Saturday, May 14, 2011

expedition with Crow part II

A few years ago I came across a concept in one of those ginormous space operas I sometimes read that amused me more than usual.

The idea was that people on earth at some future date finally got their act together, stopped having wars, cleaned up the environment, and made peace with all the animals. Ridiculous, I know, but we can dream. I hate it that I can't remember what book it was part of but I've searched my failing memory, searched the diminished bookshelves, and googled til my eyeballs ached without result.

As I recall it was one of the more minor plot points among a multitude of larger issues going on during the course of the story. Anyway, mankind had finally cobbled together a couple of starships and set out to explore the galaxy where they found, much to their surprise, a race of advanced humans who were part of a galactic civilization. It turned out that for thousands of years aliens had been dropping by earth and taking away small groups of people to planets where they could be introduced to polite alien society.

We keep looking and hoping for some sort of quantum leap toward planetary maturity all the while our leaders and power mongers can only involve themselves in wars and processes that lead to short term gains for themselves and continued self-aggrandizement. It's frustrating. No wonder I like science fiction

Next time I'll tell you about the books that postulate a superior and enormously powerful alien race who are Buddhists. They only allow beings who have never deliberately or accidentally on purpose hurt another sentient being to leave their own solar system. Any who attempt to do so die the second their spaceship passes beyond their star's gravitational influence. You have to admit it's a good way of keeping the neighborhood peaceful.

Anyway, it's Saturday night and getting a bit late here east of the east coast. I think Crow and his friends may be looking for some friendly aliens willing to take them and all their friends to a world that will be a kinder place for them. I wish them well and hope they'll invite us to go along.


  1. my goodness but crow's going to be uncomfy having too much sit time in those duds he's sporting...he must be hitting every haberdashery from one side of the earth is it? to the other to home again and back again, jiggedy jig. but he is one handsome fellow. why can't poor octopus hitch a ride, i am feeling sorry for her sucker pads but at least she has that delicious parasol to help shade her delicate skin...and such a lovely shade too. cat is looking positively sick of them both but they are a food source, I she a meat eater? :)

    your imagination knows no bounds and i look forward to this super-alien race of which you sentient being harmed and dying in the blink of an eye as soon as is necessary without a challenge or whimper or even a whine? where do i sign up? oh wait, i forgot, i am a card carrying member but keep breaking those rules about prostrations and touching forhead without knees...such sticklers for rules, i guess that's why they manage to be at peace, happy and blissed out 'most' of the time. well the dalai lama seems blissed out anyway..wonder what place he came from... originally that is.

    i am amazed you don't sneak in some other color but keep so diligently to your plan in your painting. i love your soft brown walls and arches and you do see how excruciatingly painful that would be for me to have the control over mind to do? i'd have to sneak in some color to mess it up. no ability to maintain any self-control, being a native California girl, i guess.

    xoxoxox and never thought you are beyond the east coast out in the Atlantic ocean floating along unencumbered like a large ship coming to life yourself. stay cool. me too. yeah right.

  2. A special painting and a special post. I am inclined to head out on a Google search in hopes I might find what you have not yet come upon...but I will save myself the frustration. The piece of the story is great to ponder, and the next story sounds marvelous too.

    Can I come too, Crow?

  3. Oh my, hasn't this picture really turned out beautifully?!

    I love space opera too - the one book I did finish during the holidays was Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton; no really deep insights but what an imagination! A nice fat adventure blockbuster, with a sequel too :-)

    Ah yes, it would be so easy for us to make the world a better place. But we don't seem to be able to. We seem to have a penchant for living on the edge; our inner clocks stuck at one minute to midnight ...

  4. I'd love to see the term "advanced humans" become more than an oxymoron.

    Other than Ursula K. LeGuin, I've never been much of a science fiction reader. I'm not sure if Vonnegut qualifies as science fiction, but I don't think I'd want to be a human caught up in some of the craziness he's written about!

    I love the painting. The octopus is more beautiful than ever.

    Sending a ((hug))

  5. Hi Susan,

    Wonderful - It reminds me of the golden rule – do unto others. But also add that the application of the golden rule must, by necessity, not result or cause harm or suffering – except for necessary existential survival for food and then only where any killing is necessarily swift to avoid suffering. What we eat and how we treat animals and the environment tells us a lot about how ethical or otherwise we are – as one earth bound species! Sensible aliens would no doubt agree!!

    Gorgeous pictures previously of Halifax – looks like a very nice area.

    I look forward to more salutations from your salubrious crow!

