The color of the sky above the port...

Okay, show of hands. When you think of the color of television tuned to a dead channel what comes to mind?

Static gray, a constant jumble of black-and-white that's hard to pin down.

That blue screen.

I've always just seen the static gray and associated it with the state of mind you're in when you wake up and the channel you were watching had signed off. Most VCR's and TV's these days just superimpose that blue screen if the signal isn't strong enough. So the color of television, tuned to a dead channel, is bright blue. Anybody see Neuromancer opening with a night sky that's a harsher shade of blue than daylight?
 
quote:
Originally posted by klik:

Static gray, a constant jumble of black-and-white that's hard to pin down.



back when I read it, a dead channel = snow. so the Chiba sky was grey in my mind.

but your take on it is pretty interesting. does the sky have a big green number on the corner as well? Smile

deny everything
 
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That's funny, I never thought of it as snow. I thought of it as the color of one of those old TV tubes just after it had been turned off and the bright white dot in the center was just fading away (yes, I remember the kind, though I am not as old as the hills yet). A kind of dull grey but with an internal luminescence (whoa... that can't be the right spelling). I always think of the effect that you get with low clouds in a dense urban area, where the lights from the city make the clouds shine like some sort of huge damp out-of-focus electric billboard.

Ne? Ne!
 
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When I was young, very young, and all we had at home was a B&W TV, with manual channel searching, which was not very important as there were only two channels back then, you could amuse yourself just checking frequencies. And you would get many different types of snow: fine grey, white on black, black on white, striped, coarse, almost pure white...

I always assumed it to be of the fine grey type, myself. I have seen such a sky in winter, early morning, over Duisburg (Germany). The darker smoke broken to fine wisps over a light grey background.

José
 
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it was grey.
 
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video white noise

OR, in details:

fixed number of horizontal lines composed of random grey traces of varying length.

i was born in the era of tubes.

georgy -- { ki~2, parisian photo diary --> http://www.arobi.com/ki~2 }
 
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It's quite wierd to think that, with the increasing uptake of digital TV and Radio, and the feature of most TVs and videos to show the bright blue screen instead of the snow, that snow and static will be virtually unknown to the next generation. I guess snow and static will become the manual tuning TVs and rotary dialing telephones of the future, (I can remember my parents having both of those, but only just!) relegated to appearing as effects in movies and songs.

Why do they do the blue screen on the TV thing by the way? Is it nessasary to steralise our view in this way?
 
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It's a filter. I imagine Tally Isham's broadcasts, which are edited so if she gets a headache you don't feel it, work the same way. Personally, I've always been pretty fond of the ambience created by a television tuned to a dead channel. There's a bar not far from me that has half a dozen TV's in the window. All tuned, or off-tuned, to channels that come in poorly or are simply dead depending on the hour. Being the old black-and-white variety, they're a perfect example of what I always saw as the night sky above the port.
quote:
Originally posted by T39andcounting:
I guess snow and static will become the manual tuning TVs and rotary dialing telephones of the future
My sentiments exactly.
 
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I used to tune in to snow channels on our TV on purpose. If you stare at them for a little while the snow starts forming patterns-- rotating swirls and even squares and cubes. I guess it just goes to show what an odd person I am.

Ne? Ne!
 
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It wouldn't be static - that's an untuned TV. Here the TV is tuned to a pilot signal without content - a sort of nondescript grey. So I assumed, any way.

I think I first bought Neuromancer on the strength of that opening sentence alone.
 
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TVs don't have snow anymore? Man, now that I think about it, my TV was made in 1980something. Maybe it's time for a new one.

And to stay in line with the thread, I see it as a grayish jumble caused by massive amounts of light pollution.
 
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quote:
If you stare at them for a little while the snow starts forming patterns-- rotating swirls and even squares and cubes


That's like I always hear the phone ringing when I'm in the shower.
 
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Very interesting for at least three reasons.
It means we must be prepared to explain this sentence to young ones : "you know, back then, the tv set received analog signals, and you had to set the channels yourself, blah, blah, boring stuff...)

