The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Monday, April 16, 2012

We're approaching the jump point, Captain

As you may know, I own an Android tablet. And, as you know, I purchased an eReader ( a NOOK color) some time ago. On these, I can read many, many different books. And I often read many old books on these... because I am cheap and I can get them for free and because they are classics and well worth reading and because some are well worth reading more than once...

Currently, I am re-reading "The Mote in God's Eye" by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven. Both very fine SF writers. The first time around, as a result of enjoying the book immensely, I began reading a lot more books by these two authors

The story is simple: Man has traveled to the stars thanks to two innovations: the Alderson Drive and the Langston Field. The drive allows them to transverse space through "jumps" between points in space, the field protects the ship from just about anything by dissipating energy. But man has also reverted to an aristocracy and a class system while evolving into an Empire which has, seemingly, collapsed through revolution and insurrection and re-emerged as the second Empire and has regained control of the many worlds who were in revolt. It is at this point that man is confronted by a previously unknown species (the first intelligent non-human species) who have ventured into the Empire's domain.

Read the book, you will enjoy it.

But that is not what I wish to talk about today. In the book, the characters all seem to possess something which struck me as prescient. You see, the book came out in 1974. This was before PCs and Apple computers. Back when people thought of large, semi-mechanical, somewhat magical machines run by scientists in lab coats when the term "computer" came up in conversation. The writers of this novel undoubtedly worked with typewriters while writing it and likely were familiar with computers such as I described above. Yet, they had the foresight to conceive of something they called "pocket computers" before there were even desktop micro-computers. And, though they don't mention it, wireless links to the ship's main computer. I inferred this from the things they did with their pocket computers.

I found it interesting, and amusing, that I was reading this stuff about pocket computers on my tablet computer (a bit too big to fit in my pocket) but could have been reading it on a smart phone... a smart phone is, after all, a pocket computer. I also came across an article at ZDNet which talks about why the tablet has become so readily accepted.

Can the Alderson Drive and the Langston Field be far behind?


Steven Scott said...

I remember liking it, but the details are lost in the midst of all the niven i was reading at the time, all in that same universe

Torggil said...

I feel the same wass watching 2001: A Space Odessy.  The visuals, particularly when the moon launch lands are incredible.

Douglas4517 said...

 Interesting. I enjoyed the "Waltz" as the shuttle docked with the space station.

Douglas4517 said...

 Reading "Mote" caused me to start reading a lot of Niven. But, yes, details are lost eventually. Which is why re-reading is enjoyable.