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Confusion and so many other mixed emotions flooded into her. He called me… and he told his parents? By the time she unscrambled her brain enough to cast it again and listen in, the whole house was silent. Only the faint sound of breathing and the hum of the electronics and appliances, along with the endless uneven chaos of the city surrounding them. Natalie lay awake staring at the ceiling for a very long time, listening to sirens and horns, the occasional incomprehensible shouting, the random thumps and drones.

Yup, definitely the city keeping me awake. And all the stuff about magic. And my dad. Not Quinn. But he called me his…. Natalie pressed her face into the pillow and pulled another one over her head, pressing it against her ears, desperate to fall asleep. Her mind kept going in circles, over and over, rapidly switching between hatred, confusion, warmth, relief, joy. All the while, more than anything in the world, she wished she had Gwen and Percy there with her. When did my life get so crazy…? Natalie thought as she finally drifted into sleep, where the nightmares came again, as they always did—the one reliable part of her insane life.

The smell of bacon wafted through the room. I like bacon. But why is there bacon today? She got up and pulled on some socks, sliding across the wood floor to the door and pulling it open in one easy motion. She still had some momentum, and plowed right into the man on the other side, who had just been about to open it. Natalie skipped right past her father and down the hall, where a plate and syrup were waiting.

The pancake even had a little smiley face drawn in it from the batter, just like she always loved, and the bacon was just the right balance of crispy and soft.

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Natalie took it out of his hand and did it herself, rolling her eyes. He laughed. Heading out to Castle Hendricks? She rolled her eyes. As soon as her dad left for the day, Natalie grabbed the lunchbox off the counter. The Birthday Fairy is coming. Natalie rolled her eyes again, but she smiled anyway. He never did, even when she really hated him.

She gathered up her jacket and her best shoes and set off for the day, through the backyard and onto the little path that lead into the forest. She knew there was no such thing as a birthday fairy. Her dad was just being silly. Her dad always came through. The fort came into view—a sort of half-treehouse, half lean-to built into a massive old oak that had tumbled over long ago. The lumberjacks had rejected it for one reason or another, so it had been left to settle into the ground, where it continued to grow in a strange sideways pattern.

The main arch formed the second floor of her fort, while the entrance and the first floor filled the space underneath. Her dad spent a whole week designing it with her, and another week building it. She climbed over the fence around the door and entered the cave-like bottom floor, where she had a little folding chair in the dry, dusty corner. Rain in the Olympic forest could come in huge downpours out of nowhere, so having a covered area was always important.

Even though the second floor of the fort had a roof, the rain liked to blow in from the sides too, so the bottom was covered by a tarp she could raise and lower with a rope tied to the side. It was hard, but she was just strong enough to pull it off. Natalie liked to think of it as her little castle. Natalie knew better than to push her luck. So she made up games alone. She practiced shooting her slingshot and her makeshift bow at water bottles and pinecones all around from the second floor. The bowstring kept snapping before she could really loose an arrow, and the stick she was using was warping too much to really work right.

She liked to pretend that was why they moved out to somewhere so far away, in the middle of nowhere. Not that she really wanted to go back to the city. The forest was way more fun. After the time Natalie had to spend in the hospital though, she believed him. No homework. No listening to Mrs. I can do whatever I want. Which, as it turned out, ended up being games. Just games on her phone, since it started raining halfway through the day.

She stayed camped out under the tarp, enjoying the sound of the rain pattering on the roof of her fort. She even turned off the sound on her phone, playing in silence while the storm moved in overhead. She checked the time on her phone, and to her shock, it was already past eight. Natalie could see an actual river starting to form nearby, as rainwater gathered up and rushed downhill.

My castle had a moat the whole time! She thought about calling her dad, but the signal was always pretty bad this far way. A bright light flashed overhead, followed by a huge bolt of lightning and a roll of thunder. Natalie looked up, surprised. Lightning storms were pretty rare, too—especially compared to back in Chicago. She heard it. Way too close. The flash nearly blinded her, as lightning whipped through the trees nearby. It struck the branch of an oak a few hundred feet away, and the whole thing exploded. A blackened stump halfway up the trunk was all that remained.

Natalie stepped back inside, afraid. Another lightning bolt shot by, and then another. It comes from the sky. She sent another text, but it was stuck just like the first one. Natalie took cover in the corner of her fort, pulling down the covering over the front so it was totally enclosed, and she waited. A noise like a rushing wind. Footsteps, and the sound of a huge crash. Another lightning crack. Natalie stayed right where she was, imagining all sorts of monsters doing battle outside her little fort. It went on for half an hour while she watched her phone, waiting for it to finally get through and send the texts.

She pulled open the tarp, just an inch at first. The covering on the extension to her fort had fallen a bit, blown away by something. The rain was letting up, so Natalie took a few cautious into the open, wincing at the heavy drops falling off the edge of the second floor coverings. Natalie twisted around. A stray cat hissed at her. It was cowering in the corner of the second floor, taking shelter from the storm and whatever else had just happened. She rushed to climb up, but it bolted away before she could get near, leaping off the side and landing in the underbrush.

It slipped a little on the wet leaves, but in moments it had sprinted out into the forest. A piece of paper, yellow-brown and ancient, was caught against the railing on the second floor. Her eyes caught the first word, and everything stopped. The world froze in time around her. Even the raindrops seemed to be stuck in mid-air, but Natalie could only barely see them out of the corners of her eyes. None of it mattered. All that mattered was the page. She was leaving her own body, watching herself hold up the page while she floated away into space, into the forest.

The animals were waiting for her. The owl sleeping in the tree above her. The hawk taking shelter from the rain. The squirrels and the rabbits searching for food, and the cougar hunting them. The black bear and her cub way down by the stream, looking for fish. The salmon that swam past unaware, and the osprey about to dive to catch one of them. The beavers building a home further up the stream.

She reached the end of the page. Her mind reeled in as if on a fishing line, yanked back through the forest to crash into her skull. But something was different. Natalie could feel it. It was a warmth in her chest, close to her heart. Something had lit a little fire there, crackling away in a happy little dance—like something she was always supposed to have, but no one had ever bothered to light it until now. What was that? She went back down to the bottom floor and set the page into a dry spot near the base of the trunk, intending to look at it more and figure out what just happened.

The growl came out of nowhere. Natalie whipped around, but no one was inside. He was outside. She picked up her slingshot, since her bow was still broken, and loaded a pinecone. Armed and ready, she leaned out cautiously. Robert Harrison held up his hands in surrender, his brown eyes twinkling behind the huge bushy black beard. And maybe Jenny. So this is your queendom? Plus, after everything that just happened… She lowered the slingshot and let go of the pinecone.