The TV snow is a technological incident which bring poetry into every house.
Some over-rational Sony techies did replace it by a blue screen just because they could do it. they did not realize they were destroying something.

It is a part of a secret language that some kind of people use to recognize themselves. When I say that I used to look at the TV snow when listening music, I can see in people (women) eyes if they have enough imagination to undestand me. It's one these tests you can use when you are old enough not to fear people (women) POV on yourself.
I.e. when I read the first sentence of Neuromancer, I knew it was a book for me.

Lorien99
 
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quote:
Some over-rational Sony techies did replace it by a blue screen just because they could do it. they did not realize they were destroying something.



More prosaicly, the blue screen irritatingly pops up over very bad signals that are nevertheless more than just static. Sometimes these ghostly traces of the ether are interesting to watch, certainly more interesting than the blue screen. (But, as other posters have said, so is pure static.)
 
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I've read that opening paragraph more times than I can count, trying to figure out just what is the color of that damned sky.

At first, I thought of snow/static, but the thought of a flickering Chiba sky just didn't cut it for me.

It wasn't until I seriously nerded out and found myself of the world of computer networks, satellite broadcasting, and composite video that I had it figured out.

When looking at a composite waveform monitor, a dead channel is just that. Dead. Flatline. The wave is simply black-levels and blanking, telling the electron gun to fire just enough energy at each pixel so that the field hangs gasping at the lowest level of luminance. Everything becomes a dull glowing shade of nonblack, a pallid glaze unerringly conjuring the light-polluted sky that Case finds himself under, and beneath which we find ourselves in Gibson's world.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by caltrop:
I've read that opening paragraph more times than I can count, trying to figure out just what is the color of that damned sky.

At first, I thought of snow/static, but the thought of a flickering Chiba sky just didn't cut it for me.

It wasn't until I seriously nerded out and found myself of the world of computer networks, satellite broadcasting, and composite video that I had it figured out.

When looking at a composite waveform monitor, a dead channel is just that. Dead. Flatline. The wave is simply black-levels and blanking, telling the electron gun to fire just enough energy at each pixel so that the field hangs gasping at the lowest level of luminance. Everything becomes a dull glowing shade of nonblack, a pallid glaze unerringly conjuring the light-polluted sky that Case finds himself under, and beneath which we find ourselves in Gibson's world.


That's interesting. Figured all the holograms projected over the city across Tokyo Bay would create a certain modulation in the color and brightness of the sky and that the sky itself wasn't actually static, but that ambient color that comes from a TV showing static. But I know of this dead channel color of which you speak. Enough to know that the monitor is on, but black levels such that doesn't really cast any light.
Well, I just messed my head out of one of my favorite openings in literature. But I'm really intrigued with everybody's input.
 
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Arty friends of mine used to give a regular cyberpunk party called this. With a 'Bad Cyberpunk' contest. The first entry ever began:

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to Phil Donahue.

Of course, that entry had to win -- there was no topping that.
 
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quote:
When looking at a composite waveform monitor, a dead channel is just that. Dead. Flatline. The wave is simply black-levels and blanking, telling the electron gun to fire just enough energy at each pixel so that the field hangs gasping at the lowest level of luminance. Everything becomes a dull glowing shade of nonblack, a pallid glaze unerringly conjuring the light-polluted sky that Case finds himself under, and beneath which we find ourselves in Gibson's world.


that's so cool. poetic information I didn't know.

quote:
he sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to Phil Donahue.


so was that. for tickling my trash-o-meter. =;>

deny everything
 
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On my TV, the AV in channel appears as a dead screen when there's no input; hard to describe because it gives off light in a dark room, but just barely enough to qualify it as gray instead of black. That's what I see...
 
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Jeez, here we get tons of channels with snow...and I got a real new flatscreen TV...
The sky in Taipei gets that color a lot, I never had any problem visualizing it, although, for me, a much more evocative passage was when he describes the air as "having teeth tonight", which is exactly what it's like downtown here of a summer twilight, at more than 35 C and humidity's like 100+% and you can nearly taste the airborne particulate matter...
It's not as bad as it sounds...

