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Re: [mythsoc] Ellison

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  • dianejoy@earthlink.net
    ... From: Ernest Tomlinson thiophene@fastmail.fm Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 17:45:29 -0800 [*] Ellison is a mega-sized pill and I ve never liked any of his
    Message 1 of 29 , Jan 30, 2003
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      Original Message:
      -----------------
      From: Ernest Tomlinson thiophene@...
      Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 17:45:29 -0800


      [*] Ellison is a mega-sized pill and I've never liked any of his fiction
      that I've read--what is "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" but the literary
      equivalent of shoving the unsuspecting reader into a cesspool?--but he has a
      talent for insult. He has no talent whatever for writing for the screen
      (q.v. _The Oscar_, which comes across like _The Sweet Smell of Success_
      rewritten by someone from another planet. I have never seen a movie with
      such bizarre dialogue.)

      I never liked "I Have no Mouth," but I did like "The Man Who Was Heavilly
      Into Revenge" (a title that applies to poor HE, in some ways), and I
      entirely forgave him for "Mouth" when I read "Jefty is Five." ---djb



      The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

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    • David S. Bratman
      ... I found I Have No Mouth a sizzingly unforgettable story. The Man Who Was Heavily Into Revenge was so heavy-handed it made me feel sorry for the weasel
      Message 2 of 29 , Jan 30, 2003
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        At 12:49 PM 1/30/2003 , Diane wrote:

        >I never liked "I Have no Mouth," but I did like "The Man Who Was Heavilly
        >Into Revenge" (a title that applies to poor HE, in some ways), and I
        >entirely forgave him for "Mouth" when I read "Jefty is Five." ---djb

        I found "I Have No Mouth" a sizzingly unforgettable story.

        "The Man Who Was Heavily Into Revenge" was so heavy-handed it made me feel
        sorry for the weasel who was the subject of the revenge, despite all the
        declarations that he deserved it. I don't think that was Ellison's
        intention, though I could be wrong.

        "Jeffty is Five" was merely annoying, because it behaved as if every reader
        ought to be nostalgic for the popular culture of Harlan Ellison's
        childhood, that this was the one and only perfect era. It turned up in an
        anthology not long ago, next to a similarly weepy story by Clifford D.
        Simak that took a similar "one and only perfect era" nostalgic approach to
        the popular culture of Simak's childhood - a generation before Ellison's.
        Make up your collective mind, guys.

        - David Bratman
      • Christine Howlett
        Nostalgia for one s childhood is an easy trap - after all most of us were safe, protected, and loved at that point, most of us were clueless about the social
        Message 3 of 29 , Jan 30, 2003
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          Nostalgia for one's childhood is an easy trap - after all most of us were
          safe, protected, and loved at that point, most of us were clueless about the
          social evils of the day (whatever day!). So of course it's a perfect
          halcyon time, even if it is imperfectly remembered and drawn from the
          vantage point of a six year old. There are any number of people alive today
          who believe that the fifties were a wonderful time when all fathers knew
          best and all mothers baked cookies.
          Christine - whose mother did bake cookies when she felt like it.


          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@...>
          To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Thursday, January 30, 2003 5:08 PM
          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ellison


          > At 12:49 PM 1/30/2003 , Diane wrote:
          >
          > >I never liked "I Have no Mouth," but I did like "The Man Who Was Heavilly
          > >Into Revenge" (a title that applies to poor HE, in some ways), and I
          > >entirely forgave him for "Mouth" when I read "Jefty is Five." ---djb
          >
          > I found "I Have No Mouth" a sizzingly unforgettable story.
          >
          > "The Man Who Was Heavily Into Revenge" was so heavy-handed it made me feel
          > sorry for the weasel who was the subject of the revenge, despite all the
          > declarations that he deserved it. I don't think that was Ellison's
          > intention, though I could be wrong.
          >
          > "Jeffty is Five" was merely annoying, because it behaved as if every
          reader
          > ought to be nostalgic for the popular culture of Harlan Ellison's
          > childhood, that this was the one and only perfect era. It turned up in an
          > anthology not long ago, next to a similarly weepy story by Clifford D.
          > Simak that took a similar "one and only perfect era" nostalgic approach to
          > the popular culture of Simak's childhood - a generation before Ellison's.
          > Make up your collective mind, guys.
          >
          > - David Bratman
          >
          >
          > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          >
          >
        • Bill
          Yes, the fifties were wonderful years for me.. Bill (who is now in another sort of fifties altogether and not enjoying them so much as the first.) ...
          Message 4 of 29 , Jan 30, 2003
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            Yes, the fifties were wonderful years for me..
            Bill
            (who is now in another sort of fifties
            altogether and
            not enjoying them so much as the first.)


            Christine Howlett wrote:

            > Nostalgia for one's childhood is an easy trap - after all most of us
            > were
            > safe, protected, and loved at that point, most of us were clueless
            > about the
            > social evils of the day (whatever day!). So of course it's a perfect
            > halcyon time, even if it is imperfectly remembered and drawn from the
            > vantage point of a six year old. There are any number of people alive
            > today
            > who believe that the fifties were a wonderful time when all fathers
            > knew
            > best and all mothers baked cookies.
            > Christine - whose mother did bake cookies when she felt like
            > it.
            >
            >




            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Ernest S. Tomlinson
            On Thu, 30 Jan 2003 17:17:41 -0500, Christine Howlett ... My mother is practically a Communist[*]--in how many households can you find Spanish-language
            Message 5 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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              On Thu, 30 Jan 2003 17:17:41 -0500, "Christine Howlett"
              <chowlett@...> said:

              > Nostalgia for one's childhood is an easy trap - after all most of us were
              > safe, protected, and loved at that point, most of us were clueless about
              > the social evils of the day (whatever day!).