Natalie glanced over her shoulder at the inside of the fort, where the little page sat out of sight. The front light was on, and as they approached, her dad sprinted out of the door. She ran up and hugged him, and he gathered her up tight. Her dad glanced up. Eat whatever you like, okay? As Natalie walked away, she paused for a minute just inside the door, listening in on their conversation. Small town, you get those kind here. Natalie privately disagreed with Robert. He believed the gruff older man.

A couple pieces of pizza, obviously cold. She went into the kitchen, got out the little stool and put it into the microwave to warm up. Right around the time she was finishing the first piece, her dad came in. He warmed up his own slices and sat down next to her. Still, after everything in the forest, getting a hug, a warm meal and a safe house around her was comforting.

Let her have friends over, let her go wherever she wanted. I tried something different with the dough this time. Her dad was always nervous about his pizza, but it had turned out all right. After dinner, to her delight, he sat down at his drum set in the corner and began to tap out a rhythm. Something about it was just so fun to listen to, and he could get really creative. She got up on the stool for the keyboard and tapped out notes to go along with it. Her dad always encouraged that, playing whatever she felt like playing.

He said that was the real spirit of music, not just sticking to the notes on the page that people had figured out years and years ago. Something inside her was changing, shifting, growing. She could feel it flickering back to life, like it had been hiding ever since Robert found her, waiting for her to feel safe again. She turned the keyboard off. Her dad looked up, but she just waved at him to keep going, gesturing to her room. In the darkness of her bedroom, with only a tiny sliver of the moon shining in the window, Natalie tried again.

She tried to recreate that feeling from the forest, how her mind had disconnected from her body for a moment. The flame inside her flickered and grew, a little larger, a little warmer. She flew out into the open, a part of her leaving her head and floating into the air. There was a cat. Not any kind of cat, though—a cougar. She could see it, clear as day in the middle of the night. The rest of the forest may as well have been a completely black wall, but she could see the big cat, bronze-furred and prowling the thick woods for a last meal before it went back to sleep.

Natalie called out, barely audible under the drums from the other room. The cat twisted around and looked straight back at her. It heard me! Natalie tried again, speaking in the way that the page had taught her. Her knees buckled at the strain. He began to pad through the trees, slowly approaching her bedroom window. She pushed it open. The cat just stared at her. She got a sensation in her head, a feeling.

Like he had no clue what she was asking. The mountain lion nodded its head. The cat looked down at the ground for a few seconds, then back up. She could have sworn its pale yellow eyes rolled at her. Natalie reached out of the window. Natalie panicked. Natalie went over to her desk, just in case her dad was about to walk in. In a moment of panic, she wished with all her might that it was closed—and with a loud snap, the window slammed down into place.

She smiled innocently. He paused. Natalie rolled her eyes. He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. See you tomorrow. I love you, Dad.

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The door swung closed behind him, and in an instant Natalie was on her feet again. She knew she could do it again. The only thing she worried about was her dad finding out. Maybe he would. He was always okay with her learning to protect herself, or going out in the woods alone. He was scared of people, not things. After a whole hour of trying, the window budged—just an inch, but she still had to stop herself from shouting in joy.

Natalie grinned. This is gonna be fun. The smell of bacon and cinnamon swirled through the bedroom. Her eyes drifted open, staring at an unfamiliar wall, in an unfamiliar bed. It took her a minute to remember where she was, and that she was safe there. The door was closed tight.

She wondered if any of the Kincaids had tried to open it during the night. Hurriedly, she made it shrink again, as quietly as she could, then made the bed. She changed out of her pajamas and opened up her purse wide, trying to pick clothes they might consider normal. Natalie thought about reversing everything, going back to how she looked before, but she felt like that would just raise more questions from the Kincaids—if she could even do it right. She stepped away, about to leave the room, but stopped. Reluctantly, she grabbed out her thick green army jacket and threw that on too.

A soft knock at the door. Natalie slowly opened it, and found herself face-to-face with Quinn. He lead her down the hall into the living room, where his parents were waiting at the kitchen table, doling out pieces of french toast. A plate of still-sizzling bacon sat in the center, ready to go. Natalie felt another pang of nostalgia as she sat down, but brushed it away. In June. I was just being nice. No other reason. He called me his girlfriend… Is that what I wanted?

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He told them without asking you. After a few mouthfuls, Damian spoke up again. Quinn shook his head. Annette looked up sharply. Her ears got hot. She quickly dug into her french toast, not wanting to look up at anyone at the table. She wondered how long it would take Quinn to catch on to the teasing. Of course, her fears doubled over a moment later as the topic shifted. People are flooding in from all over the country. Some people even further away.

About her, her father, about any of them. Oh… oh no. He shrugged. It was bad enough with the huge FBI sweeps. They all looked at her, slightly surprised. Natalie shrunk in her chair a little. Feel free to jump in any time. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, before taking their plates into the kitchen to clean. They just ask what I want to eat and make it. Annette looked curious, which made Natalie even more uncomfortable. She wished she could just keep quiet, but for whatever reason, being around Quinn and his family made her want to speak up.

A moment later, he moved away. Damian noticed it too, standing in the doorway to the kitchen. He had a towel in his hands and was wiping down a plate, but she saw his eyes flicker over to that corner of the table. Just like Quinn. Natalie had no idea what to say. On the one hand, the meal had been wonderful. Sitting down for dinner with her dad every day, talking about the whole day together, figuring out what had happened and what came next.

Who she was. Better from you than from anyone else, right? She just wanted the voice to shut up and leave her alone, but it made too much sense for her to ignore it. She had to tell them, so they knew what sort of person they were inviting into their home. Quinn looked surprised.

His parents, doubly so. She avoided eye contact with Quinn. That was too far. He left the room, and Natalie could tell he was confused and a little hurt. Annette came to sit on one side of the table, while Damian took the other. They waited patiently, while Natalie worked up the courage to open her mouth again.

Visions of the men in Rallsburg flashed through her mind, and of her father with the golems. The town exploding and collapsing, the battles. The way it felt to force a bolt of lightning through a person. Another memory burst onto the surface. John Bell. She lead him, bleeding and stumbling behind her, to the market door at the Kettle and Bones—or where it was supposed to be.

Natalie watched him die again, as she did in her nightmares. In her mind she screamed at herself to turn away. Screamed at him to run. Anything to change his fate. Tears were filling her eyes. To be held. Natalie bolted from the table. She retreated to the guest room, swinging the door shut behind her with a spell. The window swung shut, the blinds fell down. With just a thought, Natalie blocked out the door, the window, everything. She sat down against the side of the bed, buried her face in her dress, and cried.

Natalie was on top of the world all week.

It was real. But she lived in the real world. Nothing like this ever happened in the real world. She flicked on the lights in her room, then off again, then on again. From her bed. The rest of the week was spent exploring just what she could do. As soon as her dad left every morning, she called out to her new friend, and he came bounding out of the woods. He could understand her, and in his own way, he could even talk to her. Nothing like a real conversation, but in a lot of ways, she liked it more.

