Science Fiction

FraterLibre

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#31
N0t Being Able to Read

Has anyone seen it?
I saw it and liked it, but I don't go in critical to movies, accepting them for their true nature beforehand and thus not expecting them to be Shakespeare's wet dream.

Given your hypercriticality, I hesitated to admit I saw this film at all, let alone enjoyed it. Then I thought, no, perhaps I can encourage you to suspend your critical faculties until AFTER you've seen something. Unless something is so bad as to intrude its flaws and inadequacies upon me as I watch or read, I'll usually just go with the flow until afterwards.

By doing this, I've enjoyed many books and films I might, in a more critical mood, have stopped bothering with early on due to some gaffe or howler.

Having said this, I'll also state emphatically that when something fails me, I'm on to the next thing. Life's too short. Just stopped reader Stephen Baxter's Manifold Origin on page 295, (out of 440 or so), because it just became too devoid of purposeful deveopment. He was re-arranging his chess pieces randomly either to keep himself busy or to add pages to his book. So I bailed.

I once bailed on a book that had only 20 or so pages to go. And I'm doing this more often as I age toward Not Being Able to Read Anymore, y'know?

Fiction delivery systems such as books are rapidly becoming artifacts from a bygone age, while movies and AV computer entertainments such as CD-ROM games seem the wave of the post-literate future. Ah, well. Maybe I really did live in the right time after all.
 
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Anonymous

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#32
Re: Yes!

FraterLibre said:
I'm rather like Arthur Dent, myself. Well, when I'm not in Palmer Eldritch mode, of course.
Dave Lister is the spaceman I admire the most!
Curries and lager in space - and why not?
 

FraterLibre

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#33
Dead Tongue Syndrome

I've heard curries are necessary, as one's tongue goes rather dead in free-fall.
 
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Anonymous

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#34
Alas, fiction very rarely grips me. I read too many fascinating travelogs, archaeological investigations, history books, autobiographys, Biographys, textbooks ('fraid so) and other non-fiction products, that I find little joy from getting involved in characters that do not exist.

I am very much annoyed with the state of TV documentaries whose entire structure is based on something phony. They are all aimed at the novice. Even the learning zone or Open University documentaries are patronising. Documentaries these days all seem to be aimed at the layman. Infuriating!

Anyhoo, as a reader of non-fiction, perhaps I should have refrained from posting on this thread. I just agreed wholeheartedly with your comment about some flawed scenarios actually being tolerable if one is fascinated with the subject matter.
 
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Anonymous

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#35
Perhaps the word despise should not be used to describe my own feelings towards the media but perhaps it should better describe my feelings towards the gullability of the public
Here,here St Clair !
People in general are more than ready to swallow anything the goggle box producers see fit to spoon feed them!
Nobody takes the trouble to think about whats NOT being said anymore, which is usually just as important as whats being presented. Thats why i like the internet so much, it gives you the chance to get the same info from lots of different places,if you can get past some of the corporate/political axes being ground you stand some chance of making your own mind up.
* Sorry everybody gone a bit off thread here havn't I. *:rolleyes:
 
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Anonymous

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#36
Stopping The Clock.

I remember a TV series, from Australia, The Magic Boomerang. Time stopped as long as it was in the air. Two brothers owned it and much fun ensued.

There was a very good episode of The Wild Wild West in which the villain had found a way to distill diamonds and make a cordial which speeded up its drinker so that it appeared that time had stopped. You had to be careful not to move too fast, or air friction would make you heat up and burst into flames.

There's an episode of, I think it's The Twilight Zone in which the main character finds himself outside time altogether one day as mysterious scenery shifters rearrange everything, split moment to split moment.

There are several variations on the theme. I enjoyed these, particularily, and they stuck in my mind. :p
 
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Anonymous

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#37
Re: N0t Being Able to Read

FraterLibre said:
....perhaps I can encourage you to suspend your critical faculties until AFTER you've seen something.
Nah! :D As I say, I do enjoy it to a certain degree but I cannot ignore the faults in something if they are glaringly obvious or cringeworthy. If I am sitting with people in the cinema who are enjoying drivel, then I cannot remain seated because by doing so I am thrown into discussing it with people who enjoyed it.

This throws many problems my way. I feel like a right downer for a start. I feel skint because I have just spent my money on a crap film. I feel that I may destroy the fantasy for my friends. So I leave.

