Wednesday, 14 September 2016


"Dark energy" is an invisible omnipresent prime mover and cause of cosmic expansion so it has some of the properties of God.

Travelers to the past or to other timelines might encounter dodos. This happens again in SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Seven. A teacher shows children "...a live dodo in a wicker cage..." (p. 124)

I have speculated about Poul Anderson writing Superman and rationalizing Kryptonian powers. In fact, there are at least three popular sf series that I think need an overhaul:

Star Trek - the Vulcans should be not aliens but descendants of a small population of human colonists of an extrasolar planet;

Doctor Who - the Time Lords should be not aliens but our descendants;

Superman - there should be some explanation not only of Kryptonian powers but also of the Kryptonians' remarkable resemblance to white North Americans. (See here.)

Poul Anderson could have done all of these.

Star Trek has permeated our culture. To cite two examples -

when I told a friend of a "reality storm" in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, he remarked, "That sounds like something out of Star Trek," and I replied, "One of the characters says, 'That sounds like something out of Star Trek.'" (People from different realities shelter from the storm and the different realities include ours);

when one of SM Stirling's Nantucketers meets the King of Babylon:

"'O King, live long and prosper,' he said solemnly, holding up his right hand with the fingers spread in a V. I always wanted to say that, he thought, then there was a sharp pain in his ankle as Doreen kicked him; she hadn't believed he would actually go through with it." (Chapter Eight, p. 131)

We were concerned when we read that strangers in big ships were bringing many gifts to the King of Babylon. Walker? We were relieved when we read that the strangers' king was called "'...Yhared-Koff'in...'" (p. 128) - the Nantucketers' Chief Executive Officer. Not military conquests but peaceful alliances will "...make all things new."


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I don't know if it's legitimate to compare "dark energy" to God. If that kind of "energy" was created, it could not, by definition be God, who is UN-created.

The idea that Vulcans were descendants of a colony settled by humans from Earth makes sense to me! Far more so than the implausibility of two TOTALLY unrelated intelligent species being interfertile.

Ian Arnstein greeting the King of Babylon with "O King, live long and prosper" seems exactly the right and polite thing for an ambassador to say. It was the right hand raised in a V which puzzles me. I don't know what Ian meant by that.

And the Babylonians allying with Nantucket would be far better than trying to make a deal with the treacherous and untrustworthy Walker!


Paul Shackley said...

We are to understand that Ian is imitating the Vulcan greeting from STAR TREK.

David Birr said...

Paul and Sean:
Trivia: Leonard Nimoy based the gesture on one a Jewish priest uses in synagogue to bless the congregation.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul and Dave!

Paul, darn, that only goes to show how little a STAR TREK (or, as I sometimes called it, STAR DRECK) fan I am! I was never a fan of STAR TREK, reading Anderson, Asimov, Bradbury, Clark, Heinlein, and Norton as a boy spoiled me for TV science fiction. Compared to the masters I listed STAR TREK is so thin, shallow, and superficial. Which means many ST allusions will slip by me.

David: that was interesting, that Jewish "kohanim" uses the V gesture for blessings. I do wonder what the V is supposed to symbolize.


David Birr said...

Sean, Wikipedia has an answer to your question:
"...representing the Hebrew letter Shin (ש), which has three upward strokes similar to the position of the thumb and fingers in the salute. The letter Shin here stands for El Shaddai, meaning 'Almighty (God)', as well as for Shekinah and Shalom."

Shekinah "is the English transliteration of a Hebrew noun meaning 'dwelling' or 'settling' and denotes the dwelling or settling of the divine presence of God and his cosmic glory. This exact term does not occur in the Hebrew Bible, and is first encountered in rabbinic literature."

And "Shalom" means "peace."

So, three meanings in one gesture -- accompanying the classic Benediction "The Lord bless you and keep you..." which of course finishes "...and give you peace." Though I've not seen it stated thus anywhere, it COULD be considered that the idea of God "settling" encompasses "bless ... keep ... make His face shine upon you..." so that the gesture would IN ITSELF express the Benediction.

(That being so, it was perhaps rather sacrilegious to use it in a secular context....)

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Many thanks for your comments explaining Ian Arnstein's otherwise rather puzzling gesture. I don't think it has to be interpreted as sacrilegious on Ian's part. Among other things, it could be understood as him asking God to bless the King of Babylon.