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Comment Killjoy (Score 1, Informative) 508

Dear Mr. Stross,

Your little tirade there was only a little less annoying than an argument about whether an Imperial Star Destroyer could beat the Enterprise-D in battle. I imagine building a time machine into a DeLorean is impossible. I know that an X-Wing banking into a turn makes no sense in terms of real space flight. But these thing can be enormous fun. I've often found that books with similarly ridiculous scenarios are quite a bit of fun to read; that is to say, I enjoy them whether you do or not. Columns, articles, books, and documentaries about how the science in much science fiction is silly (e.g. your piece on science-fictional shibboleths) are a tedious waste of time.

Your books are quite good though


Comment Snow Crash (Score 1, Troll) 25

Gargoyles represent the embarrassing side of the Central Intelligence Corporation. Instead of using laptops, they wear their computers on their bodies, broken up into separate modules that hang on the waist, on the back, on the headset. They serve as human surveillance devices, recording everything that happens around them. Nothing looks stupider; these getups are the modern-day equivalent of the slide-rule scabbard or the calculator pouch on the belt, marking the user as belonging to a class that is at once above and far below human society. They are a boon to Hiro because they embody the worst stereotype of the CIC stringer. They draw all the attention. The payoff for this self-imposed ostracism is that you can be in the Metaverse all the time, and gather intelligence all the time.

Comment I hope he's right ... (Score 3, Insightful) 465

If I buy a copy of a paper book then I own that copy. On an e-reader or a tablet I buy a license that lets me have a copy on a device. Unless I back up my copy, the seller can take it away from me without even asking. Also, there's something about a nice solid bound book that you don't get from an electronic copy. Personally I prefer electronic formats for more ephemeral things (news, computer books that are out of date before they're published, etc.) and bound paper copies for longer lasting things, e.g. Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I suppose we'll see how things turn out.

Comment Re:Nobody's ever gonna stand on Mars (Score 1) 94

Never is a really long time. And who said anything about "infinite progress?" That your dreams haven't been fulfilled, and probably won't be in your lifetime, doesn't mean anything about what will or won't happen in the future. Maybe we'll destroy ourselves. Maybe we'll build nuclear pulse propulsion ships (probably not a good idea, but ...), maybe a lot of things. You don't actually know, and so you say "never."

Comment New Scientist is worthless (Score 1) 295

Of all the sources of science reporting that are available in English, New Scientist is close to the bottom of the pile in terms of accuracy. Quite a few times I've read something they've reported, thought "that can't be right," then gone to the original study or press release and found that in fact, no, what they reported was not correct.

Comment Good for them! (Score 1) 386

I have a Nook. I mostly use it for reference stuff and for when I'm traveling (I generally prefer paper books, but well, the world changes). I like it, and I like Barnes & Noble. Now I'm really rooting for B&N. As a side note ... there was a thread a few days ago about "what's keeping you on Windows?" This is one of the reasons I don't use Windows. I know Windows 7 works well, probably better than any previous version. But I won't buy a product from a company that does stuff like this, i.e. abusing the patent system.

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They are relatively good but absolutely terrible. -- Alan Kay, commenting on Apollos