Thursday, August 6, 2009

Belated and Truncated EOTWQ


This is daft; the 'Spill week ends on a Wednesday, if not a Tuesday, and yet we're still twiddling our thumbs waiting for the questions. I hope these are better than nothing; only three of them, as I'm still trying to get some work done and haven't had time to think of any more; I just hope you appreciate the self-sacrifice, since it's nearly time for the new theme and so this post will rapidly disappear down the page under the usual music postings, with scarcely any comments...

(1) There’s a short story by the great SF writer Alfred Bester called ‘Hobson’s Choice’, set in what’s left of the US following a nuclear war, in which a minor government official notices a mysterious rise in the population emanating from the most devastated and irradiated part of the country. He investigates, and discovers that, some time in the distant future, time travel is being used as a psychiatric tool, transporting social misfits to the era when (they are convinced) they should have been born and so will be happy; part of the irony, and the explanation of the population rise, is that some of them are convinced that a post-nuclear US is the utopia they seek. The man is told that he can’t remain and reveal what’s going on, so is offered the choice of being transported to any era he chooses to live out the rest of his days. What would your choice be, and why? The story is highly recommended, by the way.

(2) If you’ll excuse a bit of gratuitous trumpet-blowing and self-satisfaction, I’ve just heard that I’ve been awarded a grant to support a research project on a subject I think is completely fascinating and important (though the reaction of one neighbour was words to the effect of “you’re doing that with my taxes???”). Given unlimited resources and a supply of research assistants eager to do your bidding, what great unanswered question or unsolved mystery would you wish to investigate?

(3) One of the GU blogs this week was about the feeling that everyone is now sick to the back (and so less pointy) teeth of vampires, especially soppy Twilight-style vampires. The only reason I mention this is that reference was made to Ultraviolet - if you don’t know it, a fantastic TV series that appeared on Channel 4 in the late 1990s starring a younger Jack Davenport and the blonde woman from Pride and Prejudice, offering a brilliantly edgy and disturbing take on the whole vampire thing. One series, six episodes, any number of loose ends left hanging; I would give my eye teeth, and any number of other TV series, and even the last two series of Buffy, for there to be a sequel. For what novel, film, TV series or other work of art would you desperately want to know what happened next?

63 comments:

nilpferd said...

Tinny, it's aba question time.. can you roll me up a joint?

ejaydee said...

Ah you should have asked Aba, I've got 2 spare questions I'm willing to donate.

1. I want to say the future, because I assume it'd be better, I have faith in humankind. If it has to be the past, maybe Ancient Greece, Egypt or Rome, as long as I was massively rich.

2. Not a mystery per se, but I'd like to look into lost civilsations. Why do they disappear.
Also, I've always wanted to know more about African history. Again, not necessarily a big mystery, but I remember being shocked when I asked my cousins about Cameroonian history, and it went as such: In the 15th c the portuguese arrived noticed a lot of shrimp and called Rio dos Camarões, then there was slavery, and then independence." As if Cameroon only existed in relation to Europe. Surely there's more to it than that. Of course it's made harder by the lack of written material, though not completely lacking, but with the appropriate means, some progress could be made.
3. I've made my piece with most cliffhangers by now, but the Sopranos stick out. I don't need the West Wing to provide a nice alternative reality anymore, and I'm not too happy about how Curb Your Enthusiasm ended. Film-wise, Hidden, although I'm sure there are more.

nilpferd said...

*inhales*
1. reminds me of the brilliant spongebob episode where squidward enters a time machine.. I quite liked the Malevich visions of the extreme future.. but wimp that I am, I'd probably go for Kublai Khan's palace at its peak, and hope that the catering, intrigue and- ah- creature comforts would compensate me for having to live without a cd player.
2. I've suspected it for a while, but I'd like to have it conclusively proved and acknowledged by the rest of humankind that any queue I join begins to move slower than all the others.
3. Seeing as I'm enjoying them at the moment, I'd love to see a continuation of Italo Calvino's wonderful Cosmicomics, which spun a series of metaphysical tales around contemporary scientific thought of the sixties and seventies, carried on using the discoveries of the last 35 years in the fields of Astro-physics, Microbiology, and Nuclear physics.

*exhales*

nilpferd said...

More seriously for 2, I'd be interested to trace the movements of the Polynesians throughout the Pacific, and determine whether or not they in fact made it to South America, as their cultivation of the sweet potato would seem to indicate, or whether contact was made from the other direction.

ejaydee said...

