Science fiction short story recommendations.

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September 5th, 2017 at 1:52:47 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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"The Little Black Bag" and "The Marching Morons" by Cyril M. Kornbluth

Non-spoiler ridiculously short synopsis: A bag is found. and This is not about the 2016 election.

Non-spoiler slightly longer synopsis: The bag's contents are so technologically advanced as to seem magical. and Well, no wonder they need such bags.

Shock factor: High. and Very High.

My reaction: Damn!

Plausibility: Plausible.


The two stories are related. One takes place in the present, the other in the future.

Kornbluth was a brilliant, and eccentric, young writer who died at age 34. In the meantime he managed some amazing short fiction.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
September 5th, 2017 at 7:06:05 PM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: Nareed
"Reunion" by Arthur C. Clarke


Clarke was usually such a stickler, but humans have not been around for millions of years.

It's less of a story and more of a punchline.
September 5th, 2017 at 7:14:59 PM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: Nareed
"The Marching Morons" by Cyril M. Kornbluth


I think I prefer the story of Golgafrincham in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which has more irony.

It is interesting that in 1951 when world population was 2.5 billion that Kornbluth would predict that hundreds of years in the future the world would double to 5 billion people. In reality it took about 36 years.
September 5th, 2017 at 7:33:24 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: Pacomartin
I think I prefer the story of Golgafrincham in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which has more irony.


In a way. after all "they were all suddenly wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone"

Quote:
It is interesting that in 1951 when world population was 2.5 billion that Kornbluth would predict that hundreds of years in the future the world would double to 5 billion people. In reality it took about 36 years.


Ah, his take on overpopulation is also worth relating. But it's more a novella than a short story.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
September 6th, 2017 at 7:23:21 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: Pacomartin
It is interesting that in 1951 when world population was 2.5 billion that Kornbluth would predict that hundreds of years in the future the world would double to 5 billion people. In reality it took about 36 years.


Asimov made a big deal about overpopulation in many of his works, fiction and non-fiction.

In his Robot series, the setting is an Earth so overpopulated, that everyone now lives in crowded underground cities where resources are strictly rationed and controlled by the government.

This exorbitant population that requires such extreme methods to handle was <drum roll> 8 billion.

You know we'll pass that in under 15 years....
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
September 6th, 2017 at 12:08:33 PM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Maybe ten years
September 7th, 2017 at 8:57:52 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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"The Road Not Taken" by Harry Turtledove

Non-spoiler ridiculously short synopsis: "Your superior intellect is no match for our puny weapons." (with apologies to The Simpson's)

Non-spoiler slightly longer synopsis: Technologically backwards interstellar empires. We've been doing space travel all wrong!

Shock factor: medium to high

My reaction: Really, now.

Plausibility: 0.00000000000000000000000001%. And I place it that high only because it would be cool if it were so.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
September 7th, 2017 at 12:09:00 PM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: Nareed
"The Road Not Taken" by Harry Turtledove


I remember reading a story about highly intelligent bovine-like creatures. Without prehensility they had developed a highly advanced intellect, but without any tools or ability to construct anything , humans do not recognize them as intelligent. If I remember correctly they don't verbalize either, just telepathy.

Another story involved humans killing a praying mantis type bug only to realize that the creature was carrying a tiny little bag full of very advanced instruments. They lose their chance to make first contact because of the innate aversion to non mammalian life forms.

I do like the premise of "The Road Not Taken" and it does remind of us of some of the European conquests. Who would think that living in close quarters with farm animals would be the deciding factor on which continent would develop the dominant population. The guns may conquer a population, but they were not the key to long term subjugation It was the germs.
September 7th, 2017 at 12:24:46 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 323
Posts: 11128
Quote: Pacomartin
I remember reading a story about highly intelligent bovine-like creatures. Without prehensility they had developed a highly advanced intellect, but without any tools or ability to construct anything , humans do not recognize them as intelligent. If I remember correctly they don't verbalize either, just telepathy.


That's a story by Clarke, but there were no humans involved at all. There are some human-like creatures who are not as intelligent, but have hands and can build things.


Quote:
I do like the premise of "The Road Not Taken" and it does remind of us of some of the European conquests.


I would have liked it more if there had been an explanation of hyperspace and contragravity, even if it had been something like Cavorite.

Quote:
Who would think that living in close quarters with farm animals would be the deciding factor on which continent would develop the dominant population. The guns may conquer a population, but they were not the key to long term subjugation It was the germs.


the germs helped, but so did the lack of large domesticated animals in the Americas and Africa, and the limited repertoire of crops available for domestication.

Also the timing.

Let's suppose seafaring had advanced faster, and a group of sailors in New Carthage (today's port city of Cartagena, Spain) crossed the Atlantic and found the Americas 1700 years before Columbus. What then?

They'd have come across the early Maya civilization. Keep in mind the Carthaginians were more traders and merchants than conquerors. Most likely they'd have set up trade. Many of the same germs would have been a factor, as would steel. But the timing and the cultures involved would have been very different.

Also consider religion. While in Carthage human sacrifice (I'm convinced, but there's much controversy still) was rare rather than routine, they'd not have been horrified or felt much superior to the locals. I can see Carthaginians joining in the local cults, as well as introducing the far more common animal sacrifices of their cult. Overall it would have been a more peaceful exchange.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
September 11th, 2017 at 7:12:44 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 323
Posts: 11128
"What can you say about chocolate covered manhole covers?" by Larry Niven.

Non-spoiler ridiculously short synopsis: What if all those "Surprise"! It was Earth!" type stories are distantly based on fact?

Non-spoiler slightly longer synopsis: What's the harm in asking crazy hypothetical questions? What if all the early human paradise myths are distantly based on something that actually happened?

Shock factor: Medium to high. But the story kind of heads there all along.

My reaction: I could see it coming a mile away. Also: you call that handwavium?

Plausibility: Zero.


Bonus:

"What do you think Findlay just came up with?" And it was a new form of ice skating. You strap blocks of ice to your feet, see, and you skate over a field of razor blades set on edge.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
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