Ice by E.S Strout


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Post May 05, 2007, 02:51:31 PM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

I had a problem with the science in this story. 287,496,000 cubic feet of ice (a cube, 660 feet on a side) cooled to -40° cannot have this great an effect. The volume of water (at say, positive 55°) in that size lake dwarfs this. It's just not that big, really.

The story says that somehow the ice-age weather is being channeled with it, drawing the ice age of the past into our present., causing it to spread. There's an ice station clear down in St. Louis.

It is as if to say the block exists in both times, as if it stays cooled because the climate conditions which created are still connected. If it is a true "connection", would not the climate of our time be canceling out the climate in the past? Simultaneous existence in both times is a concept which would probably make a physicist twitch uncontrollably. (Perhaps Gino was trying to imply we ended the last ice age 6000 years ago by moving it to our own future. Hmm...)

Even assuming this is a one-way transfer, why not try sending it back? I can't assume this must have been very popular, and somebody's head would roll.

Which leads me into the next point. I couldn't buy that these people would still be around, doing research and using their time transporter. Some government would want it for their own ends. For example, whatever terrible terrorist of the future (hopefully not still Bin Laden) and the mountain he's hiding on is suddenly transported into the sun a thousand years ago. Or more realistically, someone's political rivals are whisked away into a deep ocean trench to see how well they tread water 6,000 feet down. This would be a terrifying genie to be released from the bottle, and one you couldn't put back.

Anyway, my biggest beef with the story was that it wasn't really a story. These non-sympathetic, barley-developed characters were presented with a conundrum of their own creation, but then they didn't solve it, or even choose not to solve it. Nobody's character grew and changed to adapt to the situation, and there really wasn't any climax. In short, no story--just a historical account, like a documentary.

Nate
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Post May 05, 2007, 06:57:42 PM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

Anyway, my biggest beef with the story was that it wasn't really a story. These non-sympathetic, barley-developed characters were presented with a conundrum of their own creation, but then they didn't solve it, or even choose not to solve it. Nobody's character grew and changed to adapt to the situation, and there really wasn't any climax. In short, no story--just a historical account, like a documentary.

Nate


Two words: "Another Sarah". Didn't see much character development there. Just some hen-pecked farmer taking his frustrations out on chickens, or maybe-not-chickens. Neither he nor his wife changed during the story; the only characters that changed were the Sarahs, who grew shorter by a head, were plucked (or stripped?) and boiled, broiled, roasted, or fried. Yet you defend that piece as qualifying as "a story" according to the strange, Scientology-like cultish definition you preach.

And anyway, what are "barley-developed characters"? Would you prefer that they be "hops-developed"? And what do you have against "beets", big or otherwise?

::)
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Post May 06, 2007, 12:41:27 AM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

So FTL and time-travel are acceptable but transferring ice-age weather that causes a chain-reaction is not?

It's science fiction. Most science fiction, when you strip away the tech-speak, is outlandish. Then again, if it was realistic, then it would be science fact. Accepting one aspect and denying another seems a bit arbitrary and even counterproductive.

Sigh. It wouldn't be a normal weekend if somebody wasn't insisting I was wrong about something...

There was FTL in this story? I must have missed that. :)

I prefer the term speculative fiction myself, encompassing science fiction, fantasy, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, alternate history, and magic realism, but if you prefer science fiction, ok. Robert Heinlein called science fiction realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method.

I'm willing to bend to the definition of a Hugo and Nebula grand master, especially one who wrote all those books I love to read.

For this discussion, I key upon the term "realistic". We all know the things we dream up are not real, yet we want them to appear real. Verisimilitude, as I'm sure you know, is the appearance of truth. That's all I actually want.

Thermodynamics and conservation of energy can't just go away. How does such a terrifying weather pattern perpetuate itself? Where does the energy come from that causes it to so effectively thwart the efforts of the sun and the earth itself on a continuing basis? There's still nearly 70° degree air blowing into this thing. All the time. The sun, the greatest furnace of energy any of us will ever experience unless aliens take us for a spin, is going to be beating its energy down on it. The frost goes out of the ground in Minnesota the same time it does here in Wisconsin, and that's usually March or very Early April. That means there's billions of cubic yards of warm dirt all that ice is sitting on. What keeps making it colder?

It's not like they brought the entire ice age, just a 660 square foot area. Even if it was the entire atmosphere up into space above it, it's still only 660 feet wide. The rest of the sky is far too large not to absorb its disquiet.

I use the rule of thumb when I start a story that everything is exactly the same as the world I live in until I learn otherwise. This professor didn't cast a magic spell to bring the glacier back. Instead, he and his assistant used machinery and science. This tells me as a reader that things in this story are supposed to act scientifically, with causes and effects based on scientific principles.

