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"Blackout" by Connie Willis

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  • William C. Garthright
    I just finished this, and I posted the review on my blog. But since it s very much on-topic here (the book was just published this year), I ll copy it here,
    Message 1 of 18 , Mar 2 9:47 AM
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      I just finished this, and I posted the review on my blog. But since it's
      very much on-topic here (the book was just published this year), I'll
      copy it here, too (with very minor alterations):

      Connie Willis is one of my very favorite science fiction authors, but
      unfortunately, she's not very prolific. And most of what she does write
      is short fiction. *Blackout* is her first novel - though, actually, only
      the first half of a duology - since 2001's *Passage* (which I loved).
      Since the second half of the story won't be published until fall, maybe
      I should have waited before reading this. But I couldn't resist.

      *Blackout* returns to the same uptime time-travel world as in her
      *Doomsday Book* (1993) and *To Say Nothing of the Dog* (1999), both Hugo
      Award winning novels. But as anyone familiar with those books must know,
      it's the downtime setting that's really important. And for that she also
      returns to a familiar setting, the London Blitz during World War II, the
      focus of her award-winning novelette, "Fire Watch," and her novella,
      "Jack" (and, to some extent, her short story, "The Winds of Marble
      Arch," too).

      Clearly, Willis is inspired by the courage and the tenacity of British
      civilians in World War II, and so am I. This book is filled with
      ordinary people doing extraordinary things in a time of extreme danger
      and uncertainty - and the young historians who have come from the future
      to study them. But right from the beginning, there are ominous signs
      that things might be going wrong with their time-travel technology.
      Although there's humor in the book, as usual with Connie Willis, the
      mood in *Blackout* doesn't change so dramatically, and isn't so
      impressively varied, as in *Passage*. For the most part, there's tension
      from the beginning, and the tension just builds as the book continues.

      Most of the book focuses on that courage and tenacity of the British
      public, of all ages, in the 1940's - shopgirls, weekend sailors,
      upper-class ambulance drivers, maids, etc. But this is not historical
      fiction. There's an unknown problem that might leave the young
      time-travelers stranded in the past, or worse, alter the very course of
      the war, possibly enough that the Axis might win. By the end of the
      book, we still don't know what the problem is or how dangerous it might
      be. But it's clear that something has gone wrong. I eagerly await the
      conclusion.

      Are there any problems with the book? Well, I enjoyed the madcap
      beginning of the book, where everyone involved in time travel is
      frustrated by the constant rescheduling (forewarning that something
      could be wrong), but it might not be to everyone's taste. And the
      chapters alternate in focusing on three main characters, and at least a
      couple of minor ones, jumping back and forth from year to year and month
      to month. You really have to pay attention to the dates in the chapter
      headings (although the story is linear from the point of view of each
      separate character).

      For the most part, I didn't have any trouble keeping track. But a couple
      of times, we start reading about people who haven't shown up previously,
      and we don't have any idea who they are. Frankly, we don't have to know
      who they are - it's clear enough that one of the characters in each
      chapter is a time-traveler - but the first time this happened, I thought
      I'd missed something earlier in the book. No, just go with the flow and
      expect that things will come together in the end.

      I do wonder a bit about the size of the book, since this is only half
      the story. In the /Acknowledgments/, Willis mentions how it "morphed
      from one book into two and I went slowly mad under the strain." It does
      seem odd that an author of primarily short fiction should need a duology
      to tell this story. And *Passage* was surprisingly long, too (though I
      loved every bit of it). Well, a story takes as long as it needs, and so
      far, this one does not drag in the telling. [Frankly, to you Modern SF
      people, I've only started to notice this kind of thing because Tony
      tends to mention the length of modern science fiction, compared to the
      classics. Without that,... I probably wouldn't have payed much attention
      to the length of this. I guess now I kind of figure it's something I
      should mention.]

      All in all, none of that bothered me. The book was riveting, and I could
      hardly put it down. But I don't know yet if this is going to be as good
      as her other novels. It is longer than anything else she's written, and
      so far, there's been a lot of tension, with steadily increasing levels
      of fear, but not a clear-cut threat (other than the ever-present threat
      of German bombs, of course). The time-travelers are worried about
      getting home, scared that something terrible might have happened in
      their own time, and terrified that their presence might end up changing
      history after all. I'll wait for the conclusion before making any firm
      judgments, but I can certainly say that I've enjoyed the story so far.

      Bill

      http://garthright.blogspot.com/

      --
      Every day, hundreds of observations and experiments pour into the hopper
      of the scientific literature... and every fact that has something to do
      with evolution confirms its truth. Every fossil that we find, every DNA
      molecule that we sequence, every organ system that we dissect supports
      the idea that species evolved from common ancestors. - Jerry A. Coyne
    • graysh07
      All I ll say right now, is that I think you ll be happy with my choice, if I don t get a story pick from Jim in the next three days. John
      Message 2 of 18 , Mar 2 2:25 PM
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        All I'll say right now, is that I think you'll be happy with my choice, if I don't get a story pick from Jim in the next three days.

