Free Radical

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dudecon
Location: Camarillo, CA. Paul Spooner IRL & blog comments
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Free Radical

Postby dudecon » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:13 am

I know at least one of you really likes this book. I like it too! I've always wanted to be able to discuss it, and this seems like the perfect place.
I think my favorite part are the BDA eggs. For whatever reason they just stick in my mind.
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krellen
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Re: Free Radical

Postby krellen » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:49 pm

(Can't do quick replies on this forum. Hmm.)

I've always loved the parts talking about data storage and how traditional databases don't model the human brain and thus cannot be used to create "true" AI. It was something I had always thought about myself, but Shamus managed to articulate it in a way I'm not sure I could have.
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Jarenth
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Did You Know You Can Just *Change* This Titles?

Postby Jarenth » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:30 pm

I'd be hard-pressed to pick my 'favourite part'. I guess the part that left the most impression on my mind is the last part, where Shodan's 'insanity' is explained as a perfectly logical consequence of Deck's actions. It just... made sense, I guess.
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Klay F.

Re: Free Radical

Postby Klay F. » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:52 pm

krellen wrote:(Can't do quick replies on this forum. Hmm.)

I've always loved the parts talking about data storage and how traditional databases don't model the human brain and thus cannot be used to create "true" AI. It was something I had always thought about myself, but Shamus managed to articulate it in a way I'm not sure I could have.


On a semi-related note, I was listening to codec calls on Metal Gear Rising. They touch on various subjects, such as AI development, and how a "true" AI might be developed. Anyway, one of my favorite moments in these codec calls is when a character flat-out states that its impossible to create AI with a conventional computer hardware layout, simply because conventional hardware doesn't model a functional brain.
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Cuthalion

Re: Free Radical

Postby Cuthalion » Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:00 pm

I think this is the only time in a book that I've been engrossed in a chase scene.
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NoneCallMeTim

Re: Free Radical

Postby NoneCallMeTim » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:30 pm

Yes.

That book is one of the few ones that I actually think about months (years) after I read it. It brings up a lot of things that are interesting, and presents them in the way of someone picking through a problem, rather than an outsider looking in.

Perhaps it wasn't as polished as his other work, but I think that it was the one which had me on the edge of my seat, so to speak, than most things that I have read.
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Jace911

Re: Free Radical

Postby Jace911 » Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:10 pm

Man, I haven't read Free Radical in almost two years. I should probably go through it again now that I actually have a Kindle and can read it without printing five million pages.
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dudecon
Location: Camarillo, CA. Paul Spooner IRL & blog comments
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Re: Free Radical

Postby dudecon » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:13 am

My wife hasn't read it (she reads slow, dislexia) so I was going to read it out loud and record the whole thing like I did with "How I Learned". Is there any interest in that kind of thing? I've kind of been putting it off since things got so busy, but I could make it happen.

Changing gears for a moment, one of the really stupid things I hated was the big heavy forklift. I know artificial gravity was a part of the game, but come on. There's no way they would have the ability to control gravity and then leave it on while they were moving big heavy stuff around. I guess you could take it as a megacorp burning money, but that was one of the only parts where I stopped and went "Pffft! No way! That's dumb." Considering the rest was so phenomenally good, this one event cast a rather disproportionately long shadow over the rest of the narrative for me.
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McNutcase
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Re: Free Radical

Postby McNutcase » Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:11 am

dudecon wrote:My wife hasn't read it (she reads slow, dislexia) so I was going to read it out loud and record the whole thing like I did with "How I Learned". Is there any interest in that kind of thing? I've kind of been putting it off since things got so busy, but I could make it happen.

Changing gears for a moment, one of the really stupid things I hated was the big heavy forklift. I know artificial gravity was a part of the game, but come on. There's no way they would have the ability to control gravity and then leave it on while they were moving big heavy stuff around. I guess you could take it as a megacorp burning money, but that was one of the only parts where I stopped and went "Pffft! No way! That's dumb." Considering the rest was so phenomenally good, this one event cast a rather disproportionately long shadow over the rest of the narrative for me.