My mum has wasted half a lifetime reading shit that she admits is shit. Once she starts..she cant stop. I cant accept that this is the best way to be. My upbringing (mainly paternal) required me to study the entertainment industry with hypercriticality. I feel better for it and enjoy only the cream of the industry rather than sifting through hours and hours of garbage. There are better things in life to be getting on with.
 
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Anonymous

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#38
magic boomerang

As far as time pausing goes, there has already been a few posts on this - a while back ...
pause
it is a kind of variation of the folktale of invisbility.
another example is the Fermata by Ms Lewinski's favourite author...
To achieve this sort of effect in a hard science story you would have to set the story in a virtual reality matrix scenario, or
involve an artificial intelligence with a very fast subjective time rate-
unfortunately the fast AI would be subject to the effects of friction and inertia, so would be far from invisible when acting at high speed.
Optical invisibility would be also difficult to achieve in reality, but perhaps not impossible.
 

FraterLibre

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#39
St Clair

You need to learn to breathe, it seems. lol I do understand what you say, but surely you realize that only fiction is true. Nonfiction deals only with mere facts, after all.
 

rynner2

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#40
Re: N0t Being Able to Read

FraterLibre said:
I once bailed on a book that had only 20 or so pages to go. And I'm doing this more often as I age toward Not Being Able to Read Anymore, y'know?

Fiction delivery systems such as books are rapidly becoming artifacts from a bygone age, while movies and AV computer entertainments such as CD-ROM games seem the wave of the post-literate future. Ah, well. Maybe I really did live in the right time after all.
For me the golden age of SF was in the 50s and 60s, when I was in my teens: Heinlein, Asimov, Wyndham, etc. Whether that Golden Age was the quality of the writing or just my youth and enthusiasm for the 'new' I don't know - it's an experiment impossible to re-run! (Perhaps youngsters nowadays get the same buzz from the modern stuff.) I have read good stuff since, but it seemed to become rarer as time went by.

I don't read much SF nowadays. Partly because my local library has only a small selection of real SF (but yards of fantasy stuff about dragons, magic, and so forth, Volume seven of the Doomslinger Trilogy type stuff). Perhaps there is a limit to human imagination (within the limits of any age), and once you've experienced those limits a few times it starts to become Ho-Hum.

My fiction reading now is mostly crime and whodunnit. At least you get a plot with beginning, middle, and end, but the quality of the writing varies. Sometimes the characters are so wooden and/or unpleasant that I lose interest in their fate, and the book is put aside unfinished.

Sometimes however this genre can overlap with cutting edge scientific ideas, giving the best of both worlds. I recently read one called "Donor" (sorry, author's name escapes me!) about the (illegal) transplant business. Plenty of hard science in it, so educational as well as entertaining.
 
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Anonymous

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#41
Re: N0t Being Able to Read

FraterLibre said:
Having said this, I'll also state emphatically that when something fails me, I'm on to the next thing. Life's too short. Just stopped reader Stephen Baxter's Manifold Origin on page 295, (out of 440 or so), because it just became too devoid of purposeful deveopment. He was re-arranging his chess pieces randomly either to keep himself busy or to add pages to his book. So I bailed.
Ehr, on that basis shouldn't you have bailed during Manifold Time (the first book in the sequence)? The whole Manifold sequence is an exercise in filling as many pages as poss. with oodles of nothing IMO. In fact, IMO Baxter's been running on empty since Moonseed, which so far as I'm concerned marked a serious downturn in the quality of his writing. Even his most recent work -Evolution- is only good in parts, and overall leaves one feeling "So what was the point?"
 
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Anonymous

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#42
Re: Stopping The Clock.

AndroMan said:
There was a very good episode of The Wild Wild West in which the villain had found a way to distill diamonds and make a cordial which speeded up its drinker so that it appeared that time had stopped. You had to be careful not to move too fast, or air friction would make you heat up and burst into flames.

There are several variations on the theme. I enjoyed these, particularily, and they stuck in my mind. :p
Also an HG Wells short story - "The New Accellerator", I think - and an episode of "Star Trek", in which Kirk is accellerated to the higher speed of an alien race in order to help them repropogate the species! This is the episode in which they somehow managed to get past the censors Kirk sat on his bed pulling his boots back on after being told by the alien woman that he had been chosen for breeding (not exact quote) followed by a cut to another scene. Shocking stuff!
 
