1893: "Thread"

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antares
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1893: "Thread"

Postby antares » Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:22 pm UTC

Image

Titled Text: "Since the current Twitter threadfall kicked off in early 2016, we can expect it to continue until the mid 2060s when the next Interval begins."

Well, I don't quite get what this comic is about. Does that mean I'm too old?

PracticalM
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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby PracticalM » Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:40 pm UTC

It's a Dragon Riders of Pern reference. (Auto correct tried to turn that into Perl which would be interesting Dragon Riders of Perl)

Thread falls from space and it's bad. They use dragons and dragon riders to fight it. Not a great summary but the books are classic though I haven't read them yet.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Geminia » Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:48 pm UTC

antares wrote:Image

Titled Text: "Since the current Twitter threadfall kicked off in early 2016, we can expect it to continue until the mid 2060s when the next Interval begins."

Well, I don't quite get what this comic is about. Does that mean I'm too old?


If anything, you may be too young...or you've missed out on a fantasy classic. The Dragons of Pern is an extensive series that weaves together fantasy and sci-fi.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby SuicideJunkie » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:02 pm UTC

PracticalM wrote:It's a Dragon Riders of Pern reference. (Auto correct tried to turn that into Perl which would be interesting Dragon Riders of Perl).

When the threads bind together into strings and begin to overwhelm civilization, a hero with the power of regular expressions appears to save the day!

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby wayne » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:03 pm UTC

It's from an Anne McCaffrey book

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pern

The threads fell from space, and would begin eating anything they landed on. If allowed to spread, they would devastate large areas.
The only way they had to fight it was to ride dragons to burn them as they fell, hopefully before reaching the ground. If they landed, they had to scorch the earth in that area.

I may be off a bit, but it's been 20 years or so since I've read the books.
Last edited by wayne on Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:07 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Plutarch » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:05 pm UTC

A connection between the dangers of thread on Planet Pern, and threads on twitter. That's funny, after I spent a little while puzzling over it. I have very cheerful memories of reading these books, quiet a long time ago.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:06 pm UTC

As someone who avoids Twitter, can someone please explain the non-Pern half of this joke?
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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Plutarch » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:20 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:As someone who avoids Twitter, can someone please explain the non-Pern half of this joke?

Twitter only lets you use 140 characters for each post. Sometimes people, not feeling this is enough, make a lot of posts, or tweets, one after another, all on the same subject. This creates their own 'thread,' which might indeed be dangerously annoying. They often number each of these successive posts, hence the 1/1 in the comic. However, I'm a little puzzled by the example '1/1' which would seem to imply a single post. if it was part of a thread, I'd think it would be 1/8 or something like that. BUT, I just realise, this might be part of the joke, with the thread numbered 1/1 being a a single post, and a rebellion against threads.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby cellocgw » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:26 pm UTC

Geminia wrote:
antares wrote:Image

Titled Text: "Since the current Twitter threadfall kicked off in early 2016, we can expect it to continue until the mid 2060s when the next Interval begins."

Well, I don't quite get what this comic is about. Does that mean I'm too old?


If anything, you may be too young...or you've missed out on a fantasy classic. The Dragons of Pern is an extensive series that weaves together fantasy and sci-fi.


I wouldn't say there's any fantasy, at least in the sense that there is only hard-science SciFi. No magic. No neurokinetic powers, at least so far as humans are concerned. It is true that the weight-to wingspan requirements for any animal to be able to carry a person and still fly is is a bit of a stretch, I guess.
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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby JudeMorrigan » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:33 pm UTC

There's telepathy though. I feel like that kind of automatically disqualifies it from being hard sci-fi.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby DavidSh » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:43 pm UTC

At first, there also appears to be prescience, but it turns out to be a combination of time-travel and telepathy.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:04 pm UTC

Plutarch wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:As someone who avoids Twitter, can someone please explain the non-Pern half of this joke?

Twitter only lets you use 140 characters for each post. Sometimes people, not feeling this is enough, make a lot of posts, or tweets, one after another, all on the same subject. This creates their own 'thread,' which might indeed be dangerously annoying. They often number each of these successive posts, hence the 1/1 in the comic. However, I'm a little puzzled by the example '1/1' which would seem to imply a single post. if it was part of a thread, I'd think it would be 1/8 or something like that. BUT, I just realise, this might be part of the joke, with the thread numbered 1/1 being a a single post, and a rebellion against threads.

