Silas Hudson on Shiny Utopian Futures

Perhaps the most effective persuasion against technocracy was its own literature, especially science fiction depicting futures of pure reason and socialist brotherhood. These bright imaginary utopias of endless scientific progress stood in embarrassing contrast to the drab and stultifying reality that emerged from every attempt to implement in the real world the means by which these new orders were to be established.

— Silas Hudson

Reading Analog, May/June 2024 Issue

Which would be this one:

If you’ve seen Analog covers from 1960-65, you understand why this hurts to look at.

So far, it’s reminded me very clearly why I cancelled my subscription in 2008 (and stopped actually reading the issues I received sometime around 2002).

Continue reading “Reading Analog, May/June 2024 Issue”

Silas Hudson on Thinking Outside the Box

There is often merit in ‘thinking outside the box’ for new and improved ideas and options. But when doing so is framed as ‘setting aside old perceptions and conventions’, or ‘moving beyond old ideas’, or ’embracing progress’ as ends in themselves – throwing away the old because it is old, in favor of the new because it is new – that is cause for caution.

It is often observable in such cases that what is presently known, though useful and effective otherwise, is ‘bad’ precisely because it doesn’t give those seeking to dispose of it the predetermined outcome that they desire, or merely fails to flatter their desired self-image as intelligent and insightful.

It’s a cheap shortcut to a self-interested paradigm shift. Denigrating the existing reality-congruent paradigm as backward, stagnant, or regressive opens the door to replacing it with their new, ego-flattering and ideologically-congruent paradigm without having to refute the old on its merits.

— Silas Hudson

Speaking of Olympus Mons

It’s curious how difficult it is to find the location of the actual summit of the volcano.

Various sources will tell you how high it is, some will tell you it’s near the south edge of the summit caldera, but you need to dig a bit to find that it’s a little west of Pangboche crater (whose north rim appears to rival it), just an unremarkable spot in the middle of a plain. If you know where to look, Google Mars kinda gets you close (yellow pins on right):

A little underwhelming

No dramatic summit ridge? No awe-inspiring pinnacle? Not even a small rise to set the spot off a little bit? I expected more from the largest (planetary) mountain in the solar system.

This is where artistic license comes into play.

Silas Hudson on the Utopian Fiction Versus Reality

Perhaps the most effective persuasion against technocracy was its own literature, especially science fiction depicting futures of pure reason and universal brotherhood – the Perfection of Man. These bright imaginary utopias of scientific splendor stood in embarrassing contrast to the drab, stultifying, and corrupt reality that emerged from every attempt to establish in reality the foundations necessary for constructing these fictitious new orders.

What can be imagined cannot necessarily be realized. And realization is all the more difficult when the paradise of the imagination runs counter to the reality of human nature.

— Silas Hudson

One hopes not…

Doesn’t Look All That Intimidating

Came across this while doing some story research: Olympus Mons, complete with escarpment and aureole

Nothing to it, really…



It’s one picture of hundreds of its kind, cited as evidence of how impassible the escarpment around Olympus Mons is to surface-traveling explorers.


Look at the left side in this picture (west-northwest on Olympus Mons). No escarpment. No impassible five-mile-high cliffs. Just a long slope. Kinda like the ones on the south side of the volcano.

I bet you could drive a rover up those slopes…