There is a wonderful aphorism credited to Albert Einstein – ‘Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid’. He didn’t necessarily say it, but it’s something he could have said. And it sums up one of… More Failing to escape the tyranny of twentieth century thinking – the junk science of psychology
There is an old adage about letting things go; if you deserve them, they’ll come back. It’s been duly satirised. ‘If you love something, let it go. If it doesn’t come back, hunt it down and kill it’. To me that’s insightful about the human condition as the original. And the message is simple –… More The most powerful emotion humans have is…
The idea that humans are, in truth, psychotic apes who would brutally smash each other were it not for the thin trappings of culture has long been a sci-fi staple, and with reason. What would happen if, say, culture was suddenly stripped from a group of kids? To William Golding the answer was simple; the… More Are we just psychotic apes, or are we human?
One of my favourite books as a kid was Robert A Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. It was the last of his ‘juveniles’, written in 1958 as a deliberate riff on space opera and 1950s teen culture. It’s set in an undefined ‘near future’ and pivots around a spacesuit won by teen genius Kip Russell,… More Have Spacesuit, Will Be a Klutz In It
One of the books in my collection is Patrick Moore’s Do You Speak Venusian? It’s a hilarious take on ‘alternative thinkers’ in the 1950s and 1960s – and on their theories about everything from the Earth being flat to the Aetherius Society. Moore, it seems, went to a meeting of the Aetherius Society, fronted by… More The funny world of alternative thinkers
Single climate worlds are all through the Star Wars universe – worlds that, inexplicably, have a single ecosystem – ice, desert or forest, usually. Yet they’re all habitable by humans. I can see where the idea comes from. Here on Earth we often travel from one climate to another. Islands, particularly, often have a single… More The silliness of Star Wars’ single-climate planets
As a teenager I remember being wowed by Larry Niven’s ‘known space’ stories, including his Ringworld novels. Looking back, though, I’m not so sure about his aliens. He had two main ones – the Puppeteers and the Kzin. At the time they were pretty cool. Up until the mid-1960s, most (good) aliens basically looked human,… More I figure that Larry Niven’s aliens weren’t alien enough