Monday, December 21, 2015

3 2 5

I mentioned last time I figured out I had already read "Three Parts Dead" by Max Gladstone. So I went on and read the next 2 in this series: "Two Serpents Rise" and "Full Fathom Five". These stories appear to be set on Earth, but an Earth with gods, demons, and wizards. But, it is still an Earth similar in development to ours, with 17 million inhabitant mega-cities and magic-based technology and infrastructure. Hmmm, looking up the links to these books, this series is being called "The Craft Sequence" - craft is what magic is called.

They are all good reads, good plotting, pacing, and characters, and the parallel Earth somehow is interesting. But, looking through my old Fantasy posts, I came across a statement that I have to agree with: that science fiction I think does have new concepts, sometimes useful and important, whereas fantasy is pretty much straight escapism. Oh well, still fun sometimes.

The 1st story deals with a captive god disappearing, I think somewhere in North America, and a priest and novice wizardess trying to figure out what is going on. The 2nd story seems to be Aztecs, in a country where the gods have been killed and the wizards rule. The son of the last priest of the deposed gods and a wizardess cooperate in what is basically a corporate takeover gone bad. The third one appears to be in Hawaii, and most of the characters are female: a priestess and a street urchin channeling something are the 2 main narrative threads. The 2nd and 3rd both have some Dilbertish mockery of corporate culture and corporate-speak.

There's a 4th one out, I think I'll wait a while to read it. Still 24 books unread in my iPad, and I'm 2 months behind on the magazine stack.

Meanwhile, so much sci fi & fantasy coming out on TV. I watched Syfy's 6 hour "Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke. It was OK - production values good, but maybe mostly B-list actors. I think overall that the ideas about aliens in it that were way edgy when the novel came out in 1953 are not so edgy now.

I also watched the 1st episode of "The Expanse" on Syfy. Great production values, and I think better actors. I have read these novels. I think that the amount of world-building for this series is large enough that I will enjoy it more if I let some or all of the episodes build up on the DVR and then binge watch them.


greg said...

Hey Chris. How are you doing? Going to get back to work reading your economics, or are you still retired? In either case, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Charlie St. Pierre

Chris Heinz said...

The Saint! Nice to hear from you!

I go back and forth about, do I need to try to do something worthwhile with the rest of my life, other than donate to worthy causes and babysit grandkids, or should I just relax and enjoy life? Still pretty much enjoying slacking.

I have lately been taking an interest in and boosting Universal Basic Income (UBI) #basicincome. Seems to me like a good 1st step towards living in a socialist, anarchist, post-scarcity utopia, which I figure is the goal we are all working for.

greg said...

Yeah! I've been checking our your blog for four or five months now. I like your reviews. The recent one on “Misbehaving.” was really excellent. I’m going to go over it again, as I remembered there was something that struck me that I might want to comment to you about. Got a couple blogs of my own, one religion and one economics.

But don't tell me you're a Cornucopian! If everybody lived as- expensively as we do we'd melt the planet. No. We have to figure out how to reduce everybody's (material) consumption down to the rate that renewable resources can be renewed indefinitely. And the rate of use of non-renewable resources reduced the zero. Which means pretty much everything recycling what we already have.

Right now I'm volunteering for Bernie. I helped with a bunch of signs, and I hold down the local office for the volunteers Tuesday mornings. Hillary is tarnished goods and of uncertain reliability. And the Republican candidates are all dangers to themselves and others.

Haven’t been reading as much SF. I have been following a couple of fantasy guys, L E Modesitt and Jim Butcher. Butcher writes about a magician and his adventures in present day Chicago. And various magical kingdoms. Pretty much just action. Modesitt more what the exceptional (magical) individual has to deal with in coping with delicate political situations. Otherwise I’ve been spending my time with simple minded video games and following the economy on the Web. And watching movies. Can give you the addresses of some informative and economically inclined websites. Many are the kind that can help with learning and understanding the economics behind the issues.

SYFI is having a Twilight Zone marathon starting Wednesday. All the episodes. In order.

I may have just figured out that soldiers and police actually do better in a democracy. Smaller piece of a much bigger pie. Considering the times, this is actually kind of politically important. After getting back from watching Star Wars, with my step nephew. By which I mean I got an intuition and have to see how, or if, the details work out The hard part.. Other conditions may apply, however.

Anyway. Good to hear back from you. Hope to hear more from you soon..

Chris Heinz said...

BTW, my email is

I like Bernie a lot, but my wife really feels that "it's Hillary's turn". Not the strongest reason to me, but, I don't think Hillary will be that bad. Certainly much much better than anyone in the GOP clown car.

I use the NewsBlur RSS reader. I thought I was going to right-click the Economics folder and generate a list of links to give you, but, no go. I will reach out to their support to see if I can do that. Meanwhile, on my blog, in the right column, the first item in the Links section is "My NewsBlur BlurBlog". If you click this, it is a list of all posts I have saved in NewsBlur. I save stuff that I think I might want to refer back too later, or that I thought was notable. If you go through there there are some good economic blogs.

The link to "Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Dark Gravity" in the Links section is to the blog of our old classmate Stephen Perrenod.

Send me links to your blogs, please.

Chris Heinz said...

And yes, I agree, a sustainable world will be a lot easier with much less consumption. But I still would like to live in the world of the Ian M. Banks "Culture" novels.

greg said...

Thanks, Chris. I’ll send you mine. You might want to take yours down, depending on how you feel about the privacy of your email address..

Here’s a link to my economics blog:

The post is a good one. Cross posted onto naked capitalism blog.
Going to have to cut and paste the link, though.

My other blog is about God, whom I have gathered you’re not too keen on. As may be. Here are two of my more philosophical entries:

I get like zero feedback on my blog. I would be very much interested in yours.

Wow! What a good looking blog Steve is running! Have to take some time to check it out. I’ve been looking more at economics and the other softer sciences lately, but I am not totally out of touch with the latest in cosmological thought. I have read Max Tegmark’s book. Not ready to commit to the multiverse thing, though. The whole metaphysics seems under-constrained, and I’ve got to wonder if they’re missing some constraints. Higher dimensional symmetries. Hm. Have given some thought to possible forms of dark matter. But, real rusty on the math.

Checked out your feed. Shows some places I don’t know about, and I will try and find time for. I would recommend visiting Economists View on a regular basis, as well as checking out the links therein which might interest you. I do. Also try Naked Capitalism. They have a lot on financial and political dirt.

JBTW, I don’t watch much mainstream news. I get most of my information on current events from alternative websites, like Alternet, Salon, and Slate. And others.

Much as I find the 'post scarcity' vision attractive, I am more inclined to Thomas Malthus' view of man's future. (The worst case scenario is much worse, however.) Population control I see as the only alternative to famine, plague and war. (Have to check who the fourth horseman is.) And any distribution of access to resources at population levels even a substantial fraction of today's population is going to mean a large number of people with income not a whole lot greater than subsistence. However, *any* level above subsistence allows for the accumulation of material goods, especially if they are low maintenance. And so a certain degree of comfort and productive leisure.

Enough for now. Take care.