2021.11.27 15:05 BlurryBeauty A 2013 book called The Lesson came highly recommended. Unfortunately, I thought it was bad – basically terrible. It exemplifies perfectly what I think is a seriously overlooked problem in First Contact stories. Please tell me if I’m making too much of a big deal out of this.
The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull – an Example of Bad First Contact Stories
The characters were so fleshed out that they seemed like people I know. The setting and culture explored in the story were so fresh that I felt like I could breathe. The excerpt of history told throughout the story was so educational. The character-to-character interaction was so human and so diverse that I just couldn’t help but turn the page.
And yet, I didn’t like this book.
One thing ruined it for me: the author’s approach to First Contact. The book’s excellent qualities shone too brightly in the first section of the book – the section dealing with the time right before the Ynaa (the name of the alien species) arrived, that is – that I let down my guard, and I set myself up for bitter disappointment, as has become the norm recently. Through very few pages, I was pulled into the lives of numerous characters and their lives. I was made aware (to a degree) of what life for people in the Virgin Islands looked like. I found myself finding characters I felt strongly about (be it love or hate) and characters I was too confused to feel anything for. It was so well done, good god. I loved it; I loved it all. The excellent storytelling skills of the author were so evident; I couldn’t help but think that he would not disappoint me.
Alas, I was very wrong. Like many other storytellers, Cadwell Turnbull has seemingly fallen into the trap of the inability (or unwillingness) to recognize how monumental First Contact is. When trying to approach the issue of the incalculable change in the psyche of each individual as well as in the functions of society as a whole when First Contact happens, a lot of authors just try to by-pass it by talking of the sudden loss of religiosity or the spike of religious fervor; they try to mention the general increase of depression and anxiety and suicides here and there; they talk of the governments changing policies to adapt to the changes and their usually unsuccessful attempts at quelling massive unrests. While all of these are realistic expectations of what would happen to us if we’re to face an advanced extraterrestrial life, it barely scratches the surface of the monumental problem of talking about First Contact.
The biggest problem is the portrayal of these beings. Hardly anyone seems to understand how difficult (virtually impossible) it is to imagine life that has ‘evolved’ elsewhere. Whenever I see aliens described in Science Fiction, it shocks me that not a lot of people – either in the story or from fans – raise the following question: How the f*** is it possible that the aliens are this similar to us?
I know it is very hard to grapple with the fact that we’re a complete product of nature, but given that humans insist that we are so special that the universe just has to revolve around us, I find it ironic that Science Fiction authors refuse the uniqueness humans (and every single life form inhabiting our planet) possess inherently simply because, by definition, we are a product of almost unique circumstances. Even starting at the beginning of it all, when life originated on our planet, that it happened to be the product of some carbon-based organic chemical reaction is a remarkable occurrence. Even with how little we know about the origin of life, there are scientific theories that can theorize and explain life based on silicon as opposed to carbon. Imagine the tremendous number of characteristics that would change because of the fundamental elements involved in the most basic building blocks of living organisms. That life, once it emerged one way or the other, was a subject to natural selection, too, seems to be another remarkable occurrence that the authors take for granted. I can sit here and imagine a world where organisms have evolved in a world where the interaction between the limitations on the planet they inhabit and their genetic makeup doesn’t necessitate natural selection to emerge. Say the planet (or any celestial object they call home, whether it is a moon, a dwarf planet, an asteroid, a rogue planet, a cold star, or even nebulae) provides an environment that is utterly stable and uniform. Just this assumption ruins the whole idea of natural selection. This is even assuming that they evolve. Or that they have something equivalent to genetics.
These assumptions completely prevent any solid image from emerging, killing it right before we even leave the level of such primitiveness as the fundamentals of life. What makes the task even harder is how this apparently impassable wall of ignorance of any outcome happens on each level of the process of life; at almost any arbitrary point, the wall is there, blocking any furthering. Imagine the number of unique circumstances that led some of the prokaryotes to change into eukaryotes. Imagine the assumptions you’d need to make to explain how an alien species is multicellular when you know the miraculous story that must have happened the way it did for life to go in that evolutionary road here on Earth. With all this in mind, imagine how much of an impossible task it is to rationalize how the aliens featured in the story have gender or that they have sex. Try explaining why they are bipeds with arms and fingers. How is it realistic to imagine them being radially symmetrical or that they eat food? How come adding tentacles is a go-to solution that seems satisfactory for many, even though it is just as unlikely as hair or opposable thumbs?
The point is that when we start to think about the basically limitless set of happenstances that must have happened exactly the way that they had to lead to the characters that we – the modern occupants of the planet have – it becomes almost comically outrageous to attribute those same characteristics to extraterrestrials. And what makes this predicament that much more frustrating is that a lot of Science Fiction storytellers – the craftsmen that are responsible for carrying the burden of nurturing the genre – are blatantly ignorant of it. Yes, acknowledging how impossible a task imagining ETs is seems too discouraging to have any merits. Yes, there isn’t that big of a market for deep and hard science featured in stories. Yes, the genre being fictional frees any writer from almost any of the restrictions of nature.
