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A very, very belated realization about A World Out of Time
Peerssa, the rather nasty bureaucrat who manages Corbell during his training, has a copy of his mind beamed out to Corbell's hijacked starship in an attempt to salvage the terraforming mission. The thing is

the brain scanning process is explicitly said to be destructive: once it's done, you're left with a brain smoothy. For there to be a ship-Peerssa, the meat-Peerssa has to have died. I don't meat-Peerssa's death is even actually mentioned during the book but it's implied by the technology.

Do you think Peersa volunteered or was this his punishment for losing a starship?

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spin a good yarn

Did, past tense. I challenge you to find a good yarn Niven has spun in the last twenty years.

If he had retired from writing in 1979, we would have spent the last thirty years holding sad little meetings at cons like Barry Malzberg fans used to do, or speculating about all the wonderful stuff he would surely have written like Alexei Panshin fans used to... well, actually, a few of them still do, and Panshin's written almost nothing since about 1972. But anyway. It would be like that, only more so.

But instead we have to hold his early stuff in one hand -- which, crappy science and sexism notwithstanding, includes some pretty frickin' awesome yarns indeed -- and in the other hand, we have to balance The Gripping Hand, Destiny's Road, The Burning City, Fallen Angels, and The Ringworld Throne.

I find that just painful. As I've said elsewhere, it's a bit like visiting a former teacher you used to like and respect back in high school, and finding he's been hit with early-onset Alzheimer's and can't feed himself or leave the house. It's that type of sad.

Doug M.

Re: spin a good yarn

Yeah, if I wasn't so mean with money, I'd have an upgraded LJ account and I'd have been able to edit that to the past tense instead of the story-telling present I used. Never mind.

Niven wrote some good yarns once-upon-a-time, and we need not be ashamed that we enjoyed or enjoy those stories. They were good stories, and reading them as products of their time, they are still good stories. So, Niven's ratio of good to bad stories isn't some arbitrary number; nobody's perfect and if they ever are it doesn't last.

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