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Author Topic: Help me reality check this idea.  (Read 6967 times)
Charleson Mambo
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« on: March 11, 2007, 08:37:23 am »

I'm trying to write a short story and I would like to know how many people, if any, would seriously attempt this in real life if given the opportunity.

Imagine a city facing slow but certain destruction.
It has been evacuated, and has stood officially empty for years.
It now sits on the furthest fringes of civilization and is a lawless place in any sense that matters.
A plan to save an old historic library in said city has been put forth.
A group of people will travel to this doomed city, risk life and limb to do a dangerous and thankless job.

They will labor to load all the old books onto a dirigible (in the certain knowledge that only a scant few will have the opportunity to travel back to civilization aboard said dirigible), and once the books are removed from the building they will turn to the job of raising said building onto huge steam powered threads, install a large boiler inside the building and then begin the slow trek back to civilization on the newly mobile library.

If such a project where to come about in real life, would you volunteer for it?


Charleson Mambo

(I'm unsure of just how big a crew might possibly show up to save an old building.)

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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2007, 08:45:39 am »

Were this proposition made to me, my first response would be "Where do I sign?"
 Grin
But then again I'm a tried and true bibliophile.

If this tale were set on Earth, or an alternate earth, you could use a rallying cry akin to:
"If you could go back in time and save the Library of Alexandria, would you?"
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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2007, 09:24:48 am »

I'd do it. I think it would depend on how mortal the danger seems. If the place is full of man-eating shark-robots with lazers, and the populace know this, then less would be eager. If there i some old disease, less people will be scared, even if the disease is deadlier that shark robots. If it's just a perilous environment, i think many would want in.
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2007, 12:13:44 pm »

Quote
Were this proposition made to me, my first response would be "Where do I sign?"

What Honky-Tonk said. I want to join!
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2007, 01:41:33 pm »

It might be fun, and to add depth to the story, if you have one gung-ho organizer that volunteered to run the mission with a personal love for books and this particular library, and the rest are a hired team of crack building movers who initially care only about the payoff at the end. You could include several different stereotypes associated with steampunk: a cowboy type, a sailor type, a gentlemen, etc. However, through the various struggles encountered, each learns a lesson about the importance of the books and the library. You could throw in some sort of hidden secret in the library that only one or two of the crew knows about, giving them ulterior motives. You might even want to through in a turncoat or two in the midst of the story. This would make for great reason to developed individuals' backgrounds and dynamic characters.
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The Grand Duchess
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« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2007, 03:16:56 pm »

I would volunteer in a moment.  I think you should have a a lady librarian, teacher or professor as one of your characters- one who actually knows how to handle weapons.  Perhaps she is familiar with tactics through reading volumes like Caesar's memoirs and The Art of War. Of course, she should look very prim, and know how to serve a proper tea.

Please try to include people of colour in your expedition as characters other than nameless villains. That would be nice, too. And everyone shouldn't be the same age.
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« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2007, 03:32:38 pm »

I would say that it depends on what wealth of information is contained in the library. If it housed many old and irreplaceable books full of knowledge that might be lost, then I would sign up right away. However, if the building was old and wonderful but full of Goosebumps paperbacks, I would not bother to volunteer my time.
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Charleson Mambo
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« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2007, 06:30:21 pm »

Thanks all for the feedback. It has already been most helpful.

I feel I should come clean as it were. I came across cyberpunk while still young and it has shaped, no twisted me. So this short story won't be quite steampunk.

More detail as to the setting.

Imagine that in the near future the technological singularity has come to pass, just in time for a new ice age. (Would that count as irony?)

The city is somewhere in the northern USA, maybe Chicago (?), and it will be under the Ice in a decade or so.

The dangers, apart from those inherent in hard labor and constant winter weather, is the generally lawlessness of the city. On the one hand it has been officially abandoned, on the other hand the singularity has given many the chance to be as weird and counterculture as they wish. So the city is crawling with a sort of Extreme Bohemia. Ballistic Parkour cyborgs, Cyberpunk Reenactors, Robot Racers, Extreme Body Modification enthusiasts. The city has become a place for people to indulge in strange hobbies.