Thanks. I'm familiar enough with the multi-posting phenomenon to overcome the character limit, but didn't know that there was a narrower sense of the word "thread" that meant that specifically. Do people usually waste characters writing "Thread:" in the first post like in this comic? I'd think the "1/x" at the end would be enough.

JudeMorrigan wrote:There's telepathy though. I feel like that kind of automatically disqualifies it from being hard sci-fi.

With adequate explanation given, telepathy can be hard sci-fi. My computer is "telepathically" communicating this message to yours right now (look ma, no wires), and it's reasonable to expect that at some point in the future computers might be integrated with our brains in a way that there's no distinction between me and my computer, or you and your computer, and when I send a message through my computer over the wireless internet to you, that would be indistinguishable from telepathy.
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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby speising » Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:56 pm UTC

I haven't read it, only the Wikipedia summary today, but it's about *dragon riders*. It really looks to me like the technobabble is just a thin excuse to label a fantasy story as SF.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:38 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
JudeMorrigan wrote:There's telepathy though. I feel like that kind of automatically disqualifies it from being hard sci-fi.

With adequate explanation given, telepathy can be hard sci-fi. My computer is "telepathically" communicating this message to yours right now (look ma, no wires), and it's reasonable to expect that at some point in the future computers might be integrated with our brains in a way that there's no distinction between me and my computer, or you and your computer, and when I send a message through my computer over the wireless internet to you, that would be indistinguishable from telepathy.


In the case of Pern, the telepathy is pretty magical. So's the orbital mechanics, if you pay attention...

So: every 250 years, the Red Star (a high eccentricity planet) passes close by Pern, leaving its orbit littered with "Thread", which then falls somewhere on the planet every few days for the next 50 years (a "Pass"), followed by a 200 year "Interval" until Thread returns again. Except that, twice in Pern's history, there's a "Long Interval" of 400 years, where the Red Star doesn't come close enough to leave Thread and there's no "Pass". Eventually, it gets retconned that the count of years is a bit wonky, and Intervals and Passes aren't exactly 200 or exactly 50 years or even consistent lengths...

Anyway, on Pern, "thread" is a dangerous organism that falls from the sky and, if it lands, consumes everything organic within a hundred meters or so (before dying). Fire burns it, water drowns it, and rock or metal shields against it (though it can eat through thin enough metal). Pernese society survives the Passes by living in caves and by being defended by fire-breathing telepathic dragons and their human riders who intercept the falling thread in mid-air and burn it so that little or none reaches the ground (where volunteer ground-crews use fire to deal with any that does get through).

F'nor is one of the dragonriders in the "modern" period of Pern's history - and has been a character ever since the first short story. Possibly his most notable achievement is being the first dragonrider to visit the Red Star and return alive.

The original stories are pretty much fantasy with some rational extrapolation - the science fiction background was no more than a framing device for a couple of decades until Dragonsdawn told the story of the initial colonisation (though it became a significant part of later events - and novels). For Dragonflight, if you remove the prologue specifying that this is an alien planet rather than a low-magic fantasy world, you would never know.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby DanD » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:25 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:The original stories are pretty much fantasy with some rational extrapolation - the science fiction background was no more than a framing device for a couple of decades until Dragonsdawn told the story of the initial colonisation (though it became a significant part of later events - and novels). For Dragonflight, if you remove the prologue specifying that this is an alien planet rather than a low-magic fantasy world, you would never know.


This. Most of the early books are high fantasy. The late books are science fiction. Somewhere in the middle are the ones that connect the two.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby da Doctah » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:36 pm UTC

DavidSh wrote:At first, there also appears to be prescience, but it turns out to be a combination of time-travel and telepathy.


And then there's the teleportation thing, which allows the dragons and their riders from one end of the continent to assist in fighting threadfall at the other end of the continent without having to fly over the entire intervening landmass to get there.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby StClair » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:45 pm UTC

aw man, this brings back memories.