Check this out nilpferd:
http://unpiano.com/music/2009/07/29/jefferson-airplane/
I know how you feel about Tom Scott's version of Today.

nilpferd said...

Not much scope for Pete Rock in there, I'd have thought.. still, interesting to hear it, and no doubt he could also make something brilliant out of a fragment I'm not hearing.. in other news I see Stuttgart have just signed another ex-Gunner to go with Lehmann, Hleb has returned to Benztown..

debbym said...

1) Hollywood in the 1920's (I want to be Lillian Gish)

2) I've forgotten its name (good start to a research project!), but there's an equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster somewhere in British Columbia. Not that I'm really that bothered either way, but a couple of years on the Pacific coast with regular trips down to Vancouver sounds like my idea of OK.

3) Mind gone blank. I've tried catching up on TV series lately, partly due to RR recommendations, but watching Series One, Series Two, Series Three in rash succession, knowing you've got to hand the tape back in, just isn't the same - I'm sure a major factor in good television is the anticipation, knowing that, say, Thursday evening is going to bring a new and exciting episode after a dreary day at work.
BTW Herr Hachi & tfd, I quite enjoyed Buffy at first, but was fed up with it by the time she had that wooden soldiery boyfriend. Also overdosed on Six Feet Under (where I didn't realize I'd missed several episodes and thought for a while the protagonist was living through a dream à la Dallas), couldn't get into House (basically the same episode repeated time after time with slightly different symptoms) and gave up on ER during the second series - it was good for knitting to, but how ever did George Clooney come out of that as the sexiest man alive? Or is it just me?

Japanther said...

hmmm..thought-provoking questions Aba...

1. As Ejay, I think it would have to be the future, just out of curiosity. But not too far forward, maybe around the year 3000, in either Tokyo or Brighton.

2. Apologies to our American 'Spillers, especially on this alleged 40th anniversary, but I am really really 100% convinced that the moon landings didn't happen. I don't mind being proven wrong, but i'd like to know once and for all.

3. i'll have to put some more thought into this one....but I always wished that there was a Back To The Future 4. By the end of 3 Marty had pretty much worked out the whole time travel business and realised that you shouldn't monkey with it, but I wanted to see him travelling through time solving problems and getting into adventures and stuff......but that doesn't really answer your question, hmm.......

ejaydee said...

Japa, I like your Back to the future idea, they should have done that instead of what was the 3rd one.

May1366 said...

Great news about your grant, Aba.

1] I suspect it would be maddening to travel back to a time prior to any of our technological advances, even the horrible ones, so I'll be immensely pariochial and just skip the next Tory governnment, thanks.

2] Can't give a music answer so "whatever happened to go-go?" (i.e. Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers, Troublefunk etc) is a non-starter. I'd like to know what happened to the Independent MP, Victor Grayson, a homosexual bon viveur and radical socialist in the early 20th century, who disappeared in what I think remain mysterious circumstances.

3] Novel: Easy - 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, the posthumously published and apparently unfinished masterwork (it's 900 pages as things stand).

Film: Speaking of vampires, my so-far Film Of The Year, Let The Right One In, has an open-ish ending, but I think it's quite satisfying. As is the ending of Sideways but I think I'd still like to know what happens after Miles knocks on Mia's door.

TV series: I'm fine about the Soprano's ending; the Sanchez presidency in The West Wing would have made great viewing round about now; I've just caught up with Psychoville and would presume there's a sequel in the offing, otherwise that's in with a shout. But my winner is Tucker's Luck, because I never saw the very last episode and it always frustrated me as I grew up with the character.

other work of art: sorry, going for music - Curtis Mayfield's album marking the start of the Obama Presidency.

cauliflower said...

Back from Sweden, whiling away the hours before a trip to the Lizard - funny feeling, dropping into RR/Spill when so MUCH is/has been happening.

1) transport me to... West Coast of Ireland, 100 years hence, as long as I can live healthily for the whole intervening period. In the past? Probably the Wild West, just as the cowgirls arrived at the ocean up near Seattle/Vancouver (see you there, debbym)

2) great unanswered question?
I want to know what Freud and Klein said to each other - researching it next year, in fact. But it's a bit dull for this forum, so... I would love to see a time lapse photo animation of the evolutionary development of fish into birds (saw a nice chart last week in a Gothenburg museum, but the intervals had me wishing).