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Anonymous

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#43
Stop Da' Clock!

Come to think of it, there's a really excellent J.G. Ballard, entropic catastrophe, story in which time itself is slowing down to a stop and everything starts to crystalise into immobility. It's called,

The Crystal World.

There are some really nice descriptve passages of an exotic jungle world where time itself has crystallised out into sheaths of gem-like beauty.

About as far from 'hard' SF as it's possible to get within the genré, but beautiful and terrible (in a good way). :cool:
 
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Anonymous

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#44
Re: St Clair

FraterLibre said:
You need to learn to breathe, it seems.
Nah, I am fine. These days I do not watch the TV or go to the cinema and so I have plenty time to breath. You know one of my hobbies and my others do not involve mainstream entertainment. I cycle, walk, play badminton, spend a lot of time with the kids and I do this. I am an amateur photographer and local historian. (at least thats what they call me round here) I smoke a pipe ;) and I climb mountains five or six times a year (not a lot compared to some)

Plenty time to breath....I do not work for my living.....I buy and sell on Ebay and it is proving lucrative. I will not drop all that to watch the bulk of shit on the telly or read books that do not advance my learning in any of these fields.

surely you realize that only fiction is true. Nonfiction deals only with mere facts, after all.
Ahh...not if its still theory. I still enjoy picking up and disposing with certain theories. Either because of a lack of persuasive truths or a new truth emerges and blows the so-called non-fiction theory to smitherines.
 

FraterLibre

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#45
Sequentials

rynner - I was teenaged in the 1970s, and loved Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, and Heinlein until I discovered Ellison, Spinrad, and Zelazny, et alia. So many excellent stories well told. // These days the kids don't get the same buzz, and in fact most of the new stuff isn't as good. Of course, some of the old stuff we liked as kids doesn't hold up on rereading, but some does, remarkably even deepening. Try the Foundation series by Asimov, for instance; chillingly applicable to right now.

I always had a penchant for the visionary, as opposed to the merely accurate nuts-and-bolts sf. Childhood's End over Neutron Star, for instance.

Crime and suspense mixed with science is like Crichton writes, and F. Paul Wilson. Donor, which you cite, may have been a medical thriller from Robin Cook. I suspect the heavy science content is what makes the forensic investigation show C.S.I. popular, too.

Zygon - I read only 295pp of Manifold Origin, none of the other books. I was sent it in order to read and consider it for a Nebula nomination for SFWA, so felt obliged to give it a go. I have done so, and shan't be recommending it.

I'm glad to know I'm not alone in finding his work this way, though, having heard many raves.

Stl Clair - I used to smoke a pipe, thanks to Tolkien's books, so I'm forced to admit not all fiction is a good influence.

I, too, do a lot of other things, at least as much as you list and then some, but I cannot conceive of giving up reading fiction. This is simply a matter of taste between us, and no big deal.

Yes, theory is fun, but often just as tedious and pointless as any work of fiction, without the added value of possible mythic overtones and deeper human truths. I am somewhat Xao about theory, in fact, and agree with Sherlock Holmes never to guess, it being destructive to logic.

Better to see things as they are and move on, perhaps.

Does anyone have a formative work of science fiction they recall, one that changed them in some way, or one they refer back to in their minds and lives, a book or story that continues to offer new ways to speak to the world and its many circumstances?

Childhood's End by Sir Arthur C. Clarke is one such for me, no question. And James Herbert's Dune, too.
 
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#46
"Does anyone have a formative work of science fiction they recall, one that changed them in some way, or one they refer back to in their minds and lives, a book or story that continues to offer new ways to speak to the world and its many circumstances?"

Riverworld... And I am hoping the TV version is not laughably ridiculous when it comes out. But I've banged on about this series of books before. It is not "Hard" SF, or even lightly boiled. The resurrection of everyone who ever lived is pretty much achieved through Clarkes Law of sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic.

But it is stunningly good, and unique in many ways.
 

FraterLibre

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#47
Riverworld

One of my favorites, excellent stuff. Although I will say the series somewhat peters out after the first two, three books. This is probably inevitable, but damn it's a grand conceit and a great idea, and choosing hard-headed anti-theist Mark Twain is inspired.
 
