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I think we need to pay more attention to that comment that the room-mate is an analyst. In fact Brunner called him a synthesist and spent a fair amount of time describing what he did. I'll come back when I can and edit the entry myself, but in the meantime there are a few web pages available to draw from with descriptions etc and I think it's important to draw the distinction. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 16:49, 6 February 2006.

I agree. As a sometime analyst myself (for various clients in Big Pharma), I can say that in both industry and academia analysts are narrowly focused, and not synthesists in the free-ranging Donald Hogan sense at all - the very opposite, actually. An analyst works in one field of knowledge, and doesn't professionally wander off into other fields - he consults other analysts in fields he doesn't specialize in to do what Brunner has Donald Hogan do himself. In fact, "synthesis" is actively discouraged in most industries, because the pitfalls of decisions based on nonspecialist analysis horrify corporate lawyers.
Buckminster Fuller may have been such a synthesist (although he seemed to me to be more of a unspecialized engineer), but he worked largely on his own time, or from sporadic grants. Pity he never got much money from the geodesic dome concept that he gave the world, which is immortalized in the "Fuller Dome" over Greater New York in Stand on Zanzibar. Esther Dyson may be such a synthesist; please note that she also lives from entrepreneurial activity (her own venture capital fund) and writing, not government or institutional sponsorship.
I do admire the way in which Brunner has the Federal Government choose its own synthesists - look for the malcontents who spend all their spare time in the university library, take too many out-of-syllabus electives, and constantly complain about how narrow their degree programs are. As a pre-med who scheduled nuclear science, drama and radio production, algebra, chemistry and zoology in the same semester to my faculty advisor's consternation, I used to PRAY for a summons to my dean's office so that I could go to work learning everything there was. (sigh) loupgarous (talk) 20:29, 1 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

John Brunner[edit]

It feels odd to be here 40 years in John Brunner's future when Stand on Zanzibar was published, discussing it. Odd, but sort of cool. I hope that other people who disagree with what I have to say post here, because agreeing on stuff creates no new knowledge.

The first thing I want to say is that John Brunner was just one hell of a good futurist.

My next post is going to be an experiment - my copy of MS Word 2000 creates tables and can export them to HTML. I've tried and (this was a new experience for me) succeeded on the first try to export a table I created this way to my blog, which is sort of semi-HTML. (if you're interested, my blog, tables and all, is at n+1 [1]}

Anyway, I created a list of predictions in Stand on Zanzibar which was organized into:

"came true," "likely to come true, and "unlikely to come true."

I'm going to try to re-create this list, but with a new category - "I have no idea how likely this is to come true" - to reflect my newfound sense of humility on having realized I know a hell of a lot less than I thought I knew when I first read Stand on Zanzibar back when I was 20.

See ya around the block. loupgarous (talk) 23:19, 1 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Wouldn't that be, like, OR? (Just kidding, don't bother answering that!) The truth is, I am objectively impressed by the effort and seriousness you are putting in this. I sure hope your blog is not solely for WP details, and there's another usefulness to what you're doing. (Either that, or you're a saint. I once spent months over a university study of that sort. My efforts went direly unappreciated, so I lost some of the sublime motivation to do that much solely for others.) I sure hope you're doing something you love here.
The concept of "futurist" reminds me of Robert Silverberg's "Stochastic Man", to mention another SF classic. Accurately predicting the reasonably envisionable future from the Present's state and trends. Paradoxically, while some on this page argue that the term "predictions" goes against that concept of objectivity, others like Trekphiler seem to imply that by announcing stuff that had already been more or less set into motion, there was nothing left to "predict", and that is why the issue at hand would become pointless. Damned if you do, damned if you don't?...
But back to the real point (apologies for repeating some stuff posted below, but that other paragraph is headed for the archives soon and you needn't bother):
Statistically, if someone makes random (or gratuitous) predictions, they'll have a 50% true-or-false rate of success. Will happen, won't happen, binary choice, flip a coin. One who gets more than half their stuff wrong are very poor futurists, or even worse, they weren't trying to foresee, only stating their personal fantasies. Case in point, the overwhelming majority of New Year's Eve "psychics" [a very common TV phenomenon here in the Middle East] barely come close to 50%, but naive people are all in awe and "Aah!" that "nearly half his/her predictions came correct". (There's clearly a great future for THAT profession in the upcoming 50 years, mark my words.)
If the success rate should reach 67%, then the guy was right twice more often than he was wrong. A mere 17% difference will say that someone isn't a complete fraud, by far. Writing SF is not exactly like repeatedly betting on Red at the casino... Now if, say, one was right in 75% of their announcements (or imagined events in a fiction novel), that's becoming mighty hard to dismiss as "dumb luck".
Which is why I'll be closely following the results of your work here. It only takes one good-willed person to redeem a nation... I still don't know whether any detractors of the original bold edit actually read the book in the first place.
Another component, is the very delicate issue of "how much was it actually accurate?" How close did the story come to evoking the real world, by its futurism elements and then by the described overall result? How "real" were the correct parts? But maybe this goes well beyond the scope of a WP article...?
Anyway, I believe "futuristics" is VERY relevant to an SF encyclopaedic article. That's precisely the reason why Jules Verne is a classic author, while precious few people have the vaguest idea who the Gehenna is Jimmy Guieu. Unless astronomers one day discover that our entire Universe actually IS just an atom in the wounded knee of a beautiful princess in distress...
One very current and relevant example. Many writers imagined a world where a WW3 is under way between the allied arab-muslim nations and the West, where a Quranic coalition is trying to conquer and subdue the former colonial masters. Most of the time, they didn't even bother to address the issue of oil: exhausted, embargo'ed, or still very hypocritically traded? Anyway... How likely is THAT war to happen, when you see the Al Qaeda Sunnis in Iraq and Pakistan (and Syria) eagerly focusing their car bombings on the Shiites, or when unevenly radical Sunnis in Tunisia are on the verge of a fratricidal civil war among themselves? The world's muslims allying together instead of bickering like idiots among themselves? Pulps "predicting" it are a dime a dozen, not to mention countless politicians... but it's nothing more than the sign of a collective phantasm of Westerners' fears. Terrorists are just too primitive to lastingly organize themselves at a large, Statewide international scale. Because many writers fail to consider the fact that fanaticism is paranoia, and fanatics are incapable of durably trusting each other.
If anybody could do it, why is it that so few actually did it, and got it significantly right? Let's see if in 50 years from now, the Worldwide Jihad is any closer to becoming a conventional international war of nations.
Even that "President Obomi" matter might not be that much of a fluke after all, come to think of it. Very few people dared imagine publicly, back in the Sixties, that a man of African birth would/could become the world's most powerful mortal (Illuminati/Mason/Zionist conspiracies notwithstanding). Brunner just got far closer to home on this one than he could possibly have... predicted(!). That's, I dare say, a heat-seeking coincidence. It only hit so close to home because it was initially flying in the right direction anyway.
Issar El-Aksab (talk) 04:26, 26 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Fair use rationale for Image:StandOnZanzibar(1stEd).jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot 02:30, 6 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

The structure section sucks[edit]

What is the deal with the structure section? It repeatedly references the "dos passos"guy for no reason ("As in the work of dos passos is a worthless comment), has a wonky, abnormal construction, and is unnecessarily verbose. It looks like the work of a fan of the book who has no fucking idea how to construct a useful article. I would edit it, but frankly, it seems uselss and needs to be removed totally.