    Best wishes

  6. Look at our human history and's not in our nature.

    What do you do when you meet the Buddha? Kill him

    I'm sorry

  7. Ah, a wonderful world to wish, hope and dream for! Thankfully art can help serve this purpose with stories, music, and paintings including your beautiful watercolour. I love Crow's self-satisfied, slightly naughty yet wise smile matched by his steed, and the wistful looks of lion and octopus (now how did he end up in the desert?).

  8. i'm looking at the gentle tones of the painting, wondering if Crow and friends are all headed to a portal where they'll be transported to the world of peace you describe.... and wondering about their diet there.... will they all eat fruitcake? ;0) i love the surprise of the colors amongst all the sand and camoflage of the creatures who can blend into it.

  9. linda - Crow is indeed a handsome fellow who always dresses well to suit the time and circumstance he encounters. I felt a little bad for the octopus too but the idea is that she and the cat are grumping at one another - as people and other beings are wont to do.

    Ah, my imagination knows all too many bounds but I stumble along with my activities anyway and follow few written or spoken rules. From what I've read I understand the Dalai Lama is understood to be an emanation of Avalokiteshvara known as the Buddha of Compassion. I love the idea of emanations who are both here and in the Pure Land of Bliss. Perhaps we'll eventually find ourselves there in a pure land where meditation is clearer.

    I've long thought that rather than describe myself as an artist I'm rather more of a colorist. Being raised as a good Brit I was taught to be tidy :-)

    Easy to stay cool around here considering we're in another long phase of fog and rain. xoxo

    lydia - I put off writing the post for several days in hope of stumbling across the author and title. I'm glad you enjoyed it. The second story is contained in the books of James Alan Gardner.

    Of course you can come says Crow. He's on this quest for all good people.

    francis - I'm delighted you like it because I'm very pleased with it too.

    Peter Hamilton has been a favorite of mine ever since the Greg Mandel series. In fact, I just ordered new copies of the Night's Dawn books while they're still available (the premise is amazing). Fallen Dragon and Judas Unchained are spectacular adventures but I don't recommend the new Void series.

    Iain M. Banks Culture books are just about my all time favorites but I'll never forget (or be without) copies of Vernor Vinge's two masterworks - 'A Fire Upon the Deep' and 'A Deepness in the Sky'. I could talk for hours about books I love.

    I think active imagining is the key to making our world a better place.

  10. Boy... one of these days I will get tired of telling you how much I like your art..... but it ain't today!

    //enormously powerful alien race//

    ... maybe Canadians?

  11. pagan sphinx - Considering the state many are in now we've got a long way to go. It's not allowed to miss steps in the process.

    We were delighted some years ago to note that Kurt Vonnegut's books had been transferred to the literature section at Powell's. It wouldn't be a bad idea to simply file all fiction books alphabetically.

    Glad you like the painting :-)

    lindsay - There are a number of science fiction authors who are well educated scientists and philosophers whose work should be better known. Most sc-fi films come from the Heinlein wars with aliens scenario but there's so much more interesting stuff available to readers.

    I'm looking forward to Crow's return and hearing more about his ongoing adventures.

    ol'buzzard - You're right that our overall history as a species isn't a happy one but you also know the meaning of that phrase is for individual understanding.

    Maybe in some distant eon we'll get it right somewhere.

    marja-leena - From what I can understand of his story thus far Crow went to the middle east in February to help the people involved in the protests. While there he heard of a secret route mapped by ancient Aegyptians in their quest for moving bodily to a better world. He's searching for that path now :-)

    It was a delight drawing and painting this piece. So happy you can see it.

    gfid - Reading your comment made me smile because that's really just about the entirety of what I hoped to show in the picture. Color and camouflage were my watchwords. Of course, they'll eat fruitcake and baklava too :-)

    okjimm - Oops! You made it by just as I was in the process of answering (in text edit cos there have been accidents before).

    I'm glad you like it.
    I'll also tell you straight up it ain't gonna be Canadians (who are much akin to boring Americans).

  12. Susan - regarding the re-categorization of Kurt Vonnegut pleases me too. :-)

  13. I've read all Hamilton has written - in fact, I started rereading Pandora's Star to get up to speed for the last part of the Void trilogy (which I agree isn't quite up to the standard of the rest - though I still don't find it bad). I'm inclined to do that with series - now that it looks like George Martin is finally actually going to publish vol 5 of "Ice and Fire" there's a lot of pleasurable work ahead of me there too! :-)

    And I agree with you completely about Vernon Vinge - who knows, in a future life we may meet as Qeng Ho traders!

    How do you like Lois McMaster Bujold?

  14. THe painting has turned put really well Susan. I love it but I agree with other commentators, no matter how well turned out is our Mr Crow, he must be jolly hot!

