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Re: [mythsoc] Ellison

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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 14 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 15 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 16 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 17 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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