I never read the series until I "needed" to, for research - back in the day when Pern was the new hot fashion for RP MUSHes. I've always been more into the science-fictional aspects (dodgy and welded-on though they sometimes are) than the high fantasy; I'd already had that part "spoiled" for me by idly reading the Atlas of Pern that a friend had, and so I approached the series in chronological, not publication, order. The shift in tone between the "prequel", telling the story of the colonists and first Threadfall, and the first-published books (written years earlier but set centuries later) was... significant.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Reka » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:58 pm UTC

speising wrote:I haven't read it, only the Wikipedia summary today, but it's about *dragon riders*. It really looks to me like the technobabble is just a thin excuse to label a fantasy story as SF.

You say that as if fantasy is somehow inferior to science fiction.

Pern is actually one of my favorite examples of why it's a total waste of time to try to categorize speculative fiction into these exclusive categories. The first six books or so, there's very little science - if you want to read it as a fantasy with teleporting telepathic dragons, you totally can. The science fictional framework is there throughout, but it's mostly in the prologue, and the characters don't know about it. But the later books (in publication order, which is definitely the only way McCaffrey should ever be read) are unquestionably science fiction. (Some of the science itself is questionable, but that's par for the course for the genre.) So what's a poor bookstore employee to do? Put one copy of Dragonsong on the Fantasy shelf and another copy on the Science Fiction shelf? It's a ridiculous distinction, and has only gotten more ridiculous with the years.

Regarding the comic itself, I was in the same boat as Pfhorrest: I got the Pern parts, but don't know from Twitter. But that's what explainxkcd is for.

Also: Randall reads Pern! Happy dance!

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby fluffysheap » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:02 pm UTC

Except that, twice in Pern's history, there's a "Long Interval" of 400 years, where the Red Star doesn't come close enough to leave Thread and there's no "Pass"

The long intervals aren't
Spoiler:
because of wonky orbital mechanics
, but
Spoiler:
because the future dragonriders have traveled back in time to actually change the Red Star's orbit.


I see Pern as the mirror image of Star Wars. It's sci-fi dressed up like fantasy, just like Star Wars is fantasy dressed up like sci-fi. There are a couple of issues with that, though : I don't think it's ever explained how dragons can teleport, or how a natural species could have evolved that ability (and it has to be natural because even fire lizards can do it). Also, if thread is so destructive, why hasn't Pern either been devastated or else evolved natural defenses during the time before the colonists arrived? Finally, given that the Red Star has an orbit of 250 years, there's no way it could go all the way to the Oort cloud in that time, but would be a short-period comet traveling to the local equivalent of the Kuiper belt. I'm also a little concerned about the geology of the Red Star, since it behaves like a comet but has the physical characteristics of a planet.

OK, problem finding over. Good series, I liked it.

I'm not super worried about telepathy, it's still more realistic than time travel.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:48 pm UTC

I actually haven't read the Pern stuff myself (that part of the joke had just already been explained), though from this discussion I'm thinking maybe I should some time, since my own Chronicles of Quelouva I'm slowly writing is explicitly science-fantasy or science-mythology in genre: two of the three settings begin as apparent fantasy worlds only to eventually be revealed to be within a larger science-fiction context, and the third setting begins as a straight up science-fiction story and ends up being set in a larger context of ancient mythology (which, in turn, is again wrapped in the broader science-fiction context, which
Spoiler:
turns out to have been wrapped in a much larger fantasy context that may or may not be reducible to science-fiction again
).

This reflects my beliefs that there really is no coherent concept of "magic" beyond "something we don't yet understand", so whether something is scientific or mystical, technology or magic, depends on the level of understanding of the viewpoint characters or audience.
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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby StClair » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:47 pm UTC

Some of my favorite works have "magic" that is just a higher/deeper understanding of the universe and how to manipulate it with tools and technologies (not always entirely material, in the sense we usually think of) not in common use. Others, however, have magic, supernatural phenomena, etc etc that are explicitly non-mechanistic and do not follow rules of logic (at least not human ones). This sort of magic is very hard, if not impossible, to reduce to/fit into a scientific framework, and in some cases that's the point - the author(s) apparently believe that some things are, or should be, inexplicable and ineffable and beyond explanation, because being able to understand something somehow reduces its wonder. (I personally disagree with that position, but *shrug*)

