Greg Cox wrote:
Apropos of not much except the idea of plausibility: I still haven't forgiven Matheson for the idiotic science he used in The Shrinking Man. The psychology, characterization, etc. was spot-on, but the descriptions of what was actually happening to the guy made no sense at all.
I'm not sure anyone ever accused Richard of being a hard-science guy. He's more rooted in the Twilight Zone
school of sf/fantasy/horror . . .
Granted, but then he should just stay away from the explanations.
I'm referring to three egregious errors. The first is the announcement that the main character shrinks by "one-seventh of an inch per day", a nice round number which means he loses an inch a week. He also refers to that as a constant rate.
That's only a constant rate if you're talking about height, which, granted, he was. But for mass, it's an increasing rate. The loss of that mass is neglible if you're six feet tall, but by the time you get down to two-sevenths of an inch tall, it means you will lose 50% of your mass in one day. A constant rate?
His second error was to state that the shrinking was from the guy's body shedding calcium and other elements. I'll take that at face value and suspend disbelief for the physiological effects. As a concept, that's fine on the surface, but at that rate of loss, by the time he gets down to less than an inch, the evidence should be plainly visible. The guy should be leaving trails of his substance everywhere he walks. On the day he loses 50% of his mass, he should be literally coming apart at the seams. And there was no sign of any such thing.
The third error (SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING; THE BOOK IS OVER FIFTY YEARS OLD, SO DEAL WITH IT) was the ending where the character realizes he's shrunk down to zero, except he's still alive because "in nature, there is no zero." Excuse me, but it was plainly stated that he is steadily losing one-seventh of an inch per day by shedding material, which means sooner or later, he's going to run out of material. There is such a thing as zero.
I think Matheson would have done a lot better by saying, "He's mysteriously losing 10% of his remaining mass each day; we don't know where it's going" and leaving it at that. The book would play out exactly the same and the ending wouldn't contradict itself. (And if you use that kind of math, there really is no zero.)
Topic? Justice League? This discussion, uh, is, uh, relevant to the Atom. Yeah, that's it.
What floating chair?