Not responsible for the structure section, but I can't say I see what your beef is (which might suggest that you 'do not entirely grasp' (to paraphrase you) how best to make a useful contribution). The structure of SonZ is decidedly abnormal for 60's sci-fi, so some explanation of what it is and why it is, and what its antecedents were is called for.
Perhaps, though, the explanation misses a trick at a deeper level (why the structure?); the Dos Passos technique inherently requires the reader to build up the story (and a growing awareness/critique of the society in which the story is taking place) by sticking together apparently unrelated snippets. One of the main characters is a 'synthesist' ; and their role is to spot underlying trends by sticking together apparently unrelated snippets [a job I fancied when I read the book, and am still looking for]. So one would suspect (or I did when I read it 40 years ago and was bowled over by it) the structure and the content of SonZ are linked (sort of) which is (a) neat (b) a much more 'literary' effect than your average 60's sci-fi bothered with.Rjccumbria (talk) 00:55, 30 October 2009 (UTC)[reply]
The reference to John Dos Passos's "USA" is relevant as the most popular previous book to use the Innis Mode of narration, along with Robert A. Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land." If you need to know what the Innis Mode is, Brunner explains it in the first few pages of SoZ.loupgarous (talk) 23:37, 14 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]


Removed this from the article and bring it here for discussion:

The central question asked at the end of the book was posed by one of the characters, Chad C. Mulligan, when he said, "Norman, what in God’s name is it worth to be human, if we have to be saved from ourselves by a machine?" The question here refers to the machine Shalmaneser, a super-computer owned by General Technics. As the two major plot lines intertwine we find that mankind's hope of breeding out violence in subsequent generations has been lost. While it might be possible for man to achieve and implement a limited solution, Norman House suggests that the problem be handed over to Shalmaneser and solved.
The reader will however have great reservations about House's proposal, as there are several "Utterances of Shalmaneser" separating sections of the novel, and even within context, it is quite clear that the Supercomputer, while certainly sentient, is also equally psychotic in personality. Entrusting the fate of humanity to it is an endeavour fraught with peril.
John Brunner has often espoused the view that entrusting the fate of humanity to a single system inevitably results in such disaster, and therefore the argument is consistent within his work.
This is naught but unreferenced speculation and interpretation, thus inappropriate for the article. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 18:45, 7 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Using the utterances of a character in a novel as an indication of how the author feels on a subject is a perilous game. Especially in an Innis Mode narrative where the author doesn't really speak through any particular character (I once made the mistake of identifying Robert A. Heinlein too closely with "Jubal Harshaw" in "Stranger in a Strange Land" and was upbraided sharply - and correctly - by other members of an online discussion group).loupgarous (talk) 23:45, 14 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

The Phillippines are under attack from....[edit]

The original text reads "The Philippines are under attack from neighboring Yatakang..."

Actually, in the book, the author writes that the Philippines are under attack from "Chinese aquabandits" possibly based in Yatakang, and in many other places states plainly that the war isn't with Yatakang, but with China. Yatakang is a socialist dictatorship, and loosely allied to China but not, as far as I can tell from Stand on Zanzibar, a combatant in the conflict between the US and China. Why would Donald Hogan be admitted into Yatakang as a journalist if the US and Yatakang were at war? In fact, why would there be direct flights between Ellay and the capital of Yatakang if the US and Yatakang were at war?

So I have changed the text to read: "The Philippines are under attack from China... ", the only statement which can be supported by the text of Stand on Zanzibar loupgarous (talk) 19:36, 1 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Someone reverted the text to read "The Phillipines are under attack from Yatakang." I'm going to compromise on this to say "The Philippines (now one of the United States of America) are under attack from Chinese units based in Yatakang. The United States of America is defending its territory in the Phillippines by Vietnam-like jungle warfare." This incorporates the points which the anonymous editor made AND my points which more accurately reflect what Brunner actually wrote in SoZ.loupgarous (talk) 10:28, 16 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]


An editor is attempting to add to the article supposed "predictions" made in Stand on Zanzibar which are said to be "all over the media". I have removed this material as being unencyclopedic, and intend to continue to do so.

There will always be correspondences to be found between a future society portrayed in a work of science fiction and current or recent conditions - that is, after all, what many science fiction authors excel at. Such broad correspondences are legitimate topics which should be covered in our articles - when they are discussed by reliable sources, of course - but the material which these editors are attempting to add is much more specific, and seems to have the intention of turning Brunner and this novel into some kind of Nostradamus. This is not properly encycylopedic, it is fringe material and should not be in the article.

At the very most, if reports about the folderol surrounding these "predictions" has hit the mainstream media, I would support the inclusion of a single sentence on the order of "In 2013 many blogs and other Internet sources became excited about supposed "predictions" made in SOZ which were said to preview the current social and political landscape", but only if there was a citation from a reliable mainstream source to support such a statement.

Until there is such a reliable source, such a sentence should not be added to the article, and, most certainly, detailed lists of so-called "predictions" have no place here, unless someone comes up with a reliable source that says that Brunner intended them to be predictions. We are not the place for speculation or to spread fringe views simply because they're "out there". That's not the proper role of an encyclopedia. I ask that other editors join me in keeping this non-encyclopedic material out of the article. Beyond My Ken (talk) 01:05, 30 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]

What you intend apparently, is to continue blatantly violating basic Wiki etiquette and explicitly defined procedures, by hastily and repeatedly deleting before discussing any relevance of doing so. Frankly, this is becoming tedious, petty, and unworthy of a supposedly objective community of minds. More than your attitude, your very actions come out as aggressive, and insulting to the dedication of your fellow users. And in the end, by treating Wikipedia like your jealously guarded private dominion and driving away dedicated contributors with no lack of education, it's the heart and spirit of Wikipedia you're badly harming. Lighten up, dude, this isn't North Korea!
You didn't bother to check the VERY MAINSTREAM references [now two of them], which are by no means some "excited blog posts" but widely read official news articles. While some more staid people are honestly contributing to the improvement and wikification of this society-related section, the likes of which are accepted in countless other articles. My latest reworking precisely removed any equivocal phrasings that could suggest some "Nostradamus syndrome" or trifle anonymous forum epiphenomenon. It's bona fide NEWS. Try to keep up with the march of the world. Few anticipation authors were so surprisngly close to the real evolution of the world many decades later, so this IS encyclopedic in that this book objectively rises a few extra steps in its already established status as an official landmark literary work. Not my POV : mainstream news. Just like the Doctor ordered.
So, what I very well intend to do if you keep up these actions unbecoming of a reasonable adult among peers, is (with deepest regret) to report you for vandalism. Even your tone is being haughty and patronizing, which is highly regrettable in a community aiming for the collective intellectual betterment. The very way you finally bother to respond is transparent in that regard, both in content and form. Poor "company spirit", Jones, you should leave your private problems at home. If you are seeking an academic dispute of the severe kind with one who gives lots of thought and time to any edit they make, you'll find I'm not one easily belittled. With all due respect. You don't know me, I don't know you, so why in Ragnarok must we pursue silly hostility like rival street hoodies bumping into each other? Your opinion isn't the only one worth considering or hearing in the world, you know. Please think about it. Nobody needs to be the alpha male or submissively step aside. This isn't /b/
Now, PLEASE, Beyond My Ken, I urgingly ask you to read carefully and neutrally the latest version of this paragraph [restored with a deep sigh], and discuss it with this equally educated person who worked at it, to trade ideas and suggestions like broad-minded adults. The Cosmos won't implode if we think before casually amputating. It's never too late to restart from a bad first impression... when there is some goodwill. Issar El-Aksab (talk) 06:01, 30 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Per WP:BRD, the article rmains in the status quo ante during discussion. Do not re-insert this material again until a consensus has developed on this talk page to do so.

