Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.
Andy: Actually, the old series was pretty bloodthirsty with its companions - they could and did die, and when they died they were really dead.
Except Perri! But if we're referring to Companions as "people who traveled with Doctor/appeared in multiple stories" (as I was), then that's only what, half a dozen in 26 years?
They sometimes made a Big Thing of it when someone important died, but they didn't make a Big Thing of it that someone was going to die, let alone making a Big Thing of it that someone is going to die even when they transparently aren't.
Marvel's Ultimates universe was a great restart/way to get new fans, but now that's been going on so long that you can't really jump into it easily either. Though they did a whole big reboot as well and now they only have the one ongoing title and a bunch of short miniseries type deals. Which is pretty doable.
The downloads sound cool. But I honestly can't really see them throwing away years of continuity. If they did, I'd be kind of pissed considering how long I've invested getting to know these people. So...yeah...I'm not so sure how I feel about the reboot....
The fact that they're offering same-day downloads of their stuff is a big plus to me because it's a sign that they want to cater to people who don't regularly go to comic shops, which I know sounds awful, but I always wanted to get into superhero comics but I never managed it because even when I was a kid in the 1980s they seemed to be catering mainly to people who'd been reading the things for decades, and it's only got worse since. And if the renumbering is actually accompanied by a proper scorched earth approach to continuity, and if they shepherd the series such that if you just want to follow Batman or whoever you don't need to buy a bunch of crossover titles just to make Batman's core series make sense, they might actually come up with something I'd want to follow.
But then on the other hand the first title is going to be a Justice League one so crossovers will still be on the cards. But then on the other other hand the cover to their first Wonder Woman issue looks awesome.
I dunno guys, tell me that they've done this before and it was all cosmetic a few times and it'd be stupid of me to go back for yet another shot, otherwise I might actually dip into the new series and see if they're any good.
Actually, the old series was pretty bloodthirsty with its companions - they could and did die, and when they died they were really dead.
Re: putting hands up: You could be right, though I'm cynical enough to think it's more likely
@Andy: I was just talking about that with my sisters earlier today, actually. We agreed that on the old show (1963-1989) the emphasis was on "how is the Doctor/Companion going to get out of this deadly situation?", whereas the tone of the new show is more often "Oh God, the Doctor/Companion is going to DIE, isn't that so, so sad?" and I'm sitting there saying, "No, they're not, please stop wasting my time and do something interesting already." The Big Bang
And it involves considerably less suspension of disbelief than every time the Daleks come back from complete destruction *again*.
The very beginning of the season went a long way to put me off, what with the massive dose of melodrama and the excruciatingly awful
The pirate episode was enjoyable fluff, but there were so many gaping plot holes by the end, not to mention the one plot point which required the Captain to be suicidally stupid ("Gee, I wonder if he's going to try to save that highly reflective shiny crown?"). Plus even more melodrama with the whole
The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People made a good point about the way human beings often take a bad but survivable situation and make it worse through our own petty fears and prejudices, but it felt incredibly heavy-handed. The guest cast felt less like flawed human beings
Then again, it might all suddenly make sense within the first five minutes of next episode, not least because
There is a joke in the second episode about this: the Doctor says something like "Well, we could investigate this further, or we could just go off and have random adventures".
I think it is still pretty episodic - in the sense that most episodes function in their own right - but the difference is that they also contribute in some way to the overall arc. Time will tell I guess.
I will say that I am *really* looking forward to next week's episode (by Moffat).
The main difference I'm seeing this season is that it's very much written as a season to be watched beginning to end, even more so than last time (which was comparatively continuity-heavy itself), and it's pandering more to the geek audience by being clever and being conscious about being clever. Not to an extent that I'm not enjoying it (the first couple of episodes and the latest two-parter were great), but I do see that people might find it hard to get into, and I might retroactively end up hating the season if the way Moffatt pulls all the various strands together turns out to be rubbish. I almost think Moffatt would be better off abandoning the episodic structure entirely, since he does seem to struggle sometimes to make it work.
I'm ashamed to admit I only got the first author you alluded to in that premise (Moorcock...right?!?)