3) what happened next...
Can't think of anything right now but I looked up Ultraviolet on Youtube and I'm hooked! That 4oD calls it "series 1" makes me want series 2 already. Thanks, Aba, for a week's 4OD viewing when holidays are over, and good news on your grant ;-)

treefrogdemon said...

ejaydee, have you read Collapse, by Jared Diamond? It's about why civilisations disappear.

Hard questions! I will start with 3.

3 If they'd been hanging from a cliff, it would've been the all-time cliffhanger ending. Angel. Of course.

2 Hooray for Abahachi! debbym, there's another of those monsters in calgary, Alberta, in case you get bored with the seaside. I had a penfriend who lived there and she sent me a postcard of it - well, the statue of it they've got there.
For myself...I'm not at all religious, but I'm fascinated by the way religions take over other religions, keeping the best bits; so I'll go to the Andes, please, and visit all the little Catholic churches that have Native American gods in their wall paintings...like the Virgin of Guadalupe, but much stranger. And take stupendous photographs, and write a book.

1 I've developed a bit of an obsession with Robert Burns and am trying to find out whether he ever visited my house. (Because a mate of his lived here at the time RB was in Dumfries.) So I'd like to go back to later C18 Kirkcudbrightshire please, but once I've found out I'd like to come back again so that I can write a small but perfectly-formed scholarly paper and go to lots of conferences. (In posh hotels in glamorous foreign parts)

goneforeign said...

TFD: You don't have to go as far as the Andes, Southern Mexico and Guatemala are both similar, ostensibly Catholic but basically Mayan, it's a weird mix and their churches and festivals are often very different.

goneforeign said...

Japanther: I'm curious what aspect of men on the moon don't you accept? Do you accept there's a Mars 'rover' mission with two 'robot geologists' exploring the planet's surface? They've been there since 2004 and are still functioning using PV cells to power their equipment. If you can accept that the moon seems a much easier challenge.

goneforeign said...

Aba: Is that your garden? Very nice.

2. I don't altogether accept the 'big bang theory' as it's currently proposed, instead I accept that there probably have occurred and continue to occur 'ongoing 'big bangs' throughout the universe so I'd like to see a resolution to this question and if my concerns are valid it would require a re-thinking of the expanding universe/cosmic microwave background radiation concept since multiple big bangs would challenge those ideas.

3. Well if we can get the big bang issue resolved then I'd like to find out 'What's it all about?'

1. I suppose I should contact one of those cryogenic corporations in Southern California and have them freeze me 'til questions one and two are settled and then they could de-frost me and I'd then hope that I had the wherwithall to grasp it all.

ejaydee said...

Didn't know it TFD. I forgot to add I would like to know how how Marlo from The Wire gets on.
About 1, I don't think I would want to have any memories of the present, such as technological advances, etc.

GarethI said...

1. PJ O'Rourke always had a one-word answer to anyone who said they'd like to live in the past, and the word was this: "Dentistry." That said, I wouldn't mind being 18 in 1977, so I could have headed to Rome for the European Cup final. I like to think this will be the shallowest answer to an EOTWQ question for 2009.
2. The Black Dahlia case.
3. Twin Peaks. I could see why it ended like this or, if you like the longer build-up with the – at the time – great lost jazz singer Jimmy Scott, like this but I guess a closed ending was always unlikely.

steenbeck said...

1. Hmmm...I'm curious about a lot of historical eras, but Isaac's recent bout with scarlet fever had me thinking I wouldn't like to live before penicillin was invented. Or was it discovered? If I could visit different times with a certain amount of immunity...I don't know, it's hard, there are so many. TFD's answer has me thinking it might be fun to see my house over the last 159 years, and the people who left such interesting things in the walls and in the holes in the floors.

2.Congratulations on your grant! I have to think about this one a bit...

3. I always feel like I'd like to read about what happens next in novels that have happy endings. I don't think I'd be bored reading about the life that came after the hero and heroine finally found each other, or... You know, I'd like to see how Elizabeth and Darcy actually get along, that kind of thing.

Beautiful garden, by the way.

treefrogdemon said...

Ooh, steenbeck: what things did you find? I haven't found anything in this house but in my previous house the builders found two lace bobbins behind the plaster.

Makinavaja said...

1. Back to 1977 to live it all over again. I was just old enough (15) to afford to go to gigs (newspaper round, window cleaning) and had the time of my life.
2. I'm with Nilpferd on the queue thing. Maybe we could stand in separate queues and see what happens!
3.Fawlty Towers

cauliflower said...

I love the builder's tradition of leaving a copy of the newspaper within the walls before they're sealed - found loads over the years, and left copies of the Guardian for future generations.

