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Conservatives simply don't get it. If you want to have a broad approach to something, you bring in experts from ALL fields - and yes, that includes those that have either direct or indirect Hollywood ties.

( follow be below the flip to see how this is a common practice in Washinton )

--- cross-posted at 43-Ideas-Per-Minute ---

Federal officials are hoping Cameron can help them come up with ideas on how to stop the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, officials said today.

The "Avatar" and "Titanic" director was among a group of scientists and other experts who met Tuesday with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies for a brainstorming session on stopping the massive oil leak.

The Canadian-born Cameron is considered an expert on underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies. "Avatar" and "Titanic" are the two highest-grossing films of all time.

BP, meanwhile, hopes to place a cap on a fractured oil pipe and contain the Gulf of Mexico spill within the next 24 hours, a top company official said.

"If everything goes well, within the next 24 hours, we could have this contained," BP's chief operating officer Doug Suttles told reporters in Louisiana.

Considering Cameron's expertise in underwater remote technology, I'm all for him being part of a larger panel doing some brainstorming and problem solving. However, conservatives are framing this like Obama and Cameron are the only ones in the room with their heads in their hands going "oh, shit, what are we going to do?!?!?!?"

But this isn't the first time Feds have used sci-fi writers to help shape specific policy and practices. The intelligence community has been using them for decades to help modify and craft national security procedures and how our defense departments will have to react to or prevent threats against our country.

The most prominent of these groups of authors is called Sigma.

Many SIGMA members are Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers; all are science fiction writers who have spent careers applying their technical and literary talents in exploring the future of science, technology, society and cultures. SIGMA provides a significant pool of talent for volunteer pro bono consultation with the Federal government and other organizations which need the imagination that only speculative writers can provide.

With sufficient notice, SIGMA can provide a panel of distinguished science fiction authors with real-world expertise ranging over physics, astrophysics, nuclear science, advanced weaponry, engineering, nanotechnology, biomedicine, human factors and a common element of practical futurism. Other members can be recruited as needed; a large pool of potential SIGMAns exists within the professional science fiction community.

I'm also reminded of the numerous occasions that Arthor C. Clarke consulted with NASA prior to new missions into space. Was this seen as out of the norm by conservatives? Likely there were a few that found this practice strange, but considering many of the most brilliant minds from the sci-fi genre have predicted most of what we now take for granted, this should come as a surprise to no one.

Again, this is all a matter of perception versus perspective. If you completely lack the proper perspective on any issue, your perceptions can be manipulated quite easily. This is a perfect example of such an issue.

Originally posted to aironlater on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:12 AM PDT.


Who's The Better Sci-Fi Author

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| 87 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cameron could create a virtual Gulf of Mexico... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Texan

    ...that would replace the crappy one we now have.

    This machine makes fascists feel bad. (Meteor Blades-approved version)

    by Rich in PA on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:21:00 AM PDT

  •  While I loves me some Heinlein (4+ / 0-)

    gotta give the nod on your list to Arthur (not Author) C. Clarke.

    Which begs the question-what, you never heard of a fella named Asimov?

    Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

    by boadicea on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:21:19 AM PDT

  •  I like Heinlein, but Clarke is a better writer... (5+ / 0-)

    Asimov was a better writer and scientist in one package.

    As far as brainstorming, the more the merrier at this point. We're almost down to the really bizarre notions. I'm resigned to waiting for the relief wells, and hoping for all I'm worth that one of the two being drilled will be sufficient and we won't have to try over.

    But I sure hope they are preparing to start more.

    "They paved paradise, and put in a parking lot."
    "...Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"
    - Joni Mitchell

    by davewill on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:23:41 AM PDT

    •  At this point (4+ / 0-)

      I am almost ready to offer a BP drilling executive to propitiate the gods of the Gulf.

      Let them do with him what they will...

      Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

      by boadicea on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:26:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, but neither Art nor Ike (0+ / 0-)

      could carry Heinlein's pencil case. Only on rare occasions (Childhood's End, Nightfall) did either rise anywhere near the level of competence that RAH achieved on a regular basis. Only someone who's essentially style-deaf and/or prejudiced by distaste for Heinlein's politics could think otherwise.

      May I bow to Necessity not/ To her hirelings (W. S. Merwin)

      by Uncle Cosmo on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:37:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the condescension. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Uncle Cosmo

        Look I like Heinlien...a lot. If I want something I can relax and enjoy without straining myself...he's a great choice.