              My mother is practically a Communist[*]--in how many households can you
              find Spanish-language translation of works by Marx and Lenin?--so by my
              early teens I was already doing things like reading _The Guardian_ and
              following the Iran-Contra scandal. But everything else applies to me
              <wry smile>. I went through some years of blaming everything that was
              wrong with me on my parents (you didn't read to me when I was little and
              that's why I'm lost in a spiritual void today! Isn't there a Kurt
              Vonnegut story in which children are encouraged to sue their parents for
              imagined childhood wrongs, for the overall purpose of discouraging
              parenthood?) but you know, I enjoyed my childhood. Later I met people
              who had _really_ crummy parents and I realized how lucky I had it.

              [*] My name "Ernest" is no accident. My mother chose it, and I leave it
              to those who love a puzzle to guess after _whom_ I was named by a
              left-leaning South American mother.
              --
              Ernest S. Tomlinson
              thiophene@...
            • Ernest S. Tomlinson
              On Thu, 30 Jan 2003 14:08:01 -0800, David S. Bratman ... I have not forgotten it, but I have forgotten nearly every detail about it. That may seem
              Message 6 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                On Thu, 30 Jan 2003 14:08:01 -0800, "David S. Bratman"
                <dbratman@...> said:

                > I found "I Have No Mouth" a sizzingly unforgettable story.

                I have not forgotten it, but I have forgotten nearly every detail about
                it. That may seem paradoxical; I'll try to explain. "I Have No Mouth
                and I Must Scream" is effective in leaving a general impression of horror
                and disgust, but its details scarcely matter. There are no real
                characters in the story, only a small number of interchangeable persons
                who hate each other every bit as much as they hate their captor and
                torturer, and everything that happens in the story before the ending, all
                the set-up, is completely inconsequential: that one scene where the
                protagonist (if he can be called that) finally murders his companions is
                the whole story's purpose for existence. No, I have not forgotten it,
                but I wish that I could.

                Ernest.
                --
                Ernest S. Tomlinson
                thiophene@...
              • David S. Bratman
                ... The set-up is essential for giving a reason for the ending: it s an insoluble-problem/solution/backlash story. Otherwise that s a good analysis, but I
                Message 7 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                  At 07:46 AM 1/31/2003 , Ernest wrote:

                  >"I Have No Mouth
                  >and I Must Scream" is effective in leaving a general impression of horror
                  >and disgust, but its details scarcely matter. There are no real
                  >characters in the story, only a small number of interchangeable persons
                  >who hate each other every bit as much as they hate their captor and
                  >torturer, and everything that happens in the story before the ending, all
                  >the set-up, is completely inconsequential: that one scene where the
                  >protagonist (if he can be called that) finally murders his companions is
                  >the whole story's purpose for existence.

                  The set-up is essential for giving a reason for the ending: it's an
                  insoluble-problem/solution/backlash story. Otherwise that's a good
                  analysis, but I don't read it as a criticism, any more than I consider
                  "LOTR is about made-up magical stuff, not real-life problems" a criticism.
                  Science-fiction stories are generally about their settings, situations,
                  plots - in the old phrase, "SF is a literature of ideas." In a very short
                  story there isn't room to do that _and_ have detailed characterization, and
                  to try would distract the focus of the story - you're thinking about the
                  character, not the situation - and diminish its applicability.


                  >No, I have not forgotten it, but I wish that I could.

                  That doesn't sound like a criticism of the characterization. That sounds
                  like the horror of it really got to you. That was Ellison's intention.
                  The story succeeded.


                  >Ellison might disagree, but I think that a taste for downbeat, cynical
                  >(Ellison and his fans would probably say "realistic") stories is just as
                  >much, if not more, of a sentimental indulgence as a taste for stories
                  >with happy endings. Indeed, it is a more limiting kind of sentiment, for
                  >the person who likes happy stories is free to appreciate unhappy ones,
                  >while the jaded, cynical moviegoer can never allow himself to enjoy an
                  >upbeat story, because it would give the lie to his whole jaundiced
                  >philosophy.

                  Say what? Sure there are downbeat addicts who scoff at happy endings, but
                  there are also upbeat addicts who say things like "I read novels to have a
                  pleasant experience" or "If I wanted to be depressed, I could stay at home
                  and not go to the movies."


                  >My name "Ernest" is no accident. My mother chose it, and I leave it
                  >to those who love a puzzle to guess after _whom_ I was named by a
                  >left-leaning South American mother.

                  Hemingway? <g> Hey, he had Latin American connections, and Che's name was
                  Ernesto, not Ernest, so I feel entitled to jokingly quibble. Maybe you're
                  named for the legendary dour humorless earnestness of doctrinaire leftists.
                • Ernest S. Tomlinson
                  On Fri, 31 Jan 2003 09:14:47 -0800, David S. Bratman ... I ll take that as a compliment; I d rather be dour, humorless, earnest, and doctrinaire than
                  Message 8 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                    On Fri, 31 Jan 2003 09:14:47 -0800, "David S. Bratman"
                    <dbratman@...> said:

                    > Maybe you're
                    > named for the legendary dour humorless earnestness of doctrinaire leftists.

                    I'll take that as a compliment; I'd rather be dour, humorless, earnest,
                    and doctrinaire than flippant. What was it that Screwtape said, that the
                    easiest way to excuse yourself for some injury you've just done is to
                    accuse the injured party of having no sense of humor?

                    Ernest (not smiling.)


                    --
                    Ernest S. Tomlinson
                    thiophene@...
                  • David S. Bratman
                    Whoah there, wait a minute. Did you think I was accusing you of having no sense of humor? About what, Ellison? I didn t think there was anything funny about
                    Message 9 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                      Whoah there, wait a minute. Did you think I was accusing you of having no
                      sense of humor? About what, Ellison? I didn't think there was anything
                      funny about his story, any more than you did. Goodness no, that was a pun,
                      p-u-n, PUN. I am no more accusing you of being dour and humorless than I
                      was accusing you of resembling Messrs. Hemingway or Guevara. It's the
                      doctrinaire leftists who are over-earnest, not you. You did say earlier
                      that you don't share your mother's views of life.

                      If there was a misunderstanding there, I do apologize with all humility and
                      (sincere) earnestness.

