The Long War *Spoilers*

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Re: The Long War *Spoilers*

Postby cabbagehead » Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:59 pm

raisin, where do you get that the beagles and kobolds learned English within days? They had the chance to interact with individual humans for centuries, given that there had always been some natural steppers among humans. And the kobolds have been playing the role of CMOT Dibbler for much longer too, raiding abandoned sites of extinct cultures. The kobold culture predates the Lobsang/Joshua journey from The Long Earth, but given the vastness of the Long Earth Lobsang and Joshua did not come across them the first time around.

But I agree that the Datum/pioneers conflict was not done well.

More Discworld shout-outs: There is much of Vimes in Jansson, but also in the Navy officer. The conversation between the latter and the Admiral is a Vimes/Vetinari moment.

The Datum becoming uninhabitable (or in Long Earth terms, it becoming a Joker) is an important theme in The Science of Discworld books, where the Wizards' purpose appears to be to ensure that Roundworld human culture develops to the point humans can escape the earth before a major meteor impact brings about the next mass extinction.

I will probably keep reading this series because it looks like the authors have something in mind towards which they are heading and I am curious to know what it is. My guess is we will see a progression of human capacity for expansion and a progression of disasters (natural or man-made) to drive them forward. After the destruction of Madison in book 1, the Datum in book 2, I expect book 3 to have one of its plot lines to be focused on space travel using The Gap, which will be followed by humans expanding to other star systems, so humanity will be able to survive the sun (and all its stepwise parallels) going nova.
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Re: The Long War *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:23 pm

The whole idea of the Yellowstone super volcano is, I believe something that has been predicted and is possibly even overdue. Scientists believe that it could have a major influence on life on Planet Earth. One of the themes in the book seems to be that although mankind is doing its best to destroy the Earth, the Earth, or life on it, is quite capable of being destroyed through natural causes.

I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
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Re: The Long War *Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Sat Jul 27, 2013 5:05 pm

Another thing that has bugged me through these books is the 'science' confirms the anthropic principle. In reality, the odds of a universe such as ours developing with such a right combination of physical laws that allowed stars, planet and intelligent life to form are nearly negligible. We are an accident, rather than a purpose, and any multiverse theory would state that the universe next to ours would be a totally kind that wouldn't be capable of creating everything we have in ours.

Yet, nearly every parallel universe in the Long Earth not only is just like ours but has an Earth that is mostly like ours. In reality, 99% of these 'steps' should lead to gaps, and most of the others to earths that have completely different environments than our own. There should be earths with no moon, earths with two moons, earths that are riddled with craters, earths that in slightly different orbits (not really gaps, but different earth orbits), smaller earths, larger earths, earths with completely different geographical features (i.e., only continent, or different shaped continents), and almost none of them should have life of any kind at all, let alone so many variations of intelligent, sapient life. The only way one can really accept that these millions of life-filled earths exist is to accept the idea of intelligent design, since probability would say that nearly none of these worlds should exist at all.
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Re: The Long War *Spoilers*

Postby cabbagehead » Sat Jul 27, 2013 10:55 pm

The kind of differences you are thinking of wouldn't show up on parallel universes so close to the datum. So far we are within a few million earths. These are universes that diverged from ours within the last few billion years. You are talking about differences that go back to the Big Bang, when the cosmological constants of our universe may have been determined.
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Re: The Long War *Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:52 pm

cabbagehead wrote:The kind of differences you are thinking of wouldn't show up on parallel universes so close to the datum. So far we are within a few million earths. These are universes that diverged from ours within the last few billion years. You are talking about differences that go back to the Big Bang, when the cosmological constants of our universe may have been determined.


Uh, why? The whole "east west" thing is a completely arbitrary idea, and that "Datum Earth" is the center of it all is a completely anthropic principle based idea. I would imagine that some sapient species 20 million earths out believes that THEIR world is Datum earth. Or perhaps the aliens (or whatever) that built "rectangles' believes their earth is the Datum earth. Theoretically, there is no Datum Earth at all. And a theory that all these earths exist on some kind of linear chart (least-Datum-like earths far to the east or the left) is bad science that makes a convoluted argument that each "earth" in a series is somehow connected to the next one. By that logic, the Chinese trip that went out to 20 million earths west should have a world that was either lifeless or totally different than the majority of the Earths. And by this logic once one 'gap' and 'joker' appears in the series the number of 'gaps' and 'jokers' should steadily increase until they dominate the series. But they don't.

Now, whether this is all leading up so some kind of intelligent design-like conclusion in the next book-i.e., maybe all these universes were random but then some higher power put them in order like arranging by suits in a deck of cards--is up to question. But if you try to think about this from a cosmological perspective that doesn't involve an intelligent designer, it makes no sense whatsoever. But again, maybe in the end the Long-system will be 'proven' to be an intelligently designed system.
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Re: The Long War *Spoilers*

Postby Molokov » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:06 pm

It is explained in the books that the Earths stepwise of each other have similar geological features - such as that stretch of Earths with an inland sea in America, or the "corn belt" - so the theory exposed is that each 'step' is just a slight change in the probabilities. The further out you go (1 million+ into the high meggas) then the more geological deviation from the Datum. That's why they have worlds designated as Jokers - they are completely different from their immediate stepwise neighbours, hence worth noting, or avoiding, depending on the Joker in question.
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Re: The Long War *Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:50 pm

Molokov wrote:It is explained in the books that the Earths stepwise of each other have similar geological features - such as that stretch of Earths with an inland sea in America, or the "corn belt" - so the theory exposed is that each 'step' is just a slight change in the probabilities. The further out you go (1 million+ into the high meggas) then the more geological deviation from the Datum. That's why they have worlds designated as Jokers - they are completely different from their immediate stepwise neighbours, hence worth noting, or avoiding, depending on the Joker in question.


