Feb 1Liked by MANU

"the tropics are supposed to breed idleness while the northern cold stiffens people’s spines and makes them industrious"

There were 19th century Britons who believed that no intellectual activity could occur in their Canadian provinces because of the mind-numbing effects of cold on the brain (that's a paraphrase; sorry, I can't find the source at the moment.) So, you know, not *too much* cold. The spine must only be stiffened by *just the right amount* of cold.

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Very minor, assuming you want editorial comments. "Begs the question" is widely considered a solecism, since it was originally a translation of the Latin phrase "petitio principii" (assuming what you want to prove). "Raises the question" is better.

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I've read a certain amount of the 'sub-genre', too, and the Africa simile hadn't occurred. What really, really, is plain in so much of it is the "Age of Exploration" redux. Rockets go outward in all directions, found colonies, these build up industry and send out further rockets; eventually there's a war for the colonies' freedom from oppressive Old Earth. 2100-2500 is a replay of 1500-1900.

Or, the colonists bump up against competing aliens that are neither a million years ahead, nor a million years behind, but just advanced enough to compete and have dramatic star wars for the starship troopers.

In retirement, I did not become much of a blogger, I had only a few rants to get off my chest, but that was one:


...a different but overlapping topic, that SF easily accepts massive changes in technology, without exploring any changes in human relations or institutions. The Enterprise, Battlestar Galactica, Star Destroyers....they all have the crew organization of the British Navy and Horatio Hornblower. The authors, while they're proposing space drives and FTL at all, casually throw in features of that tech that require the spacecraft to act, and be crewed, like 18th century man-o-war fighting with cannons. For the drama.

Most SF doesn't want to talk about an actual future, but re-use existing dramatic tropes from previous genres of exploration and war.

The overlap is that people look at Mars, and they don't think about the real *Mars*, they think of Englishmen looking at Jamestown, and how Louis XIV should have stayed the course and kept investing in Quebec. The don't wanna be France losing New France, don't want the dicks who said "Who Lost China?" in 1949, saying "Who Lost Mars to China?" in 2049.

The fact that low-tech, little-traded-with colonists could survive (barely at first) and grow in North America, like you absolutely couldn't, on Mars, is waved away. They just wanna believe the story they wanna believe, like there are nearly zero SF stories with a realistic crew, just retreads of the stories we love about Captain Jack Aubrey. (I mention the one exception, "Sunshine", 2007, in the essay.)

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