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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 8:29 pm 
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Altrad wrote:
The Linking Book isn't technology -- it contains no components and requires no power.

a linking book does reqire power. In Riven, Gean had to power his books because they didn't work on their own.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 9:39 pm 
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good point
none the less it shows that a linking book does require some power

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:08 pm 
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Altrad wrote:
I see Ages as not being real, in any physical (or physics) way. I see them as stories written in first-person -- perhaps works of interactive fiction. Which explains why we can each have our own Incidence of, for example, Teledahn. I read the story and you read the same story, but I don't appear in yours and you don't appear in mine. Perhaps while putting our hand on the moving picture we enter a trance state, and everything thereafter just happens inside our heads.

Some books are written to allow many 'readers' to participate at once. But they're all still fiction. And just like other forms of fiction, if you state a fact (e.g. you have to press the yellow button three times) the rest of the world automatically arranges itself to make this so. Your only problem is the one mentioned throughout Myst about writing Books: if you accidentally make contradictory statements through not thinking things through, your Book doesn't work at all. And if the combination of things is not impossible but just unlikely the Age goes through ridiculous or dangerous contortions to make both things happen.


I have to disagree about this. Sure, the books are an allegory for reading books in real life and getting "sucked into" the worlds they describe," but here, I'm positive that there is a physical transfer, because it's a GAME and the designers can get away with poetic license and suspension of disbelief. Consider a game like Mario--is it possible for the hero to have eaten a psychidelic mushroom and gone into a surreal world in his mind called the Mushroom Kingdom? Sure! But for the purpose of the game, it's pointless to think about that because we're supposed to assume that what's happening in the game is "real" within the context of the work of fiction.

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I agree about the special inks. I don't understand that. I can understand having to use a special language, since you could develop a language that was very good for describing Ages: easier to use that language than ambiguous and imprecise English which lacks words for the necessary concepts. But I don't know that much about writing Ages, perhaps someone could come up with a convincing reason to need a particular ink.


That's the thing--I think that the inks are necessary for the "magic" to work. People have argued that books are like technology, but I disagree. Your heart, for example, runs on your body's "power" (in this case, electrical signals), but it's not a machine. Gehn's mechanical solutions to the lack of power for his books in Riven is, in my mind, equivalent to giving someone a pacemaker. It's technology that assists something that's not technology. I think that the books' "magic" is some form of divine intervention on the part of Yahvo, perhaps even a physical manifestation of our power to choose and exercise free will. In Genesis, God gave man free will once he expelled Adam and Eve from Eden and let them choose whether they wanted to be good or evil; here, Yahvo gave the Ronay/D'ni the power to create worlds for good or evil and to act as "gods" in their own right (not to the extent that Gehn thought he was one, but pseudo-creators in that they could link to any pre-created world, which is essentially, though not exactly, the same thing as creation). I think that the gift of the Art is something equivalent to God's creation of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It's something that "just is" that is placed into the world for people to use well, or poorly, or not at all--but to me, it's definitely of divine origin and not a human/Ronay/D'ni creation, hence the inability to fully understand how it works the way it does. We don't know exactly how prayer works--but it works :D and the metaphysics of it are beyond comprehension, but what matters is that it DOES work.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:55 pm 
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hm, i am afraid i am going to have to disagree with you here. firstly, the heart is most certainly a machine, it is an organic self maintaining pump. your pacemaker analogy is relevant however, for gehn was supplementing the refined tech of the books, with the simpler technology of his island, the unsophisticated pacemaker, assisting the sophisticated heart. you seem to think just because we do not understand how it works, means that we cant, or that the d'ni didn't, and that is not necessarily true. "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" i feel bad using such a cliched quote, but it applies so well, it is advanced technology, and we dont yet know how it works, but we could, in time, learn.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:24 am 
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We just need to snail-mail a linking book to a sciencetist lab

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:26 am 
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I think this forum should be retitled "What are Linking books? Magic or Tech?"

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:57 am 
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The difference between magic and technology is experimentation. You start off with magic: a particular thing done a particular way has particular results (most of the time). Then you mess with it, or make discoveries: hey, if I substitute normal flour for half the self-raising flour I get a nourishing snack that doesn't fall apart when you keep it in a backpack all day. Or hey, if I sprinkle the mixture at midnight instead of daytime, the mushrooms grow bigger. The more experiments and discoveries you get, the more it goes along the line from magic to technology.