Natalie learned how to move things around more reliably, after the effort spent moving the window into place. It was safer than the stove, she assumed, so it was probably okay. The cognitive dissonance in a bigot looking at a person and trying to figure out what race they originally were will be tremendous. Just back from reading comments about this on Twitter, our guest host pointed something out, so I'll try to correct it and it sorta relates to one of my earlier comments.

I'm currently nearing the end of Aliette de Bodard's fantastic "The House of Shattered Wings", I was going to binge read a couple of her earlier books along with it, but I'm a slow reader so they'll have to wait a bit. It didn't come up in the book, as I recall. In the movie, the protagonist is from Argentina. Buenos Aires gets an asteroid dropped on it and that makes him angry. But Heinlein was a conflicted right winger. But were basically Americans with tans. There has been a recent increase in token gay characters in TV shows of all genres with supporting characters randomly having same-sex spouses.

There is also an increase in non-white supporting characters who just happen to be non-white. Two of the main characters in Agents of S. Still under-represented compared to the real-world ratios of course, but improving. I'm aware of Cyrano's writing, but I don't think it's quite over the threshold.

Cyrano is visibly just playing with goofy ideas without thinking about what they would imply if they were true. It's very much in the spirit of Rabelais—and after all, stories about giant people or creatures are also part of sf see Wells's The Food of the Gods ; if you accept Cyrano, why not Rabelais as the first sf writer? Or, even earlier, a case could be made for the Odyssey as the first sf story. It takes off from the science of navigation and has Odysseus use it to visit strange new islands, encountering new life and new civilizations, and often killing or enslaving them. It even has him encountering the Phaeacians, who help him out with their incredibly advanced technology self-steering ships that sail faster than a falcon flies—over mph, which is fast even by 21st century standards.

Perhaps Homer had heard an early periplus and said to himself, "Hey, I could turn this into a story! Ah, no. Juan Rico was from Manila; he talked about his national hero being Ramon Magsaysay. He had relatives in Buenos Aires, and I think his mother was born there—but Heinlein envisioned a world where marriage across what are now international lines was commonplace. That in itself was a bit subversive, though it probably didn't jump out at his young American readers. Um, no. I could and have gone on about this at length, but continuity in "The Chinese Empire" is due to the concept of The Mandate of Heaven , which you really should read.

Basically, the idea is that Heaven legitimizes the Chinese emperor, so any emperor is in direct succession to the ones of the previous dynasty, even if periods like the Warring States or The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms intervene. To put it more simply, China has seen a lot of upheaval and decided that sweeping it under the rug was a good idea. The western myth of Rome's collapse is similarly misleading, because the Roman empire survived in the form of Byzantium until the 15th Century.

The Western Roman Empire did in fact collapse, but there was another 1, years of empire after it. If there was a western version of the Mandate of Heaven, we'd be talking about the Byzantine Dynasties and the Holy Roman Empire, and, quite possibly, the Russian Tsars as legitimate heirs of the Roman Imperium. What you describe sounds a lot like what Hollywood and New York do to the flyover states. Now, if you want to talk about how New York City publishing and Hollywood business models disproportionately influence the world's science fictional view of the future, I think you've got a truly excellent point.

No data so no speculation. I suspect it is but I have 0 data points. Whereas I have data points for anglophone SF. Of course, at that time the Filippines were considered to be within the Hispanosphere. His mother was visiting Buenos Aires when the Bugs bombed it. BTW, the book has little to do with the much later movie and, though you might well not like it, is worth a quick read to see how Heinlein was fairing at the time.

If we're going to talk about Chinese influenced sf, I think Cordwainer Smith deserves a nod. Of course, his China was the Republic and not the People's Republic, but that's a relatively short-term issue. One of his prefaces acknowledged Romance of the Three Kingdoms which I expect he read in the original as an inspiration for one of his short stories, for example.

The issue though is that the characters might have been foreign, but their attitudes, behaviour and language was surely written to correspond to and appeal to teenage american boys. Which then makes it more unsuccessful as a multi-cultural message because there isn't any other culture actually represented. The thing I really like about Ben Aarovitch's novels is his ability to conjure a sense of place and the people in it, whether its a South London tower block, or a rural burgh.

His work is not really germane to questions about projection of our cultural norms onto the distant future, as he is doing the other thing, working in the here and now. Sorry about this derail, but we were discussing space junk not too long ago and this recent info mentions aspects that hadn't been raised by posters. Nice update re: scientific nomenclature, too. But the letters in the name, which form the acronym for an unprintable expression of bafflement, are an appropriate fit for an object that is as mysterious as it is unprecedented. Scientists have worked out that WTF will plunge to Earth from above the Indian Ocean on 13 November, making it one of the very few space objects whose impact can be accurately predicted.

More unusual still, WTF was a 'lost' piece of space debris orbiting far beyond the Moon, ignored and unidentified, before being glimpsed by a telescope in early October. There's been a rise in non-token LGBT characters as well. One of those was a lesbian love story and would really struggle to fail!

Some do really well. I probably select for TV that tends to pass though, at least subconsciously. I think you've mis-parsed one of those sentences. If you're going to argue against someone, you should be careful to identify what they were actually asserting. Is "surely" based on actually reading the book, or is it intended to say that you're making an inference from what you've heard about the book at second hand, what you think of Heinlein, when the book was published, or something of that sort? In my usage "surely" often conveys the latter.

I don't find it that big a surprise that Heinlein was writing to appeal to American boys in their teens; at the time he had not become an automatic best seller that happened after Strange in a Strange Land , and he had a ruthless eye for commercial advantage. But you also have to note that in the s, it was already an act of subversion to put non-white or non-American characters into a story for boys at all. And Heinlein very definitely intended that sort of subversion. As early as Rocket Ship Galileo, he said that a publisher wanting him to take out the Jewish character was a deal breaker; and his later juveniles included characters such as Charlie a Chinese restaurant owner who's a figure of heroic defiance in Between Planets , Alfred McNeill the embodiment of moral wisdom in Time for the Stars , Mei-Ling Jones a Chinese-Peruvian telepath , and Carolyn Mshiyeni the larger than life Zulu young woman in Tunnel in the Sky —and possibly Rod Walker the viewpoint character in Tunnel in the Sky.

And, pointedly, having them in the cast was treated matter-of-factly; there was a sense of "of course they'd be there. Back in , The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress had a scene where the viewpoint character, visiting one of the southern states, showed a photo of his family—and got arrested for, among other things, miscegenation: too wide a range of skin colors. Loving vs. Virginia did away with such laws only two years later! Arrgh, case in point. Anything not default White blends together in the memory. Plus I've had Jamaica on the brain of late. Good catch. Agreed, not a reflection on the future, but more a comment on the different perceptions of every day life between the UK and US, which combined are effectively the English Language market and to an outsider are extremely similar.