I know that it's EXPLAINED the way, but scientifically it makes no sense unless there's an intelligent design behind it whose purpose is to 'arrange' earths in groups, perhaps in ways that will make it easier for life forms that are optimized for those kinds of world to populate them. If this is what eventually will come out in the series then I'm okay with that.

But I think it you asked most scientists involved in string theory and branes and cosmological origins and all that stuff they'd probably say if multiverses do exist it's highly unlikely that the alternative universe closest to ours (if that can even exist) would be like ours in any way. In fact, a universe like ours is far more likely to be a 'gap' or 'joker' universe, with the majority of them being universes where different laws of physics never allowed stars or planets to form. So if the existence of the long earth worlds is supposed to be based on true probabilities, this is all wrong. Having a hundred thousand "corn belt earths" in a row is like having a 1000-sided dice and throwing 1000 a hundred thousand times in a row. There would be no logical explanation for this outcome other than to confirm that God is playing dice with the universe--using a set of loaded dice. But who knows? Maybe Baxter and Pterry will ultimately reveal that the Auditors are in charge of creating the cosmological filing system that organized all the universes.
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Re: The Long War *Spoilers*

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:11 pm

He willnae tak' a drink! I think he's deid! , on the other hand though A Midgie in yir hand is worth twa up yir kilt.
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Re: The Long War *Spoilers*

Postby mojojojo » Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:55 am

I have finished the 2nd book, and on the whole I liked it. I am a bit puzzled about the Beagles. How was it that there were able to create their civilization without thumbs? It wasn't anything grand, but they had buildings,fences,stockyards,etc. Was the idea that the trolls built all of that for them?

Also, on the subject of the Beagles, is it realistic for a species to be equally comfortable as bipeds or quadrupeds?
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Re: The Long War *Spoilers*

Postby cabbagehead » Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:26 pm

Also, on the subject of the Beagles, is it realistic for a species to be equally comfortable as bipeds or quadrupeds?


I suppose that would depend on the kind of hip joints they have?
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Re: The Long War *Spoilers*

Postby kakaze » Thu Oct 09, 2014 4:16 am

I know it's bad form to post on a thread that's been inactive for over a year, but I was re-reading The Long Earth and The Long War in preparation for reading The Long Mars and I have to admit the whole beagle thing bothered me, particularly the way it ended.

So, to summarize, Joshua is led to the beagle world by officer Janson where he is attacked, "stapled", and held as a hostage to force Sally to go collect ray guns for the beagles. After she does this, the beagle ruler, Petra, unsurprisingly orders one of her warriors, Snowey, to execute Joshua in a Fifth Elephant style "hunt". Snowey frees Joshua, but not before biting off his left hand to take back to Petra to prove that he was killed (i.e. like the huntsman in Snow White). Joshua gets a last laugh in though, by making an obcene gesture with his left hand as it's being bit off.

My problems with this are:

1. Why in the world would Joshua force himself not to step when he was initially attacked? He's not an ambassador, war will not be averted by his sacrifice. The beagles have showed that they cannot be trusted by attacking him, why not use his one advantage by stepping sideways out of the attacker's grasp, walking three feet sideways, and stepping back to the beagle world?

2. The beagle's community was not large. When they returned with the advanced ray guns, why didn't Sally & Janson simply open fire on the beagles. The beagles were armed with spears, crossbows, and stone knives. Sally & Janson had ray guns and could step to avoid primitive projectile weapons. It would have been a slaughter! For that matter, couldn't they have just used one of the ray guns to blast the crossbow-pack on Joshua's back? It may be rigged to go off if he undoes the band across his chest, but I doubt that it would hold up to a good ray-gun blast!

3. Why did Snowy bite off his hand? He and Li-li were both party to Joshua's escape. Snowy because he refrained from killing him, and Li-li because she was there to remove the crossbow-pack so Joshua could leave without dying. Instead of maiming him, Li-li could have removed the pack and Joshua could have stepped with the pack pointed down. The iron pin would remain in the beagle world, the crossbow would fire harmlessly into the dirt of the next world, and Snowy would have returned to Petra with the iron pin and told her that Joshua stepped, choosing a fast death to a slower, more painful one. The only reason for the biting-the-hand-off was for the cheap joke about the obscene gesture, which brings me to:

4. When Snowy bit the hand off, he severed all the tendons. Any gesture made by Joshua would not have remained once the tension on the tendons by the muscles in the arms was released. Besides, it's kind of pointless; the gesture would be as meaningless in the beagle world as making the V symbol that's offensive in England would be in America.

Also, I was also surprised that they killed Janson. She was there right from the beginning. I'm currently halfway through The Long Mars and I'm STILL expecting her to pop up and say "surprise"!
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