I note that both sorts support moments of "we just don't know - and isn't that amazing?" But one presents the possibility that we might know, someday, and the pursuit of that answer is worthy and exciting; the other just shrugs and declares that some things are beyond our understanding, Because.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby commodorejohn » Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:05 am UTC

That's a matter of preference and a tricky thing to balance in either direction - too vaguely mystical, and you end up with a story where a bunch of crucial things only happen "because magic;" too definitively rationalist, and you can end up being not so much "fantasy story" as "Dungeon Master's guide." But if I had to pick one direction to lean in, I'd go with less-exposited every time, because as long as the author keeps things reasonably coherent the reader can always imagine whatever level of structure they like.
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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby sotanaht » Sat Sep 23, 2017 1:56 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I actually haven't read the Pern stuff myself (that part of the joke had just already been explained), though from this discussion I'm thinking maybe I should some time, since my own Chronicles of Quelouva I'm slowly writing is explicitly science-fantasy or science-mythology in genre: two of the three settings begin as apparent fantasy worlds only to eventually be revealed to be within a larger science-fiction context, and the third setting begins as a straight up science-fiction story and ends up being set in a larger context of ancient mythology (which, in turn, is again wrapped in the broader science-fiction context, which
Spoiler:
turns out to have been wrapped in a much larger fantasy context that may or may not be reducible to science-fiction again
).

This reflects my beliefs that there really is no coherent concept of "magic" beyond "something we don't yet understand", so whether something is scientific or mystical, technology or magic, depends on the level of understanding of the viewpoint characters or audience.


"Magic" is literally just "something that doesn't exist". It's impossible to have magic from an internal perspective. If it works in your world, it's some form of science, regardless of HOW it works or whether you understand it or not. Magic can only be something that works in a work of fiction but not in your own universe.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby ObsessoMom » Sat Sep 23, 2017 3:51 am UTC

fluffysheap wrote:I don't think it's ever explained how dragons can teleport, or how a natural species could have evolved that ability (and it has to be natural because even fire lizards can do it). Also, if thread is so destructive, why hasn't Pern either been devastated or else evolved natural defenses during the time before the colonists arrived?


I think you've answered your own question. Teleportation, fire-breathing, and telepathic links between every dragon on the planet were natural defenses developed before the colonists arrived.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Brian-M » Sat Sep 23, 2017 4:33 am UTC

ObsessoMom wrote:
fluffysheap wrote:I don't think it's ever explained how dragons can teleport, or how a natural species could have evolved that ability (and it has to be natural because even fire lizards can do it). Also, if thread is so destructive, why hasn't Pern either been devastated or else evolved natural defenses during the time before the colonists arrived?


I think you've answered your own question. Teleportation, fire-breathing, and telepathic links between every dragon on the planet were natural defenses developed before the colonists arrived.


No, there weren't any telepathic links between every dragon on the planet before the colonists arrived. The dragons didn't even exist until the colonists created them, by genetically engineering the dragons from fire lizards.

This is actually a question that comes up within the books, why doesn't the thread get out of control on the southern continent since there aren't any dragons protecting it from threadfall?

Turns out there are grubs living in the soil which will attack or eat the thread. The grubs won't protect the crops, houses or people that exist above the ground, but can prevent it from getting out of control. The original colonists knew this but due to loss of records and knowledge over time (and from the migration from the southern continent to the northern) the only information their descendants had about this was to "watch the grub" (or something to that effect, it's been too many years since I read any of this to remember exactly), which was mistakenly thought to be a warning against having grubs in the soil, and so for centuries the farmers have been methodologically ensuring that their fields are grub-free.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby ucim » Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:48 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:My computer is "telepathically" communicating this message to yours right now (look ma, no wires)
Hmmmm. Ordinary speech works that way too. "Look ma, no wires!" Which does raise the question... just what is telepathy?

