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Posts about Writing (old posts, page 11)

Space Platform by Murray Leinster: rooting for the Death Star

I just fin­ished read­ing Mur­ray Le­in­ster's Space Plat­form (in my new phone yay!).

You can read it too, if you wan­t, be­cause it's avail­able, for free, from Many­book­ in any for­mat you may need.

It's a very old-­fash­ioned (pub­lished in 1953) sci­fi sto­ry, but what re­al­ly shocked me was that in the 25 years be­tween this and Star Wars (1978) ev­ery­thing changed.

Why? Be­cause this is a book writ­ten from the per­spec­tive of work­ers build­ing the Death Star.

Specif­i­cal­ly, the main char­ac­ter, Joe, is work­ing on build­ing the gy­ro­scopes for a space sta­tion which will be the first per­ma­nent ar­ti­fi­cial ob­ject in or­bit... and is ful­ly load­ed with nukes.

Fur­ther, it's strict­ly a USA project (although there is a men­tion of it "be­ing of­fered" to the UN) and the whole book is spent show­ing the coura­geous work­ers and sol­diers fight­ing sabo­teurs in Ari­zon­a.

Re­place USA by "the em­pire", work­ers and sol­diers by storm troop­er­s, space plat­form by death star, com­mu­nists and an­ar­chists by ewoks and rebels and... well, it's "Re­turn of the Jedi", ex­cept the em­pire wins and all ewoks are killed in the end.

This short nov­el is com­plete­ly acrit­i­cal: US hav­ing the pow­er to de­stroy any city in the world at will is good. All oth­er coun­tries be­ing un­able to re­tal­i­ate is good. Try­ing to pre­vent it by any mean­s? Bad and cow­ard­ly.

In just 25 years, though, films de­scrib­ing the sit­u­a­tion ex­act­ly from the op­po­site point of view had ev­ery kid cheer­ing for the sabo­teurs.

It's amaz­ing that this book is clos­er in time to Star Wars than Star Wars is to to­day.

PET: English Translation Issue 1 has a date

Be­cause it worked on­ce, let's do it again. I have just set a com­plete­ly ar­bi­trary, and prob­a­bly too ear­ly date for the re­lease of the first eng­lish Is­sue of "PET: Python En­tre To­dos" mag­a­zine.

The eng­lish ver­sion is called PET, which means "Python En­tre To­dos: Eng­lish Trans­la­tion".

It will have the same con­tents as the first span­ish Is­sue and... it will be the last Is­sue done like this.

From now on, both ver­sions will be pub­lished at the same time, if we can.

So, there will be a very short gap be­tween the eng­lish first Is­sue and the sec­ond one (less than a mon­th, we hope).

So, stay tuned

Some people have no sense of scale

I am writ­ing a book about python (in span­ish), and it says this:


The ar­gu­ments about how to write a tech­ni­cal book in span­ish are eter­nal. That in Spain ev­ery­thing is trans­lat­ed. That in Ar­genti­na it is­n't. That say­ing "ca­de­na de car­ac­teres" in­stead of string is bad for the en­vi­ron­men­t.

For­tu­nate­ly in this book we fol­low a bet­ter method that I hope oth­er books adop­t: it's writte like I write. Not even a lit­tle bit dif­fer­en­t. I don't think it even qual­i­fies as span­ish, maybe it's writ­ten in ar­gen­tini­an. If the read­ers of our for­mer moth­er­land are both­ered by the style... they can trans­late it.

So to­day I got this mes­sage (sender anonymized be­cause I don't do that):

I was read­ing your tu­to­ri­al un­til I got to the para­graph where you com­plain or seem to be both­ered that in Spain we trans­late ev­ery­thing and in Ar­genti­na noth­ing. Well, as a read­er from the for­mer moth­er­land tell you [sic] that we like writ­ing in our lan­guage and that not on­ly am I not go­ing to both­er trans­lat­ing from ar­gen­tini­an to span­ish, but that I am not even go­ing to read your hor­ri­ble ar­gent­inglish. One fa­vor, learn eng­lish well and stop mis­treat­ing the old span­ish lan­guage. You know: an ar­gen­tini­an is an ital­ian that speaks span­ish (or so they say) and thinks he is en­glish!. Find your­self a psy­choter­apist of those you seem to have so much and see if you can over­come your in­fe­ri­or­i­ty com­plex and stop hat­ing so much.

I an­swered in ad­e­quate­ly in­sult­ing tone, just want­ed to share the fact that there are peo­ple ac­tive­ly both­ered by peo­ple not writ­ing a book the way they like to the point of in­sult­ing a whole coun­try. Fun!

I am posting very little because I am writing a lot.

I am just not writ­ing here. I am writ­ing a book in­stead.

What book am I writ­ing? A book about python pro­gram­ming, of course! It's called "Python No Muerde" (Python Does­n't Bite) and it's in span­ish.

Now, I am the first to ad­min: I am not a great pro­gram­mer. And I am not a great writ­er. But I have lots of things to say. If I can or­ga­nize them cor­rect­ly, they even make sense some­times!

So, I am giv­ing this write-­long-stuff thing a try.

Of course since I am an open source nerd, I can't do things the usu­al way, there­fore, the book is un­der Cre­ative Com­mon­s. And be­cause I am a pro­gram­mer, I hacked to­geth­er a (if I may say so my­self) de­cent struc­ture to han­dle book-writ­ing.

  1. I write in re­struc­­tured text

  2. I use rst2pdf to cre­ate PDFs both of in­­di­vid­u­al chap­ters and the whole thing.

  3. I use rest2web to cre­ate a we­b­site

  4. I use mer­cu­ri­al (at google­­code) to han­­dle re­vi­­sion con­trol and his­­to­ry.

  5. I use make to con­trol re­build­ing of chap­ters when code changes, or im­ages get up­­­dat­ed, etc.

Of course it's more com­pli­cat­ed than that, the PDFs are in the site, the site is up­load­ed via rsync, the up­loads and re­builds are trig­gered by hg push, and so on.

In any case, I may post a few times about how this whole thing work­s, here is the out­put of the ma­chin­ery:


Marave 0.6 is out

Ver­sion 0.6 of Mar­ave, my peace­ful, fullscreen text ed­i­tor is now avail­able at the usu­al place: http://­mar­ave.­google­code.­com

New stuff:

  • Syn­­tax high­­­lighter

  • Plug­ins

  • Bugs fixed

  • Nicer an­i­­ma­­tions

  • Code cleanup

Gra­tu­itous screen­shot:

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