                      - David Bratman


                      At 09:25 AM 1/31/2003 , Ernest wrote:
                      >On Fri, 31 Jan 2003 09:14:47 -0800, "David S. Bratman"
                      ><dbratman@...> said:
                      >
                      >> Maybe you're
                      >> named for the legendary dour humorless earnestness of doctrinaire leftists.
                      >
                      >I'll take that as a compliment; I'd rather be dour, humorless, earnest,
                      >and doctrinaire than flippant. What was it that Screwtape said, that the
                      >easiest way to excuse yourself for some injury you've just done is to
                      >accuse the injured party of having no sense of humor?
                      >
                      >Ernest (not smiling.)
                    • Ernest S. Tomlinson
                      On Fri, 31 Jan 2003 09:32:05 -0800, David S. Bratman ... No, I should be the one apologizing. I should add also that although I meant what I said, I d
                      Message 10 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                        On Fri, 31 Jan 2003 09:32:05 -0800, "David S. Bratman"
                        <dbratman@...> said:

                        > If there was a misunderstanding there, I do apologize with all humility
                        > and (sincere) earnestness.

                        No, I should be the one apologizing. I should add also that although I
                        meant what I said, I'd rather not be dour and humorless either; I've yet
                        to strike the happy medium.

                        Back to Ellison: perhaps you're right, that Ellison "succeeded" because
                        I've never forgotten the horror of the story. But my horror is as much
                        at Ellison's dim view of humanity as at the story itself. Chesterton
                        says somewhere that the pessimist is one who thought everything bad,
                        except himself; this describes Ellison perfectly.

                        I balk, too, a little at the notion that a word "succeeds" because it
                        manages to evoke a strong emotional response, any response. I'll never
                        forget the ending of John Waters's _Pink Flamingoes_; is, that, then, a
                        successful work? (Actually, by Waters's own lights, the answer is
                        probably yes. I remember his saying once that if someone throws up while
                        watching one of his movies, it's like a standing ovation to him.)

                        Ernest.
                        --
                        Ernest S. Tomlinson
                        thiophene@...
                      • David S. Bratman
                        ... I don t think so. I don t see Mouth as a story of a dim view of humanity. I see it as a story of human defiance against the most awesome odds - that s
                        Message 11 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                          At 10:15 AM 1/31/2003 , Ernest wrote:

                          >perhaps you're right, that Ellison "succeeded" because
                          >I've never forgotten the horror of the story. But my horror is as much
                          >at Ellison's dim view of humanity as at the story itself. Chesterton
                          >says somewhere that the pessimist is one who thought everything bad,
                          >except himself; this describes Ellison perfectly.

                          I don't think so. I don't see "Mouth" as a story of a dim view of
                          humanity. I see it as a story of human defiance against the most awesome
                          odds - that's what the set-up is for, to describe the odds - defiance
                          ingenious and lasting, but finally crushed. Crushed by an inhuman force,
                          not by humanity.

                          As a person, Ellison does not think everything bad except himself, either.
                          I've read a lot of his non-fiction and get a very distinct impression.
                          Linus Van Pelt said, "I love humanity: it's people I can't stand." Ellison
                          is the opposite. He hates humanity in the mass, and reserves his warm
                          feelings for individuals. Not all individuals, of course; but in Ellison's
                          mental universe, everyone who isn't an utterly despicable scumbag is the
                          best, dearest, most faithful and generous of friends. (Read the
                          dedications in his books.)


                          >I balk, too, a little at the notion that a word "succeeds" because it
                          >manages to evoke a strong emotional response, any response. I'll never
                          >forget the ending of John Waters's _Pink Flamingoes_; is, that, then, a
                          >successful work? (Actually, by Waters's own lights, the answer is
                          >probably yes. I remember his saying once that if someone throws up while
                          >watching one of his movies, it's like a standing ovation to him.)

                          I don't know from John Waters, but isn't his crime bad taste? That's not
                          what Ellison is up to. He wants you to be revolted not by the story, but
                          by what happens to the protagonist. Seems to me there's a difference here.

                          - David Bratman
                        • Ernest Tomlinson
                          ... From: David S. Bratman To: Sent: Friday, January 31, 2003 10:50 AM Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ellison ... I
                          Message 12 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@...>
                            To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
                            Sent: Friday, January 31, 2003 10:50 AM
                            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ellison

                            > I don't think so. I don't see "Mouth" as a story of a dim view of
                            > humanity. I see it as a story of human defiance against the most awesome
                            > odds - that's what the set-up is for, to describe the odds - defiance
                            > ingenious and lasting, but finally crushed. Crushed by an inhuman force,
                            > not by humanity.

                            I guess our reactions to the story were fundamentally different, because I
                            came to nearly an opposite conclusion. I saw no defiance, certainly nothing
                            "ingenious and lasting". When the protagonist eventually strikes out, it is
                            only to slaughter his companions--he hates the machine, but he hates his
                            fellow men far more. Ellison also portrays the woman in the group as far
                            more interested in the third fellow's big _membrum virile_ than in anything
                            else--but then, women don't fare very well in the Ellison stories I've read.
                            (I was trying to remember the Ellison book where I read "Mouth" and other
                            stories, and finally remembered: it was _Alone Against Tomorrow_. I read
                            "A Boy and his Dog" separately.) Humanity isn't crushed in "Mouth"; it
                            turns on itself and rips itself to shreds. The machine's _coup de (bad)
                            grace_ is incidental.

                            > [Ellison] hates humanity in the mass, and reserves his warm
                            > feelings for individuals.

                            I'm not sure what to make of this. Even I'm not so mealy-mouthed and
                            hypocritical as to claim that I love humanity; lots of feelings about
                            humanity war within me, but I do attempt to resist the common temptation of
                            writing off people I don't know as stupid, deceitful, deluded, whatever,
                            because they hold opinions I don't like. (Instead, I overgeneralize from
                            people I _do_ know <sour smile>. Hey, I'm trying to be honest with myself
                            here.) It seems to me, at any rate, that starting from a general hatred of
                            mankind, it would be hard to reverse your opinion in particular cases.