        John



        --- In modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com, "William C. Garthright" <billg@...> wrote:
        >
        > I just finished this, and I posted the review on my blog. But since it's
        > very much on-topic here (the book was just published this year), I'll
        > copy it here, too (with very minor alterations):
        >
        > Connie Willis is one of my very favorite science fiction authors, but
        > unfortunately, she's not very prolific. And most of what she does write
        > is short fiction. *Blackout* is her first novel - though, actually, only
        > the first half of a duology - since 2001's *Passage* (which I loved).
        > Since the second half of the story won't be published until fall, maybe
        > I should have waited before reading this. But I couldn't resist.
        >
        > *Blackout* returns to the same uptime time-travel world as in her
        > *Doomsday Book* (1993) and *To Say Nothing of the Dog* (1999), both Hugo
        > Award winning novels. But as anyone familiar with those books must know,
        > it's the downtime setting that's really important. And for that she also
        > returns to a familiar setting, the London Blitz during World War II, the
        > focus of her award-winning novelette, "Fire Watch," and her novella,
        > "Jack" (and, to some extent, her short story, "The Winds of Marble
        > Arch," too).
        >
        > Clearly, Willis is inspired by the courage and the tenacity of British
        > civilians in World War II, and so am I. This book is filled with
        > ordinary people doing extraordinary things in a time of extreme danger
        > and uncertainty - and the young historians who have come from the future
        > to study them. But right from the beginning, there are ominous signs
        > that things might be going wrong with their time-travel technology.
        > Although there's humor in the book, as usual with Connie Willis, the
        > mood in *Blackout* doesn't change so dramatically, and isn't so
        > impressively varied, as in *Passage*. For the most part, there's tension
        > from the beginning, and the tension just builds as the book continues.
        >
        > Most of the book focuses on that courage and tenacity of the British
        > public, of all ages, in the 1940's - shopgirls, weekend sailors,
        > upper-class ambulance drivers, maids, etc. But this is not historical
        > fiction. There's an unknown problem that might leave the young
        > time-travelers stranded in the past, or worse, alter the very course of
        > the war, possibly enough that the Axis might win. By the end of the
        > book, we still don't know what the problem is or how dangerous it might
        > be. But it's clear that something has gone wrong. I eagerly await the
        > conclusion.
        >
        > Are there any problems with the book? Well, I enjoyed the madcap
        > beginning of the book, where everyone involved in time travel is
        > frustrated by the constant rescheduling (forewarning that something
        > could be wrong), but it might not be to everyone's taste. And the
        > chapters alternate in focusing on three main characters, and at least a
        > couple of minor ones, jumping back and forth from year to year and month
        > to month. You really have to pay attention to the dates in the chapter
        > headings (although the story is linear from the point of view of each
        > separate character).
        >
        > For the most part, I didn't have any trouble keeping track. But a couple
        > of times, we start reading about people who haven't shown up previously,
        > and we don't have any idea who they are. Frankly, we don't have to know
        > who they are - it's clear enough that one of the characters in each
        > chapter is a time-traveler - but the first time this happened, I thought
        > I'd missed something earlier in the book. No, just go with the flow and
        > expect that things will come together in the end.
        >
        > I do wonder a bit about the size of the book, since this is only half
        > the story. In the /Acknowledgments/, Willis mentions how it "morphed
        > from one book into two and I went slowly mad under the strain." It does
        > seem odd that an author of primarily short fiction should need a duology
        > to tell this story. And *Passage* was surprisingly long, too (though I
        > loved every bit of it). Well, a story takes as long as it needs, and so
        > far, this one does not drag in the telling. [Frankly, to you Modern SF
        > people, I've only started to notice this kind of thing because Tony
        > tends to mention the length of modern science fiction, compared to the
        > classics. Without that,... I probably wouldn't have payed much attention
        > to the length of this. I guess now I kind of figure it's something I
        > should mention.]
        >
        > All in all, none of that bothered me. The book was riveting, and I could
        > hardly put it down. But I don't know yet if this is going to be as good
        > as her other novels. It is longer than anything else she's written, and
        > so far, there's been a lot of tension, with steadily increasing levels
        > of fear, but not a clear-cut threat (other than the ever-present threat
        > of German bombs, of course). The time-travelers are worried about
        > getting home, scared that something terrible might have happened in
        > their own time, and terrified that their presence might end up changing
        > history after all. I'll wait for the conclusion before making any firm
        > judgments, but I can certainly say that I've enjoyed the story so far.
        >
        > Bill
        >
        > http://garthright.blogspot.com/
        >
        > --
        > Every day, hundreds of observations and experiments pour into the hopper
        > of the scientific literature... and every fact that has something to do
        > with evolution confirms its truth. Every fossil that we find, every DNA
        > molecule that we sequence, every organ system that we dissect supports
        > the idea that species evolved from common ancestors. - Jerry A. Coyne
        >
      • James Wallace Harris (jharris)
        I m supposed to pick a story? I missed something??? Jim ... From: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com] On
        Message 3 of 18 , Mar 2 2:26 PM
        • 0 Attachment
          I'm supposed to pick a story? I missed something???

          Jim


          -----Original Message-----
          From: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of graysh07
          Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2010 4:25 PM
          To: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [modernsciencefiction2] Re: "Blackout" by Connie Willis

          All I'll say right now, is that I think you'll be happy with my choice, if I don't get a story pick from Jim in the next three days.

