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It's unfair to judge books unread
james_nicoll
But this

a deeply dark and disconcertingly dire peek into a future where the end of the apocalypse never comes.


leads me to suspect Brian Francis Slattery’s latest novel Lost Everything is concentrated essence of stuff I don't want to read. But that's not surprising because Slattery’s novel Liberation was also concentrated essence of stuff I don't want to read.


What actually caught my eye was this

It also harkens back to the Great Depression when America came closer to doom than most people realize. We weren’t just balancing on a razor’s edge, we were already halfway over. And it took an even greater catastrophe — WWII — to spare us.


What's Brown talking about here?

And

And yet here we stand on another precipice, this one spanning climate change and economic disaster. Will it take another war to pull us out of the depths or will it push us under even further?


War against who, exactly?

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

From what I know of the book it is basically pure anti-James.

Pure anti-James is a very popular genre.

Will it take another war to pull us out of the depths or will it push us under even further?

Could this explain the war on women? It's an altruistic, humanity-saving crusade to keep us from the abyss!

I think what he means is that without the need for fighting fascists the US government would never have had the courage to spend money and kickstart their economy and all the inventions and innovations that couldn't be funded during the Depression -- notably plastics -- would never have been successful and everything would have stagnated as at the end of the Roman Empire. I've seen people arguing this elsewhere. It's one of those things that's more complicated but not entirely wrong.

You know what would be hilarious, though? Your typical stagnated medieval fantasy kingdom where everything has been the same for a thousand years technologically suddenly having an invention and innovation explosion in the face of an attack by Ultimate Evil which gets them up entire tech levels by the end of the book. Be even funnier if what happened socially in WWII in Britain also happened. It could be called Fit for Heroes.

Congratulations on the Hugo nomination!

Your typical stagnated medieval fantasy kingdom where everything has been the same for a thousand years technologically suddenly having an invention and innovation explosion in the face of an attack by Ultimate Evil which gets them up entire tech levels by the end of the book.

Ah, someone will just play Civil Disorder and Iconoclasm & Heresy (that's the reduce to 4, reduce by 4 combo, right?).

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
That's an awesome idea for a book, especially if it's set in a typical fantasy kingdom with a moderate amount of magic practiced by wizards in isolated towers. In desperation, the wizards and scholars figure out how to train new magicians on a larger scale & find ways to up the power of magic by mass producing magic items &/or having wizards combine their power in new and powerful ways.

Book one of the trilogy would be winning the war, and then books 2 and 3 would be how the society was entirely transformed (much to the great dismay of the nobility) as thousands of commoners learned magic and the magical equivalent of infrastructure creation and industrialization rapidly swept away the old social order.

Yes, that could be grand. Replete with how-do-you-keep-'em-down-on-the-farm-isms.

(Wow. Think I just wore out the hyphen key. ;-)

Edited at 2012-04-11 06:51 pm (UTC)

There's also a common belief, which may well be true, that the Great Depression came very close to inciting either a fascist or a Communist revolution in the United States. I suppose one could argue that it would have happened eventually without the stimulus of World War II that eventually ended the Depression. More often historians seem to think the New Deal got things sufficiently under control to avert the worst kind of political crisis early on. But it's an arguable position.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
I've been promoting the Alexander Field paper on the 1930s being the most technologically progressive decade in American history even before it was formally published. (There's a book now.) I've been haunted by the idea that the transistor is actually a Depression-era invention that was invented late since I've read it.

Anyhow. Most of the investment into these innovations was private sector money: the United States then simply didn't have government R&D spending the way it does today. (Field points out the big exception: transportation.) Had Hoovernomics continued and managed to plateau the economy at a lower level, like recent Japan, instead of it plummeting even further (which was a real possibility -- but fortunately we have elections), we would have still seen investment into these inventions, if only because they allowed companies to hire fewer people for the same output.

And then World War Two would have put those ideas into application -- which is the story everyone thinks is true, but isn't. In our history, they were already in place, a fuse waiting for its match.

