04:12:40 PM Nov 8th 2012
- Space Jews: Just as the avout are very similar to Christian monks in appearace and habits, the Ita seem to parallel medieval Catholic attitudes towards Jews. They do tasks that the Avout are sworn not to, and thus must be segregated from the Avout, just as Jews were forced to live in ghettos and often restricted to trades that Christians were forbidden to do. It's possibly lampshaded by their skullcap hats.
09:20:38 AM Jun 6th 2012
- The Ishmael: Erasmas. The very first thing he does is act as an amanuensis (read: scribe) for Orolo. In the end, he is the amanuensis (read: observer enabling proper quantum physical/parallel universe control) for, basically, the world.
12:49:55 AM Mar 28th 2010
Two tropes apply here that I don't know the name for. • Out of all the people on the face of the earth, Alia (a teenager) is THE BEST administrator, and is pulled out to run logistics for the big-smart-guy-meeting-to-save-the-world. And out of all the people on the face of the earth, some random dudes she grew up with are THE BEST qualified to go up and prevent the world from ending (as opposed to, say, another set of ringing vale types). To a certain degree this kind of coincidence is justified by the sci-fi conceit, true. But I feel like there's a trope at work here... aren't there other stories (the Tripods Trilogy, for instance) where a bunch of boyhood friends join some huge global movement, and all wind up playing really improbably crucial roles that really should have been way beyond their pay grade? • Similar but distinct from the Space Whale Aesop, a logical fallacy I'd like to call Argumentam Ad Space Whale. The author wants to settle some nagging but unsettled debate, so he invents in-world empirical evidence to prove one side right beyond a shadow of a doubt. Here it's the debate between the Procians, who think that all knowledge is just an elaborate set of symbols (for which read real world postmodernists) and the Hallikarnians, who think that things like mathematical proofs "really exist" somewhere outside of our own minds. Stephenson, who quite clearly sides with the Hallikarnians, proceeds to demonstrate that mathematical proofs MUST "really exist," because they allow travel between dimensions. Other examples would include Avatar (exploitative mining is wrong because the planet is a giant sentient organism) and the Left Behind books (God does exist because the rapture just freaking happened).