        His politics were some of the most interesting parts of his writing, even when I didn't agree with them. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress may have been the most accessible expression of the libertarian thesis I've ever read.

        But I find Clarke more thought provoking and interesting.

        "They paved paradise, and put in a parking lot."
        "...Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"
        - Joni Mitchell

        by davewill on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:46:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  <crotchety rant> You're quite welcome (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jaime Frontero

          Clarke and Asimov both had interesting ideas, but from the point of view of prose style, they were rhinoceroses (rhinoceri?) trying to tapdance in hip boots. Occasionally they'd stumble onto a concept that would provoke their inner poet into song...but very occasionally. Otherwise their prose never rose above the level of workmanlike.

          Heinlein, OTOH, was simply the best ever at what is hands-down the hardest requirement of good SF (& perhaps of any type of fiction): putting the reader into an utterly alien environment that he not only believes but is comfortable with, while at the same time revealing characters, advancing the plot, & performing well all those tasks that good fiction of any genre demands--all without any apparent effort. Anyone putative SF author who wants to develop that ability is well advised to read & reread & rereread RAH until s/he figures out where the wires are & how they're being (gently but insistently) pulled.

          Most SF geeks I knew from my daze in fandom had precious little idea RAH was doing all that or how hard it was--indeed were completely innocent of anything resembling prose style, & trampled through the verbiage merely in order to get to the ideas. My contempt for this was perhaps best expressed by Harlan Ellison's offhand comment in the foreword to Dangerous Visions(1967) that the legendary John Campbell once edited a magazine that published science fiction called Astounding but now [i.e., 1967] edited a magazine that published wiring diagrams, called Analog. Too much of Art & Ike is wiring diagrams--or far too lengthy preparation for a single more or less lame punchiline (cf. "The Star" or "The 9 Billion Names of God")--none of which the puerile audience understood.

          < /crotchety rant>

          May I bow to Necessity not/ To her hirelings (W. S. Merwin)

          by Uncle Cosmo on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 12:58:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Not to mention... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wondering if

    Peter K. Hamilton, Alistair Reynolds, Ian McLeod,
    Richard K. Morgan, Jerry Pournelle, Ian M. Banks, Allen Steele...

    "Ridicule may lawfully be employed where reason has no hope of success." -7.75/-6.05

    by QuestionAuthority on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:31:42 AM PDT

  •  I love Author C. Clarke (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davewill, mydailydrunk

    almost as much as Arthur C. Clarke.

    That said, don't you know (as all Republicans do) that Hollywood is teh Evull? Bad, childeren, bad!

    We must put teh Evull away from us!!!

    •  He should have stopped at 2001 though. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Instead of trying to explain every friggin' thing that happened with sequels.

      No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, `less you happen to be an old person, and you slept in it.

      by dov12348 on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:46:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  2001 was written after the movie (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, dov12348

        was inspired by a short story by Clarke (too lazy to look up the name). But you're right, it was better than the sequels.

        He also gets credit for inventing the idea of the geostationary satellite (one that orbits once in 24 hours). Still waiting for a cable strong enough to construct an elevator to space.

        •  "The Sentinel" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          As far as the space elevator concept - Clarke was a fan, yes.  And it was central to "Fountains of Paradise".

          But the idea goes back to 1895.  Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

          It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

          by Jaime Frontero on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 12:09:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  My choices weren't on your list. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NMRed, TiaRachel, G2geek, Leo in NJ

    Roger Zelazny and Anne McCaffrey. Or perhaps L. SPrague de Camp.

    At one point during WWII, deCamp, Heinlein and Asimov were alls tationed together in Philadelphia--but non the Philadelphia Experiement.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:32:42 AM PDT

    •  I'm a big Zelazny fan (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but his work, and McCaffreys tends to fall farther away from the hard end of the spectrum.

      More about the human condition and variations, and less about the impact of changing the world on the human condition.

      •  I liked Zelazny's earlier stuff a lot. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The Egyptian/Babylonian/etc. explorations.

        I think he fell into the 'franchise trap' - with Amber - that's eaten up many good genre writers: more notably in the mystery field, like Patterson and Sandford.

        Jordan, Goodkind and Modesitt come to mind.  Pratchett and Wilson/Shea seemed to be able to avoid staleness with their utter bizarrity.

