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April 21st, 2007

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04:13 pm - Oops ...
Today was planned to be a Lazy Day, true enough, so I figured that stirring from bed at around 11:30am was about right. Alas, I quickly found my way back to bed with Glasshouse (by Charlie Stross) in hand (and a bit of chocolate to keep me going), and only emerged again at 3pm, book finished. Apparently it's a good read, then.
One little thing bugged me, though - at the start of the book, there's a Note, explaining that time is simply measured in seconds (kilo, mega, giga-seconds as required) and relating those to "Archaic" earth time. Then, about half the time a period of time is mentioned, it gets explained in the "old style" anyway. It seems a little unneccessary, assuming that the reader didn't pay any attention to the Note and can't make the effort to turn back if confused. Examples :
'... Only been out for a meg, to tell the truth.' (A bit over ten planetary days, a million seconds.) (page 2)
Gigaseconds? Thirty planetary years each. (page 3)
'... where it will live alongside roughly a hundred other volunteers for thirty to a hundred megaseconds.' Roughly one to three old-style years. (page 19)

I wonder if it was an authorial or editorial choice ? (I have the Orbit 2006 edition, in case that helps)
Current Mood: lazylazy

(3 touches | En garde !)


[User Picture]
Date:April 21st, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
I can see why it would bug you.

Vernor Vinge used a similiar mechanism in A Deepness in the Sky, albiet without the accompaning translation into Old Time. The fun bit was that traditionally it was held to be the number of seconds since mankind first set foot on the Moon; in actuality it was the Unix standard time count (number of seconds since Jan 1, 1970). I liked the idea that human's would attach some mythic significance to time 0, beyond that of an arbitrary time-mark.

[User Picture]
Date:April 21st, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
In my copy of Deepness there's a diagram in the front to help convert between powers-of-ten-seconds and old units.
[User Picture]
Date:April 21st, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC)

Quick check

I had a look at a pre-reader copy of _Glasshouse_ I've got on my hard drive, and the examples you give of time unit explanations are in the text Charlie submitted to the publishers so they seem to be author-driven, not editorial.

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