Plenty of reasons to leave the gravy on. Maybe starting the generator is incredibly energy-intensive, while it's cheap to leave running. Maybe you just don't want your gravity-trained cargo handlers screwed over by weight and inertia being coupled differently. Maybe you get weird tides around the edges, and don't want your work crews puking across gravity gradients.
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shamusyoung
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Re: Free Radical

Postby shamusyoung » Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:24 am

dudecon wrote:My wife hasn't read it (she reads slow, dislexia) so I was going to read it out loud and record the whole thing like I did with "How I Learned". Is there any interest in that kind of thing? I've kind of been putting it off since things got so busy, but I could make it happen.

Changing gears for a moment, one of the really stupid things I hated was the big heavy forklift. I know artificial gravity was a part of the game, but come on. There's no way they would have the ability to control gravity and then leave it on while they were moving big heavy stuff around. I guess you could take it as a megacorp burning money, but that was one of the only parts where I stopped and went "Pffft! No way! That's dumb." Considering the rest was so phenomenally good, this one event cast a rather disproportionately long shadow over the rest of the narrative for me.


In my mind, it wasn't selective. It was either on for the whole station, or off for the whole station. No way would they make the execs bounce around the room every time somebody needed to fetch some containers with a lot of mass.

Of course, this explanation depends on space-magic, so satisfaction may vary. If it doesn't work for you, I don't fault you for that.
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dudecon
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Re: Free Radical

Postby dudecon » Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:34 am

McNutcase wrote:Plenty of reasons to leave the gravy on. Maybe starting the generator is incredibly energy-intensive, while it's cheap to leave running. Maybe you just don't want your gravity-trained cargo handlers screwed over by weight and inertia being coupled differently. Maybe you get weird tides around the edges, and don't want your work crews puking across gravity gradients.

(love the SM ref)
While those are all interesting reasons, it seems clear that Shamus wasn't thinking of any of them. He points out that they have some sort of magic gravity plates that create the effect, and explains how they work.
shamus wrote:It was either on for the whole station, or off for the whole station.
We know they are short range because disabling them in a small part of the station is enough to eliminate gravity in that section.

I was just waiting for him to make a quip about all the heavy duty machinery and the unnecessary expense of re-creating gravity just to be inconvenienced by it (elevators, forklifts, etc). But it never arrived. I was kind of hoping he would point out that you could just flip one of these plates over and use it as a levitation pad, but that never showed either. The point being, TriOp could have done away with nearly all of their massive forklifts, or put inverted gravity plates on their forklifts to make them fly. In a book about exploring the implications of technology this seemed like a grievous oversight.

I realize it's a programmers fiction written by programmers for programmers, but the practical mechanical implications are pretty obvious here. All I'm saying was it bothered me that there wasn't even so much as a lampshade hung on it.
Last edited by dudecon on Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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McNutcase
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Re: Free Radical

Postby McNutcase » Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:36 am

dudecon wrote:
McNutcase wrote:Plenty of reasons to leave the gravy on. Maybe starting the generator is incredibly energy-intensive, while it's cheap to leave running. Maybe you just don't want your gravity-trained cargo handlers screwed over by weight and inertia being coupled differently. Maybe you get weird tides around the edges, and don't want your work crews puking across gravity gradients.

(love the SM ref)
While those are all interesting reasons, it seems clear that Shamus wasn't thinking of any of them. He points out that they have some sort of magic gravity plates that create the effect, and explains how they work. We know they are short range because disabling them in a small part of the station is enough to eliminate gravity in that section. I was just waiting for him to make a quip about all the heavy duty machinery and the unnecessary expense of re-creating gravity just to be inconvenienced by it (elevators, forklifts, etc). But it never arrived. I was kind of hoping he would point out that you could just flip one of these plates over and use it as a levitation pad, but that never showed either. The point being, TriOp could have done away with nearly all of their massive forklifts, or put inverted gravity plates on their forklifts to make them fly. In a book about exploring the implications of technology this seemed like a grievous oversight.