StClair wrote:Others, however, have magic, supernatural phenomena, etc etc that are explicitly non-mechanistic and do not follow rules of logic (at least not human ones).
You mean... like Quantum Mechanics? If anything is magic, it's that.

commodorejohn wrote:I'd go with less-exposited every time, because as long as the author keeps things reasonably coherent the reader can always imagine...
I think I agree. Over-exposited becomes a thing like technobabble for its own sake, rather than for the story's sake in that the babble itself serves the reader rather than the story.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:23 am UTC

ucim wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:My computer is "telepathically" communicating this message to yours right now (look ma, no wires)
Hmmmm. Ordinary speech works that way too. "Look ma, no wires!" Which does raise the question... just what is telepathy?
Something on the OSI Layer 8, or even 9 (mind-to-mind, perhaps "conceptual layer"?) scope of things, with insufficient understanding of the infrastructure of what layers 1…7 are, just that it's there!

(May not be entirely no-understood, like the Chrysalid-like "it exists, somehow, and it's our childhood secret" (at first) as there is the Babylon 5 "we have a Psi Corps which has studied the biochemistry and pyschology behind it" and the Narns know they need (new) genes. Perhaps even the Vulcans and their self-studied Mind Melding counts, on a contact-level basis, and surely they know as much as any in-universe possesors of such skill couod know.

Technotelepathy (implant-to-implant) might even be understood entirely across the technological layer, having been constructed, but the gaps in the knowledge happen still at the wetware side of the interface.


(I'm also honour-bound to mention the discworld of Strata, vs the Discworld of Discworld as technological/magical vs magical/technological distinction.)

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby rmsgrey » Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:31 pm UTC

Brian-M wrote:
ObsessoMom wrote:
fluffysheap wrote:I don't think it's ever explained how dragons can teleport, or how a natural species could have evolved that ability (and it has to be natural because even fire lizards can do it). Also, if thread is so destructive, why hasn't Pern either been devastated or else evolved natural defenses during the time before the colonists arrived?


I think you've answered your own question. Teleportation, fire-breathing, and telepathic links between every dragon on the planet were natural defenses developed before the colonists arrived.


No, there weren't any telepathic links between every dragon on the planet before the colonists arrived. The dragons didn't even exist until the colonists created them, by genetically engineering the dragons from fire lizards.

This is actually a question that comes up within the books, why doesn't the thread get out of control on the southern continent since there aren't any dragons protecting it from threadfall?

Turns out there are grubs living in the soil which will attack or eat the thread. The grubs won't protect the crops, houses or people that exist above the ground, but can prevent it from getting out of control. The original colonists knew this but due to loss of records and knowledge over time (and from the migration from the southern continent to the northern) the only information their descendants had about this was to "watch the grub" (or something to that effect, it's been too many years since I read any of this to remember exactly), which was mistakenly thought to be a warning against having grubs in the soil, and so for centuries the farmers have been methodologically ensuring that their fields are grub-free.


The fire lizards are telepathic though, so there has been a telepathic flying, teleporting, fire-breathing defense force native to the planet even before humans arrived.

On the other hand, the grubs are not native - they were genetically engineered, much like the dragons. The last Pass before colonisation left the planet dotted with circular areas of recent regrowth, presumably from individual thread-strikes (rather than the swept paths that unchecked thread-fall would leave if all thread was viable), while if the planet was protected by grubs, there wouldn't have been any visible damage...

fluffysheap wrote:
Except that, twice in Pern's history, there's a "Long Interval" of 400 years, where the Red Star doesn't come close enough to leave Thread and there's no "Pass"

The long intervals aren't
Spoiler:
because of wonky orbital mechanics
, but
Spoiler:
because the future dragonriders have traveled back in time to actually change the Red Star's orbit.


The issue is not the existence of Long Intervals, but their lengths - for some reason, if the Red Star doesn't come close enough to drop Thread, it returns 50 years early next time...

