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Comment Re:Story summary ... (Score 1) 1034

Well, some of us prefer hard science fiction to the squishy stuff.

I honestly rue the day the all-inclusive crowd decided to re-designate SF as "speculative fiction." All fiction is speculative as it is all an exercise in what-if. The difference between hard science fiction and the rest, as I see it, is that based upon the objective reality currently understood at the time of authorship, the hard stuff is actually within the realm of known possibilities, because, you know, science. I find that to be a significant enough distinction to distinguish these works from those containing gods, elves, magicians, macro teleportation, ESP and so on.

That is in no way to imply that the squishy stuff cannot be fine work -- it most certainly can, and often is. But the bottom line for me is that it is different on a fundamental level, providing a different kind of experience from, say, "The Martian" or the technically flawed, but scientifically sound, "Red Mars."

Doesn't matter to me personally who, or what, gets a Hugo, or why. I'm sitting about ten feet from three of them, and the shine has worn off after decades of observing the process. All I'm saying is that if hard science fiction is of such consequence to these people that they feel awards should be proffered in that specific category, there are doors that are open, or could be opened. Assuming the story is at all accurate, which, from the other comments here... it very well may not be.

Comment Re:Story summary ... (Score 2) 1034

Summary aside, if there really is an objection to the range of science fiction stories that the Hugos are currently addressing these days, then I can see two reasonable solutions, either or both of which may already exist:

1) hugos specific to the category being awarded: e.g. "hard science fiction"

2) another award entirely -- which means publicity, fan gathering, etc. Lots of work.

It seems like a tempest in a teakettle to me.

Comment Refining and transport costs? (Score 1) 61

From TFI:

The transportation and extraction costs are sufficiently high

This may be half-true if the vision is mankind going out there and mining and refining, but if it's done the sane way, the way it of course will ultimately be done -- which is by solar-powered robotics with self-repair capabilities along or incorporated -- the initial (and total) cost will be irrelevant due to the profits maintenance-free, zero ongoing-costs, self-repairing operations will continuously produce.

As for "transport costs", really, WTF? What about gravity? Inertia? Orbital mechanics? Ion drives? Sunlight? Did he forget his fundamental physics?

Mine it, refine it, and kick it - not very hard, either - (using an Ion tug/pusher that just starts it on its journey-to-wherever and then returns to the operation) towards where you want it to go, past whatever you want to use to give it more or less oomph, and it'll (eventually) get there. And once the first such package arrives after the initial latency caused by transport time, the others will follow at reasonably similar intervals to the kick-out intervals, assuming only that where they are being sent to isn't moving under its own power, in which case, every "kick" would have to be towards somewhere else (and you'd have to know where the target was going to be on receipt, too, or there wouldn't be any receipt.) Still, that's not going to be the critical use-case -- this is going to be almost entirely about sending materials mined from nearly zero-g environments to planetary and moon orbit, to the surface of the moon, to earth, to mars, etc.

If we're talking about delivery through an atmosphere, then a re-entry container, perhaps even a lifting body, will be required from some things. So an operation has to be set up to build those as required and send them to the mining sites in that case. Unless we just want meteoric delivery, which might actually be practical for some things, particularly high-temperature-tolerant things. Aim them towards a sufficiently deep part of the ocean or man-made body of water built for the purpose, rake them up at set intervals (during which none would be incoming, obviously) and there you have it. Any such containers or lifting bodies should (again, obviously) be built out of something we can re-purpose, as they are also nothing but materials mined for free in space, albeit not exactly raw materials. Heck, you could probably just make hydrogen balloons that come in slowly and let them float down to a reasonable altitude and then puncture themselves when they drift over a designated receiving area -- no massive influx of reentry heat there. Have to be some damn strong balloons to tolerate being inflated in a vacuum, but our materials science is working on that already. Not to mention other mechanisms that may be possible. :) We'd probably end up with too much hydrogen, lol. Still.

Sure, the initial startup will be much harder if they push into it as a manned operation that needs constant support and staffing. But the endgame here, indubitably based entirely on zero-ongoing cost-robotics, is almost unimaginably profitable in terms of both money and materials gleaned from these operations.

Comment Re:In other news (Score 1) 134

Most of that, very good.

