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OT: SF: Le Guin, Elgin, Spinrad, etc.

From:J Y S Czhang <czhang23@...>
Date:Thursday, April 8, 2004, 4:08
    I was doing a websearch on "generation ships" & "language" and I came
across this: in Ursula K. Le Guin's recent short story collection  _The Birthday
of the World & other stories_ (2002) :

"Paradises Lost" — a 6 generation ship story. What happens in generations who
know ONLY a ship? Also developed is the nature of belief systems, the use of
metaphor, interpretation. Human desire for / fear of change. Good
language-over-time material - mostly vocabulary. Rise of belief systems - even among
science types.

    I gotta get this book :)

    And from the fairly out-dated site:
Generation Starships, taking centuries or more to reach their destination:

1.  Brian Aldiss' "Nonstop" a.k.a. "Starship" [Criterion, 1959; Signet; Avon]

2.  Edward Bryant & Harlan Ellison "Phoenix Without Ashes"
     [Fawcett Gold Medal, 1975] based on Harlan's concept and teleplay for
the TV
     series "The Star Lost"

3.  Molly Gloss' "The Dazzle of Day" [Tor/Tom Doherty, 1997]
     by Gerald Jonas in the New York Times, 22 June 1997; the deteriorating
     "Dusty Miller" is on a 175-year voyage initiated by Quakers.
     Descendants create a "gentle utopia" based on governance by
     consensus, with thriftiness, cooperation, and ecological awareness as
     virtues.  But they are not sure that this can be transferred if they
     settle on the destination planet.  Should they land or not?

4.  Harry Harrison's "Captive Universe" [Putnam, 1969; Berkley]

5.  Robert Heinlein's "Universe" [Dell, 1951]
     a.k.a. "Orphans of the Sky" [Putnam, 1964; Science Fiction Book Club;
     Signet; Berkley]

6.  Murray Leinster's "Proxima Centauri" [???]

7.  Harry Martinson's "Aniara" [Knopf, 1963; Avon] and the famous Opera

8.  Clifford Simak's "Target Generation" [???]

9.  E. C. Tubb's "The Space-Born" [Ace, 1956; Avon]

10. Don Wilcox's "The Voyage that Lasted 600 Years" [???]

    I take issue with the Heinlein story cited and IMHO think Norman
Spinrad's "Riding the Torch" (1974) is a much more interesting story:

review by Galen Strickland from

    One thing that I have re-read recently, for the third or fourth time, is
the Hugo-nominated novella "Riding the Torch" from 1974, which has appeared in
several different forms. Originally it was released as one of three stories
in the collection Threads of Time, the title story being written by Gregory
Benford, with the third by Clifford Simak. It has also been printed in paperback
as part of the Binary series of double novels, and ten years after its first
appearance it was reprinted in an illustrated trade-paperback edition by
BlueJay Books, with black-and-white drawings by Tom Kidd, and afterwords by Robert
L. Forward and James Frenkel. This is the edition that I have.

    The main character of the novella is Jofe D'Mahl, artist and creator of
"senso" spectaculars, multi-media presentations of his thoughts and dreams.
Jofe is also a member of The Trek, survivors of humanity's annihilation of Earth,
on a quest for a new home among the stars. The Trek has continued for
thousands of years, propelled by ramjets which gather their fuel from the tenuous
gases in interstellar space. Technology and innovation have continued. They have
discovered ways to manipulate the molecules of matter gathered by the ramjets
and reformulate them for use in constructing new torchships and in outfitting
them with luxurious quarters and simulated gardens and forests. The quest has
continued for so long due to the failure to discover suitable planets for
habitation. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this tale is the proposition that
Earth was a totally unique phenomenom, and humanity, guilty of the destruction
of their only possible home, is doomed to wander the skys forever through a
desolate universe.

"This song grew out of a question raised by Norman Spinrad's story 'Riding
the Torch'. What is a planet to a people who have not seen one for many
generations? This is the answer in the context of one possible future culture." - Don

Ship of Stone
© Don Simpson
performed by Leslie Fish

Once there was a Ship of Stone
That orbited a mighty Star
And from it flew the First Ship's crew
Whose children we all are

And no matter how long we've drawn our track
Still over our shoulder looking back
Through the hydrogen's hiss and the methane's moan
Past the polymer clouds of the Dead Stars' shrouds
All our roads run back to the Ship of Stone

There the First Crew all were made
And wakened from unknowing sleep
By the boundless sight of Heaven's height
And the fires of the Deep

And no matter how strange the forms we wear
How warped and wild, how rich and rare
How changed we've made the seed we've sown
We are blood of those who, singing, rose
From the body of the Ship of Stone

And there our own ships' frames were formed
To grow blue-glowing wings
And spread them wide to the farthest tide
Where the last lone beacon sings

And no matter how tight the net they knot
Of our web where the Wheel of Light is caught
How strange and lost, how grand they've grown
They, too, desire all Heaven's fire
Our comrades since the Ship of Stone

Once there was a Ship of Stone
Clear domed, broad hulled and clean
Where the air shown blue, through whose holds birds flew
And whose decks were growing green

And no matter odd these things may seem
As madly mazed as shards of dream
They are not a dream that you dream alone
All ships, all men, are of one kin
We shall not forget the Ship of Stone.

“Linguistics is our best tool for bringing about social change and SF is our
best tool for testing such changes before they are implemented in the real
world, therefore the conjunction of the two is desirable and should be useful.”
— Suzette Haden Elgin 1996.

---  º°`°º ø,¸¸,ø º°`°º ø,¸¸,ø º°`°º ø,¸¸,ø º°`°º  º°`°º ø,¸~->
Hanuman "Mister Sinister" Zhang, Sloth-Style Gungfu Typist
- "the sloth is a chinese poet upsidedown" --- Jack Kerouac {1922-69}
    <A HREF="">=></A>

"Poems are sketches for existence." - Paul Celan

"One thing foreigners, computers, & poets have in common
is that they make unexpected linguistic associations." --- Jasia Reichardt

"There is no reason for the poet to be limited to words, & in fact the poet
is most poetic when inventing languages. Hence the concept of the poet as
'language designer'."  --- O. B. Hardison, Jr.

    "At some point in the next century the number of invented languages will
probably overtake the number of surviving natural languages." - Cullen Murphy


Dirk Elzinga <dirk_elzinga@...>