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Revolution TV series: An exercise in false dilemmas

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The_Gun_Nut

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« on: <08-03-12/1933:14> »
So, I've been looking up the stuff for the upcoming TV series Revolution.  In it, the writers and who all expect you to believe that the removal of electricity sends civilization back to the stone age, without critical technological innovations in transportation or firearms.  Cars don't work, and neither do guns or trains.

Seriously, what the fuck?  There are a number of points where this is absolutely asinine, but here I will list only a few.  Feel free to add your own.

(1)  Up until 150 years ago, electricity was a novel thing, used for parlour tricks and the like.  The telegraph was a huge innovation in the use of electricity, as was the light bulb.  Steam power was the way to get around, from trains to riverboats to ships of the line.  Assuming electricity sends us back 10,000 years is simply not true, and is really just a poorly researched idea on the writers part.  Steam power will work just fine.

(2)  Even assuming electricity goes bye-bye, diesel engines still work just fine.  Does everything get harder?  Sure does, but using a diesel engine (which does not require electricity to function) to mechanically power whatever you need (or just to get around) is still viable.  Can you get around the colder areas of the Earth as well?  No, so that's an issue, but one I doubt will be addressed.

(3)  Firearms do not use electricity, nor do they require it in their construction.  Hydraulics work still, they just require a different power source than an electric motor.  So contruction and manufacturing still work, just not as well or as efficiently.  (Firearms, as used for warfare, are thousands of years old.)  So making and reloading firearms works just fine.

Anyone else see some issues with the show's conceit?
There is no overkill.

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CanRay

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« Reply #1 on: <08-03-12/2259:06> »
The Industrial Revolution started with WATER WHEELS.

How's that for old skool technology?
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PeterSmith

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« Reply #2 on: <08-03-12/2333:35> »
(2)  Even assuming electricity goes bye-bye, diesel engines still work just fine.  Does everything get harder?  Sure does, but using a diesel engine (which does not require electricity to function) to mechanically power whatever you need (or just to get around) is still viable.  Can you get around the colder areas of the Earth as well?  No, so that's an issue, but one I doubt will be addressed.

Diesels definately need electricity to run. Do they have spark plugs? No. Have they used computers to operate the engines for longer than gas engines? Oh very much so.
Power corrupts.
Absolute power is kinda neat.

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DarkLloyd

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« Reply #3 on: <08-04-12/0035:37> »
Yes, things would go to hell rather quickly without electricity.
How many people know how to cook nowadays much less grow/gather their own food? You couldn't keep things refrigerated so no long term storage of food which means daily hunting trips. How many people have enough ammo for that?
For that matter even the ones that could use a rifle well enough to hunt an animal how many of those can clean it?
Millions to billions would die from starvation and fighting over the bits of food stores they could get.
 
Then you start with the diseases that would start going rampant.
Then the fires that would gut the cities from morons that didn't know how to manage a fire properly. Speaking of that how many people do you know that actually can make a fire with out matches or a lighter?
Then when winter comes by you loose tons more people.
Also gas and diesel go bad after awhile so your  diesels would be just as dead as everything else soon enough.

Rural places might do okay, due to their reliance on farming and ranching type professions. But any decent city would pretty much be a death trap.

For a really good look at what I'm pretty sure this series is ripping off for it's premise go read  S.M. Stirling And the Emberverse series And well they are just really good reads.
« Last Edit: <08-04-12/0037:13> by DarkLloyd »
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AJCarrington

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« Reply #4 on: <08-04-12/0950:50> »
@DarkLloyd:  thanks for this link...fan of Sterling's alternate history stuff, but missed these (now added to the ever growing list of books to be read).

@The_Gun_Nut: interesting points, but then do you expect much less? ;) I'm just happy that there are some shows out (and coming out) there with a very different vibe vs the standard network fare.  That being said, if the writing sucks, I won't be able to look over the "setting" premises.

AJC

CanRay

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« Reply #5 on: <08-04-12/1550:31> »
Diesels definately need electricity to run. Do they have spark plugs? No. Have they used computers to operate the engines for longer than gas engines? Oh very much so.
Modern diesels, yes.  Old skool diesels, no.  The only electrical system you "Need" in a Diesel is the starter, which could be replaced with a hand crank (Ow!) or a push start system (Hope you're not trying to get uphill!).

A T-34 didn't have a computer at all for it's engine.  You had a tin cup filled with polluted diesel fuel to thaw the damned thing out if it froze in a Russian Winter, that's it.
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The_Gun_Nut

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« Reply #6 on: <08-04-12/1946:15> »
Big cities like New York or Los Angeles or Washington D.C. will be devastated.  They will, indeed, become death traps.  But that's only in the first year or two.  The series is set 15 years after it all comes to a stop, so that's plenty of time for cooler heads to reinvigorate older designs.

In fact, many of the old steam engines are museum pieces that are meticulously cared for.  Jay Leno has a number of them in his personal collection, and the city of Conway, Arkansas' utility company, Conway Corporation, has an old steam generator on display in their office (BTW, it's big).  While it couldnt generate electrical power, it is still an engine capable of generating mechanical power.