But ... some things remain magic for a long time. For instance, suppose you come up with a reasonable mixture for an explosive. You leaf through horse manure and cow chips looking for small black pellets. You mix these with earth, dip in lamp oil then put in a wooden box and top it up with more manure (more or less). At each stage you wait just the right amount of time for the results to dry, and you get a fairly good explosive. So that's magic: no idea why it works, it just does. But you want a better explosive so you experiment a bit by changing the recipe and blow your hands off. Then someone else experiments by changing the timing and blows up his entire factory. And someone else tries things in a differenet order and sets fire to himself. If the thing you're making is that dangerous then you tend not to experiment.

So my theory on stuff that stays magic is that it's one of those recipes that, if you change it even a little, turns into a dragon that eats you. So you don't mess with the version you know. So perhaps that's why you write linking Books like that: if you change anything minor (like try a new ink) anyone who links in dies. The disadvantage of the result doesn't justify the experiment.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:35 am 
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Altrad wrote:
The difference between magic and technology is experimentation.


Actually, I think the word you're looking for is ignorance. ;)

Altrad wrote:
You start off with magic: a particular thing done a particular way has particular results (most of the time).


That isn't magic. That's what we call observation or, if the result is consistent, scientific law.

Technology is a human tool or method for completing a task more efficiently than could be done without. For example, a hammer, or a computer, or a linking book. Experimentation can help this process, yes, but the length of time and number of generations that use this guess-and-check technique is enormous. The reason our technologies today advance so quickly isn't because we're simply hammering microchips together to see what happens, but because we have knowledge.

This could be equated with the D'ni. They didn't just try making ink from everything; they didn't just try writing with it on all kinds of paper, and they didn't randomly invent this certain alphabet with certain descriptions for a certain purpose; no! The probability of amassing a knowledge of The Art through random guessing is effectively 0. The D'ni's ancestors invented it using their own scientific knowledge. They understood physics and mathematics, chemistry and biology. They analyzed their homeworld's plants and animals, taking note of each's unique properties. Using their gathered understanding of energy, matter, timespace, atoms, chemical reaction, computation, language, code, human nature, geology, biology, math, anatomy, (calligraphy :P), and engineering, they were able to construct linking book prototypes and, as their precision grew, eventually construct a working door to another world.

Furthermore, in respect to other posters, I have more stuff to rant about. Aren't you excited!?

Solstice wrote:
It's technology that assists something that's not technology. I think that the books' "magic" is some form of divine intervention on the part of Yahvo, perhaps even a physical manifestation of our power to choose and exercise free will.


Uhhhh... Let's think like scientists here. Everything in our universe has an explanation, and that explanation doesn't involve religious figureheads spiritually intervening in technological affairs. To imply such is just lazy. The books' "magic" isn't magic at all; it's unexplained scientific law. Law: Linking books link you to other worlds. All linking books will do this. If the book was intended to be a linking book, but didn't work right, it isn't a linking book now is it? It's just a book. With words. That's it. Law: Books intended to be linking books, but which lack the ability to link, are therefore not linking books. Yahvo bestowing blessings of divine travel to the D'ni isn't a law. There is no evidence. There is no proof. There is no way to test it. Once we gain a better understanding of books, there will be a way to disprove it.

Solstice wrote:
In Genesis, God gave man free will once he expelled Adam and Eve from Eden and let them choose whether they wanted to be good or evil; here, Yahvo gave the Ronay/D'ni the power to create worlds for good or evil and to act as "gods" in their own right.


The Bible is a book of collective stories that is written by man. How would man know whether or not God gave him free will? Man is not divine. Yahvo giving the Ronay the power of pseudodivinity is the same story. How would the Ronay know Yahvo gave them that? In fact, this is moreso a sign of incredible arrogance on their part. Their race was advanced to the point that they felt they were gods, and they exalted themselves as such in the form of "scripture".

Solstice wrote:
We don't know exactly how prayer works--but it works and the metaphysics of it are beyond comprehension, but what matters is that it DOES work.