One thing, though: the only way vinyl records are "better" than a well recorded CD is if there is no well recorded CD of the material, or you love the cover/liner art in that particular format (Cheech and Chong's "Big Bambu", for instance.) Vinyl itself is a terrible format, it has no inherent audio benefits whatsoever. I own a very high end turntable for those few platters that I can't find well-recorded (or any!) CDs of. They sound terrible -- because they're vinyl. Hugely worse signal to noise, for the stereo ones lower stereo separation, more THD, clicks, pops, uneven-vinyl induced rumble... I don't suffer from wow or flutter (that's a cheap turntable problem, not a vinyl problem): just about every wart and shortcoming vinyl has sticks in my ear like a sharpened spike. And that's after going to what almost anyone would consider "ridiculous extremes" to reach for the highest quality vinyl playback I could put together, with cost not being an issue. (I'm an EE, a musician and a recording engineer. "Picky" doesn't even begin to cover my outlook on this. :)

The making of *new* vinyl is just a way to purchase low-fidelity audio. I keep a weather eye out WRT new vinyl productions for a great cover or some kind of creative awesomeness like Big Bambu, but so far, nothing has caught my eye.

Comment Re:In other news (Score 1) 134

Are ebooks convenient yes. Are they a replacement to my physical books? a resounding no.

As you say, you're speaking for yourself. They're just fine for me, and many others. None of the things you perceive as problems manifest as problems for me.

Outside? Text-to-speech, with the added benefit of I can still watch where I'm walking.

Arbitrary deletion: Amazon deleted one version of one title, once, for which they were roundly and publicly criticized. Hardly a cause for "worry" Loaning... pfft.

Loaning: others can buy their own copy. If they want to read it, they can provide the asked compensation just like I did.

Highlighting and annotation -- I enjoy both capabilities, no problem at all. Along with many other benefits such as getting to see what others have marked as interesting or notable, page notes, more or less infinite bookmarks kept across all books at once, font changes, color changes, etc.

Reading in sunlight: zero problem with the LCD reader I keep handy.

Reselling: Don't care. At all.

Unsupported formats: This problem has not presented itself, nor does it in any way seem likely, so I'm not concerned about it in the least.

Cheaper second hand books. I try -- hard -- not to buy second hand IP. When I use IP, it is my aim to compensate for it. For a very practical reason indeed: I want there to be more of it out there. I want it to be a great field -- I want people to think, "hey, I'll produce IP for a living and I'll do great!" And then I want it to actually happen. Because the more we know, the better off we are. The more we limit the value of producing IP, the less attractive it is as a means of earning a living, and so the less of it we will have in the long run.

Donating books to the library: have you even looked at the ebook accessibility at libraries these days? Look into "Library-to-go" programs. Why should they pay for space when they don't have to? All you're doing there is making libraries more expensive than they need to be.

Inheritance of a physical book: Future generations... ebooks or deadtree books? I think likely it'll be ebooks, and such an inheritance will be used to light the fireplace or shredded for packing material or simply landfill.

So as you see -- there's more than one way to look at all this.

Comment Re: In other news (Score 2) 134

My basement is climate-controlled -- humidity and temperature -- so no worries there. If I run into anyone who wants the textbooks here, I'll gladly hand them over. Might be a long wait, though. Small rural town. Football trumps engineering by quite a bit here. :)

The SF collection is a business asset, so it stays. But it stays in boxes for now.

Comment In other news (Score 2) 134

In other news, you can still buy buggy whips, dial-style telephones, and vinyl records, too.

Nostalgia and straight-up Luddite-like behavior are enough to keep almost anything going at some level -- no matter how low its actual utility as compared to more recent replacement tech may be.

Hell, I own a vacuum tube stereo system made by Scott in the 1950's -- my father bought it when it was new, it's been with the family ever since, and now it is mine. I'm really quite fond of it in the "I actually use it" sense, though considered in the light of my home theater system, it's neither particularly functional or particularly high quality (though in its day, it absolutely was The Shite.) Still, it glows in the dark in a most pleasing manner. :)

I keep it in my office and enjoy listening to it regularly. My physical book collection, however... several thousand volumes... in boxes in the basement. I am a total convert to e-books. Textbooks, fiction, reference material... all right in my pocket, 100% accessible 100% of the time in 100% of the places I go (unless I'm diving or swimming, but hey. And I could get a waterproof, good to X-depth case for my phone, and then... :)

You scratch my tape, and I'll scratch yours.