Re: Herding Extropycats [was Shame on Australia]

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Sun Sep 02 2001 - 03:37:20 MDT

On Sun, Sep 02, 2001 at 10:06:45AM +1000, Russell Blackford wrote:
> ...... There is, admittedly, a
> libertarian streak in the group of American hard sf writers led by Benford,
> Greg Bear and David Brin - but it's only a streak. These people are far more
> complex thinkers than that.

You'd ascribe a libertarian streak to David "more liberal than thou" Brin?
Yeesh! (Mind you, I've heard him talk a few times. Unless he's had a 180-
degree conversion he is _no_ libertarian.) As for Greg Bear, he's no
libertarian either. Small-c conservative, maybe, but again, unless he's
drifted radically out of where he used to be there's no way I can see of
calling him a libertarian.

(Are you going to try and tell me that Ken McLeod is an objectivist? ;-)

> So my question remains. Why does the extrolist show the same mentality as
> one sub-set of sf fandom, whereas the sf-related lists I've been on have
> shown a totally different mentality?

I suspect it goes back to the seed effect of the extropian principles, Max
More's original declaration, and group-think within the original extropian
cadre -- who are, to be fair, Americans and largely drawn from (a) hard-SF
readers and (b) the technology venture culture of Northern California.

There's also the American frontier tradition -- the idea that there exists
a frontier where daring individuals can go and stake their claim and
pioneer something huge, big, wild and free, far from the petty red-tape
imposed by bickering bad-tempered neighbours. In the extropian mythos,
this is transposed into a radiant future worthy of Zinoviev (only stripped
of the Marxist elements) where those who embrace it first become the
elders of the party -- er, culture. (Nope, no party here folks; we aren't
techno-Leninists, that isn't an historical dialectic, we have no intention
of steering or leading the masses, and that isn't a gun in my pocket.)

As for the singularity, calling it the Rapture of the Nerds is cruel but
psychologically accurate given the way some people engage with the concept.

I hope you'll excuse me: I'm just feeling a little bitter and twisted this

-- Charlie

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