You would also be well-advised to read WP:VANDALISM. Beyond My Ken (talk) 14:11, 30 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]

I've already added a solid reference from The Millions, which is a respected online literary magazine (look at the list of authors that have written for the publication). A Google search turned up an excerpt from the 2011 re-issue of Stand on Zanzibar (page xii) in the Foreword, written by the respected science fiction author Bruce Sterling. In his introductory essay, Sterling comments, "Some bits are just eerie: the book's major figure is an African named 'President Obomi'. What are the odds there? How did he do that?" Sterling has no difficulty embracing and admiring Brunner's "eerie" ability to foresee possible future events. I very much doubt that Sterling regards Brunner as an infallible Nostradamus, but his essay clearly admires Brunner's prescience in correctly forecasting some major developments that have occurred by the year 2010. Yes, there is speculation involved—this is what science fiction writers do. But if you still hold that Bruce Sterling's introduction to the official re-release of SoZ is "not mainstream", you are very much at odds with a reasonable definition of "mainstream" commentary about Brunner's work.
I urge you to reconsider your position. You do not have to embrace the judgement of Bruce Sterling and others concerning Brunner's work, but you must at least concede that there are other valid viewpoints. Suppressing any coverage (or reducing it to a vestige) is a disservice to the Wikipedia readers, who deserve an opportunity to see this material so they can form their own opinions. Reify-tech (talk) 14:20, 30 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]
I've already said that anything involving the accuracy of Brunner's broad "forecasting" is a legitimate topic for the article - and, as well, the trends that Brunner got very wrong should be treated with the same weight. What I object to are detailed lists of the specific so-called "predictions" (or "prophecies" as the other editor calls them) which seem "eerie" because they are simply the kind of standard coincidences which people take to be prophetic. (OMG! Lincoln and Kennedy were both assassinated, and Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, while Kennedy has a secretary named Lincoln!) We're a race whose survival depended on our making connections and out-thinking our competition. We didn't have the speed, the strength or the claws of other species, so we had to use our oversized brains to pull together information to win. That's our advantage, but it's also, at times, a disadvantage, because we can see faces on the moon and in grilled cheese sandwiches, and we don't always know how to separate the significant from the coincidental. As the scientists says, correlation is not causation; in the non-scientific realm, coincidence is not prophecy. This stuff should stay out of the article except with a summary statement backed by a mainstream reliable source. (And, no, an online literary magazine is not that source.) Beyond My Ken (talk) 14:32, 30 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]

A neutrally-worded pointer to this discussion has been placed on the talk page of WikiProject Science Fiction. Beyond My Ken (talk) 15:24, 30 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]

