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Re: [mythsoc] Ellison

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 of 29 , Feb 3, 2003
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                -----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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              • 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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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