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Larry Niven’s Forgotten Fictional Universe

The “Known Space” fictional universe includes characters like ARM agent Gil Hamilton and a Pak Protector’s unwitting human victim, Jack Brennan. Those storylines are mostly forgotten. The Man-Kzin Wars set in this universe is so popular that there are multiple, recent short story collections published based on it. The most famous storyline is the Ringworld Saga. There’s even been discussion of a TV show based on it.

Then there’s “The State Series”. It shares a few assumptions as the Known Space universe. Earth’s population hits 15-20 billion, a tyrannical oppressive government takes over to control population and manage resources. In the “Known Space” universe, the government had mother hunts for illegal births and suppresses disruptive technology. However, it is not totally oppressive. The rich may drive race cars and live in restored English villas while millions live in a single room apartment that recycles everything.

In “The State”, the government that arises is far more oppressive and echoes the worst of Communist regimes. Food, water and other essentials are carefully rationed for the working class. Births are strictly controlled and done per eugenic guidelines. There are even checkers, political officers, based on the Soviet Union’s chekists.

The Psychology Underlying Robert Heinlein’s ‘Friday’

The titular character “Friday” in the novel of the same name is an artificial person. She’s quite human, but she was created in a lab, born via an artificial uterus and raised in a corporate crèche. Her society sees her as inferior, and she sees herself as inferior. That is despite her greater speed, strength and intelligence. I spent a while wondering why, and then it hit me. It is as much due to her upbringing as the much vaunted “conditioning”, though both are by design. Furthermore, social engineering (or a good PR campaign) of broader society has been undertaken for the same purpose.

Dark Psychic Forces? Maybe. But No Wars of the Roses Yet.

Marianne Williamson, who is one of twenty-something Democrats running for the party’s presidential nomination, and who has absolutely no chance of being nominated, recently made a few waves when she spoke of “dark psychic forces” emanating from Donald Trump.

Regardless of the accuracy of Williamson’s admittedly bizarre accusation, it does seem that the country is going through a rather contentious period. Yet history teaches us that it can be much worse, and that nations seem to go through periods in which Dark Psychic Forces (capital letters mine) seem to be in play.

I have written more than once about the HBO Series “Game of Thrones” and the analogies that can be drawn from the events in the story. The series has concluded, so we won’t (at least until the prequel is released) be getting any more analogies drawn from GOT for a while.

But fear not. If “Game of Thrones” is not available, then what about its historical inspiration, the Wars of the Roses in 15th Century England? For those interested, there are options for late-summer viewing and reading readily available. The Starz Network has release three mini-series based on the novels of Phillipa Gregory: “The White Queen”, “The White Princess”, and “The Spanish Princess”. Conn Iggulden has given us a four volume retelling of the Wars of the Roses, beginning with “Stormbird” and ending with “Ravenspur: the Rise of the Tudors.” These novels and films give us a painless way to absorb some history and ponder its relevance to our own times.

Why New Exoplanet Discoveries Explain the Dearth of Aliens

Drake’s Equation is a simple formula for estimating the odds of finding intelligent aliens. At first glance, the massive number of exoplanets we’re finding in surveys suggest that there are plenty of opportunities for aliens to develop. However, there are several reasons why the other findings are discouraging.

A Look at “Bladerunner 2049 and Philosophy”

The “And Philosophy” series of books by Open Court Press generally involves two dozen philosophers giving their take on science fiction books, TV shows and movies. I’ve reviewed several of their more recent books like “The Handmaid’s Tale and Philosophy” and “Bladerunner 2049 and Philosophy”.

The “Bladerunner” is a deep franchise by design. The first movie makes you ask yourself what makes you human while encapsulating a very Biblical narrative of a fallen angel rebelling (and killing) his creator. Roy Batty kills not only his creator but the holy trinity of sorts, the creator of eyes/wisdom and the son of his creator, the rather innocent Jesus-analog. “Bladerunner 2049” begins with the birth of a child, the revelation of which threatens to overturn the moral order and liberate an oppressed people. At the same time, a corporate King seeks to claim the child (and likely dissect him/her) while his right hand angel kills, maims, and deceives to follow her false God’s will. Niander Wallace’s god-complex is his only well-defined, personal characteristic aside from being blind. He just wants to possess and likely corrupt the child to build an army to storm heaven. He’s compared to the Demiurge or false material world god in one of the “Blade Runner 2049 and Philosophy” chapters.

You Just Can’t Find a Good 15 Cent Comic Book Any More

When I was a kid, an older cousin gave me a bunch of “Classics Illustrated” comic books. This series, long since out of print (at least in comic book form) was designed to introduce young readers to classic literature by putting them in a short and entertaining format. My cousin (no fool she) had used them to do book reports.

An Author Interview with Moira Greyland Peat by Tamara Wilhite

The daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley discusses “The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon”

The Last Closet” was written by Moira Greyland. She’s the daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of “The Mists of Avalon” and Walter Breen. It is Marion Bradley’s book from which the book title is drawn. “The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon” is equal parts autobiography and true-crime thriller with a tragic sprinkling of the history of science fiction fandom mixed in.

Moira’s book includes large sections of horrifying personal stories, but she has gone to great length to document what happened. For example, her father’s repeated arrests on pedophilia charges (he died in prison) and her mother’s testimony during such trials are public record. She’s backed up everything she can from external sources.

Pulling Your Cosmic Trigger: Why July 23 Is Robert Anton Wilson Day

An Overview of the Unique Sci-Fi Novelist and Occult Explorer Who Made Contact With *Something* Today in 1973

If I had to pick a single author who has influenced me more than any other it would be the counterculture godfather Robert Anton Wilson whose books, speeches, and ideas have influenced generations of oddball individualists since the 1970s.

 

Theatre Review: The Mueller Report-Based ‘The Investigation: A Search for Truth’

The Church Report

Well, it didn’t take long! Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report was made public on April 18, 2019 and by June 24, 2019 we had a “play” about it! Eighteen notable actors—including John Lithgow, Annette Bening, and Kevin Kline—took the stage at the Riverside Church in Manhattan, and offered an hour-long reading of the Mueller report, entitled The Investigation: A Search for Truth, a title that forces one to sing “Dah-dah-daaahhh” after saying it.

Obviously, it would take way more than an hour to read the 400+ pages of the Mueller report. However, playwright Robert Schankken efficiently cut out most of the report—including the large portion that found no collusion committed by President Donald Trump or anyone on his campaign staff—focusing instead on the obstruction of justice section, which Mueller apparently was unsure about.  Schankken himself is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, whose most recent piece before The Investigation(Dah-dah-daaahhh!) was Building the Wall, a May 2017 play about “life in the Donald Trump era.”  I’ve yet to figure out how a President can define an “era” just five months into his administration.

Sci-Fi Book Review: ‘The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories’

“The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories” by Walter Jon Williams encapsulate his expectations for a post-scarcity, post-Singularity world. These are worlds where you can upload your mind to a permanent virtual reality or raise children in them to be downloaded later. Nearly every one consists of worlds where nano-beds can scan your body, your mind and maybe even your soul to be downloaded into the body of your choice. Whether a gorilla body on Earth or adapted body on an alien colony world is up to you. Each story asks a different question while seeking to answer it.

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