        And of course, Asimov's retconn juxtaposition of the Robot and Foundation worlds was easily the strangest and least understandable of them all...

        It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

        by Jaime Frontero on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 12:03:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Amber was such a small amount of his stuff (0+ / 0-)

          that I don't think it had an impact.

          Modesitt has done some interesting works. Very environmental focused in a lot of his works, but not with the usual sensibilities. Still, fits the world to his story more then coming up with a world and a story that fit together.

          Jordan and Goodkind have wrote some fun reads, but are not Sci-Fi. Fantasy, or the bigger SF: speculative fiction umbrella perhaps...

          •  It had a pretty fair inpact--it's still (0+ / 0-)

            popular and they're continuing the series. I love the series for personal reason--Roger gave me away at my fannish wedding at SunCon where I as Fiona, married COrwin. SIlly schtick and the ceremony was replete with puns  and I was trumped in.

            He's a wonderful prose styulist, but then he had a amster's in Elizabethan and Jacobean Lit.

            Tried Jordan three tiems, GAve up.  Goodkind I made it fiver books intot he series. For fantasy I prefer Martin.

            And to remind you, sf also includes SOCIAL sciences as well as the classic sciences.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 06:18:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I was more commenting on the franchise trap. (0+ / 0-)

              He did more other stuff that people still read, and his later stuff was not stuck in the mold of amber (I tried the first prequil by the new writer and was less impressed).

              Also, that sounds like a great wedding!

              Social science is certainly significant, I don't have the background to be able to draw a hard/soft line as clearly there as I do with the more classical stuff.

      •  Sf doesn't have to be hard end. (0+ / 0-)

        De Camp, who was a firend, was an engineer by training, BTW. ANd one hell of a raconteur.

        I prefer Zelazny for the writing. Most of the hard tech gods have fascinating ideas, but Heinlein couldn't write for shit, really. ANd his God, are they wstereotypes, even his suppsoedly kick-ass heroiens tend to remind me of Bree on Desperate Hosuewives with a raygun.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 06:14:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not saying it has to be (0+ / 0-)

          but more that calling on SF writers for more engineering type tasks is likely to be more aiming at the hard science type writers, and that is who the OP seems to be thinking of. Go to more exotic events, and you want people who are more exotic thinkers.

    •  most influential on my outlook were: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... in chronological order of my exposure to them:

      Asimov (Foundation provides the strategy for dealing with the impacts of climate change on society).

      John Brunner.  He was more of a dissident and I can't imagine him working with the US Gov, but his depiction of social & cultural stuff and certain trends, was right on target for elements of our likely future.  

      Stand on Zanzibar:  cultural trends in general, lots of small details.

      The Shockwave Rider:  cyberpunk before there was anything like cyberpunk.

      The Sheep Look Up:  ecological catastrophe and responses to it.  

      •  Brunner was amazing. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        As far as I know (haven't really looked into it) he invented nanostring.  Remember the bit in "Stand on Zanzibar" where the protagonist gets his head sliced off, and has to hold it on with both hands until the medics arrive?  Such a fine cut on a molecular level, that it didn't even interfere with nerve impulses.

        Man, that image has never left me...

        It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

        by Jaime Frontero on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 12:23:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep i remember that part. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jaime Frontero

          Nanowire it was called, and the scenario was that it was stretched across a ferry terminal so when the ferry came in, the passengers would be slaughtered in the manner you described.

          Brunner also predicted Jihadi terrorists, who were the ones that used the nanowire that way.

          And another one of his little out-takes referred to a "call generator" that could be placed next to a payphone and use wireless means to jam the phone network with spurious call traffic.   So he predicted DOS attacks too.  

          World-class genius and hardly recognized around here.  Sigh.  

          He was also a significant influence on my own fiction writing style.  Something I was working on years ago used that method of having the occasional chapter with a bunch of random out-takes from "the world at-large" beyond the scope of the characters (some of which were tied into the plot later).  

          The style I'm interested in right now is the "split future" thing where you take one set of characters and settings, in two different futures, and tell two divergent stories.   There's a guy around on dKos who is using the same style and doing it very well, though his stuff has enough R-rated content to give me nightmares so that's "out of range" for me.   But I wonder how widely this is catching on?  And I wonder if it's an outcome of the times we live in, standing at a bifurcation point between climate catastrophe, neofeudalism, and theocracy; and the potential for a world that's truly sane, humane, and sustainable?  That is, we face a split future, and it shows up as a writing style.   What do you think?  

