Fish-Headed Musings

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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sjarrett
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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby sjarrett » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:26 pm

Barber wrote:I'm gonna have to look up what exactly ASPIC is.


Oddly enough, I remember quite clearly my very first encounter with the word "aspic." It was the first time I saw Hitchcock's Psycho as a young lad. In one scene, Arbogast, the private detective, says "If it doesn't gel, it isn't aspic -- and this ain't gelling." I had no clue what the hell he was talking about. Looked it up later, guessing at the spelling until I tracked it down in the dictionary.

Having seen the proposed cover art for the new book, I have to wonder. Although Doug's speculations seem entirely reasonable to me, I don't know how this art would relate to any of the titles he mentions. Of course, some are unfamiliar to me, so that could account for that. And yet, Harlan doesn't really have a history of using cover art that is tied to one specific story in a collection. Which leads me to wonder about the darkest horse of all -- a novel.

Nah...

Steve J.

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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby Moderator » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:41 am

I'm going to report this, or something like it, on the Pav later today, but it's a busy day and I want to get my thoughts in order.

I love the cover.

Here's why: It's a bold, striking image which is sure to put people on edge. Even here on Harlan's site there's a better than 50% objection. This is good.

It fits Harlan's style, and also makes a mocking point of politics and the people in power. The swastika doesn't scare me -- the headless Fascist (presumably Hitler) is the message. I don't believe anyone who is pro-Nazism is going to see that cover and in any way think it's a compliment. In fact, it makes a pretty direct statement against such leadership, including a swipe -- oblique, but there -- towards our most recent leaders in THIS country. The typeface used is solid, though perhaps a bit uninspired. Harlan suggests this is going to change, so let's see the final before I commit on that element.

But otherwise, this is an eye-catching in-your-face edgy statement and one I think is brilliantly accomplished. It will certainly get attention, and yes some of it will be from our beloved detractors. (They would object to a Kodak commercial full of puppies if they thought Harlan wrote it.) But the artwork and title are pure Ellison and this is good.

Now, about them contents...
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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby FinderDoug » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:12 am

And I just followed you inadvertently with aremark about how we can only speculate about the contents.

Harlan's going to feel like we're tag-teaming him.

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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby Moderator » Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:13 am

Heck, it'll make his day. I have no fear he can easily take both of us with his right hand tied securely to his typewriter. Behind his back.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby Ezra Lb. » Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:27 am

Now, about them contents...

Precisely what prevents me from having an opinion about the cover. How can I make a judgement about the outside when I don't know the inside? This assumes that the outside should reflect the inside of course.

Same opinion about the title.
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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby FinderDoug » Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:16 am

I have no fear he can easily take both of us with his right hand tied securely to his typewriter. Behind his back.


At Foolscap (I believe, though it might have been Minicon - and somewhere, someone has video of this - mayhap Erik Nelson) during a lecture, Harlan told the Joe Straczynski/"Schindler's List" viewing story, and asked for a volunteer from the audience so he could demonstrate the placement of an individual at the climax of the story (in which Harlan grips this idiot's shoulder and propels him forward.) I was a front row attendee for this, and was selected for the task.

I can attest that the man, even as recently as that event, has a kung fu grip that a 1968 GI Joe doll would flame-thrower entire villages of Barbies to possess.

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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby markabaddon » Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:58 am

Keith, I remember the story you are referring to, he read it during the interview session the night before Minicon but damned if I can remember what the title is. I remember that I thought the little bit of it was brilliant, though. Have not read the McSweeney work, so I cannot comment if it is the same piece

Not sure if that is a typo in the cover or not, my initial thought is that the font just moved the hyphen down to the bottom and made it look like an underline, but I could be dead wrong on that

Also, Doug, that story must have taken place at Foolscap as I was sitting next to or near you, Keith Amy, Kristin, etc. for most of Minicon and don't remember Harlan pulling you up on stage

As to the cover, I am not sure it is the best move to release the book with that cover. While I think it is a powerful image, and would not be out of place paired with a story of Harlan's in the wonderful collection Mind Fields, I just think that he is looking for trouble if it is released like that. My take is it would be best to leave the swastika out of it, as messing around with that symbol obscures everything else

Mark
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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby FrankChurch » Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:04 pm

Jello Biafra would love that cover.

