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Some Remarks

Neal Stephenson

Switched to a treadmill desk, as there is hard scientific data that if you sit for a big part of your day, it will kill you. The reaper comes first for those who sit. Seemed like a safe job compared to all the hazards of manual labour. Even a generation ago, desk workers had to get up all the time - go to filing cabinet or talk to a colleague. But today, the only time he gets up is to go to the bathroom.

Not just the health problem. Also the loss of those who cannot sit still long enough to acquire academic qualifications.

The invention of the novel not possible until printing press. But allowed writers like William Flew to bypass traditional gatekeepers - no longer dependent on commissions or patrons. The writers who can earn a living through writing are 'commercial' while those who are supported by cultural institutions are called 'literary'. The difference lies in who they are accountable to.

In the literary world, you are expected to defer to people who are older and further up the academic ladder than you are. So if someone in that world writes something, or even titles something in a way that challenges this hierarchy, he is "arrogant". And having a big ego is regarded as valid for mentioning in a review. But in the commercial world, the content, and titles, are selected in terms of what the writer is trying to say, and personality of author is pretty much irrelevant.

Most of literary world know that it is pointless to review or criticise commercial writing, because the fans will simply never read it. They will learn about the book from the author's website or a fan site, and simply don't care what critics think.

'Westerns' pretty much extinct. Fifty years ago you'd go the Sat afternoon movies and there'd always be a Western on. Suggest that basically they have run out of things to say - there's only so many things that can happen on a ranch.

Lucy Lawless and Sigourney Weaver examples of actresses that would have no role in conventional films, but SF gave them a chance to play strong women - not just physical Amazons, but also strong characters.

Star Trek's Spock - Leonard Nimoy played part so well that two unintended consequences: 1) he couldn't get a role playing anyone else 2) it became impossible for anyone else to convincingly play a Vulcan.

SF movies have evolved to recognize human reality. The Heinlein superhero who can do everything has gone. Now, understand that no-one can be good at everything.

Twenty years ago they were called nerds, and despised, because they had knowledge that we didn't, in science and computers. Today they are called geeks, and embraced, because we are all geeks in some way - we all have some store of arcane knowledge that few share. As long as people don't start spouting off their geekiness in the wrong place, it's ok to be a geek.

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