Re: Stupid stuff you're stuck with now?
- From: Robert Carnegie <rja.carnegie@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2009 18:04:00 -0800 (PST)
Ted Nolan <tednolan> wrote:
In article <MPG.258dcdd76ddb7bd898998f@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
Kay Shapero <kay@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
In article <7oh3nlF3qisgsU2@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, ted@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
There's a phenomenon where an author (perhaps a beginning author)
starts a series and the series proves to be popular. Unfortunately
the author established something extremely stupid in the first book
that becomes more and more implausible as the series progresses...
I guess the example that struck me most in recents years is "Quidditch"
in the Harry Potter books. Rowling established a very poorly thought-out
game in the first book, yet it remains very important at least until
the magical world starts falling apart. She dealt with it by just
pretending it made sense in later books.
Then came up with the luck potion later. Oops...
And time-travel, come to think of it..
Most of these are containable, and some of Rowling's other inventions
start out as "very difficult magic" and then become almost
commonplace. But that can be understood as a student's view of
whether a spell is difficult or not depending on how far they got
The time travel device apparently is dangerous, doesn't seem to allow
the past to be changed (ruling out rescuing people who died), so we
might as well suppose - untold - that it also doesn't let you travel
before the device was manufactured.
The Fidelius Charm in book three was constructed, I judge, as a clumsy
device to prove that one particular person was a traitor. Apparently
a friend and I can Fidelius my location into secrecy and I can sit at
my front window watching you and you can't see me if you aren't in on
the secret, which is just weird. I don't know if you think "Who is
that guy" or nothing at all.
Other problems include the Sorting Hat that condemns you at age eleven
or twelve to be good or evil, and the Unforgivable Curses that the
good guys must never use on humans, until book seven. Oh, and dead
people who won't shut up.
On the Curses I think the initial information is from a source
ultimately not necessarily accurate, I think the Hat actually examines
your character for the areas where you need to be drawn out (so Hero
House - Harry Potter's - starts out with a class of smart-asses, brave-
but-dumbs, cowards and sneaks, and the school champion in book four is
from a different House), and I'm not sure I've figured out the dead
people yet, except that quantum physicists apparently think that
"information" is never destroyed. So your personal "information" can
live on in people you know, or in portraits, objects, or ghosts.
Maybe that's why being a ghost is the wrong kind of immortality: it
excludes the other kinds. It means you're dead and forgotten. Maybe
that's why Dumbledore insists that one set of "echoes" of dead people
are in fact not ghosts...
Now for the original question: I'll nominate, with regret, a few
problems for James White's Space Sector Twelve General Hospital, which
of course was written over many years. At an unspecified date in the
future, they don't have robot surgery equipment, but we already do.
We also have women doctors, and we have communications protocols where
a message can be useably reconstructed from imperfect transmission and
reception more efficiently than by sending the entire message over and
over and merging all the copies. The same goes for video.
Communications failures were a plot point more than once, and clearly
the hospital and everyone around it uses analogue communication.
As for women, that was explained after a fashion: every student doctor
or nurse at Sector General is an excellent one-species doctor, but
some cannot go on to use the "Educator Tape" (tape!) recordings of
alien doctors' minds to increase their own knowledge, and that's
females - of some species anyway.
In an early story Dr Conway is also prevented by a robot chaperone
from performing (on another human) activities associated with
reproduction, but later on it's pointed out that other species either
won't be stopped by wild horses at the right time of year from the
equivalent activity or else won't even notice that it's happening. So
it must be a rule just for humans.
- Prev by Date: Re: Things we remember...
- Next by Date: Re: Need for Islam
- Previous by thread: Re: Stupid stuff you're stuck with now?
- Next by thread: Re: Stupid stuff you're stuck with now?