The books have all been backed up to cyberspace, the building could just as easily be replicated elsewhere or simply toured in virtual reality. So really saving the physical building and books would be a bit grand futility, a bit of a lost cause. But to paraphrase Jorge Luis Borges, "For the gentleman (or Lady), only the lost cause should be attractive."

Now how many would still show up?


Charleson Mambo
« Last Edit: March 13, 2007, 03:12:17 am by Charleson Mambo » Logged
fmra
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« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2007, 06:52:38 pm »

As a librarian, I think this is a marvelous idea.
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The Grand Duchess
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« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2007, 11:15:46 pm »

Thanks all for the feedback. It has already been most helpful.

I feel I should come clean as it were. I came across cyberpunk while still young and it has shaped, no twisted me. So this short story won't be quite steampunk.

More detail as to the setting.

Imagine that in the near future the technological singularity has come to pass, just in time for a new ice age. (Would that count as irony?)

The city is somewhere in the northern USA, maybe Chicago (?), and it will be under the Ice in a decade or so.

The dangers, apart from those inherent in hard labor and constant winter weather, is the generally lawlessness of the city. On the one hand it has been officially abandoned, on the other hand the singularity has given many the chance to be as weird and counterculture as they wish. So the city is crawling with a sort of Extreme Bohemia. Ballistic Pankour cyborgs, Cyberpunk Reenactors, Robot Racers, Extreme Body Modification enthusiasts. The city has become a place for people to indulge in strange hobbies.

The books have all been backed up to cyberspace, the building could just as easily be replicated elsewhere or simply toured in virtual reality. So really saving the physical building and books would be a bit grand futility, a bit of a lost cause. But to paraphrase Jorge Luis Borges, "For the gentleman (or Lady), only the lost cause should be attractive."

Now how many would still show up?


Charleson Mambo


Still would.

People make note in books.  And books are tactile.   An actual book is nothing like a computer printout, no matter how nice. And books placed in situ have a different relationship to each other than books only existing in the aether.

You'll need a cultural anthropologist along for this job, to help deal with the various subcultures and act as a kind of interpreter.  Several people who have the equivalent of Army Ranger training- that's different from just jarheads. A librarian. People with architectural training or building preservation training.   And you'll need weapons that will scare off the jerks while not damaging the books, because you'll have lots of hostiles to deal with.

You might actually get more help from the body modders and SMers/fetishists who will likely to be there than from  many cyberpunks- most of them have a respect for culture and learning and are reasonably wel-educated. And slaves know how to take orders.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2007, 11:22:16 pm by The Grand Duchess » Logged
Simon Hogwood
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« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2007, 11:18:18 pm »

Not to mention that quite a few books are valuable as artifacts, and not necessarily for their contents - how many Gutenberg Bibles do you really think have been in a church in the last century?
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« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2007, 11:23:50 pm »

And even beyond practical and financial value, there is no underestimating the fetishistic value of books. People still pay exorbitant amounts for first edition first printings of books that are still in print. Sure some of them do this as an investment... but others do it because of impulses that are far less rational.
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« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2007, 07:40:58 am »

As an amateur anthropologist, semi-professional living history reenactor, future educator, bibliophile, etc... I would be on this like rust on cast iron. And my slightly self destructive streak means that the danger just makes it that much more attractive.
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« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2007, 07:47:19 am »

Well, I'd sign up. Just give me an advance for some light weaponry  Wink

I think that you need to have more than one angle on this;

Which is to say, yes, the books have been archived, and as such, the physical library isn't literally required...

However, there will be some who want to save the books.
Some who want to save the building.
Some who want to sell the books.
Some who want to sell the building.
Some who want to find out if there were any -ahem- uncatalogued books - and either save them or sell them*.

Let's face it... If people are risking their lives on this, then it's just a matter of picking the correct allocations of rogues, thieves, and murderers to go along!

Alternatively, it could be that there's already a buyer for the library - but only one person knows.

*I blame Lovecraft for this idea, but it's not out of the question, I suppose?
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« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2007, 04:17:04 pm »

With the city in the state you described it, I would go on the journey just for the spectacle. Reminds me of a circus or burning man...
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« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2007, 05:47:11 pm »

Or a burning circus man!  Shocked
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« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2007, 07:17:27 pm »

I have a question.