Case, mon, Garvey a tug...
 
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Here the night sky is a dirty orange (all the sodium streetlights), like the glow of a big forest fire seen behind a mountain. We get the sheet effect of the smoke rising down, and sudden clearings of bright orange when the inversion layer rises up.

Too long.

José
 
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Stunted fluorescence in gunmetal grey.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by JRE:
Here the night sky is a dirty orange (all the sodium streetlights), like the glow of a big forest fire seen behind a mountain. We get the sheet effect of the smoke rising down, and sudden clearings of bright orange when the inversion layer rises up.

Too long.

José


Where's "here"?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by hughblaze:

Where's "here"?


Look at "From:"

I suppose Zaragoza would be considered Sprawl in US references: 700.000 people in 30 sq. Km (less than 12 sq.mi.). Standard density in Spanish cities, however.

José
 
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quote:
Originally posted by JRE:
quote:
Originally posted by hughblaze:

Where's "here"?


Look at "From:"

I suppose Zaragoza would be considered Sprawl in US references: 700.000 people in 30 sq. Km (less than 12 sq.mi.). Standard density in Spanish cities, however.

José


I don't know, I've been to Barcelona and Madrid, and they were downright beutiful, not what I'd consider sprawl-like at all. You should visit beautiful, sunny New Jersey.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by hughblaze:
I don't know, I've been to Barcelona and Madrid, and they were downright beutiful, not what I'd consider sprawl-like at all. You should visit beautiful, sunny New Jersey.


I have been, although not by my own wish. And did not stay for the night...

I was thinking in terms of people density, not the quality of living. The fact is that you have half a million people living in a small area, and several monuments drawing a few megawatts of floodlights also helps. That screws up the night. I do not know why our sky is so orange, if sodium lights are the most used around. The only places I have seen with a similar sky effect, though more localized, are harbours and other 24 hours work areas.

Maybe the fact that at 1 a.m. there are several thousand people in the streets requires all this lighting. In other residential areas in Europe the sky is dark and you could see the stars if it was not overcast.

José
 
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There are whole movements who are fighting against the orange skies of sprawl.

The International Dark Sky Association - www.darksky.org

As soon as I had heard of Johnni Hansen's editorial in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute entitled,
"Light at night, shiftwork, and breast cancer risk.,"
I said to him, "The light haters are going to want to know about this"

"They have already contacted me to hear if it was OK they posted information on their homepage", he replied.

The editorial describes a possible link between exposure to light at night and an increased risk for breast cancer.

So city dwellers may soon be popping melatonin on a daily basis.
 
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Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized) upon a table

two interesting works of literature that attack expectations by refiguring a stock image of beauty with an unexpected eruption of the modern
 
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And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the [forum posts], after the [fiber optics] trail along the floor"”
And this, and so much more?"”
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing [back another Red Bull]
And turning toward the window, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all."

Forgive my revision of T.S. Eliot there. But you answered the question I hadn't even known I was asking. I think I let the color become too literal, and seeing its change from dead to bright blue made me wonder if there were people who knew the color of a dead channel to be a harsher shade of blue. When I cannot honestly say I have seen an evening spread out against a sky like a patient etherized upon a table.
I have heard the mermaids singing each to each.

Also my favorite poem.
 
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"So city dwellers may soon be popping melatonin on a daily basis."

I've been "using" melatonin for years now and still wonder why Canada refuses to pass it through their somewhat assbackward FnD approval process (although admittedly not as bad as Sweden...they at least have Red Bull).

I find it's a great cure-all for (1)soul-delay due to travel (2) mellowing out [like Valerian root] and (3) late night coffee or alcohol binges.

...and it's cheap and plentiful in the States. Any gas station worth stopping into sells them next to the 20 dollar sunglasses...and the caffeine pills the truck-drivers swear by (when they can't afford or find any Speed).
 