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Sat Sep 23, 2017 4:00 pm UTC

Reka wrote:Pern is actually one of my favorite examples of why it's a total waste of time to try to categorize speculative fiction into these exclusive categories. The first six books or so, there's very little science - if you want to read it as a fantasy with teleporting telepathic dragons, you totally can. The science fictional framework is there throughout, but it's mostly in the prologue, and the characters don't know about it. But the later books (in publication order, which is definitely the only way McCaffrey should ever be read) are unquestionably science fiction. (Some of the science itself is questionable, but that's par for the course for the genre.) So what's a poor bookstore employee to do? Put one copy of Dragonsong on the Fantasy shelf and another copy on the Science Fiction shelf? It's a ridiculous distinction, and has only gotten more ridiculous with the years.

Our library system just lumps all the science fiction and fantasy stuff together and slaps Science Fiction stickers on the spines. Granted, officially according to Dewey you're supposed to just dump all fiction into the same place and arrange it alphabetically by author. But that ignores the need for a kids' section, a reference section, that New Releases shelf...
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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby KevinRS » Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:45 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Brian-M wrote:
ObsessoMom wrote:
fluffysheap wrote:I don't think it's ever explained how dragons can teleport, or how a natural species could have evolved that ability (and it has to be natural because even fire lizards can do it). Also, if thread is so destructive, why hasn't Pern either been devastated or else evolved natural defenses during the time before the colonists arrived?


I think you've answered your own question. Teleportation, fire-breathing, and telepathic links between every dragon on the planet were natural defenses developed before the colonists arrived.


No, there weren't any telepathic links between every dragon on the planet before the colonists arrived. The dragons didn't even exist until the colonists created them, by genetically engineering the dragons from fire lizards.

This is actually a question that comes up within the books, why doesn't the thread get out of control on the southern continent since there aren't any dragons protecting it from threadfall?

Turns out there are grubs living in the soil which will attack or eat the thread. The grubs won't protect the crops, houses or people that exist above the ground, but can prevent it from getting out of control. The original colonists knew this but due to loss of records and knowledge over time (and from the migration from the southern continent to the northern) the only information their descendants had about this was to "watch the grub" (or something to that effect, it's been too many years since I read any of this to remember exactly), which was mistakenly thought to be a warning against having grubs in the soil, and so for centuries the farmers have been methodologically ensuring that their fields are grub-free.


The fire lizards are telepathic though, so there has been a telepathic flying, teleporting, fire-breathing defense force native to the planet even before humans arrived.

On the other hand, the grubs are not native - they were genetically engineered, much like the dragons. The last Pass before colonisation left the planet dotted with circular areas of recent regrowth, presumably from individual thread-strikes (rather than the swept paths that unchecked thread-fall would leave if all thread was viable), while if the planet was protected by grubs, there wouldn't have been any visible damage...

fluffysheap wrote:
Except that, twice in Pern's history, there's a "Long Interval" of 400 years, where the Red Star doesn't come close enough to leave Thread and there's no "Pass"

The long intervals aren't
Spoiler:
because of wonky orbital mechanics
, but
Spoiler:
because the future dragonriders have traveled back in time to actually change the Red Star's orbit.


The issue is not the existence of Long Intervals, but their lengths - for some reason, if the Red Star doesn't come close enough to drop Thread, it returns 50 years early next time...


From what I remember, the telepathy was also enhanced when the dragons were engineered from there fire lizards. The southern continent was initially the main colony site due to more fertile ground, but then had to be abandoned because of higher thread fall, and there were volcanic caves to shelter in on the northern continent.

Looking up the long intervals, not sure what the 50 years early you mention is. I'm reading that normally it's 200 years of no thread, followed by 50 years of thread, for a 250 year cycle. A long internal is 450 years, that's the 2 normal intervals, plus the pass that would have happened between them. I don't see how that means it's 50 years early

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby rmsgrey » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:48 pm UTC

KevinRS wrote:From what I remember, the telepathy was also enhanced when the dragons were engineered from there fire lizards. The southern continent was initially the main colony site due to more fertile ground, but then had to be abandoned because of higher thread fall, and there were volcanic caves to shelter in on the northern continent.

Looking up the long intervals, not sure what the 50 years early you mention is. I'm reading that normally it's 200 years of no thread, followed by 50 years of thread, for a 250 year cycle. A long internal is 450 years, that's the 2 normal intervals, plus the pass that would have happened between them. I don't see how that means it's 50 years early


The major differences in dragons (aside from the obvious size thing) are their intelligence and the Impression thing - the mental/emotional symbiosis between dragon and rider. Fire lizards are just as telepathic with each other, but aren't as good at linking with humans.