"With self-perpetuating properties, due somehow to the temporal and spatial shift required to transfer it." didn't cut it for me. That broke my willful suspension of disbelief. I read that and thought, he doesn't know how to justify it. He's taking the easy way out. That may not be true, of course, but it's what I thought.

I say don't write a story about technology or magic or something related to it happening. Instead, write your story about what happened to the people involved in the science or magic and how they coped with it or each other. That will make the actual event much easier to believe (or ignore).

Nate
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Post May 06, 2007, 01:01:14 AM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

Anyway, my biggest beef with the story was that it wasn't really a story. These non-sympathetic, barley-developed characters were presented with a conundrum of their own creation, but then they didn't solve it, or even choose not to solve it. Nobody's character grew and changed to adapt to the situation, and there really wasn't any climax. In short, no story--just a historical account, like a documentary.

Nate


Two words: "Another Sarah". Didn't see much character development there. Just some hen-pecked farmer taking his frustrations out on chickens, or maybe-not-chickens. Neither he nor his wife changed during the story; the only characters that changed were the Sarahs, who grew shorter by a head, were plucked (or stripped?) and boiled, broiled, roasted, or fried. Yet you defend that piece as qualifying as "a story" according to the strange, Scientology-like cultish definition you preach.

And anyway, what are "barley-developed characters"? Would you prefer that they be "hops-developed"? And what do you have against "beets", big or otherwise?

::)

That was pretty funny, actually. :D I can't spell everything right all the time.

I think it makes me sound full of myself to do this, but I've got to quote myself from the What Makes a Narrative a Story? thread:

This post is meant to discuss what constitutes a genre fiction story. There are other types of fiction, such as literary or flash, which obey different rules.

Sarah is flash. I've said so numerous times. It isn't a genre story by my own, Robert Silverberg's, Marion Zimmer Bradley's, or (apparently) Elizabeth Bear's definitions. But it was an effective piece by the "rules" of flash (which someday I'll post an essay about).

Besides, I think if we were a cult, we'd have more members... or at least a better PR department. :)

Nate
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Post May 07, 2007, 09:46:57 PM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

...which is not a good way to start off a civil counterargument.

So it's not correct in assuming that you had thicker skin than that? My apologies, if I have offended.

  • Speaking of Heinlein, as much as I like the guy, this isn't his website. I know you like to drop his name into many of your arguments, but there are as many theories of writing as there are writers. So while I admire your admiration of him, I could Google someone else's opinion and we can reduce our conversations to selected quotes of others. Personally, I'm very opinionated with my own set of ideas of what makes the world tick. I prefer viewing my craft my own way. If I quote someone else, I don't do it to try to prove an opinion, I do it to offer another perspective. You might think the difference is subtle. It most certainly isn't. The former presumes a certainty of truth and comes off as arrogant. You can argue an opinion to death, but you can't prove it.
I'm afraid you may wish to revise that statement, particularly after you search the lettercol under 'Heinlein'. That is, unless you think mentioning Heinlein 2 other times since July 2005 is excessive.

You prefer viewing your craft your way, but apparently my viewing it my way is enough to warrant a lengthy, bullet-pointed retort on how I am not correct.

Oh, dear. Even my way of debating a point is apparently incorrect.

I clearly must be in the wrong.

Perhaps you could direct me to the website which explains the only correct way to debate a point. Then I could become more educated in civil ways like you.

I still maintain your quibble is arbitrary. And as for what could trigger an ice age, there is actually a lot of debate in the scientific community on what could trigger one, including, oddly enough, global warming. By having the glaciers melt, the salinity of the water changes and could impact ocean currents. If scientists can't agree on the chain-reactions, what makes you qualified to argue?

Ah, so only scientists are qualified to voice their opinions. I must write that down. (I'm such a dolt for having thought otherwise.)

You are a beacon of knowledge and wisdom. Thank you ever so much for setting me straight.

Nate
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Post May 07, 2007, 11:12:01 PM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

...You prefer viewing your craft your way, but apparently my viewing it my way is enough to warrant a lengthy, bullet-pointed retort on how I am not correct.

Oh, dear. Even my way of debating a point is apparently incorrect.

I clearly must be in the wrong...

You are a beacon of knowledge and wisdom. Thank you ever so much for setting me straight.

Nate


Ah, Nate, your preaching and proseletizing always comes off as, well, the literary equivalent of Tom Cruise expounding on postnatal depression. Arrogant, based on a narrow sampling of one school of thought, and quick to resort to sarcastic belittling of anyone who disagrees. If anyone is guilty of portraying himself as "a beacon of knowledge and wisdom", it's you.

