From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes"
Subject: RE: (urth) Smith & Wolfe: Robots Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2002 13:20:52 -0700 > Oh, yeah. It's very clear in Smith. Something like: Language > is a sign of the "image of God" wherever it is found. > Speaking is linked with free will is linked with worship. H'mmm. An interesting, if questionable ... what would it be? Pneumatological? ... point of view ... where "questionable" is not intended as a pejorative term, since an SF writer is free to take any hypothesis she chooses as a given from which to extrapolate, and, at any rate, Smith lived and died before computers were able to produce plausible language ... your mileage may vary of course regarding whether they can today. At any rater, this would seem to imply freewill for the manshonyaggers, which I find highly dubious, but that's for another list or something. Come to think of it, don't the taluses (tali? Taliim? Talae?) have a status in the Whorl not unlike that of the manshonyaggers? And a talus does seem to have a certain amount of free will ... H'mm. So does Oreb. Not at all sure about Tik; we don't know him well enough. Okay, it becomes more interesting when you dig into it. And there's the whole question of "standing orders," I suppose, which suggests at least some of the limitations under which any plausible conception of free will must operate ... Good Lord, is there _anything_ these books _aren't_ about? > I asked Wolfe years ago about Smithian influence on > him, and he said he was not aware of any. He had not > read all of Smith, but after our conversation said he > thought he'd better. Well, and it's possible he had read at least most of it -- it's kind of surprising how little Smith there is, considering the breadth and depth of his impact on the "genre." (The only name I can think of to compare in this connection is Stanley Weinbaum.) > Still, if he'd read very many, he'd've encountered > underpeople and > robots. And "Dead Lady" is a much anthologized classic. yes/no. The core Smith stories, the ones you can't seem to avoid if you read much "classic" SF at all, would be "Scanners Live in Vain," "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell," and _maybe_ "Alpha Ralpha Boulevard*" or "The Game of Rat and Dragon." Note that I am not claiming these as "the best" or anything -- just the ones anthologized to the point of chestnuticity. ----- * My personal favorite, and one of two short stories (the other being Tiptree's "The Women Men Don't See") that have had major effects on the direction of my own life. ----- > Yet, the motif is so broad that "great minds think alike" > could easily account for it. As also could "It'll steam engine when it comes steam engine time," my favorite expression of the idea that certain ideas seem to float about in the cultural aether, waiting to be grabbed and instantiated. "Wells's early exploration of the theme" is right; and, come to think of it, the aforementioned Weinbaum's "A Martian Odyssey" is another well known approach to it from another angle, as is Heinlein's "Jerry Is A Man." And, doubtless, many others, down to "Rachel in Love"... --Blattid You one-one-two, he one-one-two. --