          John



          --- In modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com, "William C. Garthright" <billg@...> wrote:
          >
          > I just finished this, and I posted the review on my blog. But since it's
          > very much on-topic here (the book was just published this year), I'll
          > copy it here, too (with very minor alterations):
          >
          > Connie Willis is one of my very favorite science fiction authors, but
          > unfortunately, she's not very prolific. And most of what she does write
          > is short fiction. *Blackout* is her first novel - though, actually, only
          > the first half of a duology - since 2001's *Passage* (which I loved).
          > Since the second half of the story won't be published until fall, maybe
          > I should have waited before reading this. But I couldn't resist.
          >
          > *Blackout* returns to the same uptime time-travel world as in her
          > *Doomsday Book* (1993) and *To Say Nothing of the Dog* (1999), both Hugo
          > Award winning novels. But as anyone familiar with those books must know,
          > it's the downtime setting that's really important. And for that she also
          > returns to a familiar setting, the London Blitz during World War II, the
          > focus of her award-winning novelette, "Fire Watch," and her novella,
          > "Jack" (and, to some extent, her short story, "The Winds of Marble
          > Arch," too).
          >
          > Clearly, Willis is inspired by the courage and the tenacity of British
          > civilians in World War II, and so am I. This book is filled with
          > ordinary people doing extraordinary things in a time of extreme danger
          > and uncertainty - and the young historians who have come from the future
          > to study them. But right from the beginning, there are ominous signs
          > that things might be going wrong with their time-travel technology.
          > Although there's humor in the book, as usual with Connie Willis, the
          > mood in *Blackout* doesn't change so dramatically, and isn't so
          > impressively varied, as in *Passage*. For the most part, there's tension
          > from the beginning, and the tension just builds as the book continues.
          >
          > Most of the book focuses on that courage and tenacity of the British
          > public, of all ages, in the 1940's - shopgirls, weekend sailors,
          > upper-class ambulance drivers, maids, etc. But this is not historical
          > fiction. There's an unknown problem that might leave the young
          > time-travelers stranded in the past, or worse, alter the very course of
          > the war, possibly enough that the Axis might win. By the end of the
          > book, we still don't know what the problem is or how dangerous it might
          > be. But it's clear that something has gone wrong. I eagerly await the
          > conclusion.
          >
          > Are there any problems with the book? Well, I enjoyed the madcap
          > beginning of the book, where everyone involved in time travel is
          > frustrated by the constant rescheduling (forewarning that something
          > could be wrong), but it might not be to everyone's taste. And the
          > chapters alternate in focusing on three main characters, and at least a
          > couple of minor ones, jumping back and forth from year to year and month
          > to month. You really have to pay attention to the dates in the chapter
          > headings (although the story is linear from the point of view of each
          > separate character).
          >
          > For the most part, I didn't have any trouble keeping track. But a couple
          > of times, we start reading about people who haven't shown up previously,
          > and we don't have any idea who they are. Frankly, we don't have to know
          > who they are - it's clear enough that one of the characters in each
          > chapter is a time-traveler - but the first time this happened, I thought
          > I'd missed something earlier in the book. No, just go with the flow and
          > expect that things will come together in the end.
          >
          > I do wonder a bit about the size of the book, since this is only half
          > the story. In the /Acknowledgments/, Willis mentions how it "morphed
          > from one book into two and I went slowly mad under the strain." It does
          > seem odd that an author of primarily short fiction should need a duology
          > to tell this story. And *Passage* was surprisingly long, too (though I
          > loved every bit of it). Well, a story takes as long as it needs, and so
          > far, this one does not drag in the telling. [Frankly, to you Modern SF
          > people, I've only started to notice this kind of thing because Tony
          > tends to mention the length of modern science fiction, compared to the
          > classics. Without that,... I probably wouldn't have payed much attention
          > to the length of this. I guess now I kind of figure it's something I
          > should mention.]
          >
          > All in all, none of that bothered me. The book was riveting, and I could
          > hardly put it down. But I don't know yet if this is going to be as good
          > as her other novels. It is longer than anything else she's written, and
          > so far, there's been a lot of tension, with steadily increasing levels
          > of fear, but not a clear-cut threat (other than the ever-present threat
          > of German bombs, of course). The time-travelers are worried about
          > getting home, scared that something terrible might have happened in
          > their own time, and terrified that their presence might end up changing
          > history after all. I'll wait for the conclusion before making any firm
          > judgments, but I can certainly say that I've enjoyed the story so far.
          >
          > Bill
          >
          > http://garthright.blogspot.com/
          >
          > --
          > Every day, hundreds of observations and experiments pour into the hopper
          > of the scientific literature... and every fact that has something to do
          > with evolution confirms its truth. Every fossil that we find, every DNA
          > molecule that we sequence, every organ system that we dissect supports
          > the idea that species evolved from common ancestors. - Jerry A. Coyne
          >




          ------------------------------------

          Yahoo! Groups Links
        • William C. Garthright
          ... Did you miss John s Important Announcement post, Jim? Let s see, ... Bill http://garthright.blogspot.com/ -- True terror is to wake up one morning and
          Message 4 of 18 , Mar 2 4:58 PM
          • 0 Attachment
            > I'm supposed to pick a story? I missed something???


            Did you miss John's "Important Announcement" post, Jim? Let's see,
            here's the critical part:


            > Okay, as I said in a previous post I decided after looking at the results of the vote to pick a monthly Modern Science Fiction Short Story, Novelette or Novella on a rotating basis. This is the fairest way I can think of, if you want us to read recent Hugo or Nebula nominees then pick one of them when it is your turn, if you have an "old" favorite from the 1980s that you want to discuss, pick it when it is your turn.
            >
            > The big caveat is that the story MUST BE available online. Pretty much everyone agreed with that according to the poll. So you have not made your pick until you have posted or emailed me a link to the story online.
            >
            > ...
            >
            > (Please note. The way I picked this order was Jim got the first month because he made a post about how excited he is about reading and finding new Modern Science Fiction.