Prayer works, if done properly, because it allows for all options. "I want this to happen, but it's [insert divine name]'s decision as to whether or not it will." Obviously, no matter what happens, the prayer will still have been answered correctly. Improperly praying, (ie: "Please make it rain in the next five minutes.") isn't necessarily going to work because it doesn't include all options for the occurence. If it rains, the prayer will have been answered, but you could've gotten about as much divine intervention from checking the weather section in the newspaper. If it doesn't rain, the prayer will have failed.

I created this topic to discuss theories and ideas regarding safety and precautions involved in the linking process. While this does, in effect, involve minor discussion on the workings of books, it certainly doesn't require all this talk about religion, magic, and unicorns.

These games we play are intended to be science fiction. If they wanted to create a fantasy game, they wouldn't have gone through the trouble of providing explanations, involving logical physics (99% of the time if you want to discredit linking), and sticking D'ni on, of all places, our dinky little planet. If you want to discuss the inner workings of a linking book, please keep your explanations scientifically plausible.

Also, I like the idea that the book is coded with safety in mind. Like how toxology labs are provided with certain systems that activate in case of contamination. I also find the auto-correct idea quite fascinating. It's interesting to think about. It would probably have to be written into the book as well, though. The book cannot change the reality in an age unless that change was written into it upon the age's creation. So basically, something similar to "Trace Person A's current shape. If ratio of gas to solid is less than 1:x/ratio of gas to liquid is less than 1:y within Person A's current shape at the Link-in point, assume an obstruction is present and relocate Link-in point z units up/down/left/right/back/forward." This would have lots of other codings too, obviously. "Make sure solid ground is no more than n below Person A's feet" for example. :D

Sounds tedious, but easy for us to comprehend. It reminds me of coding an algorithm.

TL;DR: I'm sorry for creating this long post. No religion plz, no magic, just physics. Explanations/theories welcome. :P

Anyway, I'll shut up now. My keyboard's screaming for me to stop.


Last edited by Tsal on Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:44 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:36 am 
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Altrad wrote:
The difference between magic and technology is experimentation.


But the definition of magic is that which bends the laws of nature. In many fantasy books I've read, magic is nothing more than the means by which the impossible become possible. Consider this: a magician can call forth a bolt of lightning from a perfectly clear, blue sky--or even better, in the middle of space, where it's hard to find individual atoms, let alone enough to form an electrical charge. The way he does this is not explicable by any science because nothing science can come up with explains how he generates something like that in a space where it is physically impossible. This is not technology--he is not exploiting chemistry, physics, or anything like that. He is truly making the impossible happen in front of our eyes. How does he do this? Well, the answer can be as simple as "saying the magic words" or "drawing runes in the air," but what actually happens?

Many of the authors I've read explain these actions as a medium for drawing upon the realm of possibilities ("the ether," "quintessence," "magical force") and turning a possibility that does not exist in this universe into our universe. It's the same with linking books. There are infinite possibilities, and by "saying the magic words" (or, in this case, writing them with the magic ink), they can choose what possibilities to make real. Yet magic, by definition, cannot be proven by science. Nor can we prove empirically, or even rationally, that God (Yahvo?) exists. But we CAN come up with theories and working models of them that, while unscientific, really do work. In some fantasy works, magicians dont' fully understand magic, and they can't figure it out because it's far too complex for any human to really understand, but they can research and refine it. It's largely intuitive and only makes sense to those who practice and use magic, but it still works. Theologians come up with explanations for God and Providence that are similarly vague, but people can understand them easily because we all have the capacity for understanding spiritual matters.

Maybe magic isn't the best term for describing linking, but I don't think that it's scientifically explainable, and can only be attributed to Yahvo's form of Providence and his direct intervention.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:43 am 
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Tsal: I respect your assertion that linking books are purely a product of D'ni ingenuity, but I strongly disagree that everything in the universe is provable. I believe that there are plenty of things that we can't ever hope to comprehend because we're not meant to understand them. This is turning into an argument of religion vs. science, and while there's strong evidence for both, neither side can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is right. It's unfair for both of us to assert that either religion or science is the only explanation for linking. I agree that I'm quite biased in this matter, but I'll stop posting here because I think that neither of us has anything meaningful to add to the original discussion.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:52 am 
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Solstice wrote:
Tsal: I respect your assertion that linking books are purely a product of D'ni ingenuity, but I strongly disagree that everything in the universe is provable. I believe that there are plenty of things that we can't ever hope to comprehend because we're not meant to understand them.