And no, I'm not adding a smiley to this, because I'm not kidding. Read "The Rapture", and see if the attitudes of the Faithful seem familiar. They know the truth, and they will give the gift of our wisdom to the heathen masses -- or destroy them if they are too wicked to see the light.

Or, to replace Religion with Writeligion, Lo, here in Letters of Fire is written the True Definition of Story. And woe to ye who follow not these commandments ...

Instead of writing about writing, let's see you DO more writing. And sell some of what you write, so we can truly see that your grasp of Holy Writ strikes a chord in the heartstrings of those mean old editors who can't be bothered to deal with the works of an unsung genius, while allowing Established Writers to get away with unStory-like scribbling.

But maybe you prefer the Critic mode ... those who can't do, teach (or write articles about ...), those who can't teach ... become critics? Surely with such a well-defined template to follow, you should be able to craft fiction with less effort than it takes to do your lecture series.

Robert "If you boys don't stop squabbling, I'm turning this webzine around and we're NOT going for ice cream" M.
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Post May 08, 2007, 07:36:39 AM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

we're doing this AGAIN? enough already.

Nate is just vehement and critical, two traits that expose the weakness of any liberal-open-democratic etc association of people... on the one hand, they're encouraged. on the other, they go against millennia of insecurities and tradition that suppress just those two tendencies.

We all know this means Nate cares about this place. You guys don't seriously think he hangs around here looking to insult people?

Robert dude, those comments about publishing and stuff...uncalled for in a writer's circle. and i knew you'd pick on the barley!

unless we want to have it all wide open and nobody takes this type of discourse the wrong way.

Lee



Lee

Nate's attitude just annoys the hell out of me. Viz. also his complaints about not getting prompt action on his idea for a lettercol-based contest, about Aphelion not conforming to his standards of professionalism, etc., etc., etc. When Elizabeth Bear (? it was one of the young-pro Elizabeths) criticized HIS writing, he got huffy, but then Saw the Light, and has been preaching ever since. But Elizabeth Bear, as a published author with several books in print (from a mass-market publisher, not a small press) is ENTITLED to lord it over us wannabes (and I include myself in that category, although I have made a few $ (very few, some decades ago); Nate's qualifications are somewhat less impressive. He has ALMOST made sales to impressive markets ...

By the way, Robert Eggleton (of Rarity is all hollow fame) just submitted a story. He has guts, throwing his work into a hostile environment. Now we'll see if he can, indeed, write something other than press releases.

Robert "Mad as hell, and not taking it no more" M.
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Post May 08, 2007, 10:26:49 AM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

Sadly, I hadn't read this thread until it was brought to my attention, because I hadn't read the story yet and wanted to do so without the influence of commentary.

Sooner or later, every moderator has to go into parent mode, and this one of those times, so I'm going to say this once and once only:

Everybody settle down.

At this point, I don't care who is write and wrong. Nate, you are being an ass. If you want to be an ass, do it on your own time. This has nothing to do with your opinions or their quality, but with your mode of expression.

Everyone else, cheap shots don't bring the argument back up to the right level. This quote in particular made me profoundly sad:

And sell some of what you write, so we can truly see that your grasp of Holy Writ strikes a chord in the heartstrings of those mean old editors who can't be bothered to deal with the works of an unsung genius, while allowing Established Writers to get away with unStory-like scribbling.


Folks, the entire reason we're HERE is to help each other accomplish the improvement of our craft in the hopes that we might actually get to sell something to someone. Dan and I have always said that our happiest moment is when we find out we've lost one of our better regulars to paid markets. It means Aphelion has served its purpose to that writer.

Did anyone take some time out to notice the gracious note left here by the author of this story?

I sincerely thank everyone who commented on "Ice". I'm gratified by the positive and learn from the negative.


Gino, thank you for not taking the bickering personally, and for taking the time to sort the wheat from the chaff in this thread.

I sincerely believe that Nate has the best intentions. People who are here are participating because they want to help. So let's all take a deep breath, three steps back, and a 45 minute nap, and then see if we cannot continue this conversation civilly and constructively.
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Post May 09, 2007, 12:05:50 AM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

Do I get a rebuttal?
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Post May 09, 2007, 12:31:51 AM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

Nate

I wasn't aware that this was a debate (if it is, it's Podunk Junior High vs. East Porcupine Vocational -- I leave it to you to decide which is which). However, nobody is stopping you.

I am curious to know which points (or ad hominem slurs, as you probably view them) you want to refute ... but this thread being nominally about Gino's story, maybe we should start a new topic under Administrivia re: forum etiquette and why neither Master Critics nor Editors should do what we just did -- at least NOT in a public forum. (Now, Flame Wars via Private Messaging could be good nasty fun WITHOUT detracting from the intended purpose of topics relating to specific stories or even specific story-telling 'rules' ... whaddaya say, scurrilous accusations at 50 paces?)