            Oh, well, maybe I'd better just copy and paste the whole schedule here:


            > Okay without further ado, here is the schedule
            >
            > 2010
            > March- Jim H.
            > April- Tony W.
            > May- Chelsea G.
            > June- John_T._Lists
            > July- Bill G.
            > Aug.- Nadine
            > Sept.- Susan M.
            > Oct.-Capt. L
            > Nov.- Cat
            > Dec.- Fred R.
            >
            > 2011
            > Jan.- Ann J.
            > Feb.- Kevin L.
            > March- Waldo
            > April- Ann B.
            > May- Bigfrontyard


            Bill

            http://garthright.blogspot.com/

            --
            True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school
            class is running the country. - Kurt Vonnegut
          • graysh07
            Yeah I figured everyone would see important announcement in the title or the home page, but I forget most of you guys just get this as emails, right? John
            Message 5 of 18 , Mar 2 6:32 PM
            • 0 Attachment
              Yeah I figured everyone would see "important announcement" in the title or the home page, but I forget most of you guys just get this as emails, right?

              John

              --- In modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com, "William C. Garthright" <billg@...> wrote:
              >
              >
              > > I'm supposed to pick a story? I missed something???
              >
              >
              > Did you miss John's "Important Announcement" post, Jim? Let's see,
              > here's the critical part:
              >
              >
              > > Okay, as I said in a previous post I decided after looking at the results of the vote to pick a monthly Modern Science Fiction Short Story, Novelette or Novella on a rotating basis. This is the fairest way I can think of, if you want us to read recent Hugo or Nebula nominees then pick one of them when it is your turn, if you have an "old" favorite from the 1980s that you want to discuss, pick it when it is your turn.
              > >
              > > The big caveat is that the story MUST BE available online. Pretty much everyone agreed with that according to the poll. So you have not made your pick until you have posted or emailed me a link to the story online.
              > >
              > > ...
              > >
              > > (Please note. The way I picked this order was Jim got the first month because he made a post about how excited he is about reading and finding new Modern Science Fiction.
              >
              >
              > Oh, well, maybe I'd better just copy and paste the whole schedule here:
              >
              >
              > > Okay without further ado, here is the schedule
              > >
              > > 2010
              > > March- Jim H.
              > > April- Tony W.
              > > May- Chelsea G.
              > > June- John_T._Lists
              > > July- Bill G.
              > > Aug.- Nadine
              > > Sept.- Susan M.
              > > Oct.-Capt. L
              > > Nov.- Cat
              > > Dec.- Fred R.
              > >
              > > 2011
              > > Jan.- Ann J.
              > > Feb.- Kevin L.
              > > March- Waldo
              > > April- Ann B.
              > > May- Bigfrontyard
              >
              >
              > Bill
              >
              > http://garthright.blogspot.com/
              >
              > --
              > True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school
              > class is running the country. - Kurt Vonnegut
              >
            • James Wallace Harris (jharris)
              Whoops, I ve only had enough time to just glance at my emails. Let s try: http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_1003/art/goingdeep.pdf I m a big fan of James Patrick
              Message 6 of 18 , Mar 2 8:29 PM
              • 0 Attachment
                Whoops, I've only had enough time to just glance at my emails. Let's try:

                http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_1003/art/goingdeep.pdf

                I'm a big fan of James Patrick Kelly. And there's an audio edition at:

                http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_1003/index.shtml

                Jim

                -----Original Message-----
                From: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of William C. Garthright
                Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2010 6:59 PM
                To: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [modernsciencefiction2] Re: "Blackout" by Connie Willis


                > I'm supposed to pick a story? I missed something???


                Did you miss John's "Important Announcement" post, Jim? Let's see, here's the critical part:


                > Okay, as I said in a previous post I decided after looking at the results of the vote to pick a monthly Modern Science Fiction Short Story, Novelette or Novella on a rotating basis. This is the fairest way I can think of, if you want us to read recent Hugo or Nebula nominees then pick one of them when it is your turn, if you have an "old" favorite from the 1980s that you want to discuss, pick it when it is your turn.
                >
                > The big caveat is that the story MUST BE available online. Pretty much everyone agreed with that according to the poll. So you have not made your pick until you have posted or emailed me a link to the story online.
                >
                > ...
                >
                > (Please note. The way I picked this order was Jim got the first month because he made a post about how excited he is about reading and finding new Modern Science Fiction.


                Oh, well, maybe I'd better just copy and paste the whole schedule here:


                > Okay without further ado, here is the schedule
                >
                > 2010
                > March- Jim H.
                > April- Tony W.
                > May- Chelsea G.
                > June- John_T._Lists
                > July- Bill G.
                > Aug.- Nadine
                > Sept.- Susan M.
                > Oct.-Capt. L
                > Nov.- Cat
                > Dec.- Fred R.
                >
                > 2011
                > Jan.- Ann J.
                > Feb.- Kevin L.
                > March- Waldo
                > April- Ann B.
                > May- Bigfrontyard


                Bill

                http://garthright.blogspot.com/

                --
                True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school
                class is running the country. - Kurt Vonnegut


                ------------------------------------

                Yahoo! Groups Links
              • William C. Garthright
                ... I read it today, so I m ready for any discussion. Well, as ready as I get. ... What have you read by him, Jim? I ve only read three other stories by him,
                Message 7 of 18 , Mar 4 3:49 PM
                • 0 Attachment
                  > Let's try:
                  >
                  > http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_1003/art/goingdeep.pdf


                  I read it today, so I'm ready for any discussion. Well, as ready as I get.


                  > I'm a big fan of James Patrick Kelly.


                  What have you read by him, Jim? I've only read three other stories by
                  him, nothing longer than a novella.

                  According to Wikipedia, he published his first SF story in 1975, so he's
                  been around a lot longer than I thought. It looks like he's only written
                  a couple of novels, though. So primarily an author of short fiction?