This link (tried and failed on the mothership) is for Japanther & Goneforeign: Moon Shot Sonnet

TatankaYotanka said...

1. And I thought Alfred Bester only ever wrote Rupert Bear! Who, strangely enough, often found himself enmeshed in exactly this scenario. So I ask myself, what would Rupert say?

2. How did Monsieur Hulot spend the week after his holiday?

3. Boys From The Blog Stuff

AliMunday said...

Nice garden, Abahachi.

I don't think I'd want to be transported anywhere if I couldn't come back, but I would very much like to have worked with or at least met William Morris, a fascinating character. Otherwise I'd like to find out who my paternal grandfather really was and what his life was like. I have one photograph inscribed "Jimmy Dad" and that's about as much as I know (he died in the 1940s).

How about something simple, like "is there life after death?"

I thought the ending of "The Amber Spyglass" was very unsatisfactory, and I would like Philip Pullman to think about it and re-write it, preferably with a sequel too. Dream on. (I do read grown-up books too, but they're much less interesting ...)

FP said...

Hey Hach! Kudos for the spondoolix! Glad you got your grant. And very thought provoking questions...
1) I'd love to go and walk like an egypteeejan. That whole culture fascinates me and I get an eerie sense of deja vu whenever I'm in the Egyptian section of a museum. Ideally I'd be a spoilt and pampered princess bathing in asses milk as opposed to a slave toiling up the unbuilt pyramids..
2) If we're taking as read the cure-for-cancer-and-all-major-illnesses on then I'd funnily enough like to get the definitive handle on that week where Agatha Christie disappeared. Anyone seen the wonderful film with Hoffman and Redgrave on the subject?
3) I can never get enough vampire movies actually. I grew up not so far from Whitby and I think it had an effect... Just got my DVD of let the right one in and am very much looking forward to seeing it. Anyhoo. Agree with Mr Hulot above. splendid. Oh GOD yes - did anyone catch the positively Shakespearien US TV series Profit? That was CRYING out for a second series, and a third. And a fourth. WAY ahead of its time...

sourpus said...

1) Hm...I like where I am so much right now (no longer sourpus then) and also being here in this country (although this has nothing to do with Hungarians or with Hungary as a culture/people - just me and what I now see that I am capable of creating wherever I am. No other era had as much promise as I feel now - and I LOVED the 60's and 70's particularly much.

2) No contest, I would like to investigate the Kennedy assassinations and finally stop this panny-annie story that still gets taught in history lessons to this day. Shameful.

3)I'd like to know what happens to the following characters in particular:

a) Withnail after Marwood leaves for Manchester
B) George Bailey after he realises he is the richest man in Bedford Falls

barbryn said...

1. I'd love to go back to a pre-Industrial Revolution England, just to see some unruined countryside and old market towns. Let's make it turn of the 16/17th century, so I can go to London and take in some Shakespeare premieres too. I wouldn't want to stay permanently mind.

I'd also like to have experienced the '60s...

2. I've just been finding out some trivia about Easter Island, and quite fancy doing some research out there. No, aliens didn't build the statues, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the Rapa Nui civilisation.

3. Thomas Pynchon's "The Crying of Lot 49", or indeed any of Pynchon's books. Greatest novelist in the world he may be, but I wish he could write a satisfying, tying-up-the-lose ends and explaining all the stuff you weren't clever enough to understand-type ending.


I once taped David Mamet's thriller "The Spanish Prisoner", and the tape ran out just before the end, just as all the conspiracies and cat-and-mouse games were about to be wound up. I had about a year of suspense before finally watching the ending (which was good, but inevitably failed to live up to inflated expectations).


@Abahachi, never got round to mentioning it, but I'm in love with the piano version of Hyperballad on your Social CD.

GarethI said...

Barbryn, that reminds me of the time we recorded Traffic (the original TV series with Bill Paterson and Lesley Duncan) on Channel 4. Hour-long instalments of moral murkiness, wonderful scripts, no easy answers or clear villains. Apart from the final part, which was an hour and twenty minutes. Unlike you, I've still never seen the end of it…

Marconius7 said...

Debby, the sea monster in British Columbia is called Ogopogo and lives in Lake Okanagan in south central BC.

As for the EOTWQ -

1. Back to 1985 so I can invest in Microsoft when it was starting out and make a fortune. Of course, that's presuming we retain our current knowledge- otherwise to the future - maybe 100 years from now.