(On the other hand, two years later -- even eighteen months -- and even the extreme teabag tweaker [*] militarists of Japan wouldn't have dared Pearl Harbor. But both the Japanese and Hitler were very sensitive to windows of opportunity.)

[*] Amphetamine abuse was a serious issue in Japan's military, and postwar stocks contributed to its crime problem. Have I ever mentioned Taiwan's cocaine plantations under the Japanese empire?

Without a single "Ultimate Evil", isn't that basically the progression of Ankh-Morpork in Discworld?

And yet here we stand on another precipice, this one spanning climate change and economic disaster. Will it take another war to pull us out of the depths or will it push us under even further?

I kind of want to wonder how a precipice can "span" things, and how it is that we need pulling out of "the depths" if we're still on the precipice... but that's perhaps a bit unfairly nitpicky, so maybe I shouldn't.

No: You should, you should!

Edited for extra snark:

It's very romance-y, isn't it. "From the depths of the precipice, she leapt to her doom." Can't you just see [insert manly man name here] teetering on the brink, inconsolable (except by [insert swimmingly female name here]), after his desperate attempt to stop her descent?

Edited at 2012-04-11 11:19 am (UTC)

I kind of worry myself about the possibility that economic disaster is the only way we have left to avoid killing ourselves with climate change, and that the storied 1% are the parasites that keep us from producing ourselves into the abyss, like a tapeworm that prevents fatal obesity.

My first thought was also, gosh, I hope we don't sink any deeper into this precipice.

Ah yes, another book that teeters on the brink of a much-needed gap in the literature.

War with who? I'd guess China; they're the Big Bugaboo these days.

Oh, it would have to be another world war, I'd think, if the current "conflict here, conflict there ... and there" approach is deemed insufficient.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
That's the fun part... it seems to imply that it doesn't really matter with whom we have a war; we just need to have one.

'Course, we've been having a couple of wars for the last decade or so, and it hasn't exactly led to good times for all.

What actually caught my eye was this
It also harkens back to the Great Depression when America came closer to doom than most people realize. We weren’t just balancing on a razor’s edge, we were already halfway over. And it took an even greater catastrophe — WWII — to spare us.

What's Brown talking about here?


Dog Whistle for "The Nazi's saved the US by awaking us and we should be thankful." ???

WWII as jump-start for the American economy is actually kind of uncontroversial, as far as I can tell. It's just that the Keynesians regard it as an industrial super-stimulus, and the freshwater/Austrian/supply-side types think the key was forced civilian austerity (I think).

Think less "hitler gets the credit for computers" and more "FDR and keynsian economics did nothing, it was WAAAAARGH that got us out of the depression" - it's the standard dogma supply siders use to deal with the great depression problem, so gets picked up like lint by people doing a very very shallow reading on the history surrounding the great depression (one of the key signs of this is that a deep reading leads to all of other major depressions of the 19th century, and the great one looks less exceptional).

Didn't Reagan say something like this? (looks) Aha, yes he did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chVKSY2gT00

Yay! More reading material for James!

"I Withdraw": A Talk With Climate Defeatist Paul Kingsnorth

I wonder what it is that makes me so “ecocentric,” and you such a humanist? I wonder what fuels my sense of resignation, and my occasional sneaking desire for it all to come crashing down, and what fuels your powerful need for this thing called hope. Whenever I hear the word “hope” these days, I reach for my whisky bottle. It seems to me to be such a futile thing. What does it mean? What are we hoping for? And why are we reduced to something so desperate? Surely we only hope when we are powerless?

This may sound a strange thing to say, but one of the great achievements for me of the Dark Mountain Project has been to give people permission to give up hope. What I mean by that is that we help people get beyond the desperate desire to do something as impossible as ‘save the Earth’, or themselves, and start talking about where we actually are, what is actually possible and where we are actually coming from.


It's a rare tell, because who reads poetry any more? but people who read Robinson Jeffers for the "inhumanism" (Jeffers' word), that's a tell. Poul Anderson did.