The US has major issues with race. The UK has major issues with class. Each is a hot button topic not well understood by the other. If I recall correctly, Rico was filipino and Zim was Turkish - and Camp Arthur Currie seemed to have recruits from all over, including two Germans one of whom could only understand english, not speak it and possibly a Japanese guy. I've read it, several times, most recently a couple of years ago, and yes I am an adult, not a brainless teenager. You correctly point out that in some ways he was pushing the envelope, but the point is that ultimately people with funny names who still act and speak etc the same as us isn't so transgressive, nor.

The point being, that Heinlein wasn't that great, even if he was trying, and his work was still AMERICAN in character, even if the characters were deliberately foreign. I think there was some miscommunication there. I was referencing the fact that the narrator of Troopers is from the Philippines. So I was saying even in the 's, libertarian super-mensch RAH was doing that; Richard Morgan is not that much of an outlier, etc. It could be I misconstrued their point. It's certainly the case that my comment was not Mega-clear. I believe the clue in the book is that the narrator's native language is Tagalog.

I was trying to say the same in my comment, but I was attempting to avoid being overly dogmatic; so I ended up not really saying it. Thanks for just stating it explicitly. That's why you get paid the big Author money! White MALE dominance? Here in Uk? Not so very long ago.. Before you get all Principled and Pious? It would be a Fine and Pleasant thing if Charlie were to become the latest.. Did Rowling set out to write a sequence of novels that would be carefully balanced between the various sexual genders so as to be fair to each and every one, and this only after studying all academic studies of the same?

Of course it isn't.. But, well, look at the possibilities that are inherent in the genres.. Think that the Hugo Award " Puppies " were - and quite possibly are - pretentious Prats? See Here.. This puts them in the Shade.

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  7. But I knew him less well than any other figure in my personal canon. Wot the Hell. If it does no good then it is unlikely to do any harm and Moderator can always squish it flat with the Mallet of Doom. Not quite. I'm saying there are few US authors who write colourblind SF. Weber's Honorverse is arguably one of the more prominent ones of late - his good guys have an explicitly dark skinned ruling class - but even his are White Americans with black skin. There are a lot of authors who write socially egalitarian SF, where birth is less important than ability.

    The UK and the commonwealth tends to be somewhat the reverse - race is less of an issue, and ethnic protagonists are relatively easy to pick out. However many works still pay heed to the social stratification of the British Empire and the aristocracy. Sometimes that is to promote it, and other times to actively subvert it, but the monarchy is part of the consciousness here where it isn't in the USA.

    Heinlein as an example - he writes a lot about religion, politics, liberty, gender and cultural assimilation, but not much about race, ethnicity or cultural clashes. Most of his characters tend to be White Americans of his time superimposed on a particular setting, regardless of the minimal trappings that decorate them. The other thing to keep in mind about Starship Troopers is we learn Johnnie Rico is Filipino right at the very end of the book. It's an afterthought, rather than a prominent feature. That may have been to get it past John W Campbell who was virulently racist.

    I'm not from the US. I'm not sure American Exceptionalism AE is such a big thing in SF right now, I think it's rather one of the points the determined right fans that surely exist rally around. And I would bet but don't have the knowledge to prove that for them, AE is exchangeable with other narratives that put white, straight boys afraid to loose their privileges front and center. Today it might be AE, tomorrow islamophobia or whatnot.

    I know the wider SF field mostly from anthologies. Books like Octavias brood or the Apex' books of world SF or The othe Half of the Sky obviously try to push different narratives and perspectives. The interesting thing is that IIRC many stroys in the mommoth books in the last years did not have this stromg tint of what Judith calls AE.

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    Or the ratio of tranlated SF not first published in english in the Edge of Infinity antho or was it reach for was about the same as in one of Apex books of world SF. Still work to do, though,. It's hard to write about race. Race does not have to matter, but it does everywhere. At first glance writing dark skinned WASPS is a fail because it does not take into account cultural differences. At second glance, it's not because after all we are writing about a future without racism so why should race matter? At third glance, it's a fail again: Living a relatively privileged life brings certain behaviors that you probably would not have in a more equal world.

    I'd heard that too, which is why I bought it. But compared to Chinese movies or TV shows, it is basically an American show. There's some token badly pronounced Chinese, and not all the faces are white, but the character's act American. I wish I could put my finger on why I think that, I really do. But something in the scripting, the body language, says "American" and not "English" or "European" or "Chinese". At least to me. Anent the relics of empire: my gym runs a kiddies spot called the Crazy Colosseum, where you can host your birthday party with the help of Ronnie the Roman.

    Two thousand years, and the greatest spectacle of the ancient world has become a brightly coloured rubber playroom. Editorial note : My thanks to Judith for posting something that I've thought privately, but couldn't really post on the blog myself without it coming across as either troll bait or gratuitous foreigner bashing. Some kinds of constructive criticism are best delivered from inside the big tent rather than from people on the outside, lest they look like hostile carping. Because of the rigid racial hierarchy of the Spanish colonial days, most Hispanics consider themselves white or prefer to be seen as white, if you prefer.

    The US Census Bureau considers race and ethnicity to be independent and the only ethnicities it tracks are Hispanic or non-Hispanic. Overall, the U. Local populations vary. It's true that nobody in the Star Wars saga is American, or even Earthling. It's also true that the major characters were very relatable to American children, which is why George Lucas has so much of my generation's allowance money.

    Thanks, Judith. For the record, I agree with you, and I'm an American. It's long past time for Americans to pull their heads out and see there's a "whole rest of the planet" out there--let alone a galaxy. So, yes. More diversity. It's what makes things more interesting. Stories about white, straight, males are okay. However, we've plenty of those out there. Time to expand and explore! Exploring is what SFF supposedly does, right? What exactly is Capt. Did Britain finally win the Years War and conquer France sometime in the future? Or did centuries of British retirees to the south of France eventually create an Anglo enclave in the French wine country?

    That bit of literary history is impossible. Starship Troopers was written long after Heinlein had stopped writing for Campbell. In fact it was written to be the thirteenth of his juveniles for Charles Scribner's Sons—and was then bounced and found a home at Putnam's instead, early in Heinlein's relationship with them. Its magazine publication was in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which was never edited by Campbell; I'm not sure who was editing it in that year, but their attitudes would almost surely have been very different from Campbell's.

    If you've ever wondered about the racism in Heinlein's Sixth Column, Heinlein wrote it to an outline by Campbell for the money and actually dialed the racism down. I found SF in late 64 when I was 10 and found a copy of Analog at a grocery store magazine stand. The main story was into part 2 or 3 or 4. I was enthralled. But I was able to recognize it was over the top racist even at the age of The point of the story was that the interstellar folks showed up they pointed out to the stupid earth folks that the white were supposed to be in charge and on and on and on.