                            > I don't know from John Waters, but isn't his crime bad taste?

                            Waters is a Baltimore film director who started his career in the late 60's
                            making cheapjack movies, often starring the 300+ pound transvestite Divine,
                            laden with revolting characters, sexual perversion, and (in _Pink
                            Flamingoes_) coprophagia. His films got tamer with time, and he's almost
                            mainstream now; Roger Ebert argues, perhaps correctly, that Waters made his
                            trashy first movies just to gain notoriety enough to break into the
                            business--you've gotta do what you've gotta do to make it in movies.

                            I don't think tastelessness is necessarily a crime, but the problem with
                            Waters' early movies is that there's no other reason to watch. You don't
                            watch to be entertained; you watch to prove your mettle, either to yourself
                            or (more likely) your buddies. In an earlier age college kids would watch a
                            carnival geek bite the head off a chicken instead of a movie like _Pink
                            Flamingoes_.

                            > That's not
                            > what Ellison is up to. He wants you to be revolted not by the story, but
                            > by what happens to the protagonist. Seems to me there's a difference
                            here.

                            The trouble is that, in "Mouth", "A Boy and his Dog", and the other Ellison
                            story which I remember most vividly (I can't remember the title; in the
                            story, a mousy little man dies, goes to a sort of heaven where he's put
                            through various supernatural tests of courage, stuffs them all up, and ends
                            the story horribly dead), is that the protagonists are all themselves
                            revolting.

                            Cheers,

                            Ernest.
                          • David S. Bratman
                            Ernest, I don t think this is a case of differing interpretations. I think you ve seriously misread Ellison s story. The protagonist doesn t kill the others
                            Message 13 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                              Ernest, I don't think this is a case of differing interpretations. I think
                              you've seriously misread Ellison's story. The protagonist doesn't kill the
                              others because he hates them. Rather the opposite. It's a mercy killing.
                              He kills them to save them from suffering. He hopes, despairingly, that
                              they want this, that they understand. I refer you in particular to the
                              death of the woman: the narrator refers to a cryptic expression on her face
                              and hopes it means "please" (do this) or "thank you" (for doing this) - I
                              don't recall the exact wording. This is his only chance to stop what has
                              been _endless_ suffering: the set-up makes clear that AM has been keeping
                              them alive beyond the normal lifespan, and keeping them away from any way
                              to kill themselves. Just now, just once, AM has slipped up. It's the
                              protagonist's only chance. You might not make that choice in his place,
                              but can you be sure? I can hardly write him off as, in your word,
                              "revolting" - not without misunderstanding what he's doing.

                              And what has caused all this suffering? The machine. (That the machine
                              was created initially by humans - that's what's incidental irony. More
                              significant is its resemblance to an evil parody of God.) That's why the
                              machine's final coup de grace is far from incidental: it's the heart of the
                              story. The protagonist has taken the playthings away, and he is finally
                              crushed in a fury of even greater anger than the limitless anger of before.

                              The woman character's nymphomania was caused by her mind being altered by
                              the machine. Or so the protagonist says; I'm not sure he's reliable on
                              this point. At any rate it is not portrayed as admirable.

                              Ellison's hatred of humanity in the mass does indeed consist of writing off
                              people he doesn't know "as stupid, deceitful, deluded, whatever," to use
                              your own terms, but not so much for their opinions as for their tastes.
                              What really frosts Ellison is that the mass of humanity (as he sees it)
                              reads trashy books and magazines, and watches bigger trash on tv and the
                              movies, and that the mass media is set up to give them nothing else.
                              (That's what he says. Don't argue with me, argue with him.)

                              I don't see any psychological difficulties in starting from that opinion of
                              humanity, and yet finding individuals admirable. Since the general opinion
                              is a grotesque parody, it doesn't hold up on close inspection, so
                              exceptions are made. It's the same psychological principle by which
                              racists can denounce Blue (or whatever color) people en masse, and yet say,
                              "except for my blue friend here, he's admirable" - and mean it!

                              Ellison's manner of denouncing the masses was well illustrated in an essay
                              titled "Xenogenesis", which I found far creepier than any of his fiction.
                              It's about staggeringly crass behavior by science-fiction fans. Of course
                              he's only talking about a tiny minority, and he SAYS in the essay that he
                              knows it's only a tiny minority, but it still comes across as denouncing
                              the whole pack of 'em.

                              - David Bratman
                            • David S. Bratman
                              I m going to lighten this up by quoting the filksong version of Ellison s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream . It was written by my friend Jordin Kare, to the
                              Message 14 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                                I'm going to lighten this up by quoting the filksong version of Ellison's
                                "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream". It was written by my friend Jordin
                                Kare, to the tune of "Yellow Submarine".

                                I was a man, when I was born
                                Many years ago, before the war.
                                But now AM controls the world
                                And I'm not human any more.

                                We all live in a giant mad machine
                                A giant mad machine, a giant mad machine.
                                We all live in a giant mad machine
                                A giant mad machine, a giant mad machine.

                                I killed the others in the caves.
                                Now I'm a great soft jelly thing.
                                And since I haven't got a mouth
                                I find it difficult, these days, to sing

                                That we all live in a giant mad machine
                                A giant mad machine, a giant mad machine.
                                We all live in a giant mad machine
                                A giant mad machine, a giant mad machine.


                                - David Bratman
                              • Ernest S. Tomlinson
                                On Fri, 31 Jan 2003 13:35:51 -0800, David S. Bratman ... Perhaps you re right; first impressions are often, if not usually, wrong. This one will probably
                                Message 15 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                                  On Fri, 31 Jan 2003 13:35:51 -0800, "David S. Bratman"
                                  <dbratman@...> said:

                                  > Ernest, I don't think this is a case of differing interpretations. I
                                  > think you've seriously misread Ellison's story.

                                  Perhaps you're right; first impressions are often, if not usually, wrong.
                                  This one will probably stay wrong, though, because the only way that
                                  I'll be sure that you're right and I'm wrong is if I read the story
                                  again, and I don't much want to.