I agree with Beyond My Ken. The list I saw in the article last night was an absurd exercise in original research, taking what Brunner says in the book and matching it with current events. If there are reliable sources --- in fact, I know there are --- that discuss this, then quote what they say. But, that list was ridiculous and non-encyclopedic. ---The Old JacobiteThe '45 15:39, 30 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]
None taken, TOJ. Rational debate is the only think I ever wanted. See paragraph below... Issar El-Aksab (talk) 08:27, 31 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with you that nothing which cannot be backed by a proper, WP-compliant citation belongs in a WP article. However, your assessment of references to the number of technological developments Brunner places in Stand on Zanzibar (set in the year 2010) which have or have not come to pass as "folderol" is unduly argumentative. The proponents for such references bear the responsibility of furnishing citations for outside mention of these developments, which are properly considered as "plot devices," as SoZ is a novel, not a futurist treatise. They have mentioned two online sources documenting the degree to which technological developments which John Brunner used as plot devices have come to pass in the present day (page three of my signed hardcover - Doubleday Science Fiction, Garden City, NY, 1968 - copy of SoZ begins with the date, "third of MAY, TwentyTEN," so I'm writing this on a calendar date three years in the future of SoZ).
Invariably, the term used in these sources ("Millions" and others named above) is "predictions." To cut down on text count, can we agree to the short-form "predictions" in this Talk page discussion for "technological developments which appear in Stand on Zanzibar which have come to pass"? I'll continue to use the expanded description until we have agreement on the point.
The WP definition of futurist: "The term "futurist" most commonly refers to authors, consultants, organizational leaders and others who engage in interdisciplinary and systems thinking to advise private and public organizations on such matters as diverse global trends, plausible scenarios, emerging market opportunities and risk management." SoZ is definitely about the futurist Donald Hogan (among other characters), although Brunner chooses to call him a "synthesist." In researching SoZ, John Brunner definitely acquainted himself with "diverse global trends, plausible scenarios, emerging market opportunities" and the science of all those things.
There is no mention in John Brunner's WP page of his actually having engaged professionally as a futurist, apart from writing science fiction (which, to elicit willing suspension of disbelief, must be plausible to the reader in some way). He is, however, credited with naming the variety of malware known as the "worm" (in The Shockwave Rider).
There is precedent in other WP articles for mention of technological developments in science fiction stories which have come to pass: The Brick Moon, 20,000_Leagues_Under_the_Sea, and From_the_Earth_to_the_Moon all have it. From_the_Earth_to_the_Moon has the sort of extended section, "Influences on Popular Culture," that the proponents of a similar section for Stand on Zanzibar want.
Whether Brunner intended to be a futurist, we should allude to his reception as such in the article on SoZ. This allusion would definitely have to cite WP-quality sources mentioning the number of technological developments in SoZ which have come to pass, and those which have not come to pass (as my own Web page on the subject and other writers' have done). This is proper encyclopedic content, as it refers to material a reader might actually refer to in assessing John Brunner's reception as an author. If we do it, though, we have to substantiate it with proper citations.
I think the questions really before us are "Are the "Millions" article and others like it good enough to support mention of the 'predictions'" and if not, "Is the precedent in the stories mentioned above - particularly From_the_Earth_to_the_Moon - enough to bear a similar treatment of SoZ's impact on popular culture or reception in the press?loupgarous (talk) 03:06, 2 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
I'd like to address the point made by BeyondMyKen and OldJacobite that mention of technological developments in SoZ which have come to pass in the present day (three years after the setting of SoZ) is a non-rigorous cataloging of mere co-incidental occurrences.
The fact is (was, too) that John Brunner was writing science fiction. Part of his job was constructing a fictional future world plausible enough to support willing suspension of disbelief. He also seems to have had some points to make about economic policy in his "present," which wouldn't have been very persuasive had he not made strong efforts to make his future world as strongly supported by facts as possible. Finally, the profession of "synthesist" pursued by SoZ character Donald Hogan is so close to the WP definition of "futurist" that it's reasonable to draw a connection between futurism and the plot of the book. So it's understandable that people talk about futurism and predictions when they contemplate SoZ. It happens enough that we ought to address the point in the article, in my humble opinion.
OldJacobite, I'd be indebted if you could describe the sources you refer to which are more to the point than the "Millions" site article. I personally was put off by the stress put on the truly empty coincidence between the "President Zadkiel Obomi of Beninia" in SoZ and the present-day President Barack Obama of the United States of America. That IS the sort of meaningless coincidence we can and ought to avoid mentioning.
But the truly technological and social developments in SoZ which either have or have not come to pass are not meaningless; they are either successes or failures of John Brunner's attempts to draw a plausible 2010 world. The number of times he succeeded outnumber the times he failed to an extent worthy of encyclopedic mention. Some of his failures (the "states" of Puerto Rico and Isola and lumping the US military and foreign service into a single entity called "State") stem from a critical misunderstanding of American politics which is understandable in a writer who was never known for his sympathy with the culture or foreign policy of the United States. I choose to focus on Brunner's grasp of probable future technologies over a span of 43 years, certainly good encyclopedic material.loupgarous (talk) 05:22, 2 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you so much. This is exactly the kind of constructive criticism that I was asking for since the first step of BRD. Had we normally started there in the first place, I would be wikifying my own edits according to your recommendations right now, sparing everyone a lot of unnecessary effort. But as it is, some of us can't afford to spend so much time on a single article point day after day, carefully and lengthily rethinking every word, without even knowing if it'll all be of any use. And, alas, those most expert in a given topic of knowledge are seldom equally expert in strictly following ecyclopedic guidelines without a bit of helpful coaching ("those who can, do; those who can't, teach", says the -unsourced- proverb). Instantly impeccable "wikipeding" takes a lot of expert studying of its own! So, having done as much as I reasonably could between the first edits and the (belated) discussion, I'll leave those with less demanding and time-consuming professional obligations to manage the whole matter. There's very little that my extensive science-fiction readings can still contribute at this point.
I must admit, I'm a bit surprised by the level of strictness one sometimes encounters here. I mean, dozens of times I've run into -and immediately corrected- poor syntax, unclear vocabulary or some gross POV [as in my latest, one-word edit here], but generally I'll try to improve rather than delete. Do we really need an acclaimed academic thesis on William Gibson or Jules Verne before dare mention their fame in social science fiction? Do we always need to analyze as deeply as loupgarous hereabove [I'm used to reading some very complex publications but still needed an effort to follow everything you wrote], before stating the painfully obvious, such as Around the World in Eighty Days being a spot-on precursor view of today's "global village" where travelling distances keep getting dizzyingly shorter? After all, it was just the premise of the entire vastly known book. The complete absence of objective limits to rational doubt can easily lead to Cartesian fundamentalism.
Relevance of the initial list notwithstanding, is it out-of-bounds to mention stuff in a readily available book unless one can add an instantly-clickable link to the chapter and page where every detail is mentioned? It seemed [at first] as if the very narrative facts I mentioned were rejected as "unproven".
Years ago, I read a detailed Reader's Digest article about Wikipedia that mentioned the bureaucratic epitome of these strict procedures: a well-known contemporary author (I forget who exactly) complained that he was denied correcting and updating his own biography WP page, on grounds that his edits "lacked proper references". Let us beware, lest we become like "The Place That Sends You Mad" in The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (task #8).
Summum jus, summa injusta. Even with excellent rules, and the best of intentions from the people who uphold them, too much zeal can lead to Justice becoming most unjust and discrediting itself.
But who shoud I talk to about this? It's a collective issue, and "Wikipedia is not a forum"... Issar El-Aksab (talk) 06:29, 3 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Issar, obviously I failed as a technical writer if you found my prose hard to read. For my own edification, state where I bogged down or failed to say things clearly, and I'll try again. I carried the analysis of things that happened in the plot of SoZ which are actually true today (the time in which Brunner set the action in SoZ) as far as I did because two editors - at least - didn't think that other editors had thought the issue of Brunner's "predictions" in SoZ through enough before writing.
So I tried to make a rigorous (but still pretty readable) few paragraphs explaining what Brunner was actually doing when he put all these technological developments in the book. Because one of the bones of contention of the change being discussed was that it wasn't as intellectually rigorous as it ought to have been, my explanation probably does read like stereo instructions to someone who hasn't read SoZ for pleasure many times since the mid-1970s, and perhaps doesn't explicitly see how good science-fiction "works" for its readers.
People like Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and John Brunner overcame some issues with the quality of their writing to win immense popularity partly because their future worlds make sense to the reader. This is what I meant by "willing suspension of disbelief." If this didn't happen, the reader would stop reading after a while and donate the book to charity, or perhaps skim ahead to the 'good parts' (as many readers of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land seem to have done <wicked grin> ).
I do own up to a decision to use the gobbledygook phrase "technological developments in SoZ which have come to pass" when other people were either saying SoZ had "predictions" worth documenting in the article, or loudly assailing the concept that there even were predictions in SoZ. I explained in starting my comments that I wanted us to agree to use "predictions" as a short form of the exact, but hard to parse "technological developments in SoZ which have come to pass," and no one ever agreed or disagreed. It was defensive (and bad) writing. Sorry about that.
Discussion, in fact, has died on this topic. How can we decide whether or not to include a section in [Stand on Zanzibar] which is equivalent to the "Influences on Popular Culture" section in [From the Earth to the Moon] if no one apart from me and Issar discuss the matter?
