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Headscratchers: Emberverse
  • I accept the fact that Stirling locked himself into a Nantucket plot from the word go, and so I can let slide things like completely ignoring the Amish in order to keep the place good and isolated. (I'm only starting Scourge of God, too, so they might actually address that one.) But I draw the line at the horror elements: just how likely is it that the only survivors of the Dying Time anywhere east of Wisconsin were barely-verbal children?
    • I'm not sure what you mean by berely-verbal children (I'm in the middle of reading The Sunrise Lands ATM), but the Amish (at least around nantuket) aren't a factor for the simple reason that they died along with everyone else after the waves of starving people from the nearby cities overran their farms.
    • Thousands if not millions of people evacuated the nearby cities, and tried to live off the land of the peaceful Amish. Probably not going to end well
    • When you get to High King of Montival you'll learn about Kalksthorpe, a sizeable settlement of wannabe Vikings in northern Maine. Also, Prince Edward Island and parts of the Canadian Maritimes have formed civilized communities, although eastern Canada as a whole fared about as poorly as the eastern USA (although the rural Quebecois have reverted large-scale to a tribal existence).
  • So to begin with, folks would attempt to study what the hell happened in the first days. Elfey was born and raised and went to school at Oregon state around the time the event happened. There are dozens of ways to probe the event and figure out what the new laws are with basement technology besides the wonderful high tech. OSU just happens to have a history of science department and makes sure to never throw out a tool that's useful and cost alot to buy back in the day.
    • Continuing on, the plane crash near the start in Corvallis is all wrong, the planes do not fly that root, and even if they did use hydrologic controls to allow a soft crash. Also they are only blocks from the fire house, including a great hand pump water engine that's been there for years.
    • Throwing the cars into the river is damn stupid. Pop em into neutral and roll em. Hard to move them over cement barriers anyways into the water. Besides, too few bridges in Oregon to make it more than an occasional hazard. For example, between Eugene and Corvallis are no bridges (30 miles), then a few in Albany (10 miles), and so on. If the cars died where they were, only a few should of been on bridges at night anyways. It's not like the bridges are packed. Thus, why the heck are the rivers not used? Riverboats and barges used to use the Willamette and still use the Columbia. It's the only way to do a decent amount of grain transfer. Plus this way you get to use the Mennonites
    • Oh yeah the Mennonites. Way to miss the largest group around OSU, Mennonites who basically own all the land on one side of the river between Eugene and Corvallis. They are a higher tech branch, so they have tractors and cars and phones, along with keeping a large amount of horses and all their own food from their land. It would be tough, but they could survive the best of anyone, and be on a great stretch of trading.
    • and why do phosphoric processes stop? Sure I'll buy gunpowder and other stuff, but phosphorus is kinda needed for ATP and animal life. Plenty of stuff to abuse that, or at least probe the boundaries.
    • It is not phosphoric processes that stopped. Rather, as it was explained in The Protector's War, gunpowder does not work the way it used to because when gases are raised to a certain pressure, the molecules "glue" together, for lack of a better term, and acts more like a liquid or solid with respect to compression. As such, pressurized gases would leak or expans slowly if there was a breach or leak in a container, and explosions do not happen.
    • Oh, and yeah, Linn county is officially the least religious in the nation. But the fringe wicca groups have been decried as Californian outsiders coming up here to 'live in the trees' for 20+ years and heavily disliked by long term natives (multiple generation types) from the valleys. Especially since Southern Oregon, which is further from the region of Northern Oregon that would of been warring, with lot less population, but a still heck of a lot of land that grows food should be a much bigger player. Say Roseburg which has 20k in the town, 50k within another 10 miles of the town, has massive amounts of agriculture land for vegetables and grazing.
      • Southern Oregon, specifically the area around Ashland, had been mentioned.
      • Word of God has it that a sizeable enclave similar to the Bearkillers formed around Medford, although they don't play any role in events farther north.

  • New laws? There aren't any new laws. The Mind is probably monitoring every chemical reaction on Earth and suppressing individual examples whenever someone tries to light gunpowder, boil water in an enclosed space, et cetera, while leaving the laws of physics in place otherwise. It's just that omnipotent.