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Anonymous

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#48
Formative SF...

Gateway To The Stars, by Andre Norton is one of my earliest memories of a Science fiction book. Written in the late fifties the concept of trans dimensional portals to the stars allowing the migration of humanity to new worlds seemed really novel. Although, I had already been innoculated with similiar bizarre concepts, thanks to a certain London police box.

I remember the excitement of finding an ancient, hard back copy of, Masterminds of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, amongst my grandfather's books one day. I wasn't disappointed, although you could have written the actual, scientific content on the back of a postage stamp, with room over!

Robert Heinelein's Have Space Suit Will Travel and Space Cadet were both suitably mind boggling for a kid, as well. Isaac Asimov's I Robot series kept me going for a good long time.

But, the writer that really stands out for me, now i think about it, is James Blish and his Cities In Space series. I think I must have read them all. It wasn't just the mammoth idea of the World's cities being ripped from the ground and flung flung into space on gravity defying spindizzy fields, to go oakie and seek employment as vast manufacturing and construction plants amongst the stars. It was the attempt to portray the sort of society and economy that would do such a thing, using anti-argathic drugs to extend life spans and deal with the problems of travelling the immense distances between the stars. Great stuff!

I think the first book of his I actually read was, Welcome To Mars, mind you. That's where the inventor of the spindizzy field turns out to be an adolescent boy who builds the first field generator as a 'bread board rig' in his garden shed! He then builds a plausible space capsule out of sturdy packing crates (They're partially protected by the field) and takes off for Mars, accompanied by the stowaway, girl from next door! The two kids are forced to learn how to grow up and survive on the Red Planet. As Hard an SF book as a precocious 12 year old could have wished for!

How those books have stuck in my mind. What a great writer! :p
 
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Anonymous

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#49
re. Riverworld

FraterLibre said:
One of my favorites, excellent stuff. Although I will say the series somewhat peters out after the first two, three books. This is probably inevitable, but damn it's a grand conceit and a great idea, and choosing hard-headed anti-theist Mark Twain is inspired.
Must agree. To Your Scattered Bodies Go and The Fabulous Riverboat were both ...well, fabulous. But the series seemed to fall apart after that as Farmer tried to flesh out the reason behind the resurrection of mankind, and seemingly failed to realize that the not knowing who was behind it or why was one of the things that made the first 2 books so strong (IMO). Though I've been wondering recently which came first: the Riverworld series or Frank Tipler's Omega Point...? (Dates anyone?)

As for Ellison and Spinrad: as I get older, I find myself being less and less patient with some of Ellison's excesses (those ridiculously overblown and often downright dreadful titles he inflicts on so many of his stories for example, and he comes across more and more as the parody of a curmudgeon, rather than the 'gadfly' he was always styled as), but then he comes up with gems like Jefty Is Five and renews my faith in him (although how long ago was 'Jefty' now?).

Meanwhile Spinrad's The Men In The Jungle and Bug Jack Barron are still (nearly 25 years after I first read them) the most powerful indictments of human nature I've ever read in any genre of fiction. Recommended reading. (And Spinrad is a gent BTW; answers his email (eventually), even when it's just a short note of appreciation from a fan!)

(Psst: Fratrelibre. BTW, Dune was FRANK Herbert, not JAMES. James is an English Horror writer. You were probably tired. :))
 

FraterLibre

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#50
Farmer's Books

Those first two, I've heard, were actually one novel he broke into two after he got it back from the original publisher, who'd gone bankrupt and kept it in legal limbo for years.

Yes, Harlan's slipping lately, his heart attack and so on having slowed him down, but as you say, every now and then he gets off a good, even maybe great one, and so few do that these days that some excesses are easily overlooked in exchange for them.

Quite agree about the Spinrad material -- and he was reduced a few years ago to offering a book for publication for a one dollar advance, because he'd been black-listed for the sin of "diminishing sales". Publishers have become bottom-line feeders, and don't know a fucking genius when they've got one.
 