I'm going to explore cutting the Gordian knot here. I'll study the "Influences on Popular Culture" section in From the Earth to the Moon - as an example of a published WP article which has presumably passed editorial review, clean it up if it needs cleaning up, then write a similar section for Stand on Zanzibar. Then I'll post it here in Stand on Zanzibar: Talk. Everyone will have their chance to point out either WP policy issues or just plain bad writing on my part. I'll either defend my work from my perspective as a technical writer (BA, Technical Writing, 1989, Louisiana Tech) or thank other editors for spotting problems I missed. If no one takes the opportunity to do so, I'll edit the article Stand on Zanzibar by adding the proposed section. Anyone who changes it will have the onus of explaining why, in NPOV terms, adhering to WP's norms of civility.
This is the only way I can see to proceed now that discussion which would otherwise inform a change to the article or cause the article not to be changed has died here. I do not covet the chance to unilaterally edit a controversial WP article, so if anyone cares to help me do it, here's your chance. loupgarous (talk) 14:50, 4 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
♠"many readers of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land seem to have done " Sod off, I never did that.;p (It helps if you realize his novels are set in a common history. Helps even more to be a bit familiar with it.)
♠Having looked at the "predictions", IMO those are coincidence at best. "Obomi" is lucky (but Arthur Clarke predicted Armstrong would be first man on the moon 20yr beforehand, only to have Isaac rib him about getting the first name wrong ;p), & the bits about EU & China weren't exactly news even when the book was written.
♠In any case, this is undue weight on the subject IMO. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 04:21, 6 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
To Trekphiler,
(a) Undue weight in which way, Trekphiler? The WP article From_the_Earth_to_the_Moon has a section, "Influences on Popular Culture," which covers the same territory. John Brunner assembled a remarkable number of mentions of technologies we now take for granted and which were by no means clear in the world of 1968. That's an achievement worthy of mention, just as it is in WP articles on the work of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.
These technical achievements of the world of 2010 in Stand on Zanzibar include:
satellite video news networks which are the major source of news for their viewers - "Engrelay Satelserv" and "Reuters VideoAsia" in SoZ and Fox News, CNN, Sky News, MSNBC, and Reuters in the real world;
"tectogenetics," a 1-for-1 correspondence with what we call "genetic engineering" a year before Sinsheimer et al published their work on recombinant DNA work;
The Internet, a secret project of the US Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Administration in 1968, and now an appliance in the average American home affording instant access to a variety of literature and information (including WP itself), and the pornography which made up a part of SoZ's Innis Mode narrative sections - in 1968, ARPANET, as it was known at the time, was an experiment in highly robust, nuclear war-survivable computer networking over the civilian and USDoD's telephone networks;
widespread polyamory and "intentional families";
one-day jet excursions;
widespread use of recreational drugs designed in a lab specifically for certain effects on the mind (Yaginol and Skulbustium in the book, a large number of cannabinoid analogs and "entactogenic" MDMA/amphetamine derivatives in the present day);
and many more - I'm not going to clog up the discussion stream with more here, but "n+1," a science and futurism blog of mine, has an exhaustive discussion of exactly where John Brunner succeeded and failed (unintentionally in either case) to describe technology of the year 2010 in his novel
(b) "Sod off"? Really? I never accused you of skimming Stranger in a Strange Land for the good parts, but if the shoe fits, buddy... wash your hands afterward. ;P
In any case,
(c) Robert Heinlein himself (in letters to his agent Lurton Blassingame (reproduced in the posthumous Heinlein letters collection Grumbles_from_the_Grave ) complained of the sheer number of immature readers of Stranger in a Strange Land who were appreciating only the "good parts" of the novel. Perhaps the most extreme examples of this were the Midwestern boy who emptied the cash register of his dad's store, ran away and set up a "Nest" for himself, his teenage girlfriend, and various and the cult "Kerista" which adopted SiaSL as a Scripture (and my own Googling of Kerista shows the polyamory of SiaSL's "Martian religion" figured significantly therein).
{d} I'm familiar enough with the Heinlein oeuvre, Trekphiler, to say that Stranger in a Strange Land was not an explicit part of Heinlein's 'Future History' until The Number of the Beast nineteen years later, in which Heinlein pulled characters from almost all of his books for an SF convention held in Boondocks to attract the attention of the Black Hats. It appears nowhere in the timeline for the Future History reproduced in Heinlein's anthology "The Past Through Tomorrow," nor is it listed there in WP's OWN listing of works in Heinlein's 'Future History.' In only one other Heinlein novel, "Have Space Suit, Will Travel," is the universe with the Federation of Free Nations in charge of the Earth ever reproduced. There's some doubt there that the "Federations" of SiaSL and HSSWT are the same animal, or that SiaSL and HSSWT are part of Heinlein's Future History (certainly, neither novel is in WP's own list of Heinlein's 'Future History').
(e) You might re-read your Heinlein before presuming to question someone else's grasp of his work. loupgarous (talk) 09:33, 9 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
♠"You might re-read your Heinlein before presuming to question someone else's grasp of his work." At what place did I do that?
♠More to the point, why are you bothering to go into so much detail on a peripheral, trivial issue?
♠As for the salient issue, a collection of lucky guesses that would have equally applied as the book was written don't qualify as "predictions". TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 03:44, 10 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
No, actually it is I who failed as a clear writer, because I've been misunderstood here. I didn't mean you said things unclearly, just that your detailed analysis was highly technical, and only an expert would follow you without some effort. But such "rigorous" writing is invaluable to WP, and it really helps to progress. :-) Sorry if I inadvertently seemed to complain.
In reality, I highly appreciate people who go through the trouble of stating certain things in a very detailed formulation (such as your "gobbledygook phrase"), in instances where briefer expressions lead to unfortunate misinterpretations. It wasn't defensive writing, it was, in this instance, necessary semantic detailing. Just like bureaucratic documents and expertise reports are forced to lengthily state the painfully obvious, lest they get challenged. Obviously, BMK and myself disn't have the same interpretation of the multi-purpose term "predictions" in the present instance. Hence, perhaps, why a work that (implicitly) called for (sizeable) wikification got immediately binned instead? [But what happened to "assume good faith"? Ah well, water over the bridge.]
I must regretfully agree with you about the discussion apparently turning short. Instead of trying to all be productive, it seems like most participants are either opting for extreme caution (strictly stating opinions without involvement), or skulking. I'm most appreciative to finally see someone willing to attempt an actual replacement contribution. Like I said, I just don't have the time anymore. Private and professional life getting hectic. So good luck in your deserving endeavour, loupgarous. I'll be dropping by to check on the baby, and eventually pitching in.
Ten good people, and Gomorrah would've been saved... ;-) Issar El-Aksab (talk) 17:53, 7 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Agree, emphatically, with that last sentiment, Issar. I'm glad to know that you didn't find serious fault with my work, and that you did find it helpful. And complaints are helpful, not hurtful - to me, at least. Just as long as they don't begin with the request "Sod off" <grin>. I can't promise fast completion of my promise, though, as I just now learned I have to move my household and will have to find alternate housing. Into each life a little rain must fall.... loupgarous (talk) 09:33, 9 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Hey, one could answer some such authoritative complaints with "Boss off". Just a thought in the wind. (I claim fair use on that pun.)
Petit à petit, l'oiseau fait son nid. Things would progress a lot speedier (and smoother) if people who promptly judge "an absurd exercise in OR" always showed as much knowledge of the topic at hand as you do here, making the clear fairness of their rulings more easily accepted. La critique est aisée, l'art est difficile. (Pardon my French!) The end result of BALANCED application of Da Rules would be as spectacularly efficient and beneficial to WP as that impromptu global gestalt in Sturgeon's the Cosmic Rape. (Mind you, one thing that sensational story swept under the carpet, is what ever happened to all of Humankind's neuroses and quirks overnight! Hello? Rule of Conservation anyone? "What goes around always comes back to bite your behind", to quote Sigmund Lavoisier)
Anyway, better slow than never. These days I spend half my days in hospitals, and tomorrow starts very early. Not enough time left for contributing through "due process", so... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Issar El-Aksab (talkcontribs) 23:43, 9 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
TREKphiler, instead of simply stating your summary POV that this is "undue weight" on a "peripheral, trivial issue" of "coincidence at best", how about convincing us with a truly argumented explanation, and rebutting the pros with cons? If you make a sufficiently solid point, I'm sure we might possibly concur and conclude this issue. But naked conclusions (or opinions?) do not make a discussion progress one iota. Honestly, I think the heart of the topic weighs against your position, and was only discredited by my initial amateurish formulation. So, if you're so sure of yourself, I suggest some warm-up exercises, and then heaving the burden of counter-proof to woo us.
I also wish zealous Beyond My Ken would bother to contribute to the actual discussing of the core topic. After all, overworked Moi is still making the effort of following this. La critique est aisée, l'art est difficile. It only takes a second to revert an edit that took over an hour's effort, but Wikipedia really needs BUILDERS more than bulldozers.
Painters are cool too. I mean, if there's any "potential merit" to a contribution, why take the easy road of pruning instead of improving the topiary? Issar El-Aksab (talk) 06:05, 19 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
♠I should say I don't defend because opinion, by it's nature, isn't subjective to evidence. It merely is.
♠That said, I look at the list & ask myself which is something that wan't already in play in 1967. None is.
♠As already stated, "Obomi" is a fluke. The prospect of a black PotUS wasn't exactly unusual; RAH even had whites as a minority (tho somewhat later in his canon, IIRC).
♠There was already a split between the SU & PRC, & a sense PRC was becoming more dangerous; that this would continue isn't news. (Had Brunner done what Spinrad did, & predicted the fall of the Wall, I might be more impressed--if Spinrad hadn't said he picked it as the least likely thing he could think of at the time. ;p )
♠Israel is the main source of Middle East tension? When hasn't she been, since 1948? A prediction would be Clancy's Palestine peace-in coming true. Not a leap.
♠Terrorism being a main source of trouble? Given the IRA, not a surprise. Picking U.S. skyscrapers? Lucky guess. (Considering both The Tower & The Inferno dealt with issues around new 'scrapers in this period, clearly Brunner's only paying more attention. Or thinking further ahead.) Even picking flying a plane into them wouldn't impress me much, since a B-25 hit the Empire State...
♠LGBT? That's about the opposite of what was typical at the time, when being gay was illegal in a lot of places, & being closeted was virtually mandatory.
♠Decline of marriage? With the Pill & the Summer of Love, this is news?