Are these people you speak of with the strange habits and the enthusiasts, would they be Peaceful??
That simple fact could change so much about how the story turns twists and changes.

But yes, I would probably go either way, depending on what mood I was in at the actual moment I was asked.
And if I said no, then I would probably regret it later.
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« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2007, 08:36:30 pm »

I would say that it depends on what wealth of information is contained in the library. If it housed many old and irreplaceable books full of knowledge that might be lost, then I would sign up right away. However, if the building was old and wonderful but full of Goosebumps paperbacks, I would not bother to volunteer my time.

I would have to wholeheartedly agree there. I've long thought the loss of Alexandria was one of the most tragic moments in history(though it burned what, five, six times? I always have remembered of that specific 'event' as being one catastrophic thing where the sum of human knowledge was nearly annihilated). If it didn't look like I'd die as soon as I set foot in this forsaken city I'd have the following to say.

"Where do I sign up."
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Charleson Mambo
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Cyberpunk is a Hello Kitty claymore mine.


« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2007, 02:50:06 am »

Still would.

People make note in books.  And books are tactile.   An actual book is nothing like a computer printout, no matter how nice. And books placed in situ have a different relationship to each other than books only existing in the aether.

Thanks, this is the main reason I posted my question, for the opportunity to vicariously step outside of my own head.

Quote
You'll need a cultural anthropologist along for this job, to help deal with the various subcultures and act as a kind of interpreter.

Oh but misunderstandings can lead to all sorts of fun (well, for the author anyways). Hmm, well accidents do happen.

Quote
Several people who have the equivalent of Army Ranger training- that's different from just jarheads.

I'm not well versed in matters military so the precise nature of the difference eludes me.

Quote
A librarian.

I would expect a surfeit of librarians.

Quote
People with architectural training or building preservation training.

And a fair collection of these as well.

Quote
And you'll need weapons that will scare off the jerks while not damaging the books, because you'll have lots of hostiles to deal with.

On the other hand it could just as well encourage some of the more unhinged fringers. hmmm

Quote
You might actually get more help from the body modders and SMers/fetishists who will likely to be there than from  many cyberpunks- most of them have a respect for culture and learning and are reasonably wel-educated.

Alas I don't know anyone actually into real life body mods so I have no idea as to what reading habits are prevalent in that sub-culture.

But the implication that cyberpunks would be indifferent or even hostile to saving a library came as a bit of a shock. But then the cyberpunks I have virtually hung out with were writers.

Quote
And slaves know how to take orders.

Oh, the S&M'ers. For a moment I managed to confuse myself into thinking you were somehow referring to cyberpunks.


Charleson Mambo




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Charleson Mambo
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Puerto Rico Puerto Rico


Cyberpunk is a Hello Kitty claymore mine.


« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2007, 03:02:15 am »

Well, I'd sign up. Just give me an advance for some light weaponry  Wink

I think that you need to have more than one angle on this;

Which is to say, yes, the books have been archived, and as such, the physical library isn't literally required...

However, there will be some who want to save the books.
Some who want to save the building.
Some who want to sell the books.
Some who want to sell the building.
Some who want to find out if there were any -ahem- uncatalogued books - and either save them or sell them*.

Let's face it... If people are risking their lives on this, then it's just a matter of picking the correct allocations of rogues, thieves, and murderers to go along!

Alternatively, it could be that there's already a buyer for the library - but only one person knows.

*I blame Lovecraft for this idea, but it's not out of the question, I suppose?

As for where the Library will be heading... I visualize a herd of old buildings roaming the new Ice Age grasslands on steam powered threads and legs, a new kind of technological megafauna.


Charleson Mambo
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phineas sheridan
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« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2007, 03:17:10 am »

mebe you should have one person orginise it,
but the main character is a little naive
and the motives are shadowy
such as getting th Necronomicon De Mortem
or another nefarious book

or any of the other ideas i had but that were stated earlier

and i would sign up in a heartbeat-bibliophile and dare-devil


d
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Charleson Mambo
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Puerto Rico Puerto Rico


Cyberpunk is a Hello Kitty claymore mine.


« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2007, 03:24:27 am »

I have a question.

Are these people you speak of with the strange habits and the enthusiasts, would they be Peaceful??
That simple fact could change so much about how the story turns twists and changes.

