Still Here!

by Dylan Jeninga
(Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Hey OSS,

Expect the next Travelogue Entry shortly!

Also, I've been working on a little something, and hope to have the first draft completed soon!

As a side note, Zendexor, I'm not sure your assessment of the Daedelus series is quite fair. Certainly, the OSS portion is stated to be in another dimension - but might it not be said that the same is implied about the stories of Old Mars? Especially in "The Wreck of the Mars Adventure", wherein the laws of physics are utterly different from ours?

{Z: Re Daedalus: Logically, you're right. Also, opinion-wise, you're "pushing at an open door" insofar as I am motivated to agree with you - I want to welcome the series into that mental space which I reserve for the beloved sub-genre. "The more, the merrier." Only, there's something going on here which I, as a critic, have not yet successfully come to grips with. A prejudice of some sort. Now, I'm a great believer in prejudices embodying some kind of truth - the weakness of the prejudice being that it tends to produce invalid reasons for its own existence. So, for example, in this case, I have serious reservations about the Daedalus series, but my conscious reasons are quite likely untenable. Does this all sound a bit pompous? Well, the Archon must have his bit of pomp. And the methodological principle is important: "keep your prejudice as an indicator of some buried truth, beware of superficial reasoning and be patient till the real reason is dug up". Oh dear me - sounds like work...

Meanwhile it's good to hear another Travelogue is imminent, plus the "little something". Is the latter a story? Judging from the stats I see every morning, the readers are especially eager to lap up the original fiction displayed on site.}

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Mar 09, 2017
On the Twilight Belt
by: John Michael Greer

Dylan, no question, I'd be a lot happier if we could look up into the heavens and see a Mars with canals, sword-swinging aliens, and the rest!

As for the question you raise in your comment, though, the relation between NOSS stories and the reality in which we find ourselves stranded is guaranteed to be awkward. Science fiction's always existed in a kind of Twilight Belt like the one on OSS Mercury, midway between the blazing sun-baked hemisphere of actual scientific fact and the nightside of myth and legend. You quoted, in one of your Travelogues (which I'm enjoying greatly, btw), Leigh Brackett's foreword to her collection "The Coming of the Terrans;" ironically, I'd just gotten a copy of that anthology, and had been brooding over that very foreword, with its sly distinction between facts and truth.

A NOSS story either has to find some way to link its fictive reality to ours, or simply brazens the matter out and presents it as space fantasy. I have a certain fondness for the first option, if only because that brings the Grand Canal a little closer, at least in imaginary terms; so the question is -- and I'll throw this out to Zendexor as well -- what ways of linking a NOSS story to our universe, if any, are legitimate within the frame of NOSS?

I'll be posting a "Your Views" bit in a few minutes with an example and would be very interested to hear where you and Zendexor (and anyone else who cares to comment) thinks it falls...

{Z: Maybe a theory of NOSS criticism will evolve over time, if the genre really takes off.
For starters may I just point out one justification for "brazening it out": One could put it like this:
A story is a story. The date of publication should not matter. It's just a number on a sheet of paper. If we can still read and enjoy "The First Men in the Moon" (1901) there's no reason why we should not enjoy anything else of the same sort with the date 2017 instead of 1901. It's the words on the page that matter. Just that - the words on the page. Nothing else. Not the context of Now. For the moment we open a book we escape from Now.}

Mar 09, 2017
by: Dylan Jeninga

In response to your March 9, 2017 Diary entry, Zendexor:

I understand your objection to including the "Daedelus" series into the OSS umbrella. I even think that calling it an offshoot is a good compromise. I believe we once titled it "New Historical Old Solar System". That is, of course, excluding the half of the series which is set in our own reality.

Might I suggest, however, another way of looking at it? It seems to me to be your ideal NOSS story for the very simple reason that contact is made between our universe and an OSS one.

Stirling's Lords of Creation is stated to be set in another reality, but we can agree that it is decidedly an OSS tale. "The Wreck of the Mars Adventure" and its sequel novel, "Arabella of Mars", are set in a reality that closely mirrors the setting of "Daedelus", and I seem to recall that you enjoyed "Wreck" especially, you even quoted it once! A great number of other NOSS stories operate on the assumption that their time line diverged from ours long ago. As for OSS stories, I imagine one always read them with the implied knowledge that they were not fact, even before the probes. The mechanic of alternate realities allows the reader to believe the stories are true - just not here, in our particular quantum plane. But somewhere!

Surely the alternate-universe, alternate-physics OSS story qualifies as just that. But as I said, the Daedalus story has a special boon which I imagine you, I, Mr. Greer, and any OSS fan would find thrilling: travel between the universes is achieved. Quite by accident, initially, but the possibility is there, which means that we may depart our own dreary reality for one where things went as they should have, and the OSS is fact. It's not terribly far removed from your idea of reality-engineering. I imagine that if reality engineering were to exist, one might ask "Are we changing our universe, or simply moving ourselves to a universe where our parameters exist?" It would be impossible to know!

The Daedalus series is an OSS tale which suggests the hope that one day, just maybe, we may see the canals of Mars, the jungles of Venus, or the twilight belt of Mercury after all. Only instead of a rocket, we'd go reality-hopping. I know that if I were on an OSS Mars that was not the one NASA is sending probes to now, I'd not complain too much.

{Z: Reality-hopping really does sound fun! I'd miss the old-style rockets, though, if I had to live in the Daedalus OSS. I don't think sea-ships and space-ships mix; it doesn't sound proper to my prissy traditional soul. It's a matter of atmosphere. More seriously, I find a lack of attention to the OSS worlds themselves in the Daedalus trilogy. Martinez' Venus is reasonably well described, but I can't think of any others - except a remarkable short passage about the rings of Saturn. Callisto, for example, is just a port of call, with no character. The inhabited Mars is only glimpsed. Mercury is hardly anything. Disappointing for a trilogy. Its main strength is the characterisation and the suspense and action between the worlds - well done in its own terms, but not OSS as I understand it.

However, your general point about reality-engineering does, I think, point to the start of something big, in this whole creative business. The possibilities are endless and stunning. There are so many ways it could be done.}

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