♠A Viagra-like drug? Good guess, but with the Pill manipulating female hormones, going the other way isn't exactly a big leap.
♠"viewing TV later" Not exactly VOD, contrary to the link. VCRs were in development, if not yet on the market, IIRC. The idea of doing for video what the tape cassette did for audio wasn't exactly a leap, either. (As for TV being global, it already was...)
♠Laser printers? In 1968, lasers were expected to do all sorts of miraculous stuff. In Out of the Sun (published around this time), Ben Bova predicted fighters being shot down by them...
♠Marijuana? Another good guess, but seeing the hippie subculture, not a real leap. Neither have cigarettes exactly been "marginalized"... Nor is marijuana on its way to being legal in the U.S. AFAIK. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 07:03, 19 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
"That doesn't sound very logical, Captain." We're not even discussing the hard facts here (namely, the -still unchallenged- elements in the initial edit's list), this is purely about their perceived relevance as predictive science-fiction. A perception that still desperately begs for some objective argumentation, rather than just some "Bah, I don't buy it".
I never majored in epistemology, but so much seems obvious to me: we're still running in circles over form rather than truly focusing on the actual topic.
Let's address the core topic, precisely.
  • Fistly, are the listed items FALSE? I.e., are they NOT in the novel, and are they NOT real-world facts today? Does the initial edit contain core factual falsehoods? Obomi excepted (I'll get back to him in a couple of minutes), I believe the answer #1 is no, and the list only contains stuff that is actually in the novel, and it did in fact come true in the real-life world timeline.
  • Secondly, are the issues of any interest (as far as WP is concerned), or as futile as debating the gender of angels? (Again) I believe they're just as meaningful as every "influence in popular culture" section in every WP article containing one. Again, if someone wants to rebut, please let them be specific about WHAT excactly is irrelevant, futile, pointless, hype, etc. Namely here, are the social, geopolitical and daily technology topics petty? I think not, feel free to differ but do make it precise. "WP is not a forum", unargumented POV opinions are insufficient.
  • Third, are they actual predictions, regardless of whether Brunner claimed to foretell the future (which he obviously didn't, d'uh)? Otherwise phrased, did he, or did he not, narrate a future that evokes what came to be in a significant way?
I do believe this is the core of the whole debate at hand. But for the sake of everything sensible, if someone majorly disagrees with the previous two steps, specify it clear and swift.
So, the "visionary" quality of the novel. Again, it's not about drawing tarots, it's about being a futurist, a fiction-writing "Stochastic Man", to mention another classic by Robert Silverberg.
  • One component is purely statistical. What proportion of the story was "spot-on"?
Statistically, if someone makes random predictions, they'll have a 50% true-or-false rate of success. Will happen, won't happen, binary choice, flip a coin. One who gets more than half their stuff wrong are very poor futurists, or even worse, they weren't trying to foresee, only stating their personal fantasies. Case in point, the overwhelming majority of New Year's Eve "psychics" barely come close to 50%, but naive people are all in awe and "Aah!" that "nearly half his/her predictions came correct". (There's clearly a great future for THAT profession in the upcoming 50 years, mark my words.)
If the success rate reaches 67%, then the guy was right twice more often than he was wrong. A mere 17% difference will say that someone isn't a complete fraud, by far. Writing SF is not exactly like repeatedly betting on Red at the casino... Now if, say, one was right in 75% of their announcements (or imagined events in a fiction novel), that's becoming mighty hard to dismiss as "dumb luck".
Which is why I'll be closely following the new dedicated section by user loupgarous on this. At least someone is bothering with facts beyond their own assessment. How many detractors of the original bold edit actually read the book, I wonder? None that ever bothered to mention it....
  • Another component, is the very delicate issue of "how much was it actually accurate?" How close did the story come to evoking the real world, by its futurism elements and then by the described overall result? How "real" were the correct parts? I'll leave this one to real experts of the novel such as loupgarous, who again thought this out very properly without any help from me. Nice to see someone going through the effort of "doing the research before concluding".
  • And finally, your argument of "anybody could've announced it" (but how many actually DID?), or "it's all been seen elsewhere" (maybe, but all in ONE place?). This is, actually, completely moot. Thousands of SF authors wrote through their lower sphincters when it came to telling "stories of the Future". That's precisely why Jules Verne is a classic author, while precious few people have the vaguest idea who the Gehenna is Jimmy Guieu. Unless astronomers one day discover that our entire Universe actually IS just an atom in the wounded knee of a beautiful princess in distress...
So, the fact that the premises of "all that jazz" were visible back in the day doesn't mean Brunner wasn't highly praiseworthy. PRECISELY, the point is, did he correctly anticipate the growth of those buds when the vast majority were pompously planting the seeds of their own ridicule (in retrospect)?
Just one very current and relevant example. Many writers imagined a world where a WW3 is under way between the allied arab-muslim nations and the West, where a Quranic coalition is trying to conquer and subdue the former colonial masters. Most of the time, they didn't even bother to address the issue of oil: exhausted, embargo'ed, or still very hypocritically traded? Anyway... How likely is THAT war to happen, when you see the Al Qaeda Sunnis in Iraq and Pakistan (and Syria) eagerly focusing their car bombings on the Shiites, or when unevenly radical Sunnis in Tunisia are on the verge of a fratricidal civil war among themselves? The world's muslims allying together instead of bickering like idiots among themselves? Pulps "predicting" it are a dime a dozen, not to mention countless politicians... but it's nothing more than the sign of a collective phantasm of Westerners' fears. Terrorists are just too primitive to lastingly organize themselves at a large, Statewide international scale. Because many writers fail to consider the fact that fanaticism is paranoia, and fanatics are incapable of durably trusting each other.
If anybody could do it, why is it that so few actually did it, and got it significantly right? Let's see if in 50 years from now, the Worldwide Jihad is any closer to becoming a conventional international war of nations.
Even "President Obomi", by your own words, isn't that much of a fluke. Very few people dared imagine publicly, back in the Sixties, that a man of African birth would/could become the world's most powerful mortal (Illuminati/Mason/Zionist conspiracies notwithstanding).
I declare that even the "Obomi fluke" can be phrased into a very encyclopaedic proof that John Brunner was a very keen and sharp mind when it came to visualizing the likeliest future one could foresee in 1969. He just got it far closer to home than he could possibly have... predicted(!). That's, I dare say, a heat-seeking coincidence. It only hit so close to home because it was initially flying in the right direction anyway. Thank you for pointing that out, I almost didn't notice it at first. Issar El-Aksab (talk) 03:47, 26 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Okay, last time. If you want these included as predictions, you are obliged to demonstrate they weren't simple extrapolation of existing trends. You have utterly failed in that endeavor. Until, & unless, you can, it should stay out. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 20:32, 26 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with Trekphiler. There've been many, many words spun out here (way too many, in fact, given the unimportance of the subject) but the simple necessity of providing proof has not been met. Beyond My Ken (talk) 20:59, 26 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
The classic semantic trap of similar-sounding words... [Which, I admit, I'm not completely innocent of myself.] Never mistake predictions and official prophecies. Only the latter claim from the get-go to reliably announce the future. Premonitory dreams are typically qualified as such only after what they showed actually happens, until then there's nothing to say they were anything more than standard dreams. And SF is very much like daydreaming, after all.
Please notice that "extrapolation of existing trends" very often turns out completely wrong. Just look at all the "predictive" SF for "the Year 2000" we used to be showered with until the Eighties: the Jetsons, Brick Bradford, Wells' Time Machine, atomic energy everywhere, people driving hovercars, private planes or family sedan rockets, vacations on the Moon, heck, even Asimov's socially aware Robots that have enough wits and AI to know when the three Laws may apply... where are THOSE today? (Robbie the precursor was supposed to be around about now.) The huge majority of writers who very officially attempted to "predict the Year 2000" have, in retrospect, brought on themselves nothing but a major embarrassment.
It's so easy to say AFTERWARDS that "bah, any fool could've seen it coming". But most fools still DIDN'T. Many were called, few remained.
Which is the very core point of this entire discussion. And I find your unmitigated hostility towards any "prediction" quite subjective. The bottom line, in all objectivity, is simply whether or not the guy imagined/extrapolated a strikingly correct vision of what really came to be. What genius would dare attempt the same today: half-reliably imagine where we'll be at in 2053?
Dismissing anything subjective as "non-encyclopedic" isn't an attitude that a Vulcan would condone. There are only prophets within their own religion. All other people do not believe in them as being spokespersons of God/Allah/Yahve/Whatever. And yet, there are no WP debates about whether Muhammad should be called "the Prophet of Islam". He announced stuff, people followed him, bing, new religion in the world, and it has a name. And presto! History is written. Encyclopedic material, regardless of whether he was a holy man or a holey nut.
Sticking to the facts is no excuse for getting all extremist with verifiability that's beyond the real point. 99% of all cultural material on WP deals precisely with subjective stuff. Picasso's status as a great artist? Merely the objective acknowledging of people's subjective opinion on something that will forever fail to convince many a rational mind. To me, all of cubism remains quite pointless, quite frankly. But Picassos are worth millions nevertheless.
So, if Brunner wrote a pretty tale of total fantasy that significantly described what the world would become 40 years later, it's no less enclopedic that Jules Verne "predicting" the dramatic military use of submarine warfare that was so sinisterly notorious during WW2 (and, actually, was a big factor in some countries getting involved, turning the tide of the war). All that from the ridiculous hijinks of that crazy Captain Nemo. BTW, in the same novel, Verne invented the taser gun with his "electrical bullets". Coincidence? Pointless hype? I beg to differ.
As one with the screen name "Trekphiler", surely you know the major influence of Rodenberry's silly fiction on the very serious research of a great many scientists today whom he inspired. Although that later one might fairly qualify as "self-fulfilling prophecy"...
Need we really wait until real-life invisibility cloaks are fully operational on a battlefield to let J.K. Rowling's kiddie tales be acknowledged by WP as socially significant and encyclopedically relevant? Yet Brunner was a far more serious writer with some darnedly exact vision. And you guys seems oddly reluctant to admit this rather obvious fact, in spite of its rarity making it quite exceptional and noteworthy. Issar El-Aksab (talk) 00:03, 19 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Outside opinion[edit]

