Re: THE SPIKE in the USA by end of 2000

Charlie Stross (
Wed, 8 Dec 1999 10:52:13 +0000

On Tue, Dec 07, 1999 at 08:04:48PM -0800, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> Well, I'm not so sure. Every time I think about the book it
> brings up those images of Vlad the Impaler and his poor victims
> back during the dark ages. Then that leads to the recognition
> that D.B. is from Australia where they sent "criminals". Now,
> seriously, I've been to Australia, and while it isn't "Paradise"
> it is quite a long way from "Hell on Earth". Come on... You have
> to belive the English justice system was going a bit soft...

Actually, sense of humour aside, the important thing to note about the transportation of convicts to Australia is that it _definitively_ disproved the hypothesis -- prevalent among the English upper class at the time -- that there existed a "criminal class" whose criminal nature was hereditary and irreformable.

As this hypothesis seems to be rather common among the American middle classes today, and there's a long-running trend toward brutalization and punishment of criminals rather than behavioural reform and social rehabilitation, this is somewhat germane ...

> "I hereby sentence you to life imprisonment in Australia"
> "Oh no me lord, not that, anything but that...."
> ... as they are lead away grinning slyly to themselves...

For fun reading, I recommend "The Fatal Shore" by Robert Hughes. (Transportation wasn't exactly a picnic; arguably the conditions the transportees lived under were worse than those in Stalin's GULAG.)