          •  Yes - nano/wire/. The split future... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ...device is interesting, but difficult.  The best I've ever seen was "The Female Man".

            Yes - there's no doubt we're at a cusp.  And I agree with you that more 'split future' writing may result from that.  I dunno if it'll catch on in a big way though - it's tough to follow, and attention spans grow shorter and shorter.

            I wrote a novel backwards in time once (not SF though).  It was almost impossible a.) to keep track of, b.) not to give everything away from the start, and c.) to resolve everything at the beginning, so to speak.

            There's a reason books go from beginning to end, I guess.  We live that way (except Merlin, of course).

            It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

            by Jaime Frontero on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 04:53:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  about those attention spans.... (0+ / 0-)

              .... I was just having something of an arguement elsewhere, with people who were all upset because AT&T wireless over their iThings was going to cost more money to impulse-buy first run movies and so on.   Anyone who understands technology understands that the words "impulse buy" and "first-run movie" and "cellular network" do not belong in the same sentence, any more than "three martinis" and "driving home."  

              One of them was a guy who was upset because he has trouble listening to radio over the internet via his iPhone while walking!  For this purpose we used to have something called a transistor radio!  But then came the Walk-Thing, and then the iPod, but somehow that's not good enough, people want to spend a few hundred bucks to get more or less the same result they would have gotten for $15 a couple of decades ago!    

              Bloody hell, how'bout people just listen to their own thoughts for a change?!  

              Here's another example:  I ask people how long it takes to dial a phone number using a touchtone dial and using a rotary dial.   They typically say something like 5 seconds for touchtone and 15 seconds for rotary.  In fact the actual times are half of those numbers.   2.5 seconds for touchtone, 7.5 seconds for rotary.

              And how many people even have the patience to spend 2.5 seconds pressing the touchtone buttons?   No, instead they click "redial last call."   This has become so widespread that it becomes a problem in the design of business telephone systems, where callers end up trying to reconnect via the last number in a hunt group, which is susceptible to being busy; so now we have to spec circular hunting.  Minor change but none the less, driven by a particular form of impatience that is a telling symptom of a potentially terminal condition.  

              More and more I think we're a failed species that is going to fail the Darwin test of our times.  Wish it wasn't so.  I'm going to go hole up with a genius colony and quit trying to save humans who appear to be doing everything possible to Darwinize themselves, including making themselves stupid along the way.  

            •  about writing backward in time: (0+ / 0-)

              That is a really interesting exercise.  

              Say more.  

              Did you run the whole thing backward like a movie run in reverse where the glass of water gets sucked up by the kitchen faucet and so on?  

              Or did you use normal physics but tell the story in reverse order, the way a person might recount their day as last-in-first-out?    ("Before I got on the train to come home, I bought a newspaper.  Before I did that, I chatted with a friend on the way out of the office.   Before that, I was on the phone with a client...")

              I'd also be interested in the small details of language usage, verb forms, and so on, that you used.  

              Anything else you want to tell me, I'm interested to know.

              •  Hard to explain. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I split the outline of a person's life (mine, mostly - first novel...) into chapters, and then flipped 'em backwards in chronological order: starting with death (or what led up to it), and ending with earliest memories.

                I think it was an exploration of how dependent we are on the moments of our lives that we consider to be the most important.  When you play a life backwards, it's rife with "Ah-ha!" moments.  But instead of those moments being the inevitable results of an earlier decision, they became - in some strange way - the cause of those decisions.  It was a strange way to look at my life - and I'm not so sure it'd work as a whole-cloth creation.

                It was written in third person, and I used internal memory as a device to weld it together - not as dialogue, but almost as a separate, external narrative.  First paragraphs:


                Home, that swordsman.  Home from the sweltering sea, the pointydome covered African desert, the endless apologia of the Midwest, and the land of his birth but not his love; LA – where ofttime striding over someone else’s rainbow he had seen his life a trifle, trolloping for some silver-screamed immorality.  There was no time for such silliness in Jaime’s heart a’more.  Not now.  Not with heavy lungfuls containing each a hundred atoms of Silvernail Peter Stuyvesant to give him pause and smile, circulating eternally through the air and bars and streets of home.  Of all things on earth he loved this city, next only to Gwendolyn.  To have the two of them in one blessed spot on our green and concrete planet was all the shelter that his life desired, could see no game better playne.

