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Answer by swestrupNov 03, 202140

Montreal, Quebec, Canada


Oh, I understood that. Except that your explanation of what happened at the end of Permutation City made sense whereas how that story actually ended did not. Hence I prefer your explanation of the ending of Permutation City to the one provided in the book.


I really enjoyed the story, and I have to say that I prefer your ending to Permutation City than the one that Egan wrote.

I agree, which is why I tend to shy away from performing a moral analysis of Fantasy stories in the first place. That way lies a bottomless morass.

Interesting. Is hard to reconstruct my reasoning exactly, but I think that I assumed that things I didn't know were simply things I didn't know, and based my answer on the range of possibilities -- good and bad.

It would say that the likelihood is overwhelming that BOTH choices will lead to bad ends. The only question is: which is worse. That's why I was saying it was between two evils.

Besides, its hard to reconcile the concept of 'Good' with a single flawed individual deciding the fate of the world, possibly for an infinite duration. The entire situation is inherently evil.


My first impression of this story was very positive, but as it asks us to ask moral questions about the situation, I find myself doing so and having serious doubts about the moral choices offered.

First of all, it appears to be a choice between two evils, not evil and good. On one hand is a repressive king-based classist society that is undeniably based on socially evil underpinnings. On the other hand we have an absolute unquestionably tyranny that plans to do good. Does no one else have trouble deciding which is the lesser problem?

Secondly, we know for a fact that, in our world, kingdoms and repressive regimes sometimes give way to more enlightened states, and we don't know enough about the world to even know how many different kingdoms there are or what states of enlightenment exist elsewhere. For all we know things are on the verge of a (natural) revolution. We can't say much about rule by an infinite power, having no examples to hand, but there is the statement that "power corrupts". Now, I'm not going to say that this is inevitable, but I have at least to wonder if an integration over total sentient happiness going forward is higher in the old regime and its successors, or in the Infinite Doom regime.

Finally, the hero is big into democracy. Where in either of these choices does the will of the peasants fit in anywhere?

EDIT: One more point I wanted to add, since its clearly not a Choice Between Good and Evil as the prophesy states, why assume there is a choice, or that there are only two options. Would not a truly moral person look for a third alternative?

I rather enjoy the taste of a Brown Cow, which is Creme de Cacoa in Milk. Then again, I'm sure I'd prefer a proper milkshake. Generally, if I drink an alcoholic beverage its for the side effects.

Granted, the title was probably too flip, but I think yours is a little wordy. I'm not sure I can do better at the moment other than maybe something like "Self-Publication as a Truth Filter".

Reading this, I suddenly had an A-Ha! and checked my post from last month that had, mysteriously, never garnered a single comment or vote and discovered that it was in the drafts area. I could swear that I double checked it at the time to make sure it had been published, but in any case, I've now made sure its published. Thanks!

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