2. How to solve the problem of aging so we don't age and could literally live forever (barring accidents).

3. Never did catch the last episode of The Prisoner and am still curious to know if #6 escaped from the island - was that resolved? If not, I'd like to see what happened next. (I should try and find it on video if it is available on video)

goneforeign said...

Gareth, I think I taped the series, I think it's upstairs.

Mnemonic said...

Gareth, I have all the original Traffic on DVD (copied from my taped version). Want to borrow it?

Japanther said...

I never saw the last two episodes of the 1st series of Twenty Four. When that first came out, it was incredible and the anticipation that me and my brother-in-law had every week for the next installment built up and up, but I left England to come to Japan just before the climax.......I know I could rent the DVD, but a 7 year lapse between episodes somehow takes the edge off. (i haven't seen any of the subsequent series' either)

TracyK said...

1: Was Bester's story written before Julian May's Pliocene Exile series? It uses a similar idea: people who are dissatisfied with the 'future' are given an option of going back to the Pliocene era to live a simpler life. However, when they get there...It's a great trilogy, heavily based on the Tuatha de Danaan and other Celtic legends. I've been compared to both the redheads in it. As one is a psycho, I wasn't best pleased.

If I absolutely had to go, I'd go back to the Tudors, maybe be Bess of Hardwick or summat, love her idea of interior design. And FP, you do realise that Egyptian princesses had to marry their brothers, to keep their bloodlines pure? Eeeeuuuuwww.

2: I'd like to clear up all those mysteries connected with Shakespeare. Very predictable for an English teacher, but it's such a tease, plus it'd make me very wealthy having the answers (and maybe a new play or two!)

3: Ultraviolet is indeed a gem, plus, phwoargh, Jack flipping Davenport! He's on my laminated list, I can tell you.

I'll let you into a little secret of how my brain works, especially as Shane let us into his interior universe last week. I've watched all of Buffy but so far I have only watched season 1 of Angel. not because I don't like it, but because, as long as I don't watch it, there'll always be new Buffyverse for me. Jon hates my reasoning and resents paying such a fortune for the very limited 'contains a signed letter from Joss' numbered sets from 5 years ago. But I'll always have new Buffy.

I watched all of Pyschoville this evening and the last ep left me very, very unhappy indeed. WHERE'S MY RESOLUTION? Have you never heard of Freytag's triangle, you sneaky little sods?

DarceysDad said...

Having rushed home, leaving wife and kids down at DarceysGran's for the weekend, I've got an extra EOTWQ:

Where's bloody RR? Anyone found it yet?

Catcher said...

Yes, I remember 'Ultraviolet' too, and liked it, but I wonder if it would stand up to a repeat viewing so many years later?

1. I'd like to say the future, because life itself has that 'what happens next?' element to it, as in Q3, but I feel like that's cheating a bit. So, it has to be the Renaissance, as a rich patron, discussing new concepts and issues, having masterpieces hanging in the loo, that sort of thing.

2. I'm fascinated by mysteries - Tunguska 1908, the disappearance of the Roanoke settlers in the late 16th century, and, of course, the Mary Celeste, so I'll investigate those, thanks.

3. I'd love to know how Holden Caulfield turned out and what happened to Coop in 'Twin Peaks'. A new My Bloody Valentine album would also be much appreciated.

TracyK said...

Oh, and has anyone tried those 'what happened next in classic stories' novels, like that follow-on from P&P, Pemberley? I read Rebecca's Tale, after the Du maurier and found it seriously lacking. Ditto Pride, Prejudice and Zombies which I've just read and gnashed my teeth too.

ejaydee said...

yes I remember Profit, they showed on Canal Jimmy. Shame that it didn't go anywhere.

Shoey said...

1. 200 years into the future. Suspect I won't like it much, but hope I'm wrong.
2. Unravel the JFK conspiracy.
3. The Prisoner or Gangsters for TV. Would like to see Frank Herbert complete his Dune cycle. His son had a go, but it was a bit crap.

Japanther said...

@GF - well, all the usual stuff like that is touted as "conspiracy theory" (the flag flying, the direction of the shadows, the depth of the footprint etc) seem very reasonable and valid questions to me. Hear them put to whimsical music here by Looper:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixmfnHSKqO8


But the thing that really seems unlikely to me (and I think you would be a good person to ask about this, having a knowledge of 60's film equipment etc) is the fact that they apparently had a live satellite broadcast from the moon, that was clear, with minimal delay in 1969!!! Even in 2009, an OB can be affected by a wee bit of wind and a phone interview suffer from a fair bit delay, It seems improbable to me, but I don't don't know much about the technology. plus the fact that no-one has been since (apparently they did in 1972 or something, but i've never seen any footage or anything - not to say there isn't any, I haven't looked!), and the answer "they don't need to, they've been" is a lame excuse. If they could do it in that 1969 tin can, they should be popping up every few years by now, surely???