I have zero knowledge of the subject matter, but let me offer my perspective on policy as it applies here. For the record, BMK pointed me here, but we aren't "buddies". Issar El-Aksab, there is likely room for some of the material you are asking to include, as there are some sources that raise interesting questions, but the totality that you are trying to add seems excessive and does seem to WP:SYNTH by drawing conclusions. We can't conclude any predictions, although if published elsewhere, we can mention if others have. Adding all the predictions, however, would give undue weight to them. As for WP:BRD, the burden is always upon the person who wants to add material, not the person who has deleted it. The edit warring, however, is problematic for both of you. I would recommend leaving the material out for now, and then build a consensus here on the talk page for a paragraph that summarizes the points, if it is to be included at all. Keep in mind, we are an encyclopedia, and summarizing is what we do. It isn't our objective to provide all the details, just a summary along with a link to where someone can find more information, ie: the source. This is exactly what our policies on editing say we should do and consistent with our expectations of all editors on all articles. Dennis Brown - © Join WER 15:50, 30 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]

I've never been one to refuse sensible debate, and wouldn't hesitate to personally delete my own edits if someone politely and convincingly explained face to face how I've overshot the encyclopedic mark. It's happened in the past, even at times when I was only half-convinced of the adequacy to step down. As you'll notice, I immediately invited to unrestricted discussion. I'm acutely aware of how crucial proper formulation and synthesis can be to good encyclopedic form. The way I (rather efficiently) work is to pitch in with my share of knowledge, and let the veterans (such as Reify-tech in the present case, who has my full respect) refine the raw ore. That's the spirit of teamwork in an anarchic utopia, and sometimes the final results soar above all expectations.
My first and main problem was and remains User Be My Ken's blunt and unjustified disregard for fundamental etiquette, namely rules # 1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 27, 28, 29 and 30. Since apparently I must explain the obvious after all... Doing the right thing is never an excuse for doing it the wrong way, being right cannot justify being rude. This matter almost(?) escalated to an edit war, simply because BMK couldn't be bothered to follow the rules of civility with a fellow contributor in the first place, to discuss and suggest expectable adjustments, however major, before just disdainfully blasting the whole contribution into oblivion like some barrel of slaughterhouse refuse. Such incidents, such thoughtless attitudes, will discourage lots of unrefined yet valuable contributions to Wikipedia, driving away many hesitant contributors. To be honest, after giving this edit, and its attempted wikification, a LOT of my time, thought and effort, this makes me consider just throwing the (sweaty) towel. You don't just trample down someone's good faith work without bothering to ever address them personally when called upon, BMK. It's anti-social, inconsiderate and igniferous. While there I am, taking some scarce time after a full day of work, to try and give back to Wikipedia in gratitude for the invaluable mass of free knowledge.
You know what? Frag this pointless bickering! My ego doesn't care for macho clashes and arm-wrestling contests with snarky bosslings out for trouble. You people do what you want with my half-done work, I resign. You'll find the file on the desk. The world's full of worthy and less troublesome things to do.
Here's said file, namely my synthesis of this once potentially useful topic, out of respect for those who don't privilege the sheers over the loom. Clumsy phrasing was never a reason to throw away the good seed along with the weeds. I expanded the list, not to "load my argument", but to provide all the facts that I possessed for others to work on with their superior experience. What we have here is a clear example of a social science fiction masterpiece, and that's not just my ignorant POV opinion. Re. the SYNTH/OR suspicion, I did strictly no more than merge the lists of two near-identical articles (one of which in french, you're welcome for the meticulous translation) and quote THEIR source conclusions. Are they field experts, or just sensationalistic reporters out to sell some paper? I don't know, and I don't even care anymore. You people do your research work. Or don't. It's your baby now. I'm taking due note of "there is likely room for some of the material you are asking to include, as there are some sources that raise interesting questions". At last a sparkle of objective appreciation. I never ambitioned anything more than that: feeding the thinking machine with a quality meal, destined to be broken down, digested, in order to synthetize a fine new body part.
I was all for playing the natural BRD-rekneading-summarizing game, but have lost all motivation after being the only one seeking a consensus for too long. The soicism event horizon has been crossed. Passive-aggressive control freaks can go find another target for their condescending mind games. By Osiris, how I hate it when one unchecked bully ingrate ruins a whole high-level school! Makes you feel you'll never belong. Sick of it. I'm out of here. Unilateral withdrawal from the pointless conflict.
Unrepentingly leaving others to clean up this absurd mess. Issar El-Aksab (talk) 08:27, 31 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]
    • That seems like a bit of an overreaction to my observation that we need to slow down the editing and work from the talk page. I haven't searched all the archives or your contribs, but I certainly hope this isn't how you react to all objective observations, or else you would have a great difficulty getting others to work with you. Dennis Brown - © Join WER 00:49, 1 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
First off, my apologies for all the lengthy explanations, but Wikipedia has taught me that one can never state their toughts too clearly when there's a tense misunderstanding.
As I've clearly stated, had there been objective observations and working from the talk page in the first place, or even in the third place, instead of iterative abrupt[2] deletions, I wouldn't be reacting at all. I've read the rules and done my homework long ago. Overreacting a bit? Perhaps. Dalai Lama I'm not, to serenely turn the fourth cheek. Please understand, it's not the disagreement, it's the highly disrespectful method from day one. A modicum of open-mindedness and fellow consideration, was that too much to ask for? You pointed to BRD, please allow me to follow the link to "bold edit" and ask where did I throw away the rule book to go maverick, or fire the first shot of the war? Always willing to learn more if I've inadvertently switched-up languages at some point.
Brief reminder of the chronology, as recorded in page history: Yours truly makes a consciously rough first contribution and in the edit summary invites others to freely improve. BMK sees, dislikes, deletes. I restore hard work and summarize (verbatim): "Please discuss before deleting, your motives are open to debate." Company-spirited third person does some improving. BMK deletes and casually dismisses in summary, period. I restore and urge to "please discuss BEFORE abruptly deleting a hard work and good faith edit, open to major improvements as it may be." While at it, I try to hear the criticisms and improve imperfect work a bit. Perhaps trying too hard, but at least trying. BMK deletes, and finally bothers to address the crowd in talk page, basically saying "I'm right, so tough luck, this all goes to the shredder". I extirpate the base material of the discussion from history page limbo where the majority of visitors wouldn't notice anything to rework, and again urge to debate current work-in-progress and to be more civil. It's not like the internet is going to implode into a Big Crunch if an article undergoes a brief phase of imperfection before finding its marks, is it? Not missing a beat, BMK re-re-re-deletes, and then, having the last word, seeks arbitration of his own choice (no offense intended).
The arriving arbiter seems legit, in all fairness. But BMK's setting up a ring brawl in the first place, this makes me throw the towel. I only like my WWE on TV: trained professionals paid to pretend and do stunts. This is SO not the place. I came here to be a team member, not drafted as an impromptu sparring partner. There never WAS any real discussion with my persistent contradictor before you arrived, no matter how I tried to give it the benefit of reasonable doubt, that's the sole thing that irks my bladder. My three calls to "negociation" were only met with a cold shoulder and diplomatic white flags unflinchingly getting der Flammenwerfer. JMHO, but I believe the fourth revert established the kosher definition of an edit war, n'est-ce pas? Fine, I get the message. I don't like playing war, seen too much of it IRL, so I'll leave the community to decide whether the original academic dispute (finally given its chance in the open) still deserves more than a mercy shot. No ego crusade here, your Honor, honest!
In summary, I would never childishly react to my contributions going through the official meat grinder into a much tastier sausage. Please believe this, I really LOVE seeing my clumsy shoots blossom under other artisans' able hands and quills. But in present case, all I met for a period was a haughty unilateral eagerness for edit warring. By being the one withdrawing, I effectively end the possibility for Parabellum Tango, because it takes two. My tiny pride couldn't care less about apologies, I'm just hoping for "someone" to rethink their regrettable brisk ways, in the interest of the world's best friggin' encyclopaedia in History.[1] At best, such methods are poor pedagogy. Regardless of whether my head has cooled down yet or not, or whether I need to grow a tougher hide, wouldn't you agree that setting this kind of heavy atmosphere is objectively counter-productive? (This POV opinion of mine remains open to debate in the talk page's talk page.)


