Building a SciFi/Fantasy Library discussion

Promotions > pandoras star

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Servius Heiner (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:35PM) (new)

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments Newbie to the group, And thought I would start by asking of peter Hamilton’s series "Pandora’s star" and "Judas unchained", It has become one of my top 5 sci-fi reads, along with "spin"
Pandora’s star is about an earthbound civilization that spreads across the galaxy using wormhole generators, until an astronomer witnesses a star disappear in an instant, which ultimately leads to in expedition to the event location, unleashing a very hostile alien culture , before the darn things are brought under control over 40 colonized worlds are destroyed. Hamilton digs deep for this one, how does a civilization that has lost its fear of death (through cellular rejuvenation, and re-lifeing) deal with millions dieing in an alien onslaught. The book is filled with wonderful technologies and can be pretty funny at times.

message 2: by Emily (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:00PM) (new)

Emily (cosmicvagabond) | 4 comments I loved the book, but found a lot of the technical details obscure and trite. They seemed unnecessary, but I was pleased that Hamilton didn't gloss over them.

The chapter written through the aliens' perspective while they're trying to make "contact" with their two human captives is eye-opening, riveting, and horrific. I read it three times.

message 3: by Servius Heiner (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:07PM) (new)

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments The perspectives of the aliens were, unique; I think it brings up a good topic of discussion about the possibility of alien life forms and the assumption that an advance civilization will be peaceful. Personally I have to put it into a human perspective. When we become a space faring civilization how would we react to a new found civilization? Would we watch, make contact? Or just start blasting away?
It is a deeper question then it appears, if you can get past the argument of “are we alone”. Additionally there are allot of variables that go into it, bio-dangers, are they hostel, would we even bother to find out, or just be threatened by the possibility of a major competitor, or would we rejoice and start landing ships waving flags and sending up flocks of doves. I don’t know, I guess it really depends on the political climate at the time.

message 4: by Emily (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:07PM) (new)

Emily (cosmicvagabond) | 4 comments One way to predict how we'll react to another intelligent life form is to watch how we react to each other. We're not doing very well so far.

message 5: by Servius Heiner (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:07PM) (new)

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments And that is my point, true, there are some really smart peaple on earth, however there are many more really stupid ones.

message 6: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:08PM) (new)

Carl | 38 comments I think one of the interesting ideas to be explored in sci-fi is how aliens might differ from us ontologically or cognitively. Since getting into grad school I've become more and more interested in phenomonology (Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Dreyfus and Ricoeur) and also Cognitive Linguistics, and it seems to me that these could lead to some interesting speculation on the problems of inter-species relations. If, on top of all the problems of culture ,etc, the way in which we are embodied in the world, and what that world is like, has so much to do with how we think, what the world even is to us, and if all our "higher sciences" are themselves conditioned to some degree by this more fundamental mode of "being", then we've potentially got an even greater gap in understanding than we would expect from Star Wars, Star Trek, or about 99% of all the other stories of contact. Or if our idea of what it is to be intelligent, to have culture, etc, can only have a basis in what we already know, then would we even be capable of recognizing what we find as "intelligence" or "culture"? Or would we have to come up with whole new terms, or, if we can somehow recognize their 'language', borrow their understanding of themselves, and would it actually be translatable? I guess I'm kinda thinking of those sorts of things after reading Paul Ricoeur's "On Translation". I've enjoyed Shiela Finch's Lingster stories, though from the few I've seen I think they are still fairly "tame", basically equivilant to aborginal first contact stories with extra problems thrown in.
Sorry, this has become a bit long, and maybe not entirely on topic! But I think it's one of the most interesting areas to be explored in far future (or potentially near future, I guess) sci-fi, and one of the few areas a person from the humanities, like me, is able to say something intelligent about! But I haven't read as widely as I'd like, and if anyone has other sci-fi titles to suggest on this them, I'd be interested in hearing!

message 7: by Servius Heiner (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:09PM) (new)

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments That’s very interesting, and I wouldn’t be too concerned with being off topic. What is a topic after all?
Ok so how about this. If we become a real space faring civilization and you were in charge of the team to seek out life, or intelligent life, how would you go about it? How would you react if you found “something” not necessarily intelligent? How would you approach the situation? Would your team have defensive capabilities, and how willing would you be to show your hand to an unknown? (Sorry I just assume that most people would have “Defensive capabilities” instead of offensive weaponry)
How would one go about understanding the actions or reaction of an alien psychology? As you have pointed out much of how we interpret things is based on the world we live in. So how would we communicate? I believe the most popular suggestion is through mathematics, but it is a bit hard to communicate; fear, pain, happiness, hunger, in terms of 2+2=4 or 1, 3, 5, 7, or whatever. What say you?