But it is my belief that so long as an author decides to write in this genre as opposed to, say, surrealism, magical realism, fantasy, or satire, there are rules they must observe. One of the most important rules that set the genre apart is that because what happens in the stories is guided by the laws of science, the readers are allowed to entertain the real possibility of the tale actually happening. This breaks if the authors neglect the problem of First Contact. It makes perfect sense that the scientists that are currently working on trying to find actual ET life have no option but to be constricted by the impassibility of the task. Not only does it make rational sense to search for alien life-forms by basing the entirety of their method on a mountain of extremely unlikely assumptions (for instance, they look for life that is carbon-based, life that needs water to survive, life that is restricted by the same temperature extremes we earthlings are, life that needs an atmosphere with a composition that is similar to Earth’s, etc.), it is literally impossible to go about searching for anything but life-as-we-know-it.
But story-tellers are artists and thinkers; they are not shackled with the same sensibilities. That doesn’t mean that their job should be to solve the unsolvable riddle. Acknowledging the problem actually goes such a long way. It at least shows me that the author knows that they’re undertaking such a huge task, and yet they’re still giving it a go. That’s courage. That’s honesty.
It is surprisingly easy to do this. Take Ted Chiang’s The Story of Your Life (the story Denis Villeneuve based Arrival on), for example*. His heptapods – when considered through the lenses of the mountain of unlikely assumptions we need to take for granted to make their portrayal acceptable – are just as unrealistic as any other random First Contact Science Fiction. Ted Chiang is very aware of this (a problem as clear as this will not escape a person who’s as clever as him), and his solution is so elegant in its effortlessness. All he did was insert a single line – literally only one line. One of his characters said, in a passing report, that the heptapods said that humans are the most similar life-forms that to themselves they have come across. Through this one line, Ted Chiang admits to us how unlikely it is humans and heptapods are this similar. And because he knows that as long as the probability of an event to happen is not zero, it can very well happen, he didn’t need to explain any further. To describe this, ‘beautiful’ is the only word I can think of.
Ender’s Game’s writer Orson Scott Card took another approach: he pushed the limits of what we conventionally consider ‘intelligent’ by basing his aliens on how ants/bees exist as opposed how humans do. An argument can be made claiming that finding ET similar to ants is just as unlikely as finding ones that are similar to humans. Still, this decision holds very strongly in that it is a very large leap away from an unoriginal mess regarding First Contact towards correctly reshaping our views of aliens.
James Cameron, too, delivered to standards when making The Abyss. Obviously, the beings featured in the movie aren’t ET, but they are another advanced civilization, so calling it First Contact technically makes sense. Regardless of how unbridgeable the difference between the environments in which we evolved is, because we have some common ancestor with these deep ocean-dwellers, a majority of the unlikely assumptions are not unlikely anymore. All we need to do is look at our very own cephalopods to see how shockingly similar intelligence can emerge in different conditions. The story in Jupiter Ascending (of all the stories to mention), although terrible in general, did give this a plausible answer; by making humans ancient creatures that grow cultures of their own species on different planets for different purposes, they provided some semblance of an explanation for why members of the other civilization looked exactly like us.
Obviously, a very honorable way to completely avoid altogether the issue of trying to explain away numerous unjustifiable decisions is to not show the ETs at all. Hiding them behind a metal hull throughout the entirety of the story may seem unexciting, but at least it saves the storyteller from fumbling around and making a mess.
It is because there are many, many ways of overcoming this issue that the portrayal of the Ynaa in The Lesson irritated me so much that even the really good sides of the book weren’t enough for me to like it. I swallowed my spite when I saw that the aliens in the story came in human form in order to make us at ease. They conducted centuries-worth of research, and thus, they had enough information to pull that off. Fine, I can understand that. But when it is told what exactly they had to do to embrace their new forms (like hiding their tentacles in their skulls and filing down their claws), I just couldn’t take it. Learning more about their culture made my experience with the book worse. Their philosophies and histories, too, have not escaped painfully obvious anthropomorphism. It seemed to me that only if you put humans in pits where resources are in extreme shortage and arm them with superhuman prowess will you get anything resembling the Ynaa.
Obviously, I understand that the story in The Lesson was more about colonialism than aliens. It was a reflection on the western imperial mindset. I appreciate that deeply; that is part of the reason I rated this book this high. But when it was all said and done, I went into this book expecting Science Fiction. It was sold to me like that.
Unfortunately, it fell too hard in that regard.
