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Re: [mythsoc] Ellison

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