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91
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« Last post by The P on August 30, 2021, 12:34:05 pm »
Miserere by Teresa Frohock (17)

I picked this up on a whim.  I heard it was good, but got bad marketing because the publisher ran out of money and collapsed.  I liked it.  It's pretty short (under 300 pages), has decent writing, good characters, some intense moments.  The setting is kind of a barrier world between hell and earth, with the main characters as the force preventing the fallen/demons from conquering earth and being able to war against heaven.  In this place are supposedly all religions working together, but aside from brief blurbs, the characters are all christian-centric.  Which isn't bad, but I would have liked a more diverse cast, or at least some more detail of the other groups' roles in the world.  As it is, I enjoyed the interesting take on these religious mages using psalms and prayers to channel power, etc.

Reading some author comments online after reading, she said one big problem with the marketing of the book was that they decided to sell it in christian book stores.  I certainly don't blame whoever was in charge for making that mistake, but it surely would have bothered any wholesome parents trying to shelter their kids from secular fiction.  (There's swears, violence, gore, sex, abuse, oh my!)  So I'm not sure the audience for this one, it has enough overt christian religiosity to scare away the non-religious, but is plenty gritty to stand alongside others in the "grimdark" genre.

I'll probably check out some other stuff by Frohock at some point.  She has other unrelated fantasy.  While the ending was satisfying, this book could easily have sequels, but it seems unlikely after 10 years.
92
General Misc. / Re: Quotes
« Last post by sciborg2 on August 12, 2021, 08:37:21 pm »
Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
— Rainer Maria Rilke
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The No-God / Re: What else will the No-God say?
« Last post by SmilerLoki on August 12, 2021, 05:01:26 am »
As a result, what "we" hear the No-God say might only be residual or leftover remnants of the Insertant, while what the Consult (Wracu, Sranc) "hears" comes from the System itself.
This would not, in fact, be a take on the philosophical zombie thought experiment, or at least not in any way a fruitful one. It'd just be, ultimately, a technical detail.
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The No-God / Re: What else will the No-God say?
« Last post by H on August 11, 2021, 06:52:37 pm »
It could well be the case that what happens once the Insertant serves it's "circuit-fulfilling" function, that the No-God does what it is made/programmed to do.  The leftover "identity" of the Insertant is incidental and irrelevant to the general functioning of the System.  The Insertant only serves to initiate Resumption.

As a result, what "we" hear the No-God say might only be residual or leftover remnants of the Insertant, while what the Consult (Wracu, Sranc) "hears" comes from the System itself.
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The No-God / Re: What else will the No-God say?
« Last post by SmilerLoki on August 11, 2021, 01:51:38 pm »
One of the most interesting traits of the No-God is the seeming disconnect between its actions and statements. While its statements perhaps signal a sort of existential confusion, its actions are precise and show clear intentionality, which is corroborated by various accounts (Aurang's, Skafra's, to an extent Wutteat's) testifying to the agency of the No-God. It does things, it's not just a predetermined algorithm, at least not from the point of view of its intelligent servants. It possesses all the common signs of intentionality in its actions.

The issue, thus, is in its statements. I would say that this disconnect outlines Bakker's original framing of the philosophical zombie thought experiment - here, the aforementioned zombie is behaving intelligently, but, if we're to go by its own account, doesn't recognize it itself. It lacks a crucial something that makes humans human, the exact something the philosophical zombie experiment endeavors to pinpoint. I'm currently unprepared to make any assumptions as to how that might work or what it might ultimately mean.

Returning to the question at hand, my guess is, any further pronouncements of the No-God would only strengthen the framework of Bakker's take on the philosophical zombie idea. One thing I want to note is that I don't believe the Insertant retains in any way enough identity to impact the System while it's operational, although maybe at the end of the cycle, when the System is less stable, that might change. During the First Apocalypse, the No-God was active for nearly 12 years, and the number 12 appears to be thematic for both TSA and the Book of Revelations (the biblical Apocalypse), being present in the much discussed 144000.
96
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« Last post by The P on August 11, 2021, 01:48:02 pm »
Inside Man by K. J. Parker (16)

I like just about anything he writes; have I said that before?  This is another novella.  It's kind of a sequel to last year's Prosper's Demon.  This is some time later, now from the demon's perspective.  He's been dubbed "fragile" due to prior events, and assigned to "other work of equal value."  Parker gives a fun depiction of a bureaucratic hell in opposition to, but also in support of the Plan.  There are lots of real-world Judeo-Christian analogues throughout (mostly poked for fun and given a wry take), but it has plenty of Parker-verse connections (Perimadea, Robur, Saloninus, etc.).  Thoroughly enjoyable, it drew an audible chuckle on several occasions.  The next Parker book looks delayed until January, alas.
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The No-God / Re: What else will the No-God say?
« Last post by H on August 10, 2021, 01:00:28 pm »
I think you're correct, but if no internality, why is it asking quasi-self reflecting questions? Some remnant of consciousness expressing itself through the software? An effect of consciousness as code, perhaps.

Or, could it be that, since it lacks that might be called "genuine" introspection, it asks because it cannot feel or have an idea it's own state.

Perhaps more clearly said that the No-God is "pure" consciousness, absent self-consciousness.  To get even more direct, let us say, perhaps, it has seeming awareness absent any sort of self-awareness.  Since it's perception seems necessarily limited, since that perception seems to exclude (or, not include) itself, but the Insertant on which it is based likely has some memory, or sense, pointing to the idea that this is now a lack, it asks about it incessantly.
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The No-God / Re: What else will the No-God say?
« Last post by TaoHorror on August 10, 2021, 12:18:21 am »
I think you're correct, but if no internality, why is it asking quasi-self reflecting questions? Some remnant of consciousness expressing itself through the software? An effect of consciousness as code, perhaps.
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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« Last post by The P on August 09, 2021, 05:06:34 pm »
A Veil of Spears by Bradley P. Beaulieu (15)

Each of these has been better than the previous one.  I have minor gripes with some details (where do we get all this wood in the desert?), but nothing to ruin my enjoyment.  Beaulieu continues to shift the stakes, I keep thinking I know what kind of conflict/climax he's building to, but new players and insight keeps me on my toes.  This third book kept mainly to the previously established pov.  There is a new one added in, but only had a handful of chapters.  We also got some very brief povs from a couple different kings.  Thoroughly enjoyable, I look forward to the final three, but maybe a couple short books before I dive back in.
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The No-God / Re: What else will the No-God say?
« Last post by H on August 09, 2021, 02:16:42 pm »
It wouldn't shock me though, if we get the same sort of move that Bakker pulled with Kellhus in TAE for the No-God in TNG.  While we never did have a No-God POV, to me it seems likely that the No-God's POV will necessarily be hidden and we are left with only seeing it's seeming behavior.

Considering that Bakker has likened the No-God to a p-zombie, this likely is the only way that could make sense possibly.  Because there is no POV, there is no "internality" to the No-God, there is only it's behavior and it's only post-hoc that we grant it seeming "Subjectivity."
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