Or am I just one of them there crazy conspiracy theorists?!

ejaydee said...

A little bit, Japanther. they went back to the moon a couple of times in the 70s, played golf, drove around in buggies, but it was too expensive. While all the questions regarding the broadcast can be considered legitimate, the real proof is the lunar rocks that have been brought back. A number of scientists from around the world have seen them and they are unique to the moon.

Abahachi said...

Yes, but if our knowledge of the composition of the moon is based on the rocks that have been brought back, then all this proves is that these rocks are like these rocks, and aren't like anything on earth except for the secret government facility where they were mined...

Watch ER said...

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Chris said...

Sorry, I'm still not in the mood for EOTWQs with personal upheavals going on. But I am fascinated by people who believe that the moon landings were made up. What I'd like to know is:
1. At what point was it decided that billions of dollars should be spent on building huge, disposable rockets and elaborate 'special effects' to convince the world that JFK's ambition would be achieved?
2. Who took that decision?
3. Why was it taken, in preference to just doing what they apparently set out to do?
4. How was everything kept secret, despite the fact that hundreds of engineers, managers, scientists, administrators etc must have been involved? I'm particularly interested in how you get NASA staff to go along with it, given their enthusiasm for space exploration.

Anyone got any convincing answers?

Shoey said...

He like ER most it seem.

Shoey said...

Bush wanted to put a man on the Sun.

goneforeign said...

Japanther: Re. satellite broadcasts, radio and TV transmissions. They function on a principle referred to as 'line of sight', that means that they function well when there's nothing between the transmitter and the receiver, ie 'line of sight', one can see the other. There's nothing 'twixt the earth and the moon, it's empty space, any transmission should be perfect. That's why those aged Mars rovers can transmit digital TV data up to circling Mars satellites which then relay it with very low powered transmitters back to earth. Any delay is a constant which is directly related to the speed of light and the distance.
Once I sat on a beach in southern Mexico listening to my favorite LA fm radio station, it was well over a thousand miles away, the reason I could hear it was because the signal travelled over water directly from the transmitter which was on a mountain about 8,ooo ft high; line of sight.
I don't know what an OB is, if it's related to cell phones it's a different proposition, cell phones rely on a network of booster transmitters to relay the signals to the main landline, wind would have no effect except it could blow branches between the phone and the booster thus interfering with the signal. The branches breaking the 'line of sight'.
That's the best I can do re. the tech reasons but as Chris also asks, why do you think 'they' would seek to pull this enormous charade, If you ask why they chose to go to the moon in the first place that will give you the answer why they didn't need to return.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ Chris - well said. With you 100%. Sometimes conspiracy theories suggest alternatives that are far less likely than what really happened!

Great questions Aba, even though I feel short-changed. I suppose the other two questions went towards paying for your grant? (Tee-hee!)

1. I've got a feeling we had a similar question a few months back because I remember mentioning another brilliant science fiction story by Harry Harrison (can't remember the name, sorry). The plot involves a man who has invented a time machine and decides that the best way to make the most of his invention is to get a film company to pay for him to go back in time and record momentous historical events as they actually happened. He's asked to film Eric The Red arriving in Vinland, but when he gets over to Greenland he discovers that Eric has no plans to do any such thing. Of course, our hero then suggests that Mr The Red might like to travel a wee bit further west - "you never know what you might find!" - so he ends up getting film of an event which would never had happened if he hadn't gone to film it! Oh, the irony! The story ends with him being sent off on his second mission - to Nazareth ca. 5 BC ...

Anyhooo ... my answer to your question is very dull, I'm afraid. I have no desire whatsoever to live in another era - the past is too lacking in creature comforts, the future is too unknown.

2. Congrats on the grant - what's the subject? I would certainly want to debunk a myth or two. The Kennedy assassinations are already taken so I'll go for solving the Jack The Ripper murders (I might need the time machine from question 1 though).

