ration plack

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lilly jo

Senior Member
Brazilian Portuguese
Hi everybody.

I'm reading Asimov's The Caves of Steel.

The detective is interrogating a suspect, who had said he eats between 17:00 and 17:45 p.m. Then, the detective asks him where he was the night before.

"You visited friends?
<<Excessive quotation deleted.>>
Baley's lips tightened. A visit to the subetherics would have involved a notch in Clousarr's ration plack. A meeting with a friend would have involved naming a man or woman, and a cross check.


What does "ration plack" mean in this context?


thanks,
L.J.
 
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  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The OED lists 3 meanings for 'plack', none of which make sense here. Googling 'ration plack' brings up this post. I'm guessing, therefore, that it's either a word coined by Asimov, or it's simply a typo, and should be 'pack'.
     
    Last edited:

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    I'm guessing that it's plaque, definition 2: a small flat brooch or badge, as of a club, etc.

    In this case, it's like a ration card, but made of something more permanent than a piece of paper. A paper card would be punched to show use; this gets notched.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    This is science fiction isn't it? Asimov might have coined this for his story. Subetherics might need ration placks.
     

    lilly jo

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Thank you, heypresto, RM1 (SS), suzi br, and gramman. As for subetherics, in this book, I guess it refers to some place people go to have fun, similar to a movie theater. At some point, one of the characters mentions she is going to the subetherics. Does this information change anything?
    Thanks again,
    L.J.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Are you reading the book in an original print edition or in a digital form? I have read the book but no longer have it, so I cannot check, but I am certain that I would have spotted such an oddity. It is an error and should be pack.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Are you reading the book in an original print edition or in a digital form? I have read the book but no longer have it, so I cannot check, but I am certain that I would have spotted such an oddity. It is an error and should be pack.
    It shows up in both Amazon and Google Books (several different editions) as "plack". If you put a notch in your ration pack, wouldn't it leak? :)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm happy to accept that I'm wrong. In which case I just accepted it when I read it, and there was some context elsewhere in the book that made it unremarkable.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Would they be copyediting? I'm standing my typo grownd!! :p
    No, neither of them edits the millions of books that they have. They use a combination of scanning techniques. Sometimes they have errors introduced by OCR (optical character reading) software that converts the pictures into text. Sometimes they show the actual scans.
    Here's one where you can see that it really is showing the picture of the page that was scanned from a 1953 Galaxy Science Fiction magazine:
    http://books.google.com/books?ei=FN...q=caves+of+steel+plack&q=+plack#search_anchor
     

    lilly jo

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I'm reading the book in an original print. Thank you, Andygc, Myridon and gramman.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Nobody likes my idea (post #3)?
    I liked it then; I like it now. I'd rather see a plaque notched than a pack.

    Here is the line again to save some scrolling:
    A visit to the subetherics would have involved a notch in Clousarr's ration plack.

    Notching a pack seems odd, but making a mark on a plaque that determines what you get to eat seems plausible.*

    *I haven't read the book, so I'm just going on gut feeling. :rolleyes: :)
     
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