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8269Re: [mythsoc] Ellison

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  • Ernest Tomlinson
    Feb 2, 2003
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      On Fri, 31 Jan 2003 17:29:07 -0800, "David S. Bratman"
      <dbratman@...> said:

      > In this position,
      > I'd be cautious about what I said about a story I might not remember
      > well, and leave it at that.

      I can't go the rest of my life either appending qualifications to my
      opinions or rushing out to reread every story and rewatch every movie I
      might feel moved to comment on. If I were writing for publication of course
      I'd hew to a different standard, but this is an informal group.

      > The guy terrifies me, frankly, and I've spent nearly 30
      > years in fandom trying to stay out of his way.

      Well, what's he done? If I thought that he might a take a swing at me or
      broadside my car, I'd be wary, but if the worst that he'd do is treat me to
      a ten-minute tongue-lashing, I'd probably be mortified and too embarrassed
      to go out in public for a day or two, but then I'd have one great story to
      tell for the rest of my life.

      > It's been 20 years or more since I've been au courant with current sf:
      > just looking at the most famous names on recent Hugo nominee lists, I have
      > never read a single novel by Ken McLeod...

      Heard of him, anyway.

      > ...Robert J. Sawyer...

      Who?

      > ...Vernor Vinge...

      He taught Computer Science at SDSU whence I graduated, and once paid him a
      visit and asked him to sign my copy of _A Fire Upon the Deep_, which I
      liked, but not for the same reasons that everyone else did, at least on
      r.a.sf.written. I didn't take any of that Singularity ("the Rapture for
      atheists" someone called it once) and Transcendence stuff a bit seriously,
      but apparently it's Vinge's _idee fixe_ and the reason a lot of geeks think
      him a good writer.

      > ...Greg Bear...

      I got halfway through _Moving Mars_, then stopped. It wasn't bad; I just
      didn't feel like reading more. I do that too often these days, and feel
      guilty about it every time.

      > ...Robert Charles Wilson...

      Any relation to Robert Anton Wilson?

      > ...Michael Swanwick...

      Barbara Stanwyck?

      > ...Walter Jon Williams...

      I admired his story story "Daddy's World", then tried to read _Aristoi_
      because a friend gave it me. Ugh! I have rarely built up such a resistance
      to reading a book I knew nothing about within so few pages. (By comparison,
      I stopped reading _Starship Troopers_ about ten pages in, but my opinion of
      Heinlein had already been fatally poisoned, partly by exposure to his fans.)
      I think I mentioned in another post that _Aristoi_ was one of those
      books--Delany's _Triton_ another--which started out portraying a society
      which, if I lived in it, would leave me within a week clawing at the asylum
      gates for entry.

      > ...Dan Simmons...

      _Endymion_ is his, right? Only sampled it in a store or something.

      > ...Stephen Baxter...

      Isn't he, along with Greg Egan, supposed to be the darling of readers who
      like their science fiction harder (and tougher to chew) than a frozen chunk
      of brisket? "Stylish prose, characterization, drama? Screw that, we want
      _science_!" Or scientism, rather. If I want science I'll read the Journal
      of the American Chemical Society. I admit though that I like my science
      fiction to have as little science as possible. _Cyteen_ for example is a
      wonderful example, and one of my favorite novels; Cherryh explains hardly
      anything about the technology of cloning or of "taping" the personalities of
      the clones; she explains enough to get the story going, gives us her cast of
      characters, and sets _them_ going. If Cherryh started spitting out
      half-digested technical concepts from texts and articles on biology, I
      wouldn't have lasted two chapters.

      > (Asimov's "Foundation's Edge", Gibson's "Neuromancer", and
      > Haldeman's "Forever Peace", only the last of which I liked at all, and
      > that not very much).

      :-b Asimov ran "Foundation" into the ground, no question. (And when he
      tried to sex his writing up, oy!) It's fashionable to deride _Neuromancer_,
      and it's not a great novel, but I like it still. Gibson knew how to do
      something which all of his cyberpunk imitators, however much more
      technologically literate they might have been, could not do, which was write
      memorable prose. He also (perhaps because he was _not_ technologically with
      it) did something I haven't seen in any other book; he created an artificial
      intelligence that actually seemed alien, not just like some computer geek's
      wish-fulfilment fantasy of what they want their computer to do. Mycroft
      Holmes and "Jane" from _Speaker for the Dead_ are cute; Wintermute scared
      the crap out of me.

      > And yet, I'm a fan, I socialize with fans all the time, I regularly
      > attend Potlatch which is as book-oriented an sf con as there is (much more
      so
      > than Boskone)...

      Potlatch, that's local, isn't it? I mean, local to me, here in Seattle, at
      least part of the time; maybe it jumps around the West Coast. At least, I
      remember or think I remember it met once at a hotel in Wallingford.

      > That might explain it. .written is a place where people do talk about sf.

      It was depressing after a while; hundreds of posts and hardly a one of them
      about something I'd actually read. I made a few friends there--one was kind
      enough to put me up in Seattle when I first moved here, while I looked for a
      job and an apartment--but none lasting.

      > As for Lewis, while he took a kind of perverse pride
      > in not being au courant...

      A man after my own spirit, Lewis. Take the music I listen to; most of it
      was written and performed either by guys who are now old fogies in their
      fifties (classic rock) or guys who are long, long dead (classical.) I'm not
      yet thirty and I know practically nothing of the music of the last fifteen
      years. I know how to use a slide rule (and own a couple), would
      occasionally type out papers on a manual typewriter even in my last couple
      years of college, and own an "All-American Five" radio (i.e. a five-tube
      superheterodyne AM radio.)

      > his scorn was directed at those who kept up to be
      > fashionable, not at those who kept up to be knowledgable.

      This is true. But it's hard for me to think of ploughing determinedly
      through mediocre (but classic, so-called) novels like Larry Niven's
      _Ringworld_ or some of Asimov's Foundation stories as contributing much to
      my knowledge. "Everyone" had read them, so I felt I had to read them, too.

      > Dropping in to a large con at which you know
      > nobody and just attending the program items is not the way to do it. I
      > didn't get much out of my first large con either.

      But I _did_ know some people there, at least through e-mail, and that was
      partly what made the affair such a disappointment. I went there chiefly to
      meet Jo Walton and her fiance, and ended up conversing with them for maybe a
      couple of hours in a noisy hotel-room gathering. I knew a few others less
      well through Usenet and e-mail (and in one case found out that it was
      probably just as well he lived thousands of miles away in Toronto, because
      he was a scary customer in person.)

      No, I'm just not a convention person. My idea of a good party is maybe a
      half-dozen people at most, not hundreds.

      Ernest.
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