3. Oh blimey! Do we need to finish things off? Isn't it better when art is allowed to 'hang' in the air? Best film ending ever? The Italian Job? A part of me wants to know what happens next. I'd love to know that The Joad family are going to be OK after The Grapes Of Wrath ends (I'm not too optimistic), I want to know what happens to Pip and Estella after their Great Expectations fail to be realised (but even Dickens didn't know how to end it), and I too want to know how things worked out for young Holden Caulfield. The best I can come up with is that I would like to read a sequel to Ridley Walker, Russel Hoban's genius-like, post-apocalyptic epic novel.

I'd also like to know Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? Which of course is the only sequel that has ever fully worked.

FP said...

@ Ejay - I had a feeling you would know Profit. The French have a nose for good telly series and it was a French colleague who lent me the DVDs. I was HOOKED.
@ Tracy Euuuuuw!!!
@ Toffee - you got the film, didn't you? That was the sequal - Bob married but full of doubts and Terry living the gay batchelor's life with Chris the Finnish girlfriend. I hope you enjoyed it. The line from Thelma " well it's the first time I've known what he had in his hand all night" when Terry takes a break from the Bridge game to have a slash against the side of the caravn is an utter utter classic.

Japanther said...

thanks GF - that's pretty interesting.

Ahh....maybe you're all right, but I can't shake the feeling that SOMETHING just doesn't add up.

As to why they the US would go to all the trouble for an elaborate stunt. It was the height of the space race and cold war and I wouldn't have put anything past the US govt at the time. Why would anyone spend billions of dollars and millions of American lives just to convince the world of the need to contain communism? Or why would anyone spend billions of dollars just to prop up a corrupt south American regime and try to keep it secret??

For my money, being the first country to get to the moon and to beat Russia is a pretty big motivator.

How to keep it secret is a tough one, but patriotism is a pretty powerful force.

but but....I do withdraw my accusation and accept that it might be possible that it did happen, but there's still something fishy about the whole thing....

goneforeign said...

No, there's nothing fishy about it, they did it to show the world that they could, [and the russkies couldn't]
and when they'd succeeded they dropped it, no need to go back, move on, beat them at another game. It's all politics, not deception.
The absolute best thing to come out of it is the Hubble telescope, a marvel of technology and science.
I won't argue with you about central America or VietNam but this is a different issue, you can't put 'em all in the same bag.

Chris said...

And a final question:
OK, you've decided to blag it. You've spent the money, bribed/threatened all the witnesses and carried it off so that the whole world believes you've landed on the moon. Job well done.
So why carry on? Why waste more money and increase the risk of discovery by not only repeating the exercise but also by staging a 'failure' mission (Apollo 13)? Why not build into the original scheme a reason why it couldn't be repeated? Surely people clever enough to plan and execute such an elaborate hoax would have done that? Or are 'they' very clever AND very stupid?

Japanther said...

possibly both Chris!

..and i'm sure you are right and sensible GF.

Chris said...

Japanther: I don't have a downer on conspiracy theories per se, just this particular one. It's just too elaborate and there are too many documents and testimonies for it all to have been made up.
I was a fervent believer in a JFK assassination conspiracy for years until Jeremy Vine (or another Newsnight bloke) did an expert de-bunking that my head accepted (he explained the reloading speed and 'back and to the left' that Oliver Stone etc made a big deal out of). However, as you said about the moon landing, 'there's still something fishy about the whole thing....'

Abahachi said...

DONE IT! The book is finished! DIE YOU BASTARD!!! And once I've negotiated a reconciliation with Mrs Abahachi, who started behaving unreasonably when I suggested that if I didn't get it finished today I might want to work on it tomorrow, I should be back to give a proper response to all your wonderful comments.

ToffeeBoy said...

Abahachi - congratulations. That's a great feeling. How long do you usually find it takes until you can learn to love your creation again?

ejaydee said...

Congratulations Aba!

DarceysDad said...

And from me too, Abahachi. Speaking as one who has to travel the spousal emotional tightrope far too often for his own liking, you have my sympathies

Abahachi said...

At long last I get a bit of leisure and non-book-related activity on the computer. As regards the book, well, they're all my children, it's always a great relief to see them leaving home and making my life a misery, but there's nothing like seeing them all done up in their shiny new covers to make me proud. So, depending on the publisher, somewhere between six and eighteen months... As for Mrs Abahachi, all it took was a bunch of flowers, an expensive lunch at very good local pub/restaurant in the middle of the bike ride she wanted to do today, and successfully not coming out with the inadmissible truth that this book was a nightmare because I've had to spend most of the last year supporting her bloody business venture, doing all the cooking and cleaning, having nightmares about the financial hole that's opened up under our feet etc. etc.

