Binti Question 2 - Technology and/or Magic

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Much of the technology of Binti's earth is biological - such as their sapient crustacean starships. Plants are engineered to exude oil that smells like blood, to grease the rails on Oomza Uni, where Binti goes to school. How things actually work is never explained, though it seems to be fairly consistent. How does this work for you as worldbuilding? Is it just handwavy fantasy? Or Clarke-ian magical science?

Comments

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    A big handwavy but interesting and credible, and certainly different to a more standard technoverse!
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    @RichardAbbott said:
    A big handwavy but interesting and credible, and certainly different to a more standard technoverse!

    More or less my thoughts...

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    Handwavey, for sure. How is that different from Clarkian Magic-Science?
    Anyway, I don't mind. There was a collection of cool ideas in here, though some (like living ships) I've encountered before. It didn't really hang together enough for me to get excited by the world building, but it didn't bother me, either.

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    Clarke's Law is 'any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic" Both are handwavey, but Clarke-ian magical science attempts to make it seem reasonable, while fantasy doesn't even try. Purely a judgement call as it's a continuum.

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    I didn't actually see anything hand-wavy or magic about it. They've simply mastered a kind of genetic engineering.

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    Yes. Obviously. But what are the principles they worked with to get there? Why are starships shrimp and not pangolins? What links shrimp and FTL travel or antigravity, both of which shrimp starships demonstrate? I would like it to not be so arbitrary but actually have some mildly interesting chain of logic behind it.

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    The impression I got of the technology was one of diversity. There were many different species and cultures around, and they mostly shared their technology.

    I don't think the living spaceships came from Earth, but I don't know where they were from. The rails at Oomza were a transport method there, not elsewhere.

    What I thought more interesting was the mis-match in technology and application. The Himba made the most advanced IT devices (astrolabes) but still lived in basic houses. The world-building seemed inconsistent in that way, like Okorafor hadn't followed through with the knock-on effects of the technology. Then again, we only really saw the Himba, and their culture was one of deliberately not adopting all technology, only that which they wanted.

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    @NeilNjae said:
    What I thought more interesting was the mis-match in technology and application. The Himba made the most advanced IT devices (astrolabes) but still lived in basic houses. The world-building seemed inconsistent in that way, like Okorafor hadn't followed through with the knock-on effects of the technology. Then again, we only really saw the Himba, and their culture was one of deliberately not adopting all technology, only that which they wanted.

    I also think the Himba only adopted certain technology deliberately

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    How do they make all those PAs without factories? This was the same issue with the Broken Earth trilogy. The world isn’t really developed beyond what’s needed for the story and theme, and so seems unexamined.
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    @Apocryphal said:
    How do they make all those PAs without factories? This was the same issue with the Broken Earth trilogy. The world isn’t really developed beyond what’s needed for the story and theme, and so seems unexamined.

    My thought it they don't. Himba make one astrolabe at a time, which is different from any which came before. Factories then make copies of that Astrolabe as a model.

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    @clash_bowley said:

    @Apocryphal said:
    How do they make all those PAs without factories? This was the same issue with the Broken Earth trilogy. The world isn’t really developed beyond what’s needed for the story and theme, and so seems unexamined.

    My thought it they don't. Himba make one astrolabe at a time, which is different from any which came before. Factories then make copies of that Astrolabe as a model.

    ... which would imply an extensive trading network to get flash new-model astrolabes to the firms which do the commoditisation... and also presupposes that the commodity firms wouldn't try to get the design work in-house and so control the whole production chain...

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    Maybe everything could somehow be keyed to an individual, meaning a genotype or something. No factories then. Or they were simply a market that remained local. Is there a free market in the novel? I don't think we know.

    But, as @Apocryphal said there is not much world beyond the story.

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    @BarnerCobblewood said:
    Maybe everything could somehow be keyed to an individual, meaning a genotype or something. No factories then. Or they were simply a market that remained local. Is there a free market in the novel? I don't think we know.

    I like the idea of personalised astrolabes (and other things). However, in our world personalised stuff (like targeted adverts) go along with mega-corporations who have the data capacity to store all those individual preferences and choices. So although it seems nice, currently it goes hand in hand with things that people tend to be suspicious of.

    I found myself oscillating through the books as to whether it was the individual or the group that was central to Himba culture. Both answers seem to take turns, although my rather naïve understanding of African culture would have foregrounded group over individual, but in lots of ways (including this suggestion of personalised astrolabes) the opposite seems to apply. Maybe this reflects how Okorafor sees contemporary Africa?

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    @RichardAbbott said:
    I like the idea of personalised astrolabes (and other things). However, in our world personalised stuff (like targeted adverts) go along with mega-corporations who have the data capacity to store all those individual preferences and choices. So although it seems nice, currently it goes hand in hand with things that people tend to be suspicious of.

    I meant that tech objects just won't work for others, not that they are designed to user specs. I think hi-tech security will get to no anonymity at all. That's how I took Bindi's concern at the spaceport.

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