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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby Douglas Harrison » Fri Aug 14, 2009 3:18 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:Now, about them contents...

Precisely what prevents me from having an opinion about the cover. How can I make a judgement about the outside when I don't know the inside? This assumes that the outside should reflect the inside of course.

Actually, what Harlan was asking was "if [his] vision is (once again) too dangerous at this "juncture in time." I don't believe he particularly wanted aesthetic or thematic opinions from us (though I, like many, gave one such anyway).

D.

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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby remarck » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:56 pm

"Goodbye to All That." Doug, your memory is superb. Your brain is firm and deliciously crinkled. Yes, I'd like to see that story in any new collection.

Mark, I'm not sure if Harlan had titles on his stories that he read at Minicon, but he may have. I cannot remember. My brain is flabby. But thanks for backing me up on this...I'm glad I'm not "remembering" things that didn't happen.

And I really don't like the cover. (As art, I don't even like it. It is not to my taste. So of course I don't like it on a book I'm going to own, and probably loan out to friends...blah blah blah).

-Keith

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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby Chuck Messer » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:43 pm

Ah, yes. Fish_Head rather than Fish-Head. Of course, Fish_Head has an internet connotation, being used in internet and E-mail addresses. I don't know if it has any connotations other than an honest typo/mistake. Make of it what you will.

Chuck
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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby K. M. Kirby » Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:03 pm

What the contents consist of entirely new, previously unseen material?

That would pretty cool.


I think the title, and cover, may present an abstract image of how an individual's character might be perceived by others from a distant perspective. Taking the subject of the proposed cover art, an extreme example of how one can be seen as "going wrong" by most most--and I say most--people today, one sees the gelled result of what any society can do to what was once a human being. From our detached perspective, looking into the past at the accoutrements of one who's universally despised today, the viewer is allowed a moment's reflection over the influence of more current affairs on the present state of humanity at large.
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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby Mindtraveller » Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:13 am

Entirely new contents would be cool, but unlikely. Still, the stuff posted so far seems alright by any standard. Incognita Inc, is a great story.
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Re: Fish-Headed Musings

Postby paul » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:55 pm

I just wanted to place this here, for completists. (That would be me.)

"For those in favor of the cover, I agree with all that's been said. I just want to add this:
Because we are familiar with Harlan, we know this will not be a book about 'Nazis' per se. It will be about the ideals of evil, how they flourish, why they exist, possibly how best to thwart them, and a smidgeon of hope when the bastards win once in awhile. This was part of the message in HITLER PAINTED ROSES.

Harlan warned us in MIND FIELDS that the Nazis were with us again, we just didn't heed the word. After that, we voted for 8 years of bloody hell, and now that there is a glimmer of hope, they're more ferocious than ever. I have this suspicion that all the talk here in the last two days, the gun-nuts, the health-care Reapers, these are the "nazis", the thoughts and deeds of which we will be maddeningly entertained with when AFHIA comes out.

Evil as an empty suit indeed. Trying to understand a universe that has in it a William Kostric, and to attempt to follow his labyrinthine illogic. The Cheneys and the John Woos who use their power for distraction and undermining. These are the empty suits, terrifying those for whom simply the suit itself is an image to be feared. The heads change, the uniform remains.

Obviously, this toe-in-the-water testing isn't a fair sample of a book buying demographic. But then, for a small, strange reason, I don't think that's why HE asked. He knew damn well he'd get the response, "Well, I'm gonna buy it, regardless...". I think he just wanted to see, in him own Puckish way, what responses were given before and after that caveat. What do we have to say about something that bothers us that we WANT, anyway?
This may be projection, of course.

I don't give any goddamn what people think of my reading material they may see in my hands, on my desk or on my shelf. For my part, it's not the swastika that is the dominant image, it's the empty suit. But as has been said, we bring our own to the table.

Keep it, Harlan. Those who want to read you, will. Those who want to trash you, will. Those who never knew you before, well... whaddya got to lose?"
The medium is the message.


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