  1. ^ Come on now, do you really need an official reference? ;-p
I see that people of less questioned neutrality than me have taken up the encyclopedic discussion. Chute, better late than never! My work is done, the seed has been planted. If only we could've dispensed with all the puerile friction and suspicion... As a token of apeasement, I'll stick to my vow of complete withdrawal from that issue. The ball's in play, it's more than I was allowed to hope for. Ah, I see a free spot on the bench. Good luck, team. Play fair. Issar El-Aksab (talk) 04:55, 1 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]


How it's described in the book (context(14) STORM CENTRE), for reference:

Yatakang (YAT'-a-KANG), Guided Socialist Democracy of: country, SE Asia. Over 100 islands, lgst. Shongao 1790 sq. mi. Est. pop. 230,000,000. *Gongilung (4,400,000). Aluminium, bauxite, petroleum, tea, coffee, rubber, textiles.

Medieval seat of Takangi Empire (c. 1250-1475). Indep. kingdom to c. 1683. Partitioned 18th-19th cent. Dut. col. 1899-1954. Indep. repub. 1954-date.

Mixed Khmon, Nger. 70% Buddh. w. pagan admx., 20% Muslim, 10% Xian (Prot.) Tangerine Cossack (talk) 05:14, 30 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Yes, my mistake, "Southeast Asian" is a better description than "Austalasian". I've reverted. Beyond My Ken (talk) 05:36, 30 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
In a broader perspective, perhaps the only real mistake might be an over-eagerness to promptly revert anything you're even vaguely unsure about? Just some food for thought. Ponder the following: this here article has now become hopelessly static, frozen solid, sterilized of all evolution. Like a mammoth caught in permafrost. Safe from corruption, but also deprived of some valuable potential. Petrified as if Knowledge wasn't a forever dynamic thing.
And like I've already said, byzantine debates are beyond my available time, especially with the latest changes in my professional situation. It's become simply impossible for me to stay and split hairs with the expert hairdressers. People like YOU, who have the time to vigilantly revert so many articles at the first suspicion, who are so expert at applying the rules and procedures, are also the only ones who can afford to carefully think over such significant additions as predictive science-fiction, and to write it in an undisoutable way. This is especially true for delicate topics, and I admit Brunner's "predictions" fit the description exceptionally well. A fascinating element that deserves better than the casual label of "humbug".
I can't imagine that such a seasoned Wikipedian as you can fail to see this major point. Maybe you simply need to dare take a few risks with "safe perfection"? I shouldn't really care about an article I simply consulted once after reading about the topic in the press. But I think we all care about the spirit of WP, about what made it such a great intellectual endeavour in the first place: dynamism. If I can't be a team player anymore, and others who can won't, then there is no team. It's all in your capable hands. Rest assured you won't find me standing unproductively in your way. Issar El-Aksab (talk) 04:01, 25 August 2013 (UTC)[reply]

James Blish's comments[edit]

Copied this from the current article:

James Blish, however, received the novel negatively, saying "I disliked everybody in it and I was constantly impeded by the suspicion that Brunner was not writing for himself but for a Prize. . . A man of Brunner's gifts should have seen ab initio that U.S.A. was a stillbirth even in its originator's hands".[6]

I don't understand the "U.S.A." reference in the second part. Did someone misquote Blish or take something he wrote out of context? Was Blish writing about a different book? As far as I know Brunner never wrote one called U.S.A., nor was Stand on Zanzibar known by that title. Amvros (talk) 00:57, 26 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

No, he's referring to the John Dos Passos trilogy U.S.A., the structure of which SoZ is loosely based on. BMK (talk) 02:11, 26 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

BBC Article of 10 May 2019[edit]

"Stand on Zanzibar" is featured in http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20190509-the-1968-sci-fi-that-spookily-predicted-today

2601:8A:C100:84CC:F842:29D4:175B:B3B7 (talk) 22:50, 12 May 2019 (UTC)[reply]