I had considered that, for the most part the subcultures in the city would be on peaceful terms. And any straightforward opposition could be dealt with in an equally straightforward manner.

I have been giving some though to how to deal with those who's activities may cause dificulties to the Library Project but are not being malicious about it.

For example, A cyborg traceur practicing Ballistic Parkour would be expected to cause a fair bit of damage to rooftops, cornices and other bits of exposed architecture if they land badly (ie crash) or just from exceeding the materials load bearing capabilities. It would be only natural for the people interested in preserving the Library, or other old buildings, to take a dim view of their sport.


Charleson Mambo

« Last Edit: March 13, 2007, 04:10:34 am by Charleson Mambo » Logged
Simon Hogwood
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« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2007, 03:26:37 am »

For example, A cyborg traceur practicing Ballistic Parkour would be expected to cause a fair bit of damage to rooftops, cornices and other bits of exposed architecture if the land badly (ie crash) or just from exceeding the materials load bearing capabilities. It would be only natural for the people interested in preserving the Library, or other old buildings, to take a dim view of their sport.

For the record, I love this idea.  Grin
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The Grand Duchess
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« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2007, 04:16:47 am »

Still would.

People make note in books.  And books are tactile.   An actual book is nothing like a computer printout, no matter how nice. And books placed in situ have a different relationship to each other than books only existing in the aether.

Thanks, this is the main reason I posted my question, for the opportunity to vicariously step outside of my own head.

Quote
You'll need a cultural anthropologist along for this job, to help deal with the various subcultures and act as a kind of interpreter.

Oh but misunderstandings can lead to all sorts of fun (well, for the author anyways). Hmm, well accidents do happen.

Accidents happen, even with anthropologists... Tongue

Quote
Several people who have the equivalent of Army Ranger training- that's different from just jarheads.

I'm not well versed in matters military so the precise nature of the difference eludes me.

Army Rangers are trained as elusive snipers.  You aren't supposed to know they are there, let alone find them once you find out.  Jarheads are regular Marines- tough, rugged, and often somewhat reckless.  Depending on your population, you'll want Special Forces types (stealth) rather than Marines (gung-ho).

Quote
A librarian.

I would expect a surfeit of librarians.

But different librarians have different specialties- and there are rivalries.

Quote
People with architectural training or building preservation training.

And a fair collection of these as well.

Quote
And you'll need weapons that will scare off the jerks while not damaging the books, because you'll have lots of hostiles to deal with.

On the other hand it could just as well encourage some of the more unhinged fringers. hmmm


It depends on the types of weapons used.  And the tactics.

Quote
You might actually get more help from the body modders and SMers/fetishists who will likely to be there than from  many cyberpunks- most of them have a respect for culture and learning and are reasonably wel-educated.

Alas I don't know anyone actually into real life body mods so I have no idea as to what reading habits are prevalent in that sub-culture.

Lots of books on the history of body-modding, torture techniques, and history.  And sci-fi. SMers tend to be a bit more intellectual that rabid body modders, but both tend to be pretty wily- they spend most of their lives hiding in plain sight.  You probably know more of both than you realize.

But the implication that cyberpunks would be indifferent or even hostile to saving a library came as a bit of a shock. But then the cyberpunks I have virtually hung out with were writers.

It depends on the level of their punkishness.  Is it a fashion choice, or something else? I've known a lot of Goths who are as dumb as doornails- they only read about vampires and horror movies, and they know nothing about 19th C Gothic Lit or 19th C Gothic music. 20th C? Perhaps even less.

Quote
And slaves know how to take orders.

Oh, the S&M'ers. For a moment I managed to confuse myself into thinking you were somehow referring to cyberpunks.

SMers are usually in favor of reading, but their reading habits can sometimes be narrow.  Feel free to ask me in private.  I did my dissertation on alt communities.


Charleson Mambo





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5tephe
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« Reply #24 on: March 13, 2007, 04:29:33 am »

Marquis 5tephe Watson, reporting for duty.

Well, if you won't have an effete dilettante in it for only his own weird fancies on the team, then I'd be the one stowing away. Perhaps my title is just airs I put on, to try to bluff my way aboard... and in reality I am an adventure seeking scoundrel, out to make a name for myself.

Who cares? It sounds like a blast!
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