                                  > The protagonist doesn't kill the others because he hates them.

                                  He speaks rather contemptuously of them, doesn't he? Especially of the
                                  woman, with whom I guess he had some relationship before the catastrophe,
                                  and whom he now contemns because she's taken up with this other guy,
                                  drooling idiot though he is, because he's a dead ringer for Priapus.

                                  > Ellison's hatred of humanity in the mass does indeed consist of writing
                                  > off people he doesn't know "as stupid, deceitful, deluded, whatever," to use
                                  > your own terms, but not so much for their opinions as for their tastes.

                                  He doesn't think much of their opinions either; is he not famous for
                                  saying that one has no right to an opinion, only an informed opinion? (I
                                  guess that Ellison would appoint himself as judge of who is informed.)
                                  But hating someone for his tastes is stupid. I'm guilty on occasion of
                                  such snobbery, but my own tastes in books, music, and movies are so
                                  miscellaneous--I have, for example, enjoyed Andrew Lloyd Webber's _Cats_
                                  and one of Mercedes Lackey's books, which guilty pleasures in many's eyes
                                  make me unfit for sophisticated, intelligent society--that I can't in
                                  good conscience contemn anyone for liking Big Macs or Britney Spears.

                                  > (That's what he says. Don't argue with me, argue with him.)

                                  I don't suppose I'll ever get the chance, and I'd probably get the worst
                                  of it anyway, although I've always wanted to meet him, carrying a small
                                  dog, so I could set it in front of him, look him in the eye and say,
                                  "You're the science fiction writer, right?" (He once stormed that he'd
                                  cut off some poor guy's dog's head and nail it to his coffee table for
                                  calling Ellison a "science fiction writer." Pure bluster, of course, but
                                  I'd love to call Ellison's bluff.)

                                  > Ellison's manner of denouncing the masses was well illustrated in an
                                  > essay titled "Xenogenesis", which I found far creepier than any of his fiction.
                                  > It's about staggeringly crass behavior by science-fiction fans.

                                  Well, I've seen some of that <wry smile>. I've only ever been to one
                                  proper science fiction convention, a disastrous trip to Boskone in 2000
                                  in the middle of a blizzard, and I don't think I ever want to go to
                                  another. Even the one Star Trek convention I attended was more
                                  interesting; the speeches were more entertaining. But the sad truth is
                                  that I'm not a fan, and don't fit in with fans. In the same way, even
                                  though I enjoy chess and have been known to curl up with books on the Ruy
                                  Lopez or the Queen's Gambit, I quit the Seattle club after a few months,
                                  because despite my fascination with the game, even with (to most casual
                                  players) boring aspects of the game, I wanted to play for fun, and they
                                  all wanted to play for blood. It's like that with the hard core SF fans;
                                  they're the guys who hold forth on just about every book of importance
                                  published every year and hit a half-dozen conventions a year, and I'm the
                                  guy who says lamely in response, "Well, I liked _Dune_..." I quit
                                  hanging out on rec.arts.sf.written because I realized that I was making
                                  myself read books not because I wanted to read them, but because I wanted
                                  to keep up with everyone else--and C. S. Lewis had a few things to say
                                  about _that_ sort of behavior.

                                  Cheers,

                                  Ernest.
                                  --
                                  Ernest S. Tomlinson
                                  thiophene@...
                                • David S. Bratman
                                  ... That s quite OK. I feel the same way about some things. In this position, I d be cautious about what I said about a story I might not remember well, and
                                  Message 16 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                                    At 04:34 PM 1/31/2003 , Ernest wrote:

                                    >This one will probably stay wrong, though, because the only way that
                                    >I'll be sure that you're right and I'm wrong is if I read the story
                                    >again, and I don't much want to.

                                    That's quite OK. I feel the same way about some things. In this position,
                                    I'd be cautious about what I said about a story I might not remember well,
                                    and leave it at that.


                                    >> The protagonist doesn't kill the others because he hates them.
                                    >
                                    >He speaks rather contemptuously of them, doesn't he?

                                    Yeah, but that's not why he kills them. He hates them for what's been done
                                    to them, and finds it difficult to separate in his mind from what's
                                    properly their fault, though he knows he should.


                                    >He doesn't think much of their opinions either; is he not famous for
                                    >saying that one has no right to an opinion, only an informed opinion?

                                    That sounds like him.


                                    >Pure bluster, of course, but I'd love to call Ellison's bluff.

                                    I wouldn't. The guy terrifies me, frankly, and I've spent nearly 30 years
                                    in fandom trying to stay out of his way. I've only communicated with him
                                    directly a couple of times. When a story of his got a Hugo nomination on
                                    my watch, I made my co-administrator - much more of an Ellison fan than I -
                                    call him up, though I did most of the nominee contact. (I got to call
                                    Robert Bloch instead. Though mortally ill, he was still a great wit.)


                                    >Well, I've seen some of that <wry smile>. I've only ever been to one
                                    >proper science fiction convention, a disastrous trip to Boskone in 2000
                                    >in the middle of a blizzard, and I don't think I ever want to go to
                                    >another. Even the one Star Trek convention I attended was more
                                    >interesting; the speeches were more entertaining. But the sad truth is
                                    >that I'm not a fan, and don't fit in with fans.
                                    >... It's like that with the hard core SF fans;
                                    >they're the guys who hold forth on just about every book of importance
                                    >published every year and hit a half-dozen conventions a year, and I'm the
                                    >guy who says lamely in response, "Well, I liked _Dune_..."

                                    I wonder what sort of fans you've been hanging out with. The ones I know
                                    do not talk about the latest fiction all the time, and many don't even read
                                    very much new sf. Many years ago, Arthur Hlavaty and Bernadette Bosky
                                    presented a fannish parody of "the Law" from H.G. Wells' "The Island of Dr.
                                    Moreau" at a con: among the rules was "Not to read the stuff any more: that
                                    is the Law; are we not fen?" Some people do keep up, but in my fandom
                                    nobody looks down on you for not having read things.