Yep. Second is M. John Harrison, lost in Viriconium (which includes such locales as the Proton Way and the Bistro Californium, which has led me to believe that the place is meant to be built in the ruins of a particle accelerator). Third one is Ballard himself, confronted with the many-named protagonist of The Atrocity Exhibition and a couple of the ghosts haunting said protagonist.
For what it's worth, I do like some of Brian Aldiss' later stuff, mostly HARM and Somewhere East of Life, the latter of which I praise mostly because it's one of the few books out there that actually tried to come to grips with the end of the Cold War. (I also did like that one of the main signs that Western civilization was headed down the crapper was the fact that Not The Wheel of Time has become a top-grossing film franchise. [It also ties nicely into one of Aldiss' themes in Trillion Year Spree about SF's eternal struggle between seriously dealing with Humanity's Place In Industrialized Society and escapist adventure.])
Idea for a late Ballardian story: a fanzine writer investigates a spate of madness, strokes, and sudden heart attacks amongst a commune of New Wave SF authors, and discovers that these symptoms are all a consequence of real life catching up with their early works. The resultant failure of the comforting veil of fiction to protect them from their own prophecies inevitably leads the writers to fear that sooner or later their wilder, stranger predictions will also come to pass, leading to the psychological and psychosomatic maladies that caught the fanzine writer's attention. One author is convinced an assassin called Jerry is going to kill him as part of an extended terrorist campaign against history. Another is found wandering the coils of a particle accelerator, asserting that it is a city more real than 21st Century London. A third suffers a massive heart attack when he encounters three people attending a costume party as Marilyn Monroe, a psychiatrist and a bomber pilot.
I ask because gold farming is a major feature of the book, and several of the characters are Chinese gold farmers. One of them even gets imprisoned for several months because of his union activism. Reading that article so soon after reading For the Win felt pretty surreal for me, and I imagine it must be several times stranger for Doctorow.
Claire: I see a business opportunity here...Ethically Farmed Wowgold, anyone?
Fair Trade Wowgold … sounds good to me!
I've also just listened to Kyra's guest spot on Read it and Weep. It was muchly entertaining, though I still prefer the TeXt Factor and other Ferretcasts.
Alasdair: And now, the pure terror that is Lou Reed.
Content-blocked in the US. Grr.
And now, the pure terror that is Lou Reed.
A lot of it seems to be based on this (itself not unproblematic) assumption that "intelligence" is a single, measurable quality and that there is, in essence, a magic level of IQ or whatever at which you can work out how to make yourself smarter, thereby attaining infinite smartness. The problem is that there's no reason at all to assume that this is even partially true.
As for Artifical Intelligence in general, that remains a philosophical issue as much as anything else. It's not immediately clear how you prove that you've actually got an AI, rather than a sophisticated video game NPC.
You may be right about that. Sometimes I even wonder if AI is actually possible or if it's just one of those things that lies far enough beyond the upper limits of physics, engineering expertise, and simple financial cost that we'll never crack it, sort of like regular manned space travel.
Oh, I think both AI and regular manned space travel will happen eventually, I just don't think either advance will be quite as transformative or Utopian as they are made out to be.
The Singularity, in particular, imagines that if you could just get an AI advanced enough you could have it improve and enhance itself at an exponential rate, and I just don't see it working that way. Whether your brain is squishy and organic or zappy and electronic, you still need to actually do experiments and tests and trial ones to check that your awesome new chip architecture actually works - especially if you've hit the point where you're having to incorporate weird novel materials into your chips because you've reached the theoretical limit of what traditional silicon architecture can do. That's not something you can rush just by having greater computing power. Computing power is great if you want to mathematically optimise stuff and run models of how something might work, but even AIs will need to do physical experiments to test their theories.
Hell, if I were an AI tasked to design improvements to my own mind, I would be super-paranoid about the number of tests needed and probably spend longer tinkering with things at the prototype stage before biting the bullet and incorporating new chips into myself.
As for manned space travel, I reckon it'll happen as soon as it becomes more economically feasible to obtain rare minerals from asteroids than from increasingly depleted deposits on Earth.