    Might it be that the trappings are basically Space Western - including Chinese labour doing Important Economic Things in the background? So the Chinese in Firefly were imported under short-term labour contracts, forced to leave their families at home, etc.? Drama ensues. We gonna raise this kid now? The real reason America is over is because the old Money used to spend it on culture and elitism, patronage and society you can blame Hubbard for a lot of this disparity. While I don't completely disagree with you the example you give We call them sovereign states.

    That the level of influence the U. That the US was somehow bad for featuring its owne citizens and dominant cultures in the entertainments it created? Like, seriously, what do you expect? Are we thinking the third largest country in the world by both population and land area is going to become totally irrelevant? Not likely. The U. Is going to be a major player for the foreseeable future.

    The future is not going to be American. It is not going to be Chinese. It is not going to be Indian. It is not going to be any one thing. The days where a single culture or country can dominate the entire planet are likely over. The future is going to be polyglot in the extreme. Snapchat's "worth" is an ethereal thing right now as it is not being traded yet. It is worth what it's investors are willing to pay. So far they have raised around 1 billion U. I think the valuation of snapchat probably has more to do with lots of Chinese money sloshing around and not getting invested in the Chinese stock market then QE.

    Also if that kick starter author got read by million people every month, then they probably would make more then 5k.

    From thte Principal

    The reason apps are worth more then books is reach and utility much more then conspiracies. Anything that million people find useful is likely to turn some cash. I think Picard is culturally British but raised in the region known as southern France under the government of The United Federation of Planets. There is no France or Great Britain, they're just open bordered provinces in a much larger confederation so he can be British and grow up in southern France the way an American might be culturally Redneck and grow up in California.

    I think. I think the point is that by simply being about Americans in SF settings, Science Fiction is missing out on a lot of interesting stuff it could be exploring and cool strangeness it could be injecting. Cordwainer Smith was mentioned upthread and his Instrumentality was truly a strange place with it's own vibe. He writes from some pretty alien points of view at times. But his only full novel Norstrilia was about someone not too unfamiliar voyaging into the weirdness, rather than about a native inhabitant of it.

    Is Rod McBan an "American"? Picard is culturally and ethnically French - apart from the tea Earl Grey. Which is explained by the decay of French into a little used language. Hurray for Cultural Imperialism! I'm not suggesting this is representative, but I'm not claiming that my tastes in film are either!

    False flag operations in cyberspace

    All I'm saying is that I came up with action titles with Lesbian leads with about 1 minute thought. Likewise; oh and I've got the film Ok, but not really a book adaption IMO and if I don't have the book it's because it's one of the ones my Mum threw out last year. I'd go further and say that they're what a white American thinks upper-class white English are like, apart from where they're stated as having black skins. Sorry about the apparent nit-pick, but I use it, both ways, against people who are prejudiced both ways if you see what I mean.

    I understand your point, and suspect that the issue you refer to is probably founded in the cast all being North American irrespective of the ethnicity of the characters. That, of course, is one of the problems with american exceptionalism Caps omitted deliberately. So, can someone explain this disconnect? That's the, err difficult bit. And after the battle of Mazikert? One of the truly significant, history-altering ones, that people have never heard of? Agreed, why is anyone getting their knickers in a knot over this? Kirk was a character created by Americans for Americans.

    As for the short, short skirts for the female crew members of the Enterprise need I remind anyone that it was the groovy 60s and mini-skirts were still a thing? Given the context of its time, ST TOS was light years ahead of society in terms of tolerance and multiculturalism. Is Malaysia a developed country? Are the oil-rich "arab" states developed? I think the terminology may be a little inexact around here Demographics alone ensure that America will remain numero uno. Remember back in the s when everyone was predicting the Japan would take over the world? Didn't happen.

    Hard to imagine, but China is running out of people and workers. Like Japan before it, China has very poor fertility rates. In contrast, the working-age population aged 15 to 64 years jumped from 56 to 73 percent, higher than the 62 percent average for more developed countries. The extraordinary age-structure transformation allowed China to benefit from the demographic dividend, a short-term productive advantage due to a large labor force relative to small numbers of dependent young and old.

    The number of young males unable to find brides is estimated at more than 25 million. In addition, constant fertility would reduce the proportions of children and the working-age population and nearly triple the proportion of elderly to 25 percent. Further reduction in Chinese fertility to 1. In 50 years, one-third of the population would be elderly and the potential support ratio would fall to an unprecedented 1.

    Over here some of the things most at threat from the TPP are local content rules for television and subsidies and tax incentives for local film and television production. Though the tax incentives have long been turned to favor the USian stuff in the Sydney and Gold Coast studio complexes. The problem is that distribution is completely vertically integrated and wholly owned by the US studio system, so even guerrilla local film production has no chance of cinematic release, other than in backyards and other private viewing venues.

    The 90s and early s saw the closure of most of the remaining art house and small-scale cinemas. Maybe it's that the medium is dead or something, but apparently it's ossified to one source. As Ben Wattenberg noted in his book "The First Universal Nation" that Hispanic intermarriage rates with native Anglos is actually higher than that of Italian and Greek immigrants a century ago. As we argue politically about immigration, Hispanics are quietly mainstreaming themselves throughout American society - just like my Irish ancestors whe had to face similar discrimination and read signs that said "No Irish Need Apply".

    In a Zangwill drama was the biggest Broadway hit ever. Its title introduced a phrase still with us, and that, according to a new Census report, is beating to smithereens a hardy modernist competitor, "multiculturalism. Zangwill's play was entitled "The Melting Pot. Here you stand, good folk your 50 groups, with your fifty languages and histories, and your fifty blood hatreds and rivalries A fig for your feuds and vendettas! G-d is making the American. Now comes the Census which says, yes, He is. Diversity is here. America is changed, and will keep changing, in some ways you might not imagine.

    The first round of headlines about the Census' "Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin" stressed that the Hispanic population had grown mightily and that blacks were no longer the nation's largest minority. Do not think that is the end of the story, or even the end of the beginning. The macro datum to watch concerns the category "Non-Hispanic Whites," commonly, if misleadingly, called "Anglos. It is that number, a weird one, that is driving some nativists nuts. Why has the proportion of the Anglo population diminished?

    Not because their numbers are shrinking. How come? The Census isn't speculating yet, but better counting methods and more illegals probably played a role. And BTW I'd guess the Census has not been fully able to count the large stream of Polish and Irish illegals that came in during the s and s. But are Hispanics really the largest minority group? That depends on what the meaning of "are" are. Americans of English descent are not a majority, which would theoretically make them the largest minority.