                  Bill

                  http://garthright.blogspot.com/

                  --
                  It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never
                  reasoned into. - Jonathan Swift
                • James Wallace Harris (jharris)
                  I ve listened to two Story Pod collections from James Patrick Kelly on Audible.com. Each pod contained 13 stories, so I ve heard 26 of his stories, including
                  Message 8 of 18 , Mar 4 8:34 PM
                  • 0 Attachment
                    I've listened to two Story Pod collections from James Patrick Kelly on Audible.com. Each pod contained 13 stories, so I've heard 26 of his stories, including this one. I think his most famous story is "Think Like a Dinosaur" which is a modern version of "The Cold Equations." Also, back during the cyberpunk heyday, Kelly was called a humanist science fiction writer, which I thought was cool. Audible has two more StoryPod collections, so I could listen to another 26 stories if I had the time.

                    What's weird is I really enjoyed listening to those 26 stories, but I can't really remember them. I think I really liked "Mr. Boy" and "Standing in Line with Mr. Jimmy."

                    So, what did you think about "Going Deep?"

                    The story reminds me of "Menace From Earth" faintly. Snappy talking teen girl on the Moon.

                    Weird ending, though. Not sure I liked this story. It was rich in ideas, but I think his point was to show how people in the future will be different but the same, but maybe they were too different for me. Also, I just don't believe people will be going to the stars, at least not any time soon.

                    Jim



                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of William C. Garthright
                    Sent: Thursday, March 04, 2010 5:49 PM
                    To: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: [modernsciencefiction2] Going Deep (was "Blackout" by Connie Willis)


                    > Let's try:
                    >
                    > http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_1003/art/goingdeep.pdf


                    I read it today, so I'm ready for any discussion. Well, as ready as I get.


                    > I'm a big fan of James Patrick Kelly.


                    What have you read by him, Jim? I've only read three other stories by him, nothing longer than a novella.

                    According to Wikipedia, he published his first SF story in 1975, so he's been around a lot longer than I thought. It looks like he's only written a couple of novels, though. So primarily an author of short fiction?

                    Bill

                    http://garthright.blogspot.com/

                    --
                    It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into. - Jonathan Swift


                    ------------------------------------

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                  • graysh07
                    I m glad you said it, I was disappointed with the ending too. I ll explain what ending I had in mind later tonight when I have more time to write. John
                    Message 9 of 18 , Mar 5 4:44 AM
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                      I'm glad you said it, I was disappointed with the ending too. I'll explain what ending I had in mind later tonight when I have more time to write.

                      John

                      --- In modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com, "James Wallace Harris (jharris)" <jharris@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > I've listened to two Story Pod collections from James Patrick Kelly on Audible.com. Each pod contained 13 stories, so I've heard 26 of his stories, including this one. I think his most famous story is "Think Like a Dinosaur" which is a modern version of "The Cold Equations." Also, back during the cyberpunk heyday, Kelly was called a humanist science fiction writer, which I thought was cool. Audible has two more StoryPod collections, so I could listen to another 26 stories if I had the time.
                      >
                      > What's weird is I really enjoyed listening to those 26 stories, but I can't really remember them. I think I really liked "Mr. Boy" and "Standing in Line with Mr. Jimmy."
                      >
                      > So, what did you think about "Going Deep?"
                      >
                      > The story reminds me of "Menace From Earth" faintly. Snappy talking teen girl on the Moon.
                      >
                      > Weird ending, though. Not sure I liked this story. It was rich in ideas, but I think his point was to show how people in the future will be different but the same, but maybe they were too different for me. Also, I just don't believe people will be going to the stars, at least not any time soon.
                      >
                      > Jim
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > -----Original Message-----
                      > From: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of William C. Garthright
                      > Sent: Thursday, March 04, 2010 5:49 PM
                      > To: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com
                      > Subject: [modernsciencefiction2] Going Deep (was "Blackout" by Connie Willis)
                      >
                      >
                      > > Let's try:
                      > >
                      > > http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_1003/art/goingdeep.pdf
                      >
                      >
                      > I read it today, so I'm ready for any discussion. Well, as ready as I get.
                      >
                      >
                      > > I'm a big fan of James Patrick Kelly.
                      >
                      >
                      > What have you read by him, Jim? I've only read three other stories by him, nothing longer than a novella.
                      >
                      > According to Wikipedia, he published his first SF story in 1975, so he's been around a lot longer than I thought. It looks like he's only written a couple of novels, though. So primarily an author of short fiction?
                      >
                      > Bill
                      >
                      > http://garthright.blogspot.com/
                      >
                      > --
                      > It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into. - Jonathan Swift
                      >
                      >
                      > ------------------------------------
                      >
                      > Yahoo! Groups Links
                      >
                    • William C. Garthright
                      ... That s my problem with short story collections in general (and why I d rather take my time when reading short fiction). But I certainly never had that
                      Message 10 of 18 , Mar 5 9:18 AM
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                        > What's weird is I really enjoyed listening to those 26 stories, but I can't really remember them.


                        That's my problem with short story collections in general (and why I'd
                        rather take my time when reading short fiction).

                        But I certainly never had that problem with "Think Like a Dinosaur"!
                        That one has always stayed very clearly in my mind. Well, so has "The
                        Cold Equations." :-)

                        I've also read "10^16 to 1," his Hugo Award-winning short story from
                        1999, (my notes say "excellent") and "Burn," his 2005 novella which was
                        nominated for a Hugo Award ("very good"). But my memory of those is
                        pretty vague, I must admit.


                        > So, what did you think about "Going Deep?"


