great at all. I thought he was trying to say that 'people are now completely selfish and can no longer make lasting emotional attachments to each other' and that this was tragic.

But, with these ideas showing up again in a completely different book, with one of the main characters being in an 'open' marriage and Clarke talking about how sex is free and widely available but few people ever have children because due to population controls childbirth is strictly regulated and no one can have children without government permission, it seems that I misunderstood and that he included all this stuff about free love because he really did think that he was describing something appealing and that an ideal society really would be like that.


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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:35 pm 
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Doom wrote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I didn't recall that about CE.


He goes on for several paragraphs about how due to the invention of the birth control pill and the DNA test for paternity (keep in mind this was written in 1953 before either of these things was a reality, okay he didn't call it a 'DNA test' he simply says 'a foolproof way to test for paternity') sexuality changed and now everyone is free and open, marriages are temporary, open and people get divorced and remarried several times in life.

One of the main characters towards the end of the book, namely George Gregson, has a wife, Jean Gregson, and two girlfriends, whom his wife knows about, and when they got married, she was his sixth wife, and they agreed to be married for five years. These two are the parents of Jeffrey, who is the first to transform into the new species, so they are kind of important characters. And, during the description of what is going on with their children, Clarke tosses in a bit about how George is now losing interest in Jean and he is now more interested in and he then lists the names of three different women. Note, absolutely nothing is made of this tidbit about George losing interest in Jean, Clarke just tosses it in there for no apparent reason.

This sounded like such a perfectly awful state of affairs, and since it came right in the middle of a long discussion about how, since the arrival of 'overlords' who had created a utopian society on Earth, people were becoming shiftless and lazy, no science was being done and no art or books were being written, so I assumed it was just part of his attempt to paint a picture of a 'utopian' society that really wasn't all that great at all. I thought he was trying to say that 'people are now completely selfish and can no longer make lasting emotional attachments to each other' and that this was tragic.

But, with these ideas showing up again in a completely different book, with one of the main characters being in an 'open' marriage and Clarke talking about how sex is free and widely available but few people ever have children because due to population controls childbirth is strictly regulated and no one can have children without government permission, it seems that I misunderstood and that he included all this stuff about free love because he really did think that he was describing something appealing and that an ideal society really would be like that.



Clarke had a miserable marriage, just about when CE was published. Incompatible, and it took him over 10 years to complete the divorce. He seems to have reasoned that there must be a better way.

Hit on anything suggesting homosexuality?

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:42 pm 
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GKC wrote:

Hit on anything suggesting homosexuality?


Nothing I noticed, but I tend to miss these things, not looking for them. I actually needed someone to explain to me that the Baron Harkonnen in 'Dune' is gay, somehow I completely missed that, it was a little embarrassing for me because in retrospect it is obvious. On the other hand, 'Dune' didn't really interest me all that much, so I probably missed a lot. I would read it again if I liked it more than I did.


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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:48 pm 
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In late 2000, the company newsletter where I worked at the time said something about the year 2001 and the "late Arthur C. Clarke." I of course had to tell them that he was very much alive at the time.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:03 pm 
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Doom wrote:
GKC wrote:

Hit on anything suggesting homosexuality?


Nothing I noticed, but I tend to miss these things, not looking for them. I actually needed someone to explain to me that the Baron Harkonnen in 'Dune' is gay, somehow I completely missed that, it was a little embarrassing for me because in retrospect it is obvious. On the other hand, 'Dune' didn't really interest me all that much, so I probably missed a lot. I would read it again if I liked it more than I did.


I missed it too, in Clarke, or totally forgot it. If a review hadn't said something, I wouldn't have known.

But then Clarke was subtle, mainly. A nod and a wink and a mention of polymorphous perversity. But his friends knew.

I spotted it in DUNE. Not for that particular reason, but I would never read it again.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:09 pm 
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In general, I would say that when I look for symbolism in a book I am reading, homoerotic symbolism is not what I am looking for.

I do tend to interpret almost every underwater scene as a symbolic baptism, except for really obvious ones which take place entirely underwater, like '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea'. For example, I notice that in John Boorman's film 'Excalibur', Arthur is dubbed a knight and becomes king of England while standing waist deep in water. Symbolic baptism? I think so. Similarly in the film 'Unbreakable' when Bruce Willis' character nearly drowns in a swimming pool in the final scene. Symbolic baptism? I think so.


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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:28 pm 
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Doom wrote:
In general, I would say that when I look for symbolism in a book I am reading, homoerotic symbolism is not what I am looking for.

I do tend to interpret almost every underwater scene as a symbolic baptism, except for really obvious ones which take place entirely underwater, like '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea'. For example, I notice that in John Boorman's film 'Excalibur', Arthur is dubbed a knight and becomes king of England while standing waist deep in water. Symbolic baptism? I think so. Similarly in the film 'Unbreakable' when Bruce Willis' character nearly drowns in a swimming pool in the final scene. Symbolic baptism? I think so.


I wouldn't do that, in Clarke's work. As in DEEP RANGE. Wich is maybe too much like 20,000 LEAGUES to count.

Clarke was an avid diver, and had a diving school in Sri Lanka.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:48 pm 
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Clarke wasn't a big symbolism guy, at least not subtly, so if there's anything like that in something of his you read, it's probably an accident.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:40 pm 
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One doesn't have to be a Freudian to think that people often subconsciously say things that they didn't intend in their writings.



Consider the song 'Let it Be', written by Paul McCartney about 'Mother Mary' coming to him in his dreams and telling him 'Let It Be'. Many people have read religious and specifically Catholic symbolism into the song, including John Lennon, who hated the song for exactly that reason. 'Mother Mary' sounds like the Virgin Mary, and 'let it be' sounds a lot like 'let it be done to me according to your word'. McCartney has always insisted the song is about an actual dream he once had where his mother, whose actual name was indeed 'Mary' appeared to him in a dream and said those very words.

However, why does he refer to his as 'Mother Mary', which is not how people tend to describe their mother? And why all the quasi-religious imagery? I think this may be a case where there actually is Catholic symbolism in the song, but it was not consciously intended and happened subconsciously.

Most symbolism in literature is probably not intentional.


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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:49 pm 
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Great, now I get to go read CE again!

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:27 pm 
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Doom wrote:
Why are so many science fiction writers sex obsessed horndogs anyway?

I tend not to read that sort of sci-fi but I'm not aware of many mainstread sci-fi authors who are "sex obsessed horndogs". Heinlein is one (although as far as his writing is concerned, it's something that seems to have gradually happened over time). Clarke not so much. Maybe Niven a bit, e.g. in Ringworld and its sequels.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:30 pm 
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Doom wrote:
But, with these ideas showing up again in a completely different book, with one of the main characters being in an 'open' marriage and Clarke talking about how sex is free and widely available but few people ever have children because due to population controls childbirth is strictly regulated and no one can have children without government permission, it seems that I misunderstood and that he included all this stuff about free love because he really did think that he was describing something appealing and that an ideal society really would be like that.

Pretty much the same sort of society is described in a (much) later and otherwise worthy book of Clarke's, The Songs of Distant Earth. But while sex seems free and accepted in Clarke's books there doesn't seem to be many references to it. Heinlein will remind you over and over again in a heavy-handed way.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:33 pm 
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GKC wrote:
Hit on anything suggesting homosexuality?

The only book of Clarke's I can think of with an explicit reference to homosexuality (and it's easy to miss) is Glide Path, which isn't even science fiction.

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