The SelfStandardization musing (6 April 2002) reminded me of Frederik Pohl's The Gold at the Starbow's End, a cover story in Analog science-fiction magazine several decades ago. In brief, a small group of smart people are deliberately sent on a pointless interstellar voyage, designed to isolate them from others. Left to their own devices and not knowing what's impossible, they come up with some great discoveries and save the world. A cute, hugely improbable, well-written yarn.

But in the version as originally published Pohl made a couple of major technical goofs, which ^z as a snotty-nosed teenage ur-physicist couldn't resist pointing out in a Letter to the Editor. And decades later, a snotty-nosed almost-pentagenarian ^z (yes, I have a bad cold at the moment ... sniff) hasn't forgotten. Specifically:

"Picky, picky," you may say. Yes --- but part of the game that sf authors and readers play with one another is to avoid such slipskis, or to take pride in spotting them. Pohl later corrected these errors, as much as he could, in the published edition of the novel. The result was a better story.

TopicLiterature - TopicScience - TopicPersonalHistory - 2002-05-05

(corrected on 18 November 2002, thanks to a tip-off by an anonymous reader --- I had mistakenly written "Fritz Leiber" instead of "Frederik Pohl" throughout the above --- oops! --- ^z)

(correlates: ReaderAsPerformer, MakeYourOwnWeather, ProdesseQuamConspici, ...)