                And yeah, I have a little membership card in the James Joyce Society.  Mmmph.

                It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

                by Jaime Frontero on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 08:04:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  well done; and also.... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jaime Frontero

                  ... not immediately evident from that passage, that you were writing backward in time.  I think it could be done successfully; it's just a matter of becoming familiar with the method.  

                  It would be interesting to have a fiction forum here, where people can post the stuff they're writing and get feedback, and even potentially get collaborations going.  

                •  good point about the "ahas." (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jaime Frontero

                  Flip time-ordering on its head and the "aha" moments appear to be like deliberately-willed causes of the events that "follow" backward in time.  

                  Very interesting perspective, and possibly a useful exercise for real-world decision making.  

  •  Niven & Pournelle parodied this in Footfall. (8+ / 0-)

    Their SciFi/disaster/alien invasion novel Footfall is chock full of little in-jokes for SciFi fans. One of its plot elements involved a panel of science fiction writers convened to help brainstorm a response to an attack on earth by a huge spaceship crewed by (and I'm not joking) sentient aliens looking just like elephants.

  •  your poll has #fail (3+ / 0-)

    No mention of Bruce Sterling? No Vernor Vinge? I gotta vote 'present' on this one.

    "Not dead ... yet. Still have ... things to do." -Liet Kynes

    by Stranded Wind on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:34:29 AM PDT

  •  Urusula K LeGuin! (5+ / 0-)

    For social dynamics she can't be beat!

    Can we wait this long? Obama/Biden 08! Yes we did!!! Impeach Bush/Cheney

    by dangangry on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:34:32 AM PDT

  •  Subsurface burnoff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Jaime Frontero

    It's not pretty but

    1. inject oxygen into plume
    1. light it up
    1. continue until well capped or relief well drilled

    Will work on that one some more...

    These blockade crayons are now the ultimate power in the universe.

    by cskendrick on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:37:43 AM PDT

  •  I refuse to pick just one (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, QuestionAuthority

    Asimov is my favorite author but he wrote other things besides sci-fi.  I really enjoy Clark and Heinlein as well and over the last few years I've developed quite a fondness for Charles Eric Maine.  It's too bad Clarke & Asimov aren't still alive, they'd be my go-to guys if I were BP, thank god I'm not.  

    "In our century, we've learned not to fear words" - Lt. Uhura

    by ShempLugosi on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:37:56 AM PDT

  •  Ray Bradbury, by far. (2+ / 0-)


    No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, `less you happen to be an old person, and you slept in it.

    by dov12348 on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:45:37 AM PDT

    •  Yes. But not on the list. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, dov12348, Deep Texan

      Holy God he turned into a neocon ranter though.  WTF?

      It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

      by Jaime Frontero on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:55:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I love Bradbury (5+ / 0-)

      I just don't love his own self-imposed definition of sci fi. It is too narrow for a genre of fiction to limit itself to only what could be possible, I think. But I have to give him credit--if it wasn't for him (and Wells), I probably wouldn't be the sci fi geek I am today.

      That said, Philip K. Dick: No one can touch him. Clarke and Heinlein wrote for a genre that was already laid out of them, while Dick essentially reinvented the genre to accommodate his ideas and vision. What an awe-inspiring imagination he had. And a wickedly devious and subversive sense of humor. He wrote for 21st century, only decades earlier. If only Hollywood could have made A Scanner Darkly movie that didn't suck.

      -8.50, -7.64 "We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress." - Will Rogers

      by croyal on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:58:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dick was - to be polite - not a very... (0+ / 0-)

        ...good writer.

        But his ideas - and his exploration of them - were the best ever in the field.

        It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

        by Jaime Frontero on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 11:07:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Philip Dick was not a good HARD SF writer, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, QuestionAuthority

          but a very good writer. There's a difference and it's not hard for me to accept that his style is hard for the Larry Niven fans to take. But try reading Scanner Darkly; it really builds and has a very "normal" if depressing plot, unlike almost everything else he wrote.

        •  Dick was good enough to give me... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, OHdog

          ...nightmares from some of his plots. He was a paranoid's paranoid. He was also prescient about a lot of what's happening right now, like the surveillance state, etc.