*: I hate using The Story of Your Life as an example because the story is simply too good. Because of its many-faceted excellence, the story ends up coming up again and again, and not only does that get too repetitive, but it also highlights how starved the genre is for such well-thought-out stories.
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2021.11.27 15:05 Thin-Ad9624 1368 9614 4604 Heatran
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2021.11.27 15:05 elloEd I REACT TO YOUTUBE REMOVING DISLIKES!! (More videos like this to come!)
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2021.11.27 15:05 Eris_King 哈哈，这不是S蛆吗，原来是连登港友
|submitted by Eris_King to CLTV [link] [comments]|
2021.11.27 15:05 KimCureAll A black bear in Anchorage, Alaska makes an arduous task look easy
|submitted by KimCureAll to natureismetal [link] [comments]|
2021.11.27 15:05 Frigorifico Why are there so many mentions of jewels in Buddhism?
In the famous mantra "Om mani padme hum" the word mani means "jewel"
Vajrayana, the name of one important school of buddhism, means "diamond vehicle"
There is the concept of the "Three Jewels" which believers can use to escape suffering
In the vows of Amitabha he mentions that the people who are reborn in his paradise will be made out of gold and that there will be trees made of jewels
There is also this long text which describes how an enlightened being perceives the universe, I can't remember the name right now, but I remember it describes everything being made out of jewels over and over, it's a very repetitive text
Many of the descriptions of the Pure Lands often mention things being like jewles of being made out of jewels in those paradises
And there are probably more examples I'm not aware of
I find it odd there are so many mentions of jewels in Buddhism. Some of them I can understand as metaphors, like the Three Jewels, these are three very valuable things, but there are others which seems pretty literal, like in the vows of Amitabha.
I get the impression these people considered jewels and precious metals valuable in a way we do not share today, to the point that being made of gold was a big selling point for their ideas about paradise. But then again, why?. Didn't Siddhartha Gautama renounce all his riches?, isn't wealth just another illusion of Samsara?, aren't buddhist monks expected to live humble lives?. Why then would they care so much about jewels and gold?
Even if they were all metaphors, it is still weird that their go to metaphors were always about jewels
Also, other religions have other mentions of gold and jewels, like the Golden Doors of Paradise in Christianity, but it doesn't reach the same level of ubiquity it does in Buddhism
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2021.11.27 15:05 Stinpek Joined a quickplay match in progress with 6 allies vs 4 enemies, 2 allies being bots and the end results looked interesting to say the least.
|submitted by Stinpek to halo [link] [comments]|
2021.11.27 15:05 gradethree35w22 plz tag
2021.11.27 15:05 Realistic_Room2053 Help about wire tickness
2021.11.27 15:05 Armagadon_001 MetaMine
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2021.11.27 15:05 trevor_odaniel What the worth of a "Neon frog"!?
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2021.11.27 15:05 Bardocklives Gorgeous
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2021.11.27 15:05 Nohan07 Désenclavement - L'association Limousin nature environnement réclame « un grand débat public » pour le projet d'A 147 entre Limoges et Poitiers
|submitted by Nohan07 to Limoges [link] [comments]|
2021.11.27 15:05 thejdoggy First smoked turkey why stop there. Lets try some soup.
2021.11.27 15:05 PK_Gaming1 Trouble with purchasing mobage coins
For whatever reason, I can't seem make any in-game purchases
Which is probably a bit of a good thing, but I don't want to miss out on future suptix and the like. Here's the text I get when I try:
submitted by PK_Gaming1 to Granblue_en [link] [comments]
2021.11.27 15:05 Bluebird2943 How to not be a bad daughter anymore?
TLDR: I can't remember a time I haven't felt like a bad person and I know no one will ever put up with me like my dad does. I know my dad is right about me needing to be more humble and less lazy and more grateful but it is so hard to get over the pain of knowing how much I have disappointed him and how he has felt about me. How do I get over it so that I can learn to be a better daughter?
Dad has been a single parent since I was 15. I feel like my whole life everytime we have an argument it's honestly been my fault and he always at some point says how selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered, ungrateful, disrespectful and lazy I am. Lazy. That's the one. Been hearing that since Kindergarten. It triggers me so much. In middle school and 9th grade I was getting up at 4AM to exercise and workout. It was the most active and consistent I had ever been. But the moment my routine became a little inconsistent he told me none of my effort ever mattered anyway because I was only doing it to prove something. I was doing it because I knew it was good for me and because I wanted to see if I could and yes of course i wanted to prove to him my ability and make him proud.
When he completely belittled my effort it killed me. It really did.
Made me feel like he is always gonna complain about something no matter what I do. I stopped caring. I know I shouldn't have let it affect me in this way though.
