Y’know how I always say something about birthdays of my “imaginary friends”? Well, tomorrow (June 1) is Hrothgar Tebrey’s birthday. Also his author’s birthday, although obviously they weren’t born in the same year. Or on the same planet.
There’s a post over at Tor.com titled “How Do You Like Your Science Fiction? Ten Authors Weigh in on ‘Hard’ vs. ‘Soft’ SF,” in which, as a passing comment, author Nancy Kress says something I’ve been wanting to write a bloggish tirade about for quite a while: the epic windstorm that sets off the rest of the plot of The Martian is basically impossible, because the air is too frakkin’ thin to have that much force. (I wanted to write a post titled “Viking Knows Better.” I may still do so. And include math and physics and all sorts of stuff to back it up.) I’m just pleased that someone who is allowed to say so saw fit to bring that up… She also mentions in passing that cloning is “just delayed twinning.” Well, yeah. Alas, the trope of the Evil Clone is too entrenched in fiction (and too many people think that’s the way it would be in real life, too — my former sister-in-law certainly believed that a clone would be evil due to a lack of a soul… and even decided that it happens that way with natural twins, too, since only one soul is allotted per genetic code *rolls eyes*), and we’re probably not going to see the end of it unless something really improbable happens: the general populace deciding that an understanding of basic science is a good thing.
(OMFG, people! Even George Lucas, a guy who didn’t know there’s no sound in the vacuum of space, didn’t think clones are innately less than the person they’re a clone of. Those clones in the Star Wars prequel trilogy had to be modified to be mindlessly obedient; they didn’t come that way naturally. In fact, IIRC, the one who did have a will of his own, just like the original, was like that simply because he wasn’t modified; he was essentially a much-younger twin of the original. *sigh* And now I’ve gotten too close — pun probably intended by some back corner of my brain that I usually ignore — to comparing a minor movie villain to one of my own people… Which is Really Bad, all things considered.)
Yesterday (?), a blogger I follow mentioned the song “Life Is a Highway.” Good song, and one that always reminds me of a sci-fi novel I like (Roadmarks, by Roger Zelazny), but a grammatical error in the lyrics has been bugging me ever since: “There was a distance between you and I.” Um… No. You want object pronouns there, not subject pronouns. Should be “between you and me.” You doesn’t change between subject and object, any more than it changes between singular and plural — which is to say, not at all — but I/me and we/us do, as do he/him, she/her, and they/them. If you can’t replace the combined pronouns with we, don’t say you and I; if you can’t replace them with us, don’t say you and me.
I’m supposed to be reading a (YA?) sci-fi novel so I can write a review of it, but I’m not supposed to have, much less express, an opinion about anything even remotely touching on matters of grammar, punctuation, word choice… *sigh* So far, the plot is pretty good for the sort of story it is, and the writing seems fairly competent in terms of grammar, but the punctuation…! Is it really so difficult to remember how to use a comma in a compound sentence? Is someone out there teaching kids not to use such commas, and what would such a person look like with a red pen shoved all the way up their left nostril and into their brain?