                        I thought it was good, but not great. I liked this story of his the
                        least (of the whole /four/ I've read). So I hope the other nominees are
                        better.


                        > The story reminds me of "Menace From Earth" faintly. Snappy talking teen girl on the Moon.


                        I liked "Menace from Earth" much better - probably because I instantly
                        liked the girl in that one. Mariska is understandable, but not the
                        wonderful character Holly was. Mariska is sympathetic enough, and
                        realistic enough (as far as I could tell), but I suppose that a grumpy
                        adolescent just isn't someone I'm going to instantly like.


                        > Not sure I liked this story. It was rich in ideas, but I think his point was to show how people in the future will be different but the same, but maybe they were too different for me. Also, I just don't believe people will be going to the stars, at least not any time soon.


                        No, but all it would take is that wormhole technology (and, er,... a
                        wormhole). I mean, I don't think this is going to happen, either. But
                        there's a relatively simple premise here. IF there was a way to simply
                        bypass normal space - and therefore bypass the light-speed restriction -
                        then exploring other stars wouldn't be too much to expect even with
                        today's technology.

                        But I thought the most interesting part of this story was that
                        hibernation was not needed for that part of the trip, but only for the
                        three years it would take to get outside our solar system to the
                        wormhole (and the similar length of time at the other end, presumably).
                        That actually made the whole idea much more believable. I can't believe
                        in hibernation for decades or longer, but even one solar system is a
                        VERY big place. So it might be very handy for trips across it.

                        Bill

                        --
                        They made a porn movie about Sarah Palin, and the same actress, Lisa
                        Ann, played me in the porn version of 30 Rock. Weirdly, of the three of
                        us, Lisa Ann knows the most about foreign policy. - Tina Fey
                      • William C. Garthright
                        ... Oddly enough, the ending was what I liked best about the whole story. Of course, with all that mindfeed stuff, I really didn t expect that this was what
                        Message 11 of 18 , Mar 5 9:25 AM
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                          > I'm glad you said it, I was disappointed with the ending too.


                          Oddly enough, the ending was what I liked best about the whole story.

                          Of course, with all that "mindfeed" stuff, I really didn't expect that
                          this was what the title, "Going Deep," was going to mean. In a way,
                          that's good - very good, in fact - because it meant that the story
                          wasn't so predictable. But the "mindfeed" stuff never really went
                          anywhere, which wasn't the best idea, either, was it?

                          Oh, here's another thing: Why did she have to be matched up with Jak
                          from birth? What was the point of that? That made no sense to me.

                          Bill

                          http://garthright.blogspot.com/

                          --
                          Somehow suspension of habeas corpus is supposed to keep this country
                          safe. Somehow torture is tolerated. Somehow lying is tolerated. Somehow
                          reason is being discard for faith, dogma, and nonsense. - Pat Tillman
                        • James Wallace Harris (jharris)
                          This has spoilers for Going Deep No, Think Like a Dinosaur and The Cold Equations and The Menace From Earth are among the most memorable of short
                          Message 12 of 18 , Mar 5 4:44 PM
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                            This has spoilers for "Going Deep"

                            No, "Think Like a Dinosaur" and "The Cold Equations" and "The Menace From Earth" are among the most memorable of short stories for me. I found the purpose and drive of "Going Deep" muddled, whereas "The Menace From Earth" is all clarity. "The Menace From Earth" is perfect, and among the best SF stories ever. Heinlein crammed so much good stuff in such a tiny package that it's amazing to think that Heinlein every would go on to write such giant bloated novels.

                            I think "Going Deep" was muddled because it didn't have a plot. We just absorbed the weird world of these future kids, and the ending felt tacked on to form some kind of closure. We knew Holly's ambitions from the start. We knew here fears immediately too. "Going Deep" wanders around until the end when we're told that Mariska wants to go to the stars.

                            I liked the idea about feeds. I've always like the idea of talking houses. I like the idea that kids become adults at 14. I liked all the characters. It's just that the story wasn't sharp for me.

                            Jim



                            -----Original Message-----
                            From: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of William C. Garthright
                            Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 11:18 AM
                            To: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com
                            Subject: Re: [modernsciencefiction2] Going Deep


                            > What's weird is I really enjoyed listening to those 26 stories, but I can't really remember them.


                            That's my problem with short story collections in general (and why I'd rather take my time when reading short fiction).

                            But I certainly never had that problem with "Think Like a Dinosaur"!
                            That one has always stayed very clearly in my mind. Well, so has "The Cold Equations." :-)

                            I've also read "10^16 to 1," his Hugo Award-winning short story from 1999, (my notes say "excellent") and "Burn," his 2005 novella which was nominated for a Hugo Award ("very good"). But my memory of those is pretty vague, I must admit.


                            > So, what did you think about "Going Deep?"


                            I thought it was good, but not great. I liked this story of his the least (of the whole /four/ I've read). So I hope the other nominees are better.


                            > The story reminds me of "Menace From Earth" faintly. Snappy talking teen girl on the Moon.


                            I liked "Menace from Earth" much better - probably because I instantly liked the girl in that one. Mariska is understandable, but not the wonderful character Holly was. Mariska is sympathetic enough, and realistic enough (as far as I could tell), but I suppose that a grumpy adolescent just isn't someone I'm going to instantly like.


                            > Not sure I liked this story. It was rich in ideas, but I think his point was to show how people in the future will be different but the same, but maybe they were too different for me. Also, I just don't believe people will be going to the stars, at least not any time soon.


                            No, but all it would take is that wormhole technology (and, er,... a wormhole). I mean, I don't think this is going to happen, either. But there's a relatively simple premise here. IF there was a way to simply bypass normal space - and therefore bypass the light-speed restriction - then exploring other stars wouldn't be too much to expect even with today's technology.