And, yeah, the southern continent is lush, green, and relatively flat while the northern continent is rocky and has a mix of natural and artificial cave systems, so the south is better during Intervals and once the grubs got fully established (though you still need proper roofing for human dwellings), while the north is better during Passes. Also, the north is geologically stable, while the south is rather more prone to volcanoes and earthquakes.

Originally, the Long Intervals were 400 years, which got retconned in later books (post Dragonsdawn) to have been just poor counting rather than actually being 50 years shorter...

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Cygnwulf » Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:39 pm UTC

I have to admit, when I saw the comic, my first thought was along the lines of "Did I miss a big(ish) news/announcement regarding Pern somewhere?"
While it's cool to see that Randall is also a fan, I'm also a little disappointed, lol.

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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby xtifr » Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:16 pm UTC

Reka wrote:You say that as if fantasy is somehow inferior to science fiction.

At the time, there was a definite stigma to fantasy in fandom. This is the reason that (for example), the World Fantasy Awards were created: even though the rules for the Hugos and Nebulas and other genre awards allowed fantasy, nobody would ever nominate, let alone vote for, a fantasy work. And science fiction consistently outsold fantasy at the time (with a few exceptions, like Tolkien). I wouldn't swear to it, but this may very well be the reason that McCaffrey went with "well, it may look like fantasy on the surface, but dig deeper and you'll find it's science fiction."

As for psychic powers being SF or fantasy, I think you have to judge that based on the age of the work. At the time, psychic powers were still considered plausible by a lot of people--even scientists. It wasn't until the public debunking of Uri Geller by James Randi, the debunking of the Rhine Institute's research, and the creation of the Randi Prize that psychic powers got moved, more or less for good, into the realms of pure fantasy.

At the time, even fairly "hard" SF writers (e.g. Heinlein or Niven) rarely hesitated to include psychic powers in their works. Today, it's a lot more iffy, but still probably second only to faster-than-light as an "acceptable break from reality".

If you're going throw out older works based on what we know now, as opposed to what we thought we knew at the time, then you also have to reclassify older works which had Mercury with one side always facing the sun (an important plot element in some stories) as fantasy. :)
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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby Eternal Density » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:49 am UTC

I'm familiar enough with Pern and Twitter to get the joke, but it falls a bit flat because of how forced the pun it is. No one would start a Twitter thread with 'Thread:'. Clever idea but not executed well enough to get a laugh.

Also, quantum mechanics is the opposite of magic.
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Re: 1893: "Thread"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:34 am UTC

xtifr wrote:
Reka wrote:You say that as if fantasy is somehow inferior to science fiction.

At the time, there was a definite stigma to fantasy in fandom. This is the reason that (for example), the World Fantasy Awards were created: even though the rules for the Hugos and Nebulas and other genre awards allowed fantasy, nobody would ever nominate, let alone vote for, a fantasy work. And science fiction consistently outsold fantasy at the time (with a few exceptions, like Tolkien). I wouldn't swear to it, but this may very well be the reason that McCaffrey went with "well, it may look like fantasy on the surface, but dig deeper and you'll find it's science fiction."

As for psychic powers being SF or fantasy, I think you have to judge that based on the age of the work. At the time, psychic powers were still considered plausible by a lot of people--even scientists. It wasn't until the public debunking of Uri Geller by James Randi, the debunking of the Rhine Institute's research, and the creation of the Randi Prize that psychic powers got moved, more or less for good, into the realms of pure fantasy.

At the time, even fairly "hard" SF writers (e.g. Heinlein or Niven) rarely hesitated to include psychic powers in their works. Today, it's a lot more iffy, but still probably second only to faster-than-light as an "acceptable break from reality".

If you're going throw out older works based on what we know now, as opposed to what we thought we knew at the time, then you also have to reclassify older works which had Mercury with one side always facing the sun (an important plot element in some stories) as fantasy. :)

To be fair, we already got quite close to telepathy with our current mobile phone/data system. All that remains is a way to operate them without being seen from the outside.


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