                                    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, Robert J. Sawyer, Vernor Vinge, Greg
                                    Bear, Robert Charles Wilson, Michael Swanwick, Walter Jon Williams, Dan
                                    Simmons, Stephen Baxter ... In a couple cases I tried, but gave up. Only
                                    with 3 of those 9 could I tell you anything about what their fiction is
                                    supposed to be like. Of the roughly 100 novels nominated for the Hugo in
                                    the last 20 years, I've read exactly 13, of which 10 are either fantasy or
                                    borderline (Connie Willis), leaving only 3 unquestionable science-fiction
                                    novels (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).

                                    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), and I have a good time, follow what's said, participate in
                                    discussion. OK, it does help that I have a good working knowledge of the
                                    sf published between 1940 and 1975, and there's a few authors I've sort of
                                    kept up on since then.


                                    >I quit
                                    >hanging out on rec.arts.sf.written because I realized that I was making
                                    >myself read books not because I wanted to read them, but because I wanted
                                    >to keep up with everyone else--and C. S. Lewis had a few things to say
                                    >about _that_ sort of behavior.

                                    That might explain it. .written is a place where people do talk about sf.
                                    The people I know are, or were, more likely to be seen in
                                    rec.arts.sf.fandom. As for Lewis, while he took a kind of perverse pride
                                    in not being au courant, his scorn was directed at those who kept up to be
                                    fashionable, not at those who kept up to be knowledgable.

                                    From what I can tell of you online, I think you have a very
                                    fannish-compatable personality, I think you'd get along fine with fans.
                                    Many of us here are fans. You just need to get to know some on a
                                    person-by-person basis. 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.

                                    - David Bratman
                                  • WendellWag@aol.com
                                    In a message dated 1/31/2003 8:29:48 PM Eastern Standard Time, ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    Message 17 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                                      In a message dated 1/31/2003 8:29:48 PM Eastern Standard Time,
                                      dbratman@... writes:


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



                                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    • WendellWag@aol.com
                                      In a message dated 1/31/2003 8:29:48 PM Eastern Standard Time, ... Sorry about that last post. I hit a button by accident. Anyway, now that we re talking
                                      Message 18 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                                        In a message dated 1/31/2003 8:29:48 PM Eastern Standard Time,
                                        dbratman@... writes:


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

                                        Sorry about that last post. I hit a button by accident. Anyway, now that
                                        we're talking about Ellison, I can tell my personal Ellison stories. In
                                        1980, at a talk that Ellison gave, I and some friends had decided beforehand
                                        to come up with some things we could say to Ellison that would wind him up so
                                        we could get a good outburst from him. I asked him why he lied about his
                                        height and got him going for a while.

                                        In 1986, at another con (and, no, he didn't remember me from that talk six
                                        years before), I asked him where he got the location in his story "Adrift
                                        Just off the Islets of Langerhans, Latitude Something or Other, Longitude
                                        Something Else." (I'm too tired to look up the exact numbers in the title.)
                                        He said that they were mentioned in the move _King Kong_ as being the
                                        location of Skull Island. Apparently he made up this up on the spot, because
                                        there's no such mention in the movie and, besides, the address is actually
                                        about 50 feet south of the corner of 2nd and H Street NE in Washington, DC.
                                        Many other stories say that Ellison is a pathological liar. Christopher
                                        Priest and Charles Platt have both written pamphlets about this.

                                        I like a few of Ellison's stories, including "Jeffty is Five" and "I Have No
                                        Mouth . . ."

                                        Wendell Wagner


                                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                      • Ernest S. Tomlinson
                                        ... ... This makes an odd sense to me. If Ellison is the sort of person I think he is, he probably loves feeding bogus information like this, then
                                        Message 19 of 29 , Jan 31, 2003
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                                          On Sat, 1 Feb 2003 01:00:24 EST, WendellWag@... said:

                                          > In 1986, at another con (and, no, he didn't remember me from that talk
                                          > six years before), I asked him where he got the location in his story "Adrift
                                          > Just off the Islets of Langerhans, Latitude Something or Other, Longitude
                                          > Something Else."
                                          <snip>
                                          > Many other stories say that Ellison is a pathological liar.

                                          This makes an odd sense to me. If Ellison is the sort of person I think
                                          he is, he probably loves feeding bogus information like this, then
                                          laughing when people distribute it without checking it. It's a pretty
                                          lousy excuse to be a jackass, but hey, you've got to admit that many
                                          people are--I'm not going to say _stupid_, but thoughtless about passing
                                          around cool-sounding factoids that are actually fiction (e.g. the
                                          long-standing canard that Ronald Reagan was once cast as Rick in
                                          _Casablanca_, or that Junior Bush confided to someone once that "the
                                          French have no word for _entrepreneur_.") Anything to get a laugh at a
                                          party.

                                          > Christopher
                                          > Priest and Charles Platt have both written pamphlets about this.

                                          As my partner Dale would say:

                                          "Who?"
                                          ("Christopher Priest and Charles Platt?")
                                          "Who?" (or maybe, "Any relation to Christopher Guest and Oliver Platt?")

                                          Ernest.
                                          --
                                          Ernest S. Tomlinson
                                          thiophene@...
                                        • WendellWag@aol.com
                                          In a message dated 2/1/2003 1:29:54 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... Other people have asked if maybe Ellison s absurd stories are just his way of screwing with
                                          Message 20 of 29 , Feb 1, 2003
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                                            In a message dated 2/1/2003 1:29:54 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                                            thiophene@... writes:


                                            > If Ellison is the sort of person I think
                                            > he is, he probably loves feeding bogus information like this, then
                                            > laughing when people distribute it without checking it.

                                            Other people have asked if maybe Ellison's absurd stories are just his way of
                                            screwing with people's minds. I don't think so. Ellison telling audiences
                                            in his speeches that he punched out Charles Platt doesn't sound like someone
                                            introducing a strange story just to see if it will start to circulate. It
                                            sounds like someone who's so desperate for approval that they will tell
                                            stories to make themselves look better. Platt is a decade younger, a foot
                                            taller, and in much better shape than Ellison, incidentally.

