Monday, 25 July 2016

Where Is My Universal Translator?

Ian Arnstein struggles to communicate:

"Damn, he thought. this was going to take a while. In most of the fiction he'd read, there was some ingenious way around language difficulties - a Universal Translator or a wizard with a spell, or the side effects of a dimensional gate.  Here he was, living it instead of reading it, and he'd have to trudge dismally through the basics instead. I should complain to the author."
-SM Stirling, Island In The Sea Of Time (New York, 1998), p. 91.

For the author, see the image. And what did we discuss recently here? Now I must stop posting and attend that meditation group I mentioned.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Ian Arnstein's difficulties learning a new language reminded me of this bit from Chapter XI of THE REBEL WORLDS, when Dominic Flandry was learning one of the Didonian lanuages: "Besides having suitable genes, he had been through the Intelligence Corps' unmercifully rigorous courses in linguistics and metalinguistics, semantics and metasemantics, every known trick of concentration and memorization, he had learned how to learn. Few civilian scientists received that good a training; they didn't need it as urgently as any field agent always did."


Sean M. Brooks said...

I forgot to add I would have liked to examine the books we see behind S.M. Stirling and his wife.


David Birr said...

"I should complain to the author" reminded me of a bit I read somewhere on the 'Net. I don't know who originated it:

"What if we’re all characters in a book?
What if when you forget what you were going to say, it’s the author backspacing?
And when you feel a sense that you’ve been through a certain day or moment before, it’s because the author is rewriting the same part of the story, but with better context....
My author [expletive deleted] sucks."

Doesn't THAT make you feel paranoid?

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

These comments of yours about literary paranoia reminded me of how more than one author has written stories on the theme that we are all merely characters in a writer's tale. Poul Anderson used that idea in "The Disintegrating Sky," (first pub. in 1953; repub. 1961 in STRANGERS FROM EARTH, Ballantine Books). And Stephen King used that theme in an unusual way in "Umney's Last Case," most conveniently found in NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES (Signet: September 1994).