    German-Americans finish second. Ah, you may argue, those European immigrations arrived so long ago, they're just plain Americans. Through the magic of cultural alchemy, all those races are now considered Anglo. From shtetl to WASP in a single century! Zangwill doesn't even mention blacks in his thundering blast, so low were they on the food chain, beneath mere inferiority. And, of course, Zangwill's hero doesn't bother to list Hispanics, although Spanish immigration goes back to the beginning.

    And, for the record, in later life Zangwill, the great assimilationist, became an ardent Zionist! Definition of the time: A Zionist is a Jew who tries to persuade a second Jew to convince a third Jew to emigrate to Palestine. So why does "multiculturalism" suffer? Because, as used these days, it typically stresses the idea of separatism.

    But while separatism may be trendy among foundation-supported "grass roots" advocacy groups, it is losing its war where it counts, between the sheets. The Census revealed that exogamy was booming. About half of Jews intermarry. The black rates are much lower, but climbing rapidly. The final Census results will reveal this pattern more fully.

    How to regard all this? With interest. Americans have had a tangled view of racial and ethnic skeins. Only a few decades ago the elimination of legal segregation was denounced by racists as a precursor to "mongrelization. When we hear that someone is "mean as a junkyard dog," we're not condemning dogs, junkyards or even meanness, only indicating that those half-breeds are plenty tough, maybe like Tiger and Derek.

    And we still do. Some Anglos fear that America will become "a third world nation. We're becoming the first universal nation. And, if you think that's bad, try either Pakistan or India. She says she wouldn't dare do it now, even if she was 22 again - much too dangerous. Within living memory, many parts of America were either segregated the south or all white by virtue of never having any blacks migrate there the Midwest, plains, and northern rocky mountains.

    Many Americans grew up in a world where all faces were white and all houses had white picket fences, or something like them. There actually was a semi stable whitebread America for a good while that many people consider utopic. If you are raised to live in a certain environment you will fight to keep it, especially if you have made sacrifices or moral compromises for it. Whitebread land was of course stifling, stagnant, and built on exploitation. It was a bribe, a loss leader. Not "the norm" it is presented as. Nevertheless it is now a carrot being held out by the political equivalent of corporate raiders.

    It won't ever come back, but that will always be blamed on the liberals, and the answer will always be to work harder for the cause. But here they come, they're going to get you! If I were China, I'd be looking for solutions to this. The problem is that in a few decades time, I need a lot of people working to sustain my retired population.

    Second idea; immigrants. Get young people from other countries to come here to work and breed. Not a total write off, but China is still not an immigration nation; it's not people's first choice, and we rely on restricting how people think and act, and importing people who missed out on the first twenty years' of indoctrination won't help. Third idea; get people in other countries to work for us, without having to have them here in China.

    This will involve a massive overseas investment programme. I've no interest in the book, but the movie is hilarious. Possibly not the funniest anti-militarist movie ever made, nor the one with the deepest subtext, but possibly unique in balancing both with a sardonic world view. The future looks grim for the indigent elderly in most of the world. Immigration helps for those places which can attract young people but that just makes it worse wherever they left.

    Pensions will fail to provide the promised incomes due to lack of taxpayers and shrinking markets. Japan is working on building helper robots for the elderly. Genteel euthanasia may become acceptable. Cultures with traditions of multi-generation households and people not moving far from home will fare better. Without all of that nasty systematic oppression of course — because everything was so much better back then ;—.

    Possibly, but maybe not as guaranteed as you think. Queen Elizabeth. I will take a more relaxed view once we pass the point, somewhere between and comments in, where the discussion has achieved the same blobby grey consistency as a lump of plasticine exposed to the maw of an 18 month old rug rat.

    Does the US have racism? Does the UK have racism? Does Europe have racism? Hell yes. Ask a "Turk" who may be a third-generation German citizen, but is still considered a "Turk". Ask a Frenchman whose grandparents were from Algeria. Part of group identification is determining the boundaries of the group. Differences in appearance and speech are easy ways to define group status. Will the US and UK continue to influence world economy, governance and culture? Certainly, for some unknown period of time. Hell, look at James Bond, perhaps one of the most detestable characters from a multicultural point of view.

    He's a misogynist, racist, serial killer in the service of an imperialist monarchy read the books. But millions of people globally will gleefully pay to watch him fuck and kill on the big screen, in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Because he wins, and he wins with style. Re: Star Trek especially the Original Series. Remember this was a commercial project that had to be sold to broadcasting companies that were conservative even by s US values. NBC would never have bought it otherwise. Was Gene Roddenberry a sexist yes! To an extent.

    But look at the "subversive" ideas he pushed - an international crew in the middle of the Space Race between the US and USSR dedicated often unsuccessfully to the peaceful exploration of the galaxy. Even "the kiss" was only controversial because of the reaction to it; within the show, it was an issue because it was a form of enslavement by the "gods" who were torturing the crew of the Enterprise for amusement.

    His attempts at multiculturalism may seem like clumsy whitewash now, but were groundbreaking at the time. His inclusivity probably has more to do with his libertarianism than anything; an able Heinleinian character is only bound by ability, not ethnic or national origin. Any story is going to reflect the culture and the point of view of the author and the intended audience, unless the author makes a decision to consciously change the point of view "Rule 34", anyone?

    Read what you like; write what you like. If you don't like the perspective, change it! I've been biting my tongue over RDSouth's totally wrong-headed suggestion here, but I'd just like to mention that suggesting members of groups targeted by racism might like to change their skin color or other visible attributes to avoid said targeting is the worst kind of victim-blaming. Furthermore it's a desperately counter-productive practice, on a larger scale: it does nothing to diminish prejudice and may even inflame it, by convincing paranoid racists that people of a despised minority are moving among them, unseen.

    We saw this with the assimilated, urban Jewish community in Germany prior to , we saw it with light-skinned "black" people passing as white in the Deep South during the Jim Crow period, we're seeing it today with the reaction of TERFs to the transgendered, and it keeps cropping up When the problem exists between someone else's ears, the solution has to be applied between those ears -- whether it's education and insight, or the application of a half-brick. I think the main thrust of the OP is undoubtely correct. The leadership of the USA in the world over the coming centuries will be relatively less and the leaderhip of white men in the USA will be relatively less.

    I do think the transition is going to be slower than perhaps we expect. There is still going to be a large role for the USA for long time and I suspect that many of the cultural and political structures that we carry forward with us will be heavily influenced by the Anglo-Saxon model and that those structures will continue to influence the way the world shapes over the coming few hundred years.

    I think demographics matter. I think institutions matter. I think synergies and adaptive fit matter. Human capital and social capital matter. The USA is a large, rich country. The USA is in the habit of being a large, rich country, it is very good at it. Whilst there are a number of countries that are larger or about the same size they are, per capita, currently significantly poorer. Whilst many of them are getting richer per person I'm not convinced that they can all become as rich as the USA all at the same time and I think each of them faces some difficulties that mean that per capital economic growth might not continue at the cracking pace currently being set.