                                            In a message dated 2/1/2003 1:29:54 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                                            thiophene@... writes:


                                            > "Who?"
                                            > ("Christopher Priest and Charles Platt?")
                                            > "Who?" (or maybe, "Any relation to Christopher Guest and Oliver Platt?")
                                            >

                                            Priest and Platt are writers who are well known in the science fiction
                                            community. Priest is definitely a better writer than Ellison. Neither has a
                                            reputation for dishonesty. They're also more professional in their attitude
                                            to their work than Ellison is. Ellison hasn't actually written that much
                                            given how long he's been in the field. He has a habit of promising books
                                            which never get written.

                                            Wendell Wagner


                                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                          • Stolzi@aol.com
                                            In a message dated 2/1/2003 12:00:46 AM Central Standard Time, ... Where the Islets of Langerhans probably ARE found from time to time. Diamond Proudbrook
                                            Message 21 of 29 , Feb 1, 2003
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                                              In a message dated 2/1/2003 12:00:46 AM Central Standard Time,
                                              WendellWag@... writes:


                                              > "Adrift
                                              > Just off the Islets of Langerhans, Latitude Something or Other, Longitude
                                              > Something Else." (I'm too tired to look up the exact numbers in the
                                              > title.)
                                              > He said that they were mentioned in the move _King Kong_ as being the
                                              > location of Skull Island. Apparently he made up this up on the spot,
                                              > because
                                              > there's no such mention in the movie and, besides, the address is actually
                                              > about 50 feet south of the corner of 2nd and H Street NE in Washington, DC.
                                              >

                                              Where the Islets of Langerhans probably ARE found from time to time.



                                              Diamond Proudbrook



                                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                            • Ernest Tomlinson
                                              On Fri, 31 Jan 2003 17:29:07 -0800, David S. Bratman ... I can t go the rest of my life either appending qualifications to my opinions or rushing out to
                                              Message 22 of 29 , 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.
                                              • David S Bratman
                                                ... Did you think I was asking you to? I advised being cautious, nothing more. ... Somehow I ve never considered tongue-lashings to be pleasurable
                                                Message 23 of 29 , 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
                                                • Max Rible
                                                  ... Urk; I wouldn t call _Moving Mars_ his better work. Try _Eon_ for hard SF (and don t expect _Eternity_ to be up to the quality of _Eon_), _Blood Music_
                                                  Message 24 of 29 , Feb 2, 2003
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                                                    On Sun, 2003-02-02 at 22:06, Ernest Tomlinson wrote:
                                                    > > ...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.

                                                    Urk; I wouldn't call _Moving Mars_ his better work. Try _Eon_ for
                                                    hard SF (and don't expect _Eternity_ to be up to the quality of
                                                    _Eon_), _Blood Music_ for biotech that Vernor Vinge would think
                                                    nifty, _Songs of Earth and Power_ (aka _The Infinity Concerto_ and
                                                    _The Serpent Mage_) for fantasy.

                                                    > > ...Michael Swanwick...
                                                    >
                                                    > Barbara Stanwyck?

                                                    Try _The Iron Dragon's Daughter_ or _Stations of the Tide_. Should
                                                    be available in a used bookstore for cheap.

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

                                                    _Hyperion_ is the place to start if you want to sample that universe
                                                    of his-- _Endymion_ and _Rise of Endymion_ aren't as good as
                                                    _Hyperion_ and _Fall of Hyperion_. If you're browsing in a bookstore,
                                                    pick up a copy of _Prayers to Broken Stones_ and read the short story
                                                    "Vanni Fucci is Alive and Well and Living in Hell", particularly if
                                                    you've recently re-read _The Screwtape Letters_.

                                                    > _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.

                                                    Cherryh does a really good job of making her aliens alien; I've
                                                    greatly enjoyed her Chanur and Foreigner universes. And the knnn
                                                    can out-enigma the Vorlons and the Arisians together, with their
                                                    tentacles tied in knots.

                                                    --
                                                    %% Max Rible % slothman@... % www.amurgsval.org/~slothman/ %%
                                                    %% "Before enlightenment: sharpen claws, catch mice. %%
                                                    %% After enlightenment: sharpen claws, catch mice." %%
                                                  • Croft, Janet B
                                                    ... From: Stolzi@aol.com [mailto:Stolzi@aol.com] Sent: Saturday, February 01, 2003 11:49 AM To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ellison In a
                                                    Message 25 of 29 , Feb 3, 2003
                                                    • 0 Attachment
                                                      -----Original Message-----
                                                      From: Stolzi@... [mailto:Stolzi@...]
                                                      Sent: Saturday, February 01, 2003 11:49 AM
                                                      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                                                      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ellison


                                                      In a message dated 2/1/2003 12:00:46 AM Central Standard Time,
                                                      WendellWag@... writes:


                                                      > "Adrift
                                                      > Just off the Islets of Langerhans, Latitude Something or Other, Longitude
                                                      > Something Else." (I'm too tired to look up the exact numbers in the
                                                      > title.)
                                                      > He said that they were mentioned in the move _King Kong_ as being the
                                                      > location of Skull Island. Apparently he made up this up on the spot,
                                                      > because
                                                      > there's no such mention in the movie and, besides, the address is actually

                                                      > about 50 feet south of the corner of 2nd and H Street NE in Washington,
                                                      DC.
                                                      >

                                                      Where the Islets of Langerhans probably ARE found from time to time.


                                                      *** But not always the same Islets.... Hundredes of different ones each
                                                      day, I should think.