I realize it's a programmers fiction written by programmers for programmers, but the practical mechanical implications are pretty obvious here. All I'm saying was it bothered me that there wasn't even so much as a lampshade hung on it.

But now Shamus has explained it: the design was a low-bid one. They cut costs by not having control over the gravity on a zone-by-zone basis.
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shamusyoung
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Re: Free Radical

Postby shamusyoung » Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:46 am

dudecon wrote:We know they are short range because disabling them in a small part of the station is enough to eliminate gravity in that section.


Busted. It's an inconsistency in how I explained them. I don't even remember writing the line about the gravity plating being turned off selectively. In fact, I'm willing to bet I was just looking for cool stuff for them to analyze and not thinking about the rest of the ship. It's like having Picard beam Worf away from the Defiant while the audience is shouting YOU CAN'T BEAM WITH THE SHIELDS UP!

Ah well. Technically I could go in and fix it. It's just one throwaway line.

Eh. I dunno.
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NoneCallMeTim

Re: Free Radical

Postby NoneCallMeTim » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:27 am

shamusyoung wrote:Ah well. Technically I could go in and fix it. It's just one throwaway line.

Eh. I dunno.


How about you fix it in the next book in the series - hint, hint :-D.
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dudecon
Location: Camarillo, CA. Paul Spooner IRL & blog comments
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Re: Free Radical

Postby dudecon » Thu Aug 15, 2013 4:01 am

dudecon wrote:My wife hasn't read it (she reads slow, dyslexia) so I was going to read it out loud and record the whole thing like I did with "How I Learned". Is there any interest in that kind of thing? I've kind of been putting it off since things got so busy, but I could make it happen.
This is on the table again guys! Who wants an audio-book version of Free Radical read in dramatic tones by yours truly?

Also, I heard that someone here on the forums is just reading this for the very first time? How is that possible? It's so good! It really is fantastic. If any of you haven't read it yet, take a look.
LOOK AT IT.
What? You want a guarantee or something? Okay. I promise that if, after reading it, you feel like your time was wasted, you may personally hunt me down and kill me where I sleep... Which I guess you could do anyway. I mean, it's really not that hard to find people these days, and we usually leave the doors unlocked. The difference would be that, in this case, I wouldn't blame you... except I lied and I totally would because this book is amazing and you should read it!

Unless maybe you have a problem reading? In which case, I could make a recording. Yeah, if you need me to, I'll do that.



PS. Please don't kill me in my sleep. It would traumatize my wife.
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Akri

Re: Free Radical

Postby Akri » Thu Aug 15, 2013 4:34 am

So I just finished reading this (as in, not even ten minutes ago). Can I just say holy shit? For ages I had put off reading it because I've never played System Shock and figured I wouldn't enjoy a fanfic about source material I'm unfamiliar with, but I was completely wrong. If anything I think going in blind might have made the story better. I'm really kicking myself for wasting so much time not reading this. Lesson freaking learned: if Shamus writes something, read it.
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Naota
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Re: Free Radical

Postby Naota » Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:41 pm

I've been meaning to read this along with Rutskarn's Vatsy and Bruno, but weirdly enough the lack of a printed copy gets in the way. I lie back in bed for reading time and realize I'd have to levitate an entire laptop in front of me to have proper access to the words, versus The Witch Watch where I need only reach over and part two wafers of dead tree matter.

I'll take this topic as high praise - I imagine I'll enjoy both a fair bit more than A Song of Fire and Ice, which I've been reading to keep up with the TV series and finding surprisingly more stoic, matter-of-fact, and all around less interesting. It's the Stannis Baratheon to the TV series' Tyrion Lannister. I'm similarly curious to see how Free Radical compares to The Witch Watch.
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krellen
Location: The City in New Mexico
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Re: Free Radical

Postby krellen » Thu Aug 15, 2013 3:09 pm

Naota wrote:I've been meaning to read this along with Rutskarn's Vatsy and Bruno, but weirdly enough the lack of a printed copy gets in the way.

