Re: the Blight not evil?

From: Doug Jones (
Date: Wed Nov 07 2001 - 10:55:29 MST

Wei Dai wrote:
> I've been expecting something like this, but it's still shocking to
> actually see it. A reader review dated 10/21/2001 on for A Fire
> upon the Deep says the reviewer is not convinced that the Blight is evil,
> and explicitly compares the plot to the present day situation, implying
> that he's not convinced the 9/11 terrorists are evil. Here's a quote:
> > In the Westernized World, we tend to see good vs. evil
> > as a basic tenant of life. Obviously Vinge is no
> > exception and weaved this philosophy throughout this
> > novel. Blight... Bad, Countermeasure... good (even
> > though it plunged the known universe into a new "dark
> > age"). Mr Steel... Bad, Woodcarver... good (even
> > though she experimented on herself, her own people and
> > offspring; and was singularly responsible for the
> > creation of every Tine antagonist in the book). The
> > book is guilty of simplifying complex issues and
> > minimizing the importance of understanding the end
> > results and responsibilities of any and all these
> > actions.
> What could explain the mindset that would produce this kind of thinking? I
> think in some social circles there must be a kind of competition (which
> historically may have served some useful purpose) to see who can be most
> skeptical of popular beliefs and values and most tolerant of foreign
> beliefs and values. This competition caused an arms race in which people
> found increasingly more effective methods to train themselves to behave in
> this very unnatural way. The end result is a group of people who are
> overly skeptical and tolerant, and don't necessarily realize why they
> behave this way. Would it help to point this out to them, I wonder?

Heh. David Brin has explored this very thesis in a collection,
"Otherness." It has a tendency to collapse in complete social
relativism, at which point it gets devoured by barbarians.

Doug Jones, Rocket Engineer
XCOR Aerospace

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