Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

‘Tangents’ by Greg Bear

with 9 comments

A researcher into the multi-dimension theory happens to stumble across a boy who can actually see the fourth dimension. This coincidence is adequately managed but Bear forces his story through all sorts of strange contortions by insisting on establishing a parallel between Peter Tuthy (his researcher) and Alan Turing.

Tuthy is British but lives illegally in America after he was smuggled into the US through Canada. This is because he was fleeing homosexual persecution in the UK. Now, Turing might have been prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952 but a lot happened between then and Tuthy’s supposed arrest in 1964. The Wolfenden Report recommending the de-criminalisation of homosexual behaviour was published in 1957 and by 1967 this was established in law (it wasn’t until 2003 that the same was true of the US). So the majority of the resonance the story is meant to engender backfires completely. Once you strip this out, you are left with the thin and unlikely story of a magic boy who can slip through dimensions.

Quality: **
Hardness: **

Written by Martin

6 February 2011 at 11:50

9 Responses

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  1. So how much of this book is left? It feels like you have been reading it forever.


    7 February 2011 at 08:46

  2. It feels like I have been reading it forever! There are only three left: ‘What Continues, What Fails…’ by David Brin, ‘Mammy Morgan Played the Organ; Her Daddy Beat the Drum’ by Michael F. Flynn and ‘Bookworm, Run!’ by Vernor Vinge.


    7 February 2011 at 09:51

  3. So you won’t be going out on a high, then.


    7 February 2011 at 11:02

  4. So, roughly what proportion of the stories would you classify as actual hard sf?

    David H

    7 February 2011 at 11:20

  5. I’ll do some stats at the end but looking back over my posts I see stories which received four or more stars for hardness.

    ‘Relativistic Effects’ by Gregory Benford
    ‘Surface Tension’ by James Blish
    ‘The Person From Porlock’ by Raymond F. Jones
    ‘giANTS’ by Edward Bryant
    ‘Heat Of Fusion’ by John M. Ford
    ‘The Author of the Acacia Seeds’ by Usula K LeGuin
    ‘The Land Ironclads’ by HG Wells
    ‘The Cold Equations’ by Tom Goodwin
    ‘Waterclap’ by Isaac Asimov
    ‘Exposures’ by Gregory Benford
    ‘A Descent Into The Maelström’ by Edgar Allen Poe
    ‘The Xi Effect’ by Philip Latham
    ‘Down And Out On Ellfive’ by Dean Ing
    ‘The Singing Diamond’ by Robert L Forward
    ‘Davy Jones’ Ambassador’ by Raymond Z. Gallun
    ‘Procreation’ by Gene Wolfe
    ‘It’s Great To Be Back’ by Robert A. Heinlein
    ‘Proof’ by Hal Clement
    ‘The Star’ by Arthur C. Clarke
    ‘Light Of Other Days’ by Bob Shaw

    So I make that 20 out of 64 or 31%. (I also gave ‘Atomic Power’ by Don A. Stuart an indeterminate five or zero.)


    7 February 2011 at 11:40

  6. I think a story which is both five and zero stars of hardness at the same time should be classed as hard SF.


    12 February 2011 at 14:40

  7. How many of the 4+ starred stories also received 4 or more stars for quality?


    15 February 2011 at 20:18

  8. The only one I can remember off the top of my head is ‘Heat Of Fusion’. I will do some proper stats when I write up my final thoughts (hopefully at the weekend).


    15 February 2011 at 22:12

  9. […] by Katherine McLean ‘The Morphology Of The Kirkham Wreck’ by Hilbert Schenck ‘Tangents’ by Greg Bear ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ by William Gibson ‘What Continues, What Fails…’ by […]

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