I did wind up getting surgery on my hand; that's one of my before x-ray shots there. I don't think it's narcissistic to post it because it looks cool. See the break on the far right? That's my 5th metacarpal and I now have what looks like a drywall screw and a metal twist-tie holding the bone together. I can't wait to get my copy of those x-rays.
Top view. Thank the *FSM for keyboards, because I don't think writing by hand would be possible with that shattered thing. Did I mention that I'm totally high right now? I had my knee surgery yesterday, and today I am way drugged up on many many pain killers, which are not really stopping the pain so much as making me feel dopey, loquacious, and ready to write a post. According to my boss, who is awesome, I won't be working for a long long while. Which I think many people would be okay with, however I'm really going to miss the travel. But acl replacement surgery is a serious business, I'm told. Bending it will be out of the question for a few months. I'd really rather not spend this post complaining about how my life is going to suck and be different now with far less travel for a while at least, so I thought I'd do a book report post.
I recently acquired the seventy-ish books in the excellent Sci-Fi Masterworks series, which is a series of some of the awesomest sci-fi books ever. Some of my favorites are on the list, but there are many I've never read, and many many that I'd never even heard of. I've been wanting to read them for a while, but until my recent injuries I hadn't the time. Now, I'm all dove in.
'Rogue Moon' by Algis Budrys is bizarre. It was written in 1960, well before the moon landing, and part of what he did in the novel was to envision a future version of Man's eventual moon exploration. In Rogue Moon, we don't use rocket ships to get there, we use what is essentially a beam machine like in Star Trek, but with a few upsetting differences. What the transporter does is, it picks apart and reads every single atom in the object to be teleported and in this process, destroys it. It then sends an electronic signal with every single bit of information about the object's atomic structure to a receiver on the moon, which then breaks down local raw material (moon rocks, i.e.) and reconfigures the atoms from said material to match the signal's specifications exactly. What this means for a human transported this way is that he is actually killed by this machine, reduced to atomic slag. The copy of the human that is then assembled on the moon is so exact that his brain's electrical currents, neurons, etc. contain the exact personality and memories of the original.
The reason men are travelling to the moon in the novel is that there is an artifact of unknowable properties on some acreage on the backside of the moon which, when entered, becomes some sort of bizarre human killing game. If you move the wrong way in the wrong spot, you are killed in a horrible fashion. If you get through one area, the next has its own rules that will also kill you gruesomely. It is not known if it is a natural phenomenon, an alien artifact, a higher dimensional highway intersection, or what. Man's discovery of it is compared to a small beetle who inadvertently walks into a disposed tomato sauce can on the ground. The beetle can't understand why he gets trapped in there, nor can he know if someone has placed it there to torment him, or if it has merely been discarded and forgotten there having nothing to do with him, or even whether it is a natural or artificial construct. Beetles are ignorant of tomato cans and lack the intelligence to comprehend them, and humans are ignorant of this artifact and lack both the intelligence and the context to navigate it. It was impossible to study in any meaningful manner, until...
An accidental discovery. A second receiver is built on Earth, in the same laboratory as the transporter in order that the destroyed man might continue his life on Earth, even if only as a copy. If a man is destroyed, and the resulting signal goes out to both receivers, there are a few seconds of confusion: The copy on the moon and the copy on Earth share perceptions for just a few seconds. In other words, the Earth copy actually sees what the Moon copy is up to because their brains are identical, and action-at-a-distance between them seems to be a consequence. But only for a few seconds as, once the copies adjust to their different surroundings, they cease to be identical and go on their separate perception ways.
So an idea is tested and the Earth receiver is outfitted with a sensory deprivation tank, so that the Earth copy is created directly inside of it. Since he has no overt incoming sensations, he is able to stay in sync with the Moon copy for a much longer time, though not indefinitely as even in a sensory deprivation tank the small differences in perception begin to break the connection.
However when the moon copy is sent into the artifact to explore, and when he dies horribly, the Earth copy is pulled screaming mad from the deprivation tank, and is unable to communicate what happened. So a certain type of man is needed, one who not only has a death wish, but who will not go insane after dying, coming back, and immediately reliving a new death horror every day.
Such a man is found... And then the character stuff is almost as insane as the plot. As I said it was written in the Mad Men decade and every single male character in the book hates himself, and hates everyone around him too. There is a constant war of sizing up, testing weak spots, and ridiculous posturing over one woman in particular who is an emasculating mega-bitch in her own right. The only exception is the only other female character in the book, whose only purpose is to listen to the main character's extravagantly long monologues about what makes himself tick and then inexplicably to tell him she loves him. She has no personality and in fact seems to have no last name.
It's here that I'll have to admit that I have not finished the book, but despite the extreme bafflement and irritation that I experience in trying to understand the childish mentality of fictional 1960's so-called Homo-sapien, I'm really enjoying it. A lot of writers from those mid decades seem to use very similar character ideas of people; using pop psychology in fiction was all the rage, and it seems as though it was usually about pissing contests, ego-trips, and makin' love to brainless women, man. Even so, the lousy mores of those old battles of the sexes can't obfuscate the overall bonkers yet thought-provoking plot.