[LMB] Temporary isolation

Ursula uleubner at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 6 05:17:29 GMT 2016

>     One of the most fascinating facets of Eric Flint's *1632* universe 

>is the technology-development side, where people have been delving into 
>dead-end or prematurely-obsolete technologies from our timeline that 
>take on fresh life when faced with a combination of futuristic know-who 
>and primitive resources.  For example, there's been a good case made 
>that fluidic digital computers are within the grasp of 1600s production 
>technology (having been a brief flash-in-the-pan tech in our timeline, 
>before being superseded by semiconductors), while semiconductor 
>fabrication is probably close to 5-10 decades out.  And the different 
>directions that computing technology might make with fluidics' specific 
>constraints and opportunities (lower clock speeds, more development of 
>parallel computing, fountain-based "holographic" displays, etc) make for 
>some fascinating speculation.
>     Of course, this depends on *enough* information, with sufficient 
>accuracy, being preserved.  In the 1632-verse, the uptimers nearly lost 
>their opportunity to build radio broadcasting systems because no one 
>could remember an 1800s-era trick for generating kilohertz- and 
>megahertz-frequency carrier waves (they got lucky -- there was a single 
>article in one of the libraries' really old reference books, and they 
>had people (many of them downtimers) who were diligent about data-mining 
>*every page* of *every book* for every tiny nugget of usable 
>knowledge).  It's no wonder that the Grantville libraries are considered 
>their greatest strategic resource.
>     Assuming the Barrayaran Firsters had some time to try and control 
>their fall to medieval technology status, I can easily see a desperate 
>effort to get every useful data source "printed" out to hardcopy.  I've 
>seen that turn up in a few SF stories over the decade.
This really demonstrates how bad the beginning of the TOI was.  You want to print out the useful information that is on computers?  Grantville had access to a mature rag paper industry.   The Firsters had an empty planet.  And a far higher proportion of their useful information on computers than a town in 2000 would have had.  Grantville had a civilization's worth of scholars and curious people to help sift through what they had and find what was useful. The Firsters had... an empty planet.
At least some of the authorities in Grantville realized that they didn't have the uptime people with the skill to figure out what they knew.  And that downtime people were a necessary resource for putting the things they had to the best use.
I can see the shape of a story with a  Firster with a taste for ancient literature first thinking the 1632 stories might give some guidance to saving civilization, and the coming to realize that without access to early modern Europe, they're screwed.


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