Abahachi said...

So, Q.1: I do now recall a question about time travel a while back; sorry for repetition, everyone, but this was intended to focus on the 'when would you want to live?' rather than 'when would you want to visit?' aspects. I find it interesting that half of us focus on the technology (dentistry, electricity, ipods etc.) and don't want to go too far away from them, and the other half are attracted by the idea of the William Morris-esque pre-industrial utopia. Having just finished writing about the Roman Empire, I have to endorse wholeheartedly the wish to guarantee a comfortable position in the upper classes before agreeing to go back too far; great if you were rich (well, apart from the lack of dentistry and cd players), precisely because it was lousy for everyone else.

But without my pedantic historian's hat on, I find it difficult not to seduced by the sense that life in the past was richer, more intense and more exciting, even if it was also shorter. Plus, as the result of my disastrous teenage experiences of romance, I cannot shake the feeling that life must have been infinitely more straightforward back in the nineteenth century, when there were clear rules about how one was supposed to behave. I'm sure there were rules when I was younger, but I didn't know them. So, I'd like to live in a Jane Austen or Anthony Trollope novel, or nearest historical equivalent.

Incidentally, @TracyK, the Bester short story dates from the 1950s or 1960s, so well before the Saga of the Exiles - which I do remember enjoying, until it became much too obsessed with the modern psi-power aspects - and let's not even think about the books that followed thereafter.

Abahachi said...

Q.2: I should probably have made it clearer that I don't subscribe to Japanther's faked moon landings theory either, but I'm fascinated by that sort of idea and the arguments that get used to support them. I once tried to introduce the phrase 'X-Files View of History' into the academic mainstream, because it seemed to sum the whole thing up: the absence of evidence for the conspiracy is the most telling evidence of the all-pervasive nature and power of the conspiracy, because otherwise they wouldn't have been able to cover everything up so completely. This is actually a line of reasoning that crops up in apparently sensible academic work, not just the 'the Pyramids were built by UFOs from Atlantis' crowd. I wonder if we are now so sensitised to the attempts by the state and other powerful institutions to manipulate the past that we are automatically suspicious of every mainstream account. Anyone read Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum? Takes ages to get going, but is a brilliant take on the whole Secret Conspiracy of the Templars thing, in which a group of journalists invent a Grand Hidden Narrative for a joke and then find that it takes on a life of its own...

What would I investigate? I'd really love to do a proper study of the workings of Readers Recommend: the interactions of different characters, the way that informal rules of social conduct have developed spontaneously and the way that they are enforced, the creation of a proper community. And I think there also needs to be a proper statistical study of the workings of the A-list: not just the numbers of successes for different contributors in 2009, but the number under different gurus, relative to the length of tenure of different gurus, correlated to genres of music - all of which would prove one way or the other whether I should just go into hibernation as long as Rob is running things...

Abahachi said...

Q.3 I've already answered, though I could add the fact that two short series of Spaced isn't remotely enough... I got Ultraviolet on dvd, and would say that it fully holds up ten years on, a few sniggers about their idea of mobile phone technology aside, because the conception, the script and the acting were all excellent.

Some miscellaneous additions... In one sense that is our garden, or at least a bit of it - Mrs Abahachi's flower garden, to be exact, while my veg garden and the orchard, along with the chickens and the bees, are beyond. However, that's the garden last year; this year, due to combination of incessant rain and bloody book, it currently looks like a rainforest only less decorative.

Tracy's mention of the laminate, which I assume is a Friends reference, reminded me of one of the two missing questions I was going to ask: which are the five celebrities that your other half has to allow you as a freebie, so to speak? I'd be delighted if someone wanted to ask this in a future EOTWQ...

May1366 said...

Running with the 'freebie' question, Aba, I think I jinxed any chance of my list being ratified when I included Abi Harding, saxophonist from The Zutons, who lives round here and may often be seen in the local Tesco's. Apparently, that's not in the spirit of the thing (rather like Sean Locke's routine about this sort of list - "OK, Number one - your sister...").

Marconius7 said...

Abahchi, I know what you mean regarding different successes with different writers. Didn't get any A Listers for the short time I was following RR before Maddy took over. Did well with Maddy inclkuding two doubles (2 A listers for one topic) and then haven't managed anything with Rob. Finally got an A Lister again with Paul MacInnes. But I like Rob's writing and approach so I don't mind.
In any event, I will not likely do such a study for the Index. That would be a horrendous project.

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