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"So city dwellers may soon be popping melatonin on a daily basis."

I've been "using" melatonin for years now and still wonder why Canada refuses to pass it through their somewhat assbackward FnD approval process (although admittedly not as bad as Sweden...they at least have Red Bull).

I find it's a great cure-all for (1)soul-delay due to travel (2) mellowing out [like Valerian root] and (3) late night coffee or alcohol binges.

...and it's cheap and plentiful in the States. Any gas station worth stopping into sells them next to the 20 dollar sunglasses and the caffeine pills the truck-drivers swear by (when they can't afford or find any Speed).

"How grand this illusion, in all its hurt and joy. What magnificent detail."
 
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too much time...y'all
 
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highly interesting though
 
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"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

The first cyberpunk novel ever starts with that.

One hard and pithy sentence, pregnant with a whole new genre of science-fiction. 15 words to kick it all off. The mind boggles.

Economy, methinks. A lesser writer would have perhaps struggled and ended up with this:

"The sky was grey, mottled with black. Swirling in flux, snow, as in death and decay, the end of a period. A dead-channel sky, a channel which broadcasts nothing. God is dead, writ bland on the very ceiling. No guiding stars, no luminous pinpricks except those on his arms--the sky was ennui, decline, pointlessness."

Yawn.

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

Dang that man can write!

I keep Neuromancer on the bedstand just to remind myself of how WG captured the whole essence of a feeling, a whole zeitgeist, in a single perfectly crafted sentence.

Of course, there's lots of those in his works, eh? Smile

_______________________
"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup."
 
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... and I quote;

"The growling was the roar of traffic, and he was coming out of an underpass in Trafalgar Square. The sky was the perfect untroubled blue of a television screen, tuned to a dead channel."

page 235, chapter 20, 2nd paragraph - "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman.
 
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"The sky was orange-before-the-dark"

pg. 179, Hey Nostradamus by Douglas Coupland, Bloomsbury, U.S. Edition 2003
 
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That's an intriguing quote you provided. I see that "Neverwhere" was published in 1998, and is a fantasy novel.

Could you provide some context to that quote?

Would you say that Gaiman used the "color of television, tuned to a dead channel" phrase for one of the following reasons, and if so which one?

1) homage to Gibson, nothing more

2) contrast to Gibson, "in my created world, the tv is optimistic and blue, your tv is nihilistic and gray"

3) garden variety rip off of a good line

4) independent creation of that particular string of words

Just finished re-reading a Verner Vinge short story collection and noticed many unattributed homages to Heinlein, but none were verbatim borrowings.

I wonder--if Vinge had described sepia as "the color of cockroach wings" and certain elevators as "smelling of small cigars", would William Gibson mind? Smile

_______________________
"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup."
 
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WG's original statement is aphopheniacal, as each reader will arrive at a different image. TV in the land of the Beeb has no channels un-allocated, so maybe "dead air" over there is bright-sky blue. And as we've been hearing in this thread, the sentence "color of television tuned to a dead channel" is extremely evocative.
 
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I'm back to be all pedantic and tiresome.

Since I'm rereading Neuromancer at the moment I noticed a few bits relevant to this thread. WG is pretty clear on this. The sky is grey.

p. 13 (Voyager imprint paperback) "By day, the bars down Ninsei were shuttered and featureless, the neon dead, the holograms inert, waiting, under the poisoned silver sky."

More explicitly, p. 68, as Case jacks back in for the first time: "A gray disk, the color of Chiba sky."

And re the Gaiman quote, although I have never read the book, I would think it was part homage (especially the "dead channel" bit) and part contrast. However, "optimistic" is not what I get from that blue. A sky that blue is too blue, scary, like a sky for a propaganda film backdrop.

Ne? Ne!
 
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Everyone that I know that read it when it first came out in '84 (including myself) thought instantly of grayish. The TV "snow" that is best to listen to Carolanne on (hehe a little Poltergeist reference). Reading it back then, the first line of Neuromancer never struck me as being particularly evocative, just expertly descriptive.
 
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