Dichronauts (Greg Egan)

Dichronauts is another of Greg Egan’s “what if {MATH}” stories, like Schild’s Ladder, Incandescance, and the Orthogonal trilogy. Often I describe him as the only Hard SF writer.

The world posited by having 2 space dimensions and 2 time-like leads to casual relativistic effects when you turn in a time-like direction, so it’s sort of like Edwin Abbott’s Flatland or AK Dewdney’s Planiverse, in this case beings waddling on a mostly-east/west line, up/down being the other usable space direction, with symbiotes who can “see” sideways into the lightless cone north/south with sonar. So, uh, read Egan’s paper explaining this and play with the simulation first.

While buildings are mentioned and the moving of one shown, I think not enough pages are given to the presumably vertical, thin architecture or how engineering or life would work.

Seth (Walker, wannabe hero) & Theo (his much smarter Sider symbiote) and others go off on a survey mission which finds some difficult terrain, a terrible cult-like town, and then a strange part of geography that could doom everyone.

The first two adventures are quite comprehensible (if you read the paper), and the physics don’t interfere much with the story. Then the third goes into a different space/time region. And here he mostly loses me. The geography of the new region is hard to understand, and Theo doesn’t spend the necessary “As you would know if you had paid attention, Seth” time to make it clear to me; I get the math on a flat plane but how it works in this region could use a diagram or two.

The drama in the first two parts of the survey would have made a better complete novella, I was engaged with the characters and cult plot. The last part winnows down the cast to one/two somewhat sad companions, and a communications barrier, which makes it even harder to care. The ending is abrupt and inconclusive. For a sequel, or just “done with this exercise, hit publish”?

“Do you really expect my counterfactual longings to be consistent with my merely hypothetical speculations?” —Theo

★★★☆☆

What I’m Watching

  • Happy Valley: 2 seasons (and a 3rd is planned) of a middle-aged English policewoman chasing murderers in a small town. I find Flock of Seagulls, the first season junior antagonist, utterly unthreatening, but he has his moments. The 2nd season arc was a little obvious, Moaning Myrtle was sinister as hell but with minimal payoff. Still, it’s as good a police procedural/mystery as I’ve seen in ages. ★★★★☆

  • Message from the King: South African badass Jacob King comes to L.A. looking for his missing sister. The plot’s a little opaque at times, Jacob is a mute statue except for some side-eye, and there are far fewer guns and security systems than I’d expect in L.A. underworld, but the fistfights and stealth missions are good. It’s very reminiscent of The Limey, but much grubbier and less fun. ★★★☆☆

  • Rick & Morty S3: Holy shit. Pickle Rick with Danny Trejo. How many times can I spam the star button? ★★★★★★★★★★ I do want at least one of the dumbass improv cable show eps this season, we can’t take a constant dose of this like that Statham flick Crank.

  • Almost no anime. Last year’s Crunchyroll simulcasts had Gabriel Dropout (seriously Gabe is my spirit animal: A dropout who wants to destroy humanity), Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (this might be a tech blog? She’s a Python programmer! She’s writing Django all day in a soul-crushing open-plan office without even a cubicle!), Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor (awesome title, sometimes great characters & plots, endless filler crap in between), some Sakura Quest (cute start, and hooray, more shows about adults with jobs! But this was too mellow and sappy). Everything else this season seems to be a ripoff of Sword Art Online without the cranky MMO-soloing protagonist in black (ahem), or rom-com. Get your shit together, Japan, you’re being out-weirded by a Marty McFly & Doc Pickle cartoon. ★☆☆☆☆

MineCon without the Con

So, no convention. No social aspect. Can’t meet anyone there. As previously noted about Kids Today™, it may be that you can’t get anyone to go “outside” and “meet” people’s faces with their faces. They hide in their bunkers and ‘Zon all their shopping and never see the light of day, so streaming’s the best they can do.

But this sucks. I only went to one: The Las Vegas MineCon 2011. Lines were already insane, merch was ridiculous, but there were people there I wanted to see. And I got an awesome red cape in game.

Also, the video is shockingly amateurish. Lydia/Minecraft Chick’s not seen in this, just Jeb and fake-Notch there with the beard, ill-fitting clothes, and stupid hat. Microsoft paid Notch $3.5 billion for these bozos?

Apple Music

Sort of agreed. Certainly I use it every day and link all my music to it, since that’s the easiest way to get a high-quality stream of most every song ever recorded (80% coverage? Based on my somewhat eclectic tastes).

The 3 mixes are doing better, but my daily playlists are now almost exclusively Rock Hits: 1970-1990, Tears Go By, rarely one more curated list, Metal Meets Industrial is today’s.

The album choices are far better, a good mix of blues, metal, old rock, and industrial. Since I listen to Howlin’ Wolf, today it suggested Bad News is Coming, by Luther Allison, which is pretty goddamned good, I didn’t know the man before.

And since they buried Connect instead of putting it on the front page, far fewer bands bother to post to it. Some Shonen Knife merch and 1-2 posts a week from Apple Music {genre}. This is a travesty, they had a real shot at connecting bands to the audience (like Ping, without the distraction of other people with dubious musical taste) and have so far squandered it.

Luther Allison-Bad News is Coming
Luther Allison-Bad News is Coming-back