                                                      8^) Janet



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                                                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                    • David S. Bratman
                                                      ... Some of Swanwick s short stories are clever, and he s written some halfway-decent fantasy criticism, but a few pages of _The Iron Dragon s Daughter_ sent
                                                      Message 26 of 29 , Feb 3, 2003
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                                                        At 11:59 PM 2/2/2003 , Max Rible wrote:

                                                        >> > ...Michael Swanwick...
                                                        >>
                                                        >
                                                        >Try _The Iron Dragon's Daughter_ or _Stations of the Tide_. Should
                                                        >be available in a used bookstore for cheap.

                                                        Some of Swanwick's short stories are clever, and he's written some
                                                        halfway-decent fantasy criticism, but a few pages of _The Iron Dragon's
                                                        Daughter_ sent me away determined never to return. A few people were
                                                        trying to promote that as the next great genre-defining fantasy. It didn't
                                                        really take that role, but if it did, count me out.

                                                        - David Bratman
                                                      • Max Rible
                                                        ... The only comparable book I can think of is Ian McDonald s _Desolation Road_, which is a novel about the colonization of Mars done in a magical-realism
                                                        Message 27 of 29 , Feb 3, 2003
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                                                          On Mon, 2003-02-03 at 08:46, David S. Bratman wrote:
                                                          > Some of Swanwick's short stories are clever, and he's written some
                                                          > halfway-decent fantasy criticism, but a few pages of _The Iron Dragon's
                                                          > Daughter_ sent me away determined never to return. A few people were
                                                          > trying to promote that as the next great genre-defining fantasy. It didn't
                                                          > really take that role, but if it did, count me out.

                                                          The only comparable book I can think of is Ian McDonald's _Desolation
                                                          Road_, which is a novel about the colonization of Mars done in a
                                                          magical-realism style.
                                                          --
                                                          %% Max Rible % slothman@... % www.amurgsval.org/~slothman/ %%
                                                          %% "Before enlightenment: sharpen claws, catch mice. %%
                                                          %% After enlightenment: sharpen claws, catch mice." %%
                                                        • chris.
                                                          Ernest: Ernest Potlatch, that s local, isn t it? I mean, local to me, here Ernest in Seattle, at least part of the time; maybe it jumps around Ernest the
                                                          Message 28 of 29 , Feb 3, 2003
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                                                            Ernest:
                                                            Ernest> Potlatch, that's local, isn't it? I mean, local to me, here
                                                            Ernest> in Seattle, at least part of the time; maybe it jumps around
                                                            Ernest> the West Coast. At least, I remember or think I remember it
                                                            Ernest> met once at a hotel in Wallingford.

                                                            Potlach is, indeed, a migratory West Coast con.
                                                            [http://www.potlatch-sf.org/%5d Potlach 9 (2000) was in Seattle, as was
                                                            Potlach 11 (2002). That is, according to the Potlach website they
                                                            were. I've never been, having found out about it about a wk after
                                                            last yr's con.

                                                            Looks like Potlach is in San Francisco this yr.





                                                            chris.
                                                            --
                                                            [ mail : wrdnrd@... ]
                                                            [ news : sff.people.wrdnrd ]
                                                            [ web : www.wrdnrd.com ]
                                                          • Ernest Tomlinson
                                                            ... From: David S Bratman To: Sent: Sunday, February 02, 2003 10:53 PM Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ellison [on
                                                            Message 29 of 29 , Feb 4, 2003
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                                                              ----- Original Message -----
                                                              From: "David S Bratman" <dbratman@...>
                                                              To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
                                                              Sent: Sunday, February 02, 2003 10:53 PM
                                                              Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ellison

                                                              [on the prospect of getting insulted by Harlan Ellison]
                                                              > Somehow I've never considered tongue-lashings to be pleasurable
                                                              > experiences, even long afterwards.

                                                              Who said anything about pleasurable? Memorable, I said. And great currency
                                                              at parties; a flaying from Ellison is probably worth ten stories about car
                                                              accidents or digging through the dumpster for my retainer in junior high
                                                              school.

                                                              > 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.

                                                              The problem--one of the problems--with the Foundation stories is that
                                                              Asimov, often unable or unwilling to _show_ us the resolution of the crises
                                                              he has set up, resorts to long conversation scenes in which we're told,
                                                              rather than shown, that the crisis is resolved. The last story in the
                                                              original _Foundation_ provides one of the most egregious examples: Hober
                                                              Mallow invites his enemy Sutt over for tea and tells him, and us, at length
                                                              that he's solved the latest Seldon crisis--and that's that. Also, Asimov
                                                              has a rather strange idea of psychology.

                                                              > Is it fashionable to deride _Neuromancer_? Not anywhere that I've been,
                                                              > but perhaps I don't get out much.

                                                              I'm thinking mostly of r.a.sf.written, where I don't think I saw a single
                                                              positive comment about _Neuromancer_ in three years. Gibson was universally
                                                              derided for his computer illiteracy and his inability to follow up on the
                                                              success of _Neuromancer_.

                                                              > Nor did I find the prose too memorable...

                                                              I'll never forget many of the scenes from _Neuromancer_, particularly Case's
                                                              dream of knocking down the wasp's nest, and seeing the Tessier-Ashpool logo
                                                              embossed on the side. (I'm not sure why that scene is the one I can least
                                                              forget.) You're right, _Neuromancer_ is more style than story; individual
                                                              scenes work, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. But compare
                                                              _Neuromancer_ to _Snow Crash_--urgh, there's a _bad_ book.

                                                              > 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.

                                                              Not disliking it, just not liking it as much. About half my LP collection
                                                              is classical music, though these days I listen more to rock. I'll elaborate
                                                              offlist.

                                                              > 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.

                                                              I liked the Selectric; that's a good typewriter, and I'm convinced that I
                                                              can type about 20 wpm faster on it than on any other machine. I also own a
                                                              "Coronamatic" or similar Smith-Corona electric, with manual-style typebars
                                                              and shifting, but I don't like it as much. Word processing, though, has
                                                              probably defiled my writing habits permanently, and it would be hard for me
                                                              now to return to typewriting.

                                                              Perhaps we can meet someday at Potlatch. Probably not this year, because I
                                                              have no money to travel to San Francisco.

                                                              Cheers,

                                                              Ernest.
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