A few other points:

(1)  I can see factories switching back to the old "central shaft" style of power distribution, or simply going with all pnematic systems (compressed air doesn't care how you squish it).

(2)  I can see the big libraries (NYC library, the Library of Congress) becoming incredibly important and popular sites for learning.  They would supply the information for old style technologies and their applications.

(3)  Zepplins do not require electricity to function, either.  A steam plant aboard one of those would be dangerous, but innovation abounds during hardships.

(4)  Medicines don't require electricity to produce, except in very large quantities for quality control.  A chemist could write his ticket to anywhere he chose.
There is no overkill.

Only "Open fire" and "I need to reload."

PeterSmith

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« Reply #7 on: <08-04-12/2031:07> »
Modern diesels, yes.  Old skool diesels, no.

And where do you expect to see these "old skool" diesels? Mt. St. Helens did a great job of getting rid of a lot of old diesels (the ash got past a lot of filters, trashed a lot of cylinders). Then the various environmental laws made is much more economical to replace old engines with new ones, which went into place after the ECU-run engines became available. The T-34 may have had a rock solid diesel powering it, but this series isn't set right after WWII.
Power corrupts.
Absolute power is kinda neat.

"Peter Smith has the deadest of deadpans and a very sly smile, making talking to him a fun game of keeping up and slinging the next subtle zinger." - Jason M. Hardy, 3 August 2015

eighth circuit

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« Reply #8 on: <08-05-12/2121:51> »
There were non-electric diesel engines being built as recently as 20 years ago. I remember working on a bus with a Cummins L10 that had no electronics save to power auxiliary systems. The batteries had been wired wrong and weren't sending out any power. I jump-started the engine but was unable to shut if off, because while it didn't require any electricity to actually run, it required a solenoid to shut off! I'm sure a lot of these engines have been scrapped by now, but a lot of them also ended up in Mexico and other poorer countries.

For that matter, the only thing that a diesel engine actually requires electricity for is the fuel injection, and it would only take a few minor mechanical modifications to make that work. Everything else is for sensors/emissions.

And, why exactly has electricity left the world? I mean if the basic properties of physics have changed, I think we'll have bigger problems than getting our engines to run.

Black

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« Reply #9 on: <08-05-12/2234:50> »
I suspect this is very much an ABS scenario.  If electricity has gone, is it all electricity (and then what about our very own biochemistry?) or is it only certain 'types'... which is beyond me how that could work.

So, I suspect that there is a lot more going on then the reletively simple premise 'what happens when there is suddenly no electricty?".

I enjoyed the promos I've seen so far, so I will give it a chance.
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The_Gun_Nut

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« Reply #10 on: <08-06-12/1609:23> »
From all the postings and videos they put out about it, it's just the electricity that's going over wires and what not.

So...yeah.  GLHFWT.
There is no overkill.

Only "Open fire" and "I need to reload."

Curmudgeon

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« Reply #11 on: <08-06-12/1731:11> »
I saw a promo for this, and I can overlook cars not working for some reason, but the complete lack of guns astounds me. Realistically, either the government has all the ammo, and rules with an iron fist, or else warlords abound.

Black

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« Reply #12 on: <08-06-12/1741:57> »
I saw a promo for this, and I can overlook cars not working for some reason, but the complete lack of guns astounds me. Realistically, either the government has all the ammo, and rules with an iron fist, or else warlords abound.

I saw some guns in one of the promos.

It comes down to everyone's personnel level of disbelief.  Mine is quiet high, I am general happy, at least when a show breaks physics, to go with the flow.  But everyone's different.

Eletricity's not completely gone either.  The 'militia' ie the bad guys are after a device which allows it to work, and at least one promo has someone using sad device to power up a computer to send a message.  So, I think that this story may have a bit more going on then what we may have been shown so fat.

But it will Coe down to how good the acting and storyline is...
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The_Gun_Nut

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« Reply #13 on: <08-06-12/2111:28> »
So, magic.

And general idiocy.  Firearms are not hard to reload.  And are a far sight easier to use than a sword or a crossbow.
There is no overkill.

Only "Open fire" and "I need to reload."

JustADude

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« Reply #14 on: <08-06-12/2136:19> »
So, magic.

And general idiocy.  Firearms are not hard to reload.  And are a far sight easier to use than a sword or a crossbow.

Ayup; and they're simple technology, too. We had rim-fire cartridges in the 1830s, and center-fire in the 1860s, and the only reason we didn't get them sooner was because nobody had had been smacked upside the head by the idea yet.

Even if computer-controlled precision machining is off the table, you could still crank out WW-2 era weaponry just fine with purely mechanical efforts, unless someone has also destroyed all the schematics and technical documents on the subject, as well as every machinist, engineer, and gunsmith that knows how to build them.
« Last Edit: <08-06-12/2140:54> by JustADude »
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