          "Ridicule may lawfully be employed where reason has no hope of success." -7.75/-6.05

          by QuestionAuthority on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 11:56:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Like "The Father Thing" for instance? Gave me (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            nightmares! I read it at the age of 12 and did I sleep for a week? NOT! (Hint- we had a bamboo grove in the back yard, and What could be lurking there...?)

            •  "Preventative arrests? Constant monitoring?" (0+ / 0-)

              Like in "Minority Report?"

              (The novella was better, but the movie was a decent adaptation.) Dick may have been paranoid, but he had an unnerving way of being right, just as George Orwell was.

              "Ridicule may lawfully be employed where reason has no hope of success." -7.75/-6.05

              by QuestionAuthority on Thu Jun 03, 2010 at 05:30:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Charles Stross (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, wondering if

    but I grew up reading Nivin/Pournelle and will always have a soft spot for them, especially "Inferno".

    If I were to design a trojan horse to bring down the Republican party, it would bear an uncanny resemblance to Rand Paul. - #104758

    by mydailydrunk on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 10:55:02 AM PDT

  •  I'd have to vote for Robert Silverberg ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boadicea, QuestionAuthority

    ... although I know he didn't write much "hard" SF in the scientific sense. Novels like The Book Of Skulls, Dying Inside, and Shadrach In The Furnace always made me think more in terms of how speculative fiction could better describe the human condition. Norman Spinrad also excels in this area.

    Then again, Heinlein's Stranger In A Strange Land is still hard to beat.

    For some reason, I've never been able to appreciate William Gibson, though. He's a fine technical writer. His plot devices are brilliant and his ratio of adjectives to nouns to verbs is damn near perfect. His books are nicely descriptive and his stories move along quickly enough, but there's just always something unbelievable about his characters to me. And if a work of fiction doesn't have interesting characters, well, I ususally find myself getting bored with it rather quickly. That's probably more a matter of my own limitations than the fault of the author, however.

  •  Isaac Asimov (4+ / 0-)

    Is the answer you didn't include.

    So what about an inflatable (with concrete, not air) plug?

    Inject a collapsed streamlined inflatable down the well with still smaller pipe until you get below the mud zone, then pump concrete or some other material that would inflate the container and fill it?

    Kind of a directed topkill, but without the tires and golfballs.

    Progressive -> Progress; Conservative -> Con

    by nightsweat on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 11:09:22 AM PDT

  •  You really expect us to choose? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boadicea, QuestionAuthority

    I couldn't possibly say who is the best writer, but I can say that Heinlein is responsible for my political and social views. Without his help, I would probably be a very frustrated republican right now. Heinlein taught me that different points of view should be respected. I love that man.

    And, by the way, Heinlein's views on women improved considerably over the years, just as society's did. And though his women never became realistic, keep in mind that his men weren't either. Heinlein spoke to the best that we could be. We need more people like that in Washington.

    Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable. J.K. Galbraith

    by tb92 on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 11:13:21 AM PDT

  •  My mistake (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Apologies for leaving off many of the more obvious choices.  I was rushing this one a bit.  It’s nice to see that I’ve sparked some serious debate though on how sci-fi writers expressed their political bent in their prose.

    Just nod your head and say "ok"

    by aironlater on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 11:45:02 AM PDT

  •  It's ARTHUR C. Clarke, not Author (0+ / 0-)

    You can't change the poll, I know, but if you could change it in the title, my teeth would be a bit less on edge.

    And you left out the best SF author of the bunch -- Issac Asimov.

    Normal is a setting on a washing machine. -- escapee

    by Cali Scribe on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 12:15:00 PM PDT

  •  That's not the only think the Feds has a history (0+ / 0-)

    of working with.

     (Bloomberg) -- Last week the New York Federal Reserve made what may go down as the most misguided move in the history of the Federal Reserve system. They laundered money for North Korea.

     And that doesn't count the terrorists we work with.

    "The people have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want & the courage to take." - Emma Goldman

    by gjohnsit on Wed Jun 02, 2010 at 12:40:48 PM PDT

  •  Conservatives like historical fiction better (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Their favorite is the Bible.

    Decadence is an article of faith for conservatives: America and human civilization in general peaked long ago and progress and a better world is impossible, at least in this life. The closest we can get is to attempt to recreate the mythical golden age.

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