Connections among Vernor Vinge's sf novel A Deepness in the Sky, the film Jean de Florette, and Joe Sacco's graphic novel/documentary Safe Area Gorazde, for anyone else who was wondering: In Deepness the podmaster (bad guy) has a limited amount of water, organic chemicals, and human laborers in his space hideout, so he must fastidiously conserve all these elements as he waits out several decades for the planetbound alien culture to mature and become ripe for exploitation. In Florette the Depardieu character fights like a Trojan to save a business that is carefully and scientifically worked out but dying for lack of water. In Gorazde, the Bosnian Muslims hoard food and equipment, rotate military duty, and rig generators on rafts in the river so they can have electricity, all for a semblance of a decent life in a city under siege. The common thread is players improvising like mad in the face of scarce resources and a ticking clock. That's more of a plot arc than a theme in the sense of "innovation is good and ennobles mankind." If the podmaster had been successful a race would have been enslaved, and in the other two examples people "did what they felt they had to do" in the face of conscious or institutional villainy, so not sure if there are any uplifiting conclusions of the Heritage Foundation persuasion to be reached. Not that anyone said that.

- tom moody 6-14-2005 8:59 pm

The conservation of resources is a fascinating theme, which appears often in literature. But I dunno if I would say that this connexion is the unifying thread in the works cited.

In the Vinge book, the sleeping monster referred to only very briefly in the opening prelude, strikes me as somewhat more of a dormant computer virus than a hibernating dragon, but for the bulk of the remaining text it merely manifests itself as vague meteorlogical mayhem.

In Jean de Florette, the protagonist indeed struggles, but the real theme of the story is conspiracy, the emphasis is on the connivers who bring upon the ecological trials by blocking the stream.

In Safe Area G, the careful use of resources is a central theme, as in any siege. The subdominant note is the constant hope of the Deus Ex Machina of Bill Clinton's new spy bombers discouraging Belgrade away from further ethnic cleansings. Joe Sacco's 'The Fixer' offers other insights.

by the way:

I gave up on trying to divide the 9 figure profits from SW 1 (second generation) by the population of the American states under the age of nine when GWB was re-elected.


Bester is cool. I especially liked his short stories, fondly: 'Fondly Farenheit', and '5,000,371'.

- Von Bark (guest) 6-15-2005 6:34 am

Ah, I see the source of the confusion--we're not talking about the same Vinge book. Work with me here, Von Bark. I don't just say this stuff.

The plot of Florette centers on the conspiracy (revenge for which, and a counterconspiracy regarding which, continues into the next film), but surely the emotional core is Depardieu's struggle? The tragedy of what happens to him for all his clever efforts to make his business work? He races against time and nature, and loses, and dies! It scars the daughter and spins off a second movie! When I saw it I remember thinking "who knew farming could be so gripping?" Did we see the same film?

- tom moody 6-15-2005 6:51 am

Yes, confused. I could play the prequel card: which book is first? Okay, I was referring to 'Fire in The Deep', and you were referring to 'A Deepness in the Sky'. Sigh. This too deep. Conservation of resources is a big deal in the latter. Or the former?

Regarding gripping farming: please do not ask me to play the 'farming' card, I could complain about the weather until the cows come come home. 'Been there.
- Von Bark (guest) 6-15-2005 7:43 am

Since we're on the topic of limited resources in space you should know that the new Battlestar Galactica is brilliant. I've only seen the miniseries that kicked off the new show so I'm assuming it continues in the same vein.
They do a great job of poking fun at themselves and the old show while never being too campy about it. The show starts 40 years after the war with the Cylons and the Battlestar is being decommissioned and turned into a museum. Then the cylons attack and kill everyone. The Battlestar manages to survive because they use antiquated computers and communications devices, (their phones still have cords, it's great). So it's the very dated 70's looking technology that saves them from certain death.
Trust me it rocks.
And Starbuck is done to perfection.
- joester 6-15-2005 9:27 am

I have to admit I skimmed (okay skipped) BG the first time around, but always stopped to listen to the Cylons' synthesized voices when passing through the TV room, because I thought they sounded cool. I probably watched more minutes of the '70s Buck Rogers (the other big hair show) and have been revisiting it with horrified fascination on the SF (I mean Sci Fi) channel. Five minute segments is all I can take, or until the little robot says "B-d-B-d-B-d-Buck..." which cracks me up. Is the new BG on that channel, too?
- tom moody 6-15-2005 9:48 am

Yeah, I think so. BG was way better than b-b-Buck, darker but not completely dissimilar.
I just saw a trailer for the movie The Island, which is coming out this summer. It looks like they could have called it Logan's Run 2, but figured that wouldn't help sales any. The trailer makes me think it's going to be pretty good, although I have to say they spoil the whole movie so if "sci-fi with Scarlett Johansson" is enough to get you to go than you might want to skip the trailer and buy a ticket now.

- joester 6-15-2005 11:40 pm

off topic - you guys should read Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. excellent near-future distopia. Also there are scarce resources.
- sally mckay 6-16-2005 1:36 am

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