Robert M.
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Post May 09, 2007, 12:38:43 AM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

I wasn't asking you.
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Post May 09, 2007, 12:56:02 AM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

Gee, that was almost as sophisticated as your 'rebuttal' to Jaimie. But like I said, nobody is stopping you.

(Gene, sorry to be clogging up this thread. On the plus side, it makes "ICE" look like a hot topic, and might draw in a few more readers and comments...)
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Post May 09, 2007, 08:42:58 AM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

Rob, with all due affection, respect, love and everything else, i think this time you're being too hard on Nate. not discounting your feelings, i'm the hotheaded type, but comon dude, it's Kailhofer, you know, one of us? don't tell me you don't realize this!


Being one of us neither prevents nor excuses someone from stepping over the line. If someone wants to be a passive-aggressive twit, I sure can't stop them.

i honestly don't see his input as offensive or anything of that sort because i know he's part of the family and there's no way under any circumstances he'd be posting like a troll just to hurt people. unless those pods drfited from space in thru his window and displaced the man we know, then Nate's just being himself and is actively supporting our community by being vehement. we need vehemence. vehemence means caring.


No, we don't. We need constructive criticism. Handing out stone tablets engraved with your opinions and then whining and backbiting when anyone disagrees with you and having petulant snits with people isn't constructive.

Maybe you don't see that as what was going on here, but that's my take. And if you notice, I didn't restrict my admonishments to Nate. I told everyone to settle down. What I didn't do was delete any posts, lock the thread, or rescind anyone's posting privileges. Jiminy Cricket, folks, let's not turn this into a debate about the debate..

I will not follow up to this thread again. Discussion in PM or e-mail is invited, if you simply need to respond.

Does anyone have anything else to say about the story "Ice"? (Remember "Ice"? This is a song about the story "Ice"....), or should I just lock this thread and paste a big "Warning: Radioactive" label on it?
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Post May 10, 2007, 12:23:58 AM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

Lee, whatever the verbal equivalent of a fruit basket is, I'm sending it out to you.

Thanks, man.


Nate
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Post May 18, 2007, 01:12:19 PM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

The old mad scientist story, only this one is set in modern times with modern characters and modern technology.

Good care to the development of Dr. Adams and Allison. From the beginning of the story until the end, both characters kept developing. I especially like the use of natural acts----Dr. Adam crushing and throwing his cup, and Allison brushing stay hairs behind her ear, all apparently without thought!

The story played itself out in near diary form that was fitting. Events unfolded themselves like a diary, and the story gained more characters with each entry, but good character development halted, for some reason.

Hopkins, the copter pilot----the name rings itself in front of the word copter, nice choice----became flat to me. Not enough description. Good word usage and choice can also describe a character especially in dialogue. However, in the dialogue between Hopkins and Kimberly-----another flat character----little hidden information about the two came to light.

On the factual side, even two 9mm Berettas would have trouble putting down a sabertooth tiger! Believe me they would! The scene should have described how they emptied their clips into the huge cat and it continued until another clip finished it off. A couple of shots would not stop a
sabertooth tiger!

The story line wasn’t original, for it followed the old time travel experiments, and in this case a glacier from the past carrying extinct animals and atmosphere was transported to the future. And the rivalry between Fredricksen and Adams had a old theme to it that has been hashed over and over again.

But on the bright side, I feel the storie's intention might be environmental in design!! As I read the story, thoughts about our environment kept popping into my head over and over again! If that was the author's intention, then I give him 150% on his symbolism and his use of story telling in order to make the reader think!!! Nice!!

An interesting read!!!
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Post May 30, 2007, 09:39:47 PM

Re: Ice by E.S Strout

from IMDB.com
Plot summary for
My Science Project (1985)

Michael and Ellie break into a military junkyard to find a science project for Michael's class, and discover a strange glowing orb which absorbs electricity. When the orb begins to blend past, present, and future, its up to Michael and Ellie to stop the orb and save mankind. Written by Michael Silva {silvamd@cleo.bc.edu}
-------------------------------------------

I suppose the presence of Dennis Hopper as a hippie science teacher (named Bob Roberts!) qualifies the movie as a classic of sorts ... the inclusion of a geeky guy who knows a lot about assault weapons and grenade launchers is a little disturbing in (post-Columbine et al.) retrospect, and gives the flick a little extra bite.

viz. also the recent British miniseries "Primeval", and the rather awful recent movie "based on" "A Sound of Thunder".

Robert M.
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