    I suspect many countries currently enjoying fast growth will stumble over the middel income gap for a period. For me, a large part of this is about institutions. Courts, legislatures, police departments, weights and measures regulators, banks, commodity exchanges.

    These are difficult to set up, they take time to acquire the gravitas they require to function well. I don't think you can just create them out of whole cloth, walk away and expect them to work well and to help deliver sustained economic richness. I think creating these institutions is a multi-generational organic process. As a side note, those of us who live in states fortunate enough to have inherited well functioning and respected institutions should not assume that they just continue without protection or renewal. Many of the global institutions are set up on a WEIRD model, and they rely on a WEIRD cultural and political assumptions and language and narrative for the functioning and their preceived legitimacy.

    I think human capital and social capital will tend to keep those who are currently rich and influntial rich and influential for a while. Again, it takes time for individuals and communities to build up skills and knowledge and the networks of relationships to deploy and exploit them. And, importantly for me, I think in the immediate future many individuals in non-white, non-male demographics will find it easier to join in with the currently prevailing institutions and institutional models and adapt themselves to fit what is already working rather than try to change those institutions to better fit their own heritage.

    For a few generations to come I think. I expect that we'll have an Indian head of the IMF in the not too distant future but that that person will be an English speaker educated at Oxford or the LSE and he or she will still do deals on the golf course. And if you already come from the countries that set up these global institutions or are the hosts of the models for the local institutions that are being used as a template, and particularly if you are from the demographic group which is already plugged in to running those sorts of institutions, white, male USians or Western Europeans then you get a head start and retain an disproportionate influence.

    The above is the result of some thinking I did after a conversation I had about women's represation in the UK Parliament. I'd suggested that as the trend was solidly towards equal representation the game was in the bag. My interlocuter pointed out that at current trends my own daughter would be in her 70's before equal representation occured.

    After I'd gotten over my dismay I got to thinking why. So, I think the decline of the relative over importance of white, male USians and their culture will be slower than expected. There's a lot of ruin in a nation and the USA and the culture of its dominate demographic have proven pretty robust over the last few hundred years.

    Over the scale of a thousand years? Well, the Marxist in me notes that the rich are still powerful and the powerful still rich. As a UK viewer the whole freedom loving Browncoats vs single-governance Alliance civil war seemed a pretty blatant riff from the various media tropes around the US Civil War. I will note that this is the immigrant-friendly USA where in the past decade around 2 million undocumented immigrants have been deported and one of the two major parties wants to slam the doors shut completely.

    It's not much easier to get into than the UK, unless you can wave a couple of million bucks under the INS' nose for an investor's visa. This works almost everywhere, by the way: one rule for the rich, another rule for the rest of us If you think the USA is doing well now, wait until the residents of the mid-west and deep south begin to realize what climate change really means non-survivable heat emergencies every other year and start trying to move north and east. Whether the USA even survives as a unitary republic without stuff like internal passports and checkpoints at state borders is going to be an interesting question by Inside every Islamic State thug is a liberal trying to get out?

    I don't think so. We are still stuck with "Americans" and their mindset, whichever side of the culture wars they might inhabit. Nevertheless, it's already happening in a sense. When stationed in the south, many African American soldiers get the windows of their cars tinted as darkly as possible so they can't be arrested for driving while black. They've told me so. They shouldn't have to do this, but reality is reality and if we are to predict things we can safely assume that the medical version of window tinting will also be popular on the market, once perfected.

    Michael Jackson's version was NOT perfected, more of a statement. Your points about past instances efforts to "pass" only inflaming paranoia are persuasive, but is not paranoia the first step to reform? If your faulty mental constructs make you uncomfortable and paranoia doesn't really feel good then there's a chance you may eventually reconsider your thinking. So telling a black friend to "just get a race change" is more practical future advice than advising him to "change those bigots heads. I heard a radio program about a black FBI agent who busted a Klan cell by simply talking to the leader on the telephone and leading him on about his interest in the organization, milking him for all kinds of information.

    And how about those DNA tests. There was a big story recently about some racist radio talk show host who got himself tested by 23 and Me and found he had lots of African ancestry. You can't criticize a method on the basis that it shouldn't be necessary. That's like comparing an unreal ideal to a real improvement in order to shoot down the real improvement. On the other hand, if a technique just copes with a situation without really challenging it much, then it just allows it to hang in there. Maybe window tinting fits in that category. No, the first step is to delegitimize, criminalize, and punish overt racism.

    Starting with identifying those cops responsible for the majority of "driving while black" arrests and slinging their sorry asses in prison for false arrest. Oh, and mandatory murder charges when a cop shoots an unarmed individual, tried if necessary before a tribunal of judges if an unbiased jury can't be found. Seriously, this shit isn't going to clean itself up: the sledgehammer approach is a necessary but not sufficient part of what's needed. Oh yeah, "just stop existing" isn't a solution. I was merely pointing out that not only is it not a solution, even if it was it won't work.

    DWB is cops doing ad-hoc, confirmation bias-filled profiling; changing the indicator for that profiling is trivial. Burkett, Jr. I haven't read Spaceman or Undercurrents. Dune doesn't match your description at all. I wouldn't expect a story like that from Mack Reynolds. Sleeping Planet certainly qualifies as racist SF, but I don't recall anything about the aliens saying that white people should be in charge. Maybe it was a year later. Or two. It WAS more than a few years ago. I have a strong memory of the Kroger grocery store in winter. Definitely still in grade school. The story involved earth showing off it's worth by performing various cultural things to the aliens from which we decended.

    The main character was doing a bull fight. Yes I thought that was strange also. Yeah, I've heard the argument that the Starhip Troopers movie should seen as a satire. But it's sooo bad. No subtlety at all. And it commits the to me unforgivable sin of ruining a favorite Bowie song. Re: 'Third idea; get people in other countries to work for us, without having to have them here in China.

    You mean Africa This assumes that the tribal wars stop at some point. What I find really interesting is that it's the foreign Chinese rather than the local Arabs who're doing the heavy investing. The Arab nations have had scads of money to invest for decades, and they've done absolutely nothing.

    China meanwhile seems to have acted as quickly as possible. Okay after decades of failed Maoism. Tribalism has been around for millennia, with the American version of tribalism being North vs. South, educated East Coast vs. About the original Star Trek I was of the impression that this show was sold as a space-age western. The timing coincided with Kennedy's speech about going to the moon. So Star Trek was intended to sell the fun, adventure, and the belief that any problem could be solved with the can-do, pull-together, American attitude.