message 8: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:11PM) (new)

Carl | 38 comments Tough question. I'm a cautious type, so I think I would tend to want to stand back and observe without interfering before making a move, to try to achieve some degree of understanding first (as opposed to the Discovery Channel program "Alien Planet" where they just dump two probes in the middle of an alien planet with a 6 year communication gap between them and earth)-- but if it seems that something is intelligent, cultured, or somehow can be interacted with, well, there may eventually be nothing to do but dive in if you want to understand. I suppose we also have to come up with definitions of "intelligence" and "life", etc, as Jack Horner noted on the Discovery Channel special (not that I recommend Discovery Channel for much more than entertainment), but we would also have to make those definitions tentative and be aware that they will necessarily grow/change. I agree with you that it is hard to see how mathematical knowledge (which on the one hand deals with the "absolutes" of the raw data of the world, but is still understood, talked about, cognitively manipulated according to the mathematical "language" you've learned-- I guess that would be, for example, base ten vs base 12 or whatever,among other things) would take us beyond math and into the realm of culture and social interaction. I think the problem is the idea that the world we exist in, or at least how we percieve it, how it makes sense to us, what consistitutes a discrete object or categories of objects, and on and on, is specific to humanity, and even varies fairly drastically across cultural groups (down to even the conception of time), so if we ran into an alien race, they would both inhabit a different world than us, and they would not fit into our world-- so what do we do? But I think that here it becomes important to point out that we do still have the "raw data" of "reality" in common-- well, we could say that we always have a pre-understanding of the world, the world as meaningful and understandable cannot exist apart from this mode of being-in-the-world that we are born and grow up into, but it is a world shaped by what scientists might call "hard facts", and however much a phenomenologist or hermeneuticist like me might want to problematize that, it still gives us something in common that shapes our comportment (for example, gravity, the material coherence of solids, and depending on the organism, a front and a back, and a diminishing ability to manipulate objects the further they are from you), and if we do just "dive in" like I suggested, well, that common interaction ought to shape some sort of a shared world, kind of like the interaction between individuals in our own intersubjective world-- we might argue for eternity about whether we are actually "seeing" or understanding things the same way (or even inhabiting the same world), but our worlds would overlap (or at least, we would "show up as something" in each other's worlds) and we would then have the opportunity to get "in synch". I guess all I'm really saying is that any sort of interaction can ultimately only be, or rather only progress to higher levels, by taking a relational, hermeneutic (yet analytically and rationally informed) approach to the "Other". Maybe the real definition of an intelligent, cultural being is one which we can interact with as such a thing. or maybe our own world will expand far beyond what it is now by interaction with other "beings" with their own mode of being and their own world.
No one can write a handbook on how to make first contact, though you might be able to write a lot of theory or fiction about it.
A random example before I (finally) quit: our world overlaps with and we can "understand" and interact with not only chimps, but dolphins, which are pretty alien to us in many ways, including the world they inhabit. And who knows, if all life in the universe runs along the lines ours does, maybe it's just a matter of making the same distinctions we do here! Well, probably that's not a safe assumption to make. Better to be more open.
Ack, this has turned out long and convoluted and fairly aimless, so apologies for anything confusing or just dumb. I should just write my dissertation on this instead. If only I could work the Vikings into it somehow...

message 9: by Servius Heiner (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:12PM) (new)

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments Hmmm... Vikings, I see where your going with this. If we send Vikings into space the dolphins, will communicate, with alien life forms. The chimps will then in turn translate that information to us via, sign language, Ahh, yes I see it clearly, you are vary wise my good sir.
I must admit however I am still couscous of the idea that advanced intelligence brings peaceful intentions. If we view reality so differently how would we know off hand if we were being threatening to them or them to us. Think a small child who catches a star fish in the ocean and brings it home, because he thinks it’s cool, He places it in a large bowl or fish tank even, why not?, and fills it with fresh water. Does the star fish survive? Did the little child know he was harming it? No, but harm he did none the less.

message 10: by Hanno (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Hanno | 2 comments Both are good books, although I didn't like the (literally) cliffhanger ending of the first.

message 11: by Servius Heiner (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments yeah, the first one pretty much just stops, However the second one picks right up where the first left off.

back to top