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#51
Re: re. Riverworld

Zygon said:
Meanwhile Spinrad's The Men In The Jungle and Bug Jack Barron are still (nearly 25 years after I first read them) the most powerful indictments of human nature I've ever read in any genre of fiction. Recommended reading. (And Spinrad is a gent BTW; answers his email (eventually), even when it's just a short note of appreciation from a fan!)
And who can forget Norman Spinrad's, The Iron Dream, by Adolph Hitler? The only science fiction novel written by a syphilitic German emigré to America, A. Hitler, an otherwise unknown science fiction illustrator. One of the most skillfully done satires I've ever come across! ;)
 
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Anonymous

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#52
Le Guin's The Dispossessed is a fascinating political love story about ftl communication, a bit removed perhaps from Heinlein in outlook, but there is plenty of room up there for worlds of every political type-
Marooned in Realtime (Vernor Vinge)is also seminal, in that it examines the Singularity, the big randomiser that could make any predictions bananas.
But it is still fun to try to anticipate the post singularity world, even if it doesnt have any people in it (not the sort of people we would easily recognise, anyway)
 

FraterLibre

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#53
Iron Butterflying

Yes, The Iron Dream is easily the best sf satire of the idiocies of fascism, and the underslying loser psychology of same, ever written.

For le Guin fans, especially fans of her novel The Left Hand of Darkness, be advised that The Birthday of the World is an excellent new collection of stories, most of which take place on Ekumen.
 

beakboo1

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#54
Enjoying this thread immensely, though I may be the only female on it. Isn't it funny how this sort of fiction seems to attract mainly men? Although I think that's gradually changing.
I started spending all my pocket money on Asimov paperbacks at the age of about 9, and have never looked back.

Zygon- did you not like Baxter's (well, yes and AC Clarke's) The Light of Other Days? I thought it was excellent. I also liked Titan, good characterisation there (for him);)
 

James_H

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#55
Can anyone name for me the author of a triffids - like post apocalyptic trilogy including a book called the white mountains, which i really liked when i read it a few years ago?
 
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#56
Hmm.
That would be the Tripods trilogy.(in four parts like all the best trilogies)
Not read it actually, and the TV series on BBC was only a very brief taste of the entire concept, but many people are enthusiastic.
 

James_H

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#57
looks like the first book is an added-on prequel, actually. thanks for that. I've only read the one.
 
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#58
beakboo said:
Zygon- did you not like Baxter's (well, yes and AC Clarke's) The Light of Other Days? I thought it was excellent. I also liked Titan, good characterisation there (for him);)
Actually Beak', The Light of Other Days is possibly the only reason I still buy each of Baxter's books when they come out. I enjoyed it more than anything he'd done since Titan (which was SFAIC the last really good solo effort he's been responsible for). But nothing he's done recently -even counting Light'- has been up to the standard of The Time Ships, Timelike Infinity or Ring.
 

FraterLibre

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#59
SF for Males Only?

Originally posted by beakboo -Enjoying this thread immensely, though I may be the only female on it. Isn't it funny how this sort of fiction seems to attract mainly men? Although I think that's gradually changing. I started spending all my pocket money on Asimov paperbacks at the age of about 9, and have never looked back.

Zygon- did you not like Baxter's (well, yes and AC Clarke's) The Light of Other Days? I thought it was excellent. I also liked Titan, good characterisation there (for him);)
beakboo -- Yes, sf is traditionally a male field, both the writers and the readers, but it's changing without doubt, and I'm glad you're aboard. It is an enjoyable thread, isn't it?

I've got Light of Other Days on my shelf and hope Clarke's influence keeps Baxter's contribution to a concise minimum. lol I'll not let Manifold Origin scare me off trying it, at least.
 

FraterLibre

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#60
Fleshy Steven

Originally posted by Zygon --Actually Beak', The Light of Other Days is possibly the only reason I still buy each of Baxter's books when they come out. I enjoyed it more than anything he'd done since Titan (which was SFAIC the last really good solo effort he's been responsible for). But nothing he's done recently -even counting Light- has been up to the standard of The Time Ships, Timelike Infinity or Ring
I suspect Clarke wrote a fairly detailed outline and Baxter fleshed it out -- Clarke, as he ages, has begun working that way, in order to get more of his work out. In doing this, his outline would have kept Baxter to the point, so the mix must work well. I'm also thinking it's conceptually mostly Clarke, with Baxter chosen to flesh it out because they knew he can handle the typical Clarke style big concepts gracefully and clearly.

I'm glad to hear Light of Other Days is a good one.
 
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