[DWJ] Tropes

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Thu Dec 7 15:08:12 EST 2006

Minnow said...
> I haven't ever had to use "a billion" in any way accurately, not being an
> astronomer, a financier, or one dealing in the number of molecules that 
> can
> dance on the head of a theory, so it just means "a lot" as far as I am
> concerned, and occurs in books in which someone is trying to impress on me
> that it's a *long* way to the galaxy s/he has set his work in

I really hate science fiction writers using billions of kilometres (or 
miles, but they mostly seem to prefer kilometres, probably because most of 
them are American and to the average American metric units are something 
that only scientists use, so kilometres sound suitably scientific) to 
describe distance in space.

When an author tells me that the heroine's spaceship is eleventy-billion 
kilometres from the other spaceship, I tend to snarl, "why can't you use 
light-years, you stupid bugger?", and to decide that the stupid bugger 
probably thinks a light-year is a unit of time.

(I still insist that a billion is a million million, though, despite (like 
Minnow) not having any need to use the term accurately.)

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at eircom.net

"I will not trust you, I,
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray;
My legs are longer though to run away."
-Wm. Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" 

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