  • So is it Fantasy or Soft Science Fiction?
    • Fantasy. In even a soft sci-fi universe, the world as we know it would quite literally cease to exist if the laws of physics were raped the way they are in these novels. Life would cease in literally nanoseconds, nuclear fusion in stars would stop, effectively all chemical reactions would come to a grinding screeching halt. The books' universe is only possible with supernatural intervention. Thus, fantasy.
      • Well, given the true nature of The Change, it makes sense that it works the way it does because, well, you know what you're doing.
  • What happened to the bit where Mike Hutton would be taking charge of the Bearkillers and then elections would be instituted? I know we don't see a lot of the Bearkillers in these later books, but Signe is definitely looking like a dowager queen from what we do see.
    • That's easy enough to explain: Signe never supported her husband's plan to give the Bearkillers an elected leadership. At his funeral, she rallied the entire Outfit behind supporting his children as his successors.
      • Okay. Yeah. You'd think I'd remember that scene immediately, but apparently not. I'll reread the series before I ask any more questions, I think.
    • It is revealed later, through a speech by Mike Havel, Jr. in The Scourge of God, that the free folk of the Bearkillers will hail the next Bear Lord.
    • It's pretty clear which way that's going to go, though.
  • The Other Wiki about this novel series mentions that the First World countries will more likely to survive than the Third World countries. Shouldn't it be the other way around; because most of the people in the Third World don't have access to the advanced technology the First World has and most of the people in the First World are too dependent on the advanced technology and people will be too dependent on the advanced technology to the point that most people will forget the old technological ways without electricity.
    • Here are some of the arguments to support their position:
      • As a character (Mike Havel, I think) explains in-universe, the First World nations are sufficiently rich that people could afford to learn the old ways of doing things as a hobby. Witness, for example, the SCA members who've learned how to fight effectively without firearms, the weavers (like Juniper) who know how to make cloth without powered machinery, wranglers like Will Hutton and family, whose trade caters largely to show business and to hobbyist horsemen. Third-Worlders, on the other hand, don't think there's anything so awesome about being able to, say, make dishes or weave cloth without machinery; these are time-consuming processes and are seen by many as the arts of poor people. Young and/or ambitious Third-Worlders are not interested in learning them.
      • First World nations have a higher number of educated people, and a better knowledge base. They will have more knowledge of valuable subjects like medicine, agriculture, sanitation, and food safety — among many others — than will Third World nations.
      • There's the matter of pre-existing wealth. The United States and other First World nations have a significant amount of preserved food — canned, bagged, boxed, dried — that's not dependent on refrigeration, and could be used to keep people alive until crops are grown. They have large quantities of pre-made medicines, from analgesics to "designer drugs." They have raw materials for building — not just timber, but nails, concrete, prefab tools. (Indeed, we see all of these forms of wealth in the books.) Third World nations are less likely to have such fallbacks, and if they do, they will have less.
      • A number of Third World nations are to some degree dependent on First World nations for various forms of aid — aid which would no longer be forthcoming.
    • Then again, there are the pirates from Senegal who are raiding the East Coast in the second trilogy. They survived because more of their people were dependent upon traditional agriculture before the Change, and Senegal isn't as overpopulated as many other African nations relative to the land's carrying capacity. They've done well enough to construct large seafaring vessels and publish post-Change literature, but still raid the former USA and Canada because their country lacks the pre-Change salvage materials that would make them a true world power.
  • Why is it no one even thought about carrier pigions? this troper in Oregon knows of two diffrent people that keep them in her town, and knows there are more around the country, so why is no one in this series useing them?
    • Pigeon: The Other White Meat. If the owners, or their neighbors, got desperate enough, the pigeons would go into the stew pot (probably well ahead of other people).
      • I can get a few desperate indaviduals doing that, but I know there are some in Portland, and a smart guy like Arminger would probably know the worth of the birds and their keepers.
      • Arminger was a Period Nazi, especially at first. If carrier pigeons weren't used around the 11th-12th centuries, he wouldn't have considered using them himself.
      • Carrier pigeons work best going one-way, to their home roosts. Generally they're carried elsewhere, then released to deliver a message home. A carrier pigeon messenger service counts on having the home roost in one place and a food source in another, but even then they are vulnerable to anyone wanting a quick meal while en route.
      • Carrier pigeons also navigate via magnetic fields. People who routinely breed and race carrier pigeons keep track of sunspot activity to ensure that their very expensive birds don't get lost. Considering the effect that the Change had on humans, it's safe to say that more than a few pigeons went off course.
  • In The Given Sacrifice Jack London's estate in Sonoma County, California is restored to working order, but Ingolf and company have no idea who Jack London was. Granted, Ingolf's lifestyle doesn't lend itself to a lot of reading, but we know he's been around better educated people (like Rudi, Mathilda, and Father Ignatius) who at least would have heard of Jack London. Unlike a lot of 20th century literature London's work (particularly The Sea Wolf, White Fang, and Call of the Wild) would resonate well with post-Change society and would at least be available in any large surviving libraries (both the Oregon State University library and the Portland city library would be available to the characters). This is especially glaring since, at the time of the Change, the estate was a state park and would have been fully designated with signs, bronze plaques, etc. explaining to the odd visitor exactly who Jack London was and why he was important. Some of this information should have survived.
    • Possibly explained by simple author bias—Stirling's works seem big-L Libertarian in tone; London was an avowed Socialist.
    • As for those informative plaques, people probably would have scavenged the metal.
Ella EnchantedHeadscratchers/LiteratureThe Emperor's New Clothes

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