                            But I thought the most interesting part of this story was that hibernation was not needed for that part of the trip, but only for the three years it would take to get outside our solar system to the wormhole (and the similar length of time at the other end, presumably).
                            That actually made the whole idea much more believable. I can't believe in hibernation for decades or longer, but even one solar system is a VERY big place. So it might be very handy for trips across it.

                            Bill
                          • Fred Runk
                            Greetings, I was a bit confused by Going Deep. I couldn t figure out where the story was going, and the ending was a bit blah--Mother Knows Best, I guess.
                            Message 13 of 18 , Mar 6 8:26 AM
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                              Greetings,

                              I was a bit confused by "Going Deep."   I couldn't figure out where the story was going, and the ending was a bit blah--Mother Knows Best, I guess.    I wonder if Kelly couldn't figure out how to end it. 

                              The concept of the mindfeeds I found most interesting, and I wish he had done more with that.  I'm not sure I would like a talking room, especially if it proved to be a nag like hers was.


                              My Blog: Books and Movies and Stuff
                              Fred's Place at http://tinyurl.com/5urlla


                              -=  Fred =-

                                  Icicles and Water
                                     Old Differences
                                        Dissolved. . .
                                   Drip down together
                                         -- Teishitsu --





                                                                        

                            • James Wallace Harris (jharris)
                              Mind Feeds: Kelly only really hints at mind feeds. He makes them sound scary, but would they really be dangerous? My mind is active, but it s mostly a series
                              Message 14 of 18 , Mar 6 9:10 AM
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                                Mind Feeds:

                                 

                                Kelly only really hints at mind feeds.  He makes them sound scary, but would they really be dangerous?  My mind is active, but it’s mostly a series of ideas and words, and an occasional image, at most I’d think my feed would just bore people.  And even if we got a feed from a serial killer, would it be harmful?  Wouldn’t it only be disgusting?  Wouldn’t the words and thoughts of a serial killer be far less scary than seeing their actions on the news or on CSI?  My conscious mind doesn’t generate imagery very good, far less so than television.  Would the mind of a serial killer just be a babble about wanting to kill someone?  We hear that all the time in fiction and on TV. 

                                 

                                Knowing what other people think about you might be shocking, upsetting or insulting, but would it damage us?

                                 

                                What I’d want mind feeds for is to walk a mile in other people’s shoes.  I’m not good at explaining myself to my friends sometimes, so maybe seeing things as I see them would help, but maybe not.  I don’t know.  How many women dating men would want to know what the men really think about them?  I was watching a Sex in the City last night and Carrie was pleading with Mr. Big to give her a sign, just tell her anything so she’d know how he felt about her.  If Carrie could have jacked into Mr. Big’s mind, would she have felt better or worse?

                                 

                                Talking Houses:

                                 

                                First off, wouldn’t a talking house with a battery of video cameras be a great watch dog?  I’d think it would really kill off the burglary business.  But if you fall in the shower and can’t get to the phone, it would be a lifesaver.  I think people would feel much safer with a house AI.  I’d be able to get rid of a zillion remotes I have laying around the house.  And if it was fairly intelligent, I’d enjoy its company and talk to it.

                                 

                                This might sound weird, but I’d program my house to nag me.  I’d have to find the right level of nagging, so I wouldn’t hate it, but I could use some pushing to get some things done, like exercising regularly, eating right, etc.

                                 

                                If I was an old person living alone I think I would take great comfort in having a talking house.

                                 

                                Jim

                                 

                                From: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Fred Runk
                                Sent: Saturday, March 06, 2010 10:26 AM
                                To: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: [modernsciencefiction2] Going Deep

                                 



                                Greetings,

                                I was a bit confused by "Going Deep."   I couldn't figure out where the story was going, and the ending was a bit blah--Mother Knows Best, I guess.    I wonder if Kelly couldn't figure out how to end it. 

                                The concept of the mindfeeds I found most interesting, and I wish he had done more with that.  I'm not sure I would like a talking room, especially if it proved to be a nag like hers was.



                                My Blog: Books and Movies and Stuff
                                Fred's Place at http://tinyurl.com/5urlla


                                -=  Fred =-

                                    Icicles and Water
                                       Old Differences
                                          Dissolved. . .
                                     Drip down together
                                           -- Teishitsu --





                                                                          


                              • graysh07
                                I had mostly the same thoughts,but no one has mentioned about the cloning in the story. Why was Mariska cloned rather than born? I was sure that the ending was
                                Message 15 of 18 , Mar 6 10:08 AM
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                                  I had mostly the same thoughts,but no one has mentioned about the cloning in the story. Why was Mariska cloned rather than born?

                                  I was sure that the ending was going to reveal that she had been cloned just in case her "mother" needed spare parts upon her trip home and that Mariska didn't get to live the life with Jak that she had planned because her mother needed new lungs and new who knows what.