  15. francis - Yes, I've read all of Hamilton's books too as well as all of Iain Banks, Alastair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter, Greg Bear, M. John Harrison, and long ago Arthur C. Clark et al from the 50's and 60's. Then I read other things for thirty years so there was a lot to catch up on by 1993. I was forced to leave many of my books behind when we moved here.

    The only book I've read by George Martin was one called 'Fevre Dream' which I liked well enough but he was another who just had more books on the shelf than I was prepared to delve in to. Each time I found one it was a follow-up to one that wasn't there. Strangely enough I never read any of Bujold's books since arriving too late back to sci-fi to catch up with the Vorkosigan series and the others appeared to be fantasy which I hardly ever read since Tolkien, Lord Dunsany, William Morris, George MacDonald, TH White, CS Lewis and others spoiled me years ago. If you recommend some books or a series by either writer I'll happily add them to my list.

    If you haven't read it I'd highly recommend Paul McAuley's 'Quiet War' and 'Gardens of the Sun'. The best new sci-fi writer in the past year was Paolo Bacigalupi. His 'Wind-Up Girl' is a stunning novel and uncomfortably close to what we see developing now.

    jams - I've never yet seen a picture of a classic desert Arab running around in shorts and a t-shirt :-)

  16. Oh right, like the Space Buddhists wouldn't have been subjugated by the Space Freemasons/Hollow Earth Lizardmen Coalition eons ago.

  17. I think that book you speak of is "Muppets Take Manhattan". They are all animals and are kind to each other, and even though they are broke, they eat regularly because of the kindness of others. Just sayin'.
    Ah yes, peace on earth, (or on some planet or star, whatever). I think we can have it in our mind. What's wrong with that?
    Close your eyes when you go to bed and you are anywhere you want to be. Look deeply into the plate of food, nourishment, in front of you. You can be eating anywhere. Look closely at an animal, or a loved one, they have mice and friends everywhere on earth.
    Crow is just bitching a bit as he wishes and hopes for those here that he loves. I know he has already found Nirvana, (The spiritual concept, not the band), and just doesn't know how to selectively get us to join him.
    Like the space alien Buddhists, he realizes there are those that would just fuck things up if they came along. He's a smart one, that Crow.
    I don't wander over here often enough. If I had, I would have seen the local Halifax travelogue you posted below this dispatch from Crow. ( beautiful colorization of the drawing by the way), Very nice surroundings, and such a fine day. We are in the midst of a wayward Spring here as well. Rain, cold and even snow as recent as a week ago. Suxx.

    Peace my dear friend. My best to Crow and cronies, and to you.

  18. I think our planet is in lock-down. The war mongers are very much in control, unfortunately. It doesn't seem to matter who we vote into office - the carnage continues. If Crow figures out how to get us out of here, tell him not to forget me!

  19. randal - These are hard-ass space Buddhists who take no prisoners.

    spadoman - You are a wise and ironic man. I think you and Crow would get along famously.

    nancy - You are most definitely on Crow's evacuation list.

  20. Oh, wow, susan, that painting. I still love that sly smile.

    I wish Crow and his friends well, too. We've been such rotten stewards of this planet. Most days I think we deserve what befalls us.

  21. Well, I've never been into space travel myself...always a bit queasy with air sickness. I'll just stay grounded for now wait for that rapture thingy on Saturday. If I'm not one of the chosen, I'll just hang out here and live large on the stuff I'll pilfer from the raptured crowd.

  22. I love this color clarification of the earlier postcard. As usual I'm immediately struck by the rhyming of the arches with the umbrella, and of the umbrella handle with the octopus tentacles.

    And, also as usual, I'm admiring Crow's choices in footwear and in company. For years now my dresser top has been a place I call the Peaceable Kingdom, after the paintings of that same name. It's a place of creatures of many species, many ages, and many materials, all jumbled happily together.

  23. "hard-ass space Buddhists who take no prisoners"... snork! there's a religious group i could sign on with!!!!

    i'm presently a sore-assed Habitat for Humanity conference nerd (way too much sitting - my bum really hurts)

  24. lisa - Sometimes all I see is Crow's wry smile as he talked about a big world run by small minds. It's sad. Good thing he shares his brandy.

    me/nunly - Given the choice between civilized space aliens and rapturites I know who'd I'd chooses as travel companions. Meanwhile, I'll pilfer too.

    steve - This one was a lot of fun to work on. I'm so glad you enjoyed seeing it.

    gfid - Yeah, me too :-) I attended enough meetings to last a lifetime and I feel your pain.. well, metaphorically.