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8270Re: [mythsoc] Ellison

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  • David S Bratman
    Feb 2, 2003
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      At 10:06 PM 2/2/2003 -0800, Ernest wrote:

      >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.

      Did you think I was asking you to? I advised being cautious, nothing more.


      > > 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.

      Somehow I've never considered tongue-lashings to be pleasurable
      experiences, even long afterwards.


      You know more about most of those recent SF authors than I do.


      >Asimov ran "Foundation" into the ground, no question. (And when he
      >tried to sex his writing up, oy!)

      And a great shame, too. Pre-1980s Asimov is by far my favorite of all the
      SF writers of his generation (the ones who arrived in the 1937-49
      Campbellian period). Yes, I like that old Foundation trilogy, but it was
      the first book-length SF I ever read, at age 15. Some of his later books
      are much better. But even at its best, I cannot judge his fiction on the
      same scale that I'd use for Tolkien: it just wouldn't register, and neither
      would virtually any other SF, even much that I like a great deal.


      >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.

      Is it fashionable to deride _Neuromancer_? Not anywhere that I've been,
      but perhaps I don't get out much. I thought I was a lone curmudgeon in
      complaining that this novel was all setting and no plot. When I read it, I
      thought I was missing something because not much seemed to be
      happening. Then I learned from reviews that I was right: the plot is very
      sketchy. Nor did I find the prose too memorable, and I really feel like
      some bumpkin on whom fine wine is being wasted, because I heard the author
      (whom I knew personally, at least before he was famous) read part of the
      book aloud, over a year before it was published, to a very small gathering
      at an SF con in Vancouver. Of the New Ace Specials, of which it was part,
      I far preferred Kim Stanley Robinson's _The Wild Shore_.


      >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.

      It jumps between the Bay Area and Seattle, with occasional stops in
      Portland or Eugene. Last year's was at a Best Western off Denny, near the
      Seattle Center, but previous Seattle Potlatches were (all, I think) at the
      University Plaza, the hotel on NE 45th overlooking I-5.


      >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.)

      Do you like classical music? I gathered from an earlier post of yours
      mentioning it that it had been stuffed down your throat by your parents and
      you wound up disliking it. Classical music is, along with Tolkien and a
      few other revered fantasy authors, my prime artistic passion, but not all
      of my favorite composers of it are long-dead, or even dead at all, far from
      it. I'd be curious to compare favorites, but if you're willing, let's do
      that privately, since it'd be way off-topic here.


      >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.)

      You beat me, then. I didn't give up on popular music entirely until I was
      about 27 (which was 1984, so it's hardly comparable), took immediately to
      pocket calculators and electric typewriters (neither of which were
      available, at least to me, when I first could have used them), and prefer
      FM radio to AM because there's more classical music on it.


      > > 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.

      Still, you can't say that books of that sort are mediocre until you've read
      at least some of them. I find it very useful to have actually read a few
      Tolclones, so that when I denounce them, I'm speaking with some knowledge
      and not from sheer ignorance. I'm not going to keep on reading them,
      though, especially when the favorable reviews are from people who liked
      previous books that I hated.


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

      Sure, I agree. But sometimes you need to go to a gathering of hundreds of
      people to find the worthwhile half-dozen. Carving out one's own
      personally-tailored convention from a huge gathering is an art, and a
      worthwhile one. But it's not necessary at Potlatch and Mythcon, which both
      run about 100-150 people, and finding smaller groups to talk with is
      easy. At the Tolkien and Lewis centenary conferences, we had over 300
      each, and thought they were huge.


      - David Bratman
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