DonAithnen (donaithnen) wrote,


I've got "Fuzzy Nation," John Scalzi's reboot of H. Beam Piper's "Little Fuzzy," queued up for listening tomorrow. Which got me started reflecting on what exactly i liked and didn't like about the original.

I think the short version is that it pretty much set forth a world in which all the stuff i would like to believe is true was, but did so in relatively simplistic manner.

In short, the corporation is almost unilaterally the bad guy, and the government is almost unilaterally the good guy. There are a few corrupt government officials, but only at very low levels. To be fair it is established that there is an economic reason for the corporation to want to do the "wrong" thing, and an economic reason for the government to want to do the "right" thing, but it still sometimes seems a bit too convenient. Of course my problem isn't that the corporation is willing to screw people over in order to keep/increase profits, but that they're so easily foiled by the government and the government is, overall, so uncorrupted. I like to believe that in the long run a democratic government will _eventually_ do the right thing (presuming of course that said government lasts long enough to do so) but this all seemed a little too easy.

And a big part of _that_ is that favorite SF device of yesteryear, the infallible truth detector, in this case a "veridicator." The bad guys are extremely limited in what they can do, both legally and illegally, by the threat of people being put under veridication, while the good guys have an easy time proving a lot of things that would be a real pain in the ass to deal with under our present veridicator-less legal system.

I think there's a certain draw for SF fans (and authors) for the idea of flawless truth detector. Scientists always want to get at the truth, and having to deal lies, for all the various reasons that people feel the need to tell them is so messy. Wouldn't it be nice if there was just a simple verifiable way to get at the truth?

I can see the attraction of the idea, and i guess back in the first half of the 20th century such a device seemed feasible, before we learned how complicated the mind actually is. I don't want to say that it will always be impossible (i may not be a distinguished elderly scientist, but i don't want to run afoul of Clarke's laws regardless) but it certainly seems unlikely.

So i guess what i really wonder is A: is Scalzi going to change the relationship between the big players in the drama to make things more complex (and possibly more realistic) and B: is he going to keep the infallible truth detectors in the book, or will they be eliminated or toned down in some way? (That by itself would certainly make the legal aspects of the story a lot more complex.)

Or did he decided he ought to maintain the tone of the original book and just update the science and tech to more modern understandings as much as possible? (In a way it's impressive the extent to which H Beam Piper realized computers and telecommunications might have an effect on the future... while still thinking that large chunks of data would be transmitted by playing analog tapes at high speed over the same audio/visual channels used for video phone calls.)

It'll be interesting to see the changes, and see what i think of the changes.
Tags: reviews

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