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Thread: Are the Culture novels and Algebraist truely unconnected?

  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Orange View Post
    Nature has a habit of repeating itself - alien life out there as we know it is going to be based single cells that are not going to be much different to single cells that have been cultivated on this world (like different types of clouds and liquids working on the same principle on every planet with a atmosphere). Also large fungus, huge colonies of bacteria, seem to always take on the same shape forced by universal physics. I can see fungus on alien worlds being identical to Earth fungus on casual inspection.
    You are making wild assumptions. Even in our own solar system there are planets and moons with wildly different chemical makeups. Venus has a hot ammonia atmosphere, while the gas giants are full of hydrocarbons. If life were to arise on those planets then it would surely be different at the cellular chemistry level, even if the morphology is earth cell like.
    We know that earth life can survive under different chemical environments while keeping the same shape (e.g. the shrimps which are found on deep sea hydrothermal vents and depend on bacteria that metabolise hydrogen sulphide rather than oxygen), but that does not imply that extra-terrestrial must have earth-like forms. The best you can say is that it could resemble our life, but might not.

  2. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not Registered Here
    ...however if we are to take it life can only exist on a planet similar to Earth, and cannot be supported anywhere else (as most scientists claim), then the differences aren't great enough for another cook book to exist, thereby forcing the intelligent life to have come from a very similar background to us.
    Well, not all scientists claim that there is 'only one cookbook'; here, for instance, is an interesting on-line book about the The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11919
    There you will find possible alternatives to DNA, to water as a solvent for life, even alternatives to liquid phase reactions.

    Note that in The Algebraist the Dwellers, who float in an atmosphere largely consisting of hydrogen and helium, must themselves be almost completely made of gas, so they are likely to be very unlike Earth-life. Could such flimsy life exist in the real universe? Carl Sagan thought so. Here's a paper he wrote with Edwin Salpeter on the subject.
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1976ApJS...32..737S

    Obviously any intelligent life that evolves in such exotic environments is unlikely to resemble humanity, and Banks has described a number of different gas-bag species in various books.

  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Vig View Post
    You are making wild assumptions. Even in our own solar system there are planets and moons with wildly different chemical makeups. Venus has a hot ammonia atmosphere, while the gas giants are full of hydrocarbons. If life were to arise on those planets then it would surely be different at the cellular chemistry level, even if the morphology is earth cell like.
    I said the physics of gas and water worked on the same principle, not their actual properties, also isn't gas pretty much liquid but in another state? The Dwellers are made out of jovian gas in the same way we're made out of water, but our cell structure would be very similar because of physics (an organic sphere with a nucleus). Therefore a vast colonies of alien microbes on another world would be mistaken as mushrooms from our planet because physics cannot allow the alien microbes to form in any other shape.
    'Poverty is not an injustice. There is no such thing as causes for poverty, only causes for wealth. Poverty is not a wrong, but taking money from those who have it to equalize incomes is basically theft, which is wrong.' - Typical Randroid

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Orange View Post
    I said the physics of gas and water worked on the same principle, not their actual properties, also isn't gas pretty much liquid but in another state? The Dwellers are made out of jovian gas in the same way we're made out of water, but our cell structure would be very similar because of physics (an organic sphere with a nucleus). Therefore a vast colonies of alien microbes on another world would be mistaken as mushrooms from our planet because physics cannot allow the alien microbes to form in any other shape.
    Oh the physics makes it true. I bow to your superior knowledge.

  5. #85
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    Has anybody seen the first episode of a documentary mini-series hosted by Stephen Hawking? It was about the different sorts of alien life that could be out there.
    'Poverty is not an injustice. There is no such thing as causes for poverty, only causes for wealth. Poverty is not a wrong, but taking money from those who have it to equalize incomes is basically theft, which is wrong.' - Typical Randroid

  6. #86

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conscious Bob View Post
    Hello...

    No Dwellers in the Culture universe, Voehn or any other Mercatoria exotic. Dwellers in particular are widespread and have vast lifespans. Any being likely to have encountered the Culture it would've been them.

    Earth features in both the Culture and Mercatoria universes but the Culture and Mercatoria do not encounter each other, they are both vast civilisations. The fact that they both visit earth means at some point they must occupy the same region of space. Same region different stories.

    FTL travel possible in Culture universe, no FTL possible without wormholes in Mercatoria universe.

    That just about covers it.
    Agreed.

    As an aside, there is one 'species' (if that is the right word) that exists in both The Algebraist and Culture 'verses, though. And no, I'm not talking about humans...

    (A clue: as well as in Algebraist, they're also mentioned in Excession, Matter, Surface Detail and, IIRC, Hydrogen Sonata)

  7. #87
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    Some sort of AI's?
    "Just have fun"

  8. #88

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    Nope. At least, that's not what I'm thinking of.

    Bigger clue: the reference to it/them in the Algebraist occurs in the section where Fassin is going through the libraries in Valseir's house, shortly after he meets Oazil. The exact mention is on page 293 of my paperback copy.


    Bigger still, borderline giving-it-away-completely-at-this-point clue: what does

    [surface detail spoiler]Av Himerance show Lededje Y'breq a picture of, shortly before he takes the 4d image of her[surface detail spoiler]

    ?



    They seem to be mostly mentioned en passant, I'm guessing TMH put them in as a sort of Easter Egg reference.

  9. #89
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    Ah, field-liners! Thank you for pointing that out.

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