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Prophets of Science Fiction 
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Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:40 pm
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Post Prophets of Science Fiction
A new TV show with Ridley Scott. One episode is about Heinlein.
LINK


Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:06 pm
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Post Re: Prophets of Science Fiction
It seems clear from the photos at the link that this production is using actors to portray Asimov, Dick, Clarke, et al. No photo of the Heinlein actor yet. I wonder whether they'll be speaking roles, or just visuals with voiceover [from the same actors, other actors, or (for authors who were captured on audiotape) the real thing].


Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:00 pm
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Post Re: Prophets of Science Fiction
Thanks, Bill. That looks like something I want to see.

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Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:35 am
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Post Re: Prophets of Science Fiction
the science channel isn't a part of my cable package- sounds like a road trip to see my son :)


Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:05 pm
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Post Re: Prophets of Science Fiction
Shallow research alert:

Quote:
In 1950, the term "Robotics" was coined by author Isaac Asimov in his book I.ROBOT — and our collective imagination reeled.


Without doing any further research, I will assert that this is incorrect.

My guess: the word was coined in one of Asimov's short stories in the 1930s or 1940s-- the ones that were eventually collected in I, Robot.

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Bill Higgins
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Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:54 pm
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Post Re: Prophets of Science Fiction
An n-gram search shows an initial spike in 1899-1910, small hump around 1920, then taking off for good around 1945.

As far as I can tell though, these are all due to misattributed dates. In fact, the dates in Google ngrams appear completely untrustworthy. Wikipedia cites the OED saying Asimov coined it in 1941. Robot, of course, dates to 1920.

At first I thought I had found a reference in this 1938 journal, "The Aeroplane", but it is a false OCR of badly printed "aerobatics".


Sat Oct 22, 2011 6:18 am
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Post Re: Prophets of Science Fiction
I have heard it claimed that in Czech, the word robota means forced labor or slave. I don't know if this is true or not. My English-Czech translator doesn't recognize it, but that's no proof.

Wikipedia asserts this:
In its original Czech, robota means forced labour of the kind that serfs had to perform on their masters' lands, and is derived from rab, meaning "slave".

I don't dispute this translation, but I am dubious of the claimed derivation. rab was possibly derived from robota not the other way round as robota is cognate with other Slavic languages such as Russian which has the word работа which simply means work.

Of course, I could be wrong and rab with or without the meaning given here is older than the current Slavic cognates and provided the derivation for all of them.

Robota in all its modern forms is cognate with German Arbeit as in the infamous death camp slogan Arbeit macht frei and English labor. the 'ra' of Slavic is a metathesized version of 'ar' in German, a common occurrence in all languages with words using the liquids 'r' and 'l' with a vowel as old English 'brid',(chick or fledgling), became modern 'bird'.


Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:36 am
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Post Re: Prophets of Science Fiction
PeterScott wrote:
An n-gram search shows an initial spike in 1899-1910, small hump around 1920, then taking off for good around 1945.

As far as I can tell though, these are all due to misattributed dates. In fact, the dates in Google ngrams appear completely untrustworthy.

They're not COMPLETELY untrustworthy, not by a long shot, but they do require some care.

They get their metadata from the libraries that scanned Google Books, and from some other commercial sources. Apparently it was the practice in many libraries, if the date of a publication was not readily available, to assign a date of 1899 or 1900 to its catalogue entry. So lots of searches have a false spike around 1900.

For bound magazines, dates are wobbly, and the date Google Books has is frequently the founding date of the journal.

If you are aware of these kinds of problems, you can evade them to some extent, and get some useful results. Pursue the bracketed-by-years search links Ngrams offers. Play around with the year boundaries. Examine the hits and become aware of bogus or questionable sources.

Have you read the (fascinating!)Science paper that introduced Google Ngrams, "Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books?" I have more to say at http://beamjockey.livejournal.com/166102.html?thread=1163478. All kinds of fun may be had with this tool.

The authors warn that the 1800-2000 corpus is more reliable than earlier or later years, and urge caution when conducting serious research with their tools.

Regarding "robotics," the Google Books corpus consists mainly of stuff between book covers, whereas Asimov's stories (and much of SF and its culture) first appeared in magazines. So more work is necessary in tracking "robotics" to its origin-- but if you can locate a story in a hardcover collection, then use online SF bibliographic databases to figure out its first magazine publication, you may be able to overcome the limitations of Google Books and Ngram Viewer.

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Bill Higgins
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Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:15 pm
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Post Re: Prophets of Science Fiction
A better link for my own blog entry about Ngram Viewer, with links to reference material and a bunch of amusing example plots, would be:
http://beamjockey.livejournal.com/166102.html

Sorry I released my previous posting into the wild without realizing this.

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Bill Higgins
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Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:20 pm
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Post Re: Prophets of Science Fiction
Watched the first two of these (Shelley and Dick), hoping for something better than the usual fast-cut light and shadow show with semi-famous-name talking heads byting one sentence at a time and filled out with indifferently acted tableaux using nonspeaking actors. ("My god, Shelley and Byron said natter-grommish, too!")

Was disappointed. I don't see how anyone can watch these History/Mystery/Sci/Eddication programs any more. MTV for the forebrain.

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In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:12 am
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