                                  John




                                  --- In modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com, "James Wallace Harris (jharris)" <jharris@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Mind Feeds:
                                  >
                                  > Kelly only really hints at mind feeds. He makes them sound scary, but would they really be dangerous? My mind is active, but it's mostly a series of ideas and words, and an occasional image, at most I'd think my feed would just bore people. And even if we got a feed from a serial killer, would it be harmful? Wouldn't it only be disgusting? Wouldn't the words and thoughts of a serial killer be far less scary than seeing their actions on the news or on CSI? My conscious mind doesn't generate imagery very good, far less so than television. Would the mind of a serial killer just be a babble about wanting to kill someone? We hear that all the time in fiction and on TV.
                                  >
                                  > Knowing what other people think about you might be shocking, upsetting or insulting, but would it damage us?
                                  >
                                  > What I'd want mind feeds for is to walk a mile in other people's shoes. I'm not good at explaining myself to my friends sometimes, so maybe seeing things as I see them would help, but maybe not. I don't know. How many women dating men would want to know what the men really think about them? I was watching a Sex in the City last night and Carrie was pleading with Mr. Big to give her a sign, just tell her anything so she'd know how he felt about her. If Carrie could have jacked into Mr. Big's mind, would she have felt better or worse?
                                  >
                                  > Talking Houses:
                                  >
                                  > First off, wouldn't a talking house with a battery of video cameras be a great watch dog? I'd think it would really kill off the burglary business. But if you fall in the shower and can't get to the phone, it would be a lifesaver. I think people would feel much safer with a house AI. I'd be able to get rid of a zillion remotes I have laying around the house. And if it was fairly intelligent, I'd enjoy its company and talk to it.
                                  >
                                  > This might sound weird, but I'd program my house to nag me. I'd have to find the right level of nagging, so I wouldn't hate it, but I could use some pushing to get some things done, like exercising regularly, eating right, etc.
                                  >
                                  > If I was an old person living alone I think I would take great comfort in having a talking house.
                                  >
                                  > Jim
                                  >
                                  > From: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Fred Runk
                                  > Sent: Saturday, March 06, 2010 10:26 AM
                                  > To: modernsciencefiction2@yahoogroups.com
                                  > Subject: [modernsciencefiction2] Going Deep
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > Greetings,
                                  >
                                  > I was a bit confused by "Going Deep." I couldn't figure out where the story was going, and the ending was a bit blah--Mother Knows Best, I guess. I wonder if Kelly couldn't figure out how to end it.
                                  >
                                  > The concept of the mindfeeds I found most interesting, and I wish he had done more with that. I'm not sure I would like a talking room, especially if it proved to be a nag like hers was.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > My Blog: Books and Movies and Stuff
                                  > Fred's Place at http://tinyurl.com/5urlla
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > -= Fred =-
                                  >
                                  > Icicles and Water
                                  > Old Differences
                                  > Dissolved. . .
                                  > Drip down together
                                  > -- Teishitsu --
                                  >
                                • William C. Garthright
                                  ... I think what he was trying to do was fool us about the title. I kept thinking that Going Deep would have something to do with the mindfeeds, and I
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Mar 6 3:30 PM
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                                    > The concept of the mindfeeds I found most interesting, and I wish he
                                    > had done more with that.


                                    I think what he was trying to do was fool us about the title. I kept
                                    thinking that "Going Deep" would have something to do with the
                                    mindfeeds, and I suspect that that misdirection was deliberate. After
                                    all, there was a lot of emphasis on the mindfeeds theme, but it didn't
                                    go anywhere.

                                    That made it something of a "gotcha" story, which can work for short
                                    stories,... but didn't work all that well here (although I did like the
                                    ending, I must admit).

                                    Either that, or "Going Deep" has a more subtle meaning that I missed.

                                    Bill

                                    --
                                    A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not
                                    prove anything. - Friedrich Nietzsche
                                  • William C. Garthright
                                    ... Because she was destined to become a spacer (i.e. she needed the genes for hibernation). Bill http://garthright.blogspot.com/ -- It is pure illusion to
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Mar 6 3:33 PM
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                                      > I had mostly the same thoughts,but no one has mentioned about the cloning in the story. Why was Mariska cloned rather than born?


                                      Because she was destined to become a spacer (i.e. she needed the genes
                                      for hibernation).

                                      Bill

                                      http://garthright.blogspot.com/

                                      --
                                      It is pure illusion to think that an opinion which passes down from
                                      century to century to century, from generation to generation, may not be
                                      entirely false. - Pierre Bayle, 1682
                                    • Fred Runk
                                      Bill, I suspect you may be right. Going deep initially looked like a reference to mindfeeds, and then it seems to refer to hibernation, but the ending
                                      Message 18 of 18 , Mar 7 7:25 AM
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                                        Bill,

                                        I suspect you may be right.  "Going deep" initially looked like a reference to mindfeeds, and then it seems to refer to hibernation, but  the ending suggests some thing else. 

                                        It may ultimately refer to one's genetic structure, which is just about as deep in the individual as one can get.  Spacer genes, whatever those are, are calling for her and it appears that she is headed out into space after all. 



                                        At 04:30 PM 3/6/2010, you wrote:

                                        > The concept of the mindfeeds I found most interesting, and I wish he
                                        > had done more with that.


                                        I think what he was trying to do was fool us about the title. I kept
                                        thinking that "Going Deep" would have something to do with the
                                        mindfeeds, and I suspect that that misdirection was deliberate. After
                                        all, there was a lot of emphasis on the mindfeeds theme, but it didn't
                                        go anywhere.

                                        That made it something of a "gotcha" story, which can work for short
                                        stories,... but didn't work all that well here (although I did like the
                                        ending, I must admit).

                                        Either that, or "Going Deep" has a more subtle meaning that I missed.

                                        Bill

                                        --
                                        A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not
                                        prove anything. - Friedrich Nietzsche


                                        My Blog: Books and Movies and Stuff
                                        Fred's Place at http://tinyurl.com/5urlla


                                        -=  Fred =-

                                            Icicles and Water
                                               Old Differences
                                                  Dissolved. . .
                                             Drip down together
                                                   -- Teishitsu --





                                                                                  

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