The Brick Moon

by John Holbo on March 18, 2008

Tonight’s selection goes with last night’s. Late 1860’s US SF. Ergo, for fun, another Lulu edition.

"No," said Q. bravely, "at the least it must be very substantial. It must stand fire well, very well. Iron will not answer. It must be brick; we must have a Brick Moon."

Along with The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Three Little Pigs, Edward E. Hale’s "The Brick Moon" (1869) is one of the three great brickpunk classics of world literature.

Sandemanian technopreneurs look to the bold, bricks & mortar future, with a flywheel-launched, satellite-based global positioning system; but learn valuable life lessons instead.

Brick. It’s awesome stuff.

"The Brick Moon" was originally serialized in The Atlantic Monthly. And there is an interesting thematic connection with the Steam Man, above and beyond the nigh simultaneous publication. Apparently the inspiration for the Steam Man was – the BigDog of its day – this. "However, by observing carefully the cause of failure, persevering and perfecting the man-form, and by substituting steam in place of the perpetual motion machine, the present success was attained." Words to live by.

As I was saying, in "The Brick Moon", our protagonists are likewise weaned off unreal dreams. "Like all boys, we had tried our hands at perpetual motion. For me, I was sure I could square the circle, if they would give me chalk enough." Then, having put away childish things, they are soon enough hyrodynamically flywheeling tons of bricks into the lower atmosphere.

Here’s a free PDF.

Arguably, this version of the three little pigs is even better.

If you are more old school, here’s Gilgamesh: "Go up on the wall of Uruk and walk around, examine its foundation, inspect its brickwork thoroughly. Is not (even the core of) the brick structure made of kiln-fired brick, and did not the Seven Sages themselves lay out its plans?"

Brick. Awesome.


by Kieran Healy on March 18, 2008

I’m pretty sure I last saw one of these while playing Half-Life 2, but now it appears to be walking around New England somewhere. Just look at how it reacts about 40″ in when the guy gives it a kick.

An outing for trolls and sockpuppeteers

by John Q on March 18, 2008

We’ve had a few more offensive trolls and sockpuppeteers than usual (that is, more numerous and more offensive) recently, and it seems to be time to make an explicit statement of our policy in this respect. You can read the comments policy in the left-hand sidebar. We’ve just added the following:

We respect the preference of many genuine commenters for pseudonymity and will protect their privacy. However, this respect does not extend to those who abuse pseudonymity to launch personal attacks on posters or other commenters, post racist or sexist comments or employ sockpuppets. We will, if appropriate, publish the identity of such abusers and share their identifying information with other sites.

There’s nothing new here, and we’ve acted on this policy in the past. But it seems like a good time to spell it out.