A few weeks ago we moved and I said I would help bring stuff up from the basement but I didn't. I thought to myself that I was afraid to be in the way. But that's bullshit. I'm bullshit. Yesterday I complained to him why he wasnt honest when I had asked him before we left if there was anything left in the basement. He said if I had helped I wouldn't have needed to ask and I have no business complaining about it now. He's right. I didn't want to admit that to him so I kept arguing with him. During the argument he said the only reason I didn't want to admit anything is because if I did I would have to face the fact that I'm a selfish no good for nothing ungrateful little shit. He's right. It's not like this is the first time he has said this kind if stuff during arguments. He has said this kind of stuff throughout my whole life during arguments so it must be coming from somewhere not just "anger."
I apologized for breaking my promise that I would help but said I don't agree with his "excuse" about not answering my question when I asked him that day. He said if that's the case then my apology means nothing. He was right. Again. I just hate the idea of admitting that I am the reason for the tension in our relationship because I am a complete asshole that no one else would put up with or like. I have always been an excellent student and have great relationships with my teachers but I know, just like my dad has told me, if anyone from school lived with me and really knew me they wouldn't like me. I know I deserve to feel this way because I treat my dad like shit.
TW: COCSA below
I can't remember a time when I didn't feel shame. I was molested by my half-brother (my mother's son) when I was about 5-9 (yes, I have told my parents about it which is why they are divorced since my mother took her son's side and lied to the authorities about me and my dad) . Some of that shame came from those experiences but outside of that I have to face the fact that I should be ashamed of myself for my own decisions and behavior. When I was in middle school, I remember hating myself. Like i had the thoughts "i hate myself I'm not good enough." I revealed this to my dad during an argument where I spilled peanut butter all over an area of the kitchen (for the second time because he showed me how to mix it with the power mixer the first time but I forgot and made another mess). I was probably 12 or 13, maybe 14. When I told him he mocked me and said "if I was so miserable do this and do that instead of being a lazy fuck but I wouldn't do those things because all I want to do is pity myself."
During the argument yesterday he said made a remark about me being lazy and fat one day, something like "how are you going to be an astronaut when you are lazy and will be fat one day?"
I'm not overweight now but that one really made me flinch on the inside. I decided I'm going to try and lose the 20 pounds I gained since last year. I know my weight it normal for my age but if I lost the pounds my BMI would be closer to where I want it to be. I read that water fasting can get the job done in just a week or so. After that I am really going to start getting with my exercise program again. Not for him. For me. I am going to journal too. everyday. so i can remember to tell myself how much if a jackass I am and I'll learn to be more humble. Then I won't ever argue with my dad again because whenever we come close to it I'll realize I don't have shit to say and that I not just deserve but need to hear everything he has to say.
I know this time I can do it. I can be the person I want to be and the person he knows I can be.
I'm sorry this has been so long, I just wanted a second opinion. What do you think of this situation?
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2021.11.27 15:05 guerrilla32 Did a little online shopping for a little Ape this morning while sipping a bananya smoothie. Was delivered within 2 hours. I Love this company.
2021.11.27 15:05 Comfortable-Might-23 So angry at everything covid related
It’s been two years and it feels like ground hog day. Christmas again is looking like last year as can be seen by Europe’s high cases and lockdowns happening. Not enough people are getting vaccinated and are still convinced by the numerous lies flying around. Yet at the same time I almost don’t blame them. Countries heads into lockdown and even being vaccinated has no advantages. Most countries still want vaccinated to quarantine and take tests so what is the advantage of getting vaccinated if you get the same treatment as unvaccinated?
Wasn’t the vaccine supposed to be the return to normal? Doesn’t feel like it. Have had the booster now and I know when I return home I’ll still have to isolate until I get my pcr test. Great.
Rules in my current country don’t even make sense anymore. We can go shopping, cinema, gym, shopping malls etc but for some reason outside markets are cancelled. Like what?
Don’t Even know what the right answer is anymore as thing change on a whim in every country everyday and it’s honestly exhausting mentally.
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2021.11.27 15:05 lordbettington What’s the record for a ref game?
28 Flags almost 300 yards and flags on every crucial play? I don’t believe I’m fixed games. I just hate when a game is lost and won by the flag. These refs should be ashamed!
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2021.11.27 15:05 MrSkrrrrt Wearing two differently coloured socks is okay, but wearing two different types/feels of socks is for psychos.
2021.11.27 15:05 AdResponsible9283 El Capitan Curry Village Scenic Drive in Yosemite National Park, USA
2021.11.27 15:05 Mercy_Yam8888 Kyrrex
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2021.11.27 15:05 Egon_1 “ I didn’t realize that the CEO of Celsius was an advisor & investor in one of Moshe Hogeg’s Ponzi ICOs. And that he *knowingly* hired a CFO who also worked with Hogeg. And then only fired the dude after he got arrested for fraud. If you can’t see the red flags I can’t help you.”
|submitted by Egon_1 to btc [link] [comments]|