From: United Nations Promo.
Organization: UNITED NATIONS LOTTERY.
Subject: UNITED NATIONS NOTIFICATION !!!!
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 7:56:50 +0800
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23 February, 2007
While I appreciate your sending me a notice that Glasshouse was due to be published 1 March 2007, I already have a copy. In fact, I've read it. I've moved on to Missile Gap, with Scalzi on Writing after that (from Subterranean). It was awful conscientious of you to suggest more Alastair Reynolds to me, although I'm not really sure why you'd do so, given my review of Absolution Gap:
What happened? I don't think anyone but Reynolds can really answer this. As somebody who went to amazon.co.uk to get copies of his books which were unavailable here in the US, I am definitely somebody who is a fan of his. After reading this, however, I'm not sure I'd read another of his books. My hope is that he will realize from the vast majority of reviews of his recent book, that he has taken a turn that was unexpected, and that perhaps he should reconsider.
I recently did read Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, and paid for it new (as opposed to used; I got my trade paperback copy as opposed to mass market or used), and very much enjoyed it. But let's remember that book was written long before Absolution Gap. Don't get me wrong, I like Reynolds a lot. But when I recently read an interview from Mr. Stross (post-Accelerando, pre-Glasshouse), he had this to say:
Schismatrix is one of the unsung classics of SF, probably the greatest space opera of the 1980s, elegiac and dense and coldly brilliant, and surprisingly resistant to the tarnish of age that has dimmed the luster of so much other fiction from the period. Schismatrix was a one-shot novel plus some short stories, and Bruce moved on from it—and the critics of the time simply didn't understand the dish he'd shoved under their noses. Alastair Reynolds has built an entire award-winning career out of Schismatrix, 20 years later!
So, I went out to buy a copy of Schismatrix myself. Lo, Amazon had no copies! I had to buy a copy from a used bookseller (no problem here, mind) which happened to be a leftover from the San Bernadino public library (I guess it's not worthy of their shelves). This should tell you something about the state of Amazon as a bookseller, let alone the be-all end-all of that which is ink on paper.
And so this brings us to the last piece of this joyous email from Amazon. You are recommending Asher's Polity Agent to me. In an e-mail. In an e-mail with otherwise half-reasonable recommendations. Holy shit, Amazon. What cracked kind of algorithm suggested this? I apparently didn't review this book for Amazon. That was an error (I did rate it). Had I done so, it would have included something like "douse the book in goat's blood and kerosene, burn under a full moon, and pray that nothing like it ever surfaces again." I mean, really. Reynolds did not do so great with Absolution Gap, but he can be forgiven as he didn't write a children's book about all the wowtastic DINOSAURS AND OTHER COOL STUFF. I'd be speechless if I wasn't mostly trying to decide whether to be amused or offended.
So, Amazon, let's set some ground rules for our relationship. We've been conducting business for a very long time. You should probably not tell me to go buy books that I already have, because, well, I read things when I get hold of them. Using my previous purchases as a way to gauge what I'll read in the future probably works best for us. I'm admittedly somewhat more interested in books from that other side of the Pacific, and as well from the other side of the Atlantic. Stuff in the middle, well, one day we'll have to talk about those books. People like Banks and Stross are always welcome in my inbox. If you've got something on Subterranean you'd like to remind me about so I can go and buy it from them, that's great too. Don't ever, and I mean ever send me another recommendation for Asher unless it's got a blurb from Stross, Reynolds, Tanizaki, and Oe ON THE FUCKING COVER.
Other than that, we're doing fine!
Yours most affectionately,
ps. ten year anniversary coming up! you'll never guess what I got you!!
21 February, 2007
18 February, 2007
So here, then, is the Endgadget blurb (via the unwashed masses). The original article gives us these specifications:
The prototype fired at Dahlgren is only an 8-megajoule electromagnetic device, but the one to be used on Navy ships will generate a massive 64 megajoules. Current Navy guns generate about 9 megajoules of muzzle energy.
The railgun's 200 to 250 nautical-mile range will allow Navy ships to strike deep in enemy territory while staying out of reach of hostile forces.
Since a ton of TNT is equivalent to 4.184 gigajoules, and we are imparting up to 64 MJ to the projectile, we are delivering 0.015 tons worth of TNT, or a skosh less than a third the power of your average SDB. This is assuming that it doesn't lose any energy between the DDX and its destination due to atmosphere, etc.
Some of the problems with this weapon, which have not been explained by the article, involve the actual speed and mass of the projectile. I won't go into the details, because I've done it before, but the problem you run into with this sort of energy and mass is your projectile rapidly approaches escape velocity before it delivers any meaningful energy to its destination. They do indeed say that the weapon has a parabolic trajectory, that it
At the peak of its ballistic trajectory, the projectile will reach an altitude of 500,000 feet, or about 95 miles, actually exiting the Earth's atmosphere.
Since it isn't hitting escape velocity, it has to be mostly gravity propelled by the time it hits the ground (and, of course, 15lbs of TNT is not the most stellar weapon; it certainly doesn't hold a candle to the performance of the TLAM).
Of course, nobody's mentioning that this could be a devastating anti-surface weapon, provided the curvature of the Earth didn't get you (so, assume a range less than say 380km, although they're not saying that this weapon can reach further than 250km. This is almost certainly wrong, as with a parabolic trajectory you could hit things much further away).
This whole business gets much better if you start thinking about projectiles which are more on the order of several hundred kilograms, and energies closer to gigajoules.
So, somebody's math is wrong, and this time I don't think it's mine.