You used to be able to buy a print copy from Lulu.com - I have one. But I just looked and that doesn't appear to be an option any more?
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swenson
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Re: Free Radical

Postby swenson » Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:53 pm

On the note of Vatsy and Bruno, that is a very weird book, but a very enjoyable one, and one of the primary reasons I'm so excited for Rutskarn writing Unrest. (Different style and setting, of course, but he's a good writer.)
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Draxom

Re: Free Radical

Postby Draxom » Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:41 pm

This is one of my favorite books. I have read it at least 3 times in the last 2 years.

As far as the cargo bots and gravity plating is concerned it all seems perfectly reasonable to me. The gravy-plates work, if i remember right, by pulling things towards one side of them while pushing things away from the other side. But they obviously don't have infinite range. So, you line the top of the station with plates that push down on whats inside and line the bottom with plates that pull down whats inside. This way, as long as you stay within range of the plates, there will be gravity in the whole station. Deck disables gravity for the reactor by blowing the plates at the bottom of the station away. The reactor then became weightless because it was not within range of the plates lined on the top of the station. You could also say that he cut power to that section of plates, since I'm sure these things require power.

As for the necessity of the cargo bots, there could be several reasons you would want heavy things to remain heavy on a space station. Primary one in my mind is that a sudden weight change could be disastrous is certain areas. Imagine your taking a 2 ton crate up the elevator from the cargo area. Apparently, modern elevators can travel at 500 ft/minute. Imagine what would happen to the elevator when 2 tons suddenly appears while it's going up at 500 ft/minute. This could be fixed by allowing gravity to "fade in" but then you would be using a lot of empty space for transition, space which would be at a premium on any space station.


Also, you can drop one shield to beam things in/out while in combat. As long as the Enterprise wasn't surrounded they would have been fine. Pull up with Defiant on starboard and Borg cube on port, drop starboard shields, beam Worf and crew out, raise starboard shields, continue being awesome.
Steve C

Re: Free Radical

Postby Steve C » Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:30 pm

dudecon wrote:PS. Please don't kill me in my sleep. It would traumatize my wife.

Ok. Sneaking up behind you while you are working on the computer it is then.
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4th Dimension

Re: Free Radical

Postby 4th Dimension » Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:59 pm

Okay okay I'll read it
. . . sometime later 4th Dimension with boodshot eyes emerges from his cave . . .
It's GGOOOOOOOD, REALLLLLLLYYYY GOOOoooood. Must have more . ..
Ahem,
I liked it more that I though I would. It seems SF and cyberpunk suit Shamus more, since I was ambivalent towards Witch Watch, but liked that unfinished story of his.
The only fly in the ointment is that Hacker is a bit too brash and abrasive with people who hold his life in their hands in the beginning.
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Cuthalion

Re: Free Radical

Postby Cuthalion » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:52 am

swenson wrote:On the note of Vatsy and Bruno, that is a very weird book, but a very enjoyable one, and one of the primary reasons I'm so excited for Rutskarn writing Unrest. (Different style and setting, of course, but he's a good writer.)

Ok, fine, I'll go read Vatsy and Bruno. :P Besides, now I know what Rutskarn sounds like, so I'll hear the whole thing in his voice instead of my generic author voice. Which... I guess that's good? Is it? ;P
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Humanoid

Re: Free Radical

Postby Humanoid » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:58 am

Yes, but which Rutskarn voice?
wheals

Re: Free Radical

Postby wheals » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:26 pm

Humanoid wrote:Yes, but which Rutskarn voice?

Oh god, now I can't read anything on Rutskarn's blog without hearing it read in his fake Atlantic accent voice. I hope you're happy

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