    ST: TNG was in comparison more grown-up but less optimistic about the ability of humans Americans to easily solve any problems thrown at them using the same-old AE formula. It took 20 years for the general movie-watching public to figure out it was satire, so apparently it was still too subtle. I think notsam has quite an important point which is being a bit neglected in comments - that, despite significant effort, the idea that women are in all ways human is a good deal more solidly in place in the Anglosphere than elsewhere.

    My fear is that the strong communist belief that women were human got into the set of 'Communist things to be washed away', and there's been a substantial decline in female status in former-Soviet-Union and China since the end of very-explicit Communism. You still get people in the Anglosphere wanting to hire a pretty secretary, but mostly they feel a bit guilty about it and think of the rules making it difficult as nannying which they have to grumpily submit to.

    Go look at the list of current women political leaders I linked in response and count how many are in the "Anglosphere. The Arabs aren't terribly much more local to, say, Ghana than the Chinese are Accra is only half as far from Riyadh as it is from Beijing , and the history of interactions between Arabs and black-Africans is long, horrible, and still ongoing in the few places South Sudan being the obvious one where there is a border with one group on one side and one group on the other.

    I can readily understand an objection to foreign direct investment from people whose ancestors were literally buying and selling your ancestors not three hundred years earlier; there was very little interaction between west Africa and China until after Deng Xiaopeng. Zheng He's fleet got to Mogadishu and Mombasa, on the other side of the continent, but seems to have left a couple of tombs and a genetic legacy only detectable with modern equipment. Hasina Wajed and Park Guen-Hye are female members of political dynasties; the idea that descendants of the monarch might be human despite their gender is a rather older one.

    I think I'd call much of the first two categories Anglosphere. I can certainly imagine a series of events not very far from contemporary history in which Algeria was in category two. To degree it will, but that doesn't mean that it will be an exact match. Assuming we discovered FLT in the next century and start colonizing, we'd have a lot of White and East Asian colonies and very few with people from Africa and India compared to their numbers on Earth.

    And English and Chinese would likely be the base languages for interstellar humanity. But it's also possible to come up with scenarios where things are different. We could have a comfortable and advanced society with a huge degree of automation so that people don't really want to colonize. Those that do might be odd religious-political groups or refugees. If overpopulation and global warming hit the island nations the hardest, there could be a lot of Polynesians moving off Earth.

    But that's just looking through a fiction lens, who knows if we'll ever get interstellar travel. But it's not impossible to make a believable universe in a story where most people are of Polynesian descent and practicing some future version of Mormonism. More realistically, absent FTL we'd probably get automated colony ships creating colonists on other worlds artificially. In a case like that, their cultural and genetic background is entirely up to the people planning the mission centuries earlier on Earth.

    They may opt for a racially balanced genetic stock and an optimized culture drawn from all over the planet. Or they may be ultra-nationalists creating an idealized version of their home country. Well yes - but, unless you start making assertions about Polynesians being natural astrogators which would be considered at best unreconstructed if you read them in mid-period Heinlein, you need an awfully contrived explanation as to why a population of two million people from a region whose major income potential is tourism ended up on the first successful colony ships.

    If colony ships are cheap enough that Tahiti can afford one they're cheap enough that China can afford a thousand. Just read up a bit about Zheng He Anyways, his travels to Africa were a continuation of a manhunt, some military posturing plus business Frankly, this character comes across like Sir Francis Drake. Or to Sesame-Street it This ends up as the kind of question where the research required before you can think of answering it includes holing up in a hotel room in Chongqing watching CCTV Chinese state television's answer to CBeebies , notebook in hand, for a statistically significant period.

    The first thing I notice in two minutes of looking at CCTV is that the characters in the cartoons seldom look particularly Han. CCTV Africa will provide a platform for its Chinese audience to better understand Africa and promote the China-Africa friendship so that the real China can be introduced to Africa, and the real Africa can be presented to the world. As I recall from anime discussions, the apparent ethnicity of cartoon characters can be tricky because their faces are greatly simplified compared to real human faces, and people will tend to see them as whatever the default ethnicity of their culture is.

    Unless you go for really exaggerated stereotypical facial features, which will be difficult to tell from a racist caricature. China's investment in Africa is fascinating, because it is extremely targeted. What they are often building are the first real modern roads in the area, but they don't go where the people are. They go from Resource area to Port area. Most of the investment is focussed on either mineral exploitation, or creating enclaves for Chinese trade, predominantly owned and run by Chinese migrants. What Africa gets out of it is quite different to western involvement.

    Westerners tend to try and bring universal education, technology, and political stability. Chinese bring underlying infrastructure, and ignore the people or buy them off with very specific investment. And we're starting to see some demographic shifts, such as in Ethiopia, as people move to take advantage of the roads. Fascist dictators with tanks can be seen as political stability with technology. As for universal education, one might question the accuracy of this statement. There are many more Chinese people than Westerners who have both the skills required to run a general store, and a set of alternative prospects in life such that running the general store in Mwinilunga appears the most attractive option.

    So there is a fair amount of individual-Chinese-business activity in Africa, as well as the large-scale resource-extraction efforts. There's also a good deal less anti-Chinese sentiment than there is anti-Western sentiment, because these are places which scarcely had a Chinese visitor before They support gender equality and the education of girls, and often focus on improving life expectancy and development. The Chinese investments are more focussed on roads, rail, telecommunications. They are less interested in who is in charge other than to ensure they are left alone.

    At least, that is the message I got from friends working in Ethiopia and Madagascar, and it makes sense when you look at other parts. I'm a bit confused by an argument that Chinese investment in Ethiopia is primarily resource-driven - as far as I can see the main push has been to get Chinese heavy-industry companies to build the big new dams which will increase total Ethiopian electricity production to still somewhat less than the electricity produced by Drax when two of its six boilers are down for servicing.

    I am almost inclined to think of Chinese investment in Africa as yet another example of the Global Savings Glut; the Chinese have some spare money, the Ethiopians are willing to let them invest it, individual Chinese businessmen are willing to run stalls at bazaars in Addis Ababa. But I haven't been there and looked yet, and it may be that there's something which would be absolutely obvious on the ground and doesn't show up in random perusal of world media. Building and staffing hospitals is in some ways the straightforward thing to do.

    A hospital needs some money, some land, hiring a few dozen Chinese doctors willing to work overseas in a highly prestigious project at a good salary for a few years, and a contract with the School of Medicine at Jiaotong University to arrange a ready supply of interns. Building and staffing primary schools is much harder - you need many more for a given population, and whilst interning at a hospital in a developing country is a standard rite of passage for a medical student's career, interning at a school in Ethiopia isn't something a trainee teacher usually contemplates.

    Similarly, whilst being a foreign senior surgeon teaching local junior surgeons isn't straightforward, being a foreign senior teacher trying to train local teacher-trainers is a whole new level of cultural difficulty.