Well yes, we'll have to disagree strongly on that point. I believe that the universe's workings are 100% provable. However, I never said that means we will ever be able to comprehend them. The universe is governed by physics, but human knowledge of what exactly physics is is very very limited. Our brains are only capable of grasping concepts to a certain point before it's beyond understanding. That, I can agree with you on 100%. I doubt that people will ever stop trying to understand the universe though- curiosity is a powerful thing.

Solistice wrote:
I agree that I'm quite biased in this matter, but I'll stop posting here because I think that neither of us has anything meaningful to add to the original discussion.


I'm sure you have many ideas on the subject, and I certainly have a boatload of them as well. I simply think that finding a logical explanation for the safety of the linking process is a challenging endeavor that many people can theorize on.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:21 am 
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Interesting discussion. Here's how I rationalize those problems. For all things, the linking book art/technology/magic pushes aside space to fit the user. To do this the book exerts some force which takes the path of least resistance (meaning the path that will cause it to do the least work/move the lease matter). So, in the instant before you link in, a vacuum is created in your body shape into which you materialize.
Normally, the force pushes aside the regular air molecules. For circumstances in the examples, the force would "move" from the space occupied by a person or cone (a heavier, solid object) to an area with material easier to move (air) just like water moves down a slope.
Now, what about some puny precipice of rock? Well, let's assume you filled the precipice with immovable objects. Since the link couldn't appear in the usual place, the link would have to move farther away from the designated spot. At some point, the energy it takes to move the link a distance away from the target gets to be more than that which it takes to displace a solid object similar to the air molecules. We've seen through Jalak (and probably other examples) that the link doesn't care whether there is something solid under your feet so, theoretically, you could link into thin air.

As for power, I'm not sure if Gehn's books being powered were artistic license or not. Either way, Gehn was a special case. I don't believe power is required, though.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:51 am 
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Whilyam wrote:
As for power, I'm not sure if Gehn's books being powered were artistic license or not. Either way, Gehn was a special case. I don't believe power is required, though.


This is a pretty critical point. One the one hand, the places we've seen linking books in the past have always featured some sort of pedestal or "place of protection" that could possibly provide it with power somehow. But on the other hand, we've seen some people take books with them (not the Relto book, since it's an exception to most rules) and still be able to link. Perhaps the power comes from the writing of the book itself, and Gehn and Catherine just forgot to/didn't know how to/ran out of time to write energy into the book so that it would be self-sufficient. My theory is that the book somehow draws power from an aspect of the age itself, and if you forget to include it or don't link the book to the power source, then it won't work. Think of (this might we a weird metaphor) a battery that can charge itself remotely through some sort of signal transmitted from an AC adaptor plugged into a wall socket somewhere in the world. If you have the battery plugged in to your vacuum cleaner (even weirder!) and the AC adaptor/transmitter plugged into a wall socket, you're good. But what if you forget to plug either end in? Then you have to plug the vacuum cleaner into your local wall socket and you can't move it beyond about 10-15 feet from that socket. It's the same thing with books, according to my theory--Gehn and Catherine either didn't remember to plug their adaptor in, or didn't know how to, and were forced to use a wall socket of sorts. Though the battery metaphor is a bit inconsistent, though, since Catherine DID use that linking crystal thing as a "battery" of sorts.

This also assumes you pay your bills every month :roll:

In conclusion: I think books can probably aquire the power necessary to link from something in the ages they describe, whether sunlight, the motion of water, the wind, volcanic activity, electrical storms, etc...The only reason why we didn't have to worry about this is becuse the D'ni, and later Atrus, were competent writers and knew how to set up an age properly so that it would give them the power they needed without any muss and fuss.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:31 am 
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Solstice wrote:
Perhaps the power comes from the writing of the book itself, and Gehn and Catherine just forgot to/didn't know how to/ran out of time to write energy into the book so that it would be self-sufficient.


What happened there was that Gehn didn't have access to the proper D'ni "ingredients" for the ink and paper on Riven, so his homebrewed substitutions resulted in books that required an external power source. I guess the implication there would be that there's some degree of power imbued into the physical books themselves, rather than the writing.

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