Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Another Detail

John C. Wright, The Golden Age (New York, 2003), Chapter 14, The Golden Doors, section 2.

"The palace they used had been grown overnight out of smart-crystal..." (p. 223)

It must be possible to program smart-crystal to grow to a design? A palace can be grown overnight yet there are people who are unable to pay housing bills and who are then "'...thrown into the street.'" (See here.) It seems to me that the author has imagined technological mastery of the physical environment but has not imagined a corresponding social structure.

If there is homelessness, then surely there are also crimes like theft and assault although, earlier in the novel, we had got the impression that life was utopian and that crime and coercion were outmoded concepts (see here) - although the word "crime" was then used. I might need to reread... To throw someone into homelessness is indeed to coerce. There is also mention of exiling someone.

The characters are involved in legal cases and disputes. Laws must be enforced if they are to exist. There are references to copyright. (It is time for me to eat.)

Addendum: (Food is in the oven.) I post as I read. This enables me to focus on details that I would miss if I read an entire novel before discussing it, unless I took a lot of notes. It also means that judgments made in earlier posts might have to be revised in later posts, especially when discussing a novel in which the characters' consciousnesses are artificially manipulated so that a viewpoint character's perceptions might turn out to have been illusions and his earlier understanding might turn out to have been an elaborate fiction within the fiction. But the author must meanwhile ensure that we care enough about the characters to want to know the outcome. At present, I am reading The Golden Age in sporadic bursts, alternating with works set in recognizably human environments. This technologized mentality is a direction that Poul Anderson's later future histories could have moved in but Wright has gone much further along this strange road.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

This does seem to be an inconsistency, homelessness existing alongside a technology so powerful that a palace could be "grown" overnight using smart crystal. I would have thought, even granting degrees of wealth, that even the poorest would have reasonably comfortable housing with that kind of technology.

Once you pointed it out Wright's GOLDEN AGE trilogy's technologized mentality did go even further than what we see in Anderson's HARVEST OF STARS books